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Travel Guide to Sofia: The historic Bulgarian capital

 

 

OK so this is post is waaaaaayy overdue, but better late than never, right?! I visited Sofia back in May after snapping up flights with Ryanair for ยฃ30 return. Yep, you heard correctly, ยฃ15 each way for the 3hours it took to get from Birmingham to Bulgaria. This trip was totally unintentional and completely unplanned, but when my lovely friend Toni and I decided to frantically browse Skyscanner for cheap flights to anywhere, we realised this bargain was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Fast forward seven days and we were sat on our flight heading across to the furthest Eastern European country I have ever visited! Here’s what we got up to during our time in Bulgaria, and I’ve listed my top highlights for this cultural capital city…

 

Take a FREE walking tour

 

 

I absolutely LOVE free walking tours and feel they are the best way to discover a new city for the first time, especially as they help to get your bearings when you’re wandering around like a crazy person trying to find out where everything is. The free walking tour in Sofia begins outside the Palace of Justice, right in front of the steps, and departs every day at 11am. Our tour guide, Vasil, was so friendly and informative throughout the whole event, which lasted around an hour. Within that time we saw pretty much every important landmark within the city centre, and got to make some brilliant photo stops along the way. Although we didn’t have time to go inside the churches etc during the tour, we got a good idea of the places we wanted to come back to and explore a little later on. Thank you Vasil for an amazing first couple of hours in Sofia!

 

Visit the Alexander Nevsky cathedral at night

 

 

This is probably the most famous landmark in Sofia and, in my opinion, definitely the most beautiful! As soon as I knew I was heading over to the city I made it my mission to visit the Alexander Nevsky cathedral as soon as possible. We actually walked past that place a number of times during our stay, it’s an incredible piece of architecture and looks good from every angle, especially from the inside. I particularly loved it when it was lit up at night though, as it literally glowed in the dark and made for the most beautiful picture! Sadly my camera couldn’t do it justice, so this picture is from my lovely friend and fellow travel blogger Allison who is currently spending some time in Sofia and calling it her temporary home… Thanks Allison!

 

See the ancient remains of Serdica

 

 

If you’re in to your history, you will LOVE ancient ruins, artefacts and crumbling remains as much as I do. Did you know that Sofia is over 6000 years old?!?! Nope, I didn’t either until I got there and took the fantastic walking tour. The city was known by many names until it became the Sofia we know and love today, and the ancient remains of Serdica date back thousands of years. Wander towards the metro station and you’ll find ruins that were discovered when the council started digging and building the metro line back in 1998. There’s also a brand new hotel (Arena de Serdica) that has just opened and original Roman ruins that were discovered during excavation can be found in the lobby, where an exclusive exhibition housing the 3rd century Roman Ampitheatre has been made. Learning about the history of Sofia was one of my favourite things to do in the city and it made me fall in love with it even more!

 

Explore the many different religions of the city

 

 

There aren’t many cities where you can find a Mosque next to a Catholic Church, but in Sofia it’s something that’s pretty normal! The city is home to a whole host of different religions, from Muslim and Jewish to Catholic and Protestant, but there is no divide present in the city whatsoever, it feels very united and everyone really seems to come together, no matter what their religion. We spent time wandering around the churches and admiring them from every angle. My particular favourite was the Church of St Nicholas, with it’s tiny crypt underneath welcoming visitors into it’s Wishing Room. I did make some wishes, and I do hope they come true!

 

Climb Mount Vitosha

 

 

So we didn’t exactly climb Mount Vitosha, and the tale of how we got up there in the first place is a pretty ridiculous one!! To cut a long story short, we got in a taxi hoping to head towards a rooftop bar with panoramic views for drinks and cakes before our flight home, but the taxi driver got a bit lost, didn’t speak good English and wasn’t sure where he was going. After an hour we arrived at said rooftop bar, only to find that it was CLOSED and was most definitely not in use! Luckily there were a few staff members on site who allowed us to access the roof terrace in exchange for a few Bulgarian Lev – I am sooo glad we did this as it was well worth the hours taxi and the views from the top were INCREDIBLE. Obviously I would have liked to have climbed it properly, but it was an adventure and an experience and was worth all the taxi hassle. If we had more time we would have actually hiked the mountain, and explored the nearby Stone River and Golden Bridges too as this looked super cool, but there’s always another excuse to come back!

 

Stay in a central hotelย 

 

Central Hotel Sofia

 

We stayed in a brilliant hotel. right in the heart of the city, and it had everything we needed and more. As the name suggests, Central Hotel Sofia was exactly that, slap bang in the middle of everything and the location couldn’t have been more perfect. The hotel is a 4* and has all modern amenities you could wish for. It was clean, smart, and excellent value for money. We paid ยฃ30pp per night for a good size twin room with en-suite bathroom and had a really comfortable stay. I’d highly recommend this hotel to anyone looking to stay somewhere central, modern and affordable in the heart of Sofia.

 

Eat just outside of the city

 

 

Everything is so cheap in Sofia, that meal times are an absolute steal and you can taste some wonderful food without paying a small fortune. Although the central boulevard is brimming with restaurants, bars and cafe’s, I’d recommend getting a taxi a little further out of town to see where else you can eat. After a recommendation from a local friend, Toni and I decided to jump in a cab and make our way over to Pod Lipite, a small restaurant just 5 minutes from the city centre that serves traditional Bulgarian food and hosts traditional Bulgarian singers and dancers who play every night for their guests. This place was super cute and cosy and served the most amazing food from salads and soups to chicken and beef dishes. We both had an incredible meal, with an alcoholic drink each, and the bill came to just ยฃ17!! It’s little places like Pod Lipite which really allow you to take in the culture that a city has to offer, and this meal out was definitely one of the highlights from our trip to Sofia.

 

So there we have it, my Sofia travel guide in a nutshell! Despite spending just 2 nights/3 days here, we saw pretty much everything we wanted to see and I definitely think it was enough time. Obviously we could have spent hours more properly exploring each of the churches, or taken a full day to hike Mount Vitosha, but a 2 night stay will give you enough time to see a lot of the city and worked really well for us. Hopefully this post inspires you to think about choosing Sofia for your next city break, even though it might not be an obvious choice it’s a real hidden European gem. Have you ever been to Sofia before? Tell me what you thought of it, Iโ€™d love to hear your comments on this charming place!

Love Jess x

 

Had the best time exploring the beautiful city of #Sofia with my wonderful friend of 10 years ๐Ÿ’–

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Ten Things to do in Tenerife

 

 

Tenerife is a sun worshippers haven. Situated in southern Spain, just across the sea from North Africa, Tenerife enjoys temperatures as high as 35 ย degrees during summer, 25 degrees during winter, and is hot all year round. There’s more to this Canary island than sunbathing and beaches though, as I discovered when I spent a week here with my sisters on a girly holiday back in June. With its mountainous scenery, rugged coastline and vibrant atmosphere, here are my top ten things to see and do in sunny Tenerife…

 

1. Hike Mount Teide

 

Just one more ๐Ÿ“ธ of the amazing mount teide cos I just love it ๐Ÿ—ป #teide #teidelover #tenerife #canaries #traveltuesday

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If you’re an adventure seeker and want to keep active whist you’re on holiday, Mount Teide is the place to be! The third highest active volcano in the world, this mountain can be climbed, hiked, or reached by cable car all year round. My sisters and I booked an all day excursion to Teide whilst we were on the island, and it was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday. Rather than riding the cable car to the summit, we opted to hike around the base of the mountain and admire the views from down below instead. If I were to visit again I’d love to go to the top though as I’m sure the panoramic scenes from up there were even better! Whilst at Teide, we also visited Los Roques de Garcia, a UNESCO world heritage site with rock formations that are over 170,000 years old – it looked like something out of an ancient movie and the landscapes were breathtakingly beautiful.

 

2. Create waves at Siam Park

 

#SiamPark #MaiThaiRiver #chilling #waterfall #Tenerife @travelblogneverseenbefore

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Voted the best water park in the world, this Thai themed adventure island boasts some of the biggest, most daring rides youโ€™ll ever see. I’m a huge water park fan but sadly didn’t have time to visit this place during our time in Tenerife as we were very limited on days (and euros!). The park attracts over 850,000 visitors a year and is home to a lazy river, crazy rapids, a sealion island and it even has its own beach! Located in the family friendly resort of Costa Adeje, this place is amazing for a fun filled day out for all the family, no matter what your age, and is definitely one of the most visited attractions on the whole island – I am 100% checking this out next time I return!

 

3. Wander down Las Americas

 

Casting shadows ๐ŸŒ—๐ŸŒด #Tenerife

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We stayed at one of the Parque Santiago resorts, right in the heart of Las Americas, in front of the beach and on the main strip itself. Las Americas is a thriving resort brimming with bars, cafe’s, shops and restaurants and offers plenty of things to see and do. Tribute acts fill the bars and pubs every night, whilst water sports take over the beach and live music plays from the restaurants during the day. There’s always something going on in Las Americas, and that’s one of the main reasons I loved the resort so much. Everything is so close by, and you never have to walk more than 10 minutes in either direction to find what it is that you need. I’d definitely recommend Las Americas to anyone looking for a lively, fun-filled, stress-free holiday in the heart of Tenerife.

 

4. Have drinks at the Hard Rock Cafe

 

Bright lights, big city โœจ #Tenerife #lasamericas

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One of the most extravagant hotels in the whole of Las Americas, and one of the newest, The Hard Rock Cafe is arguably a tourist attraction in it’s own right, and for good reason! I love this brand and always try to visit whenever I’m exploring a new city, but the Tenerife chain is definitely one of the best I’ve ever seen. With a 5* hotel, enormous swimming pool, trendy restaurant, music hall and glamorous rooftop bar, the Hard Rock has it all. We found that this place was great for having a few cocktails before hitting the rest of the strip, but it was quite pricey so we had to limit ourselves!

 

5. Watch the fountain show at the Safari shopping mall

 

Magical fountain shows are my favourite โœจโœจโœจ #Tenerife

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I wasn’t even aware this place existed until I wandered past one night and heard my favourite song booming from the speakers… When I heard Elvis – Can’t Help Falling In Love playing, I turned to see where it was coming from and was greeted with the most amazing sight! A beautiful sparkly fountain show right in the centre of Las Americas, that was set to music and attracted more and more people to the crowd as they stopped and stared just as I had done. The show lasts for around 10-15 minutes and a number of classic songs are played as the fountains do their thing. The show ends with the iconic New York, New York by Frank Sinatra and the fountains look even more beautiful lit up as they come to a sparkly end! You can catch the show every night at the Safari Shopping Mall, right on the Las Americas strip.

 

6. Explore Loro Parque

 

According to the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariumsโ€™ โ€œBottlenose Dolphin Fact Sheetโ€: Bottlenose dolphins are found in temperate and tropical waters around the world (cosmopolitan species). They can inhabit a variety of marine and coastal ecosystems of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea (Ridgway and Harrison, 1999). Bottlenose dolphins in the western North Atlantic are found from Nova Scotia to Patagonia and from Norway to the tip of South Africa. They are the most abundant dolphin species along the United States coast from Cape Cod through the Gulf of Mexico (Reeves et al., 2002). Other types of bottlenose dolphins are found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as far north as the southern Okhotsk Sea, the Kuril Islands and central California. They are found as far south as Australia and New Zealand. Dolphins everywhere depend on healthy oceans for their survival. They depend on us! Protect and conserve #OurWorldOceans #AMMPA #welovedolphinseveryday Segรบn la ficha informativa sobre los delfines mulares de la Alianza de Parques y Acuarios con Mamรญferos Marinos: Los delfines mulares se hallan en aguas tropicales y templadas alrededor del mundo (especies cosmopolitas). Pueden habitar en una gran variedad de ecosistemas marinos y costeros en los ocรฉanos Pacรญfico, Atlรกntico e รndico, asรญ como en el Mar Mediterrรกneo (Rigway y Harrison, 1999). Los delfines mulares del Atlรกntico Norte occidental se reparten desde Nueva Escocia hasta la Patagonia, y desde Noruega hasta el extremo de Sudรกfrica. Son la especie de delfรญn mรกs abundante a lo largo de la costa de los Estados Unidos, desde el Cabo Cod hasta el Golfo de Mรฉxico (Reeves et al., 2002). Otros tipos de delfines mulares pueden encontrarse en los ocรฉanos Pacรญfico e รndico, asรญ como tan al norte como al sur del Mar de Ojotsk, las islas Kuriles y California Central; y tan al sur como en Australia y Nueva Zelanda. Los delfines alrededor del mundo dependen de ocรฉanos sanos para sobrevivir. ยกDependen de nosotros! Protege y conserva nuestros ocรฉanos. #OurWorldOceans #AMMPA #welovedolphinseveryday

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Loro Parque is one of the most popular excursions on the whole island and is situated in the pretty Puerto de la Cruz area, a bus ride away from Las Americas.ย Awarded the title of best zoo in Europe, Loro Parque offers an unforgettable day out for all the family and is home to over 4000 species of animal across its 33 acre gardens. As well as having numerous exhibits for visitors to wander around, the zoo hosts dolphin, sealion, orca and parrot shows daily too. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to tick this place off my Tenerife bucket list, but I will definitely be checking it out next time I’m on the island!

 

7. Sunbathe on Las Vistas beach

 

Pick a sunbed any sunbed โ˜€๏ธ #Tenerife #beach #lasamericas

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One of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever seen, Las Vistas is the perfect place to take time out and relax during your holiday to Tenerife. We spent many hours there sunbathing, swimming in the sea and watching the world go by. The beach was right behind our Parque Santiago hotel, so gave us direct access, and it was a stones throw from many of the cafe’s, bars and restaurants that are dotted along the sea front. The beach also offers a multitude of watersports for the thrill seekers out there who prefer keeping active to lounging around on the sand – I didn’t take part in these as was far too busy sunbathing – but it looked like so much fun!

 

8. Take a boat trip from Puerto Colon

 

Vitamin Sea ๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿฌ #Tenerife

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Despite suffering from horrendous sea sickness, boat trips areย totally my thing and I always try to do one when I’m on holiday! I think boats are a brilliant way of seeing places from different perspectives, and I adore marine life so take any chance I get to spot dolphins, fish and even whales whilst I’m out on the open sea. Sadly I was feeling absolutely AWFUL during the entire trip and spent most of the three hours at sea with my head in a sick bag!! Despite my sickness though I still managed to see dolphins AND whales swimming next to our catamaran and that alone was worth every minute of how I felt that day. Maybe next time I’ll just go on a bigger boat so I don’t feel the waves as much… I’ve suffered with travel/motion sickness for as long as I can remember and would love to know how I can overcome it… Suggestions on a postcard please?!

 

9. Go clubbing on the Veronica’s strip

 

๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘

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This is something we only did a couple of nights during our trip; we much prefer bars to clubs so spent most of our time on the main strip in Las Americas, rather than wandering over to the Veronicas despite it being in the same resort. This strip is a ten minute walk from the centre of Americas and is filled with more bars and even more clubs offering cheap drinks deals, DJ’s and dance floors; think Zante/Ayia Napa/Kavos and you get the picture. I’m now 24 and this isn’t really my scene anymore (I’m so old!!) but it was fun to spend a few hours there and just a short stroll away from the lively resort centre so easily reachable on foot.

 

10. Watch the sunset from the sea front

 

Not a bad place to watch the sunset ๐ŸŒ…๐ŸŒ… #tenerife #lasamericas #friyay

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Anyone that knows me will know how much I love my sunsets! Every time I’m away I always try and catch a sun set at least once during my trip, and luckily we were able to see a couple during our week in Tenerife. Plonking ourselves in a pretty restaurant on the sea front we sat and watched the sun go down over the Atlantic sea whilst we drank cocktails and stuffed our faces with yummy meals. I think we did this on our first night and it was really special – my sister captured a timelapse of the sunset and it looked totally magical! Would def recommend having dinner in front of the sun set during your time in Tenerife if you get the chance.

 

So those are just some of the many reasons why you should visit Tenerife this summer, or in fact at any time of year. There’s so much to see and do, the weather is fantastic all year round, and the lively atmosphere makes the island a hit with families, groups and couples alike. To be in the heart of the action, stay in Las Americas and take advantage of the proximity of the beach, bars, restaurants and lively nightlife. If however you’re looking for a more relaxed holiday, the smaller resorts of Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos are probably more your thing. I absolutely loved my holiday to Tenerife this summer and couldn’t have asked for a better location from which to unwind and enjoy some much needed sunshine. The scenery was beautiful, the temperatures were just right and there was so much to do we didn’t once get bored. Have you ever been to Tenerife? What resort did you visit? Would love to know what you thought of the island!

Love Jess x

 

I think I'm a little bit in love with #Tenerife ๐Ÿ˜๐ŸŒŠ

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July Newsletter

 

 

Hey everyone,

We’re at the end of yet another busy month which means it’s NEWSLETTER TIME! July has been a bit crazy for me, and I’ve fitted so much in to the past few weeks that I’m feeling slightly frazzled, but in a really good way. I’ve been on a couple of press trips, I’ve been working my bum off at my part time job and I’ve been spending time with people who mean the most to me. I’ve also thrown my heart and soul into my blog this month; it’s had a complete revamp and is now totally self hosted, and I’ve also landed a couple of new freelance writing jobs – yay!! It’s been a busy few weeks, so here’s how my July went…

 

I spent a week in Switzerland

 

 

Let’s kick this off with the most exciting news from this month… I’ve just got back from spending a week in Switzerland and it was honestly one of the most incredible places I’ve ever visited! I, along with four other bloggers, (Hannah, Hayley, Elaisha and Allison) flew to Geneva to explore for a day before hopping on a train to Sion and then ending up in the ski resort of Nendaz where our accommodation was waiting for us. We stayed in a luxurious chalet with gorgeous mountain views and spent seven days mountain hiking, spa indulging and cheese making whilst discovering everything else that Nendaz had to offer. I would never have thought to go to a ski resort for a summer holiday, but this trip changed all my perceptions and I genuinely had the most wonderful time exploring a brand new country with four brand new friends. I’ll be posting content of my trip over the coming weeks, but, in the meantime, you can catch up with my photos by checking out my Instagram page. A big thank you to Travelopo and Nendaz Tourisme for sponsoring our fantastic trip!

 

My blog has had a makeover

 

My blog has had a makeover – come check it out!

 

I’m sooo pleased to be able to tell you that my blog is now totally self hosted! I have wanted to make the transition for so long, but have never really known where to start or how to go about it. Luckily, one of my old school friends (thanks George!!) was able to help me so I’ve finally made that move and am really happy with the results! The site looks virtually the same, there’s just been a few menu/theme/layout changes and I’ve neatened the footers and sidebars up a little. I’ve still got a few changes I want to make, but I have so much new content I want to share with you and I want to get that live first before I focus on niggly site things. I’m super pleased with the new site and hope you like it – please do let me know what you think as I would LOVE to hear your feedback!

 

I wrote a little life update

 

 

Given that we are now more than halfway through 2017 (how did THAT happen?!) I thought I’d use July as a midway point for my personal life and start reflecting on how my year has gone so far. You might remember that I wrote my New Years Resolutions post back in January, and in my newest update I discussed how I was getting on with those resolutions… Most of them are going really well, but some of them aren’t and I realised that that’s okay. It’s okay that I’m not smashing every goal I’ve set myself because it’s normal not to achieve every expectation, and it’s good to have more goals to aim for, and other things to tick off in future. How are you getting on with your 2017 resolutions, if you even made them in the first place? Would love to know how you’re doing!

 

I went speed-boating across the Thames

 

 

At the start of the month I was invited by the wonderful team at Thames Rockets to hop on a speedboat across the Thames for a whirlwind tour of London. I was lucky enough to choose one of the hottest days of the month and took my sister with me along for the ride. We both had a brilliant time seeing the sights and hitting top speeds as we jetted across the river, so I’d recommend the Thames Rockets speed boating tours to anyone looking for a fun filled day out in our gorgeous capital city. I’m also running a giveaway and am offering you the chance to WINย 2x ticketsย to hop on board with the Thames Rockets team – all you have to do is follow me and Thames Rockets on Twitter, and RT my pinned tweet, it couldn’t be simpler… Good luck!

 

I explored the best of London on foot

 

 

After jetting across the Thames, my sister and I fancied a stroll along the river to see all the London landmarks from a different angle, and so we decided to walk from Westminster to Tower Bridge. It took us a good few hours to complete the walk, and we saw so many famous landmarks including the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard to name but a few. I’ve walked this route many times before, but it was so lovely in the sunshine and we really took our time, marvelling at the sights and taking hundreds photos along the way!

I think that’s everything for July, I feel as if I don’t know whether I’m coming or going lately, but its because I have so much on over the next few weeks and have already had a busy month! August looks set to be just as crazy, with some new collabs lined up as well as another press trip, this time to Germany with the wonderful team at Visit Hamburg – I fly on Friday morning from Heathrow and I am SO excited! Have you got any Hamburg tips for me? Send them over!

Love Jess x

 

 

A Little Life Update: My Half Year Review

 

 

We are now over six months into 2017… OVER SIX MONTHS?! How the bloody hell did that happen?! It feels as though January to June came and went in the blink of an eye. I have done so much, traveled so far, and experienced so many new things, but it’s not until I take a step back and look at my diary, or my Instagram page, that I realise just how much has happened these past six months.

Let’s rewind back to 1st January 2017; the first day, week and month of a brand new year. A chance to focus on new things, make new memories and set new goals. I did all of those things at the start of the year. I spent the post Christmas/New Year period down in Cornwall with my family, taking long dog walks on the beach, eating ice cream sat on the harbour walls, going out for dinner in nice restaurants and waking up to sea views every morning. Just after I got back from Cornwall I made myself some New Years Resolutions. Given that we are now past the midway point of 2017 I thought I’d do a little life update and reflect on the things that have happened in the past six months, to see whether or not I’m on track and if I’m achieving/failing my goals set by my 2017 Resolutions post… Here goes!

 

 

I want to travel to 10 new countries

 

 

This was my biggest and most challenging resolution – definitely the one I was most scared about tackling, but I’m so pleased to say that I’ve been smashing it!! So far this year I have taken seven trips and have been everywhere from Copenhagen and Bratislava to Menorca and Tenerife. I’ve been to five new countries, five new cities and made countless new memories. All of my trips have been totally amazing, but highlights have included my first ever group press trip to Menorca, a last minute city break to Sofia, and a girly holiday with my sisters to Tenerife. In the next two weeks I’ll also be ticking two new countries off my list as I’m heading to Switzerland tomorrow and Germany the week after! Both are group press trips with other bloggers and we’ll be working with the respective tourist boards when we are out there. I’m so excited for my future travels and feel I’m in good stead to complete this challenge as I’ll have done 7/10 by August – not bad going if I do say so myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

I want to stop buying scratch cards

 

Amazingly, I’ve actually not done too badly at this one! So I’m not saying I’ve stopped buying them completely – cheeky ones still fall into my shopping basket every now and again – but I have made a conscious effort to try and avoid them wherever possible and I now only use the self service check out at the supermarket to minimize the temptation at the kiosk! I’ve started a little savings pot too and am collecting 50p’s and ยฃ2 coins, so whenever I do get the urge to buy one I plonk my change in there and watch it build up – ย WAY more fun than losing money every week!

 

I want to grow my blog as much as possible

 

This was probably the single most important resolution for me, and I’m proud to say I think I’m halfway there. I’ve still got a long way to go before I can become a full time travel blogger, but before this year I had never been on a press trip and by the end of August I will have been on THREE in the space of just a few months! For me, a real turning point came when I visited #Traverse17. If you read my post you’ll know that I had an amazing time at the three day travel blogging event down in London, but what I didn’t expect from it was the sheer amount of opportunities I would be opened up to after attending. Just a few weeks after the conference I was lucky enough to be selected to attend the Must See Menorca press trip in April, along with the Spanish Tourist Board and Traverse themselves. And then I was asked to pop over to Hamburg for the weekend with the Visit Hamburg team. I’ve also grown in confidence and have started reaching out to pr companies, tourist boards and local attractions to create new opportunities for myself. So what if there’s no press trip advertised? Make yourself known and start creating things that you might otherwise miss out on!

 

 

I now really enjoy the networking side of things and rarely get nervous. At Traverse everyone was pitching themselves to the tourist boards for trips, I could hear fellow bloggers practising what they were going to say in their speech and it made me feel a little nervous – I certainly wasn’t professional enough to start pitching!! When it came to meeting the brands and speaking to the tourist boards though I actually felt really confident and was completely myself. I didn’t ‘pitch’, I didn’t start reeling off numbers of followers, my monthly page views or my audience demographics, but instead I started talking about the brands and asking questions. I told Visit Spain that I have been to their beautiful country 14 times, and that I have the most amazing childhood memories of beach holidays and tapas and paella. I told Visit Hamburg that I genuinely have always wanted to go to Hamburg because I want to start exploring some of the smaller cities across Europe and promote them to new audiences, rather just writing about capitals like Berlin and Barcelona. I was 100% myself when I was talking to these brands and I think this just might have been why I was lucky enough to be picked to attend these brilliant press trips.

 

I want to spend more time with family and friends

 

 

I like to think I was pretty good at this one anyway, but I do think I have really started to spent more quality time with the people that mean the most to me, and I’m so grateful to have the most amazing support network. I still live at home so I’m really close with my parents and my sisters (probably too close, we argue constantly, but we always work things out). I live near to all my friends so I go out for dinner and drinks with them every few days and am always making plans to catch up whenever I have the time. Sadly the rest of my family are split between Liverpool and Essex, so I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like to, but we communicate daily and they’re only a phone call away. ย Every single person in my life right now knows how much they mean to me, so thank you <3

 

I want to spend less time on social media

Yea this one hasn’t gone quite the way I’d have liked it to. I’m a social media obsessive; it’s my job, my hobby, my whole life, what can I say?! I’m actually quite sad I haven’t nailed this one as I know that the amount of time I am spending on the net is damaging and I really want to cut it down. I just find it difficult to switch off and feel like I constantly have to know what’s going on in the world. I recently read a brilliant article by the lovely Emily Luxton who described how Instagram is ruining her life. I really resonated with a lot of the aspects in Emily’s post, although my blog isn’t as big as hers, so it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who has an unhealthy relationship with social media. I ย know it’s not good at all though, so I’m gonna work really hard to cut down my usage over the next few months… Wish me luck and please send any tips my way. PS thanks Emily for the refreshing, very honest and personal post! <3

 

I want to stop looking for love

 

 

Lol this one is easy. I’ve done it, I’m not going to find anyone, so I’ve given up looking. Ok that’s not strictly true, I was seeing someone off and on for a couple of months, but he found his way to me, I didn’t go looking for him. And we’ve known each other YEARS, so it wasn’t a new thing. Or a Tinder match – that’s deleted, thank God. I’ve finally stopped looking because I genuinely have no desire to be with anyone at the moment. I know that’s quite sad and at times I would love to have someone to share my life with, and I do want that for my future, but right now it’s the last thing on my mind. I don’t have TIME for a boyfriend, I’m travelling too much to want to settle and I’m so spontaneous and carefree that I just don’t want the hassle of a relationship, despite the good things that I know will (one day) come with it. I don’t feel unhappy though, for the first time in months I feel really great about being single and am just getting my confidence up before I decide when/if I want to start dating again. There’s no rush though, I’m still only 24 – sorry mum, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to be a nanny ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

I want to focus on myself

After that last paragraph, I think this goes without saying, but I have focused on myself so much since January that I’m actually starting to feel a bit selfish! Is that a bad thing?! I guess it kind of is, but I’m just looking after number one because one day I won’t be able to do that! So I’m saying YES to new opportunities, YES to hanging out with new friends and YES to doing whatever the hell I want. I’ve been really enjoying every aspect of 2017 so far, and hope that will continue for the remainder of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I still get my down days, and there are (very few) times when I really struggle to be happy, but I’m much better at picking myself up, dusting myself down and painting a big smile on my face.

 

So there we go, I don’t think I’ve done too badly?! It’s quite nice to look back at all the things I’ve done since January and it gives me the confidence to carry on as I have been doing so that I can make the most of the rest of 2017. For now I’m looking forward to heading to Switzerland tomorrow – don’t forget you can follow my journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! What new years resolutions have you been sticking to this year? I’d love to know if you have been achieving your goals, so leave me a comment below!

 

Love Jess x

 

Party #2 of #MustSeeMenorca and we're having tapas and cocktails at the beautiful @portbluehotels

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

June Newsletter

 

I think I'm a little bit in love with #Tenerife ๐Ÿ˜๐ŸŒŠ

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Hi everyone,

How did your month go? Mine was super crazy busy with a big holiday and little days out but I’ve had a brilliant few weeks and don’t have long to go until my next big trip! I got back from Tenerife mid way through the month and just before that I had back to back trips to Sofia and Menorca. Since my return I’ve been working non-stop, both at my part time job, and for my freelance clients, so have barely had a minute to myself. I feel as if I have neglected my blog a little lately as I’ve been away so much, but normal service will resume shortly and I’ve got SO MUCH new content planned for you! Here’s how my June went…

 

I went on holiday to Tenerife

 

Just one more ๐Ÿ“ธ of the amazing mount teide cos I just love it ๐Ÿ—ป #teide #teidelover #tenerife #canaries #traveltuesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Literally the highlight of my entire month… my first proper beach holiday/package holiday/relax and chill holiday for THREE WHOLE YEARS! Yep, it’s been a long time since I’ve actually been away and laid by the pool, or fell asleep on a sunlounger on the beach, without being on a crazy busy trip and feeling like my feet haven’t touched the ground. This holiday was so needed, and I enjoyed every second! I went with my sisters and we spent the whole week in the gorgeous Spanish sunshine devouring Tapas, drinking cocktails and taking day trips too. Tenerife totally stole my heart, the island was absolutely gorgeous with tonnes of exciting things on offer to see and do; my favourite day trips were to Mount Teide, where we climbed an active volcano, and to Puerto Colon where we saw whales and dolphins swimming freely out in the sea whilst on a boat trip from the port. I had the most amazing time and will definitely be returning soon… full blog post to follow!

 

It’s been a whole year since my America trip

 

 

I can’t believe it’s been an ENTIRE YEAR since I quit my job to go on the trip of a lifetime across the States. The time has gone by so so quickly, yet at the same time it feels like ages ago since I boarded that flight to LA to start my new adventure. I’ve been reminiscing and posting a few photos on my Instagram page, whilst trying not to get too emosh about everything too :'( This trip totally changed my life, and I just wish I could go back and do it all over again!

 

I was featured by Mail Travel

 

 

So this was totally unexpected but I came home from a shift at my part time job to find that my recent Bratislava blog post had been shared by the wonderful team at Mail Travel – yay! I don’t very often get my posts re-shared, other than from some of my lovely blogger friends lending support, so it felt amazing to have this one recognized from such a well established travel site, and one I’m an avid reader of myself!

 

I popped into London to reunite with my #MustSeeMenorca buddies

 

 

Last week I had the pleasure of being reunited with all my #MustSeeMenorca buddies, but this time in rainy London instead! We headed to super trendy pop up bar Neverland over in Fulham, complete with its very own beach and cocktails served in giant gold swans. It was so lovely to catch up with all my friends, discussing what we had been up to since Menorca, and finding out everyone’s plans for the summer ahead. Can’t wait to see everyone again at the next one! Thank you to Michael and Paul at Traverse for putting on such a fantastic night for us all <3

 

One of my tweets got a lot of attention

 

 

So I casually sent this tweet one afternoon not really thinking about what I was saying, and after checking back shortly after, I’d had an overwhelming response and it had been liked, re-tweeted and replied to countless times. I think there’s been a lot of negative energy surrounding the blogosphere lately, particularly with the rise of bots, fake followers and sponsored ads, so I’m really passionate about making sure smaller bloggers like me get the same opportunities out there as established bloggers too. I know I can’t compete with the bloggers that have been doing this for the past 8 years, or those with 100,000 followers and a DA of 50, but what I CAN offer is quality content, an engaged readership and an authentic, genuine following. I’d love to see more brands working with smaller scale bloggers to allow them the same opportunities as all the rest, so hopefully we start seeing some changes to this industry soon! Thank you to all of those who responded to this tweet, I know so many of you feel the same as me on this one too.

 

May & June were the best 2 months on Twitter to date!

 

So I've just had a look at my Twitter stats for May and June and I'm delighted to say that I've had the best two months…

Posted by Journeys with Jessica on Thursday, June 29, 2017

 

I’ll end this month’s newsletter on a positive note, and something I’m really proud of! I’m a huge Twitter advocate and absolutely love using it for my blog – it’s my favourite platform and I’m constantly updating my profile. I monitor my stats regularly, and was completely taken aback when I saw my analytics for the past two months were the best they’ve ever been! Despite having only 3500 followers, my tweets reached over 212,000 people in May and over 185,000 in June, and I’ve seen a massive increase in profile visitors and followers too. If you’re looking to get your tweets seen by more people, and would like help increasing your following, get in touch for some bespoke social media help – I have capacity to take on TWO new freelance clients over the next couple of months, and am also helping fellow bloggers by offering 1-2-1 advice too. Visit my Work With Me page for more info, or just contact me with any queries at all as I would LOVE to help!

Another busy month for me, and I think July will be much the same, although I now have a full month at home before my next adventure – a press trip to Switzerland! I’m super excited about this one and can’t wait to share all my photos with you when I’m over there – I’ve got an action packed itinerary with so much to see and do! How did your June go?

Love Jess x