Exploring the mountain and a day at the spa…

I do love a spa day so I was quite keen to incorporate one into our Canadian trip. We visited the Blue Lagoon in Iceland a couple of years ago and being outside in the warm water surrounded by snow was amazing so I thought that it would be nice to have a similar experience in the Blue Mountains.

Not too far from Collingwood resides Scandinave Spa, a luscious haven of relaxation. Apparently it gets booked up quite quickly but luckily I booked a couples massage and spa entry in advance to secure our slot. It wasn’t until the afternoon though, so we spent the morning exploring the snow covered area around the Blue Mountains.

We certainly weren’t disappointed as we were completely spoilt with gorgeous views and untouched snow. It was also a lovely, sunny day and I regretted not bringing any sunglasses. I can really see why people fall in love with Canada. I definitely left a tiny part of my soul right on the top of the Blue Mountains.

Soon enough it was time to head on over to the spa. The location is absolutely incredible, surrounded by woodland it was really tranquil.

We had a warm welcome from the staff, one of which highlighted how lucky we are to have cheap cheese here in the UK – who knew?!

We then popped on our robes and headed over to the treatment room for our hour long massage. It was divine and we felt super refreshed after.

There are lots of zones to explore and I loved the sun rooms which had floor to ceiling windows and loungers. I read quite a few magazines in three of the rooms and it was nice to just exist for a bit.

The pools were also beautiful and clean. I loved the hot pools but didn’t bother with the cooler ones. I think I would have frozen over!

In the evening we went to a steakhouse in Downtown Collingwood and had a feast. The food was delicious and we reflected on what wonderful we were having.

Have you visited the Blue Mountain/ Collingwood area?

L x

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My first time skiing! …

Phil has been desperate to try his hand at skiing for years but to be honest, it’s never really been high on my wanderlust list. However, when we realised that we could incorporate skiing into our Canadian trip, we booked a lodge at the Blue Mountain resort and off we went.

I’m not a very athletic person and whilst I enjoy dancing and *some* exercise, I’m more of a creative kinda girl and things like skiing don’t come naturally to me. I know that it’s due to a block installed by my mind because physically I can do adrenaline junkie activities as well as high energy stuff but in my mind I get scared and won’t allow myself to fall out of my comfort zone.

Phil on the other hand, is literally amazing at anything he sets his mind on. I went ice skating with him once and he said he had been a couple of times as child but there he was skating backwards and spinning in circles like a figure skater in training whilst I clung to the railing for dear life.

Let’s just say that I knew before we arrived in the Blue Mountains that Phil was going to excel at skiing and I would be going at a much slower pace.

We signed up for skiing lessons and were fortunate to have an amazing instructor called Sean. He really took the time and patience (especially with me) but also challenged us when we needed challenging. It played out exactly as I thought it would with Phil morphing into Eddie Eagle within minutes and me taking an hour to grasp stopping (pizza shape for the win).

I was fine putting the skis on and balancing around on them. I was also fine climbing the nursery slope sideways. The problem came when I slipped at the top and whizzed past Phil and Sean shouting ‘it was an accident’ before Sean saving me from a near death fall into an icy pond (literally two inches from the edge!). From then on my progress was stunted and I must have climbed up that slope sideways fifty million times before I felt like I had good control stopping. Anyway, after that it felt good and I began to enjoy it a little more and felt confident.

We spent quite a bit of time in the village that day and enjoyed Italian food, s’mores hot chocolate and poutine. It was great.

We were also lucky with the weather, we had heavy snow the night before and heavy snow all day. Whilst it made visibility a bit pants (at one point I could barely see three metres ahead), it did make for great skiing conditions.

After our first day, we returned knackered but optimistic about our next trip on the slopes.

Have you tried skiing?

L x

Visiting Niagara Falls…

We woke up in our rental penthouse to a beautiful sun kissed skyline and gorgeous blue skies. I’m never a lover of grey days which we have so many of in England and it was so refreshing to have such lush weather.

I had been dreaming of visiting Niagara Falls since I was small and with it only being an hour or so away from Toronto, it was top of our list. So after heading to Starbucks for breakfast (we are in the habit of having Starbucks for breakfast whenever we are on holiday), we jumped in the car and sped off towards Niagara.

The drive was pleasant and we were all in awe of Lake Ontario as we drove alongside it. The lakes are actually incredible, so vast and naturally beautiful.

We found a car park near Niagara Falls that was only ten dollars for the day (I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I loved the exchange rate whilst we were away. Everything felt almost half price!). We then had a short hop, skip and jump to the Falls.

My goodness, they didn’t disappoint! What an incredible place. The experience was most delightful, hearing the water crashing down, seeing the ice covered rocks and watching the sun highlight the current. It was really special.

After we had soaked up the falls, we stopped for lunch (a quick bite at Tim Horton’s – hello chicken croissant!), we mooched around the souvenir shops and quirky tourist attractions. It was around the colourful main area (which felt a teeny bit like Vegas on a miniature scale), that we found the upside down house. It doesn’t cost very much to get in, but I think seeing the house from the outside is just as exciting and a great photo op!

Soon it was time for us to drive back to Toronto, but we stopped a couple of times on the way back. The first to investigate this awesome ship wreck and the second to do a spot of shopping at the Premium Outlet. My goodness the Mall was savage. I didn’t acknowledge that with it being Easter Sunday, most places are closed. This resulted in every man and his dog rocking up to the premium outlet because Simon malls appear to be open pretty much every day. We had to queue to get into some shops (including Kate Spade, which was totally worth it) and it was worse than the Boxing Day sales at Westfield. Anyway after that traumatic experience, we headed back for burritos from the Fat Bastard Burrito company and a well deserved rest!

Have you visited Niagara Falls?

L x

Arriving in Toronto…

Canada had been on our ‘to visit’ list for a while and when I spotted cheap flights from London to Toronto over Easter (£500 Direct!), we jumped at the chance to go.

We flew with Air Transat and I must say that it was generally a pleasant experience. They had a nice selection of movies and edible food so all in all it was a success.

The only small issue we had was waiting almost two hours for our baggage to appear at Toronto Pearson because ground staff took forever to unload it.

After we finally collected our baggage, we headed over to the rental car collection place across the road where I was greeted with gale force icy winds and rain. It was at this point that I wondered if we should have gone to the Caribbean instead. However, my mood was greatly boosted when we got a free upgrade on our rental car and found ourselves in a nice all wheel drive instead of the saloon car we had booked.

The drive from the airport to our centrally located rental penthouse took around half an hour. We were then blown away by the gorgeous views from the penthouse before popping out to Poutini’s for some, er, Poutine. I had it with pulled pork and it was totes delish!

We then chilled out in a jet lagged haze and I was excited to see what Toronto had to offer.

Have you visited Toronto?

L x

Miami South Beach…

I really enjoyed our stay in Miami, everything from the warm sunshine kissing our ghostly pale winter skin to the gorgeous pastel painted Art Deco buildings lining the streets. Miami was a real treat.

I feel like you can’t visit Miami without having a day at the beach. The beaches are just divine with powdery sand and ‘water so clear you can see to the bottom’ (thanks Will Smith). So on a sunny Sunday in February we hit up the infamous South Beach.

The atmosphere was great – everyone was out from families to girl gangs and people who looked like they were taking a break from a Men’s Health photo shoot. People were having picnics, playing music and generally just frolicking. I love a beach day and couldn’t wait to slip into my new Seafolly swimsuit, however, there wasn’t a changing facility in sight! So I landed up hiding behind a little shed with Phil holding a towel whilst I shimmied my starkers body into the new cozzie. I can assure you it wasn’t my finest moment, but completely worth it for a swim in that turquoise sea.

I must also mention that somehow I got fried despite wearing factor 50! Although luckily it turned to tan, which almost never happens. I’m not sure if the sun was extra strong that day or my winter skin so pale after a few months of cloud, either way I definitely returned home with a holiday glow!

I also introduced Phil and his Dad to Texas Roadhouse where we had amazing bread (seriously it’s so good), drank sangria and generally stuffed our faces whilst watching birthday go-ers mount a wooden horse. It was grand.

In the evening we went to a bar along the water which was a really nice end to a really nice day.

Have you visited South Beach?

L x

Barcelona part two, La Sagrada Familia and beach fun…

We were so lucky with the weather during our time in Barcelona. Travelling in Europe during January is always a risk in terms of weather but we lucked out and had sunshine with blue skies everyday during our time in Barcelona. Having good weather meant that we could make the most of being outside and were able to walk everywhere without resembling a soggy raccoon upon reaching our destination.

With the sunshine smothering us, we decided to walk to the beach from our hotel near Eixample. I’m at my happiest at the beach and I just feel so grounded and chilled out whenever I’m near the sea.

We meandered down to the marina which was such a lovely surprise. I didn’t realise that the marina would be so lovely, laced with palm trees and pretty views. There is also a shopping centre which is open 365 days a year and is home to a variety of shops and some great restaurants too.

I wasn’t expecting a particularly special beach in Barcelona. I’d been told that it wasn’t that great, so I was thrilled when we arrived at the beach and were greeted with golden sand and clear blue sea. In all honesty, the beach was much more desirable than many of the beaches here in the U.K., so I’m so glad that we weren’t put off and still popped along for some salty air and a stroll along the sea front.

I love gazing out at the ocean and seeing absolutely nothing connected to human life. Just the waves meeting the Earth, the ocean filled with life and the sky above. It makes me feel so chilled out and grounded. Exactly what you need on a birthday!

After we had embraced beach life, we decided to head on over to a cafe for coffee and cake. Unfortunately my Spanish is not so great and we actually found ourselves in a gluten free cafe where I had the weirdest crepe I’ve ever seen. It looked like a prawn cracker and had a spongy consistency. Anyway, I’ve decided I need to work on my Spanish before our next trip!

Following on from our gluten free cafe experience, we walked over to La Sagrada Familia because have you even been to Barcelona if you haven’t gawped at Gaudi’s masterpiece in the flesh?!

What a beauty! Such sumptuous architecture bathed In Mediterranean sunshine. Phil said that it was the most beautiful building he has ever seen and I am inclined to agree (although Italy has some real treasures).

We then walked back over to Eixample where we stumbled upon a traditional Spanish restaurant and had a glass of Sangria with our seafood paella. Not going to lie, the paella was a bit too fishy for my liking, but I was instantly hooked on the Sangria. It was divine!

Have you visited La Sagrada Familia?

L x

Celebrating my birthday…

I absolutely adore a fun evening with my closest buddies and so for my birthday this year, I decided to invite a few people over for a pyjama party at our house. I also loved having a shower and throwing on pyjamas before people arrived, it was a no-fuss evening!

We’ve had a few bbq’s with around 20 or so people and we have an annual Eurovision shindig, but this was the first time that we’d had a few people hanging out and it was super fun!

The boys played Super Smash Bros and We all played a few ‘party’ games including beer pong. I added a few shots of vodka too, which I’m not sure I’d recommend!

I had an amazing Oreo flavoured cactus cake made by Bluebell Bakes. I always get our special occasions from Bluebell Bakes because they not only look incredible, but they taste divine all whilst helping out a small business. I feel really strongly about supporting small businesses and also about having a special occasion cake made fresh. You just can’t beat it!

We had a really fun evening and it was great to see my closest buddies. They are all wonderful.

How do you celebrate your birthday?

L x

Budapest Day 3: Buda Castle, Gellért Spa and Pinball…

We had a super jam packed Wednesday in Budapest following on from the Christmas break. The shops were finally open, the sun was shining and there was Life all over the city.

We started our day by having breakfast at Matthias Church. I’m such a sucker for Starbucks Pain Au Chocolats (or chocolate croissants as they like to call them Stateside!), so we decided to pop over to a Starbucks with a view for breakfast.

Unfortunately we had to walk up ten million stairs and Starbucks didn’t have any pains, so I had to settle for cake instead (certainly liveable!), but the views were incredible and it was such a treat to witness such a beautiful city smothered in golden sunshine.

It really was a glorious morning. I would highly recommend heading over to Matthias Church and walking along to Buda Castle. It was really lovely.

Budapest has so much history and culture sunken into its veins and each building has a story or a sight that it’s seen. Buda castle is no exception. There’s so much history there and it’s gorgeous too, so definitely worth a visit!

Following our visit to the castle, we made our way over to Gellért Spa. Gellért Spa resides in the most beautiful building and although it was smaller than Széchenyi, it was grander and felt cleaner. We had a relaxing afternoon there.

We then decided to walk to the Pinball museum. It took us over an hour as we stopped to breath in the sumptuous architecture that Budapest displays in abundance and although we were in need of a rest after our mammoth walking day (we had walked everywhere that day), I’m glad that we did because you simply miss out on the small things of you are whizzing by in a taxi.

We had lots of fun at the Pinball Museum, it was great to play on all of the different machines and they sell drinks there too, which is nice.

Soon it was time for us to stuff our faces, so we headed over to the Budapest BBQ for dinner and drinks. The food was great! We had a lovely evening.

I thoroughly enjoyed Budapest and I feel as though it’s a city that offers so much. I think we will definitely visit again one day.

Have you visited Budapest?

L x

Exploring Vegas and the weirdest dining experience ever…

Dress: Asos Sunglasses: Michael Kors Tabitha 

I’ve been to Vegas three times now and each time I’ve fallen deeper in love with this colourful world hidden in the desert. I just love all that it has to offer. I’m not a gambler or even remotely seedy, which is the reputation that precedes Vegas. I love having fun, seeing different things, eating delicious food, shopping and seeing shows. Vegas has all of this in abundance.

I think that it’s that ease of convenience that helps me adore the place so much. Everywhere is open late, you can walk along the strip (I’m a big fan of walking!). Basically the place is your oyster. You can go out pretty much anytime and always find something to do. 

Anyway, on our first full day in Vegas, we took Phil’s Dad Steve (or P Diddy as I like to call him), for a tour of the strip, weaving in and out of various hotels that are devoured in detail. We also went to the Fashion Show Mall which is one of my favourite places to shop in Vegas (they have a Topshop!). 

It was great to feel the warmth on my skin, which is something I’m really missing now that autumn has set in. We took in the sights of the strip before heading Downtown.

I really like going Downtown because I find it a little bit raw. It’s not quite as glitzy and it just oozes retro charm. It’s more humble and less crowded and I just love the neon.

There’s a fair bit to do Downtown too, including zip lining, which I really wanted to do, however, I was inappropriately dressed for it! Next time though…

We ate dinner Downtown at the Heart Attack Grill, which I can only describe as the weirdest place I have ever eaten. I still can’t quite work out whether or not I enjoyed myself.

The hospital theme is really immersive, so we all sat there wearing hospital gowns awaiting our giant burgers and full calorie drinks (the waitress was unimpressed when I ordered a Diet Coke and announced that they don’t do diet there). 

They also have a policy where if you don’t finish your meal you get spanked. Hard. I couldn’t finish my burger and spent at least fifteen minutes freaking out about the spanking, coming up with irrational solutions such as hiding it in Phil’s rucksack or sneaking to the bin myself before realising that as it turns out, spanking isn’t compulsory. Who knew?

We then chilled out for a bit before heading back to New York, New York where we found a bar that had games (Beer Haus) so we spent the rest of the evening drinking and playing games such as Jenga.

Have you eaten at the Heart Attack Grill?

L x

Disneyland Day Two…

Our second day at Disney was just as exciting as our first although for the most part we based ourselves in the main park. There are so many iconic attractions in the main park and we wasted no time in showing them off to Phil’s Dad.

We took him on all the classics from Pirates, Haunted Mansion and Small World. He loved it!

For lunch we had turkey legs and watermelon. I really love the turkey legs at Disney, they are just so flavourful!

Playsuit: Topshop two years ago (!). I always feel like I wear this playsuit on holiday. Its just so comfy with a really pretty rose print. Sunglasses: Vans  Sandals: Tesco

We also made sure that we squeezed in a parade and two evening shows, World of Colour and the Fireworks.

The parades are so magical, you can’t help but be enveloped in a warm hug of happiness watching them. When I visited Disneyworld as a child, I used to think that the characters I was seeing were the real McCoy. I’d go around collecting autographs and spending my days in awe of their celebrity status. As an adult, I’m quite aware that they are cast members and I certainly don’t go around collecting autographs, but I still appreciate the effort that goes in to portraying the character as well as the level of detail that creates the Disney parks and just makes them so, so special. We were sat next to a guy who works at Disney but was on his day off. He told us lots of interesting facts about the parks and some changes coming up. Disneyland is only going to get better!

We did a spot of shopping before leaving Disney and I picked up a hand drawn sketch of Hay Hay from Moana. It’s so cool that a Disney artist drew it. I’m not sure where in the house it will live exactly, but it’s definitely finding a wall somewhere.

Because our hotel was so close (and Phil had manflu) we went back to our rooms for an hour or so before heading back over for the night shows.

World of colour is such a gorgeous display on the lake over in California Adventure. It’s such a treat featuring so many iconic characters.

We then finished our time at Disney by watching the fireworks over the castle in the main park. The fireworks at Disney are the best I’ve ever seen. They just know what they are doing! We loved it.

Have you seen the Disney parades/shows?

L x