travel

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

So I've been AWOL for quite some time again. I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted but here I am, once more explaining my absence. Sean and I went travelling. Not for very long, and probably not the usual way either but honestly it was fantastic.



We saved up for a while, and when I say saved, I mean we took the money out of our moving out fund to pay for our extravagant obsession. So we saved and planned, and planned, and planned. And then planned a hell of a lot more and off we flew to central Europe. Now I'll probably talk about all of that at some point but right now I want to talk about how it honestly changed the way I see my life and helped my mental health.

So before I start, I just want to put out a little disclaimer. I know travelling is a privilege that not everyone has access to. Although I slave away stocking shelves to pay for my travels I still understand how lucky I am to take these trips. I also just want to say that as amazing as they are, trips around the world cannot cure metal health problems, although I do believe they can give you a short break from having to deal with them.



So lets get to it; why was this trip so life changing? And why was it different from any of the other trips I've taken in the past? Well to start with it was the longest I've ever been away from home. We were gone for 18 days. This might not seem much to veteran travellers but to someone who suffers with anxiety, this is a long time believe me. I worried a lot about having enough money, catching the right trains at the right time, and, you know, silly things like getting mugged or losing my passport. Well we did have enough money, we made it on time to all of our trains, and we got to where we needed to be, even if things didn't always go right. Although I couldn't stop myself from worrying every now and then, I got though it, and I handled any problems we came across pretty well too. Although travelling is my passion and I love every second of it, by going on an experience like this I came home feeling like there's nothing I now couldn't do. For someone who is constantly drowning under self doubt and worry, thats a pretty nice feeling.

Like I said we had everything planned down to the tiniest detail which did make me feel a lot better, but there's no way we could plan for everything, that's just not how life works. We were bound to come across problems at some point and we did, but we managed them well and continued on our journey. I didn't have any major freak outs while we were away and that has given me a boost in confidence.



As well as helping me to overcome my anxiety by forcing me to confront situations head on, travelling for such a long period of time allowed me to take a nice break from everything that worries me at home. For 18 whole days I didn't have to worry about finding a new job, saving to move out, my parents' business closing down, and all the things that keep me up at night. The only thing I needed to think about was what I planned to do the next day. I know that isn't reality but to have such a long period of time without my everyday concerns was so refreshing. Although I came back home to my worries they weren't as built up in my head as they were before I left. I think I needed that break to reset my mind, give it a good cleanse, and come back to things when I could think more clearly.

By the end of our trip I came home with a new outlook on life. I realised there was more to it than working a shitey job to pay for a little relief every few months. I don't want to be another person living just for the weekends, especially when I have to work them. I want a good job, a well paying job, a job I like, a job that can allow me to afford these sorts of trips more often. I want to wake up everyday feeling like I did the morning after I got home, knowing that we overcame any problems that stood in our way. I want to be able to face situations that terrify me - like being in crowds, learning to drive, and going places on my own. I want to live a care free life like the one I had just a few weeks ago. This trip has given me the drive to push myself to be the best I can be. It made me confront situations that I would completely avoid here at home and it has given me the inspiration to try new things which is something I will always be grateful for.

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HOW TRAVELLING CHANGED ME AND HELPED MY MENTAL HEALTH


So here is the second part of our amazing trip to Disneyland Paris. I can't believe it was almost a month ago now that we were living the dream! We honestly had the best time and I can't wait to go back! Me and Sean are planning to go back for halloween but in the meantime I'll be returning next week with my family who have never been before! 


I really hope you've all enjoyed watching my Disneyland vlogs as I plan to make so many more! I'd love to get some feedback on them too as I always want my content to be the best it can be!


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DISNEYLAND PARIS JUNE 2017 VLOG - PART 2

As you may know if you follow me on pretty much any social media, Sean and I recently spent just shy of a week in Disneyland Paris. We had the most incredible time and I still have the post holiday blues now. To break the trip up a bit (not that we could ever get bored of Disney) we hopped on the train and spent a few hours in the city of love.


As usual we hadn't really planned what we wanted to do too much, however Sean really wanted to visit the islands where Paris was originally founded and so we headed that way. Out first stop was at The Conciergerie when Marie Antionette was held before her execution in 1793. There was a lot of information about the French Revolution, however there was not so much about Marie Antionette herself which I found quite surprising. The Conciergerie is free for European citizens under 26 and can be more or less done in around an hour so I would recommend a visit if you get chance. 

After our short visit there we stopped for a little snack break. Walking around all day really does take its toll on you so we like to have regular munchies. We then headed towards Notre Dame which I had never seen up close despite being to Paris twice before. The structure really is something else. It's bigger and more beautiful than I have ever seen in pictures an I'm really glad we got to spend a lot of time just soaking it all in. We did consider going in but the queues were really quite long and we didn't want to spend the day standing still.


Once we had taken more photos than any tourist should we moved to towards the Centre Pompidou but not before stopping off at Sephora for some treats. Sean actually tracked it down as he knew how keen I was to pick up some goodies you just can't get here in the UK. We grabbed a few bits and carried on.

We arrived at the Centre Pompidou just as it started pouring it down. Like every other tourist in the vicinity we ran towards the entrance, however we went in through the library instead of the main doors and beat the ridiculous queues to get in. Like the Conciergerie, The Centre Pompidou museum is free for Europeans under 26 however exhibitions needs to be paid for. The Centre holds many works of modern art including 'Fountain' which I was over the moon to see as it was one of the works I think really started modern art. We also had a wander around the top level which gives you absolutely gorgeous views over Paris and I would say is a must see while you are visiting.


Once we had pretty much exhausted the Centre Pompidou we took the Metro over to The Bataclan Theatre. To my surprise there were no flowers, no cards, and only a tiny plaque to commemorate the lives lost there back in 2015. Considering the size of the atrocity that took place I thought there would be more but I guess now it's just turned into the site of yet another terrorist attack. Despite there not actually being that much "to see" there were still several tourists posing for selfies in front of the plaque which I really didn't think was appropriate at all.

By now it was getting quite late and our tummies were rumbling. Not wanting to go too far we headed into a pretty Parisian café on our way back to the Metro. It was the least touristy place we'd eaten in for a while and that was exactly what we wanted. We had a long look at the menu before deciding we were actually rubbish at decoding French and we both ordered safe options. I picked a delicious four cheese pizza which could have probably fed a family of 12 and Sean went for a Caesar salad after enjoying one earlier in the week. We could have stayed there all night people watching and soaking up the atmosphere but we wanted to get back to enjoy a few hours in the Disneyland Park.


Last time I went to Paris I didn't really enjoy it much. We didn't plan a lot and I just didn't fall in love with the city like I usually do when travelling. Although I still wouldn't rank Paris in my top 5, we did manage to tick off a few things from my 'to do list' and I had a much more enjoyable time. I'm sure we will be back to explore more of this beautiful city and hopefully then I will finally feel the way most people do as they wander around the pretty Parisian streets.

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A DAY TRIP TO PARIS


So as I'm sure you guys already know, me and Sean spent an amazing 6 days in our favourite place on earth. Its the longest time we've ever spent in the park in one go and we had an absolutely amazing time. I've wanted to start vlogging for years now but I never really had the confidence until recently and so I decided to film all of our fab break away. I might seem a little nervous, thats because I am, ut I'm hoping that will improve with time!


This is just part one of my mega long vlog so don't forget to keep a look out for part two which I will be uploading very soon!

I would love to hear any thoughts or feedback on this video by the way. I really want to start putting more time into youtube so if you guys would like to see more of this kind of thing please let me know.

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DISNEYLAND PARIS JUNE 2017 VLOG - PART 1

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