Hidden Gems of Edinburgh, U.K – Guest blog post for earthtoconnie.com

Firstly I just want to thank Connie over at Earthtoconnie for inviting me to be her first guest blogger in her new series – Hidden Gems! In this post, as the title suggests, I’ll let you in on some of my favourite ‘off the beaten path’ spots in Edinburgh.

1. Tani Modi

One word BRUNCH.

I just recently stumbled across this adorable place hidden on Hannover Street! The cafe itself is much bigger than you think and it’s extremely affordable! Order the American style maple syrup and bacon pancake stack as they are the best pancakes I’ve had in Edinburgh!

And no…I did not have an espresso martini for brunch but a fancy looking ice coffee instead!

2. Ting Thai Caravan

Do I need to say anymore…just look at this Thai food! This quirky restaurant is very popular with students as it is located just opposite Edinburgh University. You cannot book this restaurant in advance so if you want to be sure of a table try come in between lunch and dinner! This place is also great if you are on a budget, most dishes are under 10 pounds!

Top tip – bring cash as this restaurant doesn’t have a card machine!!

3. Rabble

I have been living in Edinburgh for almost 4 years now and have also only recently discovered this gem! Just below George Street you will find this beautiful bar that is perfect for date night or chilling with friends.

4. Stockbridge Market (10am-5pm)

Looking for a local experience on your Sunday in Edinburgh? Head to Stockbridge Market for the ultimate street food experience!

5. Fingal

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Fingal, which is a new boutique hotel in Leith that I am loving working on! Most people in Edinburgh do not know yet that non-guests can make a booking to enjoy the unique experience of our Lighthouse Bar. Our bar offers Afternoon Tea, Evening Supper and amazing cocktails!

Want to be one of the first onboard?

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post as much I have enjoyed writing it!

If you would like to read more of Connie’s blog posts, including her Hidden Gem series feel free to head over to her blog at Earthtoconnie.com. Or if you would like to follow her on social media then check out her Twitter here and her Instagram here.

Last Minute London

Last weekend one of my favourite travel buddies (my mum) and I booked a last minute flight down to London! We just flew with Ryanair for £50 each including a bag to share between us. I know….I know you are thinking why did you pay for a bag when you are just away for a few days! But….as RyanAir have changed their luggage policy since last November the days are gone that you can bring along a hand luggage bag for free.

Our flight was early so  we arrived in London (slightly bleary eyed) at 7am. We booked train tickets in advance to get us from Stanstead Airport into the centre of London (Liverpool Street Station). Getting to the station was quick and easy as it is right by the airport.

We were only in London from the Thursday morning to the Saturday night so we made a plan of what we definitely wanted to do! As we had both been to London before this blog post will not contain the main attractions but definitely a few cool suggestions! So keep reading 😉

What To See

1. The V & A Museum

To be honest, I’m not a huge museum/gallery fan but I heard that this one was worth a visit! As it was close by our hotel in Kensington we just walked to the museum. It’s the biggest art and design museum in the world and is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in some culture. My personal favourite was the Asian sculpture section. If you fancy the exhibition that is on remember to book in advance! We really wanted to see the Christian Dior exhibition but by the time we arrived at the museum they were sold out.

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2. See a show!

As this was a last minute trip we did not have a show in mind that we wanted to see….BUT…that’s how you get the CHEAPEST tickets!

Head to the Leicester Square box office and see if there are any shows that sound good! We were lucky enough to find good priced tickets to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- Time, which we wanted to see for a while.

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3. Take a walk in the park

London is full of gorgeous parks! Last July I fell in love with Regent’s Park which you can see in this blog post.

This time we explored Kensington Gardens, found the Peter Pan statue and admired the Prince Albert Memorial.

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I also enjoyed spending time in the beautiful Holland Park and discovered Kyoto Garden!

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4. Covent Garden

No matter how many times I visit London I will always go back to Covent Garden. I love the buzz, the flower arrangements, the shops and of course…. the Instagramable benches!

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Where To Wine and Dine

1.  Lunch at The Aquashard

Okay, lets start with the big one! I booked lunch at the Aquashard (32 floors up) as an early Mother’s Day gift for Mum. She loved it, I loved it and not gonna lie…..my purse quite liked it too!

We had the seasonal 3 course set lunch menu and cocktail which came to £34 each! Honestly, we could not fault it and it’s definitely not an overrated or overhyped venue!

Just take a look at this….

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2. Lola’s Cupcakes

At almost every tube station in London sits a Lola’s Cupcake cart! On the last day we gave into temptation and bought some….#noregrets

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3.  Le Petit Sud

As many of you may have seen from my insta stories we found the CUTEST French restaurant just a few minutes from Kensington Gardens! Le Petit Sud served the freshest French dishes which we ate as we drank our wine and people watched.

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My kind of chandelier….

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If you are looking for a cosy evening venue this place also has a romantic downstairs area!

Top Tips

Okay, I am definitely not a London expert but there are a few things I have picked up during my visits.

  1. Use your contactless card on the bus and tube lines. It only costs £7 per day (you get automatically capped)!
  2. Acknowledge that from whatever airport you fly into there will be a longish journey time into London City
  3. This goes for all big cities, but never leave your bag open or unattended
  4. Bring comfy shoes!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on 2018

That time of the year has come around again and people are reflecting on their best, worst, unexpected and funniest moments of the past year. I can honestly say that 2018 has gifted me a year of adventure, new friends and more ambition than ever before. 

I would be lying if I said my year was perfect and without difficulties… but this year has shown me the importance of being happy and spending time with people who really appreciate you and all that you can offer.

Okay, novel over… below are a list of my top travel experiences, top travel tips and DREAMS for 2019!

3 Top Travel Experiences

1. Krka National Park, Croatia

I LOVED trekking through Krka National Park and discovering all the beautiful waterfalls! I visited in August this year which is their busiest month. To enjoy the national park at it’s best make sure you arrive when the park opens! One of my favourite moments was swimming under the Skradinski buk waterfall.

 Student entry with valid ID is MUCH CHEAPER!!! You can buy a student ticket at the park for 20 Kn / 2,69 € whereas the adult ticket is 80,00 Kn / 10,78 €.

Check out my blog post here

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2. New York City Skyline From The Empire State Building At Night

If this is not on your bucket list yet, it definitely should be! What a magical experience this was. I visited New York City with my family in October this year and used the 5 Day New York Pass. This pass granted us access to all of the city’s main attractions which is great if you are on a time limit!

Check out my blog post here!

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3. Hohenzollern Castle, Germany

The amount of times I have visited Germany this year has been unreal…I’ve kind of fallen in love with parts of the country.

However, out of the all the places I have visited in this country this is my very favourite spot…. you are never too old for fairytales.

There is the most perfect viewpoint of this castle if you drive to Zollersteighof Berghotel where there is a free car park. Then from the car park it’s about a 20 minute walk through the woods to a beautiful viewpoint complete with a carved seat!

Check out my blog post here!

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Top Travel Tips

1. Learn Basic Phrases

I know language learning is not everyone’s favourite thing…but it can really make your experience better if you make the effort to learn a few phrases! As well as making your experience as a traveller easier, the locals tend to really appreciate you taking time to learn some of their language.  Start small…hello”, “goodbye“, “thanks” and “cheers” usually gets you through most situations! Also, I always try learning a few words with the Duolingo app before travelling!

2. Register For A Travel Money Card

I only got one recently and wish I found out about this sooner! This card allows you to load 13 different currencies onto your card and withdraw from ATMs for a smaller transaction charge.  Go and register for one at your local post office! Another benefit is that you can top up your card by using an app on your phone (like mobile banking) wherever you are in the world.

3. Do Your Research

You will have a much better experience travelling if you do a little bit of research before you go! Studying event management does mean that I naturally love whipping up mini itineraries and discovering cool hot-spots (my favourite app to do this is Like A Local). 

Also, if you are travelling to a country that has a very different culture than you, out of respect it is good to familiarise yourself with the do’s and don’t’s! For instance, in 2019 I am hoping to travel to Malaysia and have already worked out that it is rude for a woman to shake the hand of the opposite sex!

Dreams For 2019!

 

1. Find A Graduate Job Abroad

2. Move Out of The UK

2. Learn To Drive….Finally….

3. Travel To Asia

4. Complete A1….maybe A2 in German

As that ties up the end of this blog post I just wanted to thank each and everyone of you who have supported my blog this year! I am always available for advice, recommendations or even just a chat.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and have the BEST NEW YEAR!

 

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Lake Bled

On our long journey back to Germany from Croatia we decided to stopover at Lake Bled and Salzburg. If you have not already read my Croatia Series check out the latest one here!

We enjoyed the beauty of the lake during our short visit and would love to explore the area again in the future. Bled is the perfect place for people who enjoy outdoor activities as there are so many things to do! You can see the lake from various perspectives by trying something new. For example if you like hiking you can visit incredible viewpoints, or if you prefer gliding through the water, hire a stand-up paddle board or boat.

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By the time we arrived in Bled at our Airbnb in was 8pm in the evening and we went straight to the lake for dinner. When I mean straight to the lake it really wasn’t! Google Maps did not seem to like the roads of Bled and we noticed that drivers did not pay much attention to the road signs….

If you would like £25 off your first Airbnb stay use my personal link when booking.

The lake by night was beautiful so we chose to eat in the Grajska Plaza open air restaurant. The restaurant served a variety of food and stocked many Slovenian wines and beers.

The next morning we quit our diets that we never started and enjoyed one of Bled’s most famous specialities. Kremna Rezina can be ordered at pretty much every restaurant on the lake and I can understand why! It is essentially heaven in a cake with it’s custard cream layers.

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Sitting on the balcony at The Park Cafe eating our Kremna Rezina was the perfect way to start our day in Bled.

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Unfortunately we had to leave Bled in the afternoon to continue our adventures! If we had more time we would have loved to take a boat to the island. On the island you can visit the Church of Assumption where it is the local tradition for a husband to carry his new wife up the 99 steps! Also, I didn’t know this information at the time but if you climb the steps you can ring the “Wishing Bell” which will make the couples dreams come true!!

Guess we are going back to Bled…

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My 5 Favourite Travel Apps

I can’t believe we are into July already! Where has the year gone?! Although that means that we are into Summer or the less cold months as we call it in Scotland! In all fairness the weather has been over 20 degrees which is pretty amazing for Scotland….

This blog post is going to focus on the 5 travel apps on my phone that I don’t board the plane without. 

1. Google Maps

I honestly don’t think I would be able to get around if I didn’t have this app downloaded, as I’m terrible at reading maps and have zero sense of direction! Not good traits for a traveller I admit but with this app it doesn’t matter about my lack of skills…

Google Maps is great for estimating the time that it takes from A to B and I particularly love the fact that it can detect where you are (especially in winding alleyway) before you know yourself.

I also use this app while travelling to detect good places to eat and drink if I make an unplanned stop. As the app can detect where you are it also gives you the option to look at restaurants close by.

2. Like A Local

This app is perfect for discovering all the cool spots during your city-breaks!

For those of you who haven’t heard about Like A Local  before it’s an app created for travellers (not tourists) who want to discover some of the best LOCAL hangouts…hence the name. It’s very easy to use and it can detect what location you are in, similar to Google Maps.

Don’t know where to go to have the best night out in Barcelona? Don’t worry, this app has got you covered with multiple party destinations handpicked by locals.

In addition, this app can let you become the expert you are by offering advice about YOUR CITY to other travellers. You can even get PAID for showing someone your favourite places, sound fun?

3. TripAdvisor

Now this is a tricky one…I’m not saying that I use this all the time for restaurant recommendations while travelling as the best places are often stumbled upon by chance.

However, if you don’t want to be wondering the streets for ages on an empty stomach getting grumpy (I can’t be the only one like this) then TripAdvisor is the way to go! It has hundreds of reviews for places all over the world which makes it easy to find somewhere nice to dine.

I also love this app because you can filter down the recommendations according on what cuisine and type of meal you are after.

When booking accommodation now that’s not on Airbnb I always look at the TripAdvisor reviews first. I have almost been caught out before by using Booking.com because obviously they show more of the good reviews!

4. Airline Apps

What an amazing invention airline apps are! I really don’t know why every airline doesn’t have these created. They save time, paper and most of all STRESS. 

In the past I have been super paranoid about losing my boarding passes that I have been the person to take multiple copies…just in case.

Should I put it in the security tray?

Should I keep holding it?

Where is the safe place I stored it?

Download the app for free…..insert your account details…. BAM it’s saved on the most precious item you posses, your smartphone.

5. Uber

This may seem like a strange one to include but it has been my saviour more times I’ll care to admit.

Uber….the black cab killer or your safest and often cheapest way to get back to your accommodation.

When you have had one too many vodka and cokes is it really a good idea to try and work out the London Underground , that has 11 lines and 270 different stations? No, no it’s not the best idea. With this app you can order a car with no cash needed and your location will be automatically detected (which is insanely helpful in an unknown city).

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR BLOG PERFORMANCE

I would like to start this post by thanking you for supporting my blog so far! I have only been blogging regularly for 6 months now but I am proud to say I am now sitting at 118 subscribers, 2K views, 391 Instagram followers, 969 Twitter followers and 2 brand collaborations.

This blog post is all about how I got these results! 

1.  TWITTER 

I can honestly not thank the followers on Twitter enough! They have been a MASSIVE help and I would not be sitting on 2K without them. By bloggers reading my posts, liking and retweeting my content  I have managed to reach a much bigger audience than I ever thought imaginable. I’ve had my blog for over a year now but have only been active on Twitter since March and I have had 1,500 more views since then. That may not seem like much to people sitting on 10,000 views but trust me from going from on average 25 views a month to 500 really is something!

In addition, Blogger Trains are GOLD! They are a great way to get more readers as well as gain inspiration from other bloggers. You never know what you might find……or who might find you.Untitled design (24)

2. HOOTSUITE

Okay , this one is still Twitter related… but it’ll become your blogging best friend!

This is an app on your phone that is designed to make your life as a blogger or social media influencer EASIER.

FORGET the days where you come home from work and are disappointed about how neglected your site has been. Download the app….spend a few minutes with a cup of coffee scheduling your tweets for the next day (even the next week) and the engagement will come rolling in without you even lifting a finger.

I usually try to schedule around 5 tweets a day. Don’t worry about it being new content! No one could do that!! Just pick a few different blog posts each day, maybe even ask a question so you will get more interaction and feedback from your viewers.

 

3. FELLOW BLOGGERS

I have only been part of the blogging community for a short time, however I’ve found out that it’s full of THE MOST supportive people. As soon as I started putting my content on other social media platforms I managed to gain a great group of “blogger friends” who are always sharing and feed-backing on my blog posts.

In addition, I have joined various blogger groups such as Blogger Support created by Ellie Louise and Intrepid Entrepreneurs Community , created by the worldwide travellers, Hannah and Nate and UK Influencer Opportunities. These are the first places I go to for blogging related advice and to hear about oaid blogging opportunities.

Another reason why I RATE the Blogging Community is that you are often asked to feature as a “Guest Blogger”. This is when another blogger asks their favourite bloggers or people who fit their niche to write a post on their blog. This is an excellent way reach more people and gain a larger following!

As well as increasing your blog views you can also gain so much from other bloggers. I get lots of inspiration from reading these amazing blogs!

http://savingjoyfully.com/

http://svitforyou.com/

http://ellelouise.co.uk/

https://offtotheworld.com/

 

4. CANVA

 

Who doesn’t like a blog with pretty pictures right?! Well… lets top that and make pretty smartphone pictures look professional.

Canva is one of my favourite apps! I use it for my Instagram, blog images, Pinterest and Facebook cover-art.  It is completely free to use and has a million ways to enhance your your own images. Spend a few hours playing about with all the features and you’ll get the hang of it in no time!Untitled design (25)

5. AWIN

 

I’m not saying this is the way to make your millions…but it’s somewhere to start!

Awin as a website designed to promote and partner companies that offer affiliate programmes with bloggers. This website only has a £5 joining fee and can link you to thousands of companies around the world. The cliched phrase that comes to mind is “the world is your oyster”….but it really is!

At the moment I have joined the affiliate programmes offered by TripAdvisor, Trivago and Booking.com.

One of the best things about this site is that it works both ways! As well as bloggers taking the initiative to ask to partner with companies, companies can also find and offer programmes to bloggers! Give it a go at https://www.awin.com/gb

As I said at the start of this post, I am still a newbie! Thank you for your support so far, I can’t wait to learn new ways to improve my blog…who knows….maybe there will be a Part 2 to this post!