Life · Travel

Travel Bucket List – European Cities

I’m currently experiencing a serious longing for travelling, I just want to get out there and start exploring trouble is with so many places I want to go I don’t know where to begin.

Zurich, Switzerland

Thankfully, I do have a starting point as my brother recently moved to a little town just outside Zurich and I have already booked flights over for the end of June!

Zurich
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Bruges, Belgium

The wanting to go here is genuinely because of watching In Bruges but it’s definitely on the list.

Bruges
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Krakow, Poland

I’ve heard of so many people going to Krakow lately it’s growing on me as a place to visit asap.

Krakow

Berlin, Germany

Berlin has just always been one of those places I’ve wanted to go to.

Berlin, germany Skyline
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Barcelona, Spain

Ever since I was a child and watched Disney Channel’s Cheetah Girls 2, I’ve wanted to go exploring through Barcelona.

Barcelona
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Madrid, Spain

I studied Spanish in Secondary school so exploring the capital was always on the list of things to do.

Madrid
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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Again, Amsterdam is just one of those places I’ve always wanted to go.

Amsterdam
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Paris, France

I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to Paris?

Paris
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Rome, Italy

People always say it wasn’t built in a day so it must be worth a visit right?

Rome
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Edinburgh, Scotland

Last time I was in Edinburgh was with a group of friends from college, so naturally we spent most of our time in the pub so some actual sight seeing is a must!

Edinburgh
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London, England

Likewise, Last time I was in London we didn’t have much time for exploring as it was for a basketball trip in 2011. I’ve been wanting to go back for a few years now and actually do some sightseeing.

London
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Manchester, England

Worlds largest Primark store.. need I say more?

Manchester
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So now I guess it’s time to start booking some flights and crossing some cities off the list but where to go first?

 

Life · Travel

A Wicked Last Day in the Big Apple

Thursday was our last full day in New York, our original plan for this day was to keep it free and do anything we might have missed. Mam was hoping to go to Jersey Gardens to do some more window shopping but given that we didn’t get to go up to the One World Observatory on Tuesday and we had already paid for the tour we decided we’d make the most definitely longer than 5k trek down to the Financial District to do that.

As we were up and out of the hotel by 7:30 or 8am every morning we made it down pretty early & thankfully there was no rain or strong winds on the day so we were able to go up to the observatory. The elevators are pretty cool inside, there is a warning for anyone who is afraid of heights or gets motion sick to either close their eyes or face the elevator doors as you go up the 102 floors in 47 seconds and you see the city build it’s self around you as you go up.

The view’s from here were much the same as the Empire State Building but still worth the visit! Mam had made a promise to conquer her fear of heights by stepping out on to the glass floor of the observatory however there isn’t any – that’s in the Sears Tower in Chicago! But there was a little screen that mirrored the ground below us so we’re all really proud that Mam stepped on that!

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There’s a couple of observation decks in the observatory and you can buy a tablet to use as a guide to point out the buildings you can see and gives you some facts about them. We didn’t bother with that as we got so much information from our bus and boat tours we decided we’d just enjoy the view!

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Next we walked over to the Irish Hunger Memorial – something my cousin mentioned to us before we went over but neither of us had heard about it before. Reading up on it, it’s a memorial for the Great Irish Famine back in the 1800’s. There are stones from each county in Ireland in the memorial and there is a reconstructed Irish cottage incorporated into the memorial. It was nice to see a bit of Irish history in New York as so many Irish fled to the states during this time. The only downside to this is you wouldn’t really know what it is unless you went looking for it. There isn’t much information on the site about what it is or represents. It’s kind of just left to speak for itself and maybe that was the intention but I felt a little bit lost trying to understand it when we were there!

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After the memorial we decided to be idiots and WALK the entire way more than 5K back to our hotel! Luckily it wasn’t raining but man are my feet broken now (especially since we did a 10K walk on Sunday when we came back too!!). When we eventually made it back to our hotel we freshened up and went to John’s Pizzeria on 44th street for a whole load of garlic bread, chicken wings and pizza cause how could we not have pizza in New York?

After dinner it was showtime, literally.. We had booked tickets to see Wicked on Broadway before we went over. I had a half an idea of the story line but the show was absolutely amazing! I’m still listening to the songs!! One thing I loved was a little novelty to trick people into buying a drink at the show. When you bought a drink it was served in a Wicked travel cup so when you got your drink you automatically got a keepsake from the show rather than having to buy a t-shirt and if you didn’t add alcohol to the slushie it only cost $7 which of course is all I spent cause I’m a cheapskate sometimes!! But it was well worth the $7 for the travel cup!!

And that’s it our New York trip certainly went out with a bang! Friday all we did really was have a dash around the shops to pick up some presents and sweets to bring back & checked out of the hotel and went to the airport 5 hours before our flight for fear we’d be late!!

New York has quickly become my favourite place, I just loved everything about it! I was afraid that I’d hate the busyness about it and all the hustle and bustle but surprisingly I think that was my favourite part! The place was buzzing all the time and it was just incredible. I was 100% not ready to come home when we did, I’d have stayed there so much longer if I could! I guess I’m just gonna have to go back again!!

Click here for New York Day 1!

Click here for New York Day 2!

Click here for New York Day 3!

Click here for New York Day 4!

Life · Travel

Our Busiest Day in NYC

Wednesday was probably our busiest day. We had no tours or anything booked this day but our plan was to walk around Central Park and channel our inner Gossip Girls and take a walk up to the Upper East Side.

As we walked towards Central Park we were stopped buy a guy offering us a pedicab around the park and as we did so much walking the day before we decided to take him up on his offer! This way it meant we would see the main attractions of the park and he even offered to take photos of us as we stopped at the main parts so it actually looks like we were in New York together!!

Our first stop was as the fountain from Gossip Girl!

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Next up Friends Fountain!

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Next up was the Bow Bridge, there was people filming some form of music video on the bridge so we didn’t get to walk over it.

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The last stop was at John Lennon’s memorial.

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I’ve so many more pictures from inside the park but we did so much this day I want to get through everything. I might do a photos that didn’t make the cut post later on!

After the pedicab tour we walked up the Upper East Side channeling our inner Blair Waldorf’s! We stopped off at the MET for a photo opportunity but didn’t go inside.

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MET

We attempted to go to Bar 65 in the Rockefeller Centre as we started walking back towards Times Square but that doesn’t open until 5pm so we decided we’d go to the Empire State Building as we waited for that to open. As much as I wanted to go up the Empire State Building at night, I decided to switch it up as we were going to go back to Bar 65 later in the evening so we could see the night skyline I wanted to see.

In the Empire State Building we decided to go to both the 86th and 102nd floors, it’s not like either of us are afraid of heights or anything!! We ended up walking up 6 floors of the building as it would have been a 20 minute wait for the elevators between the 80th and 86th floor and we both couldn’t wait to get up to see the views.

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Empire State Building

 

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The pictures from the 102nd floor weren’t the best as it was out a window rather than the cage that’s on the 86th floor.

After we finished up here we went down to Macy’s as mam wanted to aimlessly walk around every department store in Manhattan and buy nothing!! Then we went to get some dinner before heading up to Bar 65. We hadn’t planned on doing the Top of The Rock tour as we were doing the One-World Observatory and the Empire State Building but when the guys in the office recommended the bar to us on Monday we said we’d definitely go there to check out the views and wow were they spectacular! The bar is a bit swanky and fancy and a little out of our comfort zone – there’s a dress code of business casual and guys have to wear collard shirts or a suit jacket/blazer, but the social discomfort was so wroth while as we got to see the night skyline.

Unfortunately as there are large class panels the pictures on my camera caught the reflections of all the lights and didn’t turn out so good but here’s a couple I took on my phone that turned out better!

Bar 65

Bar65

As I said Wednesday was our busiest day for sights!!

Click here for New York Day One!

Click here for New York Day Two!

Click here for New York Day Three!

Life · Travel

Ground Zero Walking Tour

Tuesday took us down to the Financial District for our walking tour of the 9/11 memorial. Of course us being the early birds that we are, we were up bright and early and decided we’d grab a quick breakfast and walk the 5K (I still believe it’s longer) from our hotel to St Paul’s Chapel where we met our tour guide Alison.

This tour was another one of my favourites. Our tour guide was actually in college in New York on the day of 9/11 and shared with us her story of that day. It was really chilling hearing a first hand account of what happened.

We started the tour at St. Paul’s Chapel – known as the little chapel that stood, as when the towers came down St. Paul’s Chapel only lost one pane of glass despite how close it is to the World Trade Centre.

Moving on from the chapel we went towards the new World Trade Centres, some are completely built others are still under construction. Along with the new World Trade Centres a new transportation hub called the Oculus was built (which I just realised in the 1,000 pictures I took I didn’t take one from the outside, but this is just inside the door).

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Next we moved over to the fire house where the first responders came from. Hundreds of firefighters and police officers lost their lives in the events that happened on 9/11 and the fire house has a mural on the side of the building dedicated to all those who did and continue to put their lives on the line for others.

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Moving on to the two pools that represent the twin towers that fell. It’s eerily haunting to see the amount of names on the memorials. The designer that designed the memorial decided to put the names of all the emergency responders, flight passengers and co-workers together to keep the names of those who could have been close to each other during the time of the attack. The two things that got to me the most about the memorial was seeing a woman’s name with “and her unborn child” written next to it as she was pregnant during the attack. The other thing that hit me hard was that when it is one of the victims birthdays workers at the memorial site place a white rose in their name & seeing a few white roses dotted around the memorial really got to me.

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North Pool
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South Pool
The last stop on our walking tour was what’s known as “The Survivor Tree” the only tree in the area that survived the attack. Though the tree was severely damaged and charred, it was nursed back to health in the Bronx and was replanted by the memorial in 2010.

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While we were here we were supposed to go up the One World Observatory, however due to weather issues and problems with the elevators we couldn’t so we were given passes to come back another day.

Just as we started walking back the 5k to our hotel the heavens opened and it felt like we were back home in Ireland for a while with the amount of rain that fell. We hailed a yellow cab to take us back to our hotel so we could dry off and get ready for dinner. After dinner we decided we’d go back to visit Grand Central Station as we didn’t see much of it other than the food court on Tuesday!

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This was one of mam’s must see’s when we were here and I’m glad we went, it’s such a fabulous building and I just loved the buzz around the place with everyone rushing about to and from their trains.

Click here for New York Day One!

Click here for New York Day Two!

Life · Travel

New York By Night

Monday morning we took a quick walk to Grand Central Station for a bit of brekkie as we waited for Sephora to open cause Niamh wanted to do a spot of make up shopping!

After a small fortune was spent on make up, we called into the New York office of the company I work for to meet everyone there and myself and mam went to lunch in Bryant Park with the two women I work closely with. It was great to be able to put faces to names of the people I hadn’t met before and just look at the view from the lounge of the office!!

 

After lunch we went back to the hotel to freshen up and started making our way down to Pier 78 for our Twilight Boat Tour. I think the boat tour may have been my favourite part of the entire trip. Seeing the New York skyline by night was just incredible. It was everything I hoped it would be and more! The T.V shows, movies and pictures just don’t do it justice whatsoever! Our tour guide Rachael was great! She had loads of info about the whole city, the tour was really informative and just a spectacular view, so much so I even teared up as we passed under the Manhattan Bridge and saw the Brooklyn Bridge and city skyline lit up! The captain of our boat that night happened to be the second responder on the scene when the plane landed on the Hudson River back in 2009. As Pier 78 is so close to where the plane landed many of the staff were first on the scene to help the passengers and crew of that flight.

Here are some snaps I took as we headed down the Hudson River.

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Unfortunately not the boat we were on!
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Make sure you read yesterdays post here

Life · Travel

New York, New York

Finally the day came for my adventure to New York, we’ve had this trip booked since January so you can only imagine I was like a child on Christmas morning all day at work on Friday just counting down the hours until I was officially on holidays!

We arrived in JKF around 3:30pm on Saturday however given the tiredness and jet-lag I’m not counting this as our first day in NYC as we just had a quick walk around Times Square and got something to eat before heading to our hotel.

Times Square

Sunday morning was an early start for us as we had a bus trip booked to Woodbury Common to do some shopping, because we couldn’t go to New York and not shop! I’ll do a separate post on everything I bought. The outlet center was basically a much, much bigger version of Kildare Village in the way it’s laid out, it’s all outdoor with 4 different sections of shops, luckily the bus tour we booked gave us maps so we knew exactly where we wanted to go. Mam and I are not the biggest of shoppers so given that and the jet-lag we were wrecked by 3pm and more than ready to head back to the city to get some food and get ready for our bus tour that night.

Woodbury Common

We dropped our shopping bags back to the hotel before heading into a bar down in  Hell’s Kitchen to get a bite to eat before we went on our night-time bus tour. The tour was lasted 90 minutes. We started off in Times Square, down through 5th Avenue, passing the Rockefeller Centre & Empire State Building on our way. We drove through Chinatown, Greenwich Village & Little Italy. We passed over the Manhattan Bridge into D.U.M.B.O. and took a quick drive around Brooklyn before heading back over the Manhattan Bridge and into the Financial District by the 9/11 Memorial and passed the World Trade Centre and back up into Times Square.

Unfortunately I had some technical difficulties with my camera so my photo’s didn’t turn out the best this night but here’s some of the decent snaps.

Times Square By Night

MTV TRL

Empire State Building

New York Public Library

MET Life Tower

Going to be doing a bit of a mini series of posts from my time in New York so come back tomorrow for one of my favourite parts of the trip! πŸ™‚