A Dream Come True: My Trip to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls has always been one of my top places I wanted to visit, so when I found out I got a spot in the exchange program at my University and would be studying in Canada for a few months, I knew this would be my chance to see Niagara Falls. The city I was living in, in Canada, was about a two-hour drive from Niagara Falls, so it was the perfect opportunity.

Even better, one of the University’s organizations for exchange students offered a trip to Niagara Falls, including tickets for a boat tour and the Skylon Tower, so my friends and I signed up. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t so lovely on the day of our trip but I wouldn’t let that stop me from enjoying every second of my Niagara Falls experience.

So after a two-hour bus ride we finally made it to the town of Niagara Falls. We did get some time to walk around the city but it started pouring, so we went back to the bus fairly quickly. I didn’t mind very much because I wanted to go see the waterfalls anyway.

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Fortunately it had stopped raining once we reached Niagara Falls. Did you know it consisted of three waterfalls? I never knew that to be honest. The big one, I’m sure everyone knows, is the horseshoe fall and on the Canadian side. But there is also a smaller waterfall on the American side called the American Falls (what a surprise) and an even smaller one right next to it, which is the Bridal Veil Falls. While the American Falls and Bridal Falls are nice to look at the much bigger Horseshoe Falls is definitely the most breathtaking one.

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(American Falls on the left and Bridal Veil Falls on the right)

First we walked around the area a bit before we decided to get on one of the boats. I’m not gonna lie I was very much surprised by how close the boats take you to the actual waterfalls. Everyone has to wear rain capes but you’re still going to get a little bit wet from the mist. It was an amazing experience to get so close to this huge waterfall. You suddenly feel so small.

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Another nice thing around Niagara Falls is that you can go up the Skylon Tower to see everything from above. I think the ticket was around CA$13 and in my opinion totally worth it.

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(View from the Skylon Tower)

My friends and I spent the entire day there just walking around the area and looking at the waterfalls. Honestly, I was a little nervous whether I might be disappointed but the actual Niagara Falls. You know how you tend to have pretty high expectations of places you’re dying to visit? Luckily it really was as beautiful and mesmerizing as I imagined and I definitely was not disappointed. One minor thing that takes a bit of away from the beauty for me is how commercialised the whole area is. There’s casinos and big hotels everywhere.

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Despite the rain and not amazing weather as you can see from the pictures I still loved my visit at Niagara Falls. I could’ve stared at the Horseshoe Falls for hours. So if you ever get the chance to visit you should definitely go! I’m not sure if I personally would stay for more than a day but there definitely is a lot to do. I didn’t go to the American side but I heard there’s a big shopping mall and there’s definitely lots of attractions on the Canadian side.

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? What’s one of your dream places to visit?

Love,

Sophie

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The Beauty of Traveling Alone

Traveling has always been my passion. If money wasn’t a problem I’d probably wake up in a new place every week, just waiting to explore everything. The list of places I still want to see is endless.

I briefly mentioned in my last post, that I spent a semester studying abroad in Canada. I went to an amazing university in a city called London, about two hours away from Toronto, and I had the most amazing time. I met some lovely people and I got to go on many amazing trips with my new friends. I felt so lucky because I got to see quite a bit of the beautiful country that is Canada. However, Vancouver was still on my list of places to visit but since it was at the other side of the country, from where I was living, I didn’t get the chance to go during my studies. My semester in Canada ended at the end of December but my new semester back in the Netherlands didn’t start until February, which left me with six weeks of free time.

I thought this would be my chance. My one chance to go travel to Vancouver and maybe some other places. Unfortunately all of my friends I made back in London all had to go back to their home countries much earlier than me, so if I decided to stay and travel I would have to do it on my own. I thought about it long and hard. Especially because it would also mean that I would miss Christmas with my family and would have to spend it alone but I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity, so I booked a flight from Toronto to Vancouver, one from Vancouver to Seattle, one from Seattle to San Francisco and one last one from San Francisco back home.

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I was so excited I got to travel and explore new cities with no worries, no deadlines in the back of my mind. I knew this would probably be my last few weeks of freedom and no stress, because once I got back home I would have to start working on my BA Thesis.

Before I left to Vancouver my mom and brother came to visit me in Toronto for two weeks and we had the best time. But when we all went to the airport and they got on a flight back to Europe it was really strange for me because I knew I wasn’t coming home with them. I was about to get on a flight to a city far away from everything and everyone I knew. I knew this wasn’t going to be like going on vacation with my friends to somewhere else in Europe. No, I would be across the world from my family and I wouldn’t have any friends there. Suddenly I started regretting my decision. I think I just got scared but I was also incredibly sad to leave Toronto. My few months in London had been some of the best of my life and I was devastated for it all to be over. I got to visit Toronto a few times while living in London and I fell in love with the city the first time I went there. I’m not even joking but if someone offered me a job there I’d move in a heartbeat.

Anyway, my point is that I think leaving Toronto to go travel by myself for 3 weeks really made me realize that my Canadian dream was about to be over and before I knew it I would be back home stuck in the same old routines.

After hours of traveling I finally made it to my hotel in Vancouver and went straight to bed. The next morning I woke up at 6am because of jet lag but I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I suddenly felt so lonely and anxious. After a few more hours I finally forced myself out of bed and opened the curtains in front of my hotel room windows. What I saw literally took my breath away.

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From my room I had the most amazing view over the city and if I looked all the way to the left I could see water and mountains. Within seconds my feelings changed from anxious and nervous to happy. I quickly got ready and started walking around the city to explore. The first place I walked to was the harbour and with each moment my heart filled up even more with joy.

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I know that sounds so corny but everything I was seeing looked so incredibly beautiful and I realized how lucky I was to experience it all, even if I was all by myself and didn’t have anyone to share it with. It didn’t matter at all in that moment. I felt so free and liberated like I have never felt before in my life. After all I was half a world away from everyone I knew. I was free to do exactly as I pleased and there was no one I had to explain myself to. No limitations. No restrictions.

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Everyone I told about my plans of traveling on my own was skeptical about it. Aren’t you goint to be scared all by yourself? Isn’t it much nicer to have someone to share those experiences with? The answer for me now is no. Yes, I was scared at first but all my doubts quickly flew out the window. Yes, it is nice to go on vacation with friends or loved ones and make amazing memories together but it is also incredibly nice to experience it all on your own. Wanna know why? Because you learn so much more about your self. You’re forced to make every decision by yourself, which really teaches you want it is you like, what it is you want and what it is that motivates you to make those decisions. It’s incredibly liberating and it is the most amazing feeling to be able to say yes I did this on my own. I was scared but I pulled myself through.

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Especially in Vancouver I went on lots of long walks through the beautiful nature there and just listened to music and took everything in. If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful city take it. The city itself is nice but the nature around it is literally breathtaking. I’m definitely more of a city than nature person but I was captivated and even went on a little hike by myself, which is something I never thought I’d be doing. Especially not on my own. But that’s what traveling on your own does. It challenges you. It helps you discover new things about yourself that might really surprise you.

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After one week in Vancouver it was time for me to pack up and move on to a new city and a new adventure: Seattle.

The only reason I picked Seattle was because I knew I probably wouldn’t get the chance to go there again. It’s only a 27 minute plane ride from Vancouver, so it just seemed logical for me to go there. Seattle is a city you know even if you’re not from the US but is it a city you dream to travel to? Probably not so I figured I should go while I was kinda close because next time I travel to the States it probably wouldn’t be Seattle. Maybe Florida or NYC or the Grande Canyon or Las Vegas. But probably not Seattle.

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Now Seattle was nice. It wasn’t amazing and it couldn’t even come close to Vancouver or Toronto (for me personally) but nonetheless I’m glad I went. I went up the Space Needle and visited some cool museums. I walked along the water front and probably all of downtown Seattle. I liked it but I didn’t love it.

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The amount of homeless people and people high on drugs or wasted on alcohol shocked me and I was scared to go out alone after it got dark. I’ve never been scared of walking alone through the dark at home or in the city I lived in, in the Netherlands when I went to college, or even in Canada. I saw a lot of poverty and homeless people when I went to Chicago with one of my friends a few months before visiting Seattle but I wasn’t alone then so I never felt worried. Now being on my own that definitely changed.

But still I don’t regret going to Seattle and I don’t regret going on my own. I might’ve been a little bit disappointed and who knows maybe I would’ve loved it more if I hadn’t fallen so in love with Toronto and Vancouver. Who knows? Still I’m so incredibly grateful for every experience I made while traveling alone because I learned so much about myself in those three weeks and a lot of the things I experienced gave me a new perspective on life. Most of all it taught me how privileged I am to be so lucky to travel and see new places in the world. I will forever keep those memories with me and no one can them away from me.

So if you ever think about traveling somewhere but don’t have anyone to go with you don’t hesitate! You can do it on your own and every minute of it will be worth it. I would recommend everyone to at least travel somewhere by themselves once in their life. Even if it’s just for 2 days or just an hour away. Take the time for yourself and you might be surprised by what you find!

If you have made it to the end of this very lengthy post thank you for staying with me until the end.

So have you ever traveled alone or would you consider it?

Lots of love,

Sophie

 

My Trip to Spain

Hey lovelies,

I know it’s been a little while but I’m back! Yay! So I just got back from Spain last night, where I’ve been enjoying a great vacation for the past 5 days, which you may know in case you’re following my Instagram because I’ve posted quite a few vacation photos on there. Anyway.. I’ve had the most amazing five days. We stayed in this beautiful house, which was located up in the hills close to Lloret de Mar. The view from up there was incredible and we were really close to the beach and a bunch of lovely little small towns along the coast line. It was pretty much a dream.

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My family had already been there for a week, so they came to pick me up from the airport in Barcelona when I flew in on Monday. The rest of Monday I just spend catching up with my family and unpacking. On Tuesday we spent the first half of the day chilling around the pool before we drove down to a town called Tossa de Mar. It was a really pretty tow right by the ocean. After exploring the town for a while we had dinner before we headed back to the house.

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Wednesday we got up pretty early and drove to a town called Blanes to check out where the trains ration was because we wanted to go to Barcelona from there the next morning. After checking out the train station we walked around the town a bit more and ended up at a beach. There was this rock, my brother and I climbed on, from which you could look over the sea. It was such a nice view and so calming.

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Towards the late afternoon we drove down to Lloret de Mar, which was really closely to our place. I think it was about 5 minutes by car. The town itself is quite pretty and I love that it is located right by the ocean as well but I was really glad we didn’t stay there because it definitely live up to its expectations of being a place to party. Not that I don’t like to go out sometimes but the whole town was so filled with people that only came there to party, so it wasn’t for me really. But I did buy a super cute backpack, which I think will be great for my upcoming travels.

I hope you enjoyed this post and the pictures and I will tell you all about my trip to Barcelona in my next post.

Thanks for reading!

Much love,

Sophie

An Adventurous Little Road Trip To A Happier Me

Hey lovelies,

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve blogged last, actually not even that long, but for me a week almost seems like forever. But as you all probably know life gets in the way sometimes. I’m finally done with all of my lectures and seminars for my second year of University, which seems incredibly unreal to me because I swear I just graduated high school yesterday. Anyway.. my last week was quite busy so I was so glad that I had this little road trip coming to just to have a little break before exams and get away from everything even for just a little while.

One of my best friends from high school is currently studying in a smaller town close to Munich in Germany. Now I’ve never been to the South of Germany before but I’ve always heard that it’s supposed to be really beautiful down there. As you guys may know I’m currently studying in the Netherlands, so from here that’s a 7 hour car ride. So another one of my oldest and best friends from high school and I decided to take a little trip down there to visit. We’ve all known each other ever since 5th grade, so it was so nice to be reunited for a few days even though I never would’ve thought that would happen down in Bavaria, but life is full of surprises.

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So on Thursday evening my friend and I got into the car and about 7 and a half hours later we arrived at our friend’s place. She lives in an incredibly nice apartment within one of those student houses. Being a student myself I’ve seen so many different houses and apartments students live in but hers is by far one of the coolest I’ve seen from the furniture to the view and she pays less rent than I do and my place is not even close to that cool. Since we didn’t arrive until around 1.30am we talked for a while and then went to bed. Well, I slept on the couch because I’m the shortest one.

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The next day we slept in, had a nice breakfast and went to the town center afterwards. The weather was incredibly perfect. It was so nice and sunny and not a single dark cloud in sight. The town in general is one of the cutest places I’ve ever seen. If you’ve ever seen images of Bavaria, it actually really does look like that down there. The landscape is absolutely stunning. Everything is so green and you have hills everywhere. The cities itself look so old and traditional and the houses are so cute and colorful.

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After strolling through the city center for a while we walked up this hill because there was a castle located at the very top. The castle wasn’t that spectacular compared to other ones I’ve seen before but it was still pretty and you had an amazing view over all of the city from up there. Once we made it back down again we got some ice cream and sat down near the river side and just talked for the longest time. But it was so nice down there with the view and the weather was just amazing. I feel like I’m constantly repeating myself but the weather up in the Netherlands has been awful for the last couple of days, so it was so nice to have such warm weather.

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At 6.30pm we got kind of hungry, so we went to this Sushi restaurant. Sushi probably wasn’t the most traditional choice but the food was amazing. Later on we went to the next super market, bought some wine and took the next bus back to my friend’s place. Once we got back we grabbed a blanket, wine and some cookies and chilled out on my friend’s balcony until it got too dark. Even though it was such a simple night and we only had a bit of wine it was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. Just sitting on that balcony with a really nice view so far away from everything at home with two of my closest friends was so nice and just made me so happy.

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The next day we kind of just hung out, walked around the city again and made some pizza before we had to head back home on Saturday evening at around 6pm again. Even though we basically spend around 14 hours on the road just to spend two days down there it was one of the coolest trips I’ve had recently. I can’t even describe how nice it felt to just get away for a wile from just everything basically. Obviously it was so cool to see two of my best friends again and just hang out and have fun and don’t worry about a thing. I didn’t even mind the long car ride. In fact, I actually enjoyed it. I like car rides anyway and just going on a little road trip adventure with someone I’ve known for years was such a fun experience because we could literally talk for 7 hours straight and the landscape, especially the further South we got, was so pretty to look at. I almost felt like I was in one of those American road trip movies.

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I know today’s post is quite different from my usual beauty posts but I just wanted to share my amazing trip with you. Now that I’m back I feel so much happier and relaxed and like I can actually take on all of my exams. Basically if you get an opportunity to just get away from everything, even if it’s just for a day or two, grab it because it feels so liberating in a way. So this is me encouraging you all to just do something crazy and enjoy yourselves!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post!

Much love,

Sophie

Setting Goals & Dreams Coming True?

Hey guys,

I’ve had the best morning today. I got to sleep in and had the best breakfast consisting of a nice cup of coffee and hot pretzels. Breakfast perfection! I hope your start into the weekend is just as good as mine! Anyway.. I really felt like writing a more personal, rambly update kind of post so if you’re here for the usual beauty review you now have the chance to click off.

So some of you might remember the post I wrote about one of my best friends from the US and how we’re still very close and try to keep in touch even though we haven’t since each other in nearly 4 years, which seems like an eternity. I also wrote about how we always dreamt about traveling together and how we would make the craziest plans of all the cool places we wanted to go to. Honestly I never really believed our dreams would even come somewhat close to reality but guess what? She’s coming to Europe this summer! After years of trying she has finally managed to convince her parents to let her go to summer school in Paris! She’ll be staying in Paris for an entire month, so I can visit her there and once her classes are over she is going to stay with me for for two weeks and we’re planning on traveling to a bunch of different cities in Europe. Now it’s not set in stone yet and she still has to book the flights but it’s 99.9% sure that she’ll be making her way to Paris.

I cannot even put into words how happy this makes me. We’ve been talking about this for years and the last time we both saw each other was when we were 16 and now we’re going to see each other in around 4 month. I still can’t really believe that this is happening. I think I’m going to have an amazing summer and I can’t wait to share it all with you and blog about it.

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Now as some of you may also know I was really ill last summer and though I’m physically healthy again I wasn’t allowed to do any kind of sports for months so obviously I’m not in the best physical shape fitness wise. I’m still out of breath super easily, which annoys me immensely and makes me feel worse. But since I’ll be spending quite a bit of my summer traveling and exploring new places I need to get myself into a better condition health wise or otherwise I won’t be able to travel. As frustrating as it is so start slowly I’ve starting going for walks a lot and each time I manage walk a little longer without having to take a break. I hope to soon be able to cycle to uni again instead go having to drive.

It’s like now that I finally have a goal again I feel my motivation and energy coming back. It really helps to have something to work towards to because in the end you know you’re frustration will turn into happiness once you reach your goal. Summer seems to be approaching fast now and I’m seriously looking forward to it, which is such a great feeling because I haven’t really looked forward to anything in months. It was like I was just kinda living my life without having any direction. Obviously finishing my Bachelor’s degree is my goal but I was just kind of going to Uni and trying to get good grades but when I received those good grades it didn’t even make me happy. I felt a sense of relief but other than that it almost didn’t even matter. I was just living my life without actually living it if you understand what I mean. I wasn’t really feeling alive because I was still struggling with everything that had happened and it frustrated me that I couldn’t get back to old happy and carefree self.

But now I’ve set myself a goal and I have something that is truly making me feel excited about something again. I just wanted to share this more personal post with you guys because I know there are a lot of people out there who struggle with all sorts of things on a regular basis. I’ve had a terrible last 6 months if I’m being honest with myself but things are looking up for me a lot. I’m finding my motivation and energy again and I feel like I’m truly on the road to happiness again. So if you’re having a tough time because of whatever just remember that things will get better at one point. Even though it feels like they won’t.

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Thank you so much for reading!

Lot of love,

Sophie

Traveling By Yourself – The One Day I Went To Amsterdam By Myself

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As I’ve mentioned in my last blog post I want to attempt making my content more diverse again so here it goes. If you’ve read my blog for a while you may remember that one time I went to Amsterdam and how I went all by myself. So I’m currently living in the Netherlands (has it really been 1.5 years since I moved here?) and I moved here in the summer of 2013 to go to University over here and hopefully get my BA degree, but that’s a whole other story.

Anyway… the city I live in is about an hour and a half long train ride away from the Netherlands capital Amsterdam, which I’ve been wanting to visit for the longest time. So about a year ago I went to the train station, bought a ticket and hopped on the next train to Amsterdam all by myself. I was definitely a bit nervous because Amsterdam is a pretty big and busy place and obviously I don’t know my way around there nor do I know anyone living there. Additionally my Dutch wasn’t very good at all then. It’s still not that great, especially my spoken Dutch, but I understand it pretty good now and I can read it, so that’s definitely progress. Back then I couldn’t say much in Dutch at all though, so I was a bit afraid I might get lost somewhere and then wouldn’t be able to communicate all too well with people. Luckily that didn’t happen.

When I arrived in Amsterdam once left the train station I found myself basically right in the middle of Amsterdam and it was absolutely crowded and full of tourists everywhere. But the weather was great and I fell in love with the way the city looked immediately. It is such a charming and beautiful place I couldn’t get enough of it. I was all by myself and didn’t really make a plan of what I wanted to do before I left, so I just started walking. I walked around the center of the city and just tried to take everything in, that I came across. There was so much to see and I wish I could’ve stayed longer but it was still so cool to finally be there. After some more walking around I went to get a coffee and something to eat and sat down near this incredibly crowded square like place and just watched people passing by. I can’t really explain why but I just felt so happy and free. I was in Amsterdam, a city I’ve been wanting to go to for ages and I was there all by myself and no one could tell me what to do. It was so nice to just sit there and enjoy the moment.

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Later on I went to start exploring some little streets a bit further away from the center before I  went down to the riverside and just watched the boats pass by. One thing I unfortunately didn’t get to do and still haven’t managed to do is a canal tour! But it’s still on the very top of my to do list and I’m kind of hoping that maybe I can do it this summer.

So what am I trying to say with this post? Well, as much as I love traveling with my family or with my friends it was nice to go on a little trip all by myself even if it was just for a day. I got to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now and I enjoyed every single moment of it. Especially the fact that I got to do it by myself totally changed my entire experience. It allowed me to take everything in without being urged to move on. I had time to just enjoy the moment and reflect on a lot of different things and it gave me a change of scenery though if only for a day. Another thing I liked was how I found myself having conversations with people I’ve never met before. At the train station I met this incredibly nice girl who just started talking to me out of nowhere and I’m glad she spoke English because like I said my Dutch was horrendous as the time. All together I just had an amazing day and I would totally do it again any time. I think I might need to make a list of other cities the Netherlands have to offer and just go exploring. Maybe I’ll pick something close to the sea next time.

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 So if there’s a certain place near you, or maybe even further away, you’ve always wanted to go to just go ahead and do it. As much as I love hanging out with my friends it was nice to just have some time all to myself. When you’re going to University you rarely ever get that because either your busy on campus or most students live in a shared apartment or dorm, so you’re always surrounded by people.

Now this post was definitely quite different to my usual posts but I hope you enjoyed reading it anyway and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Much love,

Sophie

Road Trip Diary Part 6: Rain, more Shopping and more Castles

Hey there! Today I’m sharing the last part of my road trip with you guys. Two weeks of fun in the UK had to come to an end and so this is the final part. I had such a great time and I hope I can go back and visit some of the cools places again or visit new ones some times soon. That probably won’t happen but you never know.

So the the day before our final day we went to Newcastle. I’d been wanting to see that city of for the longest time, so I was pretty happy when the rest of my family liked my suggestion of going there. I really liked Newcastle and we wandered around the city for a while until it started to pour rain. Smart as I am I’d left my umbrella in the hotel so I got absolutely soaked! Didn’t really help my cold either. Oh well. The worst thing is that it wouldn’t stop so we started running towards the next restaurant to get some coffee and tea to warm up and dry off. When it stopped raining we went back to the car and drove to the Metro Centre, which is apparently the biggest indoor mall in Europe. Don’t know if that’s true but it’s definitely incredibly huge.

So here are some pictures my brother and I took when we were bored and some pictures of Newcastle.

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On our final day before our departure we went to Alnwick (hope I spelled that right) castle. We did a tour through it and it is quite the impressive place. If you have watched some of the Harry Potter movies this might look a bit familiar to you as it was used as a location to shoot some of the scene. Don’t sake me which ones though. Anyway… it’s a beautiful place.IMG_6323 SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

After our tour we went through the town itself. It’s such a charming little place and before leaving the UK I bought some more make up I knew I couldn’t get over here. Yep, that’s just me.

When we got back to the hotel we had to pack and get up at 2.30am to drive to Manchester Airport. I arrived back home incredibly exhausted and went straight to bed.

But it was definitely a fun vacation and I wish it would’ve lasted a little longer.

XX

Sophi