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Spending New Years Eve In NYC

New Years Eve in The Iconic City. Empire State.

Going to New York as a teenager I didn’t really appreciate it, it was just another big city. I didn’t really see the hype back then but going as an adult this city definitely changed my mind. I saw why people fall in love with New York.

Probably the best time to find yourself in New York would be around the festive season. There is just something magical about New York in winter. The locals are more kind and welcoming while the skyscrapers shine extra bright in the dark winter skies.

Spending New Year’s Eve in New York is one of those bucket list experiences. Which means I would suggest you book far in advance, as even up to 6 months ahead hotels can already be sold out. Originally searching we found direct return London (LHR) – New York (JFK) flights as low as £260 (Which we should have booked but hesitated) and ended up booking around £330, still a major saving compared to those who looked and booked last minute with flights nearing £2000 for economy tickets.

I found going to New York just after Christmas you can experience the best mix of festivities the city has to offer. From Winter Villages in Bryant Park to the world-famous Rockefeller Christmas tree and of course Times Square getting prepared for the New Years Eve ball drop.

For most, the New Years Eve trip to New York is a short one. Trying to figure out what you want to see and where you want to eat in NY can be a bit difficult especially when you’re trying to get much done in a short amount of time.

New Years Eve NYC - Radio City - Flunking Monkey

Aside from the infamous Time Square here’s a list of my NYC//NYE must see places

Winter Village at Bryant Park
Christmas Tree and Rockefeller Centre/Radio City
“Top of the Rock” at The Rockefeller Centre
Flat Iron Building
Dumbo at Brooklyn

New Years Eve NYC - Dumbo - Flunking Monkey

When it comes to food in NY you can’t really go wrong, from street vendor bagels to Alt-Mex food, NYC has it all. One great thing about U.S. restaurants compared to those in Europe and Asia is that reviews are in abundance! Before we headed out we just did a quick search of what we fancied and when to the local place with the best reviews!

Having stayed in a quite residential part of NY, The Upper East Side. It had much more of a local feel than many of the touristy parts of new york. It was a great experience walking down the street in the morning to grab a bagel, seeing locals running in and out or having their morning coffee reading the paper. If you ever find yourself there check out Bagel Bobs, Great service and beyond tasty food! Their scolding hot coffee definitely came in handy with the subzero temperatures that blew into New York.


New Years Eve

The worlds eye is on New York on New Year’s Eve and for the first time thanks to TopDeck I was able to tick this major event off my bucket list.

As 2 million people headed into midtown (Times Square) area on New Years Eve, you could really feel the spark of energy in the air. NYPD was out in force and had the entire area cornered off by 18:00 with security gates.

I definitely recommend you cement you New Years Eve plans far in advance. As If you weren’t already in the area or didn’t have a ticket to a party within it there is no way you would be getting through.

New Years Eve NYC - Time Square - Flunking Monkey
Just around the corner of Times Square, TopDeck had set us up in a bar with two floors and a rooftop along with a buffet dinner and an open bar kicking off at 21:00!

The night was long, filled with good music, food and drinks. We had the option to see the ball drop live, as Times Square was a short minute walk, but with it being the second coldest New Years Eve on record at -15 degrees (Celcius) (-23 with wind chill) everyone opted to watch via the screen display inside. As the countdown kicked off everyone’s spirits rose even further to cheer in the new year.

They say the way you spend new years eve is the same way you’ll spend the rest of the year.

…Well if that’s in anyway true I’m looking forward to seeing how this year will turn out! As what better way can you bring in the new year than in NYC?

As new years day came about, we awoke to a quiet city. Fewer people were about, most stores were closed and the city seemed almost empty. It was an eerie quiet New York, an experience in itself.

We tried to use this day to try and go to the most touristy locations, which included central park and brooklyn bridge. We soon realised that it was just too cold to be outside. With New York and much of the US east coast experiencing a cold snap, this was one of the days where the temperature was just too cold and frigid to be outside. Unfortunately, we couldn’t even partake in indoor activities with most museums and venues being shut for New Years Day.

New Years Eve NYC - Central Park - Flunking Monkey

As the temperatures rose the next day we saw the city return to its usual fast-paced self, locals and tourists were out in numbers, stores opened and people returned to work.

Times Square had been cleaned up and restored making it seem like new years had never happened…Yet the spark was still in the air, shopkeepers to passers-by would wish you a happy new year and we really felt part of the city after only a few days there.

New Years In New York is one of those once in a lifetime experiences but once you experience it you can’t wait to go back and do it again.


Well, I hope you guys found this short experience article interesting and insightful!
Let me know below if you have any questions!

Remember I’m running a TRAVEL GIVEAWAY open to all my Subscribers!

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MonkOut.


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My First Time In Portugal

Considering the close proximity of all the countries in Europe. It’s hard to believe that you wouldn’t take this geographical opportunity to visit as many of the European countries as possible. I usually say to people: for most of those that I know, that live and work in London. They want either to find one destination they love and frequently return or chose not to stay in Europe. Using their limited vacation days and spend their time on another continent.

The reason I bring this up is I haven’t particularly travelled that much around Europe. Even though I’ve been to Spain now a number of times, I had never visited its neighbouring country Portugal! Until now…

Portugal Blog-8

Lisbon

Lisbon was my first stop when arriving in Portugal. It’s probably the easiest place to fly into with it being the capital of the country. I knew Portugal was my last country on my recent European road trip. As excited as I was to experience Portugal for the first time I was more excited about 30 degrees weather in the middle of October! Something which turned out to be an unusual exception that I definitely enjoyed.

Transfers

Getting around Lisbon was really easy. Including to and from the airport as Uber was available in the city. (As well as the major part of the rest of the country). Not only was Uber available it was actually quite cheap compared to most other cities. My transfer from the airport cost me €7 each way. Although be aware not all drivers speak perfect English so there is a slight language barrier in some cases.

Around the City

After visiting San Fransisco earlier in the year, I couldn’t help but pick up on the similarities between the two cities. Apart from the obvious April 25th and Bay Bridge comparisons. Lisbon like San Fran is built on top of many hills. So in certain cases, you can be struggling to make your way up a street and in others trying not to slip down one. I would recommend caution when walking around Lisbon. The majority of the streets are actually tiled and are very slippery even when walking.

Views from above

Portugal Blog-4

If its views you’re after there is one great place I can recommend to see Lisbon from heights. Arco da Rua Augusta is located at the top of Comércio Square. Unknown to me at the time this is publically accessible and you can climb to the top (via very narrow staircases). I would recommend going here at least 20/30 minutes before sunset to give you perfect golden hour views over the city and then you can see the city lights sparkle at night. I would also suggest that if you visit at any time outside peak summer you bring a light jacket with you as it will get slightly cold during this time.

Sangria and Pastries

The best places to find the perfect drinks and food are to follow the locals. Well in my case, I got lost and happen to stumble across great places by absolute chance. The best area for drinks is the urban area of Barrio Alto.  You will be able to find all the best bars and cheap drinks, like sangria from around €1. Unfortunately, most of these bars are only open after 7 in the evening. So If you’re looking too day drink you can still stay in the same area you just have to, like us, divert your focus away from the alleys and towards the main streets.

One great bar/restaurant I can recommend with really nice sangria on TAP! Is the one in the following image… I can’t remember the name, however, I’m sure if you’re really trying to find it you will! it’s located on a split level street corner and covered with beautiful blue tiling. (Also if anyone knows the name, please let me know and I can update it here for everyone to know).

Finding great pastries in Portugal was probably the easiest and best thing you can do! I’m probably going to get a lot of slack for saying this but Portuguese pastries are way better than those you can get in France! So just pop into your nearest local spot and give it a go, they’re so cheap and delicious you won’t regret it.

 

Lisbon-3

Road Trip to Sintra

Renting a car on the weekend In Lisbon can be a bit tricky. Even though there are multiple car vendors they’re placed all over the city and charge different rates for different size cars. As we decided to rent a car it turned out (as guessed) the best option was to find a local vendor and not a big name brand. We had initially tried booking through Europcar, however even after reserving and paying for a car the night before when we went to pick up the vehicle the next morning they had given it away and taken our payment. On top of that, they tried to sell us a more expensive car!

We ended up booking via a local car rental company called Dscar and our road trip was underway!

Cabo da Roca

Driving to Sintra is actually really easy from Lisbon. Using any form of Maps you will be able to see there’s a highway that can take you right there in about 20 minutes.

Although to me that just sounded boring. Instead, we planned to loop around the coast and make a quick stop over at Cabo Da Roca the most western point in mainland Europe! This gave us a nice coastal drive with beautiful views rather than having to stare out at concrete and other cars on our journey to Sintra.

Surprisingly it’s rather easy to park at Cabo da Roca. As it’s a popular surfing destination,  we could easily jump out the car, snap some pictures enjoy the experience and be on our way.

Monserrate Palace

Not known to many tourists and a tad difficult to find was the beautiful Monserrate Palace in Sintra. This was partly the main reason we decided to head on this road trip.

The Palace is located in a small national park in Sintra. It is filled with old ruins and beautiful gardens that cover its hillside landscape. I would definitely recommend visiting this area, you could bring food and have a wonderful afternoon picnic along the fields that look onto the palace.

It also turns out that you can rent the palace as a venue for parties and weddings. Let’s just say we were very close to reenacting wedding crashers.

Faro

It’s usually relatively easy to get to the Algarve from Lisbon. Unfortunately for me, I was flying during a time when there were air strikes. This meant I was delayed for an extended period of time, arriving in Faro 3 hours later than planned.

To be honest, I was quite excited to experience Faro. Although it ended up falling a bit short for me. Not through its own faults but just a mixture of circumstance.

As a heads up, I would say if you can drive Faro will be a great destination for you. if you cannot, I think you like myself would have been better off in Lagos, Algarve.

My initial plan involved me meeting my friend Keenan in Faro. We were going to rent a car and explore the Algarve area. This did not go to plan and due to mass Ryanair cancellations. Keenan at the last minute was told his flight was cancelled so I arrived in Faro alone, with the inability to rent a car due to a lack of license. Not having a car in the Faro area really does impact your ability to really experience the area and the Algarve fully.

You might ask, why did you not plan to fly directly to Lagos and stay there? The reason behind that is: Faro is the cheaper destination both to fly to and for finding reasonably priced accommodation. As we were renting a car, Faro placed more centrally in the Algarve would easily allow us to drive along the coastal regions and experience the best the Algarve has to offer.

Portugal Blog-9

Being the optimist I am, I tried to make the most of a bad situation. As Keenan’s bed at the hostel was already paid for, I offered it to a French couple that was stranded with no accommodation. We ended up hanging out together in Faro. Along with their friends, we filled our day eating and drinking and enjoying the sunset on one of the most beautiful golden sand beaches. Even though the water was freezing around October the weather was still warm. You never know how you might make friends in the most unlikely of situations.

My overall experience in Portugal was a great one, Lisbon has now become my favourite city in Europe (…so far). I cannot wait to return to experience more of Portugal!


Well, I hope you guys found this short experience article interesting and insightful!
Let me know below if you have any questions!

Remember I’m running a TRAVEL FOR FREE GIVEAWAY open to all my Subscribers! Click Here to get more details!

MonkOut.


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The Barcelona Stopover

So what would you do if you only had 48 hours in Barcelona? A stopover or short city break? Well during my spur of the moment trip this is exactly what I had and this is how I made the most of it.

The great thing about Barcelona is that it is easily accessible by so much of Europe but that can create a problem of accommodation and especially during peak season. What is so great about the city is that even going in October it was pretty warm, around the mid to high 20s (Celcius not Fahrenheit). Going in October which is what I would call a shoulder season means there are fewer people and more of a chance of you getting to stay in better parts of the city for a little more bang for your buck.

Accommodation – Zoo Rooms

I’m always excited to try new and interesting types of accommodation, I mean I’m much more interested in boutiques than your bob standard hotel. I don’t think, however, I’ve ever stayed anywhere as unique as Zoo Rooms.

Zoo Rooms - The Barcelona Stop Over - FlunkingMonkey

Zoo Rooms really felt like you had your own little home in the heart of Barcelona. Located on the corner of Carrer d’Enric Granados and Carrer de Mallorca we were in perfect walking distance to many of the hot spots in Barcelona but far enough away that we felt more in tune with the locals.

Be a Tourist

This was actually my second time in Barcelona but I had yet to fully experience a lot of the main things to see, which is why pretty much the first thing I do is get out and see what you can of the city, even if that’s just the main sights. One thing I really appreciate in Barcelona is that all the touristic sights are spread out across the city, which means when you walk between them you really get to feel and experience the beat of the city.

A perfect place to start is the gothic quarter, not only because that’s where most of the things you want to really see are but also because this part of Barcelona has some of the most unique architecture in the world. You don’t want to miss it walking up and down Las Ramblas and shopping (Which is perfectly fine but not really up my street especially on a time crunch).

Gothic Quarter - The Barcelona Stop Over - FlunkingMonkey

Although just to diverge on a point there, please be very cautious of your belongings when walking around Las Ramblas and the gothic quarter. These are both heavily touristic parts of Barcelona and the chances of you having items stolen from your pockets and bags are high. Pickpockets even work in groups, so avoid mass public shows where the entertainers try to bring in big crowds. Most likely they’re working as a distraction and have people working with them to pickpocket unsuspecting public viewers distracted by the ‘show’. Watching simple videos like this to prepare you can save you a lot of money and stress.

A place I was surprised to come across, that I had not heard much about, was Parc de la Ciutadella. It’s a rather large park that borders Barcelona Zoo, I didn’t experience the zoo but the park itself was actually really enjoyable to walk around. It’s filled with botanical gardens, ponds, monuments and even the parliament of Catalonia which itself is a beautiful building.

Metro Map - The Barcelona Stop Over - FlunkingMonkey

Bunkers

One thing I didn’t know was in Barcelona was the old military bunkers that overview the city. This is one thing I recommend everyone do, well those that are capable of … as guys this was a trek! Not only do you have to get the edge of the city by train, you also have to climb at least 3 hills and 4 sets of stairs but the views are really worth it. We got off at the station called, El Carmel (On the Blue line) L5 and walked up the hill known as Turó de la Rovira to the Bunkers.

After the climb, I thought that many people wouldn’t be up here due to the effort required just to get up there. I was wrong, it was filled with more locals than anyone else, having picnics and romantic sunset drinks. I could see why as the views were spectacular.

Great places to eat

– Where to find the good food amongst the traps

Salamanca - The Barcelona Stop Over - FlunkingMonkey

La Flaunta

We were a bit sceptical at first over the slightly pricey side of the tapas menu, you’d be surprised at how big the portions are. Not only are the portions plentiful they taste so good! Make sure to get there early because when you leave you’ll see the queue stretch out from the door down the street. We got there around 18:30 and left around 19:30.

Cafè Bar Mostassa

A great place to go for Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch in this locally owned small cafe. I don’t really know how else to describe it other than great healthy food at reasonable prices with great service. I had the granola pancakes and they were delicious and so filling! Perfect to get you fueled for a day of exploring.

Salamanca

Eating the one of the best Paella in Barcelona can be dangerous. I don’t mean in the sense of your life or health, I mean for your wallet.

Being completely honest here, this was probably the best paella I’ve ever eaten, however, it wasn’t worth the (for the lack of a better word) the devious price it was sold for.

So I would definitely issue a warning when going to Salamanca I, especially relating to the Paella menu each price stated is for 1 person eating (Even if the dish has to be shared) meaning their Paella is around €30pp. The service here was a bit lacklustre although we did sit outside and it was rather busy.

Well, I hope you guys found this short guide article interesting and insightful!
Let me know below if you have any questions!

Remember I’m running a TRAVEL FOR FREE GIVEAWAY open to all my Subscribers! Click Here to get more details!

MonkOut.


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The Barcelona Stop Over - FlunkingMonkey

 

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Postcards from the French Riviera

I had always wanted to experience the french riviera. Years of hearing about their warm weather, blue waters and luxe lifestyle had definitely pushed this destination up my bucket list.

When it comes to travel I always end up travelling in a shoulder season. I’m not entirely sure whether I do this or purpose or not but I find it always works in my favour. There are always fewer tourists and sometimes you can notice price drops in some stores, although price drops also tend to be accompanied by drops in the weather. I have to say though that having 20-degree weather in October is still great to me!

Accommodation – Hotel Ozz

When it comes to accommodation on my trips I tend to just book what I’m feeling at the time or most commonly what fits within my price range for that particular trip. On this occasion, I wasn’t just looking for myself, both I and my friend Luke were checking out the french riviera for the first time.

Hotel Ozz worked out perfectly for us! A mix between a hotel and hostel it had the perfect balance for what we were looking for on this trip.

We were lucky enough to have a rooftop room, which I would definitely recommend to any guest intending to stay at this hotel. The windows gave you the best vantage point into the city whilst the private balcony lets you relax whilst amongst the locals. Unfortunately, I was unable to take a picture of our room as we arrived quite late a night and had already spread out our belongings by morning but you can view the huge array of rooms available to you at Hotel Ozz.

Their classic French style breakfast helped us kick the day off right, with a croissant and baguette accompanied with spreads and morning coffee. A factor we really appreciated was their centralised location in Nice, everywhere we wanted to go was within walking distance!

Hotel Ozz Breakfast - Postcards From The French Riviera

The Town and Sea – French Riviera

One of the great appeals of the French Riviera was its blue waters! This was something I could not wait to see for myself and at less than 15 minutes walk away this was one of the first places we headed. I always appreciate walking a lot more when I’m travelling as it gives you the opportunity to see so many more sights and come across interesting nooks than when travelling by car.

So I’m sure you guys are aware there is a Notre Dame In Paris, did you know there is also one in Nice? Well, personally I had no clue until I randomly stumbled across it on our walk toward the coast. Not only was it beautiful from the front and the back, there were significantly fewer tourists here.

Postcards from the French Riviera - Behind Notre Dame
Behind Notre Dame

 

Even though visiting in October with the days not as warm and sunny as when in the peak of summer the sea was still glowing blue. One thing I really enjoyed were the little things I didn’t expect such as the beach being a pebble beach and not a sandy one. Usually, I’m not a huge fan of pebble beaches as I like the feeling of sand between my toes, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. The sound of a pebble beach might make Nice seem even more appealing to you.

One thing that we wanted to experience but didn’t get the opportunity too was the fact you can go cliff diving right under the “I Love Nice” sign. Although it sounds like a really fun a great idea I would try and aim to go when the waves aren’t as rough because you can easily be slammed into the jagged cliffs. Which brings me onto my last point.

I was stunned by the varying coastline Nice has! From the pebbled beach to the cliffs and back to the marina I don’t think there was one point where I thought I’m bored with what I’m looking at.

The Place To Eat – French Riviera

When it came to finding French food in the french riviera, we did slightly struggle. Although we did accidentally get to try some local cuisine in the form of caramelised onions on a pizza like dough… I forgot what the term for this is! So if you’re French and reading this and have any idea about what this is called please let me know! So the restaurant we happened to come across this in was called La shounga, just a stone’s throw around the corner of the monument de morts.

Oddly enough we heard the best restaurant to eat at was a place called La pizza. Now before I get into what this place was like, I think the story of how we found this out is much more interesting. In the many Uber rides, we took whilst in Nice, I would definitely say this was my most memorable. In London most Ubers tend to be cars that aren’t particularly that expensive, however, in Nice every uber we took was either a really nice Audi or Mercedes.

On this particular occasion, we were picked up by a driver with a Mercedes E class. After the general fumble of trying to speak French to him, we realised he was fluent in English. Now here is where the story gets interesting, not only does he speak English very well he actually runs his own taxi business alongside being Charlize Theron’s personal driver when she is in France! Obviously gobsmacked as we were, long story short we all know Mariah Carey is crazy.

Anyway back to this restaurant, so this driver recommend la pizza to us. We were a bit sceptical, wanting to eat French food as we were in France but he was adamant this was the best place that locals eat. He wasn’t wrong, arriving at La Pizza this place was packed full of locals and on top of that served some great Pizza and Pasta!

 

Luxe Life Monaco

Luxe Life Monaco - Postcard From The French Riviera

Train journey

I think I appreciate and enjoy those spur of the moment trips, those that you make the split decision the day before. I say that because that’s how we ended up in Monaco. A place I’ve probably dreamt about seeing ever since I watched the old James Bond movies as a youngster.

What I didn’t know is that you can get a train ticket to Monaco from Nice for only €3.50 One Way or €7.00 Return, you don’t even need your passport for the train which shocked me more! Getting to Monaco by train was really easy, especially from Hotel Ozz. Gare De Nice Ville has trains going to Monaco every 20/30 mins. A good idea is just to head to the station grab your tickets, then just chill a bit in the cafes they have outside, we used this opportunity to grab some macarons. In case you have a struggle finding the ticket counter, turn right upon entry walk down the hall slightly and then turn left at the ticket booth.

Depending on what sort of views you’re after, sit on the right side of the carriage for coastal and the left side for countryside and houses. As much as I would have enjoyed coastal I did not regret sitting on the left side at all! The views were just as beautiful.

Small country with big money

Monaco is known for is high life, I did often think this might have been an over exaggeration but I was obviously wrong. within minutes of arriving, I saw what was probably a continuous stream of 5 supercars driving behind one another. I definitely knew by then I had arrived in Monaco.

Walking around the small city centre, it actually didn’t scream money. It seemed much more like a small town, you could see locals going about their daily lives. Albeit there were some people dressed very well so you could always tell there was a certain air about the place. Overall it seemed beautifully quaint.

Something I was really shocked to realise was how beautiful the Monaco landscape is. Whilst walking around the town we stumbled across a pathway that leads to the Monaco Palace. This was unlike any palace I had ever seen before, with views in the background of mountains resembling Yosemite. The palace walls were built like a 17th Century castle looking out onto the Monaco marina, it honestly felt like you were walking through a dream… or a film set.

As much as I would have loved to stay longer in Monaco my Euro Trip was just beginning. I had gotten a taste and wanted more! I had to make a promise to myself to return one day…maybe with more money haha.

Even if all you have is a day in Monaco I would definitely recommend walking around as much of the small country as you can, people are kind and the views are beautiful. You never know maybe you can persuade someone to let you join them on their yacht!

Did someone say Helicopter?

Monaco literally must have been a dream. Not only was it photographic heaven, I got to fulfil another lifelong dream of mine there and ride in a helicopter! I mean what an amazing experience. I would never in my wildest dreams thought my first ever helicopter ride would have been flying me back from Monaco to Nice!

Monacair - Post
I didn’t even know this was a thing people do, I mean you can do it too! The amazing company Monacair offer commercial flights to and from Nice and Monaco. Their staff are super friendly and helpful and honestly, the 10-minute journey was probably some of the best minutes in my life. This is definitely an experience I would recommend and I will probably do again! (Oh head’s up though, if you intend on getting a helipcopter ride, you will need your Passport!)

Well, I hope you guys found this guide article interesting and insightful!
Let me know below if you have any questions!

Remember I’m running a TRAVEL FOR FREE GIVEAWAY open to all my Subscribers! Click Here to get more details!

MonkOut.


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Why you should think before booking with kiwi.com

Ok, so that may be a bit of an overreaction. Here’s why I regretted and why you should think before booking with kiwi.com 

The Beginning

My journey started when I looked toward booking a quick getaway into Europe. As I tend to be quite indecisive I changed my choice destinations quite a few times. It had gone from Nimes to Nice, Murcia to Barcelona and adding in Lisbon and Faro into the mix.

The Search

When It comes to looking for flights I’m a die-hard user of Skyscanner. From experience, they do tend to give you the lowest prices, sometimes even £1-2 lower than those listed on Kayak.com. Now as I knew I didn’t want to keep flying back to the UK I decided just to fly from each destination to the next. Luckily or unluckily for me, Skyscanner has a multi-stop search function, allowing me easily to place my destinations and dates I’m looking to travel between. After tweaking my search to what appeared to be the cheapest dates Skyscanner displayed to me a list of flights! Great these were all direct flights between my destinations on the dates I was looking to travel. Now the price was alright, a decent amount (for the number of flights I would be taking…or so I thought).

Skyscanner Multi-Stop Search - Think before booking with kiwi.com
An example of a Multi-Stop Skyscanner search

As those who have used Skyscanner in the past know, after you flights are listed you can proceed to book them with the suggested websites below. For me, only one option appeared: Kiwi.com. I clicked through and saw that booking with Kiwi.com gave me the ability to book all my flights at once! Only enter my passport details once and pay!

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 15.06.48.png
An example of the one site display, showing Kiwi.com

Success? or Not?

I thought at the time how great! Why aren’t more people using this company? Obviously a bit sceptical I looked at their reviews on Trust Pilot with 95% of them overwhelmingly positive, knowing most people had a good experience with them I was confident enough to book my flight. Once completed, everything went smoothly! I received a booking processing email followed shortly by a confirmation email.

Kiwi.com Homepage - Think before booking with kiwi.com

Trust Piolt -- Think before booking with kiwi.com

 

Wait. Hold on a minute. I’ve only looked at the flight using Skyscanner multi-stop function. It will be fine, booking with kiwi.com must have been the cheapest choice right?! I mean Skyscanner gave them as the only option to select from offering them as the cheapest price.

Well, no harm in checking? WRONG! After entering my flight in multitabbed single searches on Skyscanner, I realised that by booking my flights separately I would have saved £70! Now I know this isn’t a lot of money but considering I travel a fair bit this could have been an extra trip!

Help?!

Coming to the realisation I’d been had, I decided to call kiwi.com with their 24/7 support. In my mind I’m thinking it’ll be fine they’ll be able to sort this out for me. Again I need to stop believing in the best of companies like this, obviously given the title of this post I was WRONG!

After being unable to get through to them for a good hour, I ended the call, I had work to be getting back too. I decided to call them again the following day in hopes of being put through to someone. Calling the next day I was placed through to a customer service operative a lot quicker within 10 minutes in fact. I hilariously had a bit of a panic as I assumed I would have another long wait, so I had the phone on speaker on the other side of the room … Having to run over to clarify presence and unflustered myself to be able to explain the problem to them.

Here is where it gets interesting! I speak to the customer service agent and I state the issue to them. I inform them that I booked my flight through Kiwi.com and paid an extra £70 that I would have saved had I booked my flights separately. I asked if the would honour the correct prices of these flight? I was immediately shut down and told No. I asked why and they stated that “prices always change” which of course I know they do, but I checked immediately after my confirmation came through. I was then provided with the same generic response, flight prices change consistently “our prices are kiwi.com prices” which shocked me slightly.

Many established travel companies, such as Expedia and Last minute to name a few offer a price match services even after booking, I was shocked that kiwi.com did not offer a similar service.

I exclaimed that this was terrible business practice, to which a response I was shocked to hear and found hilarious at the same time. “Kiwi.com are a company and they have to make money somehow”. At this point I’m beyond done with trying to debate with this customer service agent, I explained how that’s even worse practice to take advantage of your customers and there are better practices even enforced by similar agencies that are much more successful than you … Now I can see why.

Usually I would try and fight to the end, however, I could see this company and its practices ones that were stringently enforced, would not be subject to criticism.

What now.

In hindsight, I look at it as a blessing in disguise. I know now that kiwi.com care very little about their customers and are in the business solely for monetary gain and this is obviously not a company I would like to assist meeting its goal.

I would recommend that people learn from simple mistakes that even as an experienced traveller I make! When looking at multiple destinations always check for your flights both as a group and separately to see if you can make a worthwhile saving!

Saying all that I know there are positives to booking with kiwi.com such as the ease of booking multiple flights all at once, the ability to manage all your flight bookings in one place. I just don’t think that these “benefits” are worth the excess amount you will pay for flights, booking through their website! I hope going forward kiwi.com improve their current business practices towards customer service and inflating prices.

Well, I hope you guys found this guide article useful! Let me know below if you have any questions!

Remember I’m running a TRAVEL FOR FREE GIVEAWAY open to all my Subscribers! Click Here to get more details!

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How To Take Better Photos On Your Phone

If you’ve ever looked at images on the internet and wondered how it was taken or why your images don’t look like that? You’ve come to the right place! I’m going to show you how to take better photos on your phone and how to edit them for upload, in less than 5 minutes.

Understand your light

When it comes to figuring out how to take better photos the principal step is knowing where and what your light source is.

Camera Light explained

Perspective – What are you trying to capture?

As broad as that sounds, it’s honestly something you need to figure out. Who or what is your subject? Once you’ve established that you can begin of thinking of ways to capture them in the best way.

The first step would be to turn on your Gridlines:

To switch the grid on …

  • iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
  • Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”

Now you can begin to play with composition (‘Where things are going to be’). [Here] is a great selection of different types of composition you can play around with. Just by duplicating their composition style you’ll see before your very own eyes, how the placement of your surroundings can improve your photos.

Shoot to edit

This is the bit I probably enjoy the most. You’ve done easy work, you now know how to take better photos. Now comes the part where you can really make your image stand out amongst the crowd.

Below are some sample iPhone 6s Images I captured during my travels. I’m going to show you how you can edit them from standard to amazing using the app SnapSeed.

Images that are brighter and contain more blue tones are known to do more favorably on Instagram.

Below are two different types of images, both shot in two different light environments.

Boracay, Philippines.

This simple edit is really easy to achieve, tweaking only a few settings on SnapSeed.

SnapSeed Dashboard - PalmTree - FlunkingMonkey

Above you can see the array of editing options you can select from in SnapSeed. For this edit, all I am going to be using is the Tune Image and Curves sections.

SnapSeed Tune - PalmTree - FlunkingMonkey

The best way to learn how to use this tool is to look at what the extremes of each setting do to the image. You will slowly begin to realise how to use these tweaks to adjust your image to where you want it to be.

SnapSeed Tune Edit - PalmTree - FlunkingMonkey

In my original image, I knew that it was already bright but it didn’t really pop so I increased the brightness and then reduced the highlights to bring back some detail in the distance. As I was standing under the palm tree there was a lot of shadows so I chose to lift some of that away to bring back more of the leaf details. Lastly, I knew the original image was sort of just one solid colour, so I desaturated the blues and added slight ‘orange’ through the warmth slider, replicating the sun.

SnapSeed Curves - PalmTree - FlunkingMonkey

The last step I tend to take whenever editing images on my phone are to adjust the image curves. The curves control the light in the image, splitting the graph in the quarters the top right quarter controls the overall highlights and the bottom left controls the overall shadows.

I like to push the highlights to add a bit of glow to the image whilst slightly deepening the shadows. As a final adjustment, I usually push up where the base of the line curve starts to add a bit of fade to the image, which gives it that extra bit of depth.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

 

SnapSeed Dashboard - Ha Long Bay - FlunkingMonkey

As you can see the light in Ha Long Bay was very different to that of in Boracay. What I want the viewer to focus on here is very different. So here I’m only going to focus on the top two sections, Tune image and Details.

SnapSeed Details - Ha Long Bay - FlunkingMonkey

In my original picture a lot of the details in the islands was blown out due to the light, so to bring some of that detail back in I have to increase the structure and sharpen the image.

SnapSeed Details Edit - Ha Long Bay - FlunkingMonkeyOnce completed I only now had to tune the photo to get to where I needed it.

SnapSeed Tune Image - Ha Long Bay - FlunkingMonkey

I knew my main focus here was to bring out more of the deep greens of Ha Long Bay, so by increasing the Saturation more of the colour started to pop. By reducing the Highlights less reflection of light was visible on the water really allowing it to POP!

Well, I hope you guys found this guide quick and easy to follow! Let me know below if you have any questions!
Remember I’m running a TRAVEL FOR FREE GIVEAWAY open to all my Subscribers! Click Here to get more details!

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Why you’ll regret not going to Lithuania

So before my adventures in Lithuania actually began, I kind of had to figure out exactly where it was. For someone who travels as much as I do, my geography skills aren’t really up to par. Anyway, so it turns out Lithuania is the southernmost Baltic State!

Vilinus and Trakai

We started our journey of in Vilnius, where after an extremely late Wizz Air flight we woke up at the Artagonist Hotel! This quirky hotel was smack bang in the middle of Vilnius old town. It felt as though you stepped into a dystopia where modern technology met classically beautiful architecture, the small city was filled with cobbled streets and a maze of streets filled with quirky little stores.

Artagonist Hotel

Lithuanian Street

Curved Street Part 2

Lithuania goes Roman

Trakai, Lithuania

Walking through Vilnius you really felt the clash and fusion of Lithuanias deeply interwoven historical past. This became even more evident as we came to Trakai, where I was lucky enough to experience a traditional Karaim lunch and learn a little bit about the history of the Karaim people, whose Turkish routes have brought hints of middle-eastern culture to the Baltics.

KYBYNLAR-

Karaim Table_

Only 200 Karaim people live in Lithuania and only around 2,000 remain in the world.

So after burning my mouth on some of the hottest soups and delicacies the Karaim people had to offer, we headed out to see the iconic Trakai Island Castle. Unfortunately, for us, the rain had decided to come in but that wouldn’t stop me whipping out my camera out to capture its magnificent stature!

Castle on lake
I can just imagine, how amazing it would be to sail on these beautiful waters on a warm summer day.

After a long and wet afternoon around the lakes of Island Castle, we headed back to Vilnius for a Hot Air Balloon ride…turned hill climb as the weather, unfortunately, was not permitting. (One of these days I will get on a Hot Air Balloon!)

Hill of Three Crosses

I guess it wasn’t the worst of compromises, after a small incline trek reaching the top of the hill of three crosses we got the chance to see the amber skies over Vilnius as the sunset over the city. It slightly felt like Lithuania’s take on Christ the redeemer.

Three Crosses

Anyksciai, Lithuania

Can’t really say no to regional parks where you can walk amongst the height of the trees, can you? Anyksciai Treetop walking took us 34 metres above the ground giving us breathtaking views of forestry as far as the eye could see.

Green Trail

Tree Top Trail

Although still debated, Lithuania translates to mean the land of rain. Which explains the abundance of lush forests and much greenery we saw during our time there. It also explains why every time we tried to go see their fantastic sights the rain came back with a vengeance to flush us out to the next place. I guess it made each experience short but sweet, so if you want to try and avoid it I would meticulously check the forecast before you book anything!

Lucky or not so lucky depending on how you look at it, the sun came out just as we prepared to jump on Anyksciai Alpine Rollercoaster!  Now considering you’re throttling yourself down a series of hills at 40mph with nothing to control yourselves except a stick it can be a bit daunting albeit terrifying your first time. What a great experience it was though, having done the laps the laps twice, it makes you realise that such a ‘simple’ experience is just as enjoyable or even more so than the huge roller coasters you find at theme parks. I would definitely like to go back and try this out again, maybe in winter next time!

Alipine Coaster Ride

Siauliai, Lithuania

Just outside of Siauliai you can come across one of Lithuania’s most interesting sites, with different meanings for everyone that visits there. The hill of crosses is literally a hill filled with millions of crosses and that’s just an understatement. The site has constantly changed since the day of its formation, so what I saw may not even be the same in a few years time.

Jesus on hill of crosses

The site resonated with a previous pope so much that after his visit to Lithuania and the hill of crosses he donated a Cross depicting Jesus, which can be seen upon the entrance to the site.

Cross on Hill of crosses

Lake House – Pas tėvukus

Just imagine everything you would want from that rustic lake house experience and live them out through, probably, the best homestay I’ve ever experienced. Located smack bang in the middle of a national park, Pas tėvukus looks out on to lake Berzoras making you feel cut off from reality in the best possible way.

Cabin interior

Aside from its wonderful location and accommodation, it’s owned by the most the most gracious welcoming hosts. They also provided us with an authentic (regional) Lithuanian dinner where I had the best ribs I’ve probably ever eaten and had an odd encounter with cannabis.

Dinner
Photo courtesy of Elle Croft 

Lake pier

Klaipeda, Lithuania

As our 10-hour road trip across the country of Lithuania began to come to a close, we found ourselves in Klaipeda. Dubbed Lithuania’s Capital of Culture, I once again felt as though I was walking amongst the stories of the past. Having been quite interested in history since I was a child, I honestly overlooked the past of countries such as those in the Baltics.

If you enjoy cobbled streets, Italian/Romanesque architecture and generally relaxed city vibes this is the place for you.

Lithuanias Main Harbour
Lithuania’s Main Harbour

Street walk

Ship Lithuania

Esio Trot Balcony
Anyone else getting Esio Trot Vibes?

Curonian Spit

Just when you thought Lithuania couldn’t get even more confusing, things just became curiouser and curiouser. A short boat trip across to the Curonian Spit National Park, we found ourselves on Witches Hill. Ironically this place really has no historical significance related to actual witches in any way, yet a folk tale spun out gave way to the creation of this woodland area filled with ‘Witchy type’ carvings and the odd children’s play area.

Witches Hill.jpg

By this point, I didn’t think Lithuania could shock me anymore and yet we rocked up in the desert…well the Dead Sand Dunes which span across the national park.  Now usually when you think sand your mind would probably go to, the beach, the desert I.e. Middle East or Egypt. I don’t think anyone’s first thought would be the Baltics or Lithuania.

Desert New-2.jpg

Nida

The slow moving town on the Curonian lagoon, Nida truly lives up to its picturesque coastal town image. The small town filled with boats, galleries, markets and restaurants makes you feel as though you’ve found the town doing everything right.

Bike Ride.jpg

For what was probably the most strange yet balanced adventure I’ve had so far, Lithuania definitely took my breath away! I truly understand why “Real is Beautiful” is their slogan. From walks through history into the woods and deserts, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit yet so disappointed they aren’t spoken of more!

Lithuania is a country that reminds me of why I have such wanderlust and sense of adventure, as there is so much to see in the world in places we never would have thought off!

Let me know what locations have surprised you, or where I should go next!


Well, I hope you guys found this short experience article interesting and insightful!
Let me know below if you have any questions!

Remember I’m running a TRAVEL GIVEAWAY open to all my Subscribers!
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BALTIC EDIT - Why you'll regret not going to Lithuania


[Please Note – all opinions in this post are my own]

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Amazing Essential Travel Hacks you can do last minute

As a traveller, I’m always jetting off to places at the last minute which can mean I’m not always left with a lot of time to prepare for the inevitable problems that we all come across when travelling. There is, however, some amazing and essential travel hacks you can do at the last minute to help make your journey and travel experience so much better!

First things first: You guys need to get Amazon Prime!, it is an Essential need for travellers in my eyes. Not only is it a useful tool to get products with immediate delivery but they provide both a Video and Music service, which work perfectly for those long flights, layovers and chilled evenings to name a few. I can’t think of a week where I haven’t used at least one of their services. Even if you’re still not sure they even offer a 30-Day free trial! So you can check it out for yourself and make up your own mind, I know you won’t regret it!


Check out these Essential Travel Hacks!
Last Minute Purchases that can make your Travel Life Easier!



Travel Essential 1: A battery pack

A battery pack can literally save your life sometimes. It’s a perfect way to ensure you always have access to your phone, tech and can even be a great way to make friends on the go. Trust me there hasn’t been one day when people haven’t asked me if they can use my charger.  Make sure to go all out and get the big 20,000 mAH+ ones, the bigger the number the longer it will charge your tech!


Travel Essential 2: Packing cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to really utilise all the space in your suitcase or backpack and stay organised at the same time. They’re a great way to keep clean and dirty clothes separated and are perfect for when you are rushing between destinations. As you tend to only open one cube at a time you’re less likely to have your clothes all over the place! (Unless you’re beyond help) …

Here’s a Handy Tip: Roll all your clothes tightly and you’ll fit more in, plus sometimes they end up less creased than when folded!


Travel Essential 3: Shower/Cosmetics Bag

As a past user of plastic carrier bags for my shower bag, I can’t begin to tell you how much investing in a good Shower/Cosmetics Bag has helped me throughout my travels. No longer do I have to shift through piles of product I don’t need, or sifting through my entire bag to find my toothbrush that I was 100% sure I packed. Everything I now need is in useful compartments and it stores away perfectly amongst my packing cubes.


Travel Essential 4: Saftey Wallets

Sometimes were not always travelling to the safest of destinations and we should be taking precautions to keep our personal items safe. An Item I found that came in great use was a simple Wallet with a Chain, this was something I could easily attach to a belt loop and pop in my pocket. That way when I was on the go I had an extra level of security, it may not have stopped any theft but it would have made me aware a lot earlier.


Travel Essential 5: Hard Drives

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen the ‘Storage full’ pop up across my devices and even more so when I’m travelling. The last thing you want to be worrying about when you’re visiting amazing places is whether or not you should be taking a picture of something because you only have 200mb left! There is one simple solution bring along a Hard drive! Not only can you back up all your amazing memories, you can also bring along with you all your favourite movies and music!

 


Travel Essential 6: Earplugs and eye masks

Now Earplugs and eye masks aren’t always needed but in the situations where you do need them, you will love the fact that you brought them along, i.e. A screaming baby on a plane with windows wide open and your body clock is saying it’s 02:00 a.m. They’re lightweight and can be stored pretty much anywhere… so why not?

 

 


Travel Essential 7: Headphones/Earphones

For me, Headphones are a dire need. There have been many times where I’ve turned up to the airport and realised the headphones I brought along barely work and end up spending an extraordinaire amount buying replacements from anywhere that sells them along the way, costing me a bomb and they all end up breaking within a few days anyway. So now I always buy two pairs before any journey just in case!

P.S. For those of you who aren’t as keen on the ear plugs, headphones can always serve a dual purpose.


Travel Essential 8: Partition Bag

Turn any bag into a camera bag! This lightweight velvet lined sleeve has made it so much easier for me to transport my camera, it’s got adjustable compartments to fit any size camera. I’ve been able to fit in a Camera an attached lens, a spare lens, a vlogging cam and spare batteries and chargers all into this little bag! The padding is thick enough to keep it all protected and it fits perfectly at the bottom of all my backpacks.


Travel Essential 9: Tech Secure Backpack

Sometimes I travel with lots of tech and find its a huge hassle getting through security because of the number of items I have to dig out of my bag. Depending on where you tend to travel yes it can be beneficial to sign up for TSA Pre. For me as I tend to travel to multiple worldwide destinations this isn’t really a useful suggestion. One item I haven’t had the opportunity yet to try but cannot wait to purchase is a specialist backpack. Not only can you access items like Laptops through easy compartments, but it’s also theft-proof!


Travel Essential 10: World Adaptor

Adaptors are one of the easiest items to forget! Every trip I’ve ever gone on this is the item that’s come to mind last. The great thing about getting these last minute is you don’t even have to think. Half of the time I never even know what plug sockets the country I’m going to is using. So grabbing one of these World adaptor plugs has saved me a lot of worries, any plug goes in and any plug goes out.

 


Travel Essential 11: Luggage Scale

Don’t Risk it! Weigh your bags! The number of people I have seen at airports having to reorganise their baggage is immense, don’t be that person. Having a luggage scale with you can be so handy it will give you piece of mind and can help you pass through baggage check so much quicker (it doesn’t even take up that much room).

 

 


Travel Essential 12: The Perfect Carry On/Backpack

For many travellers, budget airlines and their carry-on policies are familiar friends. I’ve definitely had that panic many times wondering whether my bag will fit in their ‘tiny’ compartments. Lucky for all of us some companies have had the initiative to create perfectly sized backpacks and suitcases (for those who are inclined either way). Ultralight with various compartments working perfectly with packing cubes these are a must have!


Travel Essential 13: Custom Luggage Straps

Ever had your bag just about close…Worrying about your bag popping open on the flight? Always picking up someone else’s suitcase on the carousel? Well no longer! Luggage straps have so many uses I can’t even list them all, definitely a key purchase for any traveller.

 

 


91g42v8h2bdl-_sl1500_Travel Essential 14: A Fresh Water Filtering Bottle. 

An item that might not have crossed your mind is filtering bottles,  they can really come in handy for those of us travelling to less westernised locations. In many countries, you can’t drink tap water or you have only basic access to fresh water. In both cases, the water might be filled with bacteria and parasites our systems can’t handle.

These bottles are awesome because they allow you to drink water from anywhere (minus the ocean). You can scoop rain water right out of a puddle, drink it and it won’t harm you! I, on the other hand, used it when I had a bit too much to alcohol drink in Vietnam and needed water first thing in the morning… No problem though right from the tap into this bottle and I was good to go! (P.S. I know you might say just get bottled water but come on man think of the environment!)


Check out these Essential Travel Hacks!
Tips and Tricks to make sure you have the best Trip!


Travel Hack 1
Searching in Incognito may show you a lower fare

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.17.11
Incognito Browsing.
Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.17.40
Normal Browsing

Travel Hack 2
Some airlines offer Free stopovers (I.e. Icelandair) so when booking be aware of this and you could grab yourself a free 24-hour stopover and a two-for-one trip!

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Travel Hack 3
Always check in online…were not in the 90s anymore!
This will guarantee you the seat you want and save you precious time at the airport.

Travel Hack 4
As rare as it is, it’s worthwhile when booking long distant flights to know your Airlines upgrade category, there are some seats that will never be eligible and you wouldn’t want to be in one of these the days they do decide to upgrade people.

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.28.26

Bonus Hack – PlusGrade can direct you to bid on upgrades for your flight. You can potentially grab yourself a bargain!

Travel Hack 5
Seat Guru will give you a great insight into your selected aircraft for your flight, and help you find the best seat. If you hate middle seats try to get on Boeing 767-300 flights, they have the least amount!

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.32.41

Travel Hack 6
When travelling having internet access is vital so when you can’t access any or you have to pay it, you feel like the world is ending.
So you better bookmark this page because it has nearly all the WIFI codes to airports around the world!

Airport wifi codes - Step up your Travel game with these Amazing Travel Hacks and see how you can WIN AIRLINE TICKETS!

Travel Hack 7
If you know you’re going to be really hungry on your flight? Order a specialist meal, you’ll get it earlier than everyone else!

Travel Hack 8
Are you going to have a Long stop over? Download the Lounge buddy app you can buy cheap passes to some of the best airport lounges around the world and sometimes even get free entry!

Lounge Buddy - Step up your Travel game with these Amazing Travel Hacks and see how you can WIN AIRLINE TICKETS!

Travel Hack 9
Sometimes when we land we can be in a rush to get somewhere I.e. another airport. You can stand there at arrivals and wait for ages for a taxi, or you can go to the departures zone and order/grab your taxi from there. There are much fewer people at departures looking to leave the airport.

Bonus Hack – If you’re travelling alone Uber pools are a great way to save money.

Travel Hack 10
Stuck on how to get your destination?
Rome2Rio gives you a breakdown of the best transport options available to you. This app worked wonders for me when I was island hopping around South East Asia.

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.43.20

Travel Hack 11
Know you’re not going to have internet access when you’re out and about?
Download maps.me and take your maps offline, you can download select destinations at a time and still use the navigation feature offline!

Maps.Me -Step up your Travel game with these Amazing Travel Hacks and see how you can WIN AIRLINE TICKETS!

I hope you guys enjoyed all my amazing travel hacks you can do at the last minute! If you enjoyed this post and found it any way useful make sure to Follow + Subscribe for more content just like this!

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Step up your Travel game with these Amazing Travel Hacks and see how you can WIN AIRLINE TICKETS!


[Please Note – all opinions in this post are my own]

 

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Long Weekend in San Francisco

For a long time, I’d always wanted to visit San Francisco partly because it always looked like a stunning city, but most probably because I was a huge Charmed fan and that’s where the show was set. I’m sure this is the case for many people whether it be San Francisco due to Fuller House or Brazil due to Fast and Furious, were often enticed and drawn into many locations due to the way they’re portrayed through media outlets.

One of the first things I noticed about San Francisco was how vibrant the city was! From the green palms and blue ocean to the colourful buildings and street art! Luckily for me the weekend I was in SF they had a freak heatwave that everyone definitely made me aware of. Letting me know that was not the norm and to enjoy it, which of course I did.

SanFran Buildings

Accommodation – Green Tortoise

When I was looking into where to stay I was really unsure whether to splurge on a hotel or not, but as I knew this was going to be a solo trip I knew a hostel would be my best option. Now I know there are always hostel sceptics and who cannot stay anywhere but a 4 star+ hotel but they’re not as scary as you might think, the best thing to do in any scenario is Review! Which I recommend everyone do.

Green Tortoise

The great thing about The Green Tortoise Hostel is that it is smack bang where you want to be to get easy access to the entire city. The hostel has a free breakfast in a huge common area with a great view of the Transamerica building perfectly enjoyed by sitting down with your morning coffee in their cushioned booths.

Green Tortoise Views

One thing I usually find with hostels is that there is always something that lets them down. To be honest, I slightly struggled with figuring out what that was with the Green Tortoise. Their staff were super friendly and had laughs with quite a few of them and their rooms and bathrooms are kept very clean. I guess if I was pulling at straws they could have A/C but as I mentioned SF is usually pretty windy so they rarely need it at night, they could have more bathrooms but again I don’t think people realised you can use bathrooms on other floors … I always ended finding news ones I never even knew were there!

As I know that some of us are extremely busy and don’t always get the chance to fully compare where best to stay. To make your life a little bit easier here’s a Hotel and Alternative Hostel both with great reviews and locations! Although if you have the time feel free to search, I tend to use Booking.com due to their handy Free Cancellation on most accommodation!

China Town and Little Italy (Districts)

The great thing about staying in the centre of cities like San Francisco, is that everything is within walking distance. A great perk of The Green Tortoise was that it’s located in the junction between Little Italy and China Town, meant you get easy access to great food which can really make or break a trip in my opinion. The hostel actually had a handy guide for the best food and cafes in the area sorted according to distance and price! I was loving up the Italian pizza slice joints so if you ever find yourself there make sure to check out Golden Boy and Tony’s.

Golden Boy

Pizza

Being a Tourist.

A lot of people forget social media networks are here to connect us, so I used my Instagram just for that. I really wanted to see more of SF from a local perspective so reached out to a San Franciscan (is that what they’re called?) to hang out during my time in SF. Luckily for me, I picked a good’un in Melissa! who was nice enough to show me around and take some of the fantastic photos with me that you might have already seen on my Instagram.

You cannot fly all the way to the east coast especially from the UK and not do Standard’cisco! You can always mix it up along the way but don’t miss the main attractions guys.

All over SF you’re going to find various different periods of architecture, which I absolutely love which is why my camera roll is pretty much filled with half the buildings in SF that I passed. The most iconic set are The Painted Ladies, unfortunately for me, Alamo Square (Park) opposite them was closed meaning I couldn’t get the shot I was hoping for but I made it work. I felt slightly sorry for their residents with people coming up all hours of the day just taking pictures of your house, I guess its the price you pay for living somewhere that stunning.

Painted Ladies

I didn’t think I was going to be shocked by anything in my experience of San Francisco but I’m glad I was. I’m not sure if many people on the other side of the pond know about The Place of the Fine Arts, I just know I definitely did not. What a stunning piece of work right en-route to the Golden Gate bridge. It looked as though a part of Rome or Greece had been plucked up and placed right there in sunny California.

melissademataphoto-sanfrancisco-1243

There’s not much I can say which probably hasn’t been said about probably the most photogenic bridge in the world! No one can deny the beauty of the Golden Gate bridge.

melissademataphoto-sanfrancisco-1673.jpg

“That curvy road. You know that mad curvy road.” My description prior to knowing the name of Lombard Street. Now going to see a random street might not sound like the most appealing thing to do but this is really a once in a lifetime experience.

Lombard street

Due to SF being built on a tonne of hills, you get to have the most randomly fun photogenic experience. From the top of the street, you get to see those classic SF cable cars go by, whilst you can look down on a view of the SF streets all the way down to the pier, going down the street is a journey within itself! I recommend hoping in an Uber Pool (surprisingly cheap) and getting them to go down.

Tram

Mission.

So unbeknownst to those of us that do not live in San Francisco, Mission district is apparently the place to be, can’t say I don’t understand why! Dubbed after the main street that passes through the area, it’s filled with lively people enjoying the independent restaurants and boutiques that fill the area. Sometimes old habits die hard so I had to make sure I got the best Greek food and Bubble Tea in the area (Although the lack of Honeydew Milk Tea was seriously disappointing guys).

Mural

Point Reyes.

You guys feeling some visual paradise? Yes? Good, head to Point Reyes. Again, I had never heard of this location prior to my trip to California but thank god I did.

Coast Line

Sometimes (going back to my initial point about hostels) Is that you can meet so many people as a solo traveller, lucky for me I met two great lads who were up for a last minute road trip down to these breathtaking coastlines. So if you find yourself with a free day around San Franisco or Northen Cali just rent a car for a day and drive! I recommend you definitely hit up Point Reyes or try to go somewhere unexpected!

Point Reyes Hill

House

Sheep

So if you’ve made it this far and read all there is to read about San Francisco … maybe you’ll be will to go a bit further or you just want more?! Then make sure you’ve subscribed to my YouTube channel where you can follow me around and get real insight into my San Fran adventures through my Travel Vlog coming soon…

MonkOut.


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[Please Note – all opinions in this post are my own]