Sunday, 16 April 2017

My Sunday Photo

Linking up with @Photalife on Twitter for My Sunday Photo.


We've just gone back from a lovely week in Devon for the Easter hols. It was cold and windy but the sun shined nearly the whole time so we spent most of it on the beach. This gorgeous shot (if I do say so myself!!) was taken at Saunton Sands. Missing it so much today!

Happy Easter :)


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Paris in a day

I love, love, love Paris and if we're being honest it isn't possible to see everything that Paris has to offer in a day. It is however possible to tick off some of the main sites so how did I do it? Well last year my best friend and I had rather large birthdays and as part of that she decided that she was going travelling on her own. Under the guise of being a good friend but really wanting to see Paris with her, I offered to fly out and meet her for the day.

Thanks to Easyjet and their super cheap flights my 6:00am flight from London Luton to Charles de Gaulle and my return flight at 21:55 was only about £60 including taxes. The joy of being on the 6am flight is that you are in France, on the train and standing outside of Notre Dame eating breakfast by 9am!

We were a bit gung ho and decided to go all 1990's and not have phones, so our plan was to meet outside Notre Dame at 9.30am and take it from there and meet we did. We decided not to challenge ourselves and walk up the stairs to the top of Notre Dame but if you are braver than me this is possible and costs around £8. There is normally a bit of a queue so get there early if this is something you want to do. 

From here we walked through the gorgeous Parisien streets to the Louvre. The Louvre is incredible but you need to spend a good amount of time here and in all honesty if you're just there for the day it's unlikely you'll fit it in. You may want to take a photo though to tick it off your list ;) The gardens in front of the Louvre are particularly gorgeous too.

When we were in Paris, I was unfortunately really ill so we decided that we would get on the jump on/off sightseeing bus which actually completely made our day! There are many tours and different tour companies that have several routes across the city. Our tour cost us £20 each but it was worth every penny and at most stops the buses came every 15 minutes. From the Louvre we got the bus back past Notre Dame and spotted the very cool and quirky Shakespeare and Co bookstore which we visited and JoJo re-visited later during her trip for a talk and book signing. Worth checking what's going on in advance of your visit:

We stayed on the bus for a while so that we could make the most of seeing the City so from here our next stop was actually the Eiffel Tower:

In my opinion the best view of the Eiffel Tower is from the Trocaedro which is a 10 minute walk across the road but well worth the walk up the stairs. There were some renovations going on whilst we were there so the fountains were out of action and I don't have any photos from that view. We decided after a while on the bus that we would walk the 15 minutes back to the Arc de Triomphe just to stretch our legs and to get some lunch:

At this stop we seemed to have to wait ages for a bus but one did eventually turn up. We drove back to the Eiffel Tower and by the Ecole Militiare and then around by the very expensive shops and the Champs Elysee and then towards the Opera Garnier. We were ready for a walk around by this point so we got off the bus at the depot which was situated on Rue Montmarte and pottered around the shops buying lots of delicious food. 

My absolute favourite place in Paris to eat in Angelina's. The interior reminds me of the Ritz although Angelina's isn't as formal, It is pricey though so if you can't afford to eat in I suggest you visit the shop and buy yourself some loveliness to take away. There are several branches across Paris but I always go to the one on Rue De Rivoli however due to their popularity you will need to book or be prepared to wait a couple of hours for a table. Cakes look very small but my goodness they are rich and delightful:

The one thing that we didn't get to visit on this day trip was the Sacre Coeur but my goodness if you can fit it in then you should make the effort as it's incredible:

My last tip that I will leave you with is if you are doing Paris on a budget then take a step one street back from the main tourist areas and shop like a local. Prices are about three times cheaper and the fresh produce that you can get is amazing. Find a bakery and sit in a park somewhere to make the most of it. My favourite spot in the Place des Vosges which is just off the Rue de Rivoli but feels like it's a whole world away. It's a little square surrounded by beautiful buildings, cute shops that don't sell your usual tourist tat, incredible ice cream, fountains, grass and every day Parisien folk! Amazing  - but please don't tell too many tourists about it so we can still enjoy :)

Do you have a secret spot in Paris to share with us?

Sunday, 2 April 2017

My Sunday Photo

Linking up with @Photalife on Twitter for My Sunday Photo.

Very attractive photo of me in my too big wetsuit getting ready to get into the freeeeeezing cold lake. 

I've been a real fair weather swimmer this year and have only made it to two of the Winter swims!! Rumour has it that the water was 11 degrees yesterday but it certainly didn't feel like it was in double figures!! Roll on Summer evening swims when the sun is shining and I'm not shivering and shaking  and taking 20 minutes to get into the water like this:


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Universal Studios - Hollywood, California

As you know I'm a very lucky girl and one of the highlights of our California trip was a day out at Universal which was a Christmas present from my lovely family.  Now as most of you regular readers know the highlight for me was not only having my American Mom with us but also the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which I have posted about separately. Now most of the time you can guarantee the weather in LA but not at the start of the day we went it was drizzly to say the least.

First things first is parking. We got there in time for the park to open at 9am however opening times change throughout the year so best to check this on their website. Parking was easy, well marked, themed and very organised however it did cost us $20 for general parking on top of the ticket price. It was only probably a 10 minute walk to the entrance from here:

A nice rainy welcome from Universal Hollywood:

Usual bag checks and security are in operation but it wasn't too invasive and we were in!! We were advised to start at the back of the park which we were going to do but we got temporarily sidetracked by the Grinch doing Christmas. We met the Grinch - it was hilarious but I can't bring myself to talk about Christmas in March...... 

Now we had queue jumping passes and if you were to spend your money on one thing then I would spend it on this. The passes meant that the longest we waited for any ride was 15 minutes and bearing in mind that some of the queues were 90 minutes long this was a god send and enabled us to get on every single ride in the park. The front of line passes cost around $100 depending on time of year, which is a lot of money but like I say we felt they were worth it as we only had enough time to spend a day there. However if you are here for a few days and want to spend a lot of time here then you're better to buy a season ticket which is only about $20 more than normal entrance fee depending on the time of year you visit as there are black out days in peak seasons.

We decided that we would head on the studio tour first as this lasted about an hour and we assumed would get pretty busy. This is the more traditional side of Universal and if I'm honest the first 20 minutes was, in my opinion, pretty boring as it was just looking at back lots etc. If you want to get off and explore then you need to upgrade to VIP.

I honestly didn't take too many pictures of this mainly because it was raining and the splash guards were down so I figured they wouldn't turn out well anyway and I was too busy being entertained but our crazy tour guide!! I did enjoy touring Wisteria Lane and seeing bodies being carried out of the Bates Motel. The fun for me really started when we got to the action rides and although it's probably a bit outdated now my favourite was Jaws:

Some of the more modern interactive, virtual experiences were cool too. My favourite of these was definitely the Fast and the Furious one as you felt like you were flying. The King Kong and dinosaur fight one made me feel a bit sick but that's more down to my ear problems than the actual experience.

From here we headed to the back of the park and did Jurassic Park log flume which was brilliant, the Mummy rollercoaster (not for me!!) and Transformers ride too. The man and the girl enjoyed these whilst I visited with my Mom. We may have found some time to peruse the giftshops too. I am loving these photos and the ridiculous happiness of them:

This one of O is pretty much my favourite of her from the whole trip and it makes me giggle everytime I look at it:

We then headed back up top to Harry Potter and food at the Three Broomsticks (AMAZING!!). We spent quite a lot of time at Harry Potter mainly because I am huge fan! From here we took in the waterworld show which we loved so much we watched it twice, both times sitting close enough to feel the spray but not close enough to get absolutely drenched:

We also spent some time in Springfield meeting the Simpsons:

The man went on the Walking Dead walk through attraction which he said has a lot of the sets of the key scenes from the film. The animatronics are decent and the actors jump out at you. It was shorter than he expected it to be and if you have slow people in front of you then you know what's coming. It's certainly not for youngsters (or for me) but he said it's not that scary. We attended a civilized story telling session with Cindy Lou whilst he was scaring himself!!

Then we moved on to Despicable me:

 From here we went on a couple of the rides that were meant for smaller kids and then hit the gift shops. As it started to get dark we went back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter so that we could see everything lit up at night including the castle. It's just so damn magical and my photos in no way do it any justice:

At this point it was getting towards closing time but as we were heading back there was a concert taking place back in Grinchland so we stayed and watched that for a while before heading back to the car. We'd taken a picture of our car parking details so that we knew exactly how to find a way back. Getting out was easy and no traffic hold ups.

Overall I would say that the majority of the park is getting a bit outdated now (Waterworld is from the 1990's!!) however that it no way detracts from what a brilliant day out it is or how much fun we had. In mine and O's opinion it was worth it for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter alone however the man isn't that big a fan. 

It is an expensive day out though although on a par with Disney! Have listed costs above to give you a rough idea but these are based on December 2016 prices and do change depending on the season and how far in advance you book. It's also cheaper to book the entrance and front of line passes together as you can save yourself about $30 each by doing this.

Do let me know if you are planning a trip!