Pisa

On our way back from Sestre Levante we decided to pop into Pisa City Centre to check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the surrounding area before heading to Galileo Airport back to Edinburgh.

You can really just see Pisa in an afternoon, I’m sure they’re may be lots more to see outside the main part, but we were quite happy seeing the tower and other monuments, and finding a lovely spot for lunch and coffee.

In the heart of the city there is the Square of Miracles, or as it is formally known, Campo dei Miracoli. It is also a World Heritage Site. There are three structures found in the square, the Baptistry, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, and the graveyard. However, the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually the cathedrals bell tower. The square is surrounded by a gorgeous, and well maintained lush lawn, where you could find crowds of people relaxing and taking in the sights. There is also two museums that you can visit, the Cathedral Museum and the Museum of the Synopses, to learn a bit of history.

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Around the monuments there are mazes of stalls selling souvieners. If you want to pick up a cheap magnet or key chain, then here is the perfect place. Unfortunately the majority of the stalls sell all of the same items, so it’s difficult to get something unique.

I couldn’t resist having a go at the mandatory holding the tower up pose! I’ll be honest, this was actually quite difficult and resulting in Dino yelling at me where to put my hands for a good five minutes! I think it was worth it though, what do you think?

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Praia da Rocha

 

Praia da Rocha, AKA ‘The beach of rocks’, is a popular, yet peaceful, holiday resort just south of the town of Portimão, on the Algarve. I travelled here for a mini break in October with my family, for some last minute sun before the Winter set in.

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We stayed at the Hotel da Rocha. A 4 star hotel overlooking the beach front. I couldn’t recommend this hotel more; all of the staff were very friendly & helpful, the food was spot on with a brilliant selection of local cuisine (which includes a lot of fresh fish!) and the rooms were modern, spacious and very comfortable! Facilities included a good sized pool, good for a refreshing dip in the mornings and a fully equipped gym which I tested out a couple of times.

Praia da Rocha has one of the largest beaches on the Portimão coastline. The golden sand is marked with large rocks and boulders wth hidden caves and that is why it is known as ‘the beach of rocks’. Even in October I managed to take a brisk  dip in the Atlantic Ocean! But, if you don’t want too sandy, then you can take a stroll along the wooden boardwalk which stretches along the majority of the beach.

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My family loves keeping active on holidays so we didn’t just spend our days sun seeking on the beach! Praia da Rocha and the surrounding areas are perfect for shorts strolls, hikes among the dusty paths and slightly longer walks to stretch your legs. The larger town of Portimão is just over 3km away and is full of local shops, cafes, and lovely architecture.

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We decided to check out the neighbouring fishing village of Alvor one morning, so we followed the costal path along the beach, which eventually took us up along the cliffs which provided breathtaking views! When we got to Alvor we wondered along the river front lined with bars and seafood restaurants. We then wondered up the narrow cobbled lanes which led us into the old town and onto the 16th century Igreja Matriz church (fun fact: I love seeing churches while on holiday, I just enjoy the atmosphere and design of them!) which sits proudly above the village. In the evenings we would usually take short strolls along the boardwalk, or down the street to the Fort of Santa Catarina, a medieval fort which is lit up at night and gives stunning views to the coastline.

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Praia da Rocha is a gorgeous resort for little breaks and longer holidays. I enjoyed every minute of my time here and would visit again to explore in a heart beat!

Thanks for reading!

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios

It’s a difficult choice deciding which Disney World park comes out on top, but I have to say it’s definitely a tie between the fairy tale of Magic Kingdom and glitz of Hollywood Studios… However, today I’ll be chatting all about my day trip to Hollywood Studios!

As soon as you enter the park you feel as though you are transported back into Hollywood’s golden age. Hollywood Boulevard is lined with various Disney shops, with a few classic Hollywood landmarks along the way. This first part of the park really sets the scene.

The first ride we went on was the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and we had to go on this more than once! It was a different story for the Tower of Terror… One ride was enough for me thanks!

We just had to go and see Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage. The broadway style musical was packed and is a must see when visiting the park. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite classic Disney films, I couldn’t help but sing a long!

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We decided to ditch the fast food stall for lunch and have a sit down meal in one of Disney’s many restaurants. We chose Disney’s Prime Time Cafe, and we were glad we did! Again, Disney did a fabulous job transporting you back in time. It was just as though you were in an American 50’s style home, complete with TV style dinner meat loaf!

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Star Wars has made a huge appearance throughout the park. Which I loved as a recently converted fan! You can meet all your favourite character like Chewbacca, and take a trip on their new ride Star Tours.

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Near the end of the day we ventured into Pixar Place. I loved this part of the park. It was just like you were in a movie, with hanging barrel of monkeys above you a giant etch-a-sketch! My all time favourite ride in the whole park was here… Toy Story Mania! It’s a 4D ride where you need to shoot moving targets. Perfect for big kids like me!

The only thing I was disappointed with was finding out that the Mr Golds Pawn Shop front from Once Upon a Time was gone! They had to take it down to make way for the future refurbishment of the park. Although it was such a small part of the park, as a big fan of the show I was so excited to see it. Lets hope that when the park is revamped they make Once Upon a Time a bigger part of it!

 

 

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Being a Witch for the Day

Dragons, wands, broomsticks and butter beer? There’s only one place that has all of those and that’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I had the most magical and action packed day at Harry Potter World at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure in Orlando, and I wouldn’t have to think twice if someone asked me to go back.

As I walked into Hogsmeade I was greeting by snowcapped hatched roofs and cobbled streets that were nestled with crooked buildings, including the recognisable Three Broomsticks Pub, Honey Dukes sweet shop, and stalls offering butter beer (a must have!). It seemed almost surreal as the heat of the Florida sun baked down on me, but I couldn’t help but be whisked away into the magical universe of Harry Potter.

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We quickly jumped into the queue for Dragon Challenge before it got too busy (We went on the Blue side, AKA the Hungarian Horntail). I’ll say that all of the rides at Harry Potter World are a must do, but the Dragon Challenge is one of the best roller coasters at Universal in my opinion. We then took a tour through Hogwarts Castle, which is like an attraction in itself. The ride at the end of the queue is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which I believe is quite a new ride. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted, as it is so immersive you feel right at the heart of the magical world of Harry Potter. I won’t give too much away, you’ll need to experience it for yourself!

Diagon Alley is the newest addition to the Harry Potter attractions in Orlando. In order to get there from Hogsmeade you need to take a trip on the Hogwarts Express. As you hop off the train it actually feel as though you’ve arrived in London Kings Cross Station- they really have done an excellent job!

Diagon Alley really goes above and beyond. You’re instantly drawn to the eery dragon perched on top of Gringotts Bank (Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is another ride not to be missed!) which breathes fire down on the shops below. The Leaky Cauldron, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and Ollivanders Wand Shop are just some of the stores you can browse while you’re making through your list for your term Hogwarts.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is hands down a must visit on your trip to Orlando. Even if you’re not into roller coasters and rides, it’s the immersive, truly magical experience that counts.

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Toronto Blog

It’s been a few weeks since returning from the True North and I’m missing it so much! I thought I’d write up a little recap of what I got up to when I was exploring Toronto and the Niagara Region with my sisters!

 

Niagara Falls 

This was one of my many visits to Niagara Falls in my life. We had a wonder down by the falls and then went for a wonder up and around Clifton Hill. We stopped by Hershey World for a look around as well.

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My Sister was lucky enough to be working at this music festival doing photography so we got to tag along and help out. It was an amazing experience and we saw some brilliant bands like The Wombats (flash back to 2009!), Daughter, and The Cure.

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Food

Oh my how I missed the food! I may not have been the healthiest, but I was only there for a week, can you blame me? Timmies was first on my list for a food pit stop, and ice caps and the maple dip donut are my new favourites. We took a trip to Fran’s Diner, and had the most amazing diner experience! I would highly recommend the chilli!

To top everything off we went round the corner to Dutch Dreams… A family run ice cream parlour who go above and beyond your average ice cream cone. I had mint choc chip and mango ice cream and said yes to the ‘free toppings’ = cotton candy and lots of fruit!

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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis 

I have to be completely honest and say that Macklemore is the best performer I’ve ever seen live, it’s not just his music, but his personality comes out so well during the show. I had the best night down at Echo Beach- which is also a really cool venue, right on the lake front with sand by the stage- singing my heart out (and trying to rap…) to Downtown and Thrift Shop!

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Take me out to the ball game…! 

We got last minute tickets to see the Blue Jays play against Philly at the Rogers Centre. We won by a whopping 3-11! The atmosphere was crazy. It’s a must do when visiting Toronto!

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Toronto Islands 

On one of the nicest days we took a trip over Lake Ontario to Wards Islands (the Eastern End of the Centre Island). We had a little swim in the lake and had a wonder around seeing all the cute houses. You get the most amazing view of the Toronto skyline at the island as well as on the ferry.

 

Thanks for reading! XSignature

 

Prague April 2016

As mentioned in a previous post, my family and I jetted off to Prague for 4 days at the beginning of April. I was so excited to get away, have a change of scenery, and immerse myself in a new culture.

We have a family friend who lives in Prague, and having your own personal tour guide who speaks the language was unbelievably handy!

Prague is such a big city, and there is so much to do and see, it’s impossible to cover everything in three days!

The Flight 

We flew with Easy Jet from Edinburgh early Monday morning and arrived in Prague at around noon that day. The flight was so quick (around 2 hours).

The Hotel

We stayed at The Three Crowns Hotel. It was recomended by our friend, and it didn’t disappoint. The staff were so friendly and welcoming. The rooms were modern and comfortable, with a gorgeous bathroom with the most amazing open waterfall shower. Location wise it was close to a tram stop which was a few stops away from the main part of the city centre.

Day 1 – Monday 

Since we only had a few days, time was quite limited, so we headed out to explore as soon as we dropped our bags off at the hotel. We jumped onto a tram/street car, and headed to Wenceslas Square where all the main shops are restaurants are. We nipped into a local restaurant for a bite to eat then we went on to Old Town Square to see the famous Astronomical Clock! This really is a must see, it’s so detailed and interesting to look at. We didn’t get a proper view as there were lots of crowds, but we went there again the day after and we managed to get up close. After dinner, we went for a walk over Charles Bridge, which was lined with buskers playing traditional music, street artists and little stalls selling knick knacks.

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Day 2 – Tuesday 

On Tuesday morning we had an early breakfast and then my Dad and I went for a little wander around the area of our hotel. We got a pretty good view of the Radio Tower and the national memorial at Vitkov. We were invited for lunch at our friends Grandmothers house in Prague 7.. Where we were treated to a warm welcome and a traditional home cooked Czech lunch of potato salad and pork schnitzel! It was delicious! 

After lunch we headed to the area of Prague Castle. It was a gorgeous sunny and clear day, so we thought it would be a good idea to head up Petrin Hill and climb the Observation Tower. It was built as a mini version of the Eiffel Tower in 1891. It offers breath taking panoramic views of Prague!

We then went down Petrin Hill and went on to Prague Castle. The walk up to the Castle was very grand, and before entering you were greeted with huge golden archway with two enormous stone statues at either side. This first lead us to a large stone courtyard with a fountain right in the middle. After the courtyard we walked through another arch way and there was the castle. It’s pretty hard to miss, it is the largest medieval castle in Europe!

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Day 3- Wednesday 

Wednesday was our last day and so we had a few things to squeeze in before we headed home. We headed back into the centre of town and went to see the oldest Synagogue in Europe. We didn’t go inside, but it was still a very interesting place to visit.

We then went for a little stroll around the Botanická Zahrada gardens.

After that we went for a spot of shopping at the Paladium Shopping Centre, followed by a mandatory coffee break! 

Prague has a plethora of museums to see. My sister and I were desperate to go and see the Museum of Alchemy, but unfortunately it was undergoing renovations at the time we were visiting (gives us another reason to go back! 😉 ) so instead we went to the Mucha Museum, the Chocolate Museum, and the Wax Museum– which I’ll admit wasn’t the best, but at least we tried it out!

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Day 4- Thursday 

We had a very early flight to catch so only had time for a quick breakfast before catching a taxi to the airport!

 

 

Have you guys been to Prague? Let me know what you thought of the city? I’ll definitely be going back! 

Thanks for reading! 

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Beach Day

On Monday I had to take my Sister through to Edinburgh. It was a gorgeous day, the sun was shining (for once!) and I didn’t have to wrap up in a scarf and winter coat!

img_0468We drove through to Portobello Beach, and we went to the Beach House Cafe for a quick cup of tea before my Sister had to go for her interview. I would love to go back there for lunch. They had a huge table full of freshly homemade cakes. It felt like you were in a little beach hut. The walls were wooden panelled and decorated in bright colours. I could sit there for hours looking out at the Forth, with the waves crashing, and seagulls cawing.

I went for a little walk along the Promenade.. It was a little bit windy, but felt so nice to be able to walk along the sandy beach, watching people walking their dogs as they paddled in and out of the tide. Made me wish I had a little corgi on a day like that!

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At around half 12 we hopped back into the car and heading along the road to the Shore. We managed to squeeze into a parking space and went to Mimi’s Bake House for a bit to eat. I had only been here once before, but it is one of the best places for a lazy lunch in Edinburgh. Their moto is “It’s all about the cake”, and they mean it! As soon as you walk in, your eyes are drawn to the glass cabinets filled with stacks of freshly made tray bakes, brownies, cheesecakes, and sponges. It’s almost impossible to make up your mind as to what to have!

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I got the French Toast with cherry tomatoes, sausages, and of course, maple syrup. Followed by a cup of tea and the most Easter goodie you could think of, Cream Egg Rocky Road!

If you’re in and around Leith, I’d definitely recommend that you pop in to Mimi’s (unless you haven’t already!)

 

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Weekend Away Up North

For an early Valentines day present my boyfriend treated me to a night away at a hotel up north! He booked the Mansion House in Elgin, Scotland. This year has been pretty stressful with his final year of Uni (aka dissertation time!!) and with me working almost full time, so we don’t get the opportunity to see each other as much as we both used to back when I was at Uni. So it was really nice to be able to spend some time together ❤

We drove from Edinburgh up to Elgin on Saturday morning, which took roughly 3 and a half hours.. A long trip but it was definitely worth it!

When we got to the hotel, we checked in and settled in to our room. We then decided to look round the hotel and check out the spa facilities (they had a lovely pool, with a sauna and steam room). We booked dinner for around half 7, and went down to the lounge where we ordered drinks, I got my absolute fave- Gin & Cranberry- and they brought us Canapés (we felt v. posh!) which were Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Roulade with Fruit and Nuts. It was different, as I’m not a fan of smoked salmon, but we still enjoyed it.

We then ordered our food and after about 15 minutes we were shown to our table.

I ordered the Carrot Veloute with toasted hazelnut oil and croutons to start, the Fillet of Aberdeenshire Scottish Beef for a main, and then the Selection of Chocolate & Strawberries (With a difference!) for desert! We both really enjoyed the meal.

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I would definitely recommend the hotel to anyone who is planning a weekend away in Scotland. It is rustic yet modern, and the decor is gorgeous! The rooms are spacious and clean, and my favourite part was the bathroom (the bath was huge!). The staff were brilliant and could not have been more helpful.

The next morning we went down for breakfast around half past 8, we both decided to have a full cooked breakfast as it’s something we rarely eat at home. We then checked out and headed down the road! 🙂

 

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Toronto

Back in October I decided to book a last minute trip across the pond to Toronto to visit my Sister, Kathryn! It was made even better as I spent my 21st birthday over there and Canadian Thanksgiving (which happened to be on the same day- October 12th!).

My Mum is Canadian, and so I was lucky enough to grow up with lots of visits over there, so I see it as a second home. However I hadn’t been there for many years, and so I was really excited to go back as an adult!

My Sister and her mates acted as tour guides for the week, showing me all the usual tourist sights- like the CN Tower, Niagara Falls, and Toronto Island- as well as the more of the local spots!

Here are a few photos from my Toronto adventure!

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