Saturday, 27 February 2016

Welcome To New York | TRAVEL

We looked over the beautiful skyline of the city as we took the train from Washington DC to Penn Station, New York. I couldn’t stop smiling as we got off the train because we were finally here! All the planning, saving and dreaming had finally paid off and we had made it! New York, you did not disappoint.

We walked out of the station into the cold New York air and hailed a yellow cab to get us to our hotel for the next 5 nights. My first sight of the city was exactly as I imagined it would be, loud and extremely busy. People covered the streets and yellow cabs flooded the roads.


We made it to our hotel, checked in and away we went. We walked aimlessly for only minutes until we found ourselves staring at the big screens and bright lights of Times Square. 


It was getting colder as the darkness came closer but we kept walking. Next we found ourselves outside the busy Rockefeller Center. By this time it was late so we decided to head back to our hotel and call it a night after our tiring day of travelling, but not before heading back through Times Square again!

We woke up the next morning excited to explore more of this amazing city! We hopped on the subway and headed to South Ferry where we saw the statue of liberty from Battery Park. We then walked towards the new One World Trade Center


Just below, lay the September 11 Trade Center memorial. It was extremely moving to be standing where such a horrible event took place and thousands lost their lives. The memorial itself was very beautiful and I feel blessed to have been able to pay my respects and remember those who were lost and their families.




We continued walking towards the Brooklyn Bridge. We chose to hire bikes and bike over the bridge. It was very busy but the view of the city was gorgeous!




Later that night, we went up the Empire State Building and were welcomed by the most beautiful view of the city. We walked all the way around the building and lights stretched as far as the eye could see. It was absolutely stunning.



The next day we booked to go up the Top of the Rock so we walked to the Rockefeller Centre. We arrived early and walked around with the other eager tourists who were taking pictures in front of the famous Christmas tree and ice-skating rink outside the building.


After 20 minutes it was finally our turn to head up. We got to the Top of the Rockefeller Centre and the view was spectacular! It was a beautiful winter’s day and we were overlooking the entire city with remarkable views of Central Park and the Empire State Building.




When we finally came back down, we decided to keep walking down 5th avenue stopping at some stores along the way, including Sax. We eventually found ourselves at Central Park surrounded by hotdog stands and beautifully dressed up horses. We walked around for a while, taking in the atmosphere and scenery and by the time we were ready to leave it was dark. We made our way back for dinner and called it a night.




Our third day in New York, we chose to do some more sightseeing. We walked back to Central Park as there was more I wanted to explore there. On our walk we found Central Park Zoo. I am a HUGE animal lover so we spent a few hours visiting the animals.

We then began walking back towards our hotel, but not without grabbing a hotdog and churro from one of the famous carts along the road. We continued walking through the streets of New York. We found ourselves outside more famous landmarks, such as the Chrysler, the Flatiron building and the Christmas market at Bryant Park.




The fourth day was spent shopping!!!!! Once again we walked down 5th Avenue browsing through stores and stopping at little boutiques. New York is known for its amazing shopping so it was no doubt I spent a lot!

Our last day had sadly arrived. We chose to make this one special. We walked to the West Village because I wanted check out the beautiful brownstone houses. We grabbed a super healthy juice from one of the many juice bars as we walked through the streets of the West Village.




We ended our trip by going out for dinner at a beautiful romantic restaurant as we enjoyed our last few hours in America.

In the 5 days we spent in New York, it quickly became my favourite city. I fell in love with the tall buildings, the beautiful West Village, the fashion and food. I cannot wait to come back!

New York Travel Tips:
·      It is very easy to walk between most attractions, so bringing comfortable walking shoes is a must.
·      When hiring bikes, make sure to read the fine print! The bikes cost about $10 for 24 hours but they hold $101 out of your account as a deposit and return it after a week.
·      Purchase tickets to the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock at least a day in advance as you can pick the times you go. If you purchase online, most hotels should have a place to print the tickets. Aim to go on the clearest day or night.
·      New York seems massive and hard to navigate as the streets don’t have names, only numbers, but it is actually really easy! The numbers go in consecutive order so whatever direction you are going, keep count and you won’t get lost.
·      Don’t forget to tip! Anywhere you go in America it is compulsory. It is generally between 18% - 20% of the bill as a minimum depending on the quality of service you feel you received.
·      Transport: The yellow cabs are great! They know the tips and tricks of getting you to and from your destination quickly as they know the side streets. They can also be expensive, just like any other cab. Uber is also great to have on your phone! I find uber very cheap and very easy to use if you have internet access on your phone.

Thank you.


Amber x

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Whats in my Carry On | TRAVEL

I absolutely love to travel, visit new places and experience new cultures, but sometimes the thought of a long haul flight can really stress me out. I have made a list of all the items I like to take with me in my carry on luggage that helps to make flying seem a bit more comfortable.

Carry:

Backpack:
In my backpack I take all the items that I would typically carry in my handbag plus the products that I will need to get out when I go through customs. This will usually include my clear bag with my liquids, my electronics and my passport and tickets. I like to use a backpack instead of my handbag as I find it is easier to carry.

Suitcase:
The second bag is a small wheelie suitcase. Instead of a shoulder bag, I find these much easier to walk around with and I don’t have to carry the weight. Make sure you find one that is within the measurement requirements. These are 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (22in x 18in x 10in).

Clear Bag:
You can only carry liquids in your hand luggage if they are under 100ml and they must be kept in a clear sealed bag. I also keep any medication that I may have and any small items in these clear bags so it is easier and quicker when I go through customs.

Necessities:

Passport and Tickets:
I know it’s probably something everyone knows to take but I had to put it in as its SUPER important to remember! Your passport is also great to take with you if you are flying domestic as well. A lot of airlines require proof of ID so bringing that, as well as your tickets, is a great routine to get into.

Pen:
This is also SUPER handy and will definitely be used. During an international flight you will be asked to fill out a landing card so carrying a pen on you means you won’t have to awkwardly ask the person next to you. Although I’m sure anyone would be happy to help if you forgot.




Entertainment:

Laptop or iPad and Chargers:
It’s always great to carry these with you if you have any movies you would like to watch, or if you have any work you would like to catch up on. There isn’t much you can do on a flight so catching up on your favourite shows is a great way to pass the time. Also all electronic devices must be charged or they may not be allowed on the flight so make sure to keep your chargers with you.

Headphones:
Most airlines provide you with earphones so you can watch the in-flight entertainment on board, but I like to bring my own as I find mine more comfortable and better quality. I find over-ear headphones more comfy than the standard iPod/iPhone earphones so they are usually the ones I opt for. If I am running low on space, the apple earphones are fine as well.

Book/Magazine:
I love reading! I like to take with me a good book in my backpack just in case I get bored of watching movies. I also like to pick up a magazine when I get through customs because it’s an easy read and they usually have some crosswords and puzzles to do as well.




Comfort:

Sleeping Mask:
Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE sleep! I love it so much to the point that if anyone or anything tries to keep me awake I end up in a bad mood. A sleeping mask is great to keep the light out of your eyes and is also a good way of showing anyone around you, including the flight attendants that you wouldn’t like to be disturbed. Whether I end up sleeping or not (sometimes it’s hard on flights) this is always something I like to keep with me.

Neck Pillow:
This is another must if you want to sleep on a flight! Flying can be extremely uncomfortable, especially if you are flying economy, so adding a neck pillow to your carry on can really add to your comfort. They are smaller than a regular pillow and very compact, making it a perfect fit for your bag or small suitcase.

Cosy Socks or Slippers:
One of the first things I do when I get on a plane is take my shoes off. They are so bulky and always in the way so I like to bring with me a pair of cosy socks or slippers to change into. Planes can be quite cold so keeping your feet warm and comfy will definitely make the flight a little more bearable.

Comfy Change of Clothes:
I have said before that I find flying to be very uncomfortable, so I like to bring with me a comfy change of clothes. Changing into something clean and cosy can make you feel fresher and cleaner. It’s also a great excuse to get up and go for a walk and stretch your legs. Another good idea is to have a warm and comfortable sweater or jumper packed away just in case you get cold.

Freshen up:

Chewing Gum or Mints:
Flying can make you feel a little dirty and gross. Chewing gum or mints are a great way of making you feel a bit fresher. Chewing gum is also good at helping with your ears if the altitude affects them.

Toothbrush, Toothpaste and Mouthwash:
These are great items to bring with you and they definitely make you feel fresher. At lot of drug stores sell travel minis which is the best place to check for travel sized mouthwash and toothpaste.

Wipes: 
I like to bring two kinds of wipes in my hand luggage. As soon as I get on a plane, I take my makeup off with face wipes. I use baby wipes to freshen up everywhere else. I know the baby wipes may seem strange, but trust me it’s worth it on a long travel day with no shower!

Deodorant or Perfume:
Everyone will agree that sitting next to someone who smells on a long flight is horrible, so I make sure to take with me a small perfume or deodorant that is under 100ml. You and your neighbour will thank me for this later!



Health:

Travel Socks:
This is not necessary, but is something I personally like to take with me and would highly encourage anyone else to as well. Flying can be hard on the legs and mine tend to swell quite a bit during long haul flights due to the air pressure and the fact that I am not moving around a lot. I feel that travel socks help with this and might help anyone else who has the same problem.

Hand Sanitiser:
Planes are so dirty and full of germs so I always keep this close to prevent any sickness. The last thing you want when you’re on holiday that you have planned and saved for is to catch a cold.

Nurofen:
Getting a headache and not having painkillers is not a good situation to be in so this is always in my carry on just in case.

Tissues:
Who knows when you will need these!

Keeping Hydrated:

Moisturiser:
The cabin air can make your skin feel very dry so I keep a hand and face moisturiser with me so I am able to use this whenever it is needed.

Lip Balm:
This is also a great item to pack as keeping properly moisturised is very essential.

Water:
This is very important! I would highly recommend purchasing a bottle of water once you have passed through security at the airport and to make sure you always drinking during the flight. If you don’t have time to purchase a bottle of water, the flight attendants do offer drinks throughout the journey. Making sure you stay hydrated is SUPER important.

Beauty:

Make up:
Make up is something I like to throw in if I have the space, although I will only take the basics. I would usually limit myself to foundation or concealer, mascara, a powder and a small blusher or bronzer. Don’t forget that your liquids must be in a clear bag and under 100ml.


Flying can be fun, if you have the right items to make the flight more comfortable. I hope this helps anyone who is travelling soon or anybody who has never flown before.
If you have any tips for me, of if I have forgotten anything, let me know!
Thank you for reading.

Amber x

Saturday, 13 February 2016

An Escape to Iceland | TRAVEL



On our way from New York to London, we decided to take a quick stopover to Iceland and what an incredible experience we had!
We arrived into Keflavik International Airport early on a bitterly cold winter morning. As soon as I left the plane, I wrapped up in as many clothes as I could and then we headed through to Reykjavik.
We drove past ice covered lava fields to get into the city so with a view like that, the 45 minute drive went quickly. We arrived at our hotel at 9am and went straight to sleep for a few hours as jet lag got the better of us.
As there is only 4 hours of daylight in winter we wanted to make the most of what we could see before it got dark again so when we woke up we decided to go for a walk to the beautiful lake only metres away from out hotel. 



Later that evening, after putting on almost all the clothes we owned, we headed off to meet the 30 other excited travellers hoping to experience the Northern Lights.
The night started off freezing cold, -6°C to be exact, and only got colder as the night went on. We hopped onto the bus and our tour guide took us to a few different lookouts just past Reykjavik. I fell asleep on the way to our first stop but was awoken by our first glimpse of the Northern Lights. We saw a lovely green light stretched out over the mountains. That was when we stopped at our first lookout to get a better view. By the time we stopped it had faded to a green haze. After 5 minutes of standing in the icy air, I was ready to head back to the bus. 


We then continued onto a lovely little cafe in what felt like the middle of nowhere, to get another view of the lights. Unfortunately we didn’t see them while we were here but we did have the most magnificent view of the Milky Way. 
We then began our journey back to Reykjavik. On our way back we spotted the lights again so our tour guide decided to stop in a deserted paddock. We all got out of the bus and what we saw was absolutely incredible that I didn’t even mind the freezing cold temperatures. This really was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.
The sky lit up with the most spectacular display of greens, pinks and yellows. The colours moved above us for about 15 minutes leaving the entire bus speechless. 




The next day we explored Reykjavik city, visiting adorable cafes and shops.


We also spent some time wandering around Hallgrímskirkja which is a beautiful cathedral. 


The last day we spent in Iceland we relaxed in the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Hot Pools. It was another cold day but we didn’t mind. The spa is located in a snow and ice covered lava field making it the perfect view for our final day here.



We began the morning with an in water massage and facial. The whole day was spent peacefully moving through the beautiful blue waters and indulging in silica face masks whenever we wanted to. 



We ended our day at the spa with a late lunch at the lava restaurant overlooking the lagoon. 

It was an absolutely perfect end to an amazing holiday.


ICELAND TRAVEL TIPS:
  • The currency is the Icelandic króna (it will be written as ISK). 1000ISK is equivalent to roughly £5.50
  • When you arrive into Iceland, you will arrive at Keflavik International Airport. The airport is about 45 minutes away from the capital city of Reykjavik.  The cheapest way to get to Reykjavik is via flybus. The tickets can be purchased at the airport or in advance.
  • Getting around Reykjavik is quite easy. I would recommend finding a hotel within walking distance to the city centre. There are plenty to choose from. Otherwise buses and taxis are available.
  • Reykjavik Excursions and Grey Line are the companies that run the tours, whether that is a Northern Lights tour, the Golden Circle tour or anything to do with nature and adventure. They also can pick you up and drop you off at your hotel, as well as other destinations such as the Blue Lagoon Spa. Reykjavik Excursions are also the company that run the Flybus airport transfer service.
  • The best time to see the Northern Lights is from November to February as these are the months with the darkest skies. They are also the months with the worst weather. Although it is not unheard of to see them from September to mid-April. Make sure you plan a decent stay as that will give you a higher chance of seeing them.

Iceland was such a beautiful place to visit and I hope to make it back in summer so I can experience more of its beauty. 

Amber x

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Living and Working in London | LIFESTYLE


Deciding to move to London was an extremely scary and exciting decision we made. I couldn’t believe how quickly a month of travelling went and before I knew it, it was time to start to look for a place to live and a job. We quickly came to the realisation that London is very expensive to live in. I am very lucky to have moved here with my husband so we will have 2 wages to help us get by.
We are newlywed so we ideally wanted to find a place to ourselves and to call our own. The more we looked, the more we knew that was not going to happen. Not at first anyway. As we didn’t have a job or know what wages we would be getting, it was hard to know what we could afford. We decided we couldn’t commit to a 6 month lease for a small studio flat considering we didn’t have a plan or know how long we wanted to stay. With so much uncertainty job wise, we decided to find a flat share. We now live in a flat with 6 other kiwis who are all very lovely. Adapting to living with strangers was easier than I thought as they are all welcoming and are in the same situation as us. We have our own room to relax in when we need our space which is great. Our only issue is getting rid of our unwanted house guest... a mouse.


Finding jobs is another story. I registered with a recruitment company which I would highly recommend. They found me work within 2 days. It was a temp job with the option to go permanent so it was long term which was great. Unfortunately I really didn’t enjoy working there so I chose to leave in the hope that I would have another job within days like the first. This wasn’t the case. Two weeks on and I still don’t have a job. I have been to many interviews and job trials only to be told "we have found someone with more experience". I know I am a good worker but its becoming very discouraging to keep hearing “no” all the time.


I am not losing hope! There will be a job out there for me. I will continue looking and registering with recruitment companies until I found the right one as well as looking on job sites. 


In the mean time, while my husband is working and I am waiting to hear back from interviews, I get to explore this beautiful city and have lots of afternoon naps!
Amber

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