Blogging | Europe | Traveling

Beautiful Budapest

By on October 24, 2017

Budapest!!! The unique and historic Hungarian city that is a must on everyone’s travel bucket list. This Eastern European city is beautiful, lively, cheap and often referred to as ‘Paris of the East’…what’s not to love! The perfect destination for a weekend getaway.

Buda and Pest were once two separate cities, then they merged together making ‘Budapest’. Buda offers sweeping panoramas and stunning views from the hills with the contrasting Pest offering the buzz city lifestyle. When Buda sleeps, Pest wakes up! I recommend staying in the ‘Pest’ side of the Danube river as it is more lively, full of an array of bars, restaurants, spa baths and the best nightlife. (check out the fabulous apartment we stayed in here – such a great location.)

 

My top 5 things to do in Budapest…

1. Széchenyi Baths

The Széchenyi Spa Baths are a must see any time of the year. In winter they will keep you warm and in summer they will keep you cool. Daytime baths are a great way to chill from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, if you fancy the combination of the spa and a party then I introduce you to…… the SPARTY! Every Saturday in summer, the outside spa baths are transformed from relaxing day baths to well-known DJs playing electro, techno, rave and trance with laser visual effects from 10.30pm – 3am!! If you like partying this is the best thing in Budapest for you to do!  The tickets are priced from €45 depending on what package you want. Drink tokens are loaded onto a card which you can top up throughout the night if necessary. The drink is reasonably priced; the local Hungarian Beer and cocktails are greatttt. You will be FREEZING getting out of the thermal spa but the cool summer nights and the baths are so hot – it is a perfect combo!! (The alcohol will warm you up although you might not even feel the cold at all  ) Check it out here.

*Top tip – be careful with taxis back as they like to charge whatever they want! Take note of what you paid from your accommodation to the baths and haggle as much as you can or, you will be ripped off.*

 2. Ruin Bars

These cool bars are uniquely setup in the ruins of abandoned buildings in the Jewish Quarter after the neighbourhood was left to decay after World War II. The mecca of all ruin bars in ‘Szimpla Kert’, it is hip and artsy with a cool and laid back vibe! Drinks are cheap and the shisha is good (grapefruit is yum!). With outside bars and seating filled with flea market furniture and cool art, it is a historic concept mixed with a funky feeling. Each room is different – my fave is the retro TV room, old TVs from 70’s-90’s playing random shows! To make the bar even more quirky, they sell carrots. Yes, freshly peeled carrots in a jar of water! I asked the bartender why do they sell these – “it is Szimpla Kert tradition!”.

 

   

3. Jubileumi Park

If you want a panoramic view of Budapest, this is the perfect spot. The views are amazing from here where you can see the two once separate cities separated by the Danube River. 

 

 

4. Castle Hill

Walking along the cobbled streets of Castle Hill is on the Buda side of Budapest, make sure to visit Trinity Square, Matthias Church and Fishermen’s Bastion giving the best view over the whole city. I took in these amazing views at sunrise (we jumped in a cab straight from the club to Castle Hill!!) this is such a good idea as there is hardly anyone around so the view is unspoiled, you have it all to yourself! A great way to start the day.

 

5. 360 Rooftop bar 

Magical 360 views of Budapest, reasonably priced cocktails, DJ, live music and the perfect place to watch the sunset behind the city. I LOVED this place. Such a chilled vibe, it was perfect for the Sunday sesh (especially after the Sparty the night before!). I would definitely recommend going for a drink in the Spring/Summer months to make the most of the great weather.

 

 

Thanks for reading Follow Every Heartbeat!!

Shannon x

 

 

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Blogging | Traveling | USA

My Guide to New York City

By on July 17, 2017

New York City, one of the few places in the world where there is an inherent energy to do a million things during the day then stay up all night in the midst of the bright lights and skyscrapers! I chose NYC for my first ‘proper’ blog post as it is a city I’ve visited 4 times and never got sick of! There truly is a new aspect to NYC every time I go back and an addiction to discover it’s personality over and over again. Even though there is so much to see and do, a few days in NYC can satisfy one enough! It’s the perfect city for any kind of holiday you’re after.

 

There is sooo much to tell you about NYC, see below for my top picks! Hope you enjoy!!

Getting there…

My first trip as a 13 year old to NYC was certainly different to my second – aged 19 with my best friend! Having the freedom to escape to America just as my first year of university finished, I was ready for the adventure. Only a 7.5 hour flight from Ireland, less than a full shift at work – perfect! I like to research and book flights through Skyscanner as it give so many options of airlines and filters (my fave is selecting ‘whole month’ so you can see the cheapest days to fly on your preferred month).

I also travelled to NYC from Boston with BoltBus. Booking this via wanderu.com showed me the lowest prices from 50+ bus and train carriers.  It only cost 40 USD return for a 4.5 journey which was great. However, the 4.5 hours coming back with one stop at a highway Burger King was a bit exhausting after an Ed Sheeran Concert and partying on a rooftop bar to the early hours (see Party, Party! below). Nonetheless, taking the bus is such a fun way to see around you and experience the travel life in USA for next to nothing.

 

Where I stayed…

I’m a lover for hotels so always tend to research the best location at a reasonable price with a cool, stylish atmosphere. I always find booking.com the best as it has it all for me, from customer reviews to top picks to distance from the city centre; it has the perfect filtering process.

Paramount Times Square (235 on 46th street) was the perfect base for my first grown up transatlantic trip. It is a beautiful 1920’s building located in the Theatre District, 200 yards from Times Square. The first thing that comes into my head when I think about this hotel is the smell – in a good way! The lobby smelt delightfully rich along with a chic design and dramatic lighting, it felt like luxury to us. The only downfall of this hotel was the size of the room but I’ve grown to realise that this is typical in NYC hotel rooms. At the end of the day we are not there to sit in our hotel room all day, after all it is the city that never sleeps!

Hilton Garden Inn Central Park South was the hotel of choice for my third trip to the city. I would highly recommend this hotel as it is tucked in the middle of everything. Columbus circle, Central Park, Carnegie Hall, 7th Ave, 50th street station, Broadway theatre are only minutes’ walk away. Having travelled on a bus from Boston, I was glad that check-in was friendly and efficient. The room was much bigger from what I had previously experienced in NYC and even better they have a fabulous bar with a great range of cocktails overlooking the hustle and bustle of Broadway. Close to Hell’s Kitchen, you will be guaranteed an abundance of great restaurants on 9th Avenue.

 

My Must-See Spots….

There is still so much I have to see in NYC (I STILL HAVE NOT BEEN TO THE TOP OF ANY SKYSCRAPER – due to cloudy skies. Always an excuse to go back!). This is a list of my must-see spots and things to do:

  • Bus Tour

Seeing the sights by double decker bus is always a must when I visit a new city. I have done a bus tour every time I’ve visited NYC, and still seen something different. It’s a great way to get your bearings plus hop-on, hop-off where you want! I recommend the City Sightseeing New York ‘All Around Town Tour – 48 Hours’, it allows you to hop-on, hop-off on all 3 loops – Downtown, Uptown and Brooklyn. Tickets range from 60 USD for the 48 hour tour, I have always bought tickets off the sales guys on the streets however, you can get a little discount of booking through their website here .

It also includes a night tour, which I absolutely love!! In the summer you will see the most beautiful sunset from Brooklyn and in winter you will see stunning views of the city lights by night.

Another inclusion with this ticket is the ferry tour, sailing past the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and seeing amazing views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey City. Just look at that view below!!!!!! (The ticket also includes admission to the Museum of the City of New York or New York Historical Society, I didn’t take advantage of these freebies due to timing, but if you have the time you may as well explore.)

 

 

                        

 

  • Central Park

 It creates beauty throughout all seasons which I’ve been lucky to explore in spring, summer and winter. The feeling of walking around and getting lost, not knowing which path is going to take you where is exciting; there is so much to see and do. My favourite way to get around is with the Central Park Pedicab Tour. It is a great way to see the swath of greenery, learn historical facts and even finding out who lives in the swanky apartments overlooking the park.

 

The Zoo (yes, there is a zoo in Central Park!) is also a great escape from the crazy city walkways, I highly recommend it!

A great tip (we just happened to stumble upon) is to research events happening in Central Park when you’re there as we ended up in the middle of the Good Morning America TV show where Beyoncé was the morning guest so basically we walked into an outside Beyoncé concert in the middle of Central Park!!

Another must is the Tavern on the Green, a bar and restaurant located in the Upper West side of the park. Having visited in Winter, its beautiful cosy setting and fairy lights captured my eye. It is like a little taste of French/English country in the middle of a park in a huge city! The next time I visit in the summer, Tavern on the Green is top of my list; the outside seating area has my name on it with a large G&T in hand.

Want to catch the best views from Central park? Then go find Umpire rock, a formation of rocks you can climb up and see stunning views from Columbus Circle right down to The Plaza and the stunning skyscrapers on 5th Ave. Also check out Strawberry Fields below, beautiful!

 

  • Chinatown

Located in Downtown Manhattan, next to the hip and trendy Soho, this is a must-see on my list. A foodie destination, a cool place to hang with vibrant streets and feeling like you’ve entered a different continent. Lots of souvenir and market shopping where you can pick up the latest accessories on trend (my Chanel earrings are still looking great from 2005!!!).

  • Greenwich Village

Known as NYC’s bohemian capital, Greenwich Village is charming and relaxing with chic cocktail bars and trendy restaurants.

Here, you can visit the apartment building used in “F.R.I.E.N.D.S” (90 Bedford Street) and only a 6min walk away you will find Carrie Bradshaw’s from Sex and The City’s apartment (66 Perry Street). A stop off at Magnolia Bakery for a cupcake is a must! If you fancy some sweet pastries and even sweeter waiters (check it out below!) Maison Kayser a French artisan bakery, will hit the spot.

  • Party, Party!

My favourite part – partying and drinking!!! NYC is the perfect spot for socialising no matter what mood you’re in…whether it’s staying out to sunrise, a few chilled beers in a bar, wines on the rooftop or searching for the speakeasy bars hidden behind the most unexpected places – NYC has it.

Being Irish, I love the Irish bars in America because there is so much Irish history especially in New York and there food is always a great mix between Irish and American.

The bars I love in NYC:

 –The Dead Rabbit (voted ‘Best Bar in the World – 2016’)

Playwright Tavern & Restaurant (great staff, service and perfectly located bang in the middle of times square)

Tanner Smith’s (an early 20th century New York drinking house theme with delicious artistic cocktails)

The Dubliner (great food and outdoor seating for the summer in the Financial District. Close to The Charging Bull, ONE Tower and Ground Zero. There are also lots of other restaurants and bars on Stone Street so great options for all)

The Mean Fiddler (keep this bar for your last stop, cheap drink, good music – you’ll want to stay out to the sun comes up!!)

For that late night craving, make sure to grab a slice of NY’s favourite food – PIZZA! You will find a pizza counter on almost any street, guaranteed you’ll be back the next day for lunch.

The Speakeasies I love in NYC:

One of the most interesting tours I’ve ever done on my travels is, The Speakeasy Tour. It takes you back to the iconic 1920’s Prohibition era, were alcohol was illegal and secret bars hid behind the most unexpected places (coffee shops, burger shops, bakeries). An era when things were classy, carefree and fun! These hidden spaces serve the most creative cocktails and relaxed atmosphere, there are hard to find for a tourist to NYC which is why I recommend the tour so you can visit the best speakeasies in NYC and get a helping hand getting into them!

 

*keep posted for my new blog post on NYC Speakeasies coming soon*

 

The rooftop bar I love in NYC:

Everyone who knows me, knows I love a good rooftop bar!

This is officially my favourite place in NYC – 230 Fifth.

20 floors high, it is the largest rooftop bar in NYC, fully open to the bright lights of the Big Apple. With 80’s, 90’s and house music at the weekends and an upscale casual dress code, it is a must-see on your itinerary for the BEST party and the BEST view of NYC. Just check it out below!!

Other fab rooftop bars:

-PHD Terrace at Dream Midtown

Refinery Rooftop at the Refinery Hotel

-Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel

-The Press Lounge at the INK 48 Hotel

 

  • Shopping

If you’re like me and love shopping, then you need to go to NYC and shop like it’s your job! Right on your doorstop you have the best shopping in the world with 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue hosting the finest designer shops in the world. From Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue to Century 21, Nordstorm Rack, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls there sure is a lot to suit all styles and budget! (You may need a separate trip JUST TO SHOP!)

As great as all these store are, I prefer to take a full day and go to the outlet in New Jersey – The Mills at Jersey Gardens. The mall is New Jersey’s largest outlet with over 200 stores all under one roof, it also offers the largest Tommy Hilfiger in the US! A main advantage for me was the tax-free shopping on clothes and shoes – more for me to spend!

Catch the #111 bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal (see timetable here), it is a 35 minute journey and costs around 14 USD. Trust me; it is so so worth it. Be prepared to shop – last time my phone tracked that I had walked 9 miles, this is not a typo!!! I was there from open to close (10am-9pm) and could have stayed longer!

*TOP TIP– take an empty suitcase with you and put all your shopping into it as, you will have lots of bags! (maybe leave the husbands/boyfriends in the city!)*

 

You can also take a daytrip to Woodbury Common Premium Outlet, a lot of sightseeing companies sell tickets on the streets for this outlet. I have never had the chance to shop there as it is more expensive to get to (30 USD) and takes a bit longer (1hr from NYC) however, if you have the time you may as well squeeze both outlets in.

*TOP TIP– check out the stores in each outlet and pick your preference. For example, my favourite brands, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and Tommy Hilfiger are only in the Jersey Garden’s Outlet so, this was my preference*

 

Thanks for reading!

Shannon x

 

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Blogging | Lifestyle | Traveling

Welcome!

By on July 13, 2017

Welcome to Follow Every Heartbeat!

 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

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