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Blog alert.. London write up coming soon!

2014-11-21 18.27.14

http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/shopping?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=FBSOED00-shoplondon

Hi everyone!

So this post by visitlondon.com caught my eye recently as I’m heading to Knightsbridge and Oxford Street on Sunday to kick start my Christmas shopping!! I know it’s going to be super busy but we are hoping to brave the crowds and try to fit in a bit of sightseeing too!!

Keep an eye out on my blog for my write up on my Christmassy day out in London which I’ll be submitting as my next post!

Love Jess x

Winter city break to Reykjavik, Iceland!

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Hey everyone,

So as most of you probably know, I’ve not long got back from a brilliant trip away to the beautiful city of Reykjavik in Iceland and I had a truly amazing time so wanted to share my write up with you all! I’ve reviewed quite a few aspects from the holiday on my separate Trip Advisor account so I will post links to those where appropriate. 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 Reykjavik…

THE HOTEL

When booking with Easyjet Holidays we opted to stay at the 4* Reykjavik Lights hotel, which only opened in June 2013, and it turned out to be the perfect choice for us! The hotel was immaculate, with modern features including a brilliant power shower, flatscreen LCD TV and free wifi throughout.

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Breakfast was included in the deal and was plentiful with lots of pastries, cereals, breads, cheeses, hams and fresh fruit available along with hot drinks, milk and fresh juices to choose from. The bar area was located alongside the reception and the breakfast was served at the bottom of this room too, so everything was together which see it easy and very accessible considering the lift was 50metres away!

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Our twin room was bright, airy and spacious with large windows letting lots of light in and the beds were so comfy! I just wish we had a view from our room as front facing rooms looked out across to the snow topped mountains which would have been incredible, but unfortunately we weren’t lucky enough to be allocated a room with a view.  A word of advice though; email the hotel directly before you travel and if you ask for a mountain view room you should be able to get one!

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My only slight criticism about the hotel was its location from the city centre as it was a good 40 minute walk away and was too far away for us to travel to day and night. We did however benefit from the mini strip which ran along side our hotel and was home to a number of restaurants, shops, a bank and  a pharmacy which came in useful. Had we not been on the mini strip we would have got taxis into the city each night to go out for dinner, but we wanted to save our money for tours and the sights that we were going to see!

You can view my Trip Advisor review for the Reykjavik Lights Hotel here.

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

Our hotel was located just outside of Reykjavik city centre, around a 40 min walk or a 10 min taxi ride away. We were a five minute walk away from Laugardalur, Reykjavik’s well known recreation centre, which was home to the botanical gardens, family zoo and park, the sports hall, ice skating rink and the famous outdoor thermal pool. We visited nearly all of these attractions as they were so close to our accommodation and also booked a number of tours through Reykjavik Excursions who operated a pick up and drop off service directly to the hotel which was brilliant.

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The outdoor swimming pool and the family zoo were our favourite attractions; we loved the water slide (big kids!) and the pool was a lovely 30 degree temperature which we didn’t want to get out of! Just a warning though, in Iceland and other parts of Europe you are required to shower naked before you enter the pool area. There are communal showers but there are also a few private showers allocated so don’t worry if you panicked like us about stripping in front of strangers! There were hot tubs around the pool area which was very relaxing; we visit around 7pm and stayed for a couple of hours before heading back to the hotel area for dinner.

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The zoo was very small and low key, more of a farm park than a zoo but it was very cute and we did enjoy ourselves! There were daily shows where the keepers fed the reindeer and seals and there was a mini aquarium and farm area with pigs, cows and sheep. I wouldn’t recommend it for a day out as you can only spend around 2hours max at the park but for kids it’s great or you can go there to kill some time if you have a late flight.

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THE EXCURSIONS

We booked a couple of tours through Reykjavik Excursions, one of Iceland’s biggest tour operators and we certainly weren’t disappointed with the service we received! We booked two trips whilst during our stay; The Blue Lagoon Tour and The Golden Circle Tour both of which were incredible! We only had three full days to fit everything in and also wanted to spend some time exploring the city centre so choosing these two tours gave us enough flexibility to do this.

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The Blue Lagoon is a large geo thermal spa which is set on a large power station in South West Iceland and is one of the country’s most famous attractions, listed as ‘One of the 25 Wonders of the World’ according to National Geographic! We booked to go in the evening so we could see it all lit up and it looked absolutely stunning. We were picked up by Reykjavik Excursions from our hotel and taken to the site via a comfortable 1hour coach journey with a few more hotel stops along the way.

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On arrival we made our way straight to the lagoon to make the most of our time there. The water was a sweltering 40degrees but it was amazing and as soon as we got in we knew we didn’t want to leave! There were jets of natural steam surrounding the lagoon which added to the atmosphere and there were wooden boxes around the pool areas which contained the famous silica mud face masks, designed to leave your skin feeling incredible. We then stood under a powerful waterfall which gave a rejuvenating head, back, neck and shoulder massage as you stayed under it for as long as you could manage; it genuinely felt as if there were human hands massaging my body it was incredible!

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There was a bar located in the lagoon itself which served drinks and refreshments- you could purchase these items using wristbands which were allocated to you on arrival, and could then pay at the end before your departure. On site there was a cafe serving drinks and snacks as well as the well regarded Lava restaurant which was fully booked during our visit. The Blue Lagoon shop stocked all the natural skin products on offer in the spa as well as the usual tourist souvenirs, and there was also a viewing platform where you could see the lagoon lit up in all it’s glory.  The coach collected us at 9.30pm as the last trip of the night and we were dropped safely back to our hotel by around 10.30pm. ! The tour was brilliant and we were so glad we booked – I would definitely go back if I were to visit Iceland again.

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The Golden Circle Tour was a shortened version of the full eight hour day trip organised through Reykjavik Excursions and is probably the most popular tourist destination in the whole of a Iceland. Visiting the same attractions but with shorter stops at each one, we were on the road for six hours. Firstly we visited the UNESCO World Heritage site, Pingvellir National Park, which gave some stunning views over the mountains, rivers and hills surrounding the area. This park was historically important for many famous events in Iceland and is renowned for its geological significance.

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Next up was the geothermal field of Haukadalur, home to the spectacular phenomenon that is the ‘Great Geyser’. The area is a natural wonder of hot springs and boiling mud pools, with the Strokkur Geyser erupting every 5-10 minutes shooting up a column of hot water and steam into the air. We were lucky enough to see the Geyser erupt three times and I caught one on film which was brilliant, the memories will stay with me for a long time and I showed my family and friends when I got home and they were amazed! The souvenir shop on site was excellent with lots of lovely gifts and there was also an informative museum detailing why the Geyser’s erupt as they do.. We had a wonderful time at the Geyser’s and I managed to take some brilliant photos!

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Our third and final stop was Gullfoss, or the Golden Waterfall as it is also known. Gullfoss is apparently more powerful than the Niagra Falls and we walked down the 110 steps to get there before we were able to take in the sight ahead of us; it truly was breathtaking! After admiring the waterfall and learning about the history of it, we made our way back up the steep steps and headed for yet another souvenir gift shop! Afterwards we made our coach journey back to the hotel and then headed out to dinner after a long day out on the road.

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On our last full day we headed straight to Reykjavik city centre to explore the local shops, restaurants and landmarks. I particularly liked the famous Hallgrimskirkja cathedral which was definitely worth visiting, as well as the eye catching Harpa building which is home to popular Icelandic concerts and shows. We spent the day shopping for souvenirs and had lunch in a lovely restaurant located near the city’s popular club scene which supposedly comes alive at night!

Unfortunately we weren’t also able to catch a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights as the weather was pretty cloudy during our stay and we had booked ourselves up with the other tours we had already committed to!! I would love to go in search of the Aurora Borealis again though, whether that be via a return trip to Iceland, or somewhere different like Finland or Norway – watch this space!

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On Friday 7th November we headed back to Iceland via Keflavik airport, and their excellent duty free section! Overall we had a brilliant trip full of fun, adventure and memories which will stay with me forever! I would highly recommend Reykjavik as an exciting city break or weekend away with friends, family or partners and would love to return to catch a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights which we unfortunately weren’t able to see!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post about everything that Iceland has to offer, please contact me if you have any questions or would like to know more on certain areas of the country! 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

The night before holiday.. nearly time for Iceland!

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update to let you all know, if you don’t already, that I’m flying out to Reykjavik, Iceland tomorrow morning from Luton airport for a 5 day city break with one of my closest friends!

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As you can see, my suitcase is packed, my fur hat and thick puffa coat are on standby and I’m nearly ready to leave for my adventure!

We are staying at the beautiful Reykjavik Lights Hotel which has excellent reviews on Trip Advisor so I’m excited to write about it on my return!

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Anyway, this will my last blog post til I get back so I’ll be sure to fill you in on all the details of our trip which I’m super excited about!

Speak soon!

Love Jess x

Birmingham weekend: Shopping and Disney on Ice!

Hey everyone!

So I’ve not long returned from a brilliant weekend away in the popular city of Birmingham for a shopping and theatre trip with one of my closest friends. We headed to the Copthorne Hotel in central Birmingham which was excellent value for money at just £54 for the night! The hotel was positioned perfectly for exploring everything that the city has to offer, and we loved being able to walk everywhere rather than having to get a taxi!

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On arrival we left the car in the hotel parking lot (£12 for 24 hours) and checked straight in. We were a bit early and unfortunately our room wasn’t quite ready so we left our bags with the reception staff who were super friendly and nothing felt like too much trouble.

We headed for a day of shopping at the well known Bull Ring centre which was home to hundreds of big store names including Debenhams, John Lewis, New Look, Forever 21, The Disney Store, Hollister and many more. We took a particular liking to The Disney Store (obviously!) and were also pleasantly surprised to see a large cuddly Olaf from Frozen waiting to greet customers outside Build a Bear!

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The Bull Ring was great and I’d love to return to do some serious Christmas shopping as you can buy pretty much anything from the diverse range of shops on offer. If however you prefer strolling up and down the traditional high street rather than staying in one mall then Birmingham City centre can give you that too. There are plenty of well known stores from Primark and H&M to Armani & Lipsy so there’s definitely something for everyone. Both offer lots of restaurants and eateries so you can easily stop to recharge your batteries and take some time out from your shopping!

After a good few hours of exploring we headed back to our hotel (5 min walk away) and got changed and ready for the main event, and the reason for our trip, which was the wonderful Disney on Ice show at the NIA arena. We’d had the show booked since the summer and couldn’t wait to get there and watch it; being immersed in the world of Disney sounded like heaven to us! Anyone that knows me will know that I’m a complete Disney fanatic which is why I was so excited about this trip!

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We had bought some Minnie ears outside the arena for just a fiver from market stall sellers as we knew the official merchandise inside the arena would be super expensive! We did however buy a programme (£9) and there was lots of choice for Disney fans inside we just couldn’t afford to buy anything else!

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The show was incredible with the story telling, famous music and the lighting all making it truly stunning and we thoroughly enjoyed the hour and a half long performance. There was something for everyone; from a Disney Princess showcase to scenes from Aladdin, Pinnocchio, The Incredibles  and of course The Lion King with repeat appearances by Mickey and Minnie throughout.

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There was also an amazing finale with all the characters coming back out to a final performance of The Circle of Life and parading round the rink posing for photos- we were so jealous of people with the rink side seats! It was so magical we didn’t want it to end! Starting at 6.30pm, with a 15 min interval, the show finished around 8.30pm and everyone slowly filtered out of the arena and back to reality – shame!

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We wanted to eat out somewhere for dinner and found lots of lovely restaurants dotted around the pretty canal and bridges near the arena. We did however decide to eat at a brilliant Chinese restaurant at the hotel which was amazing, but if I were to return I’d eat near the canal and go for drinks afterwards on the main strip which was just round the corner.

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Overall we had a fantastic weekend in Birmingham and are already planning our next trip back up there in the Spring time when there’s another Disney show on!

This week I’ll be busy packing for my upcoming holiday to Reykjavik which I am so excited about! I’ll be posting details about this trip when I am home on 7th November, but for now I’ll concentrate on getting everything ready and making sure I don’t go over my allocated baggage limit.. wish me luck!

Love Jess x

100 Things in London – webpage share!

New Webpage Share!!

http://www.lastminute.com/inspiration/100-things-in-london/

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I spotted this article online last week while I was browsing the web and just thought I would share it with you all! Lastminute.com have compiled a list of the top 100 places of interest London and have added lots of fun facts and figures for you to have a look at.

Browse and share and pick your top three like I have:

– Tower Bridge
– Westminster Abbey
– Trafalgar Square

What are yours?! Get in touch, I’d love to hear what makes you love London!

Jess x