Blazing Saddles San Francisco

Biking the Bridge with Blazing Saddles San Francisco

Let me start off by saying that I may consider myself a feminist but, when it comes to all things sporty, I shamefully fit right into the typical girl stereotype.  Sports and me just do not go.  Give me a Zumba class or a nightclub dance floor and I can dance away for hours but anything else and I am a complete lost cause.  I duck in horror when a football comes my way; I embarrassingly swing a golf club several times before actually managing to hit the ball; and I haven’t been on a bike in so long that I would need stabilisers.

So when we arrived at Blazing Saddles’ offices in San Francisco all ready for a bike ride around the city, I was fully prepared to be a little rusty.  I didn’t think I’d be quite so bad that I would cycle just a few feet before crashing into a whole row of stationary bikes and almost toppling off into an embarrassing heap on the floor.  But yes, this really happened, and this was just on the practice run before we’d even left the warehouse!  Two minutes in and I was already wondering (as I’m sure Mr Ayla was too) what on earth I had gotten myself into.  They say you never forget how to ride a bike…not true.  I totally forgot.

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Best songs for an American road trip

At Home around the World

Apart from my naturally pasty skin and my unwavering love for tea and scones, I don’t really consider myself to be very British.  That may sound a little silly seeing as I was born and have lived in the UK my entire life and my family tree is English for as far back as I know, but England is not somewhere that I have ever truly felt to be my home.

I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because my body craves constant sunshine instead of constant drizzle.  Maybe I dream of a more chilled out life with less rushing and stressing.  Or maybe it’s simply because I love exploring the world so much that nowhere will ever truly feel like home to me; I always want to be on the move and am always looking for a new adventure.

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What to do in San Francisco

Exploring San Francisco with CityPASS

A great day in San Francisco always begins with brunch because, well, who needs an excuse for brunch, especially when you’re in a city that does it so incredibly well.  If you don’t believe me read my post on Brunching in San Francisco – I guarantee you’ll be drooling in 2 minutes!

After the much important business of filling our bellies was out of the way, we got down to the next thing on the agenda…exploring San Francisco.  We only had three days in the city and while this leaves enough time to soak up San Fran’s relaxed hip vibe and see most of the main sights, we still wanted to fit in as much as we could.  So a San Francisco CityPASS was the perfect way to make the most of our time here and ours were waiting for us at our hotel as soon as we arrived.  The CityPASS booklet provides access to some of the best museums and tourist attractions in the city as well as public transport options to get you there, saving you a whole load of money if you want to see as much as possible like we did.

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Mister Lasagna review

A Lasagna Feast at Mister Lasagna, London

When your favourite cuisine in the whole world is Italian and a new restaurant opens up in London dedicated to everything that is lasagna, it only makes sense to try it out as soon as possible.  With 21 different types of lasagna on the menu (yes, you read that right – 21 different types of lasagna!), Mister Lasagna opened up in Soho just over a month ago and has already become so popular that they’re opening up a second restaurant soon.

A very casual but cosy restaurant, Mister Lasagna is the place to go for a quick, easy meal and, considering it’s in such a popular part of Central London, the prices are extremely affordable, but that doesn’t mean that they scrimp on the taste.  With a counter to select your dishes from at the front of the restaurant (cue lots of temptation as you drool at the food in front of you) and several quiet tables at the back, it’s a cosy little place for a tasty lunch or for a relaxed meal after work.

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What to do in Amsterdam

A Weekend Guide to Amsterdam

A breezy one hour flight and we were in Amsterdam, somewhere that had seemed to evade our travel radar so far.  With such cheap and easy flights from the UK, it was the perfect destination for a short weekend break over the May bank holiday and I always welcome the chance for us to explore a new part of Europe.

There isn’t actually a huge amount of sightseeing to do in Amsterdam which made for a wonderfully chilled weekend break.  We spent most of it simply wandering around, taking in the enchanting canals bursting with colourful flowers, and satisfying our bellies with as much food as possible.  We decided to stay on our feet to explore rather than hop on a bike as the city is so full of cyclists – there are more bikes than there are people in Amsterdam (true story) – and the speed they flew past over the narrow cobblestone roads had me fearing for my life when I was on the pavement let alone actually being on one of the bikes myself!  Instead, we picked up our I amsterdam card which includes tram, bus and metro rides, as well as a host of free and discounted sights and tours, and worked our way around the city with a combination of public transport and the simple wearing out of our feet.

If you’re planning a weekend in Amsterdam and want to know exactly what you should see and do then look no further as I’ve highlighted all the best bits here including the tastiest foods and the quirkiest activities!

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Best songs for an American road trip

25 of the Best Songs for an American Road Trip

With sunglasses on and the wind in our hair, a fold out map covering the dashboard, a giant pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a huge $1.99 cup of Dr Pepper filling the car for snacks , and the wide open road ahead of us.  Our great American road trip was everything I had imagined it to be and more.

I love the freedom of a road trip – being able to go wherever we want, whenever we want (as long as it fits in with my planned out itinerary of course!).  We hopped out of the car to see the stunning blue coastal views along the Big Sur; grabbed lunch at quirky Route 66 roadside diners; came across the most random attractions like Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo and added our own bubblegum to the wall (a gross kind of abstract art).  We stumbled upon the coolest places to eat and drink; posed in front of wacky street art; hiked mountains and dipped our toes in the ocean.  But most of all we did lots and lots (and lots) of singing.

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Where to stay in Los Angeles

A Chic Beachfront Stay at the Shore Hotel, Santa Monica

Los Angeles was the last stop on our American adventure and I couldn’t think of a better way to finish our trip in style than with a stay at the luxuriously glamorous Shore Hotel in Santa Monica.  Although this part of town is a fair bit pricier than central LA and Hollywood, Santa Monica is a whole lot classier and prettier, with a chilled out beach vibe, miles of sandy beaches, the bright blue sea, and a host of sophisticated restaurants and bars.

We had driven from the sunny blue skies of the Big Sur coast but almost as soon as we made it to Los Angeles, in typical fashion, it started to rain.  Isn’t LA supposed to have year round sunshine?! Apparently not for us.  It seemed that we weren’t going to get our chance to frolic on the miles of gorgeous sandy beaches.  No watching surfers catching some waves or seeing the pumped up bodies working out at Muscle Beach.  But it was still a beautiful part of California and a little bit of rain has never stopped us from doing anything!

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where to eat in San Francisco

Brunching in San Francisco

If there’s one thing I absolutely love about San Francisco it has to be the scrumptious brunches.  We tucked into a whole lot of brunches during our American adventure, from picnic brunches by the sea in the Big Sur to giant red velvet pancakes in Las Vegas (which are just as good as they sound by the way), but the City by the Bay served up some of the best.

San Francisco just knows how to do brunch right and so we spent all of our mornings there hunting down the best spots before we went off exploring the rest of the city.

As Mr Ayla correctly posted on his Facebook wall:

“You know you’re married to a travel blogging extraordinaire when it takes you two hours to get the best brunch.  And apparently we’re doing it again tomorrow!”

Yes Alex, because brunch is totally worth it.  I even had my fabulous brunch tee all ready for the occasion so we simply had to go in search of the best brunch spots in San Francisco because my outfit said so.

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Hornblower San Francisco

Dinner, Dancing and Dazzling Vistas with Hornblower Cruises San Francisco

I always think that one of the best ways to see a city is from a different perspective – from up high at the top of the Shard in London; from a gondola exploring Venice’s canals; or from across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

In San Francisco, where the water surrounds the city and so many of the main sights and attractions are around the Bay, hopping on a boat and taking in the views from the water seemed like the thing to do.  So that’s exactly what we did when Hornblower Cruises invited us on board for an evening of champagne, dinner and dancing.

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road trip to grand canyon

A Quirky Road Trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

As much as I hated leaving the fabulous city of Las Vegas behind, it was onto our next adventure.  The 4 and a half hour drive to the Grand Canyon was pretty smooth sailing – aside from Mr Ayla having a slight panic at having to drive out of the busy city, in an automatic, on the other side of the road, amidst 4 lanes of crazy Vegas traffic.  After Googling which pedal was which (don’t judge – we drive manuals at home and neither of us know much about cars!) we were on our way with our ultimate road trip album blaring out of the CD player.

Despite being quite a long drive there were plenty of places to stop off along the way and the Hoover Dam was the first place on our itinerary.  We’d left Vegas a little later than we’d intended (possibly due to too many cocktails the night before) so by the time we made the short 45 minute drive there, it was already packed full of tourists.  We decided not to do a tour but instead just drove across the dam itself and ogled at the size of it before taking a few snaps and carrying on with the journey.

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