A fantastic trip to the beautiful México, my first time to this amazing, vibrant country.
There’s something a bit comforting when you hear taxis blaring their horn at 4am in the morning, when jetlag is keeping you awake. Originally I’d be further annoyed but not when I’m in New York. After all, this is the city that never sleeps.
I’d first made the trip over to the Big Apple on an university trip back in 2012 and it was love at first sight. For the past four years, I longed to return to what had become my favourite city in the entire world, without hesitation. And at long last, here I was again on Boxing Day, marvelling at the bright lights of Times Square.
December in New York is cold. Armed with thick coats, wooly scarfs and big boots, we were ready to tackle the elements and started with the enormous Central Park. Although there were no leaves on the trees and the sky was a murky grey, it’s a stunning site, a place of peace in a very busy city. You just about hear the sirens and horns but the further you delve into Central Park, the quieter it becomes.
On the other end of the spectrum, visits to Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building are musts. Both with equally stunning views, I recommend you go up one during the day and the other at night. We went up the Top of the Rock on a clear sunny day, with which you could see miles of the concrete jungle and get a perfect view of Central Park. Up the Empire State however was a simply magical experience and also incredibly lucky. As we reached the 86th observation deck, we were greeted with falling snow. Although it would partly obscure our view, you really can’t beat some snow, which did stop to reveal the stunning night views.
An attraction that I hadn’t done last time was visiting ol’ Libby – the Statue of Liberty that is. Perhaps the tourist spot in New York, it is a must see when you visit, purely so you can say that you have done. The ferry over gives you some tremendous views of Manhattan, a different perspective on the bustling island, as well as a chance to get away from the busy crowds if you so wish.
An unexpected activity we undertook was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge; I recommend doing this if you are visiting the 9/11 Memorial, with the start of the Bridge not far away. With great views of Manhattan one side and the hipster Brooklyn the other, it’s a must.
If you can, also be sure to catch a sports game, whether this is Basketball, American Football, Soccer… the Americans certainly know how to create an atmosphere and this is no different with New Yorkers. A trip over to the Barclays Center to see the New York Islanders in an Ice Hockey match was a fun experience, as we got drawn into the atmosphere, chanting along the faithful Islanders fans.
One thing with the tourist attractions; pre-book before you go. Understandably security is tight everywhere so rather than queuing to go through security and then again to purchase your tickets, have them ready to go. The Statue of Liberty is particularly an attraction to have your tickets already purchased, otherwise you’ll be there a long time.
We left before the infamous ball drop in Times Square which, although it is a bucket-list item for many, was extremely busy and a bit mad around the area beforehand. For the sake of seeing a ball drop from afar, it’s not high up on my own list.
Again I left the Big Apple yearning to return as soon as I could, having fallen back in love and rest ensured, I shan’t be leaving it four years to go back. If you love big bustling cities with so much to see, then New York is the city for you.
Here are some more photos I took during my time in Dubrovnik last summer – a truly wonderful city.
I started writing this after I landed back at London Gatwick Airport back last summer and I keep meaning to post it up. I do apologise! So here is my review of a fantastic trip to Croatia, a country which I already had a lot of love for before we visited, back in August 2015.
I’d already had the pleasure of visiting Croatia a couple of years ago, after visiting the North coastal town of Porec, but I couldn’t wait to go back. In particular, I was excited to see Dubrovnik for the first time, and I’d only ever heard good things about it. Everyone who’d asked where I was going, would often say “Oh Dubrovnik! I’ve heard really good things about there, it’s meant to be really pretty.” So an instant bonus before I’d even boarded our flight.
The heat hit us instantly as we set one small step onto Croatian soil, the sun blaring down intensely, as we made our way to our hotel. The stunning Valamar Dubrovnik President was utterly perfect for our stay, immediately impressing as the bellboys handed us a glass of tasty fruity Prosecco, and a cool flannel to refresh our travel-worn faces. The reception is a vast area, decked out modern yet simply, with massive glass panes covering half a wall drawing your attention, looking out to a wonderful sea view. The infinity pool is refreshing and the facilities were fantastic – in fact, most of our trip was spent by the pool, making the most of the sunshine. Yes, we definitely were going to love it here.
Our hotel was a twenty minute bus ride from the Old Town, but for the peace around the pool, it was worth it. The hussle and bussle of tourists merging in the centre made it too busy at times, so our location was spot on. The Old Town itself – or Kings Landing to you Game of Thrones fans – is full of culture, history and sheer beauty. Many of the buildings, including some rustic and beautiful churches, bore the scars still of the Homeland War, over twenty years on. I highly recommend taking a walking tour around the city, as well as walking the city walls for rooftop views of Dubrovnik; full of absolutely stunning views of the city from the rooftops, with your eye line full of terracotta tiled roofs over the setting sun. If you wish for an even higher view, the cable car is well worth a visit, with fantastic views of the Old Town and the rest of Dubrovnik, looking out to sea and the islands nearby. I give one piece of advice though, if you wish to visit in the height of summer, to take the tours in the evenings when it’s much cooler. Then you shan’t be faltering and not particularly listening to the tour guide!
I’ve found on my two trips to Croatia that it is a beautiful country, an absolute gem of Europe. For a keen photographer like myself, Dubrovnik is perfect to photograph, and I found myself with my camera constantly in my hand. Even the small town of Cavtat is stunning, a nice peaceful town if you seek a bit of quiet away from the city. There’s plenty to offer with the refreshing and crystal clear Adriatic Sea on the coast, with lots of water sports available – I highly recommend paddle-boarding!
But it’s not just the physical beauty that makes Croatia such a wonderful place; it’s the people too. Many people, from the hotel staff to taxi drivers, are genuinely friendly and will help you out as best they can. After taking the bus back from Cavtat, we almost missed our stop, had it not been for the waitress we’d spoken to in our relatives’ hotel! We’d asked her earlier in the evening about the right bus and luckily, she tapped me on the shoulder and told us that this was the right stop. She’d done that out of her own kindness and however small it may be, it just shows how good natured and friendly the people of Croatia are.
My first time to this wonderful place resulted in beginning to fall in love Croatia and now I absolutely adore it. I wasn’t ready to leave the heat and the beauty; sure enough, it was absolutely miserable with rain the first two days of being home. Sigh…