Top 5 Bucket list Experiences

Recently I added my travel bucket list to my website, and this got me thinking. Which experience has been the most incredible so far and why? So I decided to share this with you all and create a post that covers my top 5.

To see my full bucket list click here.

5. South African Safari

In the summer of 2017 I visited a private game reserve close to Port Elizabeth. Volunteering there allowed me to stay for two weeks at an affordable price, plus I was able to support the maintenance of all animals and the game reserve. I saw nature at its finest when a group of lions fed on a Zebra (One group witnessed the kill! I’m not jealous at all). Having seen 4 of the big 5 I knew I had been lucky during my stay, so that’s why this experience hits spot number 5.

4. A Cruise in the Bahamas

The crystal blue waters and the golden sand of the Caribbean makes this a solid choice for number 4, the summer of 2018 I crossed this off my list. I will always remember the surge of excitement that filled my body as I boarded in Miami. Speed walking my way through the ship to all the facilities they had on board. The many restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, sports facilities, even a casino and so much more. You can simply never get bored on board. Anyway, after 2 Island stops, many stunning beaches and a morning snorkeling I would love to relive this experience once again.

3. The Grand Canyon

Nothing quite prepares you for that first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, something so extraordinary, that I have been desperate to see for many years. During my time in Las Vegas last summer (You can read all about this in my Las Vegas guide). I took a long coach trip and when I say long, I mean long. When the coach finally comes to a stop, I jump eagerly to the window hoping to cast my eyes upon the canyon, but no just a visitors centre/cafe. I grabbed my bag, jumped off the coach and ran through the building that blocked my view.

The Grand Canyon left me speechless, I can’t put into words how I felt at this point so I’m not even going to try. I remember being bursting for the toilet but not wanting to lose sight of the Canyon in case I was in fact dreaming, silly thought I know. I explored one of the south rim trails, which was beautiful, there was also a small museum that explained how the rocks formed what we see today. 3 hours and well over 300 photos later my time at the Grand Canyon was up. I would love to return and visit a different section, and possibly do a helicopter tour.

2. Bungee Jump

I told myself time and time again that I would never do a bungee jump, yet here I am ranking it as number two. I did this whilst traveling the Garden route (South Africa) in 2017. Many people I was traveling with signed up to jump, however I was adamant that I was never going to do this, as even fair ground rides make me sick, so I opted to go to the cafe instead. Hours went by as watched many people jump and return unharmed and vomit free, a strange urge to jump filled my head. I let this thought sit in my mind for minutes, whilst friends warned me of the regret I would feel if I didn’t jump. I soon came to my senses and before I knew it, I was dragging my terrified self along the long walk to the jumping point on Bloukrans bridge.

I got geared up and was called forward to jump, with my legs tied together I was almost carried to the edge. Where I Stood and figuratively SH*T myself!. I feel no shame in admitting the fear I felt at that point. I grabbed the two men holding me, so tightly, terrified to let go. “THREE” “TWO “ONE” “JUMP” the man shouted. The next thing I could hear was the gushing wind filling my ears and my own voice shouting F*CK so many times as I plummeted down towards the lake that lay below. Next came the stomach turning moment of the bounce from the bungee as I reached my lowest descent. Adrenaline filled my body like never before as did blood to my head. I was dangling 200 metres in the air bouncing back and forth until a guy abseiled down to bring me back up. This experience sits at number 2 due to the amount of fear I felt and my battle to overcome it, plus the adrenaline rush it provides, is like nothing I have ever felt before.

1. Shark Cage Diving

Having loved sharks for as long as I can remember, makes this an experience I hold close to me. I did this just off the coast of Mossel bay in South Africa, ONE day after I conquered the bungee jump, an intense 2 days you might say. Arriving in our boat to Seal Island the captain found a good spot to drop anchor. Within in just 10 minutes I heard a fellow passenger shout “LOOK”, as I turned I saw a glimpse of a sharks jaw filled with what was left of a defenseless seal. Immediately followed by a pool of blood filling that section of the ocean. I geared up into my wet suit and waited for my turn to step into the 6 man cage. I will never forget the anxious feeling whilst in the cage waiting for the guy above to shout “DOWN”. The second I heard the command, I threw myself under the water and right before my eyes lay a 6 metre great white shark. So powerful in the water as they swim up close to the cage, allowing the perfect view of such amazing creatures. My section of the cage fell victim to many head on attacks, as the sharks try to bite through the cage, leaving only teeth marks behind. My only regret is that I didn’t own a Go Pro at this time, although this has made the experience much more personal to me.

Thank you for reading, if you enjoyed my post then please “Like” and “Follow” for more.

I would also love to hear about your bucket list experiences too, drop me some comments below.

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Budapest City Guide

I recently visited Budapest for the very first time and loved everything, from the incredible architecture to the delicious food. This blog contains everything that I manged to do during my 48 hours in Hungary’s Capital, plus a list of things to do next time.

Things to know before you go

  • The local language is of course Hungarian, although many people in the capital speak good English.
  • Local currency is Hungarian Forint.
  • The airport is around 30 minutes away from the city centre.

Flights

Flights can vary in price a lot for Budapest some flights can be £40 and others £130, from my experience I found London seemed to be the cheapest to fly from. In particular Luton Airport, I discovered flights that were £25 each way, absolute bargain. I flew out from Liverpool and returned to Manchester, the flights cost me around £60 each, if you can get a similar price you have done well.

Accommodation

I booked my accommodation through Airbnb, in a beautiful, secure small apartment located on the Pest side of the city, with easy access to everything. On Airbnb you will find plenty of decent small apartments costing around £15 to £25 per night, which is excellent value for money. If you are looking for something more luxurious this can cost £50+ per night. I found hotels to be very expensive, something to note if you want to keep accommodation costs down.

Local Food you should try.

I tried two local specialties during my 2 day visit, one which is known as a Langos, this is a fried dough with various different toppings, I had sour cream and cheese on my Langos. I had this for lunch on both days, one Langos will easily feed two people and can be found in many places around the city. The second local food I tried was a Chimney cake, this is dough cooked in the shape of a chimney that can be covered in many different flavours and toppings I had cinnamon and sugar, Perfect to satisfy that sweet craving.

What should you do?

Parliament Building

This building sits proudly on the Danube river banking and looks stunning from all angles. There is a museum you can access via the staircase pictured below that explains the events of what is known as Bloody Thursday, this was a tragic event that happened here back in 1956.

Castle District

Castle District can be found on the Buda side of the city, it’s home to the famous Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias church and the Buda Castle along with many more things to see.

Fisherman’s Bastion

Built overlooking the Danube and surrounding the Matthias Church, this landmark provides breathtaking views over to the pest side of the city. (My favourite part of Budapest). This area can be crowded as everyone fights for space to take a photo. However located up some steps which you can access for around £3, you will find an almost empty section, a perfect opportunity to get those glamorous Instagram shots.

Matthias Church

Positioned in front of the Fisherman’s bastion. This church is arguably the most unique in Europe, during the Turkish invasion it was even used as a Mosque. Tours are available that allow you access to the top of the bell tower, something I didn’t manage to do, however would like to next time.

Central Budapest

Budapest Eye

See the city from a whole new perspective via the Budapest eye, as it spins you 65 metres into the sky. This can be done day or night as it remains open until 11pm, this will cost around £9. Surrounding the eye is plenty of outdoor bars and a small park, great for those sunny days.

Basilica

Gaze up at the beautiful building as it towers over you, positioned in a square filled with several restaurants and cafes. If you are in this area and fancy a snack, check out a Donut shop called, The Box. These were honestly the best donuts I have ever eaten in my entire life.

The Citadella

Positioned at the top of Gellert hill. This area offers incredible panoramic views of the entire city. Hang around to see the sunset and watch as this spectacular city lights up the night sky.

Heroes’ Square

Just a short bus ride from the city centre, this square is situated between the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art (Kunsthalle). The square is filled with statues and monuments of Kings and Freedom fighters, plus there is a cool Budapest sign. Within just a short walk, you can discover the Vajdahunyad castle with its beautiful gardens, with a lake surrounding the castle, you can choose from several outdoor activities such as renting a paddle boat. Lastly this section of Budapest is where you will find the Zoo, takes around 3 hours to complete, a perfect activity to fill a morning or an afternoon and costs around £9.

Things I would like to do next time

As with most holidays and city breaks we usually leave saying “oh we should have done this” I certainly left Budapest thinking this. With so much to do in the Hungarian capital I’d say it’s near impossible to do everything in just a couple of days. I will be returning some time soon and this is a list of things I would like to do next time.

  • Immerse myself in the famous Baths.
  • Eat Goulash.
  • Take a ride on the Budapest eye.
  • Enjoy a calm evening cruise on the Danube river.
  • Discover the inside of the Matthias Church.
  • Revisit the Fisherman’s Bastion (I loved it that much).

If you enjoyed reading this, then please drop me a “like” or leave a “comment” and of course “follow” if you want to see more.

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Las Vegas Guide

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

Except for this experience, this came back with me.

This guide will give you the information you need to know in preparation for your visit to Las Vegas. From the moment you arrive at the airport it’s quite clear you’re in Vegas, as even the airport looks like a casino, also you couldn’t really miss this huge welcome sign!

Las Vegas Airport

Downtown

Downtown Vegas, the original strip, also know as the best area for casinos according to many locals, so well worth a visit.
The Mob Museum can be found here, where you can learn about the history of Vegas and how its foundations began, standard admission is around $26.95.

The Linq High Roller Observation Wheel

See Vegas from an entire different angle, with an unforgettable ride up, to 550 feet into the clouds. Lasting around 30 minutes and can be done both day or night, tickets start from around $22. The view is gorgeous, however it’s a challenge trying to get good pictures through the glass of the bubble.

Vegas Strip

Stroll around Caesar’s palace or stick around for the Bellagio fountain show which happens in every 30 minutes. The area is full of hotels, shops and casinos, if you venture further up the strip you will find the iconic Vegas sign, perfect for your next profile picture.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel tower viewing deck, sitting at half the height of the actual Eiffel tower will provide a view of the Vegas from an incredible perspective. Tickets start at around $16, however they have great offers on several different packages, so worth checking for the best deal.

Vegas Strip at Night

Watch the sunset as it disappears behind the Bellagio to discover why it’s known as the city of lights. With many live entertainment shows and circus acts to watch there is always something to do, if nothing else you can try your luck in the casinos.

The Grand Canyon

Surround yourself in the spectacular landscapes of the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Nothing will quite prepare you for the moment you first set your eyes on the canyon, a photo simply doesn’t do it justice. This unforgettable experience cost me around $120 including lunch and transport, worth every cent. A bus will collect you from your hotel and take you on the long drive to the Canyon. Stops on route usually include other tourist hot spots such as the Hoover dam and Route 66.

When booking the attractions, shop around as many websites offer you different packages, you can save a lot of money this way.

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Thank you.

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10 FREE THINGS TO DO IN SAN FRANCISCO

1.Ina Coolbirth park

Offering incredible views of the city both during the day and night, this hidden gem can be found on Taylor street.

City view from Ina Coolbirth park. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

2. Oakland Bay Bridge

Often forgotten as Golden gate bridge draws the crowd however defiantly worth a look.

Oakland Bay Bridge. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

3. Rincorn Park

This waterfront park offers stunning views of Oakland bay bridge and has a sculpture of a giant bow and arrow, known as Cupids span.

Cupids Span. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

4. Golden Gate Bridge

Can be seen from multiple view points such as West bluff picnic area, the visitors centre and Golden Gate view point check them all out to see the bridge from different perspectives.

Golden Gate bridge. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

5. Walk along Golden Gate bridge

Walking along the Golden gate bridge offers a great experience and an opportunity to get away from the crowds.

Golden Gate bridge. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

6. Crissy field east beach

Walk along this sandy beach whilst soaking in the stunning views.

Golden Gate bridge from Crissy Field beach. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

7. Visit Lambar Street

A famously unique street surrounded by beautiful flower beds.

Lambar Street. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

8. Watch the sunset

On a clear day catch the Sunset, head to Municipal pier for the best view.

Sunset view from Municipal pier. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

9. Pier 39

This pier offers lovely scenic views of the waterfront and Alcatraz island.

Alcatraz Island. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

10. Fishermans wharf

Boasts an array of shops and restaurants this area brings in a crowd being one of the top tourist areas in San Francisco, if your lucky you might see the sea lions that often make an appearance along this waterfront.

Fishermans Wharf waterfront. Photo taken by Rob Jackson

Visit California on a Budget

Has it been your dream to visit California? Have you always thought that it was simply too expensive and put that dream aside? Perhaps you had no idea where to begin, or how to travel from one part to another?

If any of the above sounds like you, then keep on reading, as I reveal how I travelled from San Diego through Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 16 days without breaking the bank.

Within this blog I have detailed many key points that saved me money. If you would like to know exactly where I stayed, how long and what I did then just ask.

Where should you book your Flights?

Skyscanner has never let me down, I saved money by adjusting my start or end location.

If your plan was to start in San Francisco and travel south, you may save money by arriving in San Diego and travel north instead. This doesn’t always work, but if your start destination is flexible it’s certainly worth a look.

Where should you stay?

Hostels were the cheapest option for me, some Airbnb’s came close, however they rarely offer breakfast within the price. Hostels allow you to fill up on a great breakfast, whilst surrounded by likeminded people, plus you have access to leaflets and posters advising you where to eat and what to do. Don’t be put off by the cheap hostels, my favourite hostel was situated in San Diego city centre, this was in fact the cheapest hostel I have ever stayed in.

Make sure you have an idea of what you want to do and where it’s situated in relation to your accommodation. There might be accommodation that costs slightly more but allows you to walk everywhere, therefore you can justify spending a little more to save on transport costs.

How to get from one city to the next?

Greyhound bus services will get you from any major city in California to another for low prices.  I went from San Diego to Los Angeles for around $15 and from Los Angeles to San Francisco for around $24.

In my experience booking last minute wasn’t difficult, buses were regular, and they operate through the night. The journey from LA to San Francisco is almost an 8-hour journey, as my time was precious and my budget tight, I took a bus overnight.

This saved me both time and money, as I didn’t need to pay for a hostel that night and I got an extra day to see the glorious San Francisco. The buses I used were spacious and comfy, plus they had phone charging ports and WiFi. So, both me and my phone could recharge.

Transport within the city?

My experience of American public transport is fairly small, as I didn’t use it much. When in new destinations I love to walk everywhere and get a real feel for the place.

However, at times walking isn’t an option so occasionally I used apps like Uber and LYFT, both are taxi operators that often have deals if you are new to signing up. The deal I got with LYFT was 5 free rides, this got me to where I couldn’t walk. Secondly, both Uber and LYFT offer a “shared ride service”, which gets cheaper rates. Often used by locals, so that is a great opportunity to gain more knowledge of the area. Lastly, when using the apps such as Uber and LYFT, move your desired destination pinpoint around. If you place it on a tourist attraction the price may be higher than if you place it a short walk away.

How to reduce your food spending?

Another reason hostels are a win in my book is the breakfast. It usually consists of bagels with cream cheese, porridge and some fruits, if you are like me then you are in paradise. My advice here is to make the most of the breakfast, take a bagel and a piece of fruit, save it for lunch or snack later.

Hostels often have deals for dinner like cheap BBQ’s or takeaways, so definitely worth checking. When I was in LA, the hostel had free Taco’s, far from the best Taco’s but it was food after all. Another point worth noting is that hostels have cooking facilities so don’t be in the mindset that you have to eat out every night, you can save money and eat well by purchasing food and cooking it yourself. Just be prepared for the endless signs saying, “Clean up after yourself”.

I often found bar style restaurants and takeaways that offered meals such as a pizza/burger and a drink for $10. This gives you the opportunity to sit aimlessly at a bar with a beer like you see in the movies, (something I did more often than I would like to admit).

Plan your day in advance

I spent at least 30 mins each day planning my next day attempting to minimize unnecessary costs. I achieved this by organizing my whole trip, what I want to see, what is nearby, so I aimed to complete different areas of the city each day. Sounds obvious I know but I was amazed how many people would get this one wrong and would waste time and money going back to places they had been because they missed something.

Stay flexiable

Now this can be a difficult one to follow as organisation and planning is the key as I have already pointed it out. However, there are ways to be organised yet remain flexible to change. My method of flexibility was to have a couple of hostels in mind and regularly check their website. Often hostels display the number of beds remaining for each day, by keeping an eye on this it meant I could postpone booking accommodation until I had a better idea of my travel plans.

I did this whilst in San Diego and I am so glad my plans were flexible as I fell in love with the city and found there was more to do than my time allowed. Plus, many locals told me the number of days I originally planned for Los Angeles was simply too many, I took their advice and it paid off.

As I hadn’t booked my LA hostel or travel yet, I was able to postpone going there and booked 2 last minute nights in San Diego. This gave me the time I needed to visit the famous San Diego Zoo, so I’m sure you can agree me when I say, “it was worth it”.

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