Lisbon in photos

At the end of October, I had a short break in Lisbon. This was a hen do so I didn’t do anywhere near as much sightseeing as I hoped. However, I fell in love with Lisbon and have plans to visit again! It’s such a beautiful city. The buildings, the pavements, the architecture… I love it all! It’s also fairly compact and cheap for a Western European capital city.

I had grand plans to go to Sintra and see Belem Tower but ended up doing none of that! Below are a few of the photos I did manage to take!

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Hoi An in photos

Hoi An was my favourite place in Vietnam, and probably from the entire trip. I think it’s a lot of people’s favourite place. It’s very different from everywhere else we visited. It’s much more laid back and hippyish. We had 3 nights in Hoi An and there was a pool at our hotel. It also helped that it was one of the few places where the weather was hot and sunny the entire time. It felt like a proper holiday.

The town itself it beautiful. The centre is pedestrianised, which is nice, and it is built around a river. The buildings are old but charming. It’s also well known for it’s lanterns, which help make the place look pretty.

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Hue in photos

I only spent about 24 hours in Hue. We got the overnight train from Hanoi to Hue, then went on a motorbike tour around the city and surrounding area. The tour was one of the highlights of the trip. We finished the tour with a meal at a local house.

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Lisbon to-do list

It’s almost time for my long weekend break in Lisbon. Yay! I’ve been scouring Pinterest and the internet for places to visit so thought I’d compile my usual wish list. This weekend break is primarily a hen weekend so I won’t have as much time to sight see as usual, however, I have booked on a few extra days to visit a few places!

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  • Sintra – Top of my list, without a doubt, is Sintra. If I don’t do anything else this trip, I’m visiting Sintra! It looks amazing!
  • Torre de Belem – Love a view!
  • Alfama
  • Catch a tram
  • Castelo de Sao Jorge
  • Parque Eduardo VII

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I’ve kept it short and sweet but we should hopefully at least see some of these sights *cough* Sintra!

Where do you recommend?

Halong Bay in photos aka the most photogenic place in the world

The second night of the tour was spent on board a junk boat in Halong Bay. I’m not going to lie, Halong Bay was one of the places that I was desperate to see. We’ve all seen the Pinterest and Instagram images! I was super excited to be spending 24 hours here.

Even though we didn’t have the best weather, it was still beautiful. It really is impressive. Luckily, when we visited the  island that people are allowed on, where the beach and viewpoint are, the sun made an appearance. I spent some time just appreciating that I was there and soaking in the view.

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Hanoi in photos

Hanoi was the first stop on my trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand this summer. It was a great introduction to Vietnam. My hotel was in the old quarter of the city and the only way I can describe the area is ‘a warren’. It’s noisy but full of character.

I only spent a day or two in Hanoi but fell hard for the city’s charm.

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It was that humid, my camera steamed up as soon as I got it out my bag!

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The famous red bridge over Hoan Kiem Lake

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Vietnam & Cambodia: What I did

I’m back from my solo trip around Vietnam and Cambodia. Can’t believe it’s over already! After 3 years of thinking about going and then finally booking it months ago, it’s over far too quickly.

Halong bay

I didn’t do my usual wishlist, mainly because I didn’t have time! I thought I’d still do a list of the main things I did, and then write in more detail about everything I did and include pictures later!

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Vietnam

  • Halong Bay – Bucket list item!
  • Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
  • Overnight sleeper train
  • Imperial citadel, Hue
  • Motorbike tour, Hue
  • See all the lanterns, Hoi An
  • Got made to measure clothes in Hoi An
  • Japanese bridge, Hoi An
  • Learnt to make noodles, Hoi An
  • Cooking class, Hoi An
  • Cyclo Tour, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Evening at the Sky Bar, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Mekong River

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Cambodia

  • Cyclo Tour, Phnom Penh
  • The Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh
  • The Killing Fields & S21 Prison
  • Traditional Khmer home meal
  • Angkor Wat – Bucket List
  • Night Market, Siem Reap

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I think these were the main highlights. It was such a fab trip. Everyone was really friendly and both Vietnam and Cambodia are absolutely stunning! I’m so pleased that I went and to have completed my first solo trip. Go me!

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Bangkok bucketlist

I have been to Bangkok twice but I do not feel as if I’ve seen the real city. My first visit was when I was 7. It was my first ever trip abroad and it was a MASSIVE culture shock! I did not expect the humidity, the noise, the sheer amount of people, the traffic, the pollution, the food… I could go on! Add jetlag into the mix and me and BKK did not get off to the best start. This was a 2 night stopover on the way to Australia and I spent most of the time moaning! In fact, I swore I would never visit Thailand again. Luckily, I grew up and got over it.

My second visit was in 2012. We spent a night here before catching a flight down to Krabi. Again, it was short and sweet. We literally got to the hostel, got changed, had food, slept, went to the airport so saw absolutely nothing of the city besides our hostel and an Irish pub!

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This summer, I have a few days tagged on the end of my trip to explore Bangkok at my leisure. I can’t wait. I’m going to be such a tourist! I will be all templed out by the time I get home! I will definitely have seen more than a hotel room and a pub!

Here’s my Bangkok bucketlist!

  • Wat Arun – when in Bangkok you’ve got to see temples right?
  • Wat Pho – particularly the reclining Buddha
  • Art in Paradise – looks like so much fun and something a bit different!
  • Chatuchak weekend market – I love me a bargain and could be a good place for souvenirs.

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  • Thai cooking class – would love to be able to cook authentic Thai food and actually know what I’m doing!
  • Khao San Road – I want to experience the craziness, but definitely do not want to stay on it!
  • Wat Saket
  • Thai massage
  • The Grand Palace – this is the only thing I remember doing aged 7 in Bangkok and I just remember marvelling at the ornateness of the palace.
  • Wat Suthat
  • Ayutthaya – this place looks amazing to visit as a day trip.
  • A boat trip on the Thornburi canals
  • Cocktails in The Sky Bar – who doesn’t love cocktails with a view?
  • Travel in a Tuk Tuk – again, when in Thailand…
  • Lumphini Park – would be nice to chill out if I get chance
  • Jim Thompson’s house
  • Wat Traimit
  • Floating markets – my dad did this when we were younger but me and my mum and brother were too jetlagged to get up early! 20 odd years later and I might manage it!

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Where would be on your Bangkok bucketlist? Is there anywhere I’ve missed?

My travel plans for the rest of 2017

I now have 2 confirmed trips and potentially another weekend or two away. I’m super happy because my 2 planned trips mean I will visit 3 new to me countries. This will take my total countries visited to 23 using the UN list. Yay! I’m still on track to reach 40 by 40!

Summer trip

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It was also a travel resolution of mine to visit 2 or 3 new countries, as well as travel solo and go outside Europe this year. Well, I’m covering all 3 by visiting Cambodia & Vietnam in the summer. Although I’m joining a tour, I still consider it solo travel as I am going by myself. I also have a few days in Bangkok by myself at the end. I have written about this trip already here, so I won’t bore you with all the details. I’m so excited for this trip but slightly nervous! I’m sure I will have a fab time. In fact, I have friends currently in Vietnam and I’m loving all their photos and Snapchats!

October

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In October, I am having a 5 day break in Lisbon. I can’t believe that I have never been to Portugal before. This is actually a hen do, but me and the hen are staying on for a couple of extra days. I plan on using this time to be a proper tourist and sightsee. Top of my list is Sintra! I’ve started a Pinterest board for Lisbon and oh my goodness, it looks so beautiful. I’m so excited for this trip!

As I said before, I’m also hoping to squeeze in a weekend or two either in the UK or Europe this year but nothing is set in stone yet.

Where are you visiting this year? Any tips for Lisbon or Bangkok?

My Budapest travel diary

As I enjoyed reading and sharing my Australia travel diary so much, I’ve found the diary I kept in Budapest and want to share. Don’t worry, it’s nowhere near as long! I was only there for 3 days so I’ll just share it all in one post!

PS: before I start, I have already written about what I did here, here & here, as well as Budapest in photos here and a list of things to do in Budapest here

This post is literally the diary I kept whilst I was there.

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19th February

I love Budapest! I’ve only been here half a day but it’s really cool. It’s a bit chilly though. The city’s really beautiful, wide streets, lovely buildings… I’m really glad we came.

It was an early start. I left at half 5. The traffic was fine til I hit Manchester. Anyways, I got on the flight fine. The benefit of travelling to Budapest by myself is I get sat with a group of guys. The guy next to me was Irish and he let me have the window seat. I liked him! He was really funny. We got chatting and we made friends. It was nice to talk to them and have a laugh. They were telling me about a bar that’s filled with shoes and a Michael Jackson statue!

We got a taxi to the hotel. Our hotel is beaut! Proper nice! Very posh for us! We had a wander. It’s about 5 minute walk to the Great Synagogue. We then walked to St Stephen’s basilica. It’s like a smaller Vatican. The area around there and near the river is really nice. Lots of nice looking restaurants and shops. We walked down the river and took a few photos. It looks really nice. Tomorrow we’re going to explore Buda.

We went back to the hotel and had a nap. Then we wandered back out. We found an Italian restaurant – Bella Pasta. It only cost about £12 for our whole bill. Turns out it’s voted number 49 out of over 1000 restaurants in Budapest.

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20th February

We walked miles today! Saw loads of Budapest. It’s been a good day.

Breakfast in the hotel was good – selection of food was good, cereal, fruit, yoghurt, fry up, pastries etc.

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We decided to see the old side of the city and Buda today, so we headed straight down to the Elisabeth Bridge and up to the Gellert Monument. It had awesome views of the river and bridges. We also had our first glimpse of the Parliament building. After, we wandered across to the royal palace. Some homeless guy tried to get us to buy a graffiti of our names on some paper! We politely declined.

We found the palace, wandered around the grounds, saw more amazing views, then headed across to Fishermans Bastion. This was the place that I’d wanted to visit since I first started researching Budapest. The views were epic!

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For our cake stop, we went to Ruszurm Cukraszda which a traditional Hungarian cake shop/ cafe. It’s Lonely Planet recommended so was busy. There was even a tour group outside of it as we went in, being told that it’s an excellent place to get cakes! I decided to try some traditional food so had dobos torta which is a cake layered with chocolate & cream, then caramelised sugar on top. It was beautiful!

Afterwards, we walked down to the Hospital in the Rock but the next tour wasn’t for another 45 minutes. Instead we headed back up to the top. To get down the hill towards to Szechyni Bridge we used the funicular. I loved it! So cute! We walked over the famous bridge and went to see The Shoes on the Danube. This is a memorial to the Hungarian Jews who were shot and thrown into the Danube river during WW2. There’s actually loads of war memorials and memorabilia around Budapest, but the shoes are probably the most famous. I didn’t realise how much the city had been affected.

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The Shoes on the Danube are more or less outside the parliament building (the biggest building in Hungary). It’s pretty impressive! I think the area around parliament has been massively cleaned up when you compare it to the Jewish area. It’s very nice, all wide, clean streets.

After our epic trek around some of the main sights of Buda Hill, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We went to Lado Cafe. It was near our hotel and is a more traditional Hungarian restaurant. Our hotel gave us a voucher so we got a free drink each. I had steak and chips for about £7! Bargain!

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21st February

My legs are seriously achy today!

Today we wandered across to Andrassy Ut. This is one of the busiest and prettiest streets in Budapest. Our first stop was House of Terror. This was the headquarters of the secret police during WW2 and was where lots of torture and executions happened. It was pretty dark. It’s really informative and they have detailed handouts for every room and display there. I’ll read them later. For me, the most interesting part was in the cellar where all the cells were. People were taken there and killed, then their bodies disposed of and nobody knew this was happening. Absolutely shocking stuff and so important that people are educated about these horrors.

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After the harrowing hour spent in the museum, it was nice to be in daylight again. We walked up Andrassy Ut to Heroes Square and City Park. This id the Szechenyi Baths are the zoo. There’s also a theme park! Inside the park are some beautiful buildings and some really cool benches! There was also a market taking place which had some amazing food for sale. Lots of fish!

We were going to go to the zoo but it looked a bit depressing from the outside! We strolled back down Andrassy Ut and found a cafe to have cake! After that, we just had a walk around the city before heading back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

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We went to a pizza place just a bit further down the street from last nights restaurant. It was so busy! We were sat on a kind of mezzanine bit with one other table. It was so hot there and the waitresses seemed to have completely forgotten about us until a rather popular guy sat at the other table with a group of very attractive women!

As it was our last night, we headed down to the river to take photos of it at night with all the lights. Then we went back to the hotel, had a couple of cocktails and then went to bed.

budapest at night

I appear not to have written a diary for the final day when we went home but this is what happened…

I woke up with an awful pain in my right leg. I could barely walk on it! I took some painkillers and it eased off. We went to the fancy patisserie Gerbeaud and I had dobosz torta again. It was immense! I also saw the guys who I was sat with on the plane as we were walking around. On the walk back to the hotel, my leg started to hurt again and I was literally dragging it behind me. I must’ve looked a sight!

We got to the airport, had food, saw the lads I met on the flight out, turns out I was also sat with them on the flight back! The flight back was a lot quieter and uneventful then I had my drive back home.

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