travel
Where the fuck did 2018 go? Considering last year was an absolute bag of shite it flew by! To put it mildly last year wasn't the best, but I did visit some incredible places.

From the Battlefields of Belgium, to the largest brick castle in the world, and even Ben Nevis, I saw a lot. I ticked off three new Hard Rock Cafes and I met up for real life drinks with friends I'd only ever spoken to online before. I left the UK 4 times last year and went camping a hell of a lot too, but I want to smash that this year.

Chanonry Point, Scotland 

In 2019 I plan to go on weekend break every single month of the year. Yep you heard right. I have no idea how I'm going to physically do it or finance it but I'm determined. I've not got a massive amount planned yet but there are a few places I know I want to tick off the list.

So where shall I go in 2019?

Belfast, Ireland - This one is planned, actually it's more than planned, its booked. And I leave in 7(!!!) days. But that's not all. I'm going alone. "Why?!" I hear you cry! Well I haven't got a fucking clue if I'm honest but it's happening. All I've ever wanted to do is see the world and if I have to do it alone, well I guess that's better than not going at all.
But in all seriousness I'm shitting it and I would really appreciate your Belfast travel tips and moral support at this point.

Things I want to see while in Belfast: Titanic Museum, Giants Causeway, Crumlin Road Gaol.

Falls of Dochart, Scotland

Bruges, Belgium - Lovely little Belgium, it's one of those countries you can't help but fall in love with. The history, the architecture, and the people, Belgium has it all (especially the people though, Belgians are ridiculously friendly).

A few days ago I booked a trip to Bruges with my Mom and Sister and I AM SO EXCITED. I've wanted to visit this fairytale town since forever and now I'm finally going! 

Things I want to do while in Bruges: The Belfry of Bruges, eat 500 merveilleux cakes, visit some of the many museums.

Prague, Czech Republic - Prague is another place that has been on my list for ages. Anyone I've ever spoken to about this pretty city only has good things to say about it and just from looking at photos I can tell it's a beautiful place. Maybe 2019 is the year I drown my sorrows in cheap Czech beer?

Things I would do in Prague: Explore the old town and see the astronomical clock, visit Terezin Concentration Camp, Prague Castle.

Loch Lomond, Scotland

Sheffield & Durham UK - Not as exotic as some of the other places on this list but still places I hope to see. I figured I could probably visit both of these northern towns in one long weekend if I tried hard enough.

I spent my childhood exploring the southern coast of the UK and I very rarely travel any further North than Birmingham city centre so it will be nice to see a different part of the UK.

Things I would do in Sheffield: The Winter Garden, Millennium Gallery.
Things I would do in Durham: Durham Castle, Museum of Archeology

Lisbon, Portugal - Teenage Grace was a complete beach bum. A holiday to me back then meant endless hours lounging on the sand and splashing about in the sea and, whilst I still enjoy that today, I'm much more of a city girl. That's probably why Portugal is the only 'hot' country to make the list. Even though its surrounded by water I doubt I would have much time to nip down to the shore if I did visit Lisbon. 

Things I would do in Lisbon: Wander around the Alfama district, Castelo de S Jorge, Torre De Belem.

Ben Nevis, Scotland

And that's it! My travel list is forever expanding and I have no doubt that I will be adding to this list as the months go by. I need to pick at least 7 more places to visit if I'm going to have a little break every month.

As always your tips and recommendations for places to see/ things to do/ things to eat are always welcome. This year is going to be a year of adventure and I am so ready for it!

Where are you planning to visit in 2019?


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THE 2019 TRAVEL LIST

I'm not a cat person. Dogs are better. Fact. Sorry but it's true. That being said, I am quite fond of the funny little fluffballs so when I happened to stroll past a cat cafe on my solo trip to Leeds a few weeks back I virtually ran inside.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, and I really really wasn't sure if it would actually be an enjoyable experience on my own but I was more excited than anything so I paid my £6 entrance fee and off I went. I didn't know there was an entrance fee at first, there didn't seem to be signs anywhere, but I guess it makes sense as this particular cafe works closely with a cat rescue centre. 


Once inside and shown to my seat I was allowed to wander around, I was actually encouraged in fact. This seemed like a good idea at first, the cats were great at hiding and I didn't fancy waiting for them to come to me so I got up to find them. 


On my first walk I didn't actually see many cats, I can only assume they were hiding/ sleeping/ fed up of being poked by children all day. Admitting defeat I headed back to my table for a cup of tea. Being the clean freak I am I didn't want to actually eat food in a place full if kitties, no matter how clean it looked. 


On a second thought maybe I should have ordered a snack or two to entice the cats over to me. I spent most of my 1 hour slot frantically trying to take photos of various cats as they desperately tried to run past my table without being touched or so much as looked at. These cats were wild.



Not having much luck with my furry friends in my seat I decided on yet another walk around. This would be my second of many attempts to see some kittens. Whilst there were various cats lounging around in comfy hiding spots, for the most part they were all out of sight.


It was on this wander that I realised why they were all tucked away, and that would be because of the children. Actually scrap that, it was because of the people acting like children. Old and young alike seemed to spend their hour slots chasing and poking the little fluffs as they went about their day. It's no wonder really that practically all of my photos from that afternoon are of cat coloured blurs.


So I took some snaps, drank my tea, and off I went to think about whether cat cafes are actually a good idea. So what did I think? Well on the one hand they are a fun way to make some money for good charities. Most of the cafes I've heard about are linked to a cat rescue in some way by either adopting cats, donating money, or both. That being said I also can't help but think there should be sort sort of 'stay in your seat' rule. I don't even know how they could enforce something like that but letting children run around after terrified cats isn't the best business plan i've ever seen to be honest.



So would I go back to one again? Maybe. I did enjoy it don't get me wrong but it wasn't the magical kitty utopia I imagined. It might be a better idea to visit these kind of places in the week, that way it wouldn't be full of wild children and maybe the cats would be more inclined to make an appearance if the room was a bit quieter. 


I love animals and I love a good cuppa, so combine the two and for me you're on to a winner. Maybe I wouldn't go out of my way to visit a cat cafe again, but if I happened to walk past one I would probably give it another go.


Have you ever been to a cat cafe before? What did you think?


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MY FIRST CAT CAFE EXPERIENCE

I travel a lot. I try to go somewhere new every few months, but lets be honest, travel can be expensive. To keep costs down I travel with only hand luggage wherever possible which means I have to be tight with the liquids I bring. I'd like to think I'm a bit of an expert when it comes to packing now so here are my absolute beauty essentials that will easily fit into your carry on!



Aussie Miracle Moist Shampoo - This is one of my all time favourite shampoos to use and it can be bought in a tiny 50ml bottle which makes it perfect for travel. As I use this shampoo on the regular anyway I just refill the small bottle whenever it runs out!

Aussie 3 minute miracle Reconstructor Deep Conditioner - Again this is my everyday conditioner back at home so its great that it can be purchased in such a small size. This deep conditioner keeps my hair looking silky smooth and healthy especially after a long day of exploring. Like the shampoo I also just refill the small containers when it runs out.

Sephora Soothing Cleansing Milk - This little beauty cleanses like a dream! I bought it maybe 2 years ago and I'm pretty sure the original product is long gone now (as I just refill it obviously) but honestly it removes every little spec of makeup on your face. It can be quite hard to get hold of in the UK but there are Sephora's dotted all over Europe so it shouldn't be too hard to track down on your next trip!



Simple Hydrating Moisturiser - Again this is my everyday moisturiser when I'm at home so I just had to pick up a small sized version for my travels. I'm sure I've reviewed this product 1000 times on the blog but I'll give you another little run down. This moisturiser is very gentle, its extremely hydrating, it sinks into the skin very quickly, and its also usually around the £2 mark for a full sized product, bargain!

Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel - Another Simple product but I've found them to be the best budget skincare out there! This fascial wash is also very gentle and although it isn't exfoliating I still feel that my skin is getting a really good cleanse.

Makeup Revolution Makeup Eraser - I reviewed this product a few months back on my Youtube channel and ever since its been my 'go to'. Although I do use a small amount of cleanser with this flannel now I can't imagine the amount of baby wipes its saved me using. Not only has this beauty saved me a small amount of money but it cuts down the amount of wipes I'd otherwise throw away. 



Mini Nail Brush - Bit of a random one I know but I hate not being able to really scrub my hands when I travel. I don't think I've ever stayed in a hotel where a nail brush is provided so I always take my own. I just use a teeny tiny brush that I think might have even come out of a Christmas cracker one year but it does the job and keeps my hands feeling extra clean! I can be a bit obsessive when it comes to washing my hands so this just give me peace of mind. 

Boots Cucumber Eye Gel - This is one of the products that I don't really need but always take along anyway because it's so small. Its a soothing eye gel which I love applying after a long day in a new place. It can also double up as a bit of a moisturiser if I run out of my usual and I've found that it also works as a great aftersun lotion if you've got a bit of sunburn!

So thats it! This is everything I will take in my toiletry bag along with the obvious toothpaste, toothbrush, ect. Do you have any beauty travel essentials? Let me know in the comments!


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MY HAND LUGGAGE BEAUTY ESSENTIALS


So you're going to Gdansk? First of all congrats on picking a city break that isn't the usual Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona ect. Secondly, prepare yourself for one of the cheapest city breaks you'll take in northern Europe. I'm sure you've already got an idea of things you hope to do in this pretty little city, but here is a list of things you really can't miss.

- Ambersky - Quite possibly one of the most touristy things you could do on your trip but you will love every second of it. From the gorgeous view you get at the top, to the classic jazz playlist on repeat, everything about this ride is a treat. 

- Free walking tour - If you've followed me for a while you'll know the first thing I do in a new city is a free walking tour. For one they are super budget friendly (you tip what you think the tour guide deserves) and they are a great way to find your bearings in a new place. There are a couple of walking tours in Gdansk by various groups but we took the main town tour which gave us a good run down of the history of the city.

 Art installation remembering the Polish post office workers who were executed by SS soldiers

Malbork Castle

- Malbork Castle - The castle isn't technically in Gdansk, it's actually about 30 minutes away by train but believe me it is well worth a visit. It's very easy to get to from the main railway station and fairly cheap too. Malbork is the biggest brick castle in the world by land area, so for that reason alone it should be on your to do list. Although the place is pretty huge, it can be toured in around 3 hours using the fantastic audio guide included in the entry price.

- The Beach - Yep Gdansk has its very own beach, several in fact, all of which are a simple tram/ bus ride away. Depending on what time of year you visit you might even be able to take a dip in the sea. I've been told the beaches get very busy in the summer as Gdansk is a Polish holiday destination similar to our Newquay or Brighton.

- Walk down Amber street - Mariacka Street or 'Amber Street' as it's most commonly known, is worth a look on any visit to Gdansk. Amber is a very common gemstone found in northern Poland and for that reason it is sold all over the city, but the highest concentration of workshops can be found on Amber Street hence the name. 

 Looking windswept on Stogi Beach

Mariacka Street / 'Amber Street'

- Take a photo in front of the Gdansk sign - Another ridiculously touristy thing to do but it's worth it just for the photo. As you can see the place was a bit muddy when we travelled there in March but I'm sure the place is much tidier in the summer months. 

There is so much more to do in Gdansk that we didn't get to see on our trip. The following places are a must for any history fan;

- Westerplatte
- Museum of the Second World War
- See a piece of the Berlin Wall
- Stutthof Concentration camp

So that was my to do list of things you need to make time for whilst visiting Gdansk. Have you been before? What would make it onto your list of things to do?


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AmberSky

10 THINGS YOU HAVE TO DO IN GDANSK

Hungarian Parliament Building

Budapest was one of the most beautiful cities I had the pleasure of visiting last September. I was lucky enough to spend 4 amazing days wandering around the city, and although the time I had there was short, I did a lot. So in no particular order here are the 4 things you have to do whilst visiting Budapest!

Climb Gellert Hill - Gellert Hill towers over the city of Budapest. Standing at 235 meters tall, the walk up is not for the faint hearted, but the view from the top is breathtaking (and not just because you're still gasping for air). The Citadella also sits at the top of Gellert Hill which features some fantastic sculptures. I would recommend getting to the top about an hour before sunset so you watch as the night takes over Budapest.

View from Gellert Hill

Explore the Labyrinth Under Buda Castle - Its quite hard to find reliable information online about the Buda Castle Labyrinth, most sources say it closed in 2011, however it was very much open in September 2017 when we visited. I don't want to give too much away about this place, so I will just say this, take a torch. If you must know more about the Labyrinth, I tour it in my Budapest vlog

Cycle around Margaret Island - From what I remember hiring bikes on Margaret Island was either free or very very cheap, either way thats what we did and we had a fantastic time. The Island is quite large so touring it on bicycles cuts out a lot of walking time which is important as there is loads to see. From dancing fountains to a small zoo, the Island has it all!

Szechenyi Thermal Baths

Take a dip in a Thermal Bath - There are several Thermal Baths dotted around Budapest and you can't say your trip is complete without relaxing in one of them. I chose to visit the Szechenyi Thermal Bath which is one of the most popular and most likely the one you'll see on Instagram. The Thermal Baths can be fairly pricey, well for Budapest standards anyway, but they are well worth the Forints!

Budapest is such an exciting city filled with things to do, it was really was hard to pick just 4! I would love to know what attractions you think should have made the list, feel free to leave your recommendations below!

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4 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN BUDAPEST


So it's no secret that travel is my first love. Since my teenage years all I've wanted to do is see the world, and so far I've been doing a pretty decent job. Well with a new year comes a whole new 'To Do' list in the travel department. So here my list of places I hope to see in 2018...

Edinburgh - Me and Sean have wanted to visit Edinburgh for a very long time now! Ever since we bonded over reading one of my favourite books, based in the city, we knew we had to see it for ourselves. I've never even been to Scotland, and for someone who's ticked off half of Europe, that's pretty shameful!



Portugal - Another country I've not yet seen. I'm not really fussed about where to go in Portugal, most of the places I've browsed look pretty cool. I would love to wander around the capital - Lisbon, but at the same time the coastal towns of Porto and other similar places just look incredible!

New York - So this is probably one of the most unrealistic on the list, but my God do I want to see New York one day! I'll probably hate every second of the hustle and bustle of the big city, and come home a nervous wreck, but there's just so much to see that I just need to do it!



Prague - Another place I've wanted to see since forever. Prague has been described to me time and time again as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and from the photographs I've seen, I'm inclined to agree. But how will I ever truly know unless I experience it for myself? I guess I'll just have to go!

So maybe some of these are a little bit unrealistic with our budget, saving for a house is not cheap! But we can only try, right? Where there is a will there is a way and belive me, the will to see these places is strong! I'll write a little update this time next year when I've hopefully ticked off a few new adventures!

Where would you like to visit this year?

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THE 2018 TRAVEL LIST

So initially I wanted to do this as a video but considering I haven't updated my little blog for a while I thought I would do it on here! I've been to Disneyland Paris quite a few times now (eight times to be precise), and during those trips I've accumulated several favourites that I wanted to share with you all.


Top 2 Rides in Disneyland Park - It would be way too hard to just pick one so I've got two! My first is Big Thunder Mountain; it's a bit of a thrill ride with a fantastic theme. My second favourite is Peter Pan's Flight. This couldn't be more different from most of my other favourites but it's just so magical!

Top 2 Rides in Walt Disney Studios - Again, I could never pick just one! I've loved Tower of Terror ever since my first ride on it back in 2013, and it's been a firm favourite ever since. The other ride I would pick has to be Crush's Coaster! I hadn't had chance to go on it until recently but I'm so glad I ignored the long queue time and gave it a go!

Top 3 Restaurants - Lets be honest, the food in Disney is pretty pricey and most of it isn't exactly the best either, but there are still several places I have to eat in while on holiday! My all time top restaurant is Hakuna Matata, the theme in that place is amazing plus the food is delicious! Another favourite has to be Casey's on Main Street, you can't go wrong with hot dogs and chips really. The last restaurant to make the list has to be Plaza Gardens. The character breakfast there really is a treat. 


Favourite Thing To Eat - If I could only eat one thing in Disneyland it would have to be Hakuna fries from Hakuna Matata. They are crinkle cut chips with a yummy flavouring unlike anything I've ever had before! Pair that up with the Kebab meal deal and you have one happy Gracie.

Top 3 Meet And Greets - One of the best meet and greets I had was with Chip and Dale. They are just so fun and you end up with several hilarious photographs after just a few moments with them. Another great meet and greet was Moana (Vianna in France). She was really chatty and looked incredible - my photos with her are easily some of my most treasured. But my very favourite meet and greet has to be with Micky Mouse himself! He doesn't talk, but more than makes up for it by playing around! 

Best Show - This is really hard as there are just so many amazing shows in the park that change from time to time, but I would have to say Mickey and the Magician. I almost cried the first time I saw it and even though I've watched it a few times since, the magic hasn't worn off!

Favourite Shop - Again this is super hard as there are so many to chose from but I'm going to go with World of Disney as I think its the biggest and you can pretty much get anything from there!


Favourite Hotel - This is a bit of a cheat as I've only ever stayed in two but out of the Santa Fe and The Cheyenne, the Cheyenne is definitely the best! The cowboy/ Toy Story theme is great and the newly renovated rooms are so much nicer, plus the rooms are a lot easier to find than in the Santa Fe I think.

Favourite Time of Year - I've been to Disney throughout different season's and my favourite time to go is in the early Summer. It's nice and warm, unlikely to rain, and the kids haven't broke up from school so it's not too busy. I haven't been during the Christmas season however so I imagine that would be pretty magical!

So those are my Disneyland Paris favourites! Although I'm not going to call this a 'tag post' as such, I would love my fellow Disneyland fans to fill this in on their own blogs or even just in the comments below! What are your Disneyland faves?!


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DISNEYLAND PARIS FAVOURITES

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