Sunday, 31 March 2019

Sarah Visits | Lake District & South Lakes Zoo

Last week I went on a girls night away with my bestie and it was just what I needed. I had been so stressed out with work and it came just at the right time. Sometimes some quality time with your mates is the best medicine right?!

Back in January for my Birthday, my friend Adele had bought me a Giraffe feeding experience and a Red Panda experience at South Lakes Safari Zoo in the Lake District and we had booked to do it last week so we decided to make the most of it and have a girls night there as well. We stayed in a gorgeous boutique hotel called Aphrodites Lodge which was a small cute hotel in Bowness-on-Windemere, just a short walk from Windemere Marina, and the ferry terminal on Lake Windemere. Our room we stayed in was called the Orchid Suite and was really big with a huge circular bed, a double bath and private hot tub just outside, which was under shelter in case it rained. A perfect touch as let's be honest it normally does in England! It's a spa hotel and has a big lovely pool and a pretty little bar (only open until 10:30pm though!), but we didn't really use any of the amenities in the hotel as we were only there for one night and were leaving early the next day.
The only thing I will fault about the hotel is that there wasn't a restaurant. They had bar snacks you could order as room service but this was more like nacho's, bread and oil, etc.. and nothing really for an evening meal. There are restaurants dotted around the local area but most restaurants/takeaways were a 20 minute walk from the hotel. Not ideal when we had already cracked open the gin and couldn't drive. We ended up ordering a pizza to the hotel and spending the night drinking in the hot tub and watching films. If that's not a good girls night then I don't know what is! Let's not talk about Adele screaming in the middle of the night that there was a girl floating above us though shall we... hahahaha! Actually nearly shit my pants! I think a mixture of lots of gin and an extremely warm room was to blame for that one though!

Before we spent hours turning into prunes in the hot tub, we went for a wander down to Lake Windemere and Windemere Marina and I have got to say, some of those boats docked in the Marina were impressive!! We spent about half an hour wandering around them all picking which one we will buy when we win the lottery! Because I swear it will happen one day. One day those "we have news about your ticket" emails will be telling me I have won more a couple million more than the usual £4.50 I am sure of it!

The Lake District is so beautiful. Look at those views!! When you live in a big city like Liverpool, sometimes a trip to somewhere so different like the Lakes and breathing in the fresh air is just so relaxing and chills you out so much. I love just getting away for a day or two to places like this, it honestly makes you feel a million miles away from the stress of the office! I really want to see more of the Lake District when the weathers a bit nicer as this was only the second time I had been. I really want to visit places like this more and be in the great outdoors a little more. As Belle once sang, "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere!"

The next day it was the day I had been excited for since my Birthday when I got the present and time to do something I had always wanted to do. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love animals and absolutely adore Giraffes and I had wanted to do Giraffe feeding experience with them for SO long. And today was the day I was finally going to live out that dream! I was so so excited I can't even begin to explain!

We had our experience with a lad called Simon who was so friendly, chatty and told us so much about the Giraffes. He told us all about the food they ate, about the actual Giraffes that lived there, some facts about Giraffes and how they do amazing work alongside other zoo's around the world to try and help prevent extinction. There was only me Adele and two others doing the experience that day so it felt so much more personal and made the experience so much better as we got so much more time each feeding them.
The feeding was amazing, I felt so overwhelmed and like my heart could have burst! They are such beautiful animals and were so gentle when they were taking the food, they let us stroke them and when we were talking, they kept popping their heads down to our group as if they wanted to be part of whatever we were talking about! We fed them carrots and in total we spent about 45 minutes with them. It was such an amazing experience and something I would highly recommend. I have loved Giraffes all my life and to finally get so up close and personal with them really was a dream come true!

As it was a weekday in March, the zoo was quite empty that day which meant we could go ages without seeing anyone and it was so much nicer than the usual crowds you have to fight through during Summer or weekends. As there wasn't many visitors, straight after our Giraffe experience, Simon asked us if we wanted to go and see the Rhinos. Obviously we weren't going to say no! He took us over and he spent around 15 mins with us talking about the Rhinos and he even let us stroke them! AS IF I have stroked an actual Rhino! They felt so strange, the body feels just like you would expect, hard and coarse, but their faces are so squashy and soft. It was such an amazing little extra we were so lucky to get!

The penguins are free to roam around their enclosure and the public are able to walk through and be so close to them which I have never seen in a zoo before. They do feeding experiences throughout the day for £3 but they only take cash and we only had our bank cards so unfortunately we didn't get to feed them. We did get to walk through and hang out with them for a little bit though and some of them even let me stroke them! Adele wasn't so lucky though and one did try and bite her finger off haha! They are such funny little characters waddling along! 

Our Red Panda feeding didn't go to plan but every cloud has a silver lining! We went over and they were in their mating season so they were more interested in each other than us and would't come out the tree they were in. The female Red Panda, Tinkerbell was asleep and the male Red Panda, Pan (how amazing are those names!), was too busy being a horny devil and trying to get his wicked way with her and unfortunately for us, at that time the food just wasn't as interesting as having some Panda fun with Tinkerbell! We decided to give it half an hour and try again as the other two people on our experience had a Sloth feeding experience booked too. We hadn't seen the sloth yet so we went over with them to see him while they were feeding him. We just sat to the side while they did their experience and half way through they asked us if we wanted a go of feeding him! We said no at first as they had paid for this experience and we didn't want to use some of their time when they had spent their money on it, but they insisted so we also got to have the amazing experience of feeding Stanley the Sloth as well! He was absolutely adorable and loved his grapes we fed him. I couldn't believe the kindness of the couple offering some of their experience to us. We were so grateful!

The second try of the feeding experience with Pan and Tinkerbell still didn't go to plan, however we did get to feed Pan even if he was still refusing to come out of his tree. We fed him their favourite food Bamboo and just seeing his little face looking down at me while he was chomping on his leaves was enough for me.

Thinking back I honestly can't believe how lucky we were to get so many little extras throughout the day. I highly recommend South Lakes Safari Zoo for a fun day out, it's not as big as other zoo's I've been to but the fact you can get so close to the animals was just the best experience! We had the best day there and I am so happy I had one of my dreams come true finally and fed my all time faves! Plus ticking things off my bucket list I didn't even know were on there!


Sunday, 3 March 2019

Sarah Travels | Budapest

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away"

I was sitting on the top of an open top bus, next to my favourite person in the world, the sun shining down on us while the stunning Hungarian city flew past us, the Danube sparkling bright next to us in the sunshine, and seeing Craig sitting next to me beaming with happiness. It was then that I knew Budapest had stolen my heart. (Sorry Paris, I still love you!! This must be what cheating feels like haha!).

Those times in your life where you just feel so happy you could burst, Budapest was one of those times for me.

I'm currently having a lazy Sunday while the rain's pouring down outside so I thought today is the perfect day for a throwback to sunnier times strolling around a glorious city. Let's throw it back to Budapest, mine and Craig's first trip abroad together back in May 2018.

Budapest is somewhere I've wanted to go for a long time. I've never known too much about the place or country as a whole, and it's not the most common of city breaks, but something about it has always intrigued me and I have just felt drawn there and was desperate to go. Once I got there, it became so clear that I had made the right choice in wanting to go there. It's got such a magical feeling to it. It was also mine and Craig's first holiday abroad together, so it was always going to be special no matter where we were, but there was just something about that city. I felt so content, so comfortable and I can see why George Ezra wrote a song about the place.
Castle Hill Furnicular
Fisherman's Bastion & amazing views from the Bastion over the Danube

Fisherman's Bastion
Budapest is split into two sides, Buda and Pest which are separated by the Danube. Buda was definitely my favourite of the two, being home to the absolutely breathtaking Castle District. The Castle District is where you will find Buda Castle (which now houses Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery) and Fisherman's Bastion. It was amazing and was completely different to anywhere I'd ever been or anything I'd seen in any other city break I had been on. 
We got the funicular up the hill which took about 5 minutes. I was expecting it to be a little bit longer to be honest but it was so cute! I swear down though, I have never seen Craig so excited. Even now to this day I haven't seen him as excited as he was getting on that funicular haha, whereas I hadn't even heard of a funicular before we went I'm not going to lie! 

The views of across Budapest from the Castle District, and in particular the Fisherman's Basiton are just unreal! 4 of my favourite things in the world, sunsets, rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and a good view!! You can see for miles right across the city and the Parliament building standing tall on the Pest riverside.
The Fisherman's Bastion is a must see while you are in Budapest. It reminded me of Hogwarts (massive Harry Potter fan over here, so more brownie points there!), and although it was extremely crowded it's definitely something I'd highly recommend going to have a look at. I just wanted to don a cloak and a wand and run around shouting Expelliarmus!
While we were there, there was a little market taking place in the Castle District where we tried some "chips on a stick" (not a fan), wandered around the cute little market stands, saw some traditional Hungarian dancers, and had the best pasta I have ever had in a restaurant called Arany Hordo Vendeglo just round the corner from the Fishermans Bastion. Budapest is really big on Paprika and we had the most gorgeous spaghetti with chicken and mushrooms in a creamy paprika sauce, ABSOLUTE HEAVEN! We also saw the changing of the guards in the Buda Castle take place and had the most gorgeous Gelato. It was perfect.

View from the Castle Hill District
Market on Castle Hill & Chip's on a Stick
St Stephen's Basilica  & View's from the top
Budapest Eye & the most stunning sunset from the top of the Eye
Most amazing Pasta in the world at Arany Hordo Vendeglo & the best Pizza's ever at I Quattro Artisti

After we had left the Castle District we travelled back over to the Pest side of the River and went and climbed the millions of steps to the top of St Stephen's Basilica which was an absolute killer, I thought I was gonna have serious quads of steel on the go after climbing those stairs! It was well worth it though when you get to the top and are greeted with some incredible views! Again with the view I know but honestly, see it for yourself and you will understand! 
We ended the day with the nicest Pizza in the world at I Quattro Artisti, Budapest really know how to do good food! We also had some delicious wine, and then had a little ride on the Budapest Eye while the sun was setting. As far as first days on holiday go, it was pretty unbeatable!

The next day we visited the Szechenyi Thermal Baths which is an extravagant thermal outdoor baths and it was amazing. I know the name is thermal bath, but I did not expect the water to be as warm as it was. It was a toasty 26 degrees and I could have spent all day in there if we weren't on a strict timescale.  You can hire a cubicle which you can get changed in and then lock after you to store all your clothes and valuables in and you can hire towels as well which are extremely clean so if you have plans after like we did you don't have to worry about carrying around wet towels with you all day. The place itself is just stunning and although it was extremely busy, it was so relaxing. The only thing I wasn't impressed with was the amount of men who were rocking speedo's but nothing can be perfect I guess haha. It's definitely the number 1 thing I would recommend doing in Budapest along with visiting the Castle District and Fisherman's Bastion.

That day we also visited Margaret Island, a 1 and a half mile Island situated in the middle of the Danube which is covered in Parks and it just absolutely beautiful. We were meant to hire bikes and ride around but we ended up on a little golf style buggy and rode that around the Island which was SO fun! Only problem was, short arse Sarah over here couldn't reach the pedals on it so poor Craig ended up doing all the pedalling while I just steered and videoed us haha!  Again I wish we had longer to spend on there, we didn't plan our time as good on the second day and everything ended up being a bit rushed, but we still got a good hour there. 

We ended this day with a sunset cruise down the Danube which was just absolutely unbelievable and something I would highly recommend doing. We bought hop on hop off bus tickets and got the cruise included in the price for those but they also do more pricey options on more grand boats with meals and music which sounded amazing!  

Margaret Island
Riding around Margaret Island
Sunset boat cruise on the Danube
Parliament Building

On our last day before we went home, we managed to fit in a little trip to the Shoes on the Danube memorial on the Pest side of the River which was really beautiful but also extremely sad.  The Shoes on the Danube memorial was made to remember the thousands of people murdered by being made to remove their shoes and then line up on the River Bank before being shot dead into the River by the Arrow Cross Party during the War. It was extremely moving and such a beautiful way to remember all the innocent people killed in such an awful way. 

Shoes On the Danube Memorial

Budapest is such an amazing City, with absolutely loads to do. We had so much we wanted to see and do which we never got the chance to while we were there. We really want to go and see the Parliament building properly because we only saw it from afar, and we really want to go to Budapest Zoo, go and see Heroes Square and see Liberty Statue. But we also want to spend more time in the Thermal Baths and on Margaret Island. We will definitely be back at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, to experience what other delights my new favourite city has to offer.

If you haven't been to Budapest before I would definitely add it to your bucket list of places to visit. You won't regret it! 

Once a year, go somewhere you've never been before 


Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Sarah's City | City of Light, City of Sanctuary

Last week and through into the weekend, a floating city of light shone bright in a Liverpool park.

An amazing Liverpool based art company called the Lantern Company brought their magical art display to Sefton Park and of course, I had to go down and see it. I have been to a Halloween carnival created by the Lantern Company before and I knew how amazing their creations were and when I saw this advertised I knew I couldn't miss it! I mean, it's a floating city of lanterns! If it doesn't remind you of the lantern scene from Tangled, aka one of the best Disney scenes EVER than you have no soul!
I love how unique the Lantern Companies work is and how beautiful everything that they create is, and the fact that they are a home grown Scouse independent company just makes supporting them even better!

The event took place on Sefton Parks boating lake and was free to attend. Their was was another part to it which was the City of Sanctuary part in the Palm House which also looked brilliant, but that was ticketed and we didn't manage to get tickets unfortunately. Seeing this was enough for me though. Not every day you can say you saw something like this!

It was an absolutely beautiful art event and it blew me away how pretty and magical it was when the night time hit and the city of lanterns shone in all their glory. I love how much diversity there is in Liverpool and always something unique and exciting going on that really manages to bring the city together. If you can't tell, I am a very proud scouser ;) There was so many people there, it was absolutely rammed and over the 5 nights this event was on for, every night was the same. Liverpool just completely fell in love with the shining city on the boating lake and I certainly hope it's not the last time we see it, or something similar comes along soon. 

I just had to end this post with a shot of the gorgeous fire sky above the floating city at dusk while we were waiting for it to go dark. I just love me a good sunset!

Another amazing event Liverpool, well done! Cannot wait for the next one! Keep them coming!