Friday, 29 July 2016

Travel Essentials 101

FEATURING: Shirt - Hollister, T-Shirt - H&M, Swimming Shorts - Primark, Shower Gel - Jack Wills, Watch & Book - Urban Outfitters, Sunglasses - New Look

Happy Friday folks! I'm writing this post just before I start packing for my two week trip to the Mediterranean with my family. I haven't went on a family vacation in nearly four years so I'm really looking forward to it! I can't wait to trade in the clouds and rain for some sunshine and heat, I've missed it so much! The photo above showcases just some of the accessories and menswear that I'll be sporting while away such as my linen floral shirt courtesy of Hollister and my favourite sunglasses from New Look. I'll be travelling to the Balearic island of Majorca for two whole weeks so I'm extremely excited to see what the place has in store for us. After six long years away from the Spanish island, I can't wait to return to dive straight into it's culture, food and of course it's swimming pools.
So this summer whether you're jetting off somewhere hot and exotic or making the most of any sun which turns up in the UK, I thought I'd share some travel essentials you need to be packing in your suitcase!  
  Okay let's get the most obvious ones out of the way first; passport and boarding pass. Let's be honest, you're getting nowhere without them so they're definitely the most essential for any trip. In terms of what to wear on your feet, I prefer flip flops and espadrilles while away. I just find them extremely comfortable as they give your feet plenty of air to breathe. I think that a classic style flip flop should be near the top of any holiday goers checklist. Just match the colours to key items in your summer wardrobe for a co-ordinated look. Now I think shirts are a must for men while travelling, as long as they don't have garish patterns or witty slogans. I'm loving floral patterned shirts at the moment, my favourite being my Hollister one above. Combining style and feel with a simple lightweight cotton shirt will look great under the summer sun. I do love my stripes as well, especially on t-shirts, so if you're like me then H&M and River Island tick all the boxes. Now wherever you go hopefully the sun will be out and so a decent pair of sunnies is essential. Designed to wear for taking in the sights or doing something extreme, I'd definitely recommend New Look for a great pair.
Now you're basically going to be living in shorts your whole trip, I know I will, so they're a must too. Whether they're knee length, three-quarter lengths, ripped, I think all of them are acceptable. I'm also going to be bringing a few decent reads to bring with me; some new ones along with some of my old favourites. I figured I could read them on the journey there or even by the pool or at the beach. You could also bring a notebook if you're the type of guy that likes to record memories the old fashioned way, it would be the perfect travel companion! A camera or phone is also essential to capture those precious memories. I've already got my phone and camera wiped and charging as I write this, looking forward to taking some Spanish snaps! If you're travelling anywhere near the sea or somewhere with a pool then swimming shorts will be needed as well. If you're going somewhere similar to myself then the pool or beach will become your natural habitat. Bring a couple of pairs with bright and colourful designs. I'm not into knee-length swimming shorts so shorten the length and up your game!
Sun cream and after sun are also two biggies, regardless of your skin tone or proximity to sunshine, there is always a risk of sunburn in warmer climates. You could also bring a portable speaker as a great soundtrack is essential for building those holiday memories. A couple more obvious ones would be your wallet, beach towel, shower gel, cologne etc. Now a smart item to take with you which I don't think many people do is a phrase book for the country you're visiting. It doesn't have to be anything extensive but you never know when a few local phrases might come in handy. Finally I think some hand luggage is essential as well. I like having a backpack with me so I can put all my electronics, books, snacks etc into. These items will always be with me for the journey and they won't be taking up any valuable space in my suitcase.
So there you have it folks, we've got all our essentials and are ready to travel! Hopefully this post was helpful for anyone travelling this summer. I'd love to hear what you think of it! Don't forget to leave a comment below or follow me on Bloglovin', Twitter and Instagram. Now I'm not going to be blogging while I'm away, I'm just going to be enjoying the quality time with my family. But I can't wait to let you guys know what I've been doing when I return next month. So until then, have a great couple of weeks everyone!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Things to do on a budget!

Okay folks, it's that time of the year again. Summer! The time where you want to go out every single day and do something with friends or family, experience new things and enjoy the weather (when its not miserable that is). But every year money is always an issue with most people. You want to enjoy the time off but between one thing or another you just don't have the money to. This is even quite relevant with myself recently because between university, working and going on holidays, it's sometimes difficult for me to always go out and enjoy myself. So lately I've been getting out with my friends and family while being money aware, not spending as much and actually still having a brilliant time! Looking back, when we were all younger we all had fantastic summer breaks and it barely cost us a thing. Now that we're adults, why does it have to change? We honestly don't need to splash the cash to celebrate our favourite season! Recently I went to St. Georges Market with my parents to take in all the crafts and produce, went on a hike with my friend up Cavehill to be greeted with spectacular views over the city of Belfast and bought food to eat beside the sea before watching the sunset over Belfast Lough. Honestly there are endless activities to do this summer, and I've rounded up the best ones below. The best thing is, they'll barely cost you a thing! 

1. Do a walking tour of your city
2. Go stargazing on a warm summers night
3. Cook your favourite meal from scratch
4. Take a road trip to your nearest beach
5. Go camping
6. Have a picnic
7. Go hiking
8. Play mini golf
9. Visit a museum
10. Have a water balloon fight
11. Volunteer in your community
12. Watch the sunset
13. Visit your local market
14. Photography challenges
15. Get sporty
16. Play board games in the sun
17. Movie night with friends/family
18. Binge-watch a great television series
19. Throw a BBQ for friends/family
20. Plan your next summer vacation
So there you have it, 20 different things to do over summer while on a budget. I'll definitely being doing some of these before I go back to university! What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions at what activities to do? Let me know in the comments below! Also don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin', Twitter and Instagram.
Until next time folks.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

New York, New York | Photo Diary

So I woke up this morning facing the rather depressing reality that it has been exactly a whole year since I jetted off to the States for a three week holiday. Before that, the furthest that I had travelled to had been Menorca in the Mediterranean. So you could imagine my excitement, waking up at 4am to catch my very first long haul flight to New York City. Not only a week in the Big Apple but two full weeks in Orlando, Florida... but I can talk about that part of the journey on a future post. I can still remember everything so clearly in my head, it was honestly a week I will never forget! Some of my personal favourite moments were exploring the West Village and the Financial District, adventuring around Central Park, witnessing the most spectacular sunset from the High Line and taking in the most breath-taking views of this city from the top of the Empire State Building. I also dived right into the food world, of course making time to devour a huge plate of American pancakes and filling up on as many M&M's as I could! New York is probably one of my favourite places and when people call it the city that never sleeps, you better believe it. There's just so much to see and do but read below for everything I'd recommend most:    

Empire State Building - This has to be at the top of any NYC tourist check-list, the views are incredible and are definitely well worth the wait. Located in Midtown Manhatten, only $32 per adult and 360 degree views of the city from the observation deck make this experience one not to be missed.
Statue of Liberty - Another must is the Statue of Liberty located on Liberty Island in New York Harbour. It's only a short boat ride from Battery Park in Southern Manhatten to the Island with impressive views of the city skyline. Once there you have the opportunity to climb higher up Lady Liberty to take in everything and of course have your camera at the ready because it's absolutely beautiful there.
Central Park - I planned an entire day just for Central Park which is found in middle-upper Manhatten, and thank god that I did because it's one of the most beautiful places I had ever been to. There's honestly just so much to see, I kept finding new places such as the Bethesda Fountain and the Shakespeare Garden. Even with a full day I didn't get around everything because it's that huge but next time I definitely will.  
Top of the Rock - This observation deck on top of the famous Rockefellar Centre gives stunning cityscapes across the whole of Manhatten. From either side of the deck you have spectacular views of Central Park, the Empire State Building, the One World Trade Centre, the Hudson River, everything! This is one not to be missed!
9/11 Memorial Museum - I visited the Memorial and Museum on my last day while in the Financial District to see and learn more of what happened on that fateful day back in 2001. It was actually extremely overwhelming, especially seeing all of the names of the people who lost their lives on the memorials. Actually being there in person and paying my respects is definitely something I'm never going to forget.
Grand Central Station - Being one of the busiest train stations in the country, I actually didn't even get on a train, I just explored the terminal. As Marty from Madagascar described it, "It's grand and it's central". The scale kind of blew me away and I was left in disbelief at how beautiful it was so definitely check it out if you're in the city. 
High Line - This was probably the most unique thing I came across in NYC as it's a linear park on an elevated section of a disused central railroad. It's filled with shops, a wide range of vegetation, different styles of art and magnificent views across the New York streets. Even some of the original railway tracks are still present along the park. I came here twice during my stay and even watched the most beautiful sunset beside the Hudson River.
Brooklyn Bridge - I walked on this bridge while exploring the Financial District and the sheer size of it was incredible. It seemed to go on forever but I loved it. Next time I'd love to actually cross the whole thing and venture into Brooklyn.
Times Square - This is a hotspot for tourists, everywhere you looked there was someone with a camera out or even a selfie stick. I visited Times Square on my very first day as it was near my hotel and it literally took my breath away. All the lights, the screens, the atmosphere, it was just incredible. It's even better at night time, so if you have the chance definitely visit here during the evening because you won't be disappointed. 
Flatiron Building - This skyscraper is just a short stroll away from the Empire State Building so it's handy to tackle the two in the same day. Located just beside Madison Square Park, this buildings architecture is amazing and is definitely worth a visit.
Hard Rock Cafe - If you love rock n' roll and have a taste for burgers and American classics, this is the place for you! I know there are lot's of Hard Rock Cafe's around the world but this was my very first and I had the most amazing experience there. The food was delicious, mind you the portions were a lot bigger than I'm used to but I loved it. It had music from The Beatles and Elvis along the walls, guitars signed by Linkin Park and Adam Levine as well as costumes worn by the likes of Madonna. So definitely check that out while waiting on a table. 
Bourbon Street Bar & Grill - I only found this place by chance and I'm so glad that I did, I loved it and even came back the next night for another meal. Inspired by Southern Louisiana culture and only a few blocks away from Times Square, I would definitely recommend it.  
Applebees - I had never heard of Applebees before arriving in America but it's a huge family restaurant grill and bar. It is located just beside Times Square so it had a very central location and the food was so delicious! I only had breakfast in there, and that was on my last day. I had a huge plate of pancakes with cream and strawberries so of course the place got a huge thumbs up from me! 
Yotel - Now I only stayed in one hotel while in NYC and I honestly couldn't recommend it enough. I had the loveliest time while at Yotel for multiple reasons but specifically the staff, the luxurious rooms, the location (only 0.7 miles away from Times Square) and the stunning views across the city and Hudson River. 
I feel like I experienced so much of New York in that week but there was still so much more to see such as the American Museum of Natural History, Chinatown and even Central Park Zoo. I hope I can go back one day very soon, it was incredible! If you have never been and get the opportunity to go do not let it pass, this place is amazing and you won't regret it!
I hope you've enjoyed reading about my experiences in the Big Apple, what about yours? Have you even been to any of these places or is there anywhere you might recommend visiting while in NYC? I'd love to hear from you so don't be afraid to drop a comment below or follow me on Bloglovin', Twitter or Instagram.
Until next time folks.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Tuesday Tunes | July Playlist

Since the beginning of summer there have been so many new songs released, it's honestly so difficult trying to choose which ones are the best and which ones to even include in this post. I'm going to slightly drift from the usual "What I've Been Listening To" posts and create a specific playlist instead. So these will be all the songs that have been stuck in my head for the past few weeks and probably won't be out of my head until at least the end of summer. As soon as the sun comes out, I'm usually one of the first to get the music blaring, so these are the tunes that I'm going to be playing on repeat for the whole month!

In true summer playlist style, there is a bit of everything on here, ranging from the tropical house of Kygo to the alternative indie pop of Twenty One Pilots. But we're starting this whole playlist off with a summer banger in the form of Calvin Harris & Rihanna with This Is What You Came For. Back in 2011 when the duo collaborated on We Found Love it instantly became my favourite song at the time so when I heard they were working on some new material I was very excited. And this song does not disappoint! I've had it on repeat since I heard it. I honestly don't have to say much about the next track. Justin Timberlake's Can't Stop The Feeling is by far one of my favourite songs of 2016 and should be on everyone's summer playlist! Galantis are fairly new to the music scene but I absolutely love the music they've released, my favourite being their newest single, No Money.  
One of my friends actually recommended me to listen to Ariana Grande's new song, Into You, and thank god that they did because I absolutely love it! I'm blaring it right now while writing this. After Jonas Blue's amazing cover of Tracey Chapman's Fast Car earlier in the year I didn't know how they were going to top it. But they've came back with Perfect Strangers and it's an absolute summer banger! If you haven't heard it, definitely give it a listen! I've loved Demi for years and the song Cool For The Summer is ever so catchy... it was near the top of my 2015 summer playlist so of course I had to include it in this one. Now Twenty One Pilots. What a band. Everyone go and listen to their music now if you haven't heard of them before. I saw them live last summer at a music festival when they were only a support act and thought they were amazing. Their latest single Ride is a reggae summer classic so check it out.

I'm bringing out the big guns with the one and only Ed Sheeran. The man can do no wrong. He's a musical and lyrical genius. His album X or Multiply is one of my favourites and the song Photograph is perfect. Also couldn't resist throwing in some Coldplay because who doesn't like Coldplay? Now I wouldn't say I'm a massive Drake fan but his song One Dance is pretty amazing. It's literally played everywhere I go and it's stuck in my head. Trust me it'll be in your head soon enough - it's so catchy. Lastly I've been loving DNCE's Cake By The Ocean, it's definitely a dance-worthy summer song. It just has that summer vibe to it and the actual meaning behind the song is hilarious.

Calvin Harris (feat. Rihanna) - This Is What You Came For
Justin Timberlake - Can't Stop The Feeling
Galantis - No Money
Dua Lipa - Hotter Than Hell
LuvBug - Best Is Yet To Come
Ariana Grande - Into You
Jonas Blue (feat. JP. Cooper) - Perfect Strangers
Demi Lovato - Cool For The Summer
Twenty One Pilots - Ride
Drake - One Dance
Ed Sheeran - Photograph
Coldplay - A Sky Full Of Stars
James Bay - Let It Go
     Kygo (feat. Kodaline) - Raging
  Jason Derulo - If It Ain't Love
DNCE - Cake By The Ocean

So there you have it folks, that's the songs I'll have on repeat this month. What's your favourite track on my July playlist? What songs are you loving at the moment? Let me know in the comments below! As always, thanks for reading and don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin, Twitter and Instagram!

Until next time.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Welcome to Calpe | Holiday Edit

Don't ask me why it's taken so long to upload these photographs, I've been incredibly busy and this post is well overdue but let's get caught up shall we?

In my very first post I briefly mentioned that I had jetted off to sunny Spain at the beginning of June after my University exams were complete. We began with an early morning flight to Alicante airport before a two hour coach ride driving along the Spanish coast. I had always travelled to the Balearic Islands such as Majorca and Menorca for trips but never mainland Spain. I was in absolute awe of the rugged and unique coastline as well as the mountainous terrain which seemed to extend for miles from the sea. We drove through a small town called Altea which was bursting with Spanish character and I had just wished we could have made a pit stop here because it was utterly stunning - maybe next time. But we drove on through the Altea Hills and Maryvilla before arriving in the charming coastal town of Calpe located right next to the Mediterranean Sea.

Calpe is one of the most beautiful trips I have ever been on. It was such a wonderful town bursting with Spanish culture and breath-taking views across the Mediterranean Sea. My camera wasn't out of my hand for the whole week! There is so much to experience here! First of all the hotel that we were staying at was absolutely incredible. The Gran Hotel Sol Y Mar was hands down one of the best places I have ever stayed at! With a perfect location overlooking the ocean and landscape, a modern and stylish interior design, an infinity pool, a gym, beautiful rooms and a breakfast buffet like no other - it was perfection every morning - I honestly couldn't recommend this hotel enough. If you're ever visiting Calpe definitely stay here, you will not be disappointed!
Over the 7 days we found the perfect balance of relaxation and exploration! The Parque Natural De Penyal D'lfach which is a huge natural park and visual feature located on the Calpe coastline is a must for any visitors. From the top of the rock there are stunning views over the surrounding towns and on a clear day as far across the Mediterranean Sea as Ibiza in the Balearic Islands. On the day that we had planned to walk up this natural beauty, one of my friends wasn't feeling well so we couldn't... but next time I'm here it is at the top of my to-do list! There are so many unique bars and restaurants along the golden coastline with views over the ocean, we were spoiled for choice. Almost at every corner there were boards outside restaurants with a multitude of paella options so of course we had to get some of this mouth-watering Spanish dish - I'm still in shock that some of my friends had never even tried it before! We were recommended to try Romeo Playa by the marina/sea front and we were not disappointed! We all got a huge spicy meat dish between us and it was absolutely delicious, definitely setting us up for the rest of the day! Obviously we spent plenty of time soaking up the rays as well, you could not keep me away from that pool or beach for long, it was just so relaxing hearing the waves crash along the shoreline and sipping on a cool drink while taking in the beautiful scenery - there were so many photo opportunities, it was crazy! 
There is honestly just so much to do in Calpe, whether that be walking around the shopping district or one of it's museums - I couldn't get over the fact they even had a comic museum. You could even explore the historic Old Town or enjoy the hustle and bustle of the busy street market on a Saturday morning. I would definitely recommend choosing to dine at one of the seafront restaurants with many offering freshly caught fish dishes.
I was so upset when the day came to leave, however one more trip to the breakfast buffet definitely set us up for the long journey back home to Northern Ireland! I was hoping to come back with some tan but the reality of the matter was that I returned very burnt... there's always next time! I took so many photographs, it was so difficult to choose what to include in this post. This trip has definitely given me the travel bug and I just can't wait to experience new places in the future! Calpe is just a stunning location to visit, whether you're wanting to relax in the sun or experience the Spanish culture, I could not recommend this place enough!
Is there anywhere you'd love to travel to or have you got any upcoming trips anywhere? Let me know in the comments! You can follow me on Bloglovin', Instagram and Twitter!
Thanks for reading, love you all.