Barcelona

Hello everyone, I hope everyone is keeping safe and well. Today’s blog will be about my time in Barcelona. It was one of the first European cities I have ever visited and it really did not disappoint. I hope you like my tips on visiting the city and places you can explore whilst on a budget. Happy reading!

I went to Barcelona in July 2018, with my best friends from university and we flew from Gatwick airport. Flights to and from Barcelona were relatively cheap costing around £150 return with Easyjet. Although if you are taking a suitcase you will need to pay extra, but I took a travelling bag that I could check in as hand luggage, which really helped. The reason for taking hand luggage only was because after my four days in Barcelona we was travelling to Benicassim for a festival (which I will review in a seperate post).

When looking at accomodation we opted for Airbnb as it really was the cheapest way for us all. It cost around £438 for 3 nights but split between 4 people, it worked out much cheaper than staying in a hotel. Our Airbnb was situated on Carrer de València which was around a 10 minute walk to the nearest metro station, which allowed us for easy access across the city during our stay.

When thinking about an itinerary we only had one place on our agenda that we wanted to visit, and that was the famous La Sagrada Familia. To get there and travel across the 4 days we purchased a 4 day travel pass. Which cost only around £20 it meant that we could travel via bus and metro all day at no extra cost. To get to La Sagrada we went via Metro and took around 20 minutes and from when you come out of the metro station the first thing you see is the building. I just stood there in awe, due to the size and the beauty of it. There was so many different elements to the building that I just loved.

Here are a few pictures I took:

After our time at La Sagrada Familia we decided to look at the other work that was done by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. These were scattered all over the city which was great as we really got to explore the city in depth from visiting each place.

Our next Gaudi sighting was Casa Mila, around a 20 minute walk from where we were. Again, the building was just spectacular and the level of detail was just amazing. What made it even better was there was a cafe just outside where we managed to have a cocktail outside

Just a 5 minute further walk onwards was our third Guadi stop of the day, Casa Batllo. This building although had similar shapes to Casa Mila there was so much more detail and the colours really made the building stand out to the others. Although you can pay to look inside each of the buildings, we opted not to pay in the three we had already visited as there was so much to see outside too and we were on a budget.

We looked at what other Gaudi buildings were nearby to Casa Batllo and the next one happened to be quite a walk away to Park Guell. So we got on a metro and ended up a 20-minute walk to the entrance of Park Guell. Now if I could give you any advice if you want to visit park Guell, get a taxi or get a bus to the top as the hill as it is very steep and in that heat, not an easy walk. When we arrived it was very busy but you could see the buildings and it was utterly breathtaking. Although this time you couldn’t get close to the buildings like the previous ones, you had to book tickets. So even after the long walk we decided it was worth a visit so we booked to come back in a couple of days time.

Our next day we decided to visit the gothic quarter of the city and look at their indoor markets. I had never been to a market so big and full of so much food. But I do highly recommend to get away from the heat and take in the culture. After the market we took walks through alleys and really got to see some of the hidden gems of Barcelona, like this old church pictured below:

On our third and final full day we went to Park Guell, which I will just show you the pictures as it was breathtaking, from the views to the architecture, it was worth every penny (€8). Just take a look below:

After our visit to Park Guell, we took a walk back down to the beach but this time to look at the harbour, which was really nice. It was nice to unwind over our last three busy days and reflect ready for our next part of our trip to Benicassim. We ended our final night by having what some would say a typical spanish tea. Although I am not so adventurous, one of my friends ordered chargrilled rabbit and pigs ears, which I don’t think he will be ordering the ears anytime soon. I just stuck to the lovely but simple patatas bravas, it really was a great ending to our time in Barcelona.

On day 4 was where we met up with the rest of our friends and made our travels by coach to Benicassim ready for the Fib festival where I will be writing about my time there in the upcoming weeks, so keep a lookout.

Our trip was fantastic and really was inexpensive. We took sandwiches everyday and only ate out once a day and the meals were relatively well priced. We managed to see so much of the city without spending a penny other than the ticket we had paid at the beginning of the week for the metro and €8 for Park Guell. Overall, i really do recommend Barcelona for either a quick, cheap get away or even a week long holiday if you want to explore the buildings even further.

I really hope you enjoyed my review of my time in Barcelona and hopefully it has helped with any questions or tips if you are due to go. Thank you for reading and keep safe.

America Part 2: Los Angeles

Hi everyone and thank you for all your support so far. Here is the next part of my travels in America as part of my university course. I will talk about my time visiting Griffith Observatory, Paramount Pictures, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Universal Studio, Warner Bros and Downton LA. I hope you all enjoy, happy reading!

After my five days in Anaheim, myself and the rest of my group travelled to Los Angeles. We stayed for our remaining 6 days in the Hollywood Walk of Fame Hostel, which cost around £30 per night for a 6 bed co-ed room. The hostel was really clean, the staff were really helpful, and if you are worried about sharing a bathroom, don’t because it is constantly cleaned. The location was also perfect for me as it was opposite the Hollywood Highland Metro station, the Highland shopping centre, Dolby Theatre, Chinese Theatre and Disney’s El Capitan Theatre all less than a 2 minute walk away. The only slightly negative point from this hostel was if you are based at the front of the hostel it can be quite noisey, but for the price and the location it is definitely worth it.

My first day in Hollywood I took the walk from the hostel to the Griffith Observatory with my course group, which took around 1 hour 10 minutes (4 mile walk) so we could watch the sunset over the city. Something I will say is prepare for a long hilly treck from the bottom of Griffith Park to the Observatory, if you are unable to walk up hill, I would suggest an Uber to the top. But make sure this is on your list as it was spectacular to watch and you can also see the Hollywood sign from here too. Here are some of the pictures taken:

The next day I went to Paramount Pictures studio tour. To get to the studio I again walked from the hostel to save money and it took around a 45 minute walk (2.3 miles). The studio tour itself was great especially to see things such as the Forest Gump bench, the Titanic oscar, some props from Grease and the set of Dr Phil. Although it wasn’t one of my favourite Hollywood studio, it was still very impressive to see. Here are just a couple of photos from my day at Paramount Studio:

My next day I went to Universal studio’s with some of my group, which was INCREDIBLE. The journey from our hostel consisted of getting the red line Metro from Hollywood Highland where you are on it for one stop to Universal City. From there you are able to get a tram to the top of the hill to the entrance. The park was busy but it was expected for the Harry Potter World and for the studio tour. We made our way around the park going on all rides we had wanted too and eventually going on the studio tour which was amazing. I got to see the sets from The Grinch, Bates Motel, Jaws, Fast and Furious and Desperate Housewives. This theme park and studio tour is really worth every penny (the price of a ticket was around £90). Here are some of my favourite moments from Universal Studios:

On my fourth day I went to Santa Monica and it was great, as it was a little more relaxing as I just went with the flow. We got the metro from outside our hostel (Hollywood Highland) to Santa Monica which took around 1 hour. I went and sat on the beach and had a look around the pier, then walked up to Venice beach and stopped off for some vegan ice cream which was surprisingly delicious. The vibe in Venice beach was great and was completely different to the vibe just 30 minutes to Santa Monica. I looked at Muscle Beach, looked in shops and had one last moment on the beach before I left. These are the photos from Santa Monica and Venice Beach:

My second to final full day me and two others of my group went to the Warner Bro’s lot. I paid around $70 for a tour and it was worth EVERY PENNY (or cent if your in the USA). As part of a guided tour of around 10 people and lasts around 3 hours. As I can’t remember the exact order of the sets I have listed what I remember. I got to see the Gazebo from the Gilmore Girls as well as Miss Patty’s, Lorelai’s and Sookie’s house. The school from Back to the Future and Pretty Little Liars as well as Ezra’s house in the woods. The set of Big Bang Theory which at the time was set up for shooting. The outdoor set from LALA Land, Fuller House, the El Entrance from ER. Some of the DC Universe, The Harry Potter sets (which the UK studio tour for Harry Potter was much better) and finally my favourite part of the entire tour, the set of FRIENDS Central Perk. This tour is honestly worth every penny. The staff and the arrangement was very professional but super friendly, which I didn’t seem to get from the other tours. That night I also went to the El Capitan Theatre to watch Beauty & the Beast, which at the time had only been out for around a month. It was incredible to watch in such a grand theatre and was the perfect way to end the day. Just to make you all jealous here are more photos:

My final full day consisted of taking an adventure to Downtown LA. I just hoped onto the Metro to Downton LA and just walked around for a little bit before deciding to go and visit the Chinese Quarter and the Disney Symphony Hall. Although it was one of the more uneventful days it was really nice to see actual LA and not the hype of Hollywood which we had become accustomed too. It really was a nice way to tie up the whole trip with something more low key and to just immerse myself with the culture. For one final time here are some of the images from Downtown LA.

My departure home was again a very long one, just like the journey to America. To get to the airport, me and my group was originally going to get a bus, however it proved easier to get an Uber, which I would highly recommend especially for the long journey ahead. Although it was much easier to check in at the airport than it was when we arrived, I was stunned how little there was in the international departure lounge. There was no food places I had heard off and it was very expensive. So I ended up just sitting there for around two hours before our flight left for London, so I would advise full charged devices and a book to fill the time as you also only get 30 minutes free wifi. The flight home took around 11 hours and I felt every minute, but it was really nice to get home and relax after a really busy 11 days.

I hope you have enjoyed this entry of my first time in America and have found bits useful if you are due to go or are thinking of going in the future.

America Part 1: Anaheim

So today’s post I thought I would give you my tips and experiences from my visit to America, where I visited Anaheim in March 2017. This was part of a trip with my university course (there will be a part 2 focused on my time in Los Angeles). So I hope you enjoy part 1, happy reading!

The flight was from London Heathrow and I thought that it was a pleasant experience considering it is the biggest airport in the UK and normally I would fly from Birmingham International which is a lot smaller. There was plenty of places to eat (although as expected did come with a big price tag), places to shop and browse before your flight. Everything went very smoothly and there was no delays.

My flight lasted roughly 9 hours 45 minutes, despite it originally planned to take 11 hours 10 minutes (which was an added bonus after an early set off at 3am). I arrived around 3pm at LAX which was rather weird, as it was the first time I had encountered an 8 hour time difference. At the airport there was a long delay getting through security and passport control, eventually taking over 1 hour. By the time we had all grouped together, we got an Uber to our hotel based in Anaheim, called Kings Inn Anaheim (Uber was our preferred travel for long distances as it works out cheaper if you are in a group). Take a look at some of the amazing views from the flight:

From the Airport it was around a 1 hour 10 minute journey to the hotel due to peak time traffic, which was ok as it meant I was able to have a look at the surroundings. The hotel cost around £60 a night and I shared a room with two other people which made it much more affordable. It was around the corner from restaurants, a 15 minute walk to the gate of Disneyland and a 10-15 minute walk to the Anaheim Convention Center it was the best location for us (even better that it also had a hot tub and a pool).

My first night consisted of going out for food as a group and unpacking, as we was going to be here for five nights before moving to Los Angeles for the remainder of the trip. For food locations there was something to cater for everyone including, Chinese, IHOP, Denny’s, Bubba Gump and a CVS & 7-Eleven if you were just after a sandwich or snacks.

The first day in Anaheim was one of my favourite days from the entire trip, I went to DISNEYLAND. As a major Disney fan and going to the original Disneyland it was just incredible. It took around a 15 minute walk to get to the gates of Adventureland and Disneyland, I had purchased a ticket for Disneyland as I wanted to see the castle and the fireworks at the end of the evening. Although if I had been there for an extra day, I would have loved to have gone to Adventureland too.

I went on all the rides I had wanted too from Peter Pan, the Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Goofy’s Drive School and so many more. Something that stunned me the most about Disneyland after visiting Alton Towers for over 10 years I had become accustomed to the long queues most of the time taking over 1 hour. However, I don’t feel I ever queued too long, especially considering the amount of people at the park.

Food at the park was somewhat how you would expect, unhealthy, fried and expensive food. But for my first day I didn’t seem to mind (the one thing I loved was the size of the meals as it reduced the amount I needed to buy and kept me fuller for longer).

The evening ended with fireworks by the castle, which was great! The best firework display I have ever seen (and even better that from the hotel at night you could see the display too). Even though Disneyland was a dream come true and I loved it, it was a very exhausting day. You spend around 10-11 hours here and I do not recommend doing it the day after you arrive and being jet-lagged. If I was to do it again I would have preferred to have gone a few days later so I could enjoy it even more. Have a look below at some of the pictures from the day:

The following three days was spent at WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center and the reason I was on this trip with my university. As someone who has never really took an interest in Comic Cons, I must say I was pleasantly surprised and it has completely changed my view on attending them in the future (just maybe different ones).

As I knew how expensive it was inside Disneyland, on my walk over to the Convention Center, I passed a CVS that sold sandwiches crisps and drinks. This was something that I did for my remaining time in Anaheim and something I did in Los Angeles too. I was saving at least $5-10 dollars each time by purchasing food from a store than when out and about. It also gave me a break from the food at night as compared to food in the UK it was very greasy and heavy.

The Convention Center itself was great and had so much to look at and different panels to attend, the fact I had three days there meant I was in no rush. One thing that I found to be great was the air con in the building, as at that time of the year it was around 20+ degrees so it was nice to go into a cool building. Although I would recommend taking a jumper/jacket as after an hour of being in the main hall I was cold and found myself wondering outside to heat up on the first day.

Some of the stalls and panel talks were great and even found myself enjoying my time here. I met fans of Back to the Future, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and sat watching the panel of the new Prison Break along with the premiere episode, which was awesome.

Although I really enjoyed my time at WonderCon, I can’t see myself wanting to attend in the near future, as I feel like it would have to be a spectacular panel to make me want to go. Otherwise, I don’t feel like much would change each year except the panels. But I would have a look at other Comic Cons to see what they had to offer. Have a look at some of the images that I took during the convention:

After the convention had ended, the next day I left to move onto our next part of my trip to Los Angeles, which will be in my America Part 2.

I really hope you enjoyed the insight into my experience and tips for visiting Anaheim, including visiting Disneyland and WonderCon. Don’t forget to like, comment and share your travelling tips too.

Part 2 will be coming soon!