Well this is one of those things you dream of when you’re little and let me tell you at 25 it still lived up to every dream and expectation and more! Walt Disney World on Christmas day was something else.
We were up at the crack of dawn and ready for the day ahead. Myself and my sister had bought Christmas t-shirts for everyone before travelling and had them gift wrapped and everything ready to go for while we were on the holiday. Of course then we all wore our Christmas t-shirts for the day that was in it! We reached the park nice and early just as the gates were opening, perfect.
We had an idea going that it was going to be busy, but oh my was it packed. The advantage of us all being grown up was that at some stages during the day we split up so that we could get to go on certain rides. One thing we did do as a family however was to meet some characters. We queued to meet Mickey Mouse for the family photos. A selfie was also in order for my “little” brother for snapchat as you do! (My younger or “little” brother is at least a foot taller than me and also towered over Mickey Mouse!)
Other days we had left extra changes of clothes in the car in case we got wet on water rides. Once we started getting chilly today however and started heading to the exit we were informed the park was at capacity and if we left we wouldn’t be allowed back in. Well that certainly wasn’t an option, so off we went to the Disney shop to buy some warm layers. This was rather difficult however as everyone else was doing the exact same thing in the unusually cool weather for Florida. After what felt like a lifetime trying to find something anything, even pyjamas were an option; I spotted a worker coming out from a staff door with three pairs of bottoms in her hands. I swooped and got a pair! Yey, my legs would be warm! I also got a fleece blanket to wrap around me as it was a little larger than the towels everyone else was resorting to at that point. Once we all had found something to wrap up in we went off on a few more rides!
Some were an absolute must such as it’s a small world and the carousel. Others we really would have been pushing it at our age and gangly sizes to go on. Dumbo the flying elephants had to be passed upon this time unfortunately.
Now bearing in mind a traditional Irish Christmas this whole experience was almost bizarre. It truly was dream like. So all the lads wanted to know was what were we going to do for the Christmas dinner! Well it wouldn’t be Christmas day without some turkey and turkey we got. We happened upon some vendors selling turkey legs! Perfect!
The night time parade was a must. We got a good spot quite early as we had somehow managed to go on all the rides and see everything everyone wanted to see at that stage. It’s amazing how at 25 the magic of Disney can still make you feel like 5! We all huddled up under the fleece blanket and enjoyed a truly spectacular light parade featuring all the different characters, princes and princesses that we grew up watching over the years. What a perfect ending to a magical day!
Oh what a place! Now bear in mind we arrived back to Miami after weeks of being in areas where plumbing was not yet a common thing. We stayed in Miami International Travellers Hostel and I thought I was in heaven, warm showers and toilets who would have thought they would make me so happy. My eyes have been opened to the world a little bit more once again as I appreciate everything I have and realise I need to stop taking things for granted.
So our hostel was right on Miami Beach. We were bang in the middle of party central. There are endless places to eat, drink, dance and be merry around here and there is definitely something for everyone. We spent some time chilling on the beach, shopping and of course venturing out at night to the infamous Miami clubs.
I also got to meet the fabulous Mr. Yoji Harada at Miami Ink. Unfortunately a tattoo was not on the cards this time but it was cool to say hi and have a chat!
This place needs to be experienced. Reading about it just isn’t the same. Crazy clubs, crazy dance moves and getting kicked off the beach at some early hour in the am by a police car with spotlights on the roof, enough said, go do it.
Time to start another adventure with San Francisco! A few friends and I decided to go on an adventure taking in parts of North and South America. First stop: San Francisco.
So many iconic things to see and do here it is well worth a visit! So let’s look at a few of the highlights for me.
Firstly I got to see the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge. We rented bikes for a day and cycled over the bridge to beautiful place called Sausalito. It is then possible to take a ferry back to San Francisco but being Irish and bonkers we decided to also cycle back. Why cycle the Golden Gate Bridge once when you can do it twice sure! Note: This was super tough and I would highly recommend the more normal and done thing of getting the ferry back.
Time spent chilling at Fisherman’s Wharf was very enjoyable and has spectacular views from all angles. You can see many of San Francisco’s popular sights from here. Why not chill out at pier 39 and watch the sea lions, do some shopping or enjoy happy hour?
A trip to Alcatraz is also a must. We went during the day however night tours are also available. I’m definitely too much of a scardy cat to try that though. I really enjoyed wandering around the abandoned prison. It gave me chills seeing the place where some of the world’s most notorious criminals were held. The headset audio guide was amazing; it gave great detail and was captivating.
I also went to my first ever baseball game! I loved the Giant’s stadium. I even got a little certificate welcoming me to my first baseball game. The atmosphere was brilliant! Having very limited knowledge of the sport we cheered and booed along with everyone who was sitting beside us and enjoyed the kiss cam and other random entertainment that popped up on the big screen.
It’s worth going for a wander and exploring this city. There are many different areas each with their own little quirks and details that make them stand apart from the rest. Happy exploring!
Chiang Mai was by far my favourite place in Thailand. The pace, the atmosphere everything was very different to everywhere else we had been.
We stayed in a five star boutique hotel while in Chiang Mai. It was amazing. The hotel looked like something in between a temple and palace with beautiful white pillars and columns inside and out. The facilities were wonderful and included; an overflow pool, library, work area, spa and a delicious restaurant.
One of my favourite things I did here was when I went to a Thai cookery school. I choose to do a full day cookery class which included a tour of the local food market. We started off by going to the market to see where they buy all of their food. We met some of the stall owners and we finally learned the names of some of the new fruits and vegetables we had been eating during our stay there. Then we went to the cookery school where we met our teacher and got started! As part of the full day course we made seven different dishes. There were a selection of dishes to choose from under a variety of headings such as appetiser and main course. The seven dishes I choose were: chicken coconut soup, fried Thai style noodles, deep fried spring rolls, sweet and sour vegetables, making a curry paste session, green curry and sticky rice with mango. There was a perfect balance of cooking and taking breaks to actually eat the food we made. When we did sit down to eat our meals everyone sat at one long table and we had a chance to swap travel stories with people from all over the world. I even managed to get through the day somehow with my broken hand!
Siam Rice Cookery School
Siam Rice Cookery School
Siam Rice Cookery School
The markets in Chiang Mai were the best I have been to. The atmosphere was relaxed and felt much safer than anywhere else I had been. There was a huge selection of stalls and everything imaginable was available. The colours and smells from the area were a treat to the senses! I went for a wander around here most evenings or nights while in Chiang Mai as it was super close to the hotel, a really nice experience and I saw something new every time too.
Another day was spent visiting the Karen Long Neck Hilltribe Settlement. I had wanted to see this particular culture since seeing a documentary about their culture on television a year or two ago. While travelling to the village we saw many paddy fields along the way and beautiful scenery. The tribes people were dressed in traditional clothing and went about their daily chores as we wandered around. Their weaving creations were wonderfully colourful and beautiful.
I also went to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep a beautiful temple on a hill with breath taking views of Chiang Mai. Climbing over 300 steps to reach the temple was definitely worth it! It was very peaceful and beautiful. Yet another chance to relax and take in the atmosphere and explore the area.
Chiang Mai is well worth a trip! These are just a few of the wonderful things to do and experience here.