I love Amsterdam and have just returned from my fourth visit to the city! It’s got such a chilled out vibe & it’s so pretty. I think I could go over & over again and never get bored. This time I went for one night which I have done previously, I don’t mind this because the flight is so short but if it’s your first visit you might be better doing 2 or more nights.
We landed at about 9.30 am and flew back out at 6pm so we had time each day to explore. I always get the train from Schiphol to Centraal which takes about 25 minutes and is around €5 single. There’s ticket machines near entrances to the platforms.
We stayed at ClinkNOORD hostel which is in a fab location, you get a free ferry from just outside central which only takes a few minutes. The ferry runs 24 hours a day every 5 minutes or so. This is my second time staying here and I’ve always booked a private room with bathroom. I think for location, price & cleanliness you can’t beat it. I was put of a hostel at first but you barely spend any time in the room & I’d definitely look at staying in more with a private room.
I love walking around the Jordaan, the canals are beautiful & there’s some lovely bars & shops. It’s a lot more peaceful than other areas so I’d definitely recommend a wander round here.
We then did a boat tour with Friendship Amsterdam, I’ve done tours with them twice before and have always really enjoyed it. It’s €15 for an hour canal cruise and the staff are really knowledgeable & friendly. You can get drinks onboard and it was perfect having a local Gin on a sunny day.
After the boat we headed to The Museum of Prostitution, Red Light Secrets. It was fascinating to hear the story from the point o view of a prostitute , and what it’s like to Work in the red light district. Definitely an eye opener and worth a visit.
Before we headed home the next day we went for Brunch at Bakers & Roasters, not far from the Heineken experience. The food is amazing here & all the staff are really friendly. It just has a lovely vibe to it. I had the Huevos Ranchos & a mimosa. I also had a coffee which was really good. I like strong coffee & it definitely is here. Well worth a visit.
I’d love to hear your favourite places to visit in Amsterdam as I’ll definitely be going back again.
I’ve recently seen a few people do the month in review Blog Posts and I love the idea. It’s so nice to have a record & see all the things you have got up to. All the little days out get forgotten so it’s lovely to look back on.
We started the month with Easter Sunday, we had dinner at my Mum & Dad’s and a park trip to burn off the millions of eggs Finn had ate.
We then had an amazing swimming lesson from Finn, which was a big turning point. He was really nervous and held onto his teacher when he first started but this was the point he slowly began to make progress and gain confidence m.
We had a trip to Bents Garden Centre in Warrington which Finn loved, there’s a fab park & a lovely cafe.
I then ended up in hospital for 2 nights with tonsillitis, I think though I was really run down. I’d been working loads & doing a lot of late nights & early starts. Luckily a few days later we went on our Amazing holiday to Costa Teguise in Lanzarote. We stayed at the HD Beach resort which you can read about here.
When we come home we met my Mum & Dad in Chorlton & went for food & a play in the park.
Another day another park visit, followed by Finn’s favourite coffee & cake.
We went to Messy Mallie’s which is about 20 minutes away from us in Buckley. It was brilliant and Finn loved painting his own money box.
After the Easter holidays we were entitled to more hours at nursery. I was sad in one way as Finn stared doing more days so we lost a day in the week together. It’s meant though that I’ve gone from doing 4/5 late nights a week to 1/2. I’ve loved the little things like us having tea together as a family & doing bath, story & bed time.
Finn’s first go at Crazy Golf, followed by a Wagamama’s.
A visit to Little Al’s Urban farm in Eastham. We love it here.
Yet more amazing swimming from Finn, he’s managing to swim now with just the woggle & not holding on to his teacher.
Finally a zoo trip, we are members of Chester Zoo so we go all the time. This time Finn played in the sand & water for over an hour.
We have recently come back from a week in Costa Teguise and we went to some amazing restaurants. There was such a lot of choice & they were all really reasonably priced. We love Spanish food so we’re absolutely spoilt for choice.
We went here after a recommendation from a friend & reading good reviews on both trip advisor & Lonely Planet. It was a bit of a distance from our hotel but definitely worth it. When we first got there I thought it didn’t seem very child friendly but I was wrong, the staff were brilliant with Finn. I went for the prawn, spinach & ricotta ravioli to start followed by hake & mussels in a butter & lemon sauce. Both were amazing! I love mussels & I’d say these were the freshest & tastiest I’ve ever had. I had a creme brûlée for dessert which was lovely as well. Stu had the porks cheek & really enjoyed it. This was the most expensive meal we had at around €80 but was so worth it.
I found La Tabla on trip advisor & it was highly rated for Tapas. Again we weren’t disappointed. It’s on a little courtyard tucked away but it was lovely & peaceful. The tapas was brilliant value at €21 for 7 dishes and we enjoyed them all. It was so busy with people being turned away on a Tuesday evening so definitely book (the number is on trip advisor and you can send them a WhatsApp).
Another tapas restaurant we found on trip advisor, although they did a wide range of meals here which all looked really good. This was again excellent value with each Tapa priced at €3. This is some of the best tapas we’ve ever ate and we are big Tapas fans.
We fancied Paella one night and La Pardela came highly recommend on trip advisor. We opted for the seafood & it was amazing, packed with fish & seafood. The staff were brilliant with Finn and really made you feel welcome. We had starters as well but really didn’t need them as the paella was massive. It’s in a lovely location as well over looking the sea.
We never ate here but I’ve got to mention the Beach Bar, we loved it. Perfect surroundings, amazing cocktails & chill out music. We loved going at nap time and some evenings with Finn as he loved playing in the sand.
We have just returned from a fab week at the HD resort in Costa Teguise Lanzarote. I thought I’d do a quick review of the hotel, we really enjoyed our stay and I’d definitely recommend this hotel to anyone looking to stay in Costa Teguise.
The first impressions of the hotel were really good, it was really bright & modern and on a beautiful beach front location. The Staff were all lovely, especially the staff in the restaurant they were so friendly & spent time chatting to us and made a big effort with Finn.
We stayed in a Junior Suite with sea view, I always get a sea view where possible as I normally find I’m up before Finn in the morning so it’s nice to sit out there and have a coffee & it’s nice at the evening as well if he’s in bed. The views from the balcony were amazing and really peaceful. The room was really big with a double bed and pull out sofa bed. There was a fridge, kettle, toaster, coffee machine & microwave so everything you needed even though it’s all inclusive. The bathroom was big as well with a large walk in shower & 2 sinks.
The hotel was is a good location right on the beach and about a 10/15 minute walk down the prom to the main centre with bars & restaurants along the way. There was a few supermarkets & shops close by as well. One night we got a taxi to the centre as well and it was only €3. There’s a taxi stand right by the hotel on the main road. It took about 40 minutes on the transfer bus to get to and from the airport but if we we were to go again I’d just get a taxi as I found out when we were there that it’s only €21.
We stayed all inclusive and on the whole really enjoyed the food but we did eat out 4 of the 7 nights. We do this anyway when we go away as we like to try the local restaurants, especially in Spain as Spanish food is our favourite . The restaurant was on the ground floor and was quite big, there was a section with a semi open room so if felt a bit more airy. I think my one disappointment with the hotel is there was no outside eating area which is a shame given the beautiful views. The food was good with loads of choice, the breakfast was really good with plenty of fruit, cereal, pancakes, pastry’s, hot & cold items. Lunch there was always lots of choice of salads, paella, meat fish etc.. The evening meal was similar to the lunch & had different themes, as I say we only ate there twice So I can’t really comment, but Finn loved the chocolate fountain. We also ate in the A la Carte one evening which was really nice. There was a good choice of drinks as well with juice, fizzy drinks, wine, beer, spirits, cocktails & cava. There was a self service bar around the main pool.
There was 2 pools which Finn loved, there was a big pool with a smaller kids pool this pool had lovely views out to sea. There was also a splash pool with slides and sprinklers. The only downside to this pool is there was minimum seating around it. The pools were quite cold but the adults seemed to mind more than the kids. There was also a park & pool table.
We didn’t really go to the entertainment but there is a kids club & mini disco and various acts on each night. We just preferred to go for a walk in the evening but the bits we did see looked really good.
All in all we loved our stay and would definitely return it’s a perfect hotel for families in a fab location.
Finn was about 27 months the first time we went to Disneyland and turned 3 the second time we were there. These are the main rides, attractions & shows he loved & were the most suitable for his age.
Alice’s Curious Labyrinth- We all loved this where you work your way around Alice’s labyrinth to get to the Queen of heart castle. The view from the top around the park are amazing.
Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast- Finn’s a big toy story fan so this was one of his favourites. The queues can get quite big so we went in this using a fast pass and during extra magic hours.
Cars quatre rallye- Finn loved the cars theming of this one, I get quite travel sick so sat this one out. Queues were normally about 10/15 minutes.
Casey Jr. – this is a lovely little train ride, It was really quiet whenever we went on this.
Disneyland Railroad- We loved this, we went all the way round the park on it and you get some really good views. You can also use it to get to the different areas of the park. It always seemed to be really busy even in quiet times but we went on first thing one morning and the queues weren’t as big.
Dumbo- Finn loved flying round on the elephant, the queues never seemed to be really big for this.
It’s a small world- My favourite, even though you end up stuck with the tune in your head for days. The queues were never massive but if you stand near here to watch the parade you get a good view for that & can then walk pretty much on it’s a small world.
Le Carrousel de Lancelot- a traditional merry-go- round, Finn really enjoyed this and there was rarely a big queue.
Flying carpets over Agrabah- this was in the Studio’s you fly on a magic carpet on an Aladdin themed rides. It can get busy.
Mad Hatter’s tea cups- this was another of Finn’s favourites, the cup of tea ride he called it. This was another quiet ride.
Orbitron- Here you can ride in a rocket, the queues for this one always seem longer than they say so be prepared to wait but Finn loved it.
Peter Pan’s flight – this is a lovely ride but can get really busy. We got fast passes for this which I’d definitely recommend doing.
Pirates of the Caribbean – I was really nervous about this one as I though Finn would be scared but apart from a few drops it was quite gentle & we all loved it. We were quite lucky to just walk on this a few times.
Ratatouille- this was another favourite of ours, it gets busy but you can get fast pass. There is WiFi in the studios so we used the Disneyland app to check wait times and managed to just walk onto this one day.
Slinky Dog- Finn loved this being a toy story fan and we managed to just walk on it quite a few times. I suffer with motion sickness and this did make me feel a bit sick.
Thunder Mesa riverboat Landing- I loved this boat ride & definitely recommend you go on this. It’s a lovely little ride round which you don’t expect & has loads of little things to look at.
Toy soldiers parachute drop- I thought this would be really scary but we all loved it, you also get a fab but quick view of the castle! It can get busy.
Moteurs Action Stunt Show- This was a massive hit, Finn’s face when lightening came out was one of the highlights of our trip.
Mickey and the Magician- This is a lovely show and definitely worth going to if it’s on, true Disney magic.
Mickey presents Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris- a fab show located on the stage near the castle. Finn loved all the Characters and them all waving.
The first time we went I read loads on Facebook groups and got advice of people who had already been. It can feel really overwhelming before you go as you want to cram everything possible in. Here’s a list of my top ten tips, there’s probably loads I’ve not covered but it’s just a few things we found useful.
Parade – the best place we found to stand for the parade Is outside the Pizzeria Bella Notte in Fantasyland or near start of the parade near it’s a small world. That way once it’s finished you can get on a few of the rides in Fantasyland with no queues. I think it’s absolutely worth getting there just one day 30/45 minutes early to get to the front as you get brilliant interaction.
Illuminations – Again I’d say just one day get there 30 minutes or so early for the fireworks just to get the best view. We sat on a bench just behind the statue of Goofy & Pluto and had an amazing view. We were there about 45 minutes early but Stu just took Finn off to a ride & for popcorn so he didn’t get too fed up. Another good spot was by the rope near the castle stage.
Snack packs/ drinks – we took quite a few snacks with us & little things for Finn to have in the queues. We also took water bottles to fill up as drinks can be quite dear. We took little sachets of coffee to have in the room as well as there’s none provided. Things we took for snack packs were crisp,cereal bars, raisins, little sweets, mini cookies, individually wrapped brioche etc.
Layers/ waterproofs – This obviously depends what time of year you go but we went in April & January and have had really changeable weather. At one point in January it was warm enough for just a jumper. Definitely take plenty of layers as it can get hot in queues if you’re all wrapped up and take waterproofs. The ponchos they sell are really expensive, we took Finn’s puddle suit.
Rough plan/ list – some people say go without a plan but I found it useful to make a note of what shows I wanted to see and the times. Also what rides we wanted to do in each of the different lands or areas of the studios so we wasn’t doing too much walking about between rides or meet & greets.
The picture – I’d seen loads of people getting a picture of the castle & an empty Main Street after the illuminations and was desperate to get one. We hung around after the illuminations had finished for about half an hour and just went in the shops. We were then able to get the picture.
App- the Disneyland app was brilliant, we were able to check the queue times and a few times just walked on the main rides.
Take fancy dress from home – we took all Finn’s costumes from home as they were so much cheaper than buying them in the parks. You also get brilliant character intervention when they are dressed up and all the cast members make a fuss. It’s also fab for pictures.
Personalised autograph book & pen- I ordered Finn a personalised autograph book from eBay and it’s lovely to keep for the memories. Take your own pen as well as these were expensive on the parks, a sharpie is easier for the characters to hold.
Spare battery for camera & a portable charger for phone – I took millions of pictures so made sure I had a spare battery for my camera & a portable phone charger was really handy as we spent really long days in the park.
We recently joined the National trust hoping to have lots of family days out. We are quite lucky that we are within an hour of some amazing National trust properties. We are also planning some U.K. breaks this year so it will be handy to take our cards with us incase there is any properties close by.
I joined by Direct Debit so pay £10 a month for a family membership, I like this option to spread the cost & knowing we can always have a free/cheap day out.
Over the Easter Weekend we decided to do the Cadbury’s Egg Hunt at Erddig in Wrexham. This is the first time we have visited and we loved it. We were with friends so had a few children in the group so just stayed in the ground. The gardens are beautiful with loads of trees, flowers & a lake. The kids loved running around and it was all really safe for them.
Our favourite bit was there 2.5 Hectare natural play area the Wolf’s Den. It was brilliant and I reckon we spent a good hour in there, we could have been there longer as well if we didn’t want to finish the egg hunt. There’s den building, loads of stepping stones, a wooden play shop, a rope swing & plenty more. They run activities in here throughout the year like tree climbing & den building so we will definitely be back to try some of these.
We didn’t get a chance to try any of the cafe facilities (except for a coffee, which was a good strong coffee) but we will definitely be trying these next time we are back as they looked really good.
We all really enjoyed the Easter egg hunt, we were given a map and had to follow the trail looking for signs of Spring. At the end they kids were all given a full size Cadbury’s egg.
We really enjoyed our visit to Erddig and will definitely be back soon to make the most of our membership.
One thing I really worried about before we went to Disneyland Paris the first time was the price of food. I’d heard people say they had spent £1000+ in a few days and this just wasn’t in the budget for us. There was no dining plan offer when we went and it was expensive to add one so we decided to just go with it and hope for the best. Both times we’ve been we’ve spent around £400 (excluding a few pre booked meals) including drinks etc.. It’s obviously not the cheapest place but you can do it without spending the huge amounts people say. We could have done it on even more of a budget if we tried as well. Here’s the places we ate at and enjoyed.
Breakfast – the first time we stayed we had breakfast included at Santa Fe, I personally wouldn’t go for this unless you get it included as I found it quite crowded & chaotic. We made do with a coffee in the room and then just grabbed something in the park when we were up the second time we went.
Annette’s- We really enjoyed Annette’s, it’s themed around an old school American diner with the staff on roller-skates. This is definitely the place We queued the longest and it was always busy after the fireworks so be prepared to queue for a while. The portions are massive, we shared 2 of the Jukebox menu’s between the 3 of us and there was more than enough food. This is €29 and included a starter, main and brownie for pudding. Finn loved the brownie.
McDonald’s breakfast – the second time we visited we didn’t have Breakfast included and Finn choose McDonald’s for his birthday breakfast as they did pancakes. I know it’s not the healthiest but we were really surprised how good value it was. It cost us €16 and for that me and Stu had meal each with a bacon & egg muffin, pancakes, coffee and juice and Finn had pancakes, hot chocolate & juice and it definitely kept us going for a while.
Rainforest cafe – We all loved the theming of the Rainforest Cafe. Finn especially loved the fish & monkeys. It is a little on the expensive side, they do have some set menus though which are a bit cheaper. We all really enjoyed our food though and would say it’s worth the expense once on your visit. Our bill came to around €80 for a children’s meal with drink & dessert, a beer, a cocktail, a shared starter and 2 mains.
Vapianos- We love Vapiano’s and find it really fresh & tasty and good value. The portions are quite big so Finn shared with us we had a pasta & pizza dish and with 3 drinks it came to about €35. The ordering system can be a little chaotic as you have to go up separately for pizza & pasta and then get buzzed when your food is ready but it’s well worth it.
Five Guys – this is another restaurant located in Disney village. We shared again between the 3 of us and 2 burgers, a large chips and 2 drinks was €40, a bit on the expensive side for a burger but they are really fresh & big portions.
Inventions, Disneyland Hotel – This is by far my favourite Dining experience we have done at Disney. We went for lunch for Finn’s birthday and Mickey, Minnie and the staff brought out a cake and sang to his (I Pre booked this for about €25) it was such a special moment. Inventions is expensive at €65 for an adult and €35 for a child but we added it at the time of booking so we could spread the cost. The character interaction was brilliant and they came round a few times. We got plenty of photos and Finn’s booked signed. The food was lovely as well there was Beef, king prawns, loads of salad, cheese, desserts etc.. definitely the one to do if you do one character meal.
Caseys’s Corner- This is on Main St with an area to eat inside or an outdoor eating area. The hot dogs are really nice traditional American ones & it came to around £35 for 2 hot dogs, 2 chips, nuggets & 2 drinks.
Glowtini- I loved the Glowtini cocktails which are quite fruity & come with a light up ice cube. We stayed in Santa Fe and apparently this is the cheapest place to have one.
Fuento del Orto- we ate here on the last day by chance as we were in Frontierland and had time before we had to head back for our taxi. I’m really glad we did as it was really nice Mexican food. It came to €32 and we had Nachos and 2 set meals including drinks & a side or yogurt. This was plenty for the 3 of us.
Toad Hall- this is a fish & chip restaurant in Fantasyland. We all really enjoyed it and got the Double to share with a few extra sides.
Cable car bake shop- this is on Main Street and Finn loved the Nutella muffins. They do all sorts of Disney themed cakes & snacks.
Plaza Gardens- on our first visit we had the character breakfast here. I really enjoyed it but after doing the lunch at inventions I’d say that’s definitely the better of the two. You still get the characters coming to your table but it just felt a little rushed compared to inventions and they only seem to come round once. The breakfast was really good though with an amazing selection. I’d still do the breakfast again if we got a deal but would definitely pick the lunch if we could.
Buffalo Bills- On our first visit we did Buffalo Bills Wild West show and loved it, Finn was just over 2 and he really enjoyed it but it is really noisy. The show was brilliant with character appearances and we all really enjoyed the food. You get drinks re fills as well. It’s definitely a fun experience and is really interactive.
Earl of Sandwich- We love Earl of Sandwich and normally end up eating here a few times. They do really nice sandwiches with loads of options and it’s always really quick & reasonable prices. They do a meal deal for about €12 or you can just get the sandwiches on there own.
We recently visited Belfast for 2 nights & fell in love with the city, everyone we spoke to was so positive and inspiring about the troubles. It was amazing to see the City’s regeneration. Here’s a few of the places we visited & my tips for exploring Belfast.
We got the 300a from Belfast International airport into the City Centre. It was then about a 5 minute walk to our hotel. This was the most cost effective way I found of getting into the city centre at £10.50 each return. It took around 30 minutes.
We stayed at the Bullitt, which I found on Lonely Planet as one of their top picks. I fell in love with this hotel straight away with its cool & quirky decor and super friendly staff. From the minute we checked in the staff were so friendly and gave us the best tips for the area and offered to book trips for us.
We stayed in a Dinky room, which was Dinky but perfect as we were hardly in the room. The bed was so comfy & there was a big rainfall shower and a mini fridge so everything you need for a few nights away. Bullitt provide you with a bag to hang on your door each evening with your preferred time for your breakfast in the morning, they then filled it with granola & yogurt, fresh orange & a piece of fruit.
We also had a bigger breakfast one morning in the Bullitt lobby , I had Eggs Benedict & Stu had the Meaty One Brioche. Both were really tasty & the price was reasonable.
Bullitt has its own roof top bar Babel, where we had drinks one evening. The views were amazing but as it was freezing the outside area was shut. It would be even better in the summer.
As soon as we arrived we headed to St George’s market for lunch. There was an amazing choice of food stalls and we decided on paella & patatas bravas which were both lovely. It was the day after St Patrick’s day and the atmosphere was brilliant with a trad band playing. Definitely visit if you are there over the weekend.
Without a doubt the tour we did with ‘Taxi Tour Belfast’ was the highlight of the trip for both of us. We were picked up by Joe from our hotel in his Mercedes mini bus and spent a fascinating few hours going round the political murals of Belfast. Joe was so intelligent and gave us a first hand insight into the troubles and told us what it was like for him growing up in Belfast at the height of the troubles. We visited the international peace wall, falls road & Shankill Road areas. He was so knowledgeable and answered all of our questions, I think we both went with our own pre conceived idea of what happened but left with a totally different insight. We both said it was honestly one of the most interesting things we have ever done and I think if you’re heading to Belfast you should definitely put this on your list.
We visited the Crumlin Road Gaol using a discount voucher we got with Booking.com and really enjoyed our visit. It was really interesting to get an insight into how the prison used to be run & life as an inmate. Our guide was really informative and answered all of our questions.
On our last day we decided to do the hop on hop off bus as there was still quite a few places we wanted to see. We had another voucher through booking.com so we got it at a discount. We got off at the titanic museum, Stormont (which is well worth a look round for the beautiful views) & the crown liquor saloon. It was nice to get an overall view of the city & the guides were all really friendly and knowledgeable about the city.
As we got off the bus the tour guide suggested we go to the Victoria Square Dome for views around Belfast. It was free and you go up to the top floor for 360 degree views around Belfast. There was signs pointing out all the landmarks.
I found Mourne as it was highly rated on trip advisor and we wasn’t disappointed. We both had mussels and were really impressed they were so tasty & fresh. We also had sides of champ & truffle fries and really enjoyed the meal.
On our second night we visited the Chubby Cherub, we are off the Date night menu which was 2 courses and 2 glasses of wine for £29.95. We had the bruschetta & crostini to start and Meatball Linguini & herb gnocchi for main. We loved the food & the quirky cosy style of the restaurant.
We visited a few bars both on friends recommendation and ones I found on Lonely planet. Here’s a few we loved.
Crown Liquor Saloon – this pub is a national trust property and dates back to 1885. It was really interesting to see all the old style features & we had a nice lunch in there.
The Dirty Onion- in the cathedral quarter with live music most nights.
Cathedral Quarter – this was right near our hotel and there was loads of really cool bars, definitely start your night out in this area.
Duke of York- this the coolest little pub & the Murals surrounding it are well worth a look at.
Muriel’s cafe bar – Muriel’s was a few doors down from our hotel & had the best gin menu! The atmosphere was brilliant on the Sunday.
John Hewitt- a traditional pub & owned by the man who made Jawbox gin, so definitely worth a try while you’re in there.
Love & Death inc- this had good happy hour & good cocktails.
The Spaniard- a really cool rum bar, it was packed even on a Monday night.