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

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

7 ways to Pack Smarter

I have been so lucky that I have been able to travel and visit so many cool places during my study exchange in Canada, check out New York in 4 daysBoston – Top 5 things to do in Boston and Ottawa in 1 day for more information on the places I visited. I can safely say that all the little trips in the back of others people cars and on budget airlines has forced me to become an expert bag packer and to make the most of my tiny suitcase. Here are my secrets.

Tip 1: By faaaar the most important tip – Roll dont fold. You won’t believe how much more you will be able to fit in a case when your clothes are rolled.

Tip 2: Plan !!! Look up the weather and roughly plan an outfit for every day of your trip – This will help you to avoid packing things you dont need.

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Outfit planning

Tip 3: Fill any shoes you are putting in your case.

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Stuffed shoes. Check.

Tip 4: Wear the bulkiest items you are bringing.

Tip 5: Get ‘mini’ toiletries.

Tip 6: Pack the essentials in your carry on backpack. I often carry a change of clothes in my backpack incase (god forbid) my suitcase goes missing.

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Essentials. Check. (Back pack from Pennies 13 euro)

Tip 7: Carry a reusable bag for dirty laundry so don’t have to sort through them when your home

I hope these 7 simple tips will be able to help you make the most of your suitcase for your next trip away. Don’t forget to sign up for email updates on all things ‘The Girl on the Go’. See you in the next one.

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

Inter-railing – Where I stayed and what I thought

Going Inter-railing this summer, but unsure where to stay? Here is a list of the places that I went to and where I stayed. Hopefully this information will make booking your accommodation a bit easier.

1. Netherlands, Amsterdam – ‘Hotel Van Gogh’

Cost per night: 37 euro/night pp. in July – room sleeps 6 (bunkbeds)

Location: Right beside the tram stop, which is a short 10 min tram ride to Vondelpark and the red light district. The Van Gogh Museum, the I am Amsterdam sign and the Rijksmuseum were a 3 minute walk away from the hostel.

Overall Impression: The place was really clean, and our rooms had a private bathroom. The place felt more like a hotel rather than a hostel. We all loved that we were right beside the tram so it was easy to get around.

Cooking facilities: No cooking facilities but you could pay for breakfast

Website: http://www.hotelvangogh.nl

2. Germany, Berlin – ‘The Generator’

Cost per night: 40 euro/night pp. in July – rooms slept 6 (bunkbed)

Location: Most of the clubs we went to were quite spread out so we always got a taxi but we were never that far away from them, and there was a underground train stop just beside the hostel.

Overall Impression: It was really clean and modern. It was more simple than Hotel Van Gogh but the rooms were probably a bit more spacious. There is a little courtyard with a bar which you can stay in until 12 (I think).

Cooking facilities: No, but you could pay for breakfast or there was a small café in front of the hostel that did sandwiches, soups and fries.

Website: https://generatorhostels.com/destinations/berlin/mitte?lang=en-GB

3. Czech Republic, Prague – ‘Old Town Square Apartments’

Cost per night: 27 euro/night pp. in July – apartments slept 6 (3 double beds)

Location: Was a short 5 minute walk from the Old Town Square, which was filled with restaurants, food carts, street performers and walking tours.

Overall Impression: The apartment I stayed in was really nice, it had three double beds a kitchen, big bathroom and a sitting area. However, my building didn’t have an elevator and we were on the second floor. So another reason that I would recommend a rucksack over a suitcase, for more tips on what to bring check out Interrailing – What to bring?. I really loved Prague despite the terrible weather when we were there. It should be a must on your trip.

Cooking Facilities: Yes, the apartment was fitted with a full kitchen and washing machines.

Website: http://www.old-town-square-apartments.com

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Prague from beer garden

4. Hungary, Budapest – ‘Pal’s Hotel and Apartments’

Cost per night: 21 euro/night pp. in July – apartment slept 6 or 8 people (all single beds)

Location: These apartments were in a great location, right beside the Szent István Basilica. Which was pretty central.

Overall Impression: DO NOT STAY HERE! We were staying on the 4th floor I think, and we came home one day to see that our apartment had been broken into. If it was someone who wasn’t staying in the hostel or apartments they would have had to walk past reception on the 3rd floor to get to our room. We demanded a refund and found an Airbnb elsewhere. The staff weren’t very helpful in dealing with the situation.

Cooking Facilities: Yes, there were cooking facilities. All of the apartments had their own kitchen.

Website: http://palshostel.com

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Széchenyi Lánchíd

5. Italy, Venice – Airbnb Apartment

Cost per night: 30 euro/night pp. in July (2 bedroom – 4 people)

Location: A two minute walk from Piazza San Marco. I couldn’t believe we found somewhere so cheap that was so central.

Overall Impression: Loved the accommodation we had a little kitchen which we made our breakfast in which was good for saving money. The people who owned the apartment came and met us at the main ferry stop and helped us with our luggage.  I couldn’t find the exact apartment on Airbnb to be able to link it, but we found loads of cheap places that looked lovely.

Cooking Facilities: Yes, we had a small kitchen in the apartment.

Website: https://www.airbnb.ca

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6. Slovenia, Lake Bled – ‘Hostel Bled Vila Viktorija’

Cost per night: 20 euro/night pp. in July – rooms slept 6 or 8 (bunkbeds)

Location: Perfect Location, just on the lake and a short 5 min walk to the main ‘town’ where you found all of the bars and a grocery store.

Overall Impression: This place was like a big house, my group of friends stayed in one room of 6 and another of 8. The room of 8 had their own bathroom, but the rooms of six had a bathroom across the hall way which was pretty much private but didn’t make a difference to us. This place offered Yoga on I think it was Monday nights and they had an ice-cream fridge and you could order coffees and sandwiches.

Cooking Facilities: Yes, there were cooking facilities in the basement of the house. Not the most glam kitchen but was perfectly clean and did the job.

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Lake Bell, Slovenia

Note: They only take cash, there is an ATM beside the supermarket just down the road.

After reflecting with all of my friends we all agreed that the apartments were a lot better than the hostels. Even though they were sometimes a bit more expensive, you end up saving a good bit of money when you can cook some of your meals, rather than having to eat out all of the time. If you have any more questions about Inter-railing or the accommodation feel free to comment.

Enjoy your trip!

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