6 attractions you must see in New York City

1. Empire State Building
I've been lucky enough to go up the Empire State Building twice now and each time I've been just as awestruck. Seeing the NYC skyline never grows old and it feels like you're in a film. I dare you not to hum Empire State of Mind whilst you're there... I recommend going up during the day as it's fantastic to see the city in all its glory. Buy your tickets online before you go as you get a small discount. Every little helps when you're in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

2. The Highline
This is my favourite place in the city. The Highline is an old railway line converted into an evelated park. Nearly two miles long, it offers great views of Manhattan and you'll find fab street art to marvel at and places to sit and soak up views. Make sure you go for brunch or dinner at Bubby's which is at the entrance in the Meatpacking District.

3. Statue of Liberty
Ah the icon of the city. The first time we booked ourselves on a boat with a tour guide to travel over to the the island with tickets to go inside the statue. This was great fun if a little busy! It was equally as good for when we saw it from our sightseeing ferry trip. You really don't have to get off to enjoy it. If you're on a budget then the orange Staten Island ferry is a good shout because it's free. You won't be able to get off the ferry at the statue but you do get an amazing view of it from the boat.

4. Central Park
I highly recommend cycling around this iconic park. It is absolutely huge and cycling is the best way to cover some serious ground. Bike hire is pretty reasonable and we had them for the entire day. There are clear cycle lanes and it couldn't be easier. Make sure you make a stop off at the Alice in Wonderland statue, Strawberry Fields and Belevdere Castle. If cycling seems to strenuous then hire a rickshaw for a guided tour. The guides are very knowledgable! My mum and I got to visit in the snow and it was magical. Freezing but absolutely magical! Such a dream to see NYC in the snow.

5.  Brooklyn Bridge
Is there a more famous bridge in the world? It gets extremely busy but if you time it just right then it get it all to yourself. We spent the morning in Brooklyn before walking across the bridge in the afternoon to get back to Manhattan. It's one of those places that makes you feel like you're in a film and can't quite believe that it's real.

6. Ground Zero
If you're debating about if you should visit the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, then add it to your list. Yes its hard to witness but its such an important part of history and triggered so many things. It triggered events that we're still dealing with today. its absolutely wonderfully curated and is a really heart-wrenching experience that shouldn't be missed.


An afternoon in Palma De Mallorca

Our resort in Mallorca was only a 30-40 minute bus journey away from the capital Palma De Mallorca. We wanted to take a step away from the whole 'Brits Abroad' vibe Palma Nova offers - plus we were still slightly recovering from overdoing it in Magaluf a few nights back... The bus journey couldn't have been easier, if not a little packed and sweaty, and before we knew it we had been dropped off outside the incredible Cathedral.

We didn't venture in but instead wandered around, soaking up the gorgeous Gaudí wrought-iron canopy and intricate carvings. Next door is the Royal Palace of La Alumdaina which has serious Game of Thrones vibes. It felt like we had step right in the midst of King's Landing. From here, without any plans set in stone, we began to weave in and out of the winding streets, every now and then looking up and marvelling at the stunning Mediterranean architecture. One of the things I loved the most was how empty the city felt. There was no hustle and bustle and very often we had the narrow streets to ourselves.

A few of our friends went to to Arab Baths while we hung out in a bar with a Fanta Lemon. They came back just as our tummies started rumbling and informed us of a Tapas bar they passed which smelt amazing. We decided to head back to try it out, then realised it was actually in our Lonely Planet guide book. Winner!

Located down in a gothic-inspired basement, Le Taberna Del Caracol offers traditional tapas in what feels like a authentic setting. The six of us opted for the sharing platter priced at 18 euros and a cold beer. It was without a doubt one of the best meals I've ever eaten. The flavoursome chorizo sausage fell apart, the sweet dates wrapped in bacon were a revelation, the garlic aioli with crusty bread was dangerously addictive and the chicken croquettes were perfectly cooked. It was just good wholesome, home-cooked food. Sometimes you don't need the unnecessary 'Instagram' fuss. Our waiter was so knowledgable and friendly which really made the experience. You simply have to visit if you ever find yourself in Palma.

After stuffing ourselves to the brink, we took off for another walk along the side streets, headed to the harbour to marvel at the yachts, before catching the bus back to our resort. Now I've had a taste on my city, it's firmly on my list to go back to for a long, sunny weekend.


10 thoughts you always have during a package holiday

The last few years I'd been very anti-package holidays. Instead wanting to really 'travel', soak up the European cities I've seen pictures off and finally get off the continent. But last week I took my first package holiday to Mallorca for five years thanks to a friend's wedding. It took me right back to my childhood and teenage years - and it was glorious.

1. One of the biggest decisions to be made is whether to have a cheese toastie or a cheese and ham toastie for breakfast.

2. You start to judge a restaurant on if they sell 'English bacon'.

3. Fanta Lemon and Lays Paprika crisps are a match made in heaven.

4. That hour sleep you have between having a shower and getting ready to go out will always be the best kip all holiday.

5. You become addicted to applying after sun after the shower. Often applying two coats just to make sure you go really brown.

6. Aloe Vera gel from the fridge feels like absolute heaven on sunburn.

7. You rage at the idiots who get up early to save the sunbeds by the pool with their towel. Then give in after the first day and join them -whilst absolutely hating yourself for joining in. 

8. Getting up really early every day despite having an almighty hangover because you're so desperate to not waste the day. Then regretting it as soon as you start hearing the screaming children enjoying themselves on the beach.

9.  Going out on the strip is just like being at home again with the same music, same shot girls and same grime. The only difference is the sun is shining.

10. You will always burn yourself on the last after getting too cocky. Every damn time.


Megabus launches new hop-on-hop-off tour buses in London

Back in my youth I chose to stay at home to attend university but that didn't stop me from taking advantage of friends who had moved away to study. I ventured to Leeds, Sheffield and Brighton over the years to drink WKD in grimy student clubs and I always took the Megabus. It was a lifesaver for a poor uni student who only worked in Next on the weekend. Even as I got older I was still a loyal user, choosing to visit Liverpool, Cardiff and Bristol on the bus. Once you're used to paying £2 return, you never really can justify the extortionate train prices. So when an email from Megabus dropped into my inbox to invite me to try out their new hop-on-hop-off bus trips in the capital. I'd never got round to taking an open-top tour of London despite living 30 minutes away and working in the city because they've always been so expensive and my dad has been a pretty good tour guide over the years. But Megabus have introduced sightseeing tours starting from a staggering £1 plus booking fee. Incredible right?!

You'll be taken on a two hour tour around London whilst taking in over 50 of the incredible sights. You can choose to get on at three different stops, including the London Eye, Tower Hill and Park Lane hotel. They run every hour so you won't ever have to wait too long to hop on a bus.

I was lucky to have an exclusive ride on the tour on the day we had the glorious heatwave in London. It couldn't have been a more perfect evening to be riding around in an open-top bus. As with all sightseeing buses, we had a running commentary throughout the journey of the different facts about the city. I always think I know everything there is about London but it seems I don't as there was quite a few tidbits that were brand new!

Thank you so much to Megabus for such a lovely evening and I'd definitely recommend it. The price just can't be beaten!


Hotel review: POD Times Square, New York City, U.S.A

When I was looking for a hotel in New York I had a few things on my list I needed to be ticked. It has to be in Manhattan, near Times Square and come in at under £900 for a week. Surprisingly this Wishlist was pretty hard to fill. Then I came across POD. Located just two blocks from Times Square on Broadway, the compact hotel had only opened earlier this year so was offering discounted rooms. We managed to score a double room for around £840 which sounds pretty expensive but it was one of the cheapest we could find in the location we desired.

I've described it as an American version of our budget travel lodges but I feel like this might be giving it a slight disservice. The rooms are pretty compact which didn't bother us in the slightest as we literally just used it as a place to sleep. But I imagine it would be slightly annoying if you had planned on chilling out a lot more in the hotel room. The bed was pretty comfortable, the TV had a great array of channels to choose from and the view was so quintessential NYC. Admittedly there wasn't really enough space to store our belongings but we made do and got round it in the end. I loved waking up to such an incredible view of the skyline.

They put on a complimentary breakfast consisting of plain bagels, coffee and croissants served at 7.30am which is great if you had an early start. They also put on neighbourhood walks which are advertised in reception. The concierge helped us booked a couple of seats on a minibus to the airport as we had an early flight - a great way to take the hassle out of getting public transport. All in all, POD was a great choice for visiting NYC and was absolutely perfect. I'd definitely stay there again if I find myself in the city once more.


Five resources I use to plan a holiday

If I'm honest I think I may actually prefer planning a holiday than actually going on holiday. I spend months planning each little detail from where to eat, drink and what to see. I pride myself on trying to find things that are a little different to the normal 'tourist trail'. I've had a few people ask me where I find all my inspiration so here are the top five resources I look to when I'm planning a trip. Beware - they also help to add 100 more different cities, towns and countries to your travel wish list!

1. Guide books
Every time I book a trip away, I always make sure I buy a guidebook. I swear by Lonely Planet and have a pretty extensive collection now. I've never had a bad meal from one of the restaurants suggested and the sights they recommend have always been spot on. They're so great to always have in your backpack to refer to as you seek out a new city. Other brands I love are Wallpaper and 500 Hidden Secrets of.... I try to buy a book based on the entire country and a more relevant one of the city I'm visiting. I don't really like the pocket guides as I don't think they have enough information in for my liking.

2. The Guardian
I'm obsessed with the Guardian travel section and have picked many of the hotels I've stayed in because of this website. I read it weekly and really enjoy the reader travel tips. They often bring new-to-me cities and countries that I would never have thought of visiting. The Malaysian one has been fantastic for helping me plan my trip to the country next February. It's such a great mix of travel inspiration and interesting travel news. It has a good selection of places to visit in the U.K too, so it's a brilliant source of information if you're planning a staycation.

3. Instagram
Ah I'm a sucker for visiting somewhere that I've seen on Instagram. I usually use this more for restaurant recommendations rather than places. Every now and again I'll have a browse through the travel Instagrammers I follow and save some restaurant recommendations - in case I ever find myself in that city! I also use it to look at restaurants I've found in my guide books. Quite often if you then click on the user, they will have been in other restaurants in the are so you'll then find even more options. I don't always go for ones that make a good picture, I try to look out for ones that look like they sell amazing local food. I'm more likely to save it if it's been snapped by locals rather than just tourists. One giveaway is if the caption is in the language of the country rather than in English.

4. Conde Nast Traveler
Despite being high end, Conde Nast does have some cracking budget hotel articles such as The U.K's best country pubs with rooms and Affordable hotels in Europe. I think I have placed every single hotel on my travel wish list. The website is really good for United States inspiration with so many cool and quirky towns and cities to browse. Quite often places, you would never have thought off but after reading about them you're so desperate to visit. Don't forget to check out the city breaks section either.

5. Blogs
Last but not least are blogs! I've really gone off of the over-styled, luxury travel blogs as I can't afford to live that lifestyle and they just seen all generic. I feel like most of the places they write about could be anywhere in the world, they all look the same. I feel they just wouldn't help me make the most of a country - I go on holiday to take a break from the norm at home. If I'm visiting somewhere new I want to go where the locals go and get out of my comfort zone. One of my pet hates is bumping into English people abroad or being surrounded by Brits. Says the girl who is actually going to Magaluf this year... Anyway I digress. Instead I'm loving the bloggers who visit places out of the ordinary, have down-to-earth writing and often stay in an AirBnB or affordable hotels. A few of my favourites at the moment include Vicky Flip Flop, Lost Without Purpose, Megan Starr and On The Luce.

How do you plan a holiday?


Things to do in NYC: Hop on, hop off ferry cruise

As much as I love exploring places 'off the beaten track' when I visit places, I'm also a sucker for all the traditional tourist fun. So I was very excited to do the Hop on, Hop Off cruise pass with Isango*. We did have a combo ticket with entrance to the observation deck at the One World Trade Centre but there was some confusion at the pier ticket office. I asked to redeem my ticket and they said I didn't need to but yet when I went to the observation deck, they told me I wasn't allowed on as it had to be redeemed back at the pier. Sadly we had a dinner reservation so we didn't have time to go back to redeem the ticket. It's something to keep in mind if you take the tour, be persistent that you definitely need to redeem all tickets at the pier. But all confusion aside, my mum and I had a great afternoon on the ferry.

Valid for 24 hours, we picked it up from Pier 79 on West 44th Street in Midtown for our 90 minute New York City Sightseeing Tour: Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour with cruise and one world observatory admission. We didn't have time to do one of the New York Bus Tours. The tour guide was brilliant and very informative. Originally hailing from Queens, his knowledge of the city was second to none and we both found out some cool new facts. As we cruised along the water, we got to see the Statue of Liberty, Empire State building, Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge and an incredible view of the skyline. We took the full 90 minute round trip tour without hopping off first and then we stayed on it until it arrived at Pier 11 in the financial district. Make sure you let the desk know if you plan on hopping on and off as they do something special to you ticket to allow you too.

If it's your first time to NYC then I would definitely recommend the tour as you get to see so much in a short amount of time. Perfect if you only have a long weekend in the city. Even though I had seen most of the sights before, it was still interesting as I found out new things. Thanks for having us on the trip Isango!


Exploring the United States: 9/11 Memorial & Museum, New York City, U.S.A

I remember the day of 9/11 so clearly and vividly. I was at school and my form tutor called us in for registration, she put the telly on and we all watched transfixed as the first plane flew into the World Trade Centre. There was murmurs around that it was a freak accident and then the second plane flew into the second tower. The whole room went so silent you could hear a pin drop at the sudden realisation that this wasn't an accident. It was deliberate attack. I remember staring at the scenes on the telly feeling so confused and bewildered, unsure at what was happening but knowing deep down that things were about to change.

I was in two minds about visiting the 9/11 Memorial & Musuem* in New York. Unlike many museums and memorials I've visited, the events of 9/11 were ones I've lived through. I saw the images on television of the towers coming down and experienced the aftermath of the effect it had on the world. I selfishly didn't know if I was able to see that. But friends had mentioned that it was one of the most moving things they saw during their trip and it was a must-see. So I decided take the plunge and see it for myself.

Similar to my Auschwitz visit, it was draining. I felt myself on the verge of tears the entire time in the museum. You aren't allowed to take photos in certain parts of the museum, such as the Memorial Exhibition and Historical Exhibition, and rightly so. I saw people taking smiling selfies outside with the memorial and it didn't sit right with me. Reading eyewitness accounts of watching people jumping to their deaths, listening to the answering phone messages people had left on the phones of firefighters they knew were attending the scene, seeing the missing posters loved ones had frantically put up and seeing the destroyed fire engine that arrived first on the scene was so tough. But it was also in a way nice to remember how people came together on that fateful day. It was a day for both the worse and the best of humanity. 

If you're debating about if you should visit the 9/11 Musuem and Memorial, then add it to your list. Yes it's hard to witness but it's such an important part of history and triggered so many things. It triggered events we're still dealing to today. It's absolutely wonderfully curated and is a really heart-wrenching experience that shouldn't be missed.


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