Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Gotham Hotel NYC

the gotham hotel new york nyc review

Having wanted to visit New York since I was little, I really researched hotels when I finally made the trip to the big apple. Although I wasn't planning on spending a huge amount of time in the hotel, I wanted a great location so I wouldn't have to rely on taxis and a bit of comfort so I could relax when I wanted. 

Eventually, I settled on The Gotham Hotel, a small family-owned boutique hotel in Midtown. I quite liked the idea of opting for a boutique hotel opposed to a chain, thinking I'd get great service due to its size. Little did I know, I'd be left regretting that decision.

The Location

Whilst planning my trip to NYC, I quickly learned that location is everything. Despite being a relatively small island and easy to navigate, Manhattan traffic is horrendous. This leaves you with three options; walk, taxi or subway. Although I didn't mind hailing the odd cab, I wanted to explore the city and make the most of the time I had there, and the best way to do that is by foot. To make matters a bit tricky, I didn't want to be right in the middle of Times Square but also wanted things around the hotel so I didn't have to trek if I fancied a snack. 

The Gotham's location couldn't be better. Nestled away on East 46th Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue, you are literally a stone's throw away from all the amazing shops that go hand in hand with these streets. Walk in a straight line and you're 8 minutes away from the heart of Times Square. What attracted me the most to the hotel was that it was just off the iconic stretches meaning you could escape the hustle and bustle for an hour or two, but close enough to nip out at the drop of a hat. Close to the Rockefeller Center,  St. Patricks Cathedral, and Grand Central Terminal, the hotel makes the perfect base for both shopping and sightseeing. It was literally perfect. 

The Room

the gotham hotel new york nyc review

the gotham hotel new york nyc review
the gotham hotel new york nyc review
the gotham hotel new york nyc review

Originally home to The Gotham Book Mart, the Gotham Hotel is set in a super skinny (by NYC hotel standards) building and boasts 67 rooms, all featuring private balconies or terraces. Claiming to be "bold and contemporary, yet luxurious", it ticked all the boxes for my desire to have a bit of relaxation in between the hustle and bustle of exploring the city. 

My room was a Superior King with Terrace which included free Wi-Fi, an en-suite bathroom with rainfall showerhead, climate control and a terrace area with two chairs and table. Whilst the room was comfy and clean, it wasn't anything special; I could have been in any hotel room in New York within this price range. I really liked that books were used to decorate the hotel rooms, giving a nod to the hotel's historic past, and I would have liked more emphasis to this to make it unique. The bathroom, on the other hand, was very luxurious with an amazing rainfall shower that I didn't want to step out of. Combined with the Molton Brown toiletries, I was pretty darn content. One thing I did find weird though was that, although used towels were taken each day, they weren't replaced with fresh ones. Maybe that was a one off oversight, but it did make it awkward on the last day when I was left with a little hand towel having not realized I didn't have any big towels. 

Towards the back of the building on the 15th floor, I didn't have much of a view. Although this didn't bother me too much as I wasn't planning on sticking around the hotel much, it could be a bit of disappointment to those drawn to the idea of having a terrace. Saying this, there was a construction site to the front of the building and being at the back meant I didn't hear any noise from the street below so silver linings. 

The Customer Service

As I said, I was quite excited to stay in a small, family-operated hotel because I assumed the service would be amazing, I mean, with just 67 rooms, there's no excuse really is there? Sadly, this is the point that really let me down, to the extent I was I tears my final day in the city thankful I was coming home. 

Let's start from the beginning. Check-in was super slow. Despite having a print-out of my booking (which was done directly with the hotel on their own website), the reception staff couldn't locate my reservation for about 15 minutes, leaving me feeling a bit stressed. A small thing that I could easily overlook if the rest of the service was good; but it wasn't.

Throughout my stay the desk staff were always super cheerful and asked how I was etc. and I really enjoyed this friendly and attentive service. This is what I have expected when I booked and I was beginning to think I had found the perfect hotel in New York. Then disaster struck. 

On my final night in New York, I headed out to watch the sunset from the Top of the Rock. Having returned to my room for an hour or two to relax, I noted that housekeeping hadn't been in my room yet. Like most tourists, I had picked up a few souvenirs from NYC, and when unpacking put all my souvenirs from my entire trip around USA and Canada in a bag from the Disney Store so I could then re-pack my suitcase when I got back to the hotel. I left the bag next to the desk in my room, away from the bin, and headed out to watch the sunset. 

The bag had gone when I got back to my room 2 hours later and housekeeping had been in my room. Initially, I thought I might have misplaced it somewhere, but after taking everything out of my suitcase, the bag and items inside it were nowhere to be found. I decided to call the desk downstairs and explain the situation, to which they said they would discuss it with housekeeping, look around and give me a call back in an hour. After waiting 2 1/2 hours I'd yet to receive a response so went down to the desk. It was at this point I was told my items could not be located. When I explained that I was checking out the next morning and needed a resolution ASAP I was told to discuss the matter further with the manager first thing in the morning at 10 am. When asked if I would have a resolution then, I was given the answer "hopefully". Unimpressed and with little confidence with the lack of communication I returned to my room. 

The next morning I waited until 10.30am (to give the manager time to get in) and then headed downstairs to speak to them and to check out. Turns out the manager wasn't due in until 11 am which annoyed me even more because it was just adding to the poor communication. About 30 minutes later I discussed the issue with the manager. Stating that this was out of his control, he then went to find the housekeeping manager. By the point I was getting more and more annoyed; I just wanted a resolution and someone to tell me what was happening. More waiting, more wasting my time. I was finally told that they would have to follow a procedure and that I should have a response by the time my pre-arranged taxi came to take me to the airport this afternoon. Having no other choice, I had to store my suitcase at the hotel for a couple of hours. Frustrated by the situation, I semi-sarcastically asked the desk staff if they could guarantee I'd have luggage to come back to. She laughed. I wasn't impressed. 

Tearfully, I headed off for my last couple of hours in New York. See here's the thing, I was a young female on my own in a very big city, and very aware that I had limited amount of time to get this situation sorted. I felt overwhelmed, upset, frustrated, annoyed and a whole host of other emotions and a lot of this could have been eased, if not completely avoided, by communicating and dealing with the problem efficiently. I became increasingly aware that I had effectively had things taken from my room. Out of all my solo adventures, this was the first potential crime I had experienced, and, whilst I feel lucky in that I have been so safe in my travels, it was unnerving all the same. Whilst the items taken were only 'things', they were memories of a trip that I had spent over a year carefully planning. It wasn't a great way to end what was the best trip I have ever been on. 

Thankfully, I actually forget to put some of my souvenirs from my travels around Northeastern USA and Canada in the bag and still had a few mementos left. With literally a couple of hours left in New York and no resolution provided by the hotel yet, I ran around all of the main shops trying to repurchase things; some items I managed to get, others from other states and countries I had no chance. After making last-minute purchases and trying to relax around Central Park I felt slightly better about my situation and decided to head back a little early to see if a resolution could be agreed on. 

Again, I asked for the managers again and waited in reception. It was explained to me that they had checked the electronic log for my room and that had confirmed the time frames I had said, and that the only other person who entered my room was housekeeping. I was also told that housekeeping had seen the bag in my room when they entered my room. On that basis, I was asked for receipts. Of course, my receipts were in the bag, with my purchases. I had paid in cash and couldn't remember all items in it because as I had explained, items had been collected throughout my trip. Getting anxious again I was offered a small refund, to which I said I was not satisfied with, especially how I had been treated with. Eventually, I agreed on a slightly higher figure on the basis I had no other choice and was very aware that I was leaving in 30 minutes. 

It was this point that I explained that being a travel blogger, I've stayed in a lot of hotels but never experienced such lack of service. The manager then said that they had seen social media posts made by me stating the situation and said they had seen a post in which I said the staff had laughed at me, They said they didn't know why I would say something like this. Feeling more upset and annoyed than ever before at the hint I was lying, I explained that I had said this as it had happened to me. I also said that the delay in dealing with the issue had upset me. The response? The hotel doesn't always have a manager on site, or even someone able to act as an acting manager, and that this was the first problem of this type it had experienced. Now, I know it's a small hotel, but given that it's in New York (a 24-hour city), it wouldn't have been outrageous for someone to think there would always be a senior member of staff on duty. Stores often have a deputy managers that can make decisions in the absence of a manager so the customer still has a good quality of service. I mean, what happens if there's an emergency? And with that, the issue was left there.

Whilst waiting for my taxi, another guest was also complaining, the subject of which I don't know. What I do know is that he said he had complained numerous times and had experienced a lack of communication or resolution. The guest was extremely agitated, and giving a quick look over to me, quickly moved the guest into a private room to discuss it further. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but part of me thinks that knowing I was a travel blogging writing a review, and that review wouldn't be glowing, the manager didn't want to add fuel to the fire. Interesting to see I wasn't the only dissatisfied guest though. 

After everything, I left wishing I had just booked into a chain, at least then I would have known what I was getting myself in for. 

So now you've heard my hotel horror story, I want to know what's the worst thing you've experienced in hotels. Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Anastasia || The New Broadway Musical Reviewed

Anastasia Broadway Musical
Anastasia Broadway Musical

Out of all the films I saw as a child, I can remember seeing Anastasia the most vividly. I remember being sat in the cinema, fascinated by the Russian grandeur and terrified by Rasputin. I even had a toy of the bat, Bartok and an Anastasia doll. As soon as it was released on VHS (this was the 90's), I got it, and rewatched that film over and over again. 

Flash forward to the present, and my obsession hasn't really changed. I actually think studying Russian History as part of my GCSE History course made me fall in love with it even more. Being a bit of a theatre geek, I knew I wanted to see a Broadway show when I was in New York. As soon as I knew the dates I began looking to see what was on. There were so many shows I wanted to see, but I wanted something I wouldn't be able to see back in the UK, so really needed a new release. As if by fate, Anastasia had just opened for its preview at Broadhurst the week before. The only hitch was ticket prices. So what happened next? Well if you haven't read my Christmas Haul 2016 post, I'll fill you in. Sneakily, my parents booked my ticket to see Anastasia in the most amazing seats as a Christmas present. To say I was grateful and excited was an understatement. 

It's now been about a month since I watched Anastasia and about time I shared what I thought. In a bid to not spoil the entire thing, I'm going to leave you with four main points, and hopefully a few tips for any of you planning on going too! 

Queue Drama

So this isn't about the show but I thought it was worth throwing it in. Like usual, I turned up about 30 minutes early before the start time so I could get a drink, get my seat and take everything in. What I didn't know was that doors don't open that early on Broadway and was faced with a huge queue full of others with tickets. Once doors open the queue moved super quick, but, personally, I'd aim for 10-15 minutes early to avoid having to stand too long in line. Oh, and make sure you're in the right queue? You see, there are two shows on right next to each other; Anastasia and Hello Dolly. I must admit, it was pretty hard to tell which queue was for which show, so double check before you grab your spot (the outer one was for Anastasia when I went).

The Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway

The theatre itself is so beautiful and the perfect setting for Anastasia, but there are few points I want to mention if you plan on visiting. First, it's an old theatre and pretty small. I sat in the circle (upstairs) and obviously had stairs to climb which were pretty steep. Nothing unexpected, but I will point out that if you have longish legs get an aisle seat or the front row in the circle. I don't know what downstairs was like, but my legs were seriously squashed and I'm about 5ft6. In the intermission, the narrow passages to the toilets and refreshment stands get ridiculously busy; so busy I turned back. My advice would be to get everything you need at the start and stay put. Oh, and if you're upstairs like me, skip the shop and refreshments downstairs and head upstairs. not only were they quieter, but you didn't have to balance things up the stairs. Winner. 

The Cast are Incredible

Let's get down to the musical. Now, I have to admit, I didn't recognise any of the cast members from the name alone, but don't let that put you off. I honestly think Christy Altomare who played Anya/Anastasia is going to be a star and name theatre lovers should remember. She was absolutely stunning and her vocals are insane. "Once Upon a December" and "Journey to the Past" seriously gave me chills. As soon as the soundtrack becomes available I'm getting it just for those songs. If you need more convincing, have a watch of these videos of Journey to the Past and Once Upon a December. But she's not even the only one who's incredible! Derek Klena is the perfect male lead and John Bolton had me giggling as Vlad. Seriously, if you usually go for shows with big names, give this a shot and see stars of the future.

The Best Adaptation of a Film I've Ever Seen

Fellow 90's kid's will be happy to know the musical is based on the 1997 animated Anastasia film. It follows the legend of the Romanov family, their murder, and the rumored surviving Princess. Having suffered amnesia, the musical follows Anastasia's, or Anya as she's now known, journey to proving she is, in fact, the surviving Princess. However, like most adaptions, there are a few changes. Rasputin isn't featured at all, and in a way, I'm glad because I think it would have pulled attention away from the main storyline. Similarly, a lot of the songs from the film aren't in the musical, but the new ones are equally incredible. One thing I really want to praise is the staging because quiet frankly it's amazing. Somehow, they manage to create ghosts, palaces, trains and everything in between seamlessly beautiful. Speaking of ghosts, that was my favorite bit (it's in the video of Once Upon A December if you need to see) and really did give you chills. I love how they added so much humor, mainly through Vlad, to what could have been a bit dark. It was just perfect and I really couldn't fault it. If Christy Altomare is going to be a star of the future, I think Anastasia will be a Broadway classic of the future. 

Oh, and FYI, Broadhurst Theatre is literally round the corner from Junior's who make the best cheesecake I have ever tasted. Do yourself a favor and pop over whilst you're down that end!

If you can't tell, I fell in love with Anastasia the musical. It lived up to everything I hoped it would be and was truly breathtaking. A complete must see if you're ever in New York and get the opportunity. 

What musical do you think is a must-see? I'd love to hear your recommendations!
xoxo
J
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Thursday, 11 May 2017

5 Tips For Dealing with Jet Lag

how to get rid of jet lag tips

If you look at my Google search history "how to get rid of jet lag" will appear quite frequently. It seems like every time I hop on a plane and jump a few time zones, I'm a victim to this great traveler's curse. I always hope that I have randomly become immune to it, but sadly it's never the case and I'm usually in a fit of tired tears by the second night home. Despite my lack of time-zone adaptiveness, I have got my post-travelling jet lag routine down to a fine art, and seeing as I'm recently back from a long-haul trip, I thought it would be a good time to share.

1. Forward plan

If you learn one thing from this post, learn this. If I could get away with writing a 1 tip advice post, I'd be content that planning will solve a lot of your problems. In life. In jet lag. Both are the same as far as organisation is concerned. 9 times out of 10, you will know in advance you are traveling, yeah? Do yourself a favour and take the time zone into account whilst you plan a couple of days either side of your flight. Adjust your body clock to your destination a couple of days before you fly.  As soon as I get on to a plane, I set my watch for the destination time. The sooner you get into their rhythm, the quicker you will adjust. Whilst West to East is the worst, and I mean the worst, giving yourself a day to recover is never a bad choice whatever direction you're headed. I always avoid giving myself anything important to do for the first couple of days after I land too and definitely avoid making plans for the early morning/evening because, no. What is most important though is that you remember to prepare for both ends of your journey. I think we usually forget traveling is, usually, a two-part journey and both sections are going to affect your body clock. Sounds a bit like homework but it pays off.

2. Choose a night flight

Night flights are my preference for flying West to East long haul. Not only do you get an extra day in your destination (woo!), you can also adjust your body clock and sleep, at the same time! Like I said above, I automatically adjust my watch to the time at my destination. If I have a night flight, I also set a silent, vibrate-only, alarm on my phone for a time that gives me an ok amount of sleep (4 hours+) and will let me wake up at an acceptable time in my destinations time-zone. OK so you may miss out on the in-flight films and food, but you know what? Arriving at an airport, particularly if you have a connecting flight, having had some sort of sleep beats it hands down. Personally, I need my 8 hours so 4 hours doesn't cut it, but it's also much easier to stay awake for the rest of the day on a little bit of sleep, than none at all. 

3. It's all down to the lighting

Lighting effects everything. If you want to trick your body into thinking it's in a different time zone, play with the lighting. Like I said, work on the time zone for your destination. If it would be the middle of the night in your destination, slip on an eyemask, and avoid having your window open. If on the other hand, it's the middle of the day at your location, try and spend as much time as possible in light environments, preferably in the open air. Not only does this help you keep your jet lag to a minimum, it will also let you arrive at your destination fresher and ready to get your Dora the Explorer on.

4. Eat, drink but don't be merry

I sound like a scrooge, but I really think eating and drinking should be done in moderation on a long-haul flight. Personally, I'd recommend eating a light meal before the flight and drink as much water as humanly possible. I know that 99% I'm dehydrated, and dehydration makes your jet lag so much worse. Speaking of dehydration, I know it's tempting to have a glass of bubbly or a cheeky gin and tonic, but alcohol isn't going to help you stay hydrated, so it might also be worth a miss. As for food, this is just a personal preference, but there is nothing worse than being stuck on a plane bloated after a big meal, or starving, desperate for a snack. I always think if you're comfortable, you will travel a lot better and arrive fresher; you can always be merry once you get there after all.

5. Chillax

I hate that word by the way, but it's kinda true. If you relax and stop putting pressure on yourself, you're probably going to deal with jet lag a lot better than if you're stressed about it. Apart from doing my prep, I try and let things happen as they happen. So I get jet lag? What's the worst thing? That I'm tired for a couple of days while it passes? It's not the end of the World. A lot of traveling is what you make of it, and if you try to worry a bit less, it's only going to have a positive effect on how you arrive at your destination. 

So those are my top tips to survive jet lag. Nothing ground-breaking or revolutionary I'm afraid, just practical things that make the world of difference. 

Do you suffer from jet lag? What are your top tips? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo
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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Budget & High End Cushion Foundation Comparison || Lancome v. L'Oreal

cushion foundation comparison
cushion foundation comparison
cushion foundation comparison

I have to be honest, when I find a foundation I like, I tend to stick to it until it just doesn't cut it. Until recently, I'd stuck to my Lancome Cushion foundation like glue; after all it gave me a flawless finish fast and effort free. What's not to love? Well the price, just over £25, pinched my purse at little whilst saving for my trip to USA & Canada, and I needed an alternative. Step up L'Oreal who somehow offered a near enough identical product for a fraction of the price. After swapping between the two for the best part of a month, I thought it was about time I reviewed and compared the two and let you make up your own mind. 

Before I get down to the nitty gritty, let's talk a little about the packaging. There's no surprises that Lancome looks high end, but I don't really hate L'Oreal's version either. Both are hard-case compacts, with near identical inside layouts; big mirrors, sponges, and a lidded cushion section. I will say that whilst Lancome's is the more luxurious of the packaging, it doesn't half show dirt. The mirrored outer is a magnet for makeup finger prints and it will drive you crazy. If you like products to look nice for as long as possible, you will understand the frustration this can bring after just a single use. So let's just say their both even on packaging. 

Lancome Miracle Cushion Fluid Foundation Compact

Lancome cushion foundation swatch
Lancome cushion foundation swatch
A buildable light to medium coverage liquid foundation, Lancome gives a natural glowy look.As you can see above, it's great for evening out skin tone and covering any redness, but still lets freckles shown, which I happen to like. It blends like a dream, is super lightweight and doesn't cake or cling to any dry patches either, ideal for combination/ dry skin. As lasting power goes, it reaches the 8-hour mark with no need for a touch-up. Can you see why I've stuck with it for so long? 

L'Oreal Cushion Nude Magique Foundation

L'Oreal cushion foundation swatch
L'Oreal cushion foundation swatch

Now for the budget version, L'Oreal's cushion foundation in the original formula (opposed the more recent bronzing edition). Again, another light to medium liquid foundation, I actually the coverage of this more buildable than Lancome. It's still super lightweight but requires slightly more blending if you want to build the coverage. To be honest, when I have it on, I can't really notice the difference between this and Lancome. The one downside I do have is that this foundation goes fast. I don't know if it's the amount of product, or it just dries up fast but I seem to have to repurchase this a lot more frequently that any other foundation, meaning what I've saved in choosing a budget brand is lost through frequent buys. 

At £14.99 on Feel Unique, L'Oreal's Nude Magique Cushion is over £10 cheaper than Lancome. 

So which one do I prefer? Both. They produce pretty much the same results on my combination dry skin. Usually, that would make me instantly say L'Oreal Nude Magique Cushion is better because of the price, but because I need to repurchase it so frequently, it's not as clear-cut. Honestly, I think it all depends on if there's an offer, making L'Oreal the most likely of the two. 

If you've tried these foundations out I'd love to know your thoughts? As I said I can't tell the difference between them when they're on, so it would be interesting to see if any of you can too. As always I'm always on the lookout for suggestions, so if you have any foundation recommendations, let me know in the comments below!

xoxo
J
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Wakelet: My Travel Planning Must-Have

Wakelet For Travel Inspiration Planning Organisation

It's no secret I have uncontrollable wanderlust. There's not a day that goes by when I'm not thinking about another trip, so when something comes along that makes putting my passion into practice that much easier, then it's only fair that I share the secret right?

Let me introduce you to Wakelet

Wakelet For Travel Inspiration Planning OrganisationI don't know about you, but when I'm searching the internet for anything travel related, I usually find something I want to save. Maybe I'm on the bus and haven't got time to read an article on the best hotels, want to show my mum a photo of an amazing beach or just want to keep something for later. Fun fact, 75% of us only ever use browser bookmarking to save information from the internet, so chances are that's you. To be honest, I think that's pretty standard, you want to go back to something later, you bookmark it right? Well what if I told you there's a better way? 

Wakelet is a platform that allows you to save information, add information and store information. It basically allows you to manage what you want, your way. To say the options are limitless isn't an exaggeration. If you want to do it, you can. Why not just use one of my existing social media profiles? Well no other platform allows me to combine so many different elements. With Wakelet I'm able to save a tweet I sent whilst in New York, my instagram photos from Canada, blog posts and add my own text. In a layout that I choose, I can add whatever I want from the internet, add my own photos and text and know everything's in one place. 

The uses for Wakelet are countless, but this is how I use Wakelet for travel:

Wakelet For Travel Inspiration Planning Organisation

Wakelet organises my travel inspiration

I lose hours to the internet, looking at people's travel pictures and videos, I read countless travel blogs sharing adventures. When I'm looking for travel inspiration, the options can be a little overwhelming. Sometimes I just want one place where I can collect all my own ideas, along with any bits of information I've found along the way and that's what Wakelet lets me do. I can add bits whenever inspiration strikes, and look at it wherever I am in the world. It's flexible and the best way to organise your ideas.

Waklet helps me plan my trips

Wanderlust really should be my middle name; it's a massive part of my life. I'm always planning trips but sometimes I need a little extra help. Take September for example. In September I'm going on a cruise with my family to some incredible places. Now, knowing my obsession with the world, my family have asked me to organise what we do which is harder when it looks. Whilst I'm finding different ideas, mainly from other people's blog posts or tweets recommending places, I'm putting them all in a single Wake that I can then share with my family. 

Wakelet lets me share my travels with my friends and family, my way.

So, we all know I've just got back from a trip to USA and Canada (I've started my travel diaries if you're behind) and of course, I have a load of memories from it, but how do I share them with everyone? Well for that I've created a Wake.  Featuring all my twitter updates throughout the trip, all my instagram posts whilst on the road, the blog posts I've written to date, extra photographs I want to share, youtube videos, any articles that help to explain what I saw. I can even add extra bits of text, a bit like mini blog posts, so I can keep a record of random memories.  With Wakelet, there is no need to forget a thing, and no reason for anyone not to be able to see your journey. What I love that most is that I can choose the layout and what information I put in the Wake. On most platforms you kind of loose control of what others can see after a while. This can't happen with Wakelet because you choose exactly what you want. Want to avoid a drunken tweet? Easy. My parents don't have Instagram, but I always want to show them my photos on there, so adding the pictures I want them to see to my Wake is the perfect way for them to follow my travels.

#MakeAWake

Wakelet #MakeAWake Challenge

As a company Wakelet is amazing; it truly cares about people and helping the community. Do you know where the name for Wakelet came from? That vapor trail behind a plane, the idea of leaving something behind as you move forward. In the spirit of creating something meaningful Wakelet are challenging you to create your legacy and #MakeAWake that will help others. I've decided to leave my legacy by looking at volunteering abroad. I've always wanted to do something meaningful whilst I travel and I can't think of anything better than helping the local community, whether that be through volunteering at a school or doing some wildlife conservation.  Whether it be something small like baking a cake for a friend who is going through a hard time, or something big like a raising money for charity, it all helps someone and leave a mark. 

I can't wait to see you all #MakeAWake! Make sure you leave me your links so I can see what you decide to do!

xoxo
J

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Thursday, 4 May 2017

USA & Canada Haul

USA & Canada Shopping Haul
USA & Canada Shopping Haul

I'm back and unpacked, and thought it was about time I shared some of the bits I picked up in USA and Canada. Now, I have to say I did actually pick up more than this but was, unfortunately, the victim of some crime at the end of my trip, but more about that soon. Despite having a bit of a shopping setback, I managed to pick up some great souvenirs whilst traveling.

So fun story, the night before I was traveling from the US side of Niagara Falls to Toronto it snowed. As in proper snow that you see in Christmas films. This was April, a week from Easter and I was certainly not prepared for a winter wonderland. Needless to say layers were the name of the game and I quickly decided I wanted some uber touristy Canada gloves to keep my fingers from freezing. It wasn't until Montreal and wandering the Underground City that I actually tracked them down, but I got them and that's all that counts. Another must buy was something from Ben & Jerry's. My cow bell from the Ben & Jerry's factory could have potentially made me the most unpopular travel companion ever, but a bit of tape and I was popular again. I was thinking about getting a hoodie (so I could eat Half Baked in my Half Baked hoodie naturally), but I just think this is so fun and a bit different. It's now sitting pride of place on a shelf in my room and I'm in love. 

I think the Central Perk apron was possibly one of my favorite things I picked up whilst away. To be honest, I really wanted the Friends mug and coaster set but feeling the weight, there was no chance I was going to be able to bring it back in once piece. Eventually, I comprised with my sense and got this apron so I can channel my inner Gunther. Whether I bring myself to actually use it is another question.

USA & Canada Shopping Haul
USA & Canada Shopping Haul

I think I fell in love with Boston. San Francisco has my West Coast heart, but Boston, you are a babe. We were so lucky that the Red Sox were playing at Fenway Park whilst we were' there, especially as it was right at the start of the season, so I decided right there and then that Red Sox would be my team. And of course they lost. But oh well, at least I have my baseball cap (from an actual baseball game) and Red Sox, cos, well Go Red Sox! No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to Harvard and to mark the occasion I wanted something I've seen in every American Teen Film, one of those school flag things. My wish finally came true and I now have school spirit!

Oh the beauty that is my new Valentino (eeek!) bag. Picked up for just a pinch over $100 at Saks Off The Rack (go there, they have bargains galore), this is everything I have wanted in a bag for a while. I like my designer bags to be quite classic so I know I'll be able to use them for ages without them dating, and this one ticks every box. From it'sridiculously soft tan leather to its shiny gold hardware, I'm a little bit in love with it.

USA & Canada Shopping Haul

Another cheeky outlet purchase, my flying pig ring is from Kate Spade and was a complete steal. Still being sold in stores in the UK for the full price, it was marked down by 75% for that day only. Not only that, but they only had it in my size. If that isn't a sign that it was meant to be, I don't know what is. I absolutely adore fun jewelry that makes a statement and this is just me down to a tee. Can't wait to wear this with a LBD and let it do all the talking. 

Everybody told me I had to check out the Disney Store in Times Square, and I couldn't leave this NYC edition Minnie behind. Dressed as the Statue of Liberty it's such a nice way to remember my trip and something I'll keep for the longest time. Lastly, I had to pick up an I Love NY tee. I said in my USA Wishlist post that I've been desperate to have one for the longest time, and now that I have one, I'm pretty darn content. Paired with high waisted skirts or just slouched over jeans I am going to remember riding the Staten Island Ferry with lots of love, hoping I'll return soon!

So those are some of the things I picked up on my travels. What do you guys think? A bit of a random mix isn't it?! What's your favorite thing? Let me know in the comments below.

My travel diaries are slowly coming out too, so make sure you keep coming back to see everything I got up to.

xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Easter in New York

Whats on in Easter in NYC

Easter weekend is a pretty big thing in my family, usually filled with days out, family events and lots of chocolate. This year was the first year I was away from home on my own and I was kind of worried it wouldn't feel like Easter. To be honest, for the two weeks leading up to Easter, I'd forgotten it was that time of year. I was so busy traveling around and taking everything in that the time of year slipped to the back of my mind, and it wasn't until I saw Easter themed gifts in shops in Boston that I clicked it was Easter weekend. Still wanting to do something to celebrate the weekend, I decided to go on the hunt near my hotel to find some celebrations and NYC didn't disappoint. 

The Rockerfeller Center

Rockerfeller Center NYC Flowers Easter
Rockerfeller Center NYC Flowers Easter

Just a few blocks from my hotel, the Rockerfeller Centre was an unmistakable landmark. Although the Ice Rink was still out (I think it was actually the last weekend), the streets surrounding the centre were lined with the most beautiful flower displays. With every shade of spring being represented in the blooms, I fell in love with the Easter Rabbit display which magically rotated and was surrounded by giant decorated Easter Eggs. Taking a moment just to sit and enjoy some calm (and rest my feet) in the chaotic city, it was lovely to just appreciate the spring scents and pastel colours of the display before heading onto 5th Avenue for more Easter fun. 

Easter Bonnet Parade 2017

NYC Easter Bonnet Parade 2017
NYC Easter Bonnet Parade 2017
NYC Easter Bonnet Parade 2017
NYC Easter Bonnet Parade 2017
NYC Easter Bonnet Parade 2017

Knowing I was going to be in New York for Easter meant a bit of research on my part to see what actually happened. I'd already got some sightseeing planned but wanted to get my Easter fix before heading off and exploring. Whilst most places were open as normal on Easter Sunday, a section of 5th Avenue was shut down for pedestrians during the morning, giving rise to the annual Easter Bonnet Parade. I'd read a little about the parade but didn't really know what to expect walking into it. The street was absolutely full of people, a mix of bonnet participants and eager on-lookers. As for a parade, well it was less of a traditional parade and more of a mingling. Wandering around the crowded street you couldn't help but bump into people wearing a mix of creations, from the stylish and chic, to the custom-made and political. As expected, there were a lot of political references and, as a sign of the times, these seemed to get full attention. Being so close to Trump Tower and just opposite St. Patricks Cathedral there was an obvious police presence, but the atmosphere was still fun and family-friendly. From Magic to the Caribbean, every theme imaginable was on display, and you really never knew what was next on the street. After spending an hour walking round, I was in need of a break from the crowds, but you could easily spend all morning walking up the street, interacting with participants or even giving it a try yourself. My favorite? A toss up between the beautifully dressed lady in pink and the smiling man in the top hat; both of them had pure style and class. 

If you're in New York over Easter Weekend I'd definitely recommend heading down to the parade to soak up the atmosphere. Make sure you grab some rabbit ears and join in with all the celebrations! Despite being away, I still managed to get my Easter fix and this will be one year I definitely remember. 

What did you do during Easter weekend? What are your favorite celebrations? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

xoxo
J
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