Waitangi Weekend in Tauranga

Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

Last weekend me and my friend set off for Tauranga which is just over an hours drive from Hamilton. We saw there had been an accident earlier in the day but thought we’d be okay….2 1/2 hours later and we finally made it!

Tauranga is the 5th biggest city in New Zealand and about 10/15 minute drive from there is Mount Maunganui, a beach town. We were going to Tauranga as One Love Festival (reggae festival) was on and found a backpackers walking distance from the venue. We stayed at Loft 109 Backpackers which was in a good location but I wouldn’t stay there again. The owner didn’t seem to be a fan of actually having guests and wanted everyone out of the common area. I have stayed at a lot of hostels and the common area is normally a place of complete chill, drinking, cooking until whenever. Not here. So if you need a place to stay and don’t plan on spending any time there it would be fine. Also I think I got eaten alive overnight as there was no aircon so we had to have the window open, not been a pleasant few days wanting to scratch the skin off my arms and legs!

One Love Festival itself was great! It had a really chill environment, the toilet and drink lines were pretty much non-existent. Great weekend with great music! While pre-drinking we saw a local riding around on a horse…the sites you see!

Tauranga, New Zealand

Both mornings we had breakfast at The Med Cafe. It was so yummy! We got blueberry pancakes both days and it was super filling which is what we were after since we would be spending half the day drinking and in the sun. The staff were really friendly and the other options on the menu looked good as well.

Sunday morning we took a stroll down to Memorial Park – there was a gypsy fair on so we had a walk through there then sat under a tree to take in the view!

Memorial Park, Tauranga, New Zealand

Monday morning we left the hostel and went to Mount Maunganui, this is my favourite beach! And first time being here since I’ve been back!

Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

I love the feel there, it is always busy and has such a relaxed feeling about it. We went to Dixie Browns for breakfast and I got just a standard poached eggs on toast. We walked across the road and dipped our toes in the water, it was a little chilly so we got in the car and pulled into the Hot Pools. Awesome way to sweat out the alcohol and relax our bodies after insect bites and overindulging. The hot pools are right at the bottom of the mountain, there is a couple of large pools, one hotter than the other, a couple of jacuzzis and a kids paddling pool area. So something for everyone! Just remember to stay hydrated as I may have caused myself to feel a little sick that afternoon…

 

Until next time x

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Cambridge – Oxford’s brother/sister

cambridge, united kingdom

In December I went to Cambridge for the day as I had not been yet and I loved Oxford so needed to get to Cambridge before I leave! I love the architecture, and all the colleges throughout the city. I went in and out of all the ones I could get into for free, they just look magical! I am so jealous of people that get to go there as we don’t have anything as old or similar that you can go to. I know some people stay at accommodation on campus, but you don’t really apply as such.

cambridge, united kingdom

There were some really yummy food places that I had to check out as well. It was pretty chilly there so I definitely took advantage of the warmth of a restaurant when I could!

First stop of the morning was Novi, I got some yummy coconut pancakes. The portion was a little small, but really nice! And it was quite quiet so it is nice being able to eat in a relaxing environment.

cambridge, united kingdom

I also checked out Fitzwilliam Museum, there was a lot of things that are the same as most museums – painting etc. but it was nice to get out of the cold for a bit and look around – its free so why not. I wandered through a couple of parks and had a look through their ‘winter wonderland’ – it was pretty small, and not very busy which was kind of surprising since London’s one is packed. Then it was getting dark and I needed to find some dinner before catching the train. I went to Pizza Hut which was my first time in the UK, I wanted to try their gluten free bases in case I had been missing out. I have to say I was surprised, the base was really good! It was let down though as there wasn’t enough topping so was more base than topping, but otherwise pretty good! Also if your in Cambridge I wouldn’t go to that branch as the service was pretty bad and a table arrived next to me ended up leaving as they took so long to give them menus and then never got their order taken.

architecture, cambridge, united kingdom

All and all Cambridge was worth the trip, I have to say I still hold a light for Oxford and if you had to choose, in my opinion Oxford was better but either way there are gorgeous buildings and if you are into that then you will be in awe!

Until next time x

Timisoara Days 2 + 3

cathedrala mitropolitana, timisoara, romainia

First thing Saturday morning was breakfast of course! I found a small cafe that does eggs only. They serve omelettes and they open before 11am so can’t complain! I got a spanish omelette and a tea. I don’t really get into normal tea but I love herbal/fruit fusions. The omelette was pretty good, and while I ate I decided what the plan of attack was for today. I decided to first go to the Banat Museum on the edge of the city, I found the building but couldn’t find an entrance and the place didn’t look open. I came to realise that if there is a door – try it. It opened! And of course the museum was open, a little deserted, but open. I went upstairs and it has been turned into what I can gather an exhibition hall now. There were paintings all over the walls. The lady took 20 lei off me, and I explored. Then it was onto the next place.

I then walked around to the botanical gardens, which was really peaceful, there wasn’t much to look at as the leaves were all gone, but it is still always relaxing walking among bushes and trees. I stopped off at a couple of cathedrals and the squares as I looped my way back into the centre of the city.

parcul civic, timisoara, romainia

For lunch I went to a kebab shop as it has good reviews on  TripAdvisor. The guy was quite nice that served me, the kebab salad was good, nothing to write home about, same as every other kebab shop I have been to. But none the less, still a nice cheap lunch if your nearby and I ate it out in the sun in the main square (Piata Victoriei).

I has also read that there was a good gelato shop (Gelato di Bruno), so I got some dessert later on, and it was definitely worth going. I got half pistachio and half cherry flavour. Not exactly summer weather but still yummy! Later on, I went back to the Vietnamese place for dinner again, and so silly I sometimes like to try new dishes as I don’t like getting the same thing every time, and every time I regret. I got the fried rice with chicken, and it was fine, but I am not really a fan. I find it a bit dry and I love the ‘Bun’s so I need to stick with it! I got another lot of spring rolls as I couldn’t resist so it wasn’t all bad!

I decided that I would be social tonight so I grabbed a couple of drinks from a mini-mart and took them back to my hostel and hung out there from early evening as it gets dark so early there and it is quite cold. I had a few drinks with a couple of guys who were both from the UK, and then the guy working at the hostel took us out later to a bar. It was really fun! It looked like we were going to a local bar and the atmosphere was really cool, they had decent priced drinks and we were able to get a table. It was home time now and I was looking forward to getting into bed!

Bega River, Timisoara, Romainia

Sunday morning I went back to the omelette place, and got a different omelette this time, I went to a museum (Muzeul de Arta) that also looked closed but was not. I had a walking tour booked for the afternoon so I went back through the main square to the meeting point. The tour was freezing! It was a really clear day and it was windy and chilly, so I spent another walking tour wishing it would end as my feet felt like they were going to fall off! I really need to buy some thicker socks!

near Bega river, timisoara, romainia

The tour was free, and you can just book online and they confirm with you if there’s enough people to go ahead with the tour. Timisoara is the start of the revolution in Romainia so it was really interesting learning about it. I finished the tour and remembered someone from the hostel talking about a shopping centre that was nearby. I made a beeline for the food court first to eat and warm up. Then I had a bit of a wander around, they had awesome decorations everywhere for Christmas, and a massive supermarket! I had a nosey inside and I couldn’t believe it, whole isles of bulk foods, spices being sold in huge crates. A pick and mix freezer section – there was anything and everything! I love a good supermarket! hehe

It was time to head back to the hostel to grab my things and head to the airport. The lady working at the hostel was lovely and called a cab for us and I had some company as one of the British guys was on the same flight as me which was nice =) Another weekend over, back to reality.

Until next time x

Eastern European Getaway – Timisoara

Piata Unirii, Timisoara, Romaina

At the beginning of December I ventured east to Romainia. Basically all of my trips are going onto Skyscanner and seeing what is cheapest for the weekend I want to go, or can go. The pictures looked beautiful and I love the parts of eastern Europe I have seen so far so why not?

The flight got in very late, and and for those that arrive late here come prepared with cash as I got in late and they do not have very good public transport, so there was none late at night so I had to grab a cab (if you don’t have cash like I did there are ATM’s to get money out). Don’t pay anymore than 50Lek (about £10) and it is a quick trip as the airport is only about 10km from the city centre.

I stayed in a hostel called Freeborn Hostel. They were really friendly, even though it was about 12.30am or later the guy showed me around and even went through some sights to see while I was here. The hostel is really central! The city is easily walkable and thank goodness as I had said before – public transport isn’t great. The buildings are gorgeous! They remind me of Prague. There is so much architecture of various eras, and lots of squares showcasing them.

Piata Victoriei, Timisoara, Romainia

The first morning I google mapped my way to an eatery I had found called BIOfresh – it is a vegetarian cafe that does raw foods and just healthy in general. The kitchen didn’t open until 11 which seemed to be standard in Timisoara so while I waited I ordered a raw cheesecake and a coffee. The staff were really friendly, and once the kitchen was open I had my dahl brought out. It was soooo good! I was super full though after have the cheesecake so had to force it down a little bit near the end as I felt bad leaving any. Lucky I was going to be walking all day!

BIOfresh, Timisoara, Romainia

I waddled off for a walk, no particular place in general just wanted to get lost and go down random streets. There are alot of parks throughout Timisoara, which would be even more beautiful during summer so that everything would be out in flower, and there would be leaves on the trees. There are also a few good eateries, and tea shops.

I stopped off in the afternoon at a bookshop that also has a tea shop upstairs, there was a whole booklet to pick from, and it was so good! I love herbal teas so this is just what I was after to warm me up.

Carturesti, Timisoara, Romainia

Since it was during the festive period, there were Christmas markets on while I was there. It was such an awesome addition to the city. There was mulled wines and ciders and food stalls. I grabbed myself a mulled wine – was only 50p! Can’t go wrong!

Christmas markets, Piata Victoriei, Timisoara, Romainia

I had looked up restaurants to keep on the lookout for and I am quite a fan of Vietnamese. There was a place just down an alleyway off the main square and it was delicious! It was some of the best I have had outside Vietnam. I got my standard order – spring rolls and a bun ga (vermicelli salad with chicken).

It was then back to the hostel as I had been on my feet most of the day and it was a late night getting in the night before. Look out for day 2 coming next week!

Until next time x

Part 2 – Iceland – The Main Attraction

Klambratun, Reykjavik, Iceland

Saturday morning I had home made breakfast as there doesn’t seem to be many breakfast places and also which would be gluten free, so I had some skyr yoghurt and museli. Today was alot nicer, no rain but alot colder! There were snowflakes in the air, and I had a walking tour so it was hard to pay attention near the end as my feet felt they were going to get frostbite! The guy on the walking tour was really funny, and informative so it was a pity near the end that all I wanted to do was unfrost. After the walking tour I went to Glo which is a vegetarian / healthy food restaurant and got some soup! They had some gluten free seaweed crackers that I could have with the soup and you got a free refill!! It was so good after being in the cold outside and I didn’t want to leave!! Since it wasn’t raining I went to a couple of look out points since the view would be better. The first was at the Hallgrimskirkja church, you can pay to go up the tower. It was freezing! But you get a really nice view over the city and some awesome shots.

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland

 

The second was called the Perlan and this was a little bit more of a walk and you get more of a panoramic view across the city as it was back from it a bit. And I saw a bunny on the way so it was worth it just for that!! He/she was a big white one, like you see at Easter!

That night I went to a seafood restaurant and got some fish since I am on an island it should be good seafood!! And it was, expensive seafood, but good seafood! I got an oven baked fish with roasted potatoes. Then it was home to bed as I had an earlish start and it was dark out by now.

Today was the most exciting one I had been looking forward to! The Blue Lagoon!!!

I got picked up at 9am and bused out to the lagoon. I upgraded my standard ticket and it came  with a free drink, an algae mask and a towel to use. Again it was freezing and it was raining again! So although it was warm, the wind and rain was sooo cold!!!! But oh my gosh! The view was amazing!!! It is so gorgeous, from the colour of the water to the landscape surrounding. There were alot of people but it didn’t feel at all like you were crammed in, the lagoon was so large! I floated my way around one side of the pool checking out all the little nooks and crannies and got my first mask – the silica. Everyone gets one with their ticket so we were all swimming around with white faces or half washed off ones. Then it was time to go back in for a rest as it is not recommended to stay in the water too long and I was all pruned up!

Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik, Iceland

The second time around I took my phone with me as I had wanted to take pictures. LOL big mistake!! I should of just taken the pictures on the deck, then jumped in for a bit in the water then taken my phone back to my locker, but instead I had it for the rest of the time and it was so awkward and was scared for my phones life! Firstly for obvious reasons, it was raining/drizzling still so my phone was getting wet, I got the algae mask, and was awkward using one hand to put the mask on, then I decided to get my free drink. So I had a pint of cider in one hand and phone in the other. My hand was freezing from the drink and I couldn’t put my hand under water unless I wanted to add it to my cider and my phone hand was also freezing. So next time – bring a sleeve to put phone in!!

Soon it was time to shower and get dressed to grab the bus back to the airport. Another Joe and the Juice sandwich then get my flight back to London.

Until next time x

Blue Lagoon and Other Things – Iceland!

At the beginning of last month I ticked another country off the list and headed north and went to the little island called Iceland! It has a population of about 330,000 and about 2/3’s are in Reykjavik.

The weather forecast was a degree or two colder than London, so I took the usual – beanie, gloves, scarf and a couple of jackets in case one got wet. I had found a hostel with good reviews in the centre of town by the wharf. It was really nice, if you want to pay €9 for their organic breakfast you can, and they have tours you can book on their website to get out and about in Iceland. I was in a 10 bed dorm I believe. It was really spacious and they seem to like looking after the environment as there was dimmer lights, and recycling bins in our room. The room had an ensuite and the room wasn’t full while I was there and people were coming and going on tours so there was never a line for the shower.

Reykjavik, Iceland - Coloured Houses

I had a really late flight and if you have never been to Iceland it is good to know in advance that the airport is actually about 40min – 1hr from the city centre, and there is a flybus that costs about £20 that you can get that runs with the flights but waits until everyone is out the airport before it leaves. So it was a late arrival for me, and since the sun doesn’t come up until about 9.30am I got a decent sleep in without feeling like I was wasting the day.

Reykjavik, Iceland, Church

It was raining on the Friday – for the whole day! And it was overcast so I spent my day going in and out of the gorgeous boutique shops there up their main street. If you have heaps of money you could empty your bank accounts but I stuck to browsing. They have the chain Joe and the Juice which did gluten free bread so I got a chicken, pesto, tomato and avocado grilled toastie- and it was delicious!! I also got a coffee, after looking stupid and asking what the different colours meant on the menu only to look up and see it was the different sized cups!

After exploring the streets I headed down to the waterfront where I went inside the Harper building which is a concert hall. It had some viewing stairs and areas on the different levels to sit and watch the sea. The architecture of the building is amazing, it has hexangonal shapes as the sides of the building, it looks like a rock from the outside.

Harper, Reykjavik, Iceland

I then had a short walk back to the hostel to chill for a bit and get out of the cold and wet. There was a girl in the room, and we grabbed some dinner at a burger place, then went for a drink at a pub in the main strip. It was nice for some company and was good experiencing some nordic lifestyles.

Until next time x

Bath time! – Part 2

Roman Bath's, Bath, United Kingdom

Sunday was my favourite day in Bath. I started it by going to the Roman Bath Kitchen for breakfast where the staff were lovely and I got a bacon and egg roll with a teapot of herbal tea. Then I walked across the cobbled street to the Roman Bath’s. It was so interesting, there was a lot of information and you get a free audio guide to take with you around. At the end you get to drink some of the water which is a little odd as the water is warm and you can taste that there are minerals etc. in it.

Roman Bath's, Bath

Then I made my way to the Spa! They do a two hour welcome spa for £37 on the weekend. It includes towel, shoes, and a robe and you get to go to a couple of pools, one of which is on the roof and aromatherapy sauna rooms. It was just what I needed! Especially on a cold day, it was so good to relax and enjoy the experience. After begrudgingly leaving the spa I did the audio guide for Jane Austen. It was really interesting and made me want to live in that time. I had run out of time, but there is also a Jane Austen centre that you can go to.

Jane Austen's House, Bath

Now it was time for food again! I went to Cosy Club, and got some tapas and a drink. The food was amazing! Perfect way to end my weekend in Bath, before getting the train back to London.

Until next time x

Bath time!

A couple of weekends ago I ticked off another destination in the UK that I have been wanting to go to for ages! Bath!

I took the train once again on Friday night, and found out that I was going to be staying at a Belushi’s. For those of you who aren’t from the UK, it is a bar. Upstairs was quite quiet but the noise outside the window from the people on the street was not as pleasant. If your there to party if would be fine, but otherwise you will need some earplugs. Saturday morning I went to Bill’s Bath for breakfast, and got avocado on toast with a poached egg. The avocado was a little over the top as there was more avocado than needed, but otherwise just what I needed to keep me fueled up for my day. While I was at Bill’s I looked at some pamphlets and saw an advertisement for the Visit Bath website. It was so good, and will definitely look up other cities in future to see if they have a similar thing. They had audio guides that you can download to your phone that takes you around the city to all the sights. There was a world heritage one and a Jane Austen one (she used to live in Bath for six years). I started off the World Heritage audio guide, it took me off around the corner from breakfast to the Bath Abbey. I then walked past the Roman Bath’s, and down and around to No.1 Royal Crescent. I stopped the guide and went inside, which is the only Georgian style house in Bath on display.

No.1 Royal Crescent, Bath

After I wandered by the river, and over the Pultney Bridge and to the end of the road where Holburne Museum is and had a quick look inside. It is free so you might as well go in, I didn’t spend too long there as it wasn’t really my type of thing. Then it was back across the bridge to end the guide.

Holburne Museum, Bath

 

It was still early afternoon so I went down towards the station and out the back to go for a bit of a trek, to Alexandra Viewpoint. It is not for the lighthearted, it was very steep and stairs all the way, but if you are up for it, it is definitely worth it! The view is amazing! After taking in the goregous view, I went back down and to Prior Park Landscape Gardens, this wasn’t steep but it was a slight incline all the way there and it was a long walk! I should of grabbed a bus. This was a paid entrance, which I’m not sure was worth the price, there was a few really nice parts to it, but if you are strapped for time, its not the end of the world.

Prior Park Landscape Garden, Bath

I  walked back into the city centre where I got a very well deserved dinner. Iwent to Stable bar, I had seen they did gluten free bases so I grabbed dinner there – it was really yummy! and the staff were friendly, I tried one of their ciders from the region as recommended by the lady behind the bar. Then it was home for an early night after walking around all day.

Sunday’s excapades will be in part 2

Until next time x