Saturday, December 26, 2015

What does 2016 look like for LIVE from the LIDO DECK?

I anticipate 2016 to be a big year! I have a few vacations and race-cations planned for 2016 as I try to fill my race calendar! We also have some exciting guest posts coming in January from my sister!

I can not believe how fast 2015 went by! My first half marathon seems like just yesterday and tomorrow I start my training regiment for my 2nd half! After a whirlwind summer vacation to England I am exciting to be planning for another beach trip in April.

The guests posts from my sister will cover two separate trips she is taking in a couple of weeks. Monday she is leaving a few days in Orlando ending with a NYE spent at Magic Kingdom! I am excited to see her photos of the final year of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights as well as the amazing NYE Fireworks Disney will have. The park is open until 2 am so I am sure they will have a fantastic time! A couple of weeks later she will embark on her first solo trip and it is to Italy! What an awesome experience for her! She will keep be giving us snapshots of her days exploring Rome as she takes over my Instagram! Make sure you follow my IG account here.

My first trip of 2016 will be a weekend race-cation to Myrtle Beach for the MB Dasani Half Marathon! I am excited to run this race as it will be my boyfriends first half! This race will be the first weekend in March so I am hoping there will be mild weather and we will be able to experience Broadway at the Beach for some post race celebrations!

Just short of a month later we will be making a trip I am just too excited about!! Is that even possible? We will be staying 6 days in BELIZE! I am sooo excited to visit Central America! The resort we are staying at looks absolutely amazing and has a dive center on site! Ambergris Caye (the island we are lodging on) has such a relaxing atmosphere and we look forward to doing just that. Interestingly enough, this will be my first trip that I do not have a non stop flight! We will be doing two flights to get to Belize City and then we must decide our options to get to the island. There is a 20 minute flight on a small prop plane or a 2 hour ferry. I know what you are thinking, the choice is obvious but with 2 flights already and it being a small plane we are a little nervous. The ferry is a good option and quite possibly we will do one arriving and one leaving. There are definitely pros and cons to both so stay tuned for our decision on that as well as more info on our excursions!

We do have a couple of trips left to plan. My best friend is getting married in October so we will be planning a bachelorette party to either Florida (she has never been, shocking I know!) or to the Bahamas which sounds fabulous. I also need to add another half to my fall race calendar and I am thinking one in Las Vegas?  The Strip at Night race with the Rock n Roll Marathon Series looks like tons of fun from all the posts I saw from this year.

I look forward to 2016 and hope everyone has a fabulous New Years! Anyone have any exciting destination races or amazing vacations? I would love to hear about them!

Comment below or find me on IG or Twitter!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Favorite London Views

New meets old, Tower of London fronting the London Syline

 Cute London side street, seen from Tower Bridge

 View of London, seen from the London Eye

 View of Big Ben & The House of Parliament, seen from a cruise along the River Thames

 Crossing Tower Bridge

 The London Eye

 Tower Bridge at sunset

Tower of London at sunset

Sunday, September 20, 2015


While in London for a long weekend we stayed at Saba Hotel, located in the Hammersmith district. About 5 minute walk to the HS tube station the hotel, located in zone 2, is a great deal for those either not interested in staying in zone 1 or those who want to save a little money in the hotel department.

The room we selected had room for 3 with 1 full size bed and 1 twin size bed. The room was small but we literally were just there to sleep so it did just fine. The bathroom included a wall in shower and the room had a mini fridge as well. The decor was a bit much in our room but the hotel had a classic, older look to it which I liked.The front desk was always helpful and made checking in and out a breeze. Also near the door were coupons for different excursions and maps. 

The hotel included free wifi and breakfast daily. The times changed depending on if it was a weekend or weekday but each day it was packed so get a table early. There is a buffet of sort to get yogurt, cereal and hot beverages. A woman also came around to take your order of their offerings; eggs, baked beans, toast. Breakfast was served quickly as they tried to accommodate as many quests as possible.

If you are looking for a quiet hotel that is not in the heart of London, I do recommend Saba Hotel. The walk to the tube was easy but we also made the 20 or so minute walk to the Kensington area from there which was also a breeze.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Top 5 things to see and do on a weekend trip to London

We arrived in London on Saturday settling into our hotel just around 2 pm. With a departing flight from Heathrow on Tuesday, we only had a few short days to see as much as we could in a city with tons to do! Here is my top 5 things to see or do when you are in London for a weekend trip!

The London Eye

The views from any position on the London Eye are phenomenal but as you edge closer to the top they get more and more breathtaking! Each pod (there are 32) hold about 25 people. If you arent too keen on heights but want the experience, there is seating in the middle of the pod. With the entire thing being glass (except the floor), you can see any direction for miles. We had amazing weather while in London and the clarity we had was extraordinary.

Big Ben

Before seeing Big Ben & the Parliament Building in person, I never realized how humongous they were. Looking at Big Ben from across the River Thames, you see the beauty but not the grandness. Head across Westminster Bridge and cross the street to view from the rear side of Westminster Abbey. The gold sparkles in the sun, looking completely exquisite. Coming down Whitehall and seeing Big Ben for the for the first time is an experience I will never forget.

                                                                      Tower Bridge

This affordable tour gives you the luxury of spending as much or as little time as you want exploring the details. Take either the stairs or elevator up to an area with a 5 minute film explaining the history of the contest to design the bridge. Afterwards follow to the left to head to the glass floor viewing area. This area allows you to go to both sides of the bridge, with another short history film in between. The entire length of both sides has facts about how much the bridge cost to build, the types of marine life that live in the River Thames and compares other bridges around the world. After you finish the tower, head outside, follow the blue line and make your way to the engine rooms that lift the bridge up and down. Once you complete this part of the tour (optional) you can also head into the gift shop.

Buckingham Palace

By far the neatest tour I have ever taken, from the end of July to mid September you are able to tour the staterooms at HRH The Queens official residence. At the beginning of the tour you are given a headset with a handheld audio/ video guide. Each room or section has a corresponding number to the guide. In this tour you see some of the royal families massive art collection, the different areas that HRH meets Presidents & diplomats, where official state dinners are held. You also get an inside look into how the staff prepares for such large events from the invitations, the menu, as well as different outfits she has worn. The tour takes about an hour or so and ends in the gardens where you can get coffee, tea, ice cream, etc. The garden area and the walk along the exit path is absolutely gorgeous.

                                                           Westminster Abbey

IMO you can not come to London without experiencing all history housed inside Westminster Abbey. Like Buckingham Palace, you are given an audio set to take around at your own pace. Each are is numbered but some of this is a better harder to follow than the Buckingham Palace tour.  You could easily spend the entire day looking at the different leaders, both political and artistic, buried here. The coronations have taken place here since the 1500's as have many weddings, Prince William & Duchess Catherine, and funerals, such as Princess Diana's. There is absolutely no photography allowed inside the abbey which definitely keeps people moving. Some of the spaces are rather tight and some dark. Take your time on this tour, it is worth experiencing as much as you can.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Live From The Lido Deck Does London: Big Bus Tours!

**Prior to our visit to London we were given complimentary passes for the Big Bus London Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours. As always, my opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.

Visiting as much of London as possible in a short 3 day time frame was our goal. The obvious must see attractions were Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. The best way, we thought, to see as much as possible was with a hop on hop off tour so that we could get off at whichever landmark we wanted to see. Both day and night tours are available with over 40 total stops. They offer multiple types of buses, some were fully enclosed on top, some were partially enclosed and others were completely open on top. How do you tell what line the bus you are getting on is? As the bus approaches, take a look at the electronic screen. It will read across red line, blue line, etc. if you have any questions, ask the driver as you get on the bus.  All drivers we encountered were extremely friendly and made sure you were getting to where you needed to go.

                                               An example of the completely open top bus.

We took a lovely walk from our hotel in the Hammersmith District through Kensington and got on at the Kensington Gardens stop (Blue Line). We rode this a couple of stops to the Marble Arch so that we could meet with a BBT employee who could process our vouchers. There are plenty of people here as well as throughout different stops throughout the tour to answer any questions. Our vouchers were for the 48-hour hop on hop off tour which included the night tour, 3 walking tours as well as a free cruise along with River Thames with City Cruises. Once our tickets were processed we hopped on a red line bus, which we rode in its entirety. 

The Red Line tour has less total stops and shares many stops with the Blue Line but I think that the live commentary really added a lot to the tour. Our tour guide was able to tell us small tidbits and funny stories that helped break up some of the historical information. For anyone who doesn’t speak English, they offer a recorded commentary in 12 languages on both the red and blue line. The entire red line loop took about 2 hours.  We also rode the entire blue line, however it was hop on and off over a couple of days. When on the blue line, make sure you pick up your free pack of ear buds as you make your way past the driver and plug into the audio box for your seat to begin listening to the commentary.  Some of the most notable stops are Buckingham Palace, Picadilly Circus, driving through multiple historic districts, crossing London Bridge for your first view of the Tower Bridge and coming up to see Big Ben for first sighting of Big Ben as you approach Westminster Bridge.

                                                  These are the ear buds provided by Big Bus Tours.

Another thing to check of my London Bucket list was to see London at night. Tower Bridge, The London Eye and Big Ben look beautiful all lit up. After a day of sightseeing and shopping we decided to catch the night tour. We were in Picadilly Circus but towards the end so we walked down to the Trafalgar Square stop which is stop #6 on the night tour. This was a mistake. The first bus starts its route at 7:30 and they run every 15-20 minutes. The first bus came and it was packed and by packed I mean there wasn't even standing room. We opted to wait for the next bus and it was unfortunately the same thing. As my goal was to take pictures of everything this was not ideal. From the bottom of the bus the glass reflected so none of my pictures are good. The bus never really thinned out but towards the end we were able to head upstairs. I was disappointed that my pictures did not turn out but I am glad I got to see it. A lot of the time, my boyfriend or whoever I am traveling with, has to remind me to put the camera down and experience what I am taking photographs of.  

On Sunday afternoon we walked down to the Tower Pier after our tour of Tower Bridge. There are two companies that sell river cruises from this pier but you do not have to wait in the queue. Walk to the area where they are checking tickets and the person will highlight your free cruise ticket (found attached to your bus voucher) so that it cannot be used more than once. The boats come by every 30 or so minutes and offer seating up or down stairs. We chose to sit upstairs and member of the crew gave a commentary of the buildings we passed, which was nice and helped pass the time. The boat heads down towards Big Ben, stopping at Westminster Pier before heading across the River Thames to stop at The London Eye Pier. This was our stop, as we wanted to get in the queue for the eye. Had we stayed on however, we would have headed back up the River to the Greenwich Pier and then returned to Tower Pier. Our ride lasted about 20 minutes or so. The tour was nice, the river was not rolling and neither was the boat. If you tend to experience motion sickness with the slightest of movement, consider staying at the bottom. The only disappointment is that they do not go down pass the Parliament Building although they do not advertise that they do so that is not something I can hold against them. I would recommend City Cruises and would like to go back for a night cruise on my next trip. 

For a list of all stops on each type of tour, info on the walking tours, pricing, etc visit their website.
Big Bus Tours offers hop on hop off tours in multiple cities across the world, including many large cities in the United States. Check out their website for all locations and keep a look out for future reviews from me on other cities I visit with them!

For more information on taking a River Thames cruise with City Cruises, check out their website.

Tips for having a successful tour with Big Bus Tours

*If considering the night tour I recommend doing it during the week. We did ours on a Sunday. Also consider starting at the first bus stop for one of the first couple of buses. You can also just take the bus to the area you want to see and get off to take pictures if that is what you are interested in doing. Catch another bus or the tube back to your hotel.

*Look at the map before your trip and have a plan of what you want to see. This is also helpful if you plan to take the BBT buses to get around London as opposed to the Underground. If your hotel is close enough to a stop, this is a good option as there is no limit to the number of times you can hop on or off.  The map is also great because it also shows the closest underground stations, which helped us tremendously with planning our daily activities. 

 *Big Bus Tours also offers an App with all the bus details and route info. I did not use the App as I was on a limited international data plan but more information is available on their website.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Live From The Lido Deck Does Blackpool

I am back from our two week adventure to England. While I wont go into much detail of our time in Manchester, as we spent that time visting with family, I will go over our 2 day stay in Blackpool. Blackpool is a neat seaside town about an hour or so north of Manchester via train. Arriving  mid week, we were able to experience the area without a large group of tourists. Our first day we mostly went shopping at a local garden center and an outlet mall. It was interesting to walk around and compare pricing for similar items at home especially stores we have in the States like the Gap.

For dinner we headed to Harry Ramsdens, known for their fish and chips, they have been on the Blackpool Promenade for years and have been serving the UK for over 75 years! Although I am not a fish fan, I tried my sisters and the cod was great. The chips were delicious as well. I had the Jumbo Prawn Shrimp Cocktail, which was a mistake. It took a while for me to realize, that although similar, England is different food wise than America. The Prawns, to me, tasted as if they were straight out of the ocean and there were very few of the large shrimp. Most of the dish was made up of the small salad shrimp and despite it being shrimp cocktail, they did not serve with cocktail sauce. In fact, the waitress didn't even know what I was talking about. Something I am just not used but must adapt to as I travel. On future trips, I hope to make a better effort to try things out of my comfort zone.

After dinner, we walked it off along the shops next to the Restaurant. The following day we came back for a visit to see what Blackpool is all about. First stop, a fortune teller on the beach! I have never had my palm read so it was an interesting experience and the woman had been there for decades. We continued to walk along to our destination: Blackpool Tower! They offered a multitude of ticket options if you combined different events. They offer a circus,  the dungeons tour, Madame Tussaud's, etc. Tickets are cheaper online vs buying day of so consider that if you are planning a trip to Blackpool.

Once tickets have been purchased, you move your way along the queue stopping to take some green screen photos you can purchase in the gift shop afterwards. Once your group photo has been taken, you head into a small auditorium (standing room only) and watch a 4D movie on the history of the tower. I enjoy 4D experiences at theme parks and thought this was a cute idea. After the 10 minute show you head into a waiting area where they have more in depth historical facts. There are two sets of glass elevators used to take you both up and down the tower from the first of three viewing areas.

The first viewing area is completely enclosed with windows all the way around. There is a penny press for anyone who collects those (they were all over England) as well as the glass bottom floor viewing area. I am not usually afraid of heights but the glass bottom floor was a no go for me. The first viewing area I was 100% comfortable in but as we took the stairs up to the second area I got a little sketched out. Unfortunately,  the stairs were one way up one way down so I had to make it half way around the tower before I could head down. My sister, Nana, & cousins headed up to the third viewing area so I gave them my camera and headed back down with my great aunt. The tower did offer amazing views of Blackpool and the coast so I definitely recommend going up to at least the first viewing area.

                                     My sister showing off the view from the third level viewing area.

We walked around and shopped a bit more before heading back to our cousins to have a quick dinner and then made our way to the train station towards Manchester. The trains both ways were nice and seemed pretty popular with the locals, many I am sure travel via train as they commute into Manchester for work as there are multiple stops along the route.Arriving late Thursday night, we had one more day to spend in Manchester before we excitedly headed to LONDON!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Blogging Award

I am so excited to be nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award! Thanks to Marian, @travelshopgirl , who always has amazing destinations on her blog whether visiting by land or sea! She is always headed somewhere new so check her out for travel inspiration!

The Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award is a way to connect fellow bloggers and encourage ladies who love to travel! I am excited to nominate some myself down below but first the rules!

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you!
  • Answer the 10 questions generated by the blogger that nominated you!
  • Create 10 new questions for the bloggers you nominate!
  • Nominate female travel bloggers that inspire you!
  • Proudly put the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award Logo on your blog!

 Here are Marian's questions!!

What makes you get up every day and want to have a blog?

I write my blog because I hope it could inspire someone to step outside of their comfort zone. I mostly write about cruise based travel and cruising scares many people. I know plenty of people that I tell "I love to cruise!" whose eyes get real big and tell me I am crazy. For some it is the fact that you are on such a large ship in the middle of the water, some are definitely afraid that it will sink and others just think cruising is a boring thing that older people do.

If you weren’t blogging, would you still write?

I would love to be a professional travel writer at some point and I think my blogging helps me become a better writer.  I am not sure if that will ever happen but if not, I would like to still write small pieces here and there. It is just so fun to tell a story from your view.

At what point while doing your blog did you realize that blogging was something more than writing for yourself?

When I joined twitter I started to get a lot of great feedback from other writers and realized that people do read and appreciate my writing. Even if they didn't, I love writing about my travels as a way to remember amazing moments that I have spent with friends or family.

If you couldn’t write about travel, what would your new blog be about?

Ooooooh such a great question. I think I would write about home decor and design. I am about a month out from my house being finished and I love to go on Pinterest and read different articles about how to style each room.

What is your all time favorite destination?

London. I just got back from a 2 week trip to England and I absolutely fell in love with London. There is something for everyone and it is just stunning. I think it is so neat to walk down the River Thames and see an old, amazing building and have a skyscraper right next to it. It opened my eyes to European destinations.

Do you have a favorite dining experience from your travels?

On my first cruise we tried escargot. It was delicious! It taught me to at least try things, you don't have to like them but it may turn out that you do!

Best cup of coffee you ever had was where?

I am not a huge coffee drinker but on cruises I love to get up early in the morning and grab a cup of coffee as we pull into port. The views of the island with the sun rising are beautiful.

Where are you off to next and why?

My girls and I are taking a mini race-cation weekend in October to run the Baltimore Marathon Relay! So excited to get back into running! Other than that I don't have anything official yet for 2016. Considering an Eastern Caribbean cruise in late April for my anniversary and trying to find the perfect destination for my BFF's bachelorette party at the end of the summer!

What one item is a must have in your travel bag?
 Zip lock bags. Seriously I bring them on every trip. They are great for toiletries but also for little things you don't want to lose or don't want to touch your other stuff. I have used mine to store a still slightly wet bathing suit on the flight home, some sand or sea shells from the beach or to keep track of small souvenirs that I don't want to get lost in my bag.

Do you have any special tips or tricks on social media that you’d like to share?

My only tip is to use it and use it often. Social Media is a great way to reach out to others. I love to spend about 30 minutes at the end of each day going through Instagram posts. Liking and commenting on other peoples posts is a great way to get other people to interact with your page.

My 10 questions for my nominated bloggers!!

  • What destination did you visit that inspired you the most?
  • Is there a destination that you would not travel to again?
  • What is one thing you tried while traveling that you never pictured yourself doing?
  • Have you ever traveled solo? If so, how did it affect your travel experience? 
  • Was there a particular trip that made you want to start travel writing?
  • What is your most successful/ popular blog post to date?
  • Do you tend to pack light or over pack?
  • Have you ever traveled without a round trip ticket or an exact date that you would be returning home?
  • Do you have any travel rituals?
  • Would you ever consider moving to another country for an extended period or becoming a citizen of somewhere else for good?

Now to my nominees :) I cant wait to read you ladies answers!