Orlando – Universal S(unburn)tudio’s

Universal Studios was incredible, We did both sides of the park and of course we visited more than once, my all time favourite ride is at these parks, duh, The Hulk! Universal is sick, from The Simpsons world to Harry Potter world and all the other awesome rides and places it has to offer its definitely a come back more than once job!

Of course we all had our photograph of us on the giant fake blue wave in the entrance to the parks, it would’ve been rude not too, and I also absolutely LOVED the Billabong shop they had so of course I did spent a little too much time there. Theres also the beautiful view of the river that runs through the entrance to both universal parks and the entrance to the Hard Rock restaurant, the best time was when the sun was setting, it was gorgeous.

And not forgetting the rather large spinning earth and Universal Studios sign before you enter the park on the right side, I mean did you even go to Universal if you didn’t get a photograph in front of it?

Of course upon entering the park for a majority of the day all I was doing was applying suncream, which didn’t work, because I got royally burnt as per usual when is anything ever different with me. My face and my nose flare up so much when they’re burnt you may as well call me Rudolf. So many great rides at universal and so little time, but regardless of that we went on the Hollywood Rock It probably the most, although The Hulk was definitely a close second!

278My favourite time on the Hollywood Rock It was when I went on the ride with Imi, obviously you get on the ride and you strap yourself across your legs and stomach and whilst you’re making your way up to the first drop you get to choose what music you listen too as you go around the course, and at the time they were also filming your experience for you to take home instead of a photo. Id decided to listen to Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger because what other banger is better than that.

So it was video’ing Imi and I as we went round, and I’m pretty sure after watching it back with Ims she passed out on nearly every single drop on the ride and then came back to life screaming and smiling whenever we weren’t on a drop or loop, and the ride managed to get it all on film! I wish, I WISH I’d bought a copy of the film because we were hysterical laughing!

Some of the other rides that deserved just as much recognition has got to be The Mummy Ride, The Transformers 4D ride and the Men in Black shooting/game ride was so much fun. Im a pansy and hate simulator rides, so the Twister ride was lost to me, which is such a shame as I love the film! After being in Orlando a while I was starting to get sick of eating crappy foods so universal was my saviour in terms of the huge big tubs of fruit they sold around the park, easily my favourite buy because I was starting to forgot how good the sweet nectar of fruit was whilst we were out there.

269Of course The Simpsons world was fun, although I bottled it on the ride they had to offer, so I held the bags whilst everyone went on! But it was so cool how they had a Moes Bar and all the other Simpson related statues and venues! I even got to have a cute photo with Millhouse!

From The Simpsons world we went across to the Men in Black ride which was interactive, where you sat in a carriage of 4 and shoot things and get a score, I was crap, of course.

 

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For those who are massive Harry Potter fans you’ll know just how incredibly impressive Diagon Alley and Harry Potter world, Hogwarts, the train and the Duelling dragon rides are. Not to mention the Butter beer, So sweet but so good. Nothing was cooler than walking along Diagon Alley and realising that the dragon breathes fire down at all of us walking through the street! We also had a pretty good chat with the man who was running the ‘night bus; in the park, he was pretty up for a photograph and a natter! Now I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, but It didn’t take much to absolutely blow me away with just how impressive the place was.

We took the train from platform 9 and 3 quarters across to the other side of the park which was awesome. It was newly opened when we headed there, there was 5 of us to a cubicle and the movie they showed on the window and the special effects with the carriage doors was so cool, so fascinated and great to be reminded of what happens in the Harry Potter films! The train dropped us in the adventure island part of Universal where the duelling dragons and the village with Hogwarts was, Im not sure how it happened but after a few tears from one of our youngest members of the families, we managed to bag ourselves a quick tour of the Hogwarts castle and then on the ride that was inside Hogwarts!

The Duelling dragons were good fun, and of course we had to go on both the Red ride and the Blue ride too see which one was better! I preferred the red ride hands down.

NOW of course because we’d come across to the other side of the park there was a whole new park to explore basically, this side of the park consisted of Dr Seuss’s area, as well as Jurassic Park and the Marvel area, which is definitely my favourite area!

228Jurassic Park was good fun because at Universal they have the water ride for Jurassic Park, not only was Imi terrified of all the dinosaurs that jumped out, and I don’t blame her either, but as we were making our way up the massive hill to then go down the HUGE drop they have, which FYI soaked me through even though I was holding a waterproof coat over GJ and myself, one of the padre’s our group had his Go Pro out and you can just hear some america voice say “Can you please put your Go Pro away sir” over the intercom, but, I’m sorry love, we didn’t hear you, what was that???? It was wild fun, I’ve NEVER been on a water ride with such a steep drop! Scared the living daylights out of me! But of course we were soaked, and it was great, kept us cool for the duration of the day as to was a scorcher!

Carrying on through the park the Spiderman 4D experience ride was tonnes of fun although it made me a little nervous in terms of simulator rides, but it was good’un in the end! AND I got to meet Captain America and HOLD HIS SHIELD, But typically, with my rather short shorts its made me look very naked…

Got to meet Optimus Prime too! The transformers costumes were seriously impressive, I couldn’t tell if they were ran by remote control or if there were people actually inside them, but they were really tall and so detailed, they were so impressive.

My favourite part of the holiday in terms of food in Orlando, was the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando in Universal Studios, I was excited to eat there before we’d even arranged to go there put it that way. Not only was it huge inside and out but it had a Cadillac just in the middle of the restaurant spinning around above the bar below it! When we arrived there was 13 of us and they even took a group photograph of us before we all went to sit down, and it was a great picture as we didn’t get another like it the entire holiday.

The food was incredible, I had a burger with bacon, cheese and the sweetest BBQ sauce, then all of us girls had mocktails because boo hoo the drinking age being over 21 in the US, none of us qualified for that haha! But the mocktails were nice none the less! I loved looking at all the famous musicians outfits dotted about the restaurant too, I’d also never eaten in a Hard Rock before this night either so it was a fun experience!

Id love to go back to Universal soon as they have opened a Kong: Skull Island ride, and it bet its phenomenal because I LOVED the film! One day I’ll head back.

 

 

Portugal – SURFS UP!

We surfed on the beaches every day and it was such a huge gorgeous beach! Visit www.studentsurftrips.com for more info on these trips!

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When we got there everyday we would all work as a team to take the boards down to the water and set our base camp. The surf instructors back at the lodge had already put us in groups of our skills. I was in the beginner group because lets be honest I’ve never been that great at it. They would usually take us to two different beaches but the surf I believe was dead on the south coast but amazing on the west, so thats where we went, The beach was called Praia Da Borderia and it was beautiful (shout out to Paulina for telling me the name after I forgot!).

To get down to the beach we had to walk down a boardwalk, through where the sea on high tide cut off the boardwalk onto the beach, and then further down the beach to set up camp. IMG_3214They usually had a gazebo and then we’d set up and leave all our stuff around the Gazebo during the day. You had sunbathing time every day on the beach too which was always lovely.

They took each groups in the water for two sessions a day for two hours each session, although you could get out when you wanted and if you didn’t want to surf at all but still come to the beach you could! Or you could stay at the lodge if you didn’t fancy it which some days I really didn’t. So pool days were on the cards occasionally! They would show you how to do certain things before each session, you’d warm up and they would sometimes show you how to pop up again as its always a nice refresher. They also brought us food down to the beach for lunch! It would usually be salads, pastas and crisps and sandwiches, water too, it was all fresh and really nice after a surf session.

All the instructors are really nice, really good teachers and come on nights out with you when you go out in Lagos, they’re all up for a laugh which is always great!

I love surfing, I always ave, I don’t know how I got into it but I’m pretty sure it was through the love for my Beach lifeguarding job. Theres no surf where I live but joining the university surf society was easily the best choice I made! Surfing abroad is more challenging I think, it makes you more alert. Its amazing fun though and if you get the chance to surf anywhere you visit, take it.

There was a only a tiny little cafe on this huge beach, and there were not toilets which was always funny when 4 girls all ran off to pee in the dunes. The sea was also pretty chilly without your wetsuit on and the current was really strong in the water so we weren’t allowed to far out without some sort of supervision of the instructors.

It was a really beautiful beach, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a prettier beach and the swell was really good.

It was always so good to surf and I always came home covered in sea salt and with beach curls I never wanted to wash out, well and truly shattered and ready for bed. Its  my all time favourite feeling.  I love the beach too much.

Portugal – Staying in a Surf Lodge

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The Surf Lodge we stayed in was in Lagos, Jah Shaka Surf Lodge, and god it was Beautiful. It was about a half an hour – 45 Minute taxi ride from the airport, I’m not sure how much the taxi cost, It was a 9 seater that was full and it was a couple euros each! Their official website to book all things Jah Shaka is here; www.studentsurftrips.com! So check that out if you want too.

When we pulled up into the gates it was really gorgeous. All the trucks they use to get around were parked in the drive  with surf boards of the roofs of the car, and it just looked so cool. The lodge was pretty big, it had 10+ rooms and if the rooms were all full there were
Tipi’s! As cool as a Tipi sounds id rather have a room, so I got a 3 bed room with a double ben and en suite to share! It was so much more than what I’d hoped for.img_3266

The Lodge itself had a kitchen, a communal lounge, a large pool and garden area which was so good for chilling in, an eating area and a bar!!
The best part was that the bar was so cheap! Beer for €1 and Cider for €2! It also had a cool fire pit and seating area around it, some of the nights spent around that fire are now a lot of good memories.

The Lodge takes us to the beaches to learn how to surf at all these different beaches, they can teach different skill classes and the instructors are really nice and you get to chill with them at the lodge. They provide food for you on trips to the beach and in the mornings an evenings. They also plan nights out for you and take you for dinner. Its img_3182a pretty sound place, you get to choose what you do, and theres even for a little extra dosh go stand up paddle boarding at sunset/sunrise. I wish I’d done it!

I’d go back there to stay in a heartbeat. I shared a room with Abbie & Becca and it was so much fun. I’d never stayed in a surf lodge before so it was a really wonderful experience I would so do again. The staff were all lovely as they

*****

Getting around Lagos was pretty easy, nice and cheap! If we wanted to get into town we could get order taxi’s to the lodge for only a small price! it was under €10 at least and if there was 4+ of you in the taxi it never cost you more than €2-3 each! The taxi drivers are a little bit crazy and love to drive fast and unlike the drivers in the UK, they’re not very talkative or considerate either.

There was once instance where we got in a blazing argument with a taxi driver, but that wasn’t quite our fault. I look back on it now and I can’t help but laugh, we are some hormonal girls in a different country, it was hilariously brilliant. We ended up complaining to the surf lodge in the end!

img_3344I personally loved the way the instructors got us to the beaches, we got to fit 6-8 people in these awesome trucks and we all headed to the beach in convoy in these awesome looking trucks with surfboards on the roof. It was really sweet, I felt like I was on a proper surf holiday (even though I was it felt a little more real when I sat inside one of the trucks for the first time).

It was a really enjoyable time and although the journey in the back of the trucks didn’t always leave my stomach feeling wonderful, it was definitely a different way to travel to and from the beaches and it was a fun experience.

Dublin – Dirty Pints & Half priced rides home at 4am

When we first got to Dublin we headed to our hostel, then straight out, Only to find

49ourselves in the same pub the entire afternoon. It was called Murphy’s Pub and we sat in there for hours upon hours just relaxing with each other, we got there at about 11am and stayed until around 3pm. It was a long time but we were all to busy falling asleep as our flight was at 4am the same day, listening to men chanting at football and ripping each other to bits like we usually do.

It was a nice place, we sat outside on the balcony, drinks of course were not cheap because its Dublin. We had a whale of a time even though we were all beyond tired. Josh ended up sticking rizla’s to his eyebrows and Cam drank my stale pint of guinness i’d left on the table for a good 2 hours which also had someones chewing gum in it, and the man still drank it. I love my friends.

*****

Our first big night out was in Xico. Its an over 21’s nightclub in Dublin where you have to pay €20 just to get in. But because my wonderful irish friend Craig has some very very popular friends (Jay Duffy, Keith Duffy from boy zone’s son), We all managed to get in for free and under the age limit, I’m not even 21 till next year either! All about who you know aye! It was a huge nightclub with a smoking area upstairs, huge long bar (with attractive barmaids) and a mixture of cheesy but also good music to dance too!

79It was an amazing night, the drinks were flowing and like I said before were not cheap! At about 2am there were only me, Brad, Cam and Josh left in Xico, We partied the night away and danced to the cheesy music until 3am and the lights came up. It was a fun night and we were all hammered. The Downside to this is that we had gotten a taxi to Xico and had absolutely no idea where we were in relation to our hostel, and we were all absolutely mortal.

This resulted in the 4 of us attempting to walk through the streets of Dublin trying to get home, smashed. After having a 76number of photos in a door way that looked like No.10 Downing street, we headed further down a road where Josh decided to climb up onto the highest wall we could see whilst the rest of us looked at the city map, and we still had no idea where we were. And then to top it all off whilst I was trying to read the map Josh and Cam were walking circles around me and the map sign, this only resulted in Cam somehow managing to wallop himself in the face with the sign. This only progressed into Cam laying on the floor and also having a cone on his head at 77one point.

Even though it was brilliant, It was nearly 4am and I was tired and just wanted to go home. So the 4 of us managed to somehow climb into the back of a 3 seated rickshaw. God do I feel sorry for the bloke who had to bike us back to our hostel because the journey wasn’t short. We were cheering him on as we all sat in the back. We ended up paying him €13 euros and a tattoo voucher for somewhere back in the UK as that was all we had left, whereas it should’ve been at least €25!! it was a crazy night and I know I’ll never forget it.

*****

One evening Brad and I headed down to Temple Bar. If you ever get the chance to go there then do, when we went down there were pubs galore, live music and lots of pretty lights! 85Its a really lively place, and very expensive! My Malibu and coke and brads pint cost €16 in total, just for 2 drinks! Don’t go to temple bar with the hope of getting pissed for cheap because it just won’t happen, so be prepared to spend the dosh!

After Temple Bar we headed to meet everyone at a Shisha bar down the road from our hostel. It was really cool, it was down a set of stairs and through the corridor into these little rooms where you had to take your shoes off and chill out on the floor. Each ‘booth’ was separated with silk curtains and there were pillows and it was really cosy. It wasn’t too expensive and we got a shisha pipe and some jasmine green tea, it was so chilled out and a perfect way to wind down!

We spent our last evening in a pub in Temple Bar and all got monumentally ruined, we listened to live music and patted ben on the back as he chundered by a bin outside, the perfect way to end the holiday!

I adore my friends to say the least!

Dublin – The Generator Hostel & Rickshaw rides

When in Dublin we wanted a place that was pretty central, cheap but also nice, and that could house 9 of us. We Decided on the Generator hostel and we ended up with 2 rooms, 6 in one room and 3 in the other. It was perfect.

The rooms were perfect and came with 2 charger plugs and lights for each bed. There were 3 bunk beds and they had two draws underneath where you could keep all you belongings, there was also a sink and a mirror! It was perfect for the lot of us. The mens bathrooms were on the second floor and the women’s was on the first, and they were lovely and clean.

46Downstairs where the check in desk and seating area was huge and really cool. There were 3 stories, the bottom was seating areas, a pool table and lockers for people who got to the hostel before the check in time and could leave their bags till their rooms were ready, we had to do this and it was really helpful, saved us lugging ur bags around. The second floor was busier, with a bar, multiple pool areas, a stage for events in the evening and plenty of seating and even a small cafe off to the side for breakfast and snacks etc in the day! The top floor was just more seating, an ATM and the desk to check in! It was a huge place with about 5-6 floors and plenty of rooms for a relatively good price, and the lights in the main area were Jameson Whiskey bottles! (Bet they had fun making the bottles available for the light).

You aren’t allowed to bring alcohol into the hostel so if you’re thinking of pre drinking in your room, think again. Unless you’re stealthy and good at hiding things… But I’ll leave that down to you.

*****

When we were in Dublin, everything was pretty expensive. Getting a taxi would’ve been a waste of money. Especially as most places were within walking distance from our hostel. We could walk to the shopping area and to Temple bar, the main pub and club area, so overall it was pretty decent and easy to travel about. Admittedly we did get a taxi to the club, Xico, that we went too but it wasn’t far, still about €10 none the less for less than 5 minutes!

A pretty cool way we go around one night was a rickshaw! There was some guy who rode the bike at the front whilst you could fit 3 of you in the back! It was pretty fun! Especially when you’re absolutely trashed, its still expensive but so much more fun than your average taxi. Cold though! Best to make sure it isn’t raining! But you can read more about that here!

Amsterdam – Travel & Other things to help you get around.

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I didn’t realise how far out of the centre our flat was until we jumped on Bus 22 and sat for 9 stops/20 minutes with our suitcases trying to figure out where we were going, this was after getting from the airport to the centre, getting all the tickets we needed and more. 

*****

  • The Travel:

Getting the train from the airport is really simple, after getting through baggage, security and all that we headed to the help desk and they sent us to the very obvious desk that said Train Tickets. note to self, actually open your eyes and look around as you are capable as a human being to do things the first go without help. 

Single Train tickets to Amsterdam centre from Schipol are €4.20, so nothing to strenuous at all and it takes you, obviously, right to the centre stress free.

Getting to the centre we wanted to find somewhere where we could get a tram pass. After speaking to a helpful woman she sent us in the right direction towards a white GVB building to the left of the station (it might even be the GBV buildings, its easy to spot regardless of which way the letters are).

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In here we asked for a tram pass and another helpful lady gave us a 4 day tram and bus pass for only €22.00, Easily the cheapest deal we’d ever seen & not expected. It gave us access to any bus or tram in Amsterdam, all we had to do was scan the pass as we got on and off every time, no extra charge!!!

We saved so much money, if we’d have bought tickets for every journey we took we would not have been able to spend the money we did.  With a Tram and Bus stop right outside out flat and a train station down the road if we needed it, it was so convenient.

The trams, trains and buses are immaculate. They’re so clean and so brilliantly on time, the buses aren’t so accurate on time but none the less, it was better than any shitting english public transport services. The trams were the best, my personal fave cause there were always on time and they’re just brilliant things to have.

*****

  • The Other things:

My step-mum told me the wisest words I’d ever heard before we left for Amsterdam;

“Download Citymapper onto your iPhone”

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So the first thing I did before I left was exactly that. And we depended on that App to travel around Amsterdam like it was a travel bible (So shout out to my step-mum). You can use this App for most cities globally to help you get around, just type in which city you’re in and you’re away!

The pros of this app were that it was a massive help as we were in the city, the cons are that if you are not anywhere near the centre the app is deemed pretty much useless (I tried using it for London, and because I wasn’t in London at the time it didn’t work out).

We used this app from the moment we got to the centre & from then on we were dependant on it when it came to getting back to the flat and getting to restaurants that were outside of the really busy areas of amsterdam. It gave us the Tram and Bus services that we need to get on from where we were, and if we needed to walk to any of the tram or bus stops it gave us the directions to walk to the stop! It used the GPS on my phone to show it knew which direction we were stood in too, It was SUCH a handy app to have.

SO helpful, 10/10 would totally use it again and I highly recommend it too.

*****

Another method of transport which wasn’t used by us, and to be honest we didn’t even think to use it to get around because we had more chance of dying than getting to our final destination, was the BIKES. The people of Amsterdam do not mess around with their bikes. They have specific red bike lanes as there are so many people who find it easier to use bikes rather than drive, and with those windy small roads I don’t blame them.

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If you stepped out into a bike lane without looking you’d have a lot of angry people speaking dutch, as if the language does sound angry enough when they speak generally, shaking their fists and heads. Make sure you cross somewhere you won’t get mowed down.

I’d almost definitely crash my car if I drove there, I’ve already bumped it twice in England, maybe Im just shit at driving.

(I definitely am).

Amsterdam – Staying somewhere a little different.

Although there are Hostels and Hotels galore in Amsterdam, We tried something a little different. We tried this magical thing called AirBnB. Its something that seems to be getting bigger and more popular as time goes on, and for a student who can’t afford the world, it’s prices were also perfect, so why not? I didn’t want to look on Airbnb until the last minute, it wasn’t something that tickled my fancy and I wanted to try and see if I could find something else, it was really a last resort. But in future reference it will no longer be a last resort at all. It exceeded my expectations by a mile.

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I came across this ad on AirBnB with a room very well priced per night for the two of us that was close to the centre of dam but not too close and where there was plenty of transport, a place with wifi and a private bathroom/shower too. It was a brilliant overall price for 3 nights once I’d booked it, it was just hoping it lived up to my expectations.

*****

I don’t have a proper photograph of the room to show,  I have a few of the window, really helpful right? Sorry! It was a perfect room located just outside the centre in Molukkenstraat, a 20 minute bus or tram ride and a Lidl directly over the road for all our munchie needs, Although there was one downside;

We kept in contact with our host before we arrived and during. We were told her friend would be able to check us in at half past 3 as she was occupied and we were given her name and number. This was great, and super exciting, until it hit quarter past 4 and we’d been stood in the rain for 45 minutes with an unavailable phone number that didn’t work and no idea who to contact as we couldn’t reach our host online either. EVENTUALLY, the hosts friend showed up to let us in and give us our keys, the room wasn’t ready but It didn’t take them long to do the finishing touches so we didn’t mind.

It was a standard room with a double bed, a dresser & wardrobe, chair and a big-ass window which I enjoyed hanging my head out of a lot of the time. We had a bathroom down the hall which had everything we needed. It wasn’t immaculate but as my boyfriend and I are both students, it was cleaner than our bathrooms at uni and that was enough for us! The bed was beyond comfortable, and as I have trouble sleeping it was perfect.

Another benefit to this room is that the bus and tram stations are right outside the flat. This made travelling to and from the centre so easy, we could come and go as we pleased and not have to run to the station at any point, but thats another story (you can find it here:  Amsterdam – Travel & Other things to help you get around).

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A nice little perk was that one morning when we woke up it was snowing, and as the bed is next to the radiator and the window up against the wall it was nice to be able to sit on the bed with the window open, smoke and be cosy and warm whilst watching the snow outside, the perfect morning start to a busy day!

Overall, our AirBnB experience was great. It was something totally different and I say don’t be afraid to try it, It may be something out of your comfort zone but its totally worth it. The host was great, the room was great and the location, it wasn’t stupidly expensive if anything the perfect price and I had a wonderful trip to go along side it.

Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone can help you to discover new ways to travel!