fullsizerender

November was a month of dashing to and from a million English cities every weekend. I went from Brighton to Birmingham and finally to York to cross pretty much the whole country. I loved it, but I must admit I also loved not having to get on a train this weekend. Sunday was my first day not using public transport in an entire month, that’s just crazy. 

Anyway back to York, my little brother is at uni up there so we went to visit him and to explore the city just in time for Christmas to have hit.

Where we stayed…

We stayed at the amazing Hotel Indigo for one night, and although it was pricey it was also probably the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in in the UK. Big claim. But it was beautiful and quirky and just so English. I went around taking photos just so I could remember to design my future house exactly like the room. And the minibar equipped with chocolate and biscuits was free, what a way to win me over!

What we ate…

To be completely honest I didn’t love a lot of the places we ate in. We went off recommendations from people we don’t know that well and I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. But I would recommend Il Paradiso Del Cibo where we had dinner. It’s a tiny restaurant just down from our hotel and, although we found the service a bit strange – we weren’t quite sure if the waiter was joking or really did hate us for creating our own pizza and not picking one off the menu – the food was delicious. 

What we did…

fullsizerender3

fullsizerender2

img_6996

This is where I fell in love with York. There was so much to do and I honestly think we crammed as much as was physically possible into our two days. We went to the cute Christmas markets and drunk mulled wine. They’re not quite as good as Birmingham’s I have to say (or maybe I’m biased) but they are cute and really got me into the festive spirit. We went to The Shambles which JK Rowling apparently based Diagon Alley on. This was my favourite, it reminded me of Bath with the tall leaning old buildings, thin streets and fairy lights. I would definitely not have been surprised if I stumbled across a shop selling wands. We went to York Minster – top tip: you can see loads without paying the £10 entrance fee so wander inside even if you don’t want to cough up. We shopped. We toured York university. We ate got chocolate in York’s Chocolate Story – definitely worth a visit. We saw the castle all lit up. The only thing we’ve saved for our next visit is walking the castle walls. According to my iPhone I did walk 18,000 steps that day though, so I think doing that this time round might have been a step too far! 

In the evening we did something a little different and tried out an Escape Room. I would really recommend it, it puts your brain to the test but it was so much fun and I honestly think everyone would enjoy it. And we made it out with 5 minutes to spare! 

I loved every minute of my trip to York, which city do you think I need to visit next? 

Capri

If you haven’t read about the first half of my Italian adventure, check out the post here. I’m so glad you’ve all been enjoying it and I hope it’s inspired you to check out Skyscanner for cheap flights to Naples, because it really is one of the most magical places in the whole world. After two beach-packed days on Friday and Saturday, Sunday and Monday were times to explore a bit more and were properly jam-packed, so without further ado, have a little read of the rest of my travel diary…

Sunday: 

12345

We woke up to grey clouds for the first time since we’d arrived, and after checking the forecast we decided it was definitely not a day for the beach. Instead we went for a lovely lunch on the harbour, complete with Aperol Spritz. Looking out over the sea, with Vesuvius smiling down at us, we decided today was the day to visit Pompeii. I don’t think a trip to this part of Italy is complete without a visit to Pompeii, it’s such a historically important site.

We got the train from Sorrento station, which was very reasonably priced and only took around half hour. Pompeii entry was only €11 too, as we were under 25. I’m not a history geek but it truly was a moving and very surreal experience walking round Pompeii. I had no idea how preserved the city would be and it felt so strange to wander the streets and the houses that would have been such a vibrant centre 2000 years ago. 2000 years is just incomprehensible really. But it’s so easy to think of people from that long ago as aliens. Wandering round the streets of Pompeii, I realised they were just like you and me.You see the mosaics and art work in their houses, visit the buildings of the rich with fountains and gardens and survey the amphitheatres too. All in the shadow of Vesuvius, which you can see whenever you turn. It’s quite haunting really.

Monday: 

Capri 1Capri 3Capri 2Capri 5Capri 4Capri 6

The sun returned, so today we decided to rent a boat and sail to the amazing island of Capri. I would 100% recommend a visit, I absolutely loved the island. But I wouldn’t recommend sailing your own boat. The waves were enormous and whilst I expected to spend the whole journey across the sea reclined like I am in the photo above, I could only relax when the boat was still. Everyone said the sea is calm but the waves we experienced were metres high and threw our little RIB boat all over the place. It was truly terrifying! I have no photos of the waves because we were honestly too scared to get our phones out. And we desperately wanted to visit the famous Blue Cave but we couldn’t because the waves were too big and it was closed. I think we were probably unlucky, but just a warning because I never get seasick or scared on boats and I really did this time!

Once we finally got to Capri and our legs had stopped shaking, we parked the boat in the harbour thanks to a lovely man – who told us it was free but he expected a tip! We had lunch by the harbour – I’d got quite used to having two pasta dishes a day by this point – and then had an explore and a lie down on the beach. Capri is pretty tiny but so quintessentially Italian. When the sun was out, I even felt like I could have been on an island in the Caribbean, everyone was so chilled and relaxed in the sunshine. We were slightly dreading heading back as the waves had got even bigger, so we called the boat office we had rented from and they said someone would follow us home. It was pretty treacherous and we spent most of the time sitting on the floor of the boat hanging on for dear life! Not quite the glamorous boat trip we were expecting…

Home

That pretty much brought my trip to Sorrento to a close, and I had well and truly fallen in love with the coast, waves included! There was so much to explore, every town and island was beautiful and offered something new. I really need to go back soon and find more. But it also offers a relaxed, sunbathing holiday for some and an adventurous one for others, I love a mix so it really was the perfect place for me.

IMG_3979

In a weird way I’ve been putting off writing this post. Not because I didn’t have the best holiday ever or because I didn’t take some gorgeous photos. But I think mainly because I knew I’d miss it so much the moment I poured back over it. If you’re considering visiting Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast, I can’t get any further without saying do it. Go. Book it now. It equals only magical Santorini in beauty and I had the best 5 days there with my boyfriend and two of my best mates.

IMG_3816

IMG_3819

To be completely honest, words are hardly needed with photos like the above. I’m not even a great photographer but no one could fail to take amazing pictures of Sorrento. I’m going to give you a little bit of a travel diary, in case any of you are inspired to take a trip and need some recommendations. But because this post is such an essay I’ve decided to split the break into two – come back next Sunday to find out all about Pompeii and Capri.

Friday:

IMG_3826IMG_3796

IMG_3827IMG_4039IMG_3897

After waking up super early in the morning, we arrived in Sorrento about 11am and checked in to our hotel. We stayed at Sea Room and I would definitely recommend it, it’s a simple but pretty B&B and so close to everything you might want to do. After the early start, Friday called for food and chill. So we found our first perfect small Italian restaurant, and the waiter was so friendly. He gave us endless recommendations for the rest of our holiday (we seriously thought he might have been working on commission, he was so keen to advise!) and the food was yummy. We loved it so much we went back on Saturday night, ordered three times as much food and drunk mojitos whilst sat in front of the England Euro group match! The rest of Friday involved making our way down the hill to the beach for a mega snooze, swim in the sea and holiday unwinding. We lost track of time and ended up being the last ones left on the beach!

Saturday:

IMG_3909IMG_3994IMG_4001IMG_4007IMG_4010

Waking up we felt refreshed and ready to explore. We begun the morning with a wander around the orange and lemon grove opposite our hotel, trying the first of many limoncello shots. I’ve been to Lake Garda before and honestly didn’t think I’d find a place in Italy more lemon-obsessed, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Absolutely everything in Sorrento is lemon themed, so embrace it and drink as much limoncello as possible! After that we headed to Positano, everyone had recommended it so I was ridiculously excited.

The trip didn’t get off to the best start as we realised we’d have to sit on the floor of the bus surrounded by old people’s feet to get there! From Sorrento’s main station you can get pretty much anywhere really easily and it’s a lot cheaper than a taxi – which we found can really rip you off. After some very winding roads and some serious travel sickness, we were so grateful when we could finally see Positano emerging on the hills. It truly is the most stunning place I have ever been, the photos are beautiful but they are nothing compared to seeing it through your own eyes. The pastel coloured houses cling to the cliff, looking ready to crumble into the sea. And then when your head turns right, the  sea opens up into a wide expanse as far as the eye can see. It’s a magical sight and one I’m already desperate to see again.

FullSizeRenderIMG_4116

I’ve never been so distracted by a landscape, as I wandered down the cliff through the winding streets of Positano. The little shops sell lemon-themed gifts and bright fuchsia pink plants cling to the walls and even form a ceiling overhead. After having a wander, we finally made it to the bottom and to the beach. It’s definitely worth paying for a sunbed on the Amalfi coast, the beaches are busy and this makes sure you get your own space. And it’s not too expensive either – just make sure to haggle. We ate lemon sorbet, drank iced coffees, snoozed, got lost in books and even had a swim in the sea. As a girl used to spending summers swimming in the Devon channel, the sea was refreshingly warm and easy to bathe in. When you’re in the water you get a fresh view of the beautiful cliff, I just floated in awe of the coast line. It was the first time I’d really longed to have a waterproof camera so I could capture that view from in the sea. Later that evening we finally dragged ourselves away from the beach and back up the hill to make the last bus back to Sorrento.

I honestly couldn’t believe this holiday could get any better… But it really did. Make sure to come back for part two next Sunday!

IMG_3497

You might have seen this post about my weekend break in Copenhagen, and as it says/shows I had an amazing time. It was a truly beautiful city and I fell in love with it in a way I was never expecting. In fact, I had a much better time than I thought I would have. But as the title of this post gives away, it was not all as perfect as it seems.

There’s always been a lot of debate as to how social media portrays things. Perfect Instagram grids show a perfect blogger life with stunning holidays, expensive clothes and happy smiles. But I’m all about keeping things real. Even though this blog is about leading a happy life, I always strive to be honest about how I get there and about how it isn’t always an easy path. So after posting the blog about my amazing weekend in Copenhagen, I wanted also to talk about the travel anxiety that went on with it and behind it.

I don’t really know what the usual with travel anxiety is, but for me it all starts with the packing. I struggle massively with the actual act of packing. I haven’t exactly pinpointed why I find it so hard but I think it’s to do with the limiting of possibilities, packing only a certain amount so I don’t have endless options and also taking the control away from myself, if I don’t have my entire wardrobe then I can’t always have exactly what I might want or need. That makes it sound superficial, obviously it’s not all about the clothes. It’s about not having those home comforts and also not being able to get to them. But packing is also the moment that going away really hits me, I can book the flights and hotel, plan what I’m going to see and do, but it’s not real until I start packing things up.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited for trips and holidays. And certain ones are much easier than others – if I stay in the UK for example – because I know I can easily get home. Or if I’m with my boyfriend or family because I know I can be completely honest about what I’m feeling – and also they’re a home comfort of sorts. But taking this trip to Copenhagen with six of my very best friends was much harder.

I also struggle with insomnia, I’m not sure if I’ve written about this before. But to cut a huge story short, it began in my early teens, goes in stages and has cleared up mostly since I started working full time nearly two years ago. But when I say insomnia, I mean staying awake the entire night, I mean not an hour’s sleep. And it always comes back, like an old friend to greet me, when I’m not in my own bed. So the fear and the anxiety also stemmed from this. From the worry that I wouldn’t be able to sleep, that I’d be alone awake in an unfamiliar flat in an unfamiliar city.

I did experience insomina on this trip, I didn’t sleep at all two out of the three nights, and one night I spent throwing up – partly due to exhaustion. But it really didn’t ruin my trip. I think coping with travel anxiety is all about accepting that you’re going to face it and preparing yourself the best for it. I packed way in advance and gave myself a lot of time so I wouldn’t panic about having to rush. I packed a little insomnia survival kit – my pillow spray, Clippers Sleep Easy tea, my Kindle, and I downloaded rain sounds on to my iPhone.

Then when I experienced the anxiety abroad, I made sure to tell my best friend about it. I explained to her what I was feeling and why, and she was a bit of a life support – looking out for me at all times and even waking up with me in the night. Every morning when I got up after having no sleep, I took some time in the shower to remind myself that being tired is really only a mental state and if I didn’t think about the lack of sleep I’d had then it really wouldn’t affect me in the same way. We were going out and partying anyway so everyone was a certain degree of tiredness. Yes I was exhausted at times, but when you’re surrounded by people it’s very easy to forget that.

I would say the key to coping with travel anxiety is to be prepared (take some home comforts with you), frame it in a positive way and try to gee yourself up into excitement (though I know this is easier said than done), and make sure to confide in someone.

Good luck if you’re facing this soon, and have a brilliant trip.

IMG_3477

I’m really enjoying that my little ‘A Weekend in’ posts are getting a lot of use at the moment. And this time next week I will be adding Sorrento in Italy to the list, as I [hopefully] am eating gelato on the beach there. But back to Copenhagen first, one of my favourite cities I’ve ever visited, and really unexpected. When I first booked to visit the Danish capital with six of my best school friends, I had heard it was very pretty but wasn’t sure what I would discover. What I found was a really modern, laid back city with amazing architecture and lots of interesting history.

Of course it helped that we had the most amazing weather all weekend. Considering Copenhagen is in line with Scotland, I certainly didn’t expect that. But we were in shorts all the May bank holiday and every city looks more beautiful bathed in sunshine. After a ridiculously delayed flight we arrived in the airport at 2am on Saturday morning. I was immediately impressed by how modern and pretty the airport was – I think that’s always a good sign. We stayed in my very first Air BnB and it was a pretty brilliant experience, one I would recommend and absolutely do again. We had a penthouse apartment for much cheaper than we could ever have got a hotel, not too far from the centre. The owner had made up all the extra beds we needed and even left us a bottle of wine and some beers!

IMG_3383

IMG_3424

On Saturday we walked into the centre of Copenhagen, stopping on the way for an all you can eat brunch buffet. Throughout the weekend I found the city to be brilliant for veggies, always having plenty of options on the menu. We were quite a difficult group with two veggies, a gluten free and someone avoiding carbs – but actually we didn’t have too much trouble. We spent our first day on a train tour round the city, finding the food market, the canal and indulging in ice cream – something that would become a bit of a theme of the weekend. Then we headed over to Tivoli, one of the top attractions. It’s a bit like a theme park in the centre of the city, with gardens, restaurants and a stage area. We had heard that there were free concerts inside every Saturday of the summer and were excited to find out what we might be able to see. Imagine our disappointment when we discovered the date we were there was the date of the Champion’s League Final – and that was what was to be shown on the stage that evening. So after having an explore, we escaped and sat outside a gorgeous little restaurant wrapped in blankets with mojitos as the sun went down. Our amazing waiter turned singer in the middle of the evening and serenaded us, it was really a perfect evening. And it all ended watching the Tivoli fireworks and light show which were stunning.

We kicked off Sunday with breakfast on our balcony in the sunshine. We’d quickly discovered that, as expected with any Scandinavian city, Copenhagen was rather expensive. Not Geneva expensive, I have to add, but London expensive. So we bought pastries, juice, yoghurt and fruit and made our own. It turned out to be one of the lovliest experiences of the trip, sometimes it’s just nice doing things for yourself.

IMG_3432IMG_3500

I’d heard that the water was the best way to see Copenhagen so we took to the canals for a boat tour. It was a highlight, and something I’d definitely recommend. We even got to peak at the famous mermaid, although as I’d been told she is quite small and a little disappointing. And becoming a theme of the trip, our boat host turned singer and sang us a little song as we got off. We then went to find the famous coloured houses and were not disappointed. Although the street they sat on is particularly expensive, and a Carlsberg advert slightly spoilt them, I loved it. We ate some more ice cream and continued exploring, visiting the Christiansborg Palace where the Danish royal family live, and having a scary encounter with a Danish beefeater who dropped his gun as we posed with him – leading my friend to think one of us had been shot!

FullSizeRender (3)

After dinner outside again – when we experienced the first, and only, rain of the holiday and thanked our lucky stars for the city’s tendency to put blankets out – we spent the evening with a Danish Olly Murs lookalike in one of the only bars open on Sunday night. The cocktails were amazing, but we found that Copenhagen was a bit too cool to have many dance floors!

Our last day was Monday, and we spent most of it exploring Christianshavn. We discovered an amazing Street Food Market which I would 100% recommend, there were so many options inside – again lots of veggie options – and it was all so cool. There was lots of space outside too to sit in the sunshine on the riverside, with deckchairs, couches and all sorts.

IMG_3551IMG_3582

IMG_3574IMG_3583

Finally we climbed the Church of Our Saviour tower, and it was one of the most unexpectedly hair-raising experiences. Inside it’s wooden and full of bells. But once you get outside, it’s only for adrenaline junkies. The wind really picked up and we were told to put everything away in bags, we were clinging to hand rails as we got higher and higher with amazing views of the city. The stairs get thinner and thinner and come to a final amazing point, but we raced down worrying a sudden gust might blow us over the edge!

It was a brilliant way to end an amazing trip. I fell in love with the city in a way I never imagined, and could even see myself living there one day. The Danish were so laid back and positive, perhaps because of the sunshine but I like to think they always are that way. And it was so quick and easy to get there. If you’re looking for a city weekend break, definitely consider Copenhagen.