Universal, FL

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3 parks = 3 days out. Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay.

3 parks with rides and experiences from all your favourite films, TV and comics such as Spiderman, E.T., The Simpsons, Hulk, Twister, Jaws and, of course, Harry Potter. There is definitely something for all the family.

 

To avoid guaranteed queues it is advised to arrive early or buy fast pass tickets. Spending most of the day queuing is a waste of valuable ride time and can be quite tedious, especially with small children. Also, large amounts of walking and standing can be tiring so be sure to prepare by wearing suitable footwear! As well as this, food and drink inside the park can be expensive so taking your own may be a good idea if buying for a large family. However, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and food stands inside and outside the park for those that wish to have the whole theme park experience.

Now, there’s not really much to say other than “VISIT UNIVERSAL”!! It’s like no other theme park, requires at least a day per park and you may be lucky enough to get a photo with one of your favourite characters! So, have a butterbeer and an every flavour bean, ride the largest X-coaster ‘Rip Ride Rockit’ while listening to whatever song you fancy and walk home proudly wearing a Universal Studios poncho.

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Day Out: Kennedy Space Center

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“Explore attractions and be inspired” is what their website says and, honestly, could not be more true. Even those who do not have much interest in rocket science will walk away thinking about their potential to become an astronaut. The Kennedy Space Center is based in Cape Canaveral, a short drive from Orlando, so can easily be included in a holiday to Disney World. Although not exactly budget friendly as day passes for a family of 4 amounts to $208, it is definitely worth it. Daily passes include meeting an astronaut ($30 per adult and $16 per child extra for lunch with an astronaut), 3D IMAX film of a rocket launch, bus tour of NASA launch site, shows, and a journey to Mars experience. Also, visitors can wander round the various exhibits displaying the history and future of space travel. Upon entry, visitors can marvel at the sheer size of the rockets and can learn the history of NASA and space travel as a whole. Well-timed visits could also mean the opportunity to see an actual real-life rocket launch!

At extra cost, the center offers an ‘Astronaut Training Experience’ where visitors can work together to land a space shuttle, try anti-gravity, space walk, harvest veg on Mars and much more. This truly fits the “be inspired” part of the website tag line as it’s hard to walk away and not submit an application to become an astronaut!

The Kennedy Space Center is too much to do in one day so pick and choose what you really want to do, and if budget isn’t a bother then a second day is probably the best option.

Things To Do- Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park, home to Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales and England (3,650ft).

Now, the national park is absolutely massive. A walker’s dream. Sweeping hills, deep valleys and lucious green grass (not only lucious, but famous, as “The Green Green Grass of Home” was made popular by Tom Jones). If you do visit, a camera is a must have. A map is also pretty important as getting lost in such a large expanse of countryside is not the best idea. Wild camping is also allowed within the national park; check out the rules about wild camping beforehand to brush up on etiquette.

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The park is home to many oudoor activity centres that offer a range of actvities; you can horse ride, cycle, try your hand at watersports, mountian biking, golf, fishing and many more. For families, there is King Arthur’s Labyrinth, the Fun Centre (indoor for one of Wales’ rainy days), Glasfryn Parc (go karts, quad bikes, watersports, ten pin bowling), and plenty more.

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For those after something less adrenaline-filled Snowdonia offers railways (one up Snowdon itself), heritage centres- castles, slate works, copper mines and museums. Snowdonia also has a coastline if an amble along the beach takes your fancy. Be sure to experience a sunset, whether it be over the hills or over the sea, both are an unmissable beauty.

There’s tons more to do in Snowdonia that isn’t mentioned here- have a little adventure and see what you can find!

The Fire Mountains

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Six years of volcanic eruptions between 1730-36 are responsible for the formation of the Timanfaya National Park (also known as Fire Mountain). Fertile land was buried beneath a thick layer of lava, rock, ash, basalt and all the other things spewed out by volcanoes, meaning the majority of Lanzarote’s population emigrated to nearby islands where land was arable. Some locals, however, stayed and dug down to the fertile soil where they planted vines. La Garia vineyards are a popular tourist stop, probably because of wine tasting they offer!

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Timanfaya is very protected, tourists are limited to coach trips and car tours and are not permitted to stray from the roads. Despite this, the coach routes are designed to give the best possible views- the downside to the coach trip is the dodgy background music and the pre-recorded information tape (although this is informative and sometimes interesting).

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Along the tour, there is the opportunity to ride a camel; this is not included in the price  but is only an extra €6 per person. Camel riding is an unforgettable, entertaining experience (particularly when the camel in front wees and the wind sprays it into the poor, unsuspecting people behind!) and is totally worth it.

Timanfaya is probably the only place in the world where you can tuck into a meal cooked entirely by volcanic heat. El Diablo restaurant uses holes dug into the volcano to harness natural heat to cook your dinner- a completely unmissable experience, once in a lifetime! As well as a meal, El Diablo offers stunning, 360 views of the national park- a great photo opportunity for tourists.

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At the Islote de Hilario, the restaurant is coupled with the chance to watch a man/ woman pour water into a hole to create a steam geyser and put dry bush/ grass down a hole to create fire, much more impressive than it sounds!

 

 

For anyone planning a trip to Lanzarote, a visit to Timanfaya should definitely be on your to-do list!

Lake District, Cumbria

The Lake District is a paradise for those that enjoy stopping to take a picture of the view. There is nothing but ‘views’. Calm lakes that shimmer in the sun and sweeping hills of luscious green. The greenery is helped by the fact that Cumbria is one of the wettest places in England, so be sure to take a raincoat when visiting. Also, if hiking, be sure to check the weather to avoid too much rain and fog (fog is great if you don’t mind getting lost). For hikers, wild camping is allowed in some areas of the National Park- be sure to read up on camping etiquette; this will help with keeping you out of trouble and to help preserve the countryside. Rules like only staying in one spot for a night (stops the grass dying which happens when tents cover grass for long periods), taking litter with you (seeing rubbish over the hills and floating down rivers or on lakes will hurt the wildlife and spoil the views) and not lighting fires.

Lake District is home to Lake Windemere and Scafell Pike (it’s highest point). As mentioned earlier, exploring the many trails and paths is the best way to take in the breathtaking views that the Lake District has to offer. So the best way to encourage people to the Lake District is through photos…

 

A Weekend In Venice

Venice. A true little adventure. Famous for it’s canals and Renaissance buildings. Venice is a place where getting lost is the best way to truly explore as by just wandering around aimlessly you’ll find all the landmarks, discover hidden restaurants (some restaurants are merely a waiter serving tables in the street from a hole in the wall) and experience street musicians. Venice has a certain charm to it that can’t be found elsewhere; perhaps it’s the lack of roads and car noise or the feeling of ‘home’ that you get, even after a day.

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Panorama of Piazza San Marco

There are plenty of things to do and see in Venice:

Gondola Ride

Rialto Bridge

Basilica di San Marco

Squero San Trovaso

Doge’s Palace

The Market

Bridge of Sighs (so-called because prisoners would sigh when crossing as they saw Venice for the last time).

Taste local cuisine (absolutely divine, seafood is popular due to fish being easy to catch and cheap). When it comes to Italian, straying away from the typical pizza, spaghetti bolognese (traditionally served with tagliatelle), carbonara and lasagne is encouraged as Italian cuisine is so much more.

Drink the wine. (Un bicchiere di vino rosso della casa per favore- the only phrase you’ll need). Aperol Spritz is the local drink, however must be an acquired taste as it is not the nicest of flavours.

See a show at one of the many theatres. Or an opera at the Teatro La Fenice, probably one of the most famous theatres in the history of Italian theatres.

Tour the museums, churches and palaces. You might struggle to see them all in one weekend, so a bit of planning might be needed if you wish to see specific ones.

Ride on a Vaporetto, which is basically a water taxi.

 

 

A weekend is all you really need in Venice as the entire place can be walked around in a day. A long weekend would allow enough time to see and do most of the things listed above. Although, saying that, you could spend forever in Venice as there’s something about it that makes you never want to leave!

 

Brighton: Nightlife In The Gay Capital of The UK

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Brighton. Known to many as the UK’s gay capital, and for a good reason. There are plenty of LGBT friendly pubs and clubs, with Brighton Pride being one of the biggest in the UK. Brighton Pride is usually the first weekend in August and the turnout is massive; the streets are lined with crowds and rainbow flags are proudly displayed everywhere. This pride is really worth the visit and tickets for the pride festival are worth every penny.

Brighton’s “Gay Quarter” is in Kemp Town with most of the clubs, bars, pubs and hotels being around this area- particularly on St. James’ Street. Bar Revenge has a lovely view of Brighton Pier from its spot on the seafront, along with Charles Street Tap and Legends. Bar Revenge has a club around the corner that visitors of the bar can get into for a discounted price. The club has two floors that each play a different selection of music and often has events and student nights.

Legends bar has a Basement Club, where weekends can include cabaret entertainment. Cabaret entertainment can also be found in Charles Street Tap, which draws in people with its drink offers and happy hours. A little way along the road is the A Bar, serves good food and has an outdoor terrace for those rare sunny days. For those that couldn’t live without it, A Bar offers free Wifi.

As camp as they come is the Queen’s Arms. Regular karaoke and drag performances make for a great night out.

Do you have a favourite place to go on your nights out? Leave a comment and let me know!