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European City Break: Prague!

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Hi everyone,

So I’ve just returned from my first city break of 2015 and I headed to the beautiful Czech capital of Prague for a quick getaway with my sister! Prague is such a beautiful city and, with so much to see and do, we had the most amazing time! We took off from London Gatwick airport on the morning of Friday 27th Feb and after a short 1hr35 flight (which literally flew by!) we landed safely at our destination. And as if by magic you can now BOOK the exact same trip I planned in one easy step – scroll down and read the last paragraph for details! In the meantime though, here’s what we got up to in Prague…

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During our adventure we stayed at the 4 star Hotel Louis Leger, located on Lergova Street a 15 minute walk from the famous Wenceslas Square. The hotel was clean and comfortable although a little old fashioned and dated in my opinion but I guess that’s just because I’m used to staying in big modern chain hotels, so this one definitely made a nice change! You can read my Trip Advisor review on Hotel Louis Leger here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g274707-d510395-r258188149-Hotel_Louis_Leger-Prague_Bohemia.html#REVIEWS

DAY 1

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On our first day we spent some time checking out the local area, shopping in the various boutiques, and getting our bearings right before heading down to Wenceslas Square and then onto the Old Town to stop for some lunch. Food and drink prices in Prague are notoriously cheap and were amazed at how much we could get for our money; we definitely overindulged while we were there, but it was totally worth it! Once we had finished exploring and had been back to the hotel to freshen up we then headed to a nearby Italian, The Coloseum, for some yummy pizza, pasta & ice cream and enjoyed the evening together. The location of the hotel was quite a walk from the Old Town (30-40mins) but a manageable 15min walk from Wenceslas Square which wasn’t too bad. There were shops and restaurants lining the streets up to Wenceslas Square though so if your like us and didn’t fancy walking far on the first night you’ll have plenty of other choices for dinner a bit nearby! You can see my Trip Advisor review of The Coloseum restaurant here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g274707-d795457-r258189275-Pizza_Coloseum_Original_Pizza_Pasta-Prague_Bohemia.html#REVIEWS

DAY 2

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We had booked a 4 hour tour for our second day and were so looking forward to seeing all the sights of the city. Martin Tours booked us on to The Grand Tour of Prague and we spent most of it on foot exploring everything there was to see. Trip advisor review here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g274707-d4960295-r258190924-Martin_Tour_Prague-Prague_Bohemia.html#REVIEWS Our guide was very friendly and knowledgeable and gave us plenty of time to take photos and ask questions etc, there were only a few of us on the tour so it was very personal which was great. We started in a minibus that took us from Wenceslas Square through the New Town, past monuments such as The Dancing House and The Rudolfenium, all the way to the top of Prague Castle.

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We then made our way around the complex, seeing the inside of the stunning St Vitus Cathedral, passing the Presidential suite (the flag was flying so the President himself was home!) and enjoying panoramic views across the city before beginning our descent towards the Old Town. Once we’d reached the bottom of the castle area we headed on foot to our next star attraction, Charles Bridge, which was truly a wonderful sight. Dating back to the 13th century, the bridge spans the width of the River Vltava and it’s history is etched into it’s bricks. Walking across the bridge was quite an experience, with our guide giving us the background on it’s purpose and it’s origins, and we could see for miles down the river.

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Next we headed to Old Town Square and saw the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn and the picturesque Old Town Hall before ending up at the breathtaking Astronomical Clock Tower to watch the clock strike on the hour – definitely a sight not to be missed! The figurine of a skeleton below the clock face pulls a cord which in turn opens four windows above to show the 12 disciples rotating around and the chimes can be heard loudly. There’s something quite eery and mystical about the whole thing and it’s worth seeing just make sure you are there on the hour!

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Later in the afternoon we were booked on to a river boat cruise which sailed up and down the Vlatva. The cruise lasted for an hour, complete with English speaking guide who gave a running commentary, and there were plenty of photo opportunities throughout as we made our way up towards Charles Bridge and back. We passed Prague Castle, the Prime Minister’s residential home and a few other attractions on our way downstream and the boat then dropped us back at the port where we had to walk back into the city.This only took 5 minutes and we were back in Old Town Square before we knew it!

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Later on in the evening we made our way to Wenceslas Square for dinner and ended up in a delightful restaurant, Como, which was part of the Javert Hotel right on the strip. The food was incredible, I had a tradtional Czech beef goulash whilst my sister opted for the homemade lasagne. Although the restaurant was quite fancy the prices were great and we thoroughly enjoyed spoiling ourselves! View my review of Como Restaurant here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g274707-d1568048-r258189073-Como_Restaurant_Cafe-Prague_Bohemia.html#REVIEWS

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DAY 3

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On our third and final full day we had booked an afternoon World War Two Tour with a different company, Prague Tours and were very much looking forward to seeing what was in store for us. In the morning though we needed something else to do for a few hours and so decided to climb to the top of the Astronomical Tower (as you do!) for a panoramic view across the city. We paid 120 korona each (just £3!!) to climb right to the top of the tower and when we got there we saw the most amazing sights and the views were incredible. Plenty of photos were taken and we made the most of our view by just enjoying the atmosphere and admiring the city for a while before we had to come down!

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After a short stop for lunch we met our tour guide, Marketa (who was fantastic), outside the historic Powder Tower and were taken round the streets of the Old Town for the first part of our tour, passing various parts of the city which were heavily involved in WW2. We were taken on foot through the Old Town and then gained access to the lower part of the Astronomical Tower, exploring the underground chambers which we learnt were used for hideout by members of the Prague Resistance. This was a fascinating part of the tour and it was so interesting to walk through the areas that were used in such an important historical time period. We also learnt a lot about the assassination of Nazi SS leader Reinhard Heydrich by local Czech residents, and the terror that Nazi occupation brought to a city desperate to be free from invasion although it was key to Hitler’s quest for world domination.

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Next we headed into the Jewish Quarter to see the areas known as Ghetto’s during WW2 and learnt about how badly they were treated by the Nazi’s. I found this part of the tour very emotional, and so did a lot of the others as Marketa explained the horror that was bestowed upon these innocent people during one of Prague’s darkest times. At points, Jews were shot at by Nazi soldiers if they so much as walked on the pavement! Shocked and disgusted, I couldn’t even imagine something like that happening in today’s world; Marketa spoke with such deep emotion when she explained things that had happened and it moved a lot of us in the group to tears. We ended up near Charles Bridge again and wound up our tour having an open conversation, raising questions and pointers about the main areas before saying goodbye and returning back to the city centre. My sister and I thought this was the best city tour we had ever been on and had real admiration for Marketa; she knew her facts, was very passionate and extremely friendly. You can view my Trip Advisor review on the tour here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g274707-d2254923-r258191625-World_War_II_in_Prague_Tour-Prague_Bohemia.html#REVIEWS

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Dinner that night was at the incredible Hard Rock Cafe, the biggest one in Europe, and we certainly had a dining experience to remember! We each chose huge burgers for our main and had a couple of cocktails, the music played in the Cafe was shown on big TV screens on the walls and really added to the ‘rock’ vibe that was present. The food was great, the atmosphere was brilliant and we couldn’t fault the friendly service; we even wandered around the shop afterwards in search of some merchandise! Read my rocking review of this place on my Trip Advisor account: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g274707-d1516182-r258189525-Hard_Rock_Cafe-Prague_Bohemia.html#REVIEWS

On our fourth and final day we woke early for breakfast, checked out of our room, and headed to nearby Praha airport (a 30 min taxi ride away) to catch our flight back to London Gatwick. We had a brilliant time in Prague and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a short European break in a cultural, historical and beautiful city. With so much to see and do you are certainly spoilt for choice, although three nights was plenty of time for us to explore everything we needed to.

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My next trips are concerts & day trips in Oxford and London so I’ll keep you posted on these, I have family down for a couple of weeks for Easter and then I’m heading back to Liverpool again in April so I’ve got plenty to be blogging about!

As mentioned above, you can now book the EXACT trip I did in one easy step – just click on the link below for more details and to request a quote!

Get a quote for this trip

Love Jess x

My 2015 travel wish list!

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Hi everyone,

So I’m jetting off to Prague for a few days at the end of February and I’ve been thinking about where I’d like to go this year, and what trips I’m planning on booking up over the next few months!

I’m big on city breaks at the moment and I think that’s going to be the focus of my upcoming trips, I’d much rather fit in lots of small mini breaks as opposed to a long two week beach holiday. I’ve done the whole beach thing so many times before and it does get boring so I’m looking forward to being a bit more adventurous this year! As I’ve mentioned, Prague is already booked up but here’s a few more trips I’m planning on adding to the pipeline:

– London day out and concert – March

– Liverpool weekend away – April

– New forest weekend away – May

–  Cornwall family holiday – July

– Amsterdam city break – September

– Bruges Christmas markets – December

If I can pull off all my plans for this year I’ll be extremely happy, I’m saving very hard at the moment to plan my summer in America for next year so don’t have an awful lot of money to play with, but I’m aiming to go on most if not all of my planned trips.

I may also have opportunities to attend a couple of travel conferences this year, including TBEX in Spain and Traverse in London. I would be delighted to attend these conferences and gain the opportunity to network and start growing my blog. I’ve made contact with a few other fellow bloggers via the power of social media so can’t wait to get to know them and meet them properly at these events!

Next post will be February’s Throwback Thursday feature so please keep reading and have a lovely weekend!

Love Jess x

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The day I became a tourist in my home city: Oxford!

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Hi everyone,

So last weekend I was in my beautiful home city of Oxford doing a bit of Saturday shopping and had a few spare hours to kill whilst waiting for a friend. I wondered whether I should wander aimlessly round the shops trying on dresses that I couldn’t afford, or whether I should do something more useful and get some cool photos for a brand new blog post and so, naturally, I chose the latter option! Firstly I headed in search of the famous Radcliffe Camera which is one of the must-see sights if you are visiting Oxford. After a short stroll off the high street and past Trinity College I came to the Bodleian Library and was in awe of the incredible architecture of this beautiful building.

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The Bodleian Library was home to The Hogwarts Infirmary in the blockbuster Harry Potter film series, and there were Harry Potter tours being carried out while I was there that I was trying to ear wig on! The surroundings really are stunning, so it’s hard not to see why it was chosen as a location for one of the country’s biggest films. IMG_30579857334588IMG_30572826134741 IMG_30618858017206

Next I found myself on Magdalen Street walking past the famous five star Randolph Hotel; what I would give to spend a night of luxury there! Directly opposite The Randolph is the beautiful Ashmolean Museum which is one of my favourite attractions in Oxford. Having been on plenty of school trips here when I was younger I know they it’s home to some of the best historical artefacts in the world . Entry is free so make the most of it and while away a few hours in this incredible building when your visiting.

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Finally I strolled back up towards the high street and past the Carfax Tower before catching up with my friend and going for dinner on the way home. We headed to Jacobs Inn, Wolvercote which I’d heard great things about and couldn’t wait to try for myself! I had the chicken pie and my friend opted for a burger – the food was great and the atmosphere was lovely, a spacious nut warm and welcoming pub right on the river Thames. We couldn’t have picked a better spot to enjoy some early evening dinner! You can read my review on Jacobs Inn here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g186361-d4606454-r253493733-Jacobs_Inn-Oxford_Oxfordshire_England.html#REVIEWS

I had a wonderful day being a tourist in my home city and can honestly say it’s been one of the most refreshing things I’ve done in a long time. It just goes to show that sometimes you don’t need to travel far to have a great day out.. things can be on your doorstep and, of course, life is what you make it! So next time your on your daily commute or are visiting somewhere you’ve been 100 times before just stop and spend a few minutes pretending that this is your first visit and see where your travel instinct takes you!

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Love Jess x

NEW YEAR NEWS!

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Hey everyone,

As it’s a new year I thought I would change a few things on my blog but also bring you a round up of stats that I’ve collected over the past 8 months. Since my blog began back in May 2014 I’ve gained new followers, enjoyed a large social media presence and have continued to build it as much as I can in order to share my adventures with you all.

As a breakdown, my followers on each of my social media sites are as follows:

WordPress – 62 followers/ over 2000 hits

Facebook – 68 Likes

Twitter – 816 followers

Instagram – 161 followers (not bad considering I’ve only had it for two weeks!)

LinkedIn – 222 connections

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As you can see, I have quite a large social media following across the board which I am very grateful for but am keen to grow as much as possible in order to increase my audience. Some interesting stats and information on hits to my blog were detailed in my WordPress Review of 2014 which you can of course read separately!

On the more visual side of things I’ve been wanting to get to grips with changing the layout and design on my blog for a while now as I feel this is quite limited and doesn’t allow as much freedom as I’d like. I’ve opted to edit the theme, homepage and navigation tabs on my site and, although I’ve only made a few basic changes, I’m hoping this will make my blog look a little more appealing and will read better on screen whether it be via a standard desktop computer, or a sleek mobile site.

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The main alteration I’ve made is to have a front page section with a navigation panel on the left hand side so my readers can choose which posts they want to read, rather than scroll through them all from the most recent to the oldest. I’m hoping this presents my blog much more clearly and allows room for my About page to be viewed first before any other posts are read. I’ve also included my contact details on the front page which makes it even easier to get in touch so if you have any questions, comments or feedback to pass on to me then I’d love to hear from you!

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The great debate on my mind at the moment is whether I should continue using my current WordPress blog that provides me with a service free of charge, or whether I should take the plunge and switch to a self hosted site with more flexibility to create exactly what I want without any limitations. I’ve seen a few other travel bloggers ask the same question and also followed the thread closely to see what the general response is. As far as my initial research goes, most of my fellow bloggers advise paying for a self hosted website to allow the degree of flexibility to heighten as much as I want, but I am unsure of taking this step for a number of reasons…

Firstly, as much as I love my blog, I am yet to start making money from it as a business and very much think of it still as just a hobby as I’m only in the early stages of it’s creation. As I’m not generating any income from my blog I therefore don’t have any expenditure, so am reluctant to spend money on websites and themes if I’m not getting anything back other than a pretty display. Obviously appearance and professionalism is important to me, but my writing style is where my skills lie and is unique to my blog so therefore I can write in whatever format I like as long as people are continuing to read that’s the most important factor! Secondly, I’ve built up quite a large number of hits/followers/likes on my WordPress account and really don’t want to lose these if i switch over to a different site! I love interacting with fellow WordPress bloggers and enjoy the ease of the site, along with the basic features that an IT novice like me can deal with!

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If you have any comments on any aspect of this post or would like to pass on any feedback please please do get in touch. I’d also love to hear any suggestions or opinions on the debate that’s at the forefront of my mind at the moment, so whether you vote WordPress or self hosted I’d love to hear your thoughts!

In another news, it’s actually my 22nd birthday on Friday so I’ve got lots planned for the weekend and I’ll be sure to bring you an update on my adventures soon!

Love Jess x

NB. All images other than my profile photo & screenshots of edits to my blog are courtesy of Google images.

Welcome to 2015: Happy New Year!

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Happy new year everyone, and welcome to 2015!

I had a brilliant time up in Liverpool celebrating the new year with all my closest family. We stayed for three days and managed to squeeze in a bit of shopping in the city centre to make the most of the time we had up there!

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I know I’ve said this before, but Liverpool truly is one of the best cities in the world. There is so much to see and do and the whole atmosphere is just incredible. I fit in as many trips up there during the year as I can so that time can be spent with the family, but I also try to visit the city centre as much as possible.

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Rather than heading back to the city for a night out to celebrate new years eve we decided to have a big family house party instead which was amazing! I love having everyone together, and singing Auld Lang Syne whilst watching the local fireworks was truly magical. 12 months ago I went to London’s embankment to see in 2013 which was amazing and an experience I will never forget, but this time I really wanted to spend it with the whole family instead.

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I had a magical end to the year, and I hope you did too! What did you all get up to? Please tell me your new year stories I’d love to know how and  where you all celebrated!

2015 has some big things in store for me, and I can’t wait to share all my new adventures with you! First of all I’m planning a European city break in February but need to figure out the best destination to go to; I’ve heard places like Budapest, Vienna and Krakow are incredible but I’m veering towards Prague at the moment. If you would like to share any suggestions with me for my city break please get in touch!

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Happy new year everyone, see you on my next post!

Love Jess x