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Tex Mex, Creole or All-American? Comparing the flavour of three Southern cities…

 

Over 12 months ago, when I embarked on my trip of a lifetime across the US of A, I was set to visit 23 states in 28 days; a mean feat for someone who had never left Europe before! Aptly named The Grand Southern Adventure, I knew most of my escapade would be spent discovering some of the best cities that the south had to offer, and knew that it’d be an adrenalin fuelled few weeks, and a real foodie haven too. Three of the cities on the trip really stole my heart, and not just because of their lively atmospheres and their colourful history. Spending two nights each in Orlando, Dallas and New Orleans gave me a chance to delve a little deeper into their charm, although I’m pretty sure I barely scratched the surface of these cities during my short time there. I enjoyed my few days in those places so much that, when the wonderful team at Trip.com asked me to take a look at the foodie history behind each city, I jumped at the chance to do a little more digging… Here’s how the three of them compare…

 

Dallas, Texas

 

The sun shining down on Dallas

 

The Texan powerhouse and one of America’s most famous cities, Dallas should be at the top of everyone’s bucket lists, and for good reason. Home to an enormous aquarium, along with a zoo, museums and memorials, Dallas is one of the liveliest cities in the deep South. Sadly, it’s also perhaps best known for being the site of President John F Kennedy’s assassination and has a memorial and museum dedicated to his untimely death. Whilst you’ll find large chunks of America’s history down in Dallas, you’ll also find it’s a complete foodie haven and a fantastic place for indulging in that iconic Tex-Mex cuisine.

A mouth-watering mix of Anglo and Mexican-Indian infusions, invented by Mexican immigrants in the late 1800s, Tex-Mex fast became one of the most popular dishes in the state of Texas, and across the rest of America and the world too. Although the main ingredients of the cuisine remain the same; think nachos, enchiladas, fajitas, burritos, chilli and tacos, the dishes have largely evolved over the years. It wouldn’t be right to devour some good ole Tex-Mex food in Dallas without a frozen margarita in hand though – it’s where it was first created back in 1974, and is still a hit with locals and tourists alike today. If you’re looking for the perfect hotel from which to base yourself on your next visit to this Texan city check out Trip.com’s best hotel deals in Dallas.

 

New Orleans, Louisiana

 

The fairy-tale that is Jackson Square

 

Positioned right on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans is a Louisiana city packing a big punch. Nicknamed the “Big Easy,” New Orleans is famous for its crazy nightlife, fantastic live-music jazz scene and its eclectic cuisine. At the heart of the city you’ll find it’s French Quarter, the oldest part of the city and perhaps its most interesting. Jackson Square is the focal point of the district, complete with a pretty Church, manicured courtyard gardens and horse drawn carriages, making it look like something out of a fairy-tale. The biggest event on the calendar is of course the Mardi Gras parade, a winter carnival with show-stopping costumes, live music and fun filled street parties. New Orleans, and indeed the rest of Louisiana, is however best known for its delicious Creole cuisine; a spicy style of cooking which brings together a mixture of flavours from a whole host of different cultures including Spanish, Indian, Caribbean, West African and Latin American.

Invented in NOLA back in the 18th century, classic Creole dishes include fish and meat soups, shrimps in sauce, rice in gravy, baked chicken, red beans and smothered pork chops. The most popular dishes are gumbo (shrimp, chicken and sausage stew served with rice) and jambalaya (meat and vegetables mixed with rice). For dessert, Creole cuisine offers something for everyone, but NOLA’s most iconic sweet treat is the classic beignet – deep fried choux pastry served with powdered sugar on top and a café au lait (coffee with milk). Visit the world famous Café du Monde down in the French Quarter for the ultimate beignet experience. The café is open 24 hours all day every day and only has four items on the menu: dark-roasted coffee, white and chocolate milk, hot chocolate, freshly squeezed orange juice and, of course, the classic beignets. Whatever your foodie preferences, NOLA caters for all tastes and you’ll be sure to want to take a taste of Creole home with you when you leave the city! If you’re in need of a place to rest your head for a few hours after spending all night ‘dancing in the streets’ check out Trip.com’s best hotel deals in New Orleans.

 

Orlando, Florida

 

The happiest place on earth…

 

Nestled between the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, the sunshine state of Florida is one of the most visited areas in the whole of the USA. With hundreds of miles of coastline and a population of over 20 million, Florida is a tropical paradise with gorgeous turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. In particular, Orlando is famed for its designer shopping malls, vibrant seaside resorts and of course it’s enormous theme parks. Nicknamed the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’, Orlando is home to the Universal resorts, Sea World, Discovery Cove, Legoland, Gatorland, Epcot and the most famous resort on earth, Walt Disney World. Cuisine is Florida is just as famous, with their iconic oranges – you’ll find them everywhere you go – as well as their Cuban inspired mojito’s and of course their very own key lime pie.

Cuisine found in Orlando is typical of All-American dishes and, whilst it mainly consists of fried chicken, French fries and just about any kind of fried food you can find, there are dozens of signature dishes too. Frozen yogurt, or Fro-Yo as Floridians affectionately call it, is super popular over in Orlando, and is much needed during the exhausting heat and tropical temperatures that remain in place all year round. Alligator tail is also a popular dish in the city, deep fried and served with hot sauce and a heap of ranch dressing on the side. Perhaps the most famous piece of Floridian cuisine though is the mouth-watering key lime pie. Invented by ship salvager William Curry in the sunshine state back in the 1800s, Curry became Key West’s first millionaire and his legendary dish is still a hit today. Need somewhere to stay during your holiday with Mickey and Co? Take a look at Trip.com’s top hotel deals in Orlando.

 

NB. This post is brought to you as part of Trip.com’s Underdog Cities campaign but all words and photos are of course my own.

 

So food is pretty BIG in Dallas

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6 US States that Should be on Everyone’s Bucket Lists

 

 

The good old US of A, home to 52 individual states offering every kind of town, city and village you can think of. Whether you’re hitting the bright lights of Las Vegas or hiking in the remote Rocky Mountains, the US has it all. With so many places to choose from, you’ll have the trip of a lifetime planning your American adventure. Exactly this time last year, I had the pleasure of spending all summer there, road tripping from LA to NYC and ticking off 23 states along the way, so I’ve seen a fair few of them! My epic trip was booked with Contiki and it was a once in a lifetime adventure, made even bigger because I had totally quit my 9-5 day job in order to jet off across the pond and spend my summer in style. It was also my first ever solo adventure and, for that reason, it will always be an incredibly special trip to me.

After popping into my local STA Travel store and finding out about all the big tours, I knew I wanted to spend my summer in America, and I knew I wanted to do a huge road trip and a big chunk of the famous Route 66 too. As well as visiting 23 states in 28 days I had the opportunity to tick so many amazing things off my bucket-list, including taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, swamp boating in New Orleans, parasailing over Daytona Beach and celebrating 4th July in New York City. I had the most incredible summer pushing myself to my limits, getting out of my comfort zone and doing things I had always dreamt about. I’ve line danced in Texas, partied in Miami, gambled in Vegas and ghost-hunted in Savannah. I’ve white water rafted in Durango, seen the White House in Washington and walked in Memphis. It was tough to narrow it down after having such an epic adventure, but here are my top six US states, and why I think you should visit them ALL at least one in your lifetime…

California

 

L.A L.A L.A ✈️🇺🇸✈️🇺🇸

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Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Disneyland, California has it all. Stretching for nearly 900 miles along the Pacific Ocean, California boasts beaches, mountains, forests and of course the epic Mojave Desert. With the city of Los Angeles being the focal point of the state, and the hub of the world’s entertainment industry, you’ll never be stuck for something to do in the city of stars. Other Californian highlights include the capital city of Sacramento, celeb haunt Malibu, wonderful San Diego, San Francisco with its iconic golden gate bridge and historic Alcatraz Island, as well as popular boating destination Lake Tahoe and the spectacular Yosemite National Park. I only got to spend one night in LA before my tour started so I saw barely any of it, but I know I want to return to Cali as soon as I can to explore everything properly!

 

Georgia

 

I left my heart in #Savannah 💖 @contiki @statravel_uk #contiki #grandsouthern #america #USA #noregrets #wanderlustwednesday

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Perhaps a little less well known than some of the other states on this list, Georgia is one of the most beautiful states of the entire country offering so much to see and do. The northern part of the state is home to the Blue Ridge mountains, an excellent hiking destination with the most stunning surroundings. Famous cities in Georgia include Atlanta, the capital, Savannah and Augusta, each home to museums, galleries, churches and Atlanta even boasts a number of large theme parks. Savannah is a real highlight though, with its cobblestoned squares, green spaces and fantastic architecture. Forsyth Park is at the heart of the Historic District and is a sight not to be missed when discovering this Georgian gem – unexpectedly, this place became one of my favourite cities on the entire trip and I can’t recommend it enough!

 

 

Arizona

 

 

If national parks are your thing you’ll be spoilt for choice in Arizona. Arguably the most visited attraction in the whole state is the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Grand Canyon, carved by the Colorado River and famed for its incredible landscape and natural beauty. Tourists and locals alike can choose to hike, bike, fly over or raft in the Canyon and all methods of transport offer the most breathtaking views of this geological wonder. Horseshoe bend, located near the town of Page, is a must see during your time in the state, even if it is just to capture those all important photos. You’ll also find the epic Antelope Canyon in Arizona, as well as the stunning red-sand desert of Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border, both of which are a spectacular sight to behold, and both of which gave me the most amazing photos for my Instagram page! Seriously, they blew my mind.

 

 

New York

 

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of 🇺🇸 #newyork

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Times Square, Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, the city of New York in, yep, you guessed it, New York state, is one of the most visited in the entire world attracting over 60 million people every year. Catch a Broadway show, go shopping in Macy’s, pay your respects at the World Trade Centre memorial or take a boat trip over to Ellis Island to learn more about the history behind this fascinating place. Venture outside of the city itself and you’ll find the spectacular Niagara Falls (straddling the international border between America and Canada), the quirky Long Island and the stunning Lake Ontario, all of which are a world away from the buzz and bright lights of New York City. I was lucky enough to spend 4th July in NYC, watching the fireworks sparkle above the Hudson River, and it was so magical I wanted to stay there forever!

 

 

Texas

 

I miss you #Dallas 🇺🇸🇺🇸 @contiki @statravel #grandsouthern #contiki #USA #america #traveltuesday #texas

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Grab your cowboy boots and your Stetson hat and head into the deep south for a true taste of America. The second largest state in the entire country, Texas is home to Houston, Austin, Fortworth, Amarillo and many more interesting cities, but be sure to check out Dallas during your time there to experience the famous Tex-Mex cuisine and immerse yourself in the city’s culture and history. Dallas is a thriving city with a zoo, an aquarium, museums and memorials and is well known for being the site of the assassination of President John F Kennedy in November 1963 – if you get time, check out the sixth floor museum, it’s incredibly moving and such an important part of American history. If ranches and rodeos are your thing, head over to Houston for the world’s largest livestock show or stop by the Texan capital of Austin and enjoy their two week rodeo carnival extravaganza taking place every Spring.

 

Florida

 

 

The sunshine state of Florida lies between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the most visited areas in the whole country. Brimming with gigantic theme parks, designer shopping malls, gorgeous sandy beaches and vibrant cosmopolitan cities, particular highlights include Orlando’s Walt Disney World and its Universal counterparts, the luscious Everglades, and the city of Miami. Head over to the beautiful St Augustine to discover one of the smaller areas in the state, and to get away from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities, I’d definitely recommend doing this to explore somewhere new for a few days. Spend a week exploring the many theme parks, and then relax and recharge with a week on some of Florida’s many beaches. Head from Daytona to PCB and you’ll soon be feeling fresh after a busy few days seeing the sights and hanging out with Mickey and Co!

So there we have it, the top US states that EVERYONE should visit! I’m just dying to go back to America as soon as I can, and I could have easily spent many more weeks and months there finding new places to tick off my bucket list. Have you ever been to any of them before? What did you think and which were your favourite? Let me know if I should have picked different states to include in this list, or whether you agreed with my top picks!

Love Jess x

🇺🇸🇺🇸

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Walking in Memphis – 48 Hours in the Birthplace of Rock'n'Roll

Walkin in #Memphis 🇺🇸🎉

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Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since I last posted any US content, so I thought I’d take you back to Summer 2016 and share a little insight into my short time spent down in Memphis, Tennessee. I was only there for a couple of nights whilst on my Contiki Grand Southern tour but I fitted such a lot into my short time there and I LOVED every second! For anyone looking to spend time in Memphis in 2017, this post is for you! Here’s how to spend 48 hours in this rock’n’roll city…

Pay tribute to Elvis at Graceland

 

#Graceland 🇺🇸🎉🎤

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As someone who has LOVED Elvis ever since I was a little girl I was beyond excited to visit Graceland and was wandering round in awe of all the fantastic things I saw there. Elvis’ music is one of a kind, it is special, just like he was, and visiting his home was a special experience for me too, it almost didn’t seem real at times. Graceland is laid out over 13 acres of land, and you get a lot of time to wander around at your own pace and see everything that you wish to. Your personal ipad and audio guide is handed to you upon arrival and will take you through each room of Elvis’ home, including the grounds as well. I actually had no idea that Elvis himself was buried in the gardens at Graceland, so seeing his grave right in front of me was incredibly moving. My time at Graceland was amazing and something I definitely won’t forget in a hurry – if you’re an Elvis fan you wont want to visit Memphis without stopping here!

Visit the world-famous Sun Studios

 

 

Stepping into one of the most famous recording studios in the world was a special experience for me, and definitely something to tick off the bucket list! The likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded some of their most famous songs in the small surroundings of Sun Studios and it was SURREAL to be holding the same mic and standing in the same spot as all those legends. If you’re a blues fan or a rock’n’roller you will absolutely adore your time at Sun Studios – it’s a must see for music lovers!

Party on Beale Street

 

 

Voted as America’s most iconic street (according to USA Today) Beale Street is perhaps one of the biggest party streets in the US, and one of the most famous too! Here you’ll find everything from jazz bars and soul clubs to honky tonks and restaurants. Beale Street is busy during the day but it comes alive at night, with plenty of places to eat, drink and have a good time! The road is filled with music from every corner and there are street performers, bright lights and live entertainment to keep you mesmerised. I loved my time on Beale Street – listening to live jazz music was amazing and there was just such a buzz about the place. If you like a good night out on the town and you enjoy authentic live music then you’re in for a treat!

See the spot where Martin Luther King was assassinated

 

The assassination site of #MartinLutherKing – may he rest in peace 🇺🇸 #Memphis #Tennessee #america #USA #history

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April 4th 1968 – one of the most famous dates in American history, and one that will certainly never be forgotten. Martin Luther King, the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and was killed by a single bullet. Seeing the very spot where MLK was assassinated, and learning about the true history of what really happened that day, was incredibly moving. Nowadays, the National Civil Rights Museum has been built around the site of the Lorraine Motel, tracing the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the US, from the 17th century to the present.

Explore one of the many museums

 

#PinkPalaceMuseum & #Mansion #Memphis #sun #sky #beautiful #architecture #building #pink #photography #museum

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Memphis is home to so many fantastic museums and you’d be mad NOT to visit at least one of them during your time in the city. As well as Sun Studios and Graceland, which are wonderful museums in themselves, I’d highly recommend the National Civil Rights Museum and the Rock n Soul Museum, both of which are two of the city’s most visited attractions. If, like me, you’re only in Memphis for 48hrs though, I’d suggest spending time visiting one or two but not trying to visit all of them as you simply won’t have the time! Memphis is full of history and culture and there is so much to learn, but you might need a few more days to be able to explore everything properly!

Cross the Mississippi River

 

Crossing the #Missisippi river over into #memphis 🇺🇸🎉 #grandsouthern #contiki #noregrets @contiki @statravel_uk #america #USA

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As I was on a Contiki tour, we arrived in Memphis by road, passing the Texarkana state-line border before crossing the Mississippi River. Arriving by road meant we could see a lot of the city before we even stepped off the coach; we passed famous avenues such as Beale Street and BB King Boulevard, as well as driving past landmarks such as the Autozone Park, Sun Studios and the National Civil Rights Museum. Crossing the Mississippi River though was, for me, a true bucket list item in itself and was a great way to kick-start my time in Memphis.

Catch a Memphis Redbirds baseball game

 

Baseball baseball ⚾️⚾️ #Memphis

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If you’ve never been to a US baseball game before, you NEED to add it to your bucket-list! The Autozone Park is one of the best places to catch a game, and the Memphis Redbirds are a well known team with a huge following. I was lucky enough to watch a Redbirds game from the hospitality box, with unlimited food and drink included as part of our ticket – winning! At the end of the game we watched the fireworks show set to music which was a spectacle in itself and was a brilliant way to finish the evening. I saw another baseball game in Washington at the end of my trip,  but the atmosphere wasn’t as good as at the Autozone and I didn’t get a red baseball hat to keep either!

 

So there we have it, my top tips on exploring Memphis in a whirlwind 48 hours! Immerse yourself in the rock’n’roll vibe of the city, visit the top music sites, hit up the museums and cross the Mississippi River in style. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to the city and helps with that all important planning!

Have you ever been to Memphis? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

 

A Little Life Update… Where I Was vs Where I am Now

Don't look back… You're not going that way! ✈️🌎 #Venice #Italy #Venezia #wanderlustwednesday #noregrets

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Hi everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with lots of love, fun and laughter – I know I did! The festivities feel like they’re well and truly over now though and, although I do love Christmas, I am so excited for the new year to arrive and for a fresh start. I’m looking ahead to all my travel plans for 2017 but am also reflecting and putting together my end of year review, with my top highlights from 2016. First though, I thought I’d share a very honest post with you all. As some of you will know, 2016 was a huge turning point in my life, for very personal reasons, and here’s why…

I lost 2 family members

 

2

 

For the first time in my life, I lost 2 close family members. My Aunty Pat left us in January, and my Uncle Terry passed away in July, just six months later. It was awful, I’ve never really dealt with grief, or loss before. I’m lucky that, at the age of 23, none of my close family members had passed away, until this year. My nan gave us a scare too – she has had ongoing heart problems for a while now, but she collapsed and her heart stopped beating. Thank god she was in hospital at the time and was immediately brought back to life – I don’t know what I’d have done if she’d have left me. My nan is one of the most amazing, strong and selfless women I know, and she is my total inspiration. If you’re reading this nan, I want you to know how much I love you, and I hope I might have made you proud this year. <3

My health finally started to improve

 

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This is a huge positive, and one I am so happy has turned around for the better. As most of you will know, I suffer with a health condition called a prolactinoma, which is basically a small tumor on the pituitary gland in my brain. My condition seemed to deteriorate throughout 2015, when I was off and on medication and subsequently felt the worst I had ever felt. However, after a few months of yet more blood tests, eye tests and trips to the hospital I am finally in control of my condition and feel the best I ever have! My consultant and I made the decision to go back on my long term medication, and my prolactin levels have finally been lowered meaning my symptoms have disappeared and I am generally feeling much better. Yes I still have crippling headaches and yes I am often poorly, but I’m a million times better than I was last year and I finally feel happier with my health. I last went to the doctors at the end of November, and my next hospital check up is in March, so I’ll have more news then but, for now at least, I’m pleased to report that I’m feeling on top of the world… Long may it continue!

I made the decision to quit my 9-5 life

 

 

On to something less positive now, but it does have a happy ending- promise! Some of you might remember reading about my quarter-life crisis, where this time last year I had a mini breakdown. I was so unhappy with my life; I wasn’t enjoying my job, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go, and I had this incurable wanderlust that made me want to travel as much as possible, although, at the time, I just didn’t know how to go about it. Then 2016 came along and, all of a sudden, this light-bulb went off in my head and I knew something had to change.

 

 

On 7th January 2016, after a few hours in my local STA Travel store in Oxford, I made the decision to book an epic Contiki trip across America, from LA to NYC, and I knew that there was no turning back. The following Monday, I handed in my notice at work. I knew that travelling across America would make me more determined than ever to travel as much of this world as I possibly could, and I knew that I couldn’t do it without quitting my 9-5 job. So I did it, I handed in my notice ridiculously early, and I started my final few months at work whilst preparing for America and then, subsequently, deciding what I was going to do when I returned.

I travelled more than I ever have before

 

 

The start of 2016 saw me take numerous trips to London and Liverpool, as well as little visits to Brighton and Bournemouth too. As you’ll know, June and July saw me travelling throughout America, across 23 states in 28 days and I had the time of my life! I visited over 25 cities, from LA and Vegas to Memphis, New Orleans, Miami and New York. I helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, parasailed over Daytona Beach, road tripped across Route 66, visited the White House in Washington and went ghost hunting in Savannah. I also celebrated 4th July in New York courtesy of my £471 flight change fees (!!!) the craziest, most spontaneous decision I have ever made, but so totally worth it!

 

September saw me travelling across Italy, from Venice to Florence to Rome, and ticking even more off the bucket list. I rode a gondola around the canals of Venice, climbed the Duomo in Florence, wandered round the Collosseum and threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain in Rome. I’m also about to embark on my last trip of the year and will be heading down to St Ives in Cornwall on Thursday ready for some new year celebrations – I’m so excited!!

 

Ride a gondola in Venice – TICK! ✅✅ Next stop Florence 🚂🚂 #bucketlist #italianescapade #tourists

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My blog continued to grow

 

 

I’m so pleased that my little blog had it’s best ever year in 2016, and I couldn’t be more thankful to my amazing friends, family and my READERS who have supported me throughout this past year. Journeys with Jessica has gone from strength to strength; we’ve had press coverage, an award nomination and our first press trip – these were things I could only have dreamed of when I first started writing back in 2014, and I still can’t quite believe that they all happened! I’m excited about the prospect of growing my blog even further in 2017 and can’t wait to continue to share all of my future adventures with you all – THANKYOU for making this all happen, I wouldn’t be anywhere without you lovely lot! <3

 

I launched my freelance business

 

 

When I returned from America in July I took a month or so off to just completely relax, see friends and spend some quality time with my family. I celebrated my mum and dads 25th wedding anniversary, went to Liverpool for a week to stay with my nan and granddad, and I went to V Fest with my cousins. I wanted to have a month where I just had FUN, lived life and totally let go. I think this was really important for me to do as it gave me perspective on what I actually wanted from life, and what truly made me happy. At the end of September I decided to launch my freelance business as an online virtual assistant, and I’ve never looked back! It’s still early days, but my client base is growing and I’m making enough money from it now to go full time – although the dream is still to be a full time blogger, and I’m hoping I’ll make it there one day! For now though, I’m super happy with my new freelance life and am looking forward to continuing this in 2017.

 

This is how I feel right now. Today I calculated that I've earnt *almost* as much each month as I was earning in my old 9-5 job! I knew I could do it!!! I've started with nothing and built up my little business all by myself. At times I felt like giving up, like I wasn't good enough, and like I had no right to make a career for myself, but today I've felt so inspired and so pleased that my hard work seems to be paying off. Any doubts that may have been in my mind have now been dismissed and I am SO excited to continue my journey in my new career and see where this takes me! Here's to future success and many more adventures 📝💻✈️🌍 #MondayMotivation #freelancer #bloglife #virtualassistant

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So that’s my little life update. I guess when you think about it, an awful lot has happened in such a short space of time! Aside from the obvious negatives, and the low points, I think that, overall, 2016 turned out to be one of the best years of my life. I had so many highs and ticked SO much off my ever growing bucket-list, and am so much happier now compared to where I was this time last year. Since October I have been freelancing fulltime whilst throwing myself into my blog too. Fast forward to December and I’m still doing both of those things whilst looking forward to seeing what 2017 will bring, and I’m pleased to announce that planning for my European Adventure is well underway… Watch this space!

Love Jess x

#summer ☀💖

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48hours in Miami- A guide to the US party capital

Palm trees, skyscraper hotels and a beautiful harbour.. It can only be M I A M I 🇺🇸🌴 #Florida #Miami #wanderlustwednesday

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Hi everyone,

On my American Adventure this summer I had the chance to explore the US party capital of Miami, somewhere I have wanted to visit for months and months! I only had two full days to explore whilst on my Contiki Grand Southern trip, but I definitely made the most of my short time there and it lived up to my crazy high expectations – Miami was INCREDIBLE! Two full days actually gives you enough time to see the main sights, although I would love to have embraced the beach life for a few days longer! Here is my list of must see’s and my guide on how to make the most of your time in the city…

 

Hit Lincoln Road Mall for the ultimate shopping experience

 

#tbt to M I A M I 🇺🇸🌴 #America #USA #contiki #grandsouthern #noregrets #throwbackthursday

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Lincoln Road Mall was the first stop of my Miami trip and it was the best way to get acclimatised to the city. We strolled up and down the boulevard checking out all the stores, picking up souvenirs and stopping for drinks whilst people-watching til our hearts were content! This place is THE premier shopping mall in Miami and stretches for miles with stores selling everything you can think of. I loved that the streets were lined with palm trees and there were market stalls on every corner – embracing the true Miami lifestyle was so much fun and it was one of the best shopping experiences I’ve ever had!

Take a thriller speed boat ride to Star Island

 

BRB, just gonna move in to ma new house 🌴🏡 #Miami #Florida #wanderlustwednesday #housegoals #agirlcandream

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This was an optional extra on my Contiki trip and I am SO glad I did it! I am usually really  bad with boats, or any kind of water based activity, as I suffer badly with both travel and sea sickness, so I really thought I’d struggle on this one, but the boat went SO FRIKKIN FAST that I don’t think my body even had time to start feeling sick! We sped across the ocean and sailed around Biscayne Bay before making our way over to Star Island to ogle at all the famous people’s houses that were on site! The 90 minute tour took us past amazing homes belonging to Will Smith, Julio Iglesias & Gloria Estefan before making our way back to the harbour where we were placed firmly back on the ground and came back to the real world! The boat tour was a really fun way of seeing Biscayne Bay – tours run every 2 hours departing from the harbour – and I’d 100% recommend it to anyone wanting to explore Miami from the ocean!

Embrace beach life

 

I'm in Miami bitchhh! 🇺🇸🎉🇺🇸🎉 #noregrets #grandsouthern #miami

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Miami is suuuuch a cool place and it has some of the best beaches I’ve ever seen! Both Miami Beach and South Beach were my faves; they were framed by skyscraper hotels, art-deco buildings and white sands with the bluest sea I have ever swam in! Beach life is a massive part of Miami, and these beaches are known to attract top celebs all year round – I tried my best to spot some A-Listers but sadly didn’t see anyone during my trip! After a hectic week exploring Florida it was so nice to just chill out on the beach and spend some time people-watching and seeing those ocean waves roll in… what I would give to be back there right now!

Take in the awesome skyline

 

 

So this kinda goes without saying, but as soon as you arrive in Miami you won’t be able to miss the incredible skyline that is present across the entire city. The best way to see it is by boat, look behind you and just gaze up at the sheer size of those buildings – they’re so iconic and you’ll pinch yourself to check whether you’re actually there or whether you’re just day dreaming! I know I did that, and I still can’t believe I’ve actually been to Miami, even four months after I got back!

Party like a local

 

Miami rooftops 🎉🇺🇸 #saturdaynight

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You can’t visit Miami without partying at least once, so go out like a local, hit the clubs and dance the night away! We had drinks on the rooftop of our hotel (Hotel Croydon on Collins Avenue – would highly recommend this as a place to stay) then headed out to the main strip and went in a few small bars first before getting into the clubs which were HUGE! Drinks and entrance charges were really expensive, think Vegas prices, but the venues are so luxurious and there’s no where else quite like Miami so it definitely has to be done at least once on your trip!

Sail around Miami Harbour

 

🇺🇸🇺🇸 #Miami #florida #contiki #grandsouthern #noregrets #starttheadventure #takemeback #traveltuesday

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So this was organised as part of my Contiki trip, but if you get the chance to hop on a party cruise and sail around Miami Harbour I would definitely recommend it! We saw the whole of the Miami skyline lit up at night which looked totally amazing, and sailing around the bay was sooo dreamy. Our big American flag flew proudly at the rear of the ship, and we had an on-board bar with our very own DJ which made for a brilliant party atmosphere! I know Miami is big on clubbing, but a party boat is suuuuch good fun and a really good way of getting to meet people if you’re travelling alone or in a small group, plus it’ll be cheaper than the clubs and less busy – winner!

So there we have it, my top tips on exploring Miami in a whirlwind 48 hours! Immerse yourself in the buzz of the city, visit the sites, relax on the beach and embrace the party vibe that is present throughout for the full Floridian experience. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to the city and helps with that all important planning!

Have you ever been to Miami? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

🇺🇸 M I A M I 🇺🇸 #wanderlustwednesday

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🏙🌊 #Miami #Florida #takemeback #wanderlustwednesday

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