It’s almost time for Disneyland’s 25th anniversary. From the 26th March Disneyland Paris is celebrating 25 years. Right now they have a great offer on. Up to 30% off if you travel between March and the end of October. It also comes with free half board which I do like. I am not the kind of person who wants to cook on a holiday or go out all the time. To mark the celebration I wanted to go back in time a bit.
I thought this might be helpful to some people who are planning to explore London in the next upcoming months. I would have been lost without these apps/ tools. I don’t know how we did it years ago when there was no smartphone. I suppose there were our parents who were just magic and knew where to go all the time. There was also the maps and still is. You can see quite a few people going around with maps to find their way around. I prefer to have it all on my phone rather than taking out the map all the time. It’s handier in my pocket.
Oyster Visitor Card
The Oyster Visitor card is the cheapest way to get around London. It can be used on all public transport including riverboats. So if I wanted to I could have taken the boat from Greenwich back into town but the cold put me off a bit doing that. One tube journey comes at a cost of £2.20 whereas when you pay in cash it’s £4.40. Another advantage is price capping. No matter how much you travel in London, you never use more than £6.50 credit in central London per day. Cheap, right? You can do so much sightseeing. There are many websites that send it to you worldwide.
Google Offline Maps
I really don’t know how I never came across using this before. I don’t have a roaming plan and my data plan is pay as you go. This means going online abroad can get quite expensive. If you run into the same problem as me, then Offline Maps might be just your answer. Before you start traveling to your destination, download the map/area you require via Wifi onto your phone. The GPS signal is picking up your current location and doesn’t require an internet connection. I used it so much and I never got lost because it shows exactly what direction you are going. You are the blue dot.
When I travel and I have to stay overnight, I always book via booking.com. The more you book with them, the more discount you get and if you register with them, they also offer you a secret deal which is only available to members. To access your booking, you do require internet BUT you can download the booking information to your phone as a PDF file or to your gallery before you leave.
I have to admit, I was never a fan of flying with Ryanair. Mainly because their fees for baggage is like twice the price than Aer Lingus. In the last year or so I found a liking to them though. Especially when it comes to short weekends away. Ryanair is known for cheap flights if you book them at the right time. And you don’t necessarily need big baggage, just a carry on suitcase with 100ml toiletries will do. The app allows you to manage all your trips as well as checking in and keeping your boarding passes.
The tube map allows you to view London’s underground map. They also have a section for tubes running at night and a rail section. You don’t need internet for any of them. The app does give you more advanced options also, such as route planner, and line status where you would need an internet connection but I have never used those. All I needed was a map to tell me where to go.
On Saturday I turned the big thirty. Instead of celebrating with hubby and kids, I decided to go away for the weekend. I was undecided at first whether I should travel around Ireland or going to London. In the end I went for London. Last time I was only there for 24 hours when the Blogfest was on so I didn’t really have much time to explore.
I took the Friday off work which meant I had a good solid three days to spend in London Baby. My flight was pretty early. I left the house at 6.30am. The kids weren’t even awake at that time yet. So I sneaked off. My flight was with Ryanair which is always straight forward enough. I didn’t check in a bag. A carry on suitcase with 100ml toiletries is the handiest for a weekend trip. The plane got into Stansted airport at around 9.30am. The problem was that check in wasn’t until 2pm. This left me plenty of time to tick off a few sights.
It can be quite restricted doing sightseeing with a suitcase. My hotel was located near the Victoria Station. Buckingham Palace was in walking distance so I decided to walk up. I was just in time for the change of the guards. Hundreds of people had settled in front of the palace and around. Due to my suitcase I couldn’t go near the gate. I suppose safety reasons. It was really cold and chilly but the sun was shining which made it all worth.
Shortly after I went back to Victoria and bought a dress for Chloe in GAP. I just couldn’t find anything online and rather getting it shipped, I thought I’d pick it up in store. Still loads of time left until I was able to check into my hotel which was not until 2pm. Down I went to London Eye and the South Bank. It was heading toward lunch time so I popped into a Subway on the way and had something to eat first to refill my energy. Unfortunately the London Eye was closed for refurbishment until Wednesday. That was that off the list then. I picked up a die cast taxi and bus for Matthew and a magnet for my collection and enjoyed the view in the beautiful but cold weather.
It was heading towards 2pm and I walked back to check into my hotel. The hotel I stayed in was called Park Plaza Victoria. It was only a few steps from Victoria underground and rail station. Very central as I was getting the tube from there to wherever I needed to go. The hotel was very impressive. I think it’s four star. I had breakfast included because I can never function without a proper breakfast to start the day.
My room was very impressive I have to say. First of all I had a king size bed. A whole bed to myself, with uninterrupted sleep for two nights. Second of all, how cool was the remote on the table and on the wall to control temperature of the room, the light for reading, or the light for the night. But to control the curtains via the remote to open and close them was the coolest thing. You can probably imagine I played with that for a bit. By the way, check out the carpet they have throughout the bedrooms and hallway.
As it was getting close to sunset, I took the tube to Tower Hill to see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge while the sun sets over the Tower Bridge. It was a different photo opportunity rather than a boring photo of the bridge during the day. Before heading over onto the other side, I’ve done a quick pitstop at Starbucks for a hot chocolate. It was cold after all and that was the right medicine for a cold winter day. That day I did a good bit of walking and my body is still aching now particularly my legs. I went from Tower Bridge to London Bridge. 21000 steps that day.
I took the tube from Monument station up to Kings Cross. I was planning to go and do the Harry Potter Studio Tour, but because it was over seven hours long, I decided against it as that would have been a whole day gone. Instead I went to platform 9 3/4. I didn’t queue to get my picture taken though, which I do regret now. I bought a mug that changes to the secret map when it gets hot and Bertie Botts Beans. There was so much stuff you could buy, even wands!
It was time to go back to the hotel, put the feet up and decide where to go for dinner. There was an Asian restaurant just around the corner. I am glad I went because it was the most delicious Asian I had in a long time. As the starter I had duck spring rolls and main course was Chicken Teriyaki with noodles. Divine. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. The place is called dim t. Seems like a great place for bigger groups as well. They have little couch corners.
Saturday morning started at around 8am. My inner clock doesn’t want to sleep in whether there are kids or not. Anyway I had a good uninterrupted sleep which is worth a lot more. It started off with an English fry, some fruit, a chocolate muffin and of course a cup of coffee. Shortly after I got ready to head to Greenwich, where East meets West. First of I went to see the Cutty Sark, then off to Greenwich Park, making my way to the top of the Royal Observatory and see London from way up high. The walk up the hill was killing me. Out of breath for sure. You had to pay admission to be able to access the meridian line. I didn’t pay but if anyone is looking to visit, it’s £9.50. I also visited Greenwich Market. It’s like every market in London to be honest.
As this was my actual birthday (Yay I turned the big 30) the rest of the day was spent shopping, eating and drinking. I took the tube to Oxford Street. Nearby where Oxford Street meets Regent Street I went for lunch in Kingly Court which was on my list. It’s a cute little food court. I went to Pizza Pilgrims for some well deserved pizza. Generally I don’t manage to eat a whole pizza but this pizza purely Italian and so delicious. Definitely worth a visit. I was lucky enough to get a seat because after me it was getting busier.
After some successful and some not so successful shopping, I drove back to the hotel and chilled out a bit with some TV. I planned to have my birthday dinner in London’s Hard Rock Cafe. Yes, on a Saturday evening which is probably the most busiest time. It can be quite handy when you’re dining there on your own. I mean you have to sit at the bar and eat your dinner but you certainly get a chair almost instant. People who require a table could wait for an hour. I was able to get in straight away. I got the usual which is the Big Cheeseburger. They do new chips with garlic and herb. I had to try them our and they were the most delicious chips I have to say. I couldn’t manage to eat it all unfortunately.
With my meal I treated myself to a cocktail too. You only live once after all. I was chatting away to the waiter and he asked why I was in London and he soon found out I was here to celebrate my birthday. Well, that evening I even received a free birthday Sunday Ice Cream with a candle in it. It is a thing they do when it is someone’s birthday. How cool is that. (At least one treat off someone !! ) Like every other Hard Rock Cafe, I had to pick up a T-shirt from London’s one too after.
Sunday was the day of checkout. Breakfast first. I checked out at around 11.45am and drove to Kings Cross to see what the queue is like for the platform 9 3/4. It was massive so I decided against queuing. After that I took a few tubes to get to Harrods. Unfortunately they have the policy not to take any suitcases into the building and to leave it in a lock. I couldn’t be bothered with it and left to go back to Oxford Street and visit Europeans biggest Disney Store store. Here I picked some small gifts for hubby and the kids. I was a bit disappointed because there was a lot of princesses and Moana going on. I was struggling to pick something up for Chloe.
It was on route to Liverpool Street. That weekend the trains were replaced with buses. I treated myself to a small Mc Donalds meal and took the bus to London Stanstead airport. A bit earlier than expected. But better early then too late. Overall I really enjoyed three days away and just do whatever I want.
About 9 years ago a friend and I traveled from Dublin to London. We stayed in a hostel for a couple of days to go to a concert and do some little sightseeing around the city. Back then I was only in Ireland a year working as an Au Pair. This meant I had little money, so it was hard to save in the first place. I suppose the meals were provided but even so living on 100 EUR a week can be hard for anyone.
The day of departure came. We were flying from London Stanstead which is quite a distance away from London city centre. To get to and from the airport we used the bus. It is advisable to be at the airport 2 hours before departure. On the day of our departure just 3-4 hours before heading off to the airport, we decided to look at the bus timetable to see which bus would be best to take. Well, this is where the disaster comes in. It turned out there was no bus leaving between a certain time for 3-4 hours. It meant we would completely miss the flight even if we would have taken the next bus available.
So what do you do in a case like this? First thing that came in mind was to take a taxi to the airport. Now you can probably imagine the cost of going from London city centre to London Stanstead Airport. As far as I can remember he said something like £100. Looking back on it now, we should have gone with that option. Anyway, across from the bus station was another bus station that brings you out to the ferry.
We ended up buying a ferry ticket each. The bus didn’t leave until the next day which meant we had to book accommodation nearby. The next day we took the bus somewhere near Manchester to get on the ferry to Belfast. To make it worse, there was absolutely no available ticket to go to Dublin. On a brighter note, this was my first ever trip on a ferry, so I guess you can see a positive side in it.
This trip was definitely my most eventful one for sure.
Did you ever run into trouble while abroad?
*Disclaimer: This post was written to enter the Jurni Blogger Competition.
Following on from my post about what places I still have to visit in Ireland, I thought I’d share with you which places I want to explore around the world.
It’s hard to achieve this with two small children but luckily I have a great hubby who let’s me travel abroad once a year on my own.
My bestie Karo from Germany is big into traveling just like me. She wants to see the world but on your own it can be hard sometimes so that’s why we are traveling together every year to achieve our goals and tick off the destinations. For example this year we went to New York for a week. I have visited twice in the past but she has never been and there were still some sights that I didn’t manage to visit.
Without any further stories, read on about the beautiful places on earth I still need to visit…
Road Trip To Las Vegas/San Francisco
Being the far West of the USA, it’s not easy to tick off this destination. It has been on my mind so many times though that I do need of travel here in the next 5 years, if not even less. While in Las Vegas, we could rent a car and travel the west coast like you see it in the movies and include San Francisco on it too. Los Angeles has to be included too
Well…why Florida? I want to go to Disney World. I’m such a child right? But you’re never too old to like Disney. This one I will definitely experience with my kids though when they are a bit older.
I’ll be visiting this city sooner than I think if it all goes to plan. My 30th birthday is coming up in January. I don’t do parties so instead I want to travel. As January is quite cold in most countries, Dubai is the ideal spot to travel to, enjoy some sun but also do a bit of sightseeing in and around.
Discover The Islands of Hawaii
I have always been a fan of Hawaii. Even more since watching Hawaii-Five-O. Maybe one day… There are about 5 different islands you can discover as well as several volcanoes. The dance of Hula looks also quite appealing.
I actually can’t believe that I have never been to either Denmark, Finland, Sweden or Norway. It’s so close to Ireland and even closer to Germany. In Finland they have these glass igloo hotels which look pretty impressive.
I think everyone needs to do a trip to Italy. Simply for the hospitality and the boats riding on the river.
Snorkel In The Great Barrier Reef Australia
This continent has so much to offer. You probably have to spend a whole month over to discover all the places. I’d be happy enough with just Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef.
Climb The Eiffel Tower In Paris
I have been to Disneyland as a child but I’ve never visited Paris itself. Eiffel tower is definitely on my list, everything else is a bonus.
Walk on the Great Wall of China
I got a little taste of China when Karo and I went to Chinatown in New York. That was mad enough. I can only imagine what it’s like to be in actual China. The China wall is something I have in mind for sure.
Visit the Pyramids in Egypt
I’d love to visit the pyramids. I am generally not a big fan of history in itself but this would certainly be interesting. A cruise on the river Nile would be another great adventure or a safari into the Great Sand Sea.
Explore a Rain Forest in Brazil
I always dreamt of walking through a rain forest… guided of course. You never know what you find on the way. It just sounds so exciting. For example the Amazon rain forest.
Take a Safari in the Serengeti of Tanzania – Africa
The Serengeti Park is very popular and what else can you do other than a safari through it.
Take a Cruise
In the last maybe 2 years I seem to have got attracted to going on a cruise ship. Previously to that I didn’t like being on a ship. Probably because I may get seasick. Even so I’d love to be on one one day. It doesn’t have to be the Atlantic Ocean… The Mediterranean Sea or near Norway will do. I’ve also read a lot of good things about the Disney cruise.
Holiday in Dominican Republic
What I would give for a two week holiday in the Dominican Republic. Just lying on the beautiful white beaches, jumping into the blue ocean, having a cocktail by the beach bar. It’s okay to dream right?