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Going abroad and having a European city break is always lovely, last year I went to Brussels around Christmas time and it was one of my favourite ever trips. However you do forget how many amazing cities there are right here in the UK. Yes you have to brave the terrible rail network or a dreaded coach, but they’re a little easier than Heathrow and a 2 hour wait. I think once you graduate from university and you have friends all over the country, you get to travel a little more to visit them. Whilst I’m down South, attempting to live the dream in the capital, most of my university friends are up North living a very different dream. This month, I headed to Nottingham (okay, I know that’s the Midlands) to visit one of them.

I lived in a house of 5 girls at university and we all got on so well, I still miss them and living in that group. Luckily we all make a conscious effort to keep in touch and so far just this year we’ve travelled the length of the country to reunite. This weekend it was the turn of Nottingham as my friend had just made the move from home into her own house with her boyfriend. Usually university reunion weekends consist of an evening out in the city we’re visiting, cocktails and dancing, a hungover brunch and then a cosy night in where we all fall asleep at 8pm. This time we decided to do things a little differently and just skip the night out. I know, we must be getting old! We thought it would be nice just to spend the time really catching up, in my friend’s new home with a bottle of wine and a film. Then we’d explore Nottingham via it’s shops the next day. To me, it sounded like the perfect plan.

I arrived late on Friday evening after a nightmare delayed coach journey and a long week at work. I was already so pleased that we’d settled on a relaxing weekend. When I arrived a glass of wine and a Dominoes pizza was waiting for me, my friends know me well! We switched on Burlesque which none of us had seen and proceeded to discuss anything and everything inevitably talking over it. We’d picked something with Christina Aguleira in it, knowing we’d get the gist of the film without really needing to watch it!

The next day we went to explore Nottingham, I love that this is a by-product of meeting up. I get to explore all the UK cities I’d never usually visit. Although it was the worst weather you could possibly imagine, we braved the downpour and walked into town. Mooching round the shops I began to love Nottingham, the red brick buildings with bunting strewn up, the salsa dancing in the streets and the thinner crowds than I usually experience in most city centres. It was a calmer version of Birmingham, I felt, with all the interesting architecture and sites but none of the intense crowds.

Then it was time to catch the train home, it was only a flying visit but it was brilliant to catch up with old friends and explore a new town at the same time. Next on my list is Edinburgh!

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You might be expecting quite a lot from this post just from reading the title, pause a second. In case you haven’t realised, I’m quite a boring person. Life has always been pretty safe and I play it pretty straight. I’m a bit of a goody two shoes, and I slightly hate it. One thing in particular which I’ve always felt a bit scared of, and been a bit rubbish at, is driving.

My history with driving is pretty chequered, it took me, let’s just say, a few attempts to pass my test (I still blame the other person on the roundabout and that bloody curb). Since then, I’ve been a bit of a nervous driver, I hate the motorway and cyclists with a passion. I avoid it whenever I can, despite having my own car (if you can call a 16 year old tin can a car? I still love my Rory – so named because I used to make him roar whenever I attempted to pull out of a space!)

But when we arrived in Santorini this year and wanted to do everything, see every beach they had to offer and travel the length of the island, we knew we therefore couldn’t rely on 30 euro taxi journeys every five minutes. Instead, we decided we’d have to do what everyone else did, jump on a quad bike. Now quad bikes really scare me. It’s driving but on something that you can fall off without a moment’s notice. I’m the kind of girl who always does her seatbelt up, even when you’re in a coach and it’s not required.

At first, I was completely terrified. My boyfriend had to convince me we would be safe, we had to do the shortest journeys possible and I had to cling on for dear life. I have no idea how that me, became the me one day later which convinced my boyfriend to extend our hire on the quad bike and keep it for the whole 3 days we were in Santorini. No idea.

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But the funny thing about facing your fears is, that often they can disappear pretty quickly. Something you’ve been scared of your whole life can become normal within an hour. You can be convincing your boyfriend to let you have a go at driving and reading a map with no hands holding on from the back.

Exploring Santorini on quad bike was the best decision we made, we got to see so much more and for so much cheaper. I’m so glad that I didn’t let my fears get in the way of that. I’ve been learning a lot recently that sometimes you just have to take a chance and do something terrifying! Good luck!

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Since I was very little, I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. I’ve always been enchanted by the little white buildings and bright blue roofs I’ve seen in photos. With the sun always shining and the sea paradise clear, it’s always been the one place I’ve wanted to go. 

I didn’t go abroad until I was 18, the first time I did I went to Ayia Napa as an end of school party holiday with my friends. I didn’t enjoy it one bit, it was all too much for me. But the one thing I always remember is going to the beach on the day we weren’t all too hungover, it was a lot calmer than I expected. I remember clapping my eyes on the crystal blue sea for the first time. I was so used to seeing the Channel from a Devon beach and couldn’t believe water could be so clear. I couldn’t understand why no one else was as shocked as me to discover paradise just minutes from the dirty and disgusting Ayia Napa strip. But then I realised, sea was pretty much always that clear on the Aegean coast, and all of my friends had seen similar beaches many times before. I knew Greece would also have magical beaches like that one in Cyprus and I’ve always always wanted to go.

For some strange reason, my boyfriend has taken a lot of convincing. We went to Croatia last year because he couldn’t be sold on Greece. But this year I just wasn’t taking no for an answer, it’s the one place in the world I desperately wanted to go to and it’s practically on our doorstep. He relented and we picked the two most magical places in Greece I could possibly think of; Santorini and Mykonos. 

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First off, Santorini. We spent 3 days there and I can honestly say I have never been anywhere that is a touch as beautiful as that island. The views are stupidly stunning, it’s such a cliché thing to say but believe me, the photos don’t do it any kind of justice. We arrived late at night so when I woke up and first saw that view (from our hotel bed, no less – eek!), I was rendered completely speechless. You feel like you’re at one with the sea, genuinely in the middle of the ocean so that, at one point, when driving around on the quad bike we hired, I could only see sea to my left and sea to my right. And it’s the best sort of sea, that royal blue deep colour which doesn’t look less beautiful when you take your sunglasses off.

But it isn’t just the views which the island has to offer, we jam packed our three days there and did so many amazing things. Here are some highlights and suggestions:

  • Hire a quad bike to get around, in 3 days we spent 60 euros and managed to see the entire island.
  • Take a boat trip over to the volcano; we took a shorter three hour round trip and still managed to hike up a volcano and swim in hot spring waters. Two ticks off the bucket list.
  • Go to Oia. The capital Fira’s great and I loved walking down to the beautiful Old Port and catching the cable car up the hillside. But Oia is something else, it was the white building, blue roofs and winding Grecian streets of my dreams. Make sure to get a good spot to watch the sun sink over the water in plenty of time, it gets very busy but that has got to be my very favourite moment of the trip.

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And then Mykonos. Before arriving, we were constantly told by cab drivers and hotel staff that we better relax in Santorini as Mykonos was the ‘party, party’ island. I see what they mean, Mykonos is much more alive than Santorini, people are much more alive there. We weren’t quite as blessed with beautiful weather in Mykonos as we were in Santorini, I guess it was October by the time we got there.

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What I loved most about Mykonos was the ability to just leave the hotel room and find something to explore, you didn’t need to plan something to do that day or think first. You could literally just walk out and you’d have an adventure. I would definitely recommend staying in Mykonos Town if you want to do this, my favourite thing was getting lost in the windy streets and finding a new shop or sight every single day.

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My other highlights and suggestions for Mykonos would be:

  • Head to Little Venice, the windmills and seaside bars are Mykonos’ most iconic parts but they’re also the prettiest and, in my opinion, the best.
  • Get on a bus or a coach, they’re super cheap and take you to all the best beaches in town. My favourite was Platis Gialos, I found my Cyprus-paradise beach again in Greece.

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  • When at the beach, buy lunch or dinner from one of the beachside restaurants and get a sun lounger free for the day. It is so much cheaper than paying for a sun lounger, and there is not much space on the beach if you want to just lay on your towel. We got prime sun loungers, right in front of the sea for the whole day, and only ordered a drink each and a margarita pizza to share. It all came to only around 15 euros.
  • Check out Avra Restaurant in Mykonos Town, with the fairy lights in the trees above you and the best halloumi I have ever tasted, it made for a magical final night of the holiday.

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Greece may not sound the most exotic and probably isn’t what most people say when asked about the country they really want to visit, but for me it was a dream come true. And most importantly, the Greek people were the friendliest people I have ever encountered (perhaps not including the man who approached us at Santorini’s Old Port to invite us to a swingers party, although I guess that could be said to be friendly in some ways…!)

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In case you don’t follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may not know that I have just got back from a beautiful holiday to Cannes. I’m so sad about going back to work tomorrow, so to take my mind off it and make me happy, I’m going to spend this post reminiscing.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved holidays (like everyone I’m sure!) and always wanted to record them. When I was younger this meant writing a diary and I’m so pleased now that I did because I can remember all my childhood holidays through them. Quite often they involve little me just quickly explaining what I did that day and how happy I am. Through my teenage years they become a little cloudy, as I explain my angry row with my parents or my crush on the guy I’ve met at the holiday park. But overall they tell of my happiest times. I never managed to keep diaries full time but on holiday, with all the extra spare time and lots to write about, I always kept the habit up.

As I’ve grown older, I haven’t kept so much to it. However I’ve always ensured to record my holidays through photos. I’m a typical tourist, photographing everything and taking endless selfies. At the time, my holiday companions sigh but they’re always pleased when I have so many photos to look back on. I always loved printing out the photos of my holidays before digital cameras existed and now I sometimes turn them into little books of my holiday so they can always be remembered. This year with my blog and Instgram account, I decided to change this up a little and instead post a photo a day on my instagram.com/100waystohappy account.

Do go over there and check them all out, it makes me so happy looking back through them now and remembering what I was up to each day. I thought I’d also explain my favourite three here. Let me know if you’ve got any other interesting ways to record your holiday and remember all those happy memories? I’m lucky enough to be going away again at the end of September to Mykonos and Santorini so would love to try something else new and different.

Photo 1: Trip to Cannes

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This photo makes me happy because it’s the first ever #ootd I’ve posted on Instagram and it even got liked by the hotel itself! This is exciting because I’m standing outside the famous Carlton Hotel in Cannes which features in Elton John’s I’m Still Standing video. I love it because it’s from day one of my holiday and I’m just taking in a new and exciting city.

Photo 2: Relaxing by the pool

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I think this could possibly be my favourite photo of me ever taken. Not because I look amazing or love my outfit but because it symbolises pure relaxation. I’m tempted to get it blown up to look at whenever I feel stressed. It was candidly taken by my little sister and is of me sitting poolside one evening dangling my legs in the water, reading my book with a big t shirt over my bikini, a bun in my hair and the hugest cup of tea ever. I don’t think I have felt quite as relaxed as in that moment; tea, books and sunsets are probably my three favourite things in the world!

Photo 3: An evening in Grasse

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This is me overlooking the city of Grasse and the whole of the Cote D’Azur from the top of a hill. It was taken one evening and I’m wearing my favourite white lace Topshop dress. It reminds me of such a lovely evening exploring the gorgeous winding streets of Grasse (famous for making perfume, which I may have had a go at – post coming soon). We mooched around the night market but the sun was still bright and the sky completely blue. From my vantage point, I could see Cannes, Nice and far beyond. After this, we went for dinner all together in a cute little French restaurant sitting outside next to an amazing busker singing American jazz classics!