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Travel Guide – Washington DC

We spent 5 days in Washington DC this summer which felt just right to visit the various iconic monuments and museums dotted around the capital city. Whilst this wasn’t my favourite US city, it is definitely worth a visit and was a lovely ending to our most recent trip.

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EAT

Luke’s Lobster

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I became a little bit obsessed with lobster rolls on our two weeks away and we had a great early evening dinner at Luke’s Lobster where we had crab, prawn and lobster rolls with a few sides.

Shake Shack

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We had an awesome burger here that definitely lived up to the hype.

Oyamel

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We ate at this Mexican restaurant and had an amazing meal. I am used to Mexican street food-style places like Wahaca but this was a much more refined version of my favourite dishes. We had fresh guacamole made at our tables, margaritas and some great fish tacos.

DO

Visit the Newseum

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Probably my favourite museum of our whole trip, the Newseum is just fascinating. I love the ins and outs of the media and seeing how different events are reported around the world and this place had such interesting exhibits. My favourites were the Vietnam War, 9/11 and the Pulitzer Prize winners gallery. I even had a go at some news reporting in the interactive gallery!

Walk through the Sculpture Garden

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We stumbled upon this quite by accident on our way to a museum but it is a lovely little park to have a wander through. The Roy Lichtenstein ‘House 1’ is very cool to view from different angles.

Go and watch The Nationals

We’ve been to see a couple of baseball games in America now and although I’m a little fuzzy on some of the rules, the atmosphere is always great! It also feels like you are doing something non-touristy and on certain nights, there’s a fireworks display after the game and who doesn’t love some fireworks?!

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Take a Bus Tour

We found that Washington DC was very spread out so trying to do everything by foot in the August heat was impractical. We bought tickets for a 2-day hop-on/ hop-off bus tour which took us all over the place.

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Hang out in Georgetown

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My favourite district in DC, this place is so cool and doesn’t feel like a city at all. Im just annoyed we found this on our last day as I would have loved to come back. I did quite a bit of damage in Sephora here!

STAY

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We stayed at the Hyatt Place Hotel and had a bit of a mixed experience. The hotel itself was amazing; probably the best we stayed in during our two weeks away. The room was modern and had a cool lounge area, the staff were ridiculously helpful and there was a really tasty free breakfast option which we took advantage of. If I could pick the hotel up and drop it in a slightly more central location, it would have been perfect. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the nicest area, especially after dark, which just took the shine off our stay.

TIPS

Watch House of Cards before you go!

This brilliant political drama on Netflix gives a great insight into the inner workings of Washington DC and meant we knew quite a few of the famous landmarks before we went.

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Travel Guide: Philadelphia

I want to start today’s blog by wishing my lovely husband a Happy 31st Birthday!

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I like to think of Philadelphia as New York’s friendlier, leafier and artier little sister. It is rich in history and was actually Ian’s favourite stop on our East Coast road trip this summer. We both loved our three days here and managed to pack a lot in! Here are my recommendations for a long weekend in this beautiful city.

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EAT

Chifa Food Truck

Found at the Spruce Street Harbor Park, this Peruvian-Japanese fusion may sound like a strange combination but it works brilliantly! We had ribs, chicken wings and fish tacos (pretty much my three favourite foods!) and they were all delicious.

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Franklin Ice Cream

Something of a Philadelphia institution, the ice cream selection was amazing and scoops are served in these cool cardboard boxes too.

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Reading Terminal Market

One of my favourite places in the city, this huge market houses so many different food shops and restaurants, you can get a great meal here. We stopped off for breakfast where I had a hot, buttery pretzel, followed by a doughnut!

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Campo’s

You cannot go to Philadelphia and not have a Philly cheesesteak and my tour guide assures me Campo’s does one of the best! I cannot claim to be an expert but it was pretty damn good.

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The Foodery

Like beer? If so, then you will love this place. Ian and I worked our way through several craft ales and I know we would be here on a weekly basis if we lived nearer! We ate here too which was tasty but the fridges full of beers are the real stars.

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DO

A Bus Tour

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Yes, you will look like a total tourist but we felt that there was so much history in this city and we wanted to find out as much as possible without having to walk around with our heads in a guidebook. We saw things we probably wouldn’t have seen had we just explored the city by foot and our tour guides were all local so we got some good bar and restaurant recommendations from them!

Swing in a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park

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My favourite place in the city! We walked here on our first night and it was amazing to sit by the river as the sun set with cocktails and a selection of food trucks to eat at. You get a fantastic view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and if you’re lucky, you will find a free hammock to relax in.

Visit the Eastern State Penitentiary

If you fancy a slightly alternative museum then you will love this derelict prison. It was quite spooky in places but I loved wandering around with my audio tour, finding out a bit more about this fascinating site.

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Run up the ‘Rocky Steps’

It’s just got to be done!

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STAY

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We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton which I would highly recommend. It was very central, had amazing views from the corner windows and you also get warm chocolate chip cookies when you arrive!

Travel Diaries – Washington DC

Washington was our fourth and final stop on our East Coast road trip – you can read Part One and Two of our New York trip and all about Atlantic City and Philadelphia by clicking on the links!

Day Eleven – Thursday 6th August

I couldn’t have left Philadelphia without running up and down the ‘Rocky Steps’ so I dragged myself out of bed early, put on my trainers and ran out to the art museum, up those famous steps, posed for a quick pic with Sly then headed back to our hotel room to pack our bags again.

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We caught a bus to Washington which was fine (it had free wifi!) then taxied it to our hotel – you know it’s going to be an interesting ride when you tell the taxi driver your hotel address and he asks you “Where’s that?”

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We stayed in Hyatt Place and we loved the room. It was a pretty new hotel and had a lovely little lounge area to chill and watch TV and a really modern, cool bathroom. We weren’t that impressed with the area our hotel was in. NoMa is apparently very up and coming but I just don’t think it was quite there yet and although it seemed quite vibrant in the daytime, it didn’t feel the best place to be walking about at night.

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We decided to head out and do some exploring that afternoon so walked down to the Capitol Building (which was stunning but covered in scaffolding!), wandered through the parks, saw the Washington Monument and had a great dinner of prawn, crab and lobster rolls – yum!

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Day Twelve – Friday 7th August

After breakfast at the hotel, where I tried my first ever ‘biscuits and gravy’, we spent the morning at the Newseum, a museum dedicated to the media. Outside, there is the front page of every main US State’s newspaper as well as some from the UK, Spain, Brazil, China, France and so on.

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This was a fascinating museum and there was such a good variety of exhibits including the Berlin Wall, the history of comic strips in newspaper, a huge archive of the most important headlines over the past two hundred years, a September 11th exhibition, the challenges journalists face in different parts of the world, the dogs of the White House (loved this one!), the Washington Nationals and my favourite which was all about the Vietnam War and the influence the media had on changing public support for it. There was also a section where you could record yourself as a news anchor on screen which was really fun! This was probably my favourite museum of the whole trip (OK, maybe joint favourite with Ellis Island in New York and the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia!)

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We refuelled with some chicken wings and pizza before a wander through the Sculpture Garden on our way to the Museum of American History. On paper this place looked cool but it was very much aimed at a younger audience so we only did a couple of exhibitions…obviously the one including food and a visit to Julia Child’s kitchen!

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That evening we caught the metro over to the Nationals Park to watch a baseball game. This was so much fun especially the firework display at the end of the game.

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Day Thirteen – Saturday 8th August

After a few days in Washington DC, we started to realise how huge and spread out it was so in order to cover it all and not add to our blister count, we bought tickets for another hop-on/ hop-off tour bus. Whilst it wasn’t as good as the Philadelphia one as it was a recording and felt a lot less personal, it did take us everywhere and also to places and memorials we probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise such as Arlington Cemetery and the Pentagon which are over the water in Virginia.

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Lunch was my first ever Shake Shack and was as good as I had hoped! That afternoon we visited the Vietnam and Lincoln memorials before heading to Chinatown for happy hour cocktails and an amazing Mexican meal where our waiter made our guacamole at our table…I grilled him for his recipe!

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Day Fourteen – Sunday 9th August

Our last full day in America! It was Liverpool’s first match of the new season and I read about a Liverpool supporters’ bar not too far away from us. We spent the morning there and it was such a good atmosphere and a chance to chat with some locals too. We left a bit tipsy and realised it was still only about midday!

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That afternoon we went to Georgetown, one of the oldest parts of Washington and one I’d heard was a bit less touristy and cool. I loved it here and wish we could have spent longer wandering around the shops and trying out the bakeries and bars. We had a really nice lunch here (ribs!) before hitting Sephora where I got so excited running up the stairs that I tripped and fell! I was so embarrassed and ended up overspending to hide my shame – like in that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie falls over in Dior and ends up buying loads to make up for it!

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We spent our final night packing, eating doughnuts and watching Sons of Anarchy and I also cracked open my new Essie polish to try out!

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Luckily our flights home were a lot less stressful than when we left the UK, although I suffered with horrendous jet lag for the next few days and was a bit zombie-like most afternoons!

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So that is the end of this ‘Travel Diaries’ series. I think you can probably tell we had an absolutely incredible couple of weeks and I feel a bit lost now I don’t have something to spend my spare time planning for…I may have to get our next trip booked soon! x

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Home Sweet Home

We’re back! After an incredible 2 weeks away, 5 US states and countless foodie pictures on Instagram, Ian and I are back from our East Coast adventures.

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It’s always strange coming back from a really good holiday – part of me doesn’t want it to end and I wish we were still in our little holiday bubble, eating out and exploring new cities with only each other for company. However, a really good holiday also inspires me to come home and shake things up a bit and I plan on making the most of what is left of this summer.

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Let’s not avoid the obvious though; I am covered in mosquito bites that I am trying my hardest not to scratch, our laundry basket is overflowing, there is ‘stuff’ everywhere around the house, Ian is back at work already, my suitcase broke on the way home and don’t even get me started on jet lag…I’ve been up since 1:30am this morning, watching GBBO and drinking endless cups of tea!!!

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However, there is a part of me that is really happy to be home and back in my own bed. I feel very inspired with my blog again and will obviously be documenting our holiday in detail over the next few weeks as well as introducing some new weekly features. I also feel very determined to get a bit fitter and healthier after a very indulgent fortnight, catch up with as many friends over the next few weeks and complete an essay for a qualification I have worked my arse off for over the past year.

Anyway, I have insect bite cream to apply and another load of washing to do so I will sign off for now…expect our New York post very soon! x

Sunday Catch-up #30

I am writing this week’s Sunday post in a rather excited state as Ian and I are off to the States tomorrow for two weeks on a little East Coast adventure! We will be celebrating both my 30th birthday and our two year wedding anniversary when we are away as well as visiting New York, Atlantic City, Philadelphia and Washington. I have been busy planning like crazy to fit in as much as possible so expect a shedload of travel posts when we get back…bon voyage!

This week I have been…

Making: a summer reading list to enjoy

Going: for various beauty treatments…the things us ladies have to do pre-holiday!

Wearing: my pyjamas all day today

Eating: this lovely quinoa, hummus, chorizo and falafel lunch

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Drinking: tea

Reading: Cosmo magazine – it feels like ages since I’ve read a proper magazine as opposed to something online

Watching: Sons of Anarchy – we finished a series in a week!

Buying: this delicious and pretty-looking granola

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Planning: the last leg of our America trip

Cooking: pulled lamb

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Baking:  nothing this week

Writing: endless to-do lists

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Favouriting: the Lenny newsletter – looking forward to receiving the first one

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Working on: our America itinerary

Trying to decide: what colours to paint my nails tonight

Wishing: for a speedy non-delayed flight tomorrow morning

Enjoying: a well-deserved lie-in on the first day of my summer holidays

Needing: to finish packing

Feeling: so excited!!!

Giggling at: how orange I looked post-spray-tan (it has significantly faded now!)

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Our Next Adventure…

Today I wanted to share some very exciting news. Nope, not pregnant…we’ve just booked our summer holiday!

Ian and I are off to the States again in July and August for a few weeks to explore a bit of the East Coast. We love America and despite a few visits there, there is still so much we haven’t seen.

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So far, our itinerary involves flying to New York (where we’ll be for my 30th birthday), driving down the coast to Atlantic City for a few days by the sea (and our 2nd wedding anniversary), driving to Philadelphia and then ending up in Washington DC.

We have been to New York before but the other three places have been on my ‘to-do’ list for a long time and I think all four stops offer something completely different from the fast-paced city life of New York, to the boardwalks and casinos of Atlantic City to the historical cities of Philly and DC.

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Obviously the countdown has already begun for me (186 days!) and it is acting as great motivation to keep up with eating healthy and exercising more as well as having something to look forward to in these cold and wet months.

My planning instincts have already kicked in and I am busy researching places to eat and drink at, where to visit and what to add to my shopping list (so far it looks like there will be a huge Sephora haul for some new make-up and beauty brands!) I am open to any recommendations for shops, restaurants and must-see places in all 4 locations but I also very much enjoy this stage of shopping around and reading reviews to find the perfect place for brunch or a burger.

I’ll try not to bang on about this trip too much on the blog although I’m sure my excitement will overspill from time to time!

Finally, I have to mention our amazing travel agent Natalie! I email her with all sorts of crazy travel ideas and she always manages to piece everything together, find amazing hotels and take a large amount of stress away from someone as indecisive as me. I highly recommend dropping her an email next time you are planning a getaway.

Majorca

Well we are back feeling relaxed, rested and sporting some lovely tan lines. After stopping off on the way home for the essentials, the first things I did when we walked through the door were to put the kettle on for a brew (tea just doesn’t taste same abroad!) and watch this week’s episode of the Bake Off…priorities!

I have now sorted the more practical things such as laundry, unpacking and picking up another hire car (mine has been in the garage for over a month now!) and Ian has crashed out on the sofa so I thought I would trawl through our holiday photos and share our week away.

Without sounding ridiculously unappreciative, this wasn’t an all-singing, all-dancing activity-packed holiday for us – quite the opposite! We just wanted to relax and enjoy the sun, good books, good food and a bit of Spanish culture. We both have jobs where we find it quite difficult to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day, which as you probably know can be exhausting, so a chilled out week away was exactly what the holiday doctor ordered.

We only booked the holiday three days before we left so I can’t say we had our heart set on Majorca but I love Spain and I have visited the island a couple of times before and always loved the beaches.

As always for me, the holiday begins at the airport with some duty free shopping…

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But before long we were off and enjoying a Bloody Mary with a view…

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We had quite a late flight and didn’t end up getting to our hotel until after midnight but here were my first views of our location from the restaurant…

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Not a bad view to eat your croissants over (or drink your Buck’s Fizz if you are my husband!)

As you can probably see, our hotel was situated upon a cliff surrounding a lovely little cove meaning we were overlooking the sea and had beautiful sunrises and sunsets to admire every morning and evening.

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We opted to go all-inclusive and were really impressed by the quality and variety of food available; salads, joints of meat, paella, risottos, seafood, pastries, cheeses…they had it all!

Most days, the weather was glorious so our days were spent reading, cooling off in the pool, jumping into the sea and snorkelling amongst the fish, eating, drinking with the odd siesta thrown in for good measure.

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Unfortunately, we did have one rather overcast day but rather than hang around at the hotel, I booked us on a boat trip to the nearby capital of Palma. One of the benefits of staying in a hotel right on the sea was the boat picked us up from our hotel jetty! It was a glass-bottomed boat but we only managed about 5 minutes down there before the swaying and movement of the waters made us both feel a bit seasick!

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Palma has a stunning cathedral and castle so they were our first stops after embarking, then we explored the narrow, winding side streets, stopping off for a chai and cake and of course a trip to El Corte Inglés and Sephora for me!

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Palma is a stunning city and part of me wishes we had a bit more time to explore it but it was a short but very sweet trip.

On our final night, we had a local flamenco group visit the hotel and perform in a cave overlooking the sea. The location was great and the dancing even better. Ever since I visited a really good flamenco club in Madrid with my friends Lorna and Collette during our year abroad in Spain, I have loved it. I am by no means a dance expert but there is something about the movements, the song lyrics, the clapping and the guitars that are just mesmerising to me. I even forced Ian into having a cheesy picture with the dancers after the show!

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We had a horribly early flight home this morning but I made sure I found time for just one more sunrise…

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