Orlando To Miami – ROAD TRIPPIN’!!

We decided from the start of the holiday we were going to drive to Miami South Beach from Orlando as a convoy, two SUV cards both packed and ready to roll for the 5 hour journey! And it didn’t disappoint. Honestly I spent a majority of the journey wondering how the hell my parents knew where they were going. We did two initial stops, although there was a quick one because we got lost being adventurous.

162We’d been driving about an hour when we stopped for a toilet break and some breakfast,  Dunkin’ Doughnuts? Don’t mind if we do. The scenery hadn’t changed much; we could tell we were still in the depths of Orlando, but there was a lot less around as were were driving. Not as many buildings or places to stop and enjoy. So once we’d stopped at Dunkin’ Doughnuts and stocked up on munch and were satisfied, we were off on our road trip once again to the holy land.

A little further along the way more buildings and roads and cars generally appeared, which meant we were getting somewhere, and getting closer! We stopped for lunch on our journey to Miami at Palm Beach! I didn’t catch the name of restaurant we went to but we sat outside under a canopy and all 13 of us enjoyed a big lunch! Us younger ones went for a wander along the beach, there was a huge pier which I wish we’d had time to walk down. There were also countless volley ball pitches on the sand, which was awesome but I can’t play volley ball for love nor money. The food was lovely and it was a really good break in the journey as it was starting to get a bit tedious.

We got a little lost before we finally managed to make it to Miami. I could never have told you the route we followed but it involved looking at a lot of beautiful beachside houses that were impressively large. We had to make a stop to stretch the legs and figure out which way was the right way but we made it in the end!

I remember arriving in Miami and being absolutely lost for words. What a place is all I have to say. I would live in Miami if anyone gave me the chance because its hands down the place of my dreams. Beautiful beaches, houses, fast cars, better lifestyle, god If only.

One day hey! I’ll be writing about my experience in Miami from here on! These were some of my favourite experiences of the holiday!

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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.

 

 

Dublin – GUINNESS DOES TASTE NICER IN IRELAND

Dublin was great fun, It was a last minute holiday between me and 8 of my university friends to up and just go away together for a long weekend and I don’t even know where to start on how much fun I had with everyone. We did a bit of sight seeing whilst we were in Dublin for 3 days, the influence to come here was one of our uni friends being from Ireland, it was a bloody good time!

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Being students on a mission to not spend too much but drink and do enough, I was so happy with the amount of things we had planned & what we did.

The Guinness factory was glorious and we all somehow managed to get royally pissed whilst being there, it was really fun and interesting to see how Guinness was made and we got plenty of tasters on the way around. The place is HUGE. There are student priced tickets but it still wasn’t cheap, coming to a price of €18.00 per person!

But it was worth the money, we got to pour our own guinness pints with a certificate to go with the pint and when you buy your ticket on the way in it gets you a free pint in their skyview bar which is really gorgeous cause you get a 360 view of Dublin. You learn about how they make and produce guinness and how it reaches our pubs, it was pretty cool for a bunch of booze loving students. We all somehow managed to get more than one free pint too, the result was not obsessive amounts money spent but somehow ending up a little tipsy/worse for wear. Well worth the trip, and yes, Guinness really DOES taste better in Ireland!

 *****

56In the middle of Dublin there appears to be a rather large metal pole, better known as The Spire of Dublin. We couldn’t not go and have a nose as you couldn’t really miss it. It is massive, reaching at about 120 metres (390 feet) its impressively huge.

Of course due to the location it didn’t cost a penny to see it. We got to wonder down and look at the shops and cafe’s, pubs and restaurants too whilst we were there so it was really in an ideal location to have a proper mooch around the centre.

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We Also headed a little more out of the centre of Dublin to have a look at Trinity College  and the Trinity Grounds. The grounds are beautiful and filled with artwork and the author of the novel Dracula, Bram Stoker, went to trinity college. It was really a nice walk and the architecture was wonderful.

Amsterdam – Good Coffee & Better Food

I’ll Start off with where we ate, but if you’re more interested in the coffee shops, scroll down! 

*****

Out for food!;

16002825_10207785444305919_6777500625390467971_nWheres good for grub? Okay, Although we didn’t really go mad with where we went for food & we tried not to go with standard chain restaurants, that did fail a few times but the food was lovely none the less, as was the experience in the small restaurants to fit the small Amsterdam streets.

  • Vapianos – There was nothing small about this place, it was 3 floors. I’d been to a Vapianos two years before when I went to Vienna and I hadn’t been back since, And I love Italian food. I love it even more when its cooked and made in front of you and then handed to you to go chill and eat, they have a pasta section and a pizza section, its pretty awesome. Good prices and banging food. Its not far out of the centre either and there are two.
  • Amsterdam Steakhouse & Pizzeria – We didn’t know where to go for food and we didn’t know what we fancied either so this was perfect as it did everything, Good price but super small, luckily we managed to get a seat and some more good food.
  • Teddy’s Corner – I highly recommend this place for breakfast. I had an English15977704_10207785445105939_5005694226462020895_nBreakfast and Brad an American Breakfast and it was glorious! It located literally just of the centre so an easy walk and really good prices, plenty of food to choose from too!
  • The Pancake Bakery – We came here for lunch, I had a pancake with chocolate, whipped cream and banana’s and it was AMAZING. Brad on the other hand ordered a savoury pancake and he didn’t like it, but then savoury pancakes with cheese and meat on aren’t for everyone! He ended getting a sweet one, luckily they didn’t charge us for the other pancake! It was difficult to find this place and its also quite expensive but really pretty inside.
  • A Burger Place (unsure of the name unfortunately) – We came here on the first night and the burgers were so nice, something easy after our flight and checking in malarky. Good prices, and the burgers were lovely too, nothing incredibly special though.

*****

Coffee Houses!;

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So wheres good? Unfortunately I don’t have any photos due to the fact they’re not fan’s of people taking photographs in there, which is perfectly understandable. Coffee houses are great to just chill out after a busy day, whether its for a drink, some food or a smoke. Here are the places we visited:

  • The Bulldog Cafe & Energy Coffee Shop – This had been recommended by some of Brads friends so we had to check this place out, It’s also really popular in Amsterdam and one of the well known coffee shops. Its pretty small inside but its okay if you don’t get a seat, there are two more bulldog coffee shops literally 100 metres between each of them down the road!
  • Green House Cafe – This was near the Bulldog, just the other side of the river and a bit further down. I can now say I have chilled in the same cafe as Snoop Dog, Rihanna, Will Ferrell and a whole photograph wall full of other famous people that have been to this cafe. It’s a really funky place, a little more expensive, but thats understandable when you realise all the famous heads that have been there.
  • Original Dampkring – This one was my favourite because the cat they had in this coffee shop was 100% stoned. At one point she came and sat down on all of our things on the bar, she didn’t give a shit.
  • 1eHulp Cafe – You cant’t sit in here unless you’re over 21 so we couldn’t stick around, It was mad how busy it was because you can purchase the best weed in Amsterdam at the moment here, so it was a really busy place. Located kinda on the outskirts, but if you’re heading to the IAmsterdam sign its pretty close to that.15977215_10207785451826107_6170752421100053541_n
  • Abraxas – A good place to chill, A good atmosphere too, but SO hard to find with all the building work going on around it. Its down a small alleyway so ideally you’d need to have some sort of app to tell you where you’re going, or a map, Or just a really good sense of direction.
  • Smokey Coffee Shop – This was a great place, everyone’s friendly, it was busy an the music was really good, we came here after dinner at Vapianos and stayed here basically most of the night.
  • Red Light Coffee Shop – As you can tell, this one was in the red light district, Although it was very big it was a busy and easy to chill. We decided to have a break from the rain and accidentally walking down ‘Big Momma Alley’, I’ll leave that to you to think about.
  • Feel Good Coffee Shop – This was our last coffee shop of the holiday, we didn’t stay for long but it was big and had a nice atmosphere, and it wasn’t as busy as some so it was nice to get a seat!

The Coffee Shops are really great and you get talking to a lot of people, everyone is really nice and friendly there, just know your limits and be safe!

 

Amsterdam – Enough Sight-Seeing to drown a Fish

Obviously when in Amsterdam you must do the essentials, we did a fair few things but there was also a lot of things to go back and do as we ran out of time. For example we had no time to do any of the museums which was a shame. But either way, heres what we managed to get done over the course of 3 days!

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The streets of Amsterdam are really beautiful, I know its nothing special or anything specific, but its great because its free and everywhere is really different and nice. All the canals and little bridges, its a really photogenic place and the buildings are beautiful too, Just walking through the streets would have been enough to amuse me for a day. So if you do go to Amsterdam make sure you take in the scenery because its really unique and so pretty.

*****

The Anne Frank museum was a really moving experience. To be able to go around the house she and her family were basically trapped in for years and read extracts from her diary as you went, hearing about the journey and the story of it all. It was really eye opening. They had video’s of people who had helped the Frank family at that desperate time giving their account of the story. In the end its sad to think that Anne Frank and her sister died only 6 months before the concentration camps were liberated. Their father was the only one to survive, some of the video interviews of him talking about reading Anne’s diary are heartbreaking. It took us 45 minutes to get around and it was 45 minutes well spent. Its not too far away from the central station and it only €19.00 entry for two people, so €9.50 each, but its well worth the visit.

*****

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The Red Light District was really funky, something completely different to anything I’ve ever seen before. Men queuing up outside windows to go inside with a prostitute, and all the girls in the windows, the sex shows and plenty of flashing lights and snazzy neon signs. It was surreal, we wandered down both sides of the canal. There were multiple sex shops and shows like the Banana Bar, A peep show, strip clubs and Moulin Rouge, It was really fascinating and we had a good giggle at some of the the places along the strip because they were so different to what we were used too, its a completely different environment but really good fun. We also set up camp for an hour or so in the Red Light Coffee Shop along the canal in the district so if you wanna take a break from the lights and basically naked ladies you can.

*****

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We made the mistake of walking to the IAmsterdam, its a bloody long way from the central station so if you can get a tram to it, do. Although the walk is lovely it was long, and you can potentially go via the 1eHulp cafe on your way as well! Its located behind the Rijks Museum, a place I need to go back and visit as the museum building itself is beautiful. You walk under it too, through the arches in the middle to get to the road across the other side, Its really gorgeous so to go back and see the inside, the artwork and the famous “Night watch” portrait hung on the 18 foot wall on its own would be wonderful.

Anyway, Its your standard huge big I AM IN AMSTERDAM sign, its free of course as it sits outside and its pretty cool. Theres tourists everywhere and even an ice skating ring behind it. Im not sure if the ice skating ring is there all year round but it was early Jan so will probably stick around during the christmas and NY period if it isn’t there all the time. Its the perfect place to be your typical tourist and stand and pose in front of it, which was exactly what we did!

Overall the trip was wonderful, I can’t wait to go again and do everything I didn’t do and more!

For more on my trip to Amsterdam click this wonderful link HERE!

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!