York Minister, York - The LDN Gal

York Pass: best things to do in York 

A city famed for its culinary delights such as chocolate, Yorkshire puddings and even their tea, some may say that York has it all.

Step into the beautiful city of York and be prepared to stand in awe. This Medieval walled city is brimming with attractions and bursting with a quaint charm that is hard to find elsewhere in the UK.

Surprisingly, York is rather small city considering its fascinating and lengthy history. Bordered by just two miles of Roman walls, the city centre is easy to navigate on foot and it lends itself to being a perfect destination for a long city break.

So, when exploring York, what must you do and see? Here are my recommendations on the top 10 things to do in York on a budget, including the best sights to see and the best local hotel to unwind in. The best thing? Pretty much all of these attractions are free to visit with the York Passthere’s over 30 included!

Here’s how to visit York on a budget 

York Minister Stained Glass Window Interior, York - The LDN Gal

York Minister:

The York Minister is a grand Gothic cathedral, highlighting pretty much all of the Gothic architectural styles over its development. It is famed for its ornate Medieval stained glass and is one of the largest churches of its kind in Northern Europe. Within, discover its artefacts, wander through the undercroft museum and take a trip up the tower. Did you know, that no building in York can be higher that the York Minister?

York Minister is free with a York Pass – the tower is charged additionally

York Dungeon, York - The LDN Gal

York Dungeon:

You really cannot prepare yourself for what you will discover in York Dungeon. Pre-warned by the staff of its gruesome interior on entrance, its safe to say you are put on high alert. A few posed pictures are thrown into the mix before you and the group await your guided tour to start. As you wait in this darkened room – be sure to not mistake people for statues – a door creeks and you are beckoned in. The 75 minute tour takes you through York’s dark and dreary 2,000 year history via 10 live shows from Vikings to the plague and Guy Fawkes to Dick Turpin. You will learn about bandits, witches and heretics and leave with an elevated heart rate.

York Dungeon is free with a York Pass

River Ouse cruise, York City Cruises, York - The LDN Gal

City Cruises York:

On a summers day, what better way to explore a city than on its waterways? An hour long cruise on the River Ouse is a charming affair with City Cruises York. Your captain will navigate you, enhancing your local knowledge with a myriad of interesting facts. Expect folk, wartime and downright peculiar tales, as you watch life in York slowly go on by.

A daytime City Cruises York cruise is free with a York Pass

JORVIK Viking Centre, York - The LDN Gal

JORVIK Viking Centre:

Entering the JORVIK Viking Centre, I was not quite sure what to expect. As you make your way downstairs, you discover an excavation site beneath a glass floor, making for interesting viewing as you are informed of its origin and purpose. As you follow round the room, you are greeted with a hanging ride cart, select your language, secure your seat and you’re off! As you gently weave through Viking Jorvik (York) you are greeted with a host of realistic animatronics, their at times woeful tales narrated within your cart. On exiting, discover Viking artefacts found within this archaeological site –  and a few skeletons to boot!

JORVIK Viking Centre is free with a York Pass

York's Chocolate Story, York - The LDN Gal

York’s Chocolate Story:

Ever wondered how chocolate was made? Now is your time to find out in the UK’s most famed chocolate city. York founded many an esteemed chocolate making company including the famed Terry’s and Rowntree, responsible for the chocolate orange and Kit Kat respectively. Who’d have thought that all these family favourites could be found in the same place! On this guided tour, you will delve into chocolate’s dark history, the making process via interactive workshops and will even devour a few sweet treats along the way – as well as get to have a go at creating your own!

York’s Chocolate Story is free with a York Pass

York City Walls, York - The LDN Gal

York City Walls:

Across York you will quickly discover the city walls, it is a sight to marvel in a UK city. These Medieval walls encircle the city in parts with around two miles to peacefully stroll along. They offer some incredible views from their ramparts and make for some cute photo opportunities!

The York city walls are free for all

York Castle Museum, York - The LDN Gal

York Castle Museum:

York Castle Museum offers a multitude of fascinating and varied exhibitions detailing over 400 years of York history. These include a walk through Victorian York down a recreated street, a history of toys, the best of the 60s, a focus on the body and health, powerful women, fashion history and even a throwback to WW1. You will also get to explore York Castle Prison beneath which allows for reflection on York’s sinister justice system over 1,000 years – the infamous highwayman, Dick Turpin, even had a spell in these harrowing cells. You will leave with many an interesting fact and lets face it, a superb local knowledge of York’s history.

York Castle Museum is free with a York Pass

Clifford's Tower, York - The LDN Gal

Clifford’s Tower:

Clifford’s Tower is the only real structure that remains of the former York Castle, originally built by William the Conqueror. In its long history, the castle has served as a tax office, treasury, an administrative headquarters, a court, military base, royal mint and the city’s former prison! Once you ascend its gruelling steps, the rather dilapidated Clifford’s Tower offers a wonderful panoramic cityscape view.

Clifford’s Tower is free with a York Pass

The Shambles, York - The LDN Gal

The Shambles:

The Shambles is a quaint cobbled street in York, close to The Shambles market and many of York’s attractions. Here you will find cafe’s, restaurants, bakery’s and a host of themed shops. It is said that The Shambles inspired J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. For any self-confessed ‘Potterheads’, you will find three stores dedicated to the franchise within The Shambles, so it is certainly a must see for fans.

The Shambles is a public street and free for all

Yorkshire Museum, York - The LDN Gal

Yorkshire Museum:

The Yorkshire Museum offers history buffs a treasure trove of delights. Inside, take a stroll on a genuine Roman mosaic floor, see the Middleham Jewel and gaze at a four and a half billion year old meteorite. The best part? The new Yorkshire’s Jurassic World exhibition where you will have the chance to learn more about and actually feed an actual dinosaur – it’s a lot of fun! The Yorkshire Museum is simply brimming with archaeological, historical and geological finds.

Yorkshire Museum is free with a York Pass

Where to stay in York

Middletons Hotel York Double Bedroom, York - The LDN Gal

We stayed at the Middletons Hotel in York, around a five minute walk into the town centre. The hotel is situated amongst beautiful landscaped lawns and gardens. There is plenty of places to sit out in the sunshine, with picnic tables and decked area, there is even a pond. Flowers embellish every corner of the Middletons Hotel and the buildings are a mixture of complimentary architectural styles. The rooms are clean, spacious and bright and there is a bar, restaurant and gym available to use on site. What more could you want?

So, how much can you save with a York Pass?

So, how much did we save with the York Pass? With all these attractions in mind, they totalled £83.10. We took our time and did these over two days but all of these attractions could be easily be in a full day. A one day York pass is £42 and a two-day is only £60! If you get it done in a day, that is a saving of £41.40 each!

For more inspiration on where to go in York with your York Pass, take a look at the Visit York website.

Have you ever been to York? Which of these attractions would you like to visit? 

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with York Pass and the Middletons Hotel

Degustabox UK review - June 2018 | The LDN Gal

Degustabox UK June 2018 review

The June Degustabox certainly did not fail to impress. Themed on BBQ section, it was packed with delicious flavoursome treats and meal accompaniments just perfect for summertime and these longer evenings.

Here is what I discovered in my latest June 2018 UK Degustabox:

So, what do I think of the June 2018 UK Degustabox?

Capsicana Cook Sauces  

The Capsicana Cook Sauces certainly offer a kick to your cooking. Now, I am not a fan of spice but these sauces are simply bursting with flavour. These Mexican and Latin American inspired sauces, are packed full of authentic ingredients to help brighten up your dinners.

Peckish BBQ Rice Crackers Multi-Pack 

The Peckish BBQ Rice Crackers are simply delicious, not only low in calories but they also taste great. These packs are the perfect healthy treat-meets-snack for on the go. They are baked, not fried, super crunchy and even gluten-free! Let’s face it, no guilt snacks are the best snacks.

Brioche Pasquier Pains au Lait 

These soft Brioche Pasquier Pains au Lait are a must for any household. These super soft and light brioche rolls can be enjoyed round-the-clock. Use them in the morning to make French toast, for a super easy lunch roll or on the BBQ with hot dogs or sausages – they are delicious whether used for sweet or savoury. 

Rosie’s Pig Raspberry Roller 

Now the Rosie’s Pig Raspberry Roller cider was certainly a treat in our current heatwave! As expected from a fruity cider, it was refreshing and sweet. What did I love about it? The combination of raspberry and cucumber is simply to die for.

Frylight Avocado Oil Cooking Spray 

I love the Frylight sprays, they are super low in calories and great to cook with. Now, this avocado oil spray is no different. I have to admit though, I could not notice the taste of the avocado when cooking.

no&more raspberry and blueberry 

I have to be honest, I really wasn’t a fan of the no&more raspberry and blueberry water. It was very weakly flavoured and I think you’d be better off just placing sliced fruit within a bottle for a fruity pick-me-up.

Mighty Fine Salted Caramel Honeycomb Bar 

If you are looking for a naughty treat, look no further than the Mighty Fine Salted Caramel Honeycomb Bar. This slightly misshapen honeycomb bar tastes like a luxury Crunchie, coated in Belgian milk chocolate.

Orangina 

Orangina reminds me of childhood. Bursting with flavour and always super fizzy. Both the normal and low sugar versions tasted delicious in their own right and it was nice to sample both. Always delicious and always refreshing.

Idahon Gratin Bake 

I am such a big fan of the Idahon range, having sampled their mashed potato packets before. This bake was delicious and simple to prepare with a dash of water and butter. It went well with vegetarian sausages and vegetables.

The Jelly Bean Factory Fairtrade Box 

I have always loved jelly beans, they are my weakness. The Jelly Bean Factory have always been my go to for their assortment of flavours. Each box is filled with 36 delicious flavours, so be sure to eat them one at a time to take advantage. These are also made using fair trade sugar.

Great British Biscotti Co  

I am never a massive fan of Italian biscotti inspired treats but this proved to be an exception. Within this crumbly Great British Biscotti Co biscuit came pistachios, cranberries and white chocolate. All in all, perfection.

I was very pleased with this box and would buy many of these items again – minus the no&more water which was quite frankly a let down. 

I am now a big fan of the Idahon range and their products sneak into my shopping basket often. With all these items in mind, I created two wonderful dinners and had snacks for days.

Like the look of this June box? You can order the July Degustabox here.

What do you think of the June Degustabox? What item would be your first pick? 

Stephanie xox

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This Degustabox was exchanged for an honest review

Library Lates: Tolkein exhibition, Oxford

Library Lates: Tolkien exhibition

This weekend gone, the Bodleian Libraries held a very special evening, a Library Lates: Tolkien exhibition. As the largest J.R.R Tolkien archive in the world, they certainly know a thing or two about Tolkien.

Curator of Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, Catherine McIlwaine, held the first talk of the exclusive evening. Detailing her journey, she told the audience how it took 5 years to plan the exhibition, which included travel across to the US on more than one occassion and the approval of the Tolkien estate.

Her expert knowledge was simply astounding, and Catherine wrote two publications to compliment the exhibition itself. It was originally meant to be an exhibition solely on hobbits, to tie in with Peter Jackson’s films.

After visiting Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, she decided that this exhibition needed to be bigger and better. It needed to present more than just hobbits and it must delve deeper into Tolkien’s world – it was to be a never before seen event. 

The Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition itself, all stems from the creative genius of its curator and the dedicated work of many within Oxford University.

Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition review

When planning, Catherine sought to borrow Tolkien’s manuscripts and visual items which had been sold to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the sum of £1,500 in the 1950’s.

Tolkien had been informed by his publishers that Lord of the Rings would not sell well, so he agreed to the selling of his manuscripts after two years of no revenue. The Tolkien archive is highly prized to Marquette and includes plot notes and visual items which are now on loan to the exhibition.

These include interesting things such as character name changes, plot amendments and alternative endings. Catherine said that she “was looking for items that would shed new light on Tolkien’s work” and that each item had to speak strongly for itself. “I chose items that would surprise the visitor,” she added.

Tolkien’s attention to detail was phenomenal. So much so that not only did he map the realistic distance a hobbit could walk but also invented his own Elvish script for the books. As Tolkien said, “mythology is language and language is mythology.”

He agonised over numerous elements of the book, frequently changing his mind back and forth as shown is his rapidly written plot notes within the exhibition. He finished Lord of the Rings in 1949 and it was meant to be one text but proved far too long for the publishers, eventually being split into three.

Discover Tolkien’s family, educational and literary history in a city which proved a massive influence in the creation of Middle-earth, right in the heart of Oxford. You can book tickets here until the 28 October, 2018.

Are you going to attend the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition? Who is your favourite Lord of the Rings character?

Stephanie xox

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Uber Sonic Electric Toothbrush Review | The LDN Gal

Uber Sonic electronic toothbrush review

The Uber Sonic electronic toothbrush is sleek and efficient with an exterior crafted from brushed aluminium.

It comes as part of a subscription service ensuring your whites stay pearly with two replacement toothbrush heads being sent to your address each second month.

These refills are certainly a unique selling point, as well as the tooth whitening kit when you first sign up. You can choose to purchase these separately if you prefer.

Since using the Uber Sonic, I have noticed that my teeth do in fact feel great after each use when compared to my manual toothbrush.

So, what did I think of the Uber Sonic electronic toothbrush? 

The toothbrush has a timer inside that tells you every thirty seconds to change quadrant. The small toothbrush head makes it easy to reach difficult areas of your mouth.

Although the Uber Sonic is aesthetically pleasing, I would perhaps like a little more power. Nothing drastic, just a slight bit more intensity.

What makes the Uber Sonic oh so unique is its subscription service, gorgeous aluminium exterior and ease of use. You can buy the Uber Sonic here.

Have you tried the Uber Sonic yet? Do you prefer manual or electronic toothbrushes? 

Stephanie xox

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This Uber Sonic was sent in exchange for an honest review

5 great European road trips | The LDN Gal

5 great European road trips

Europe’s mix of open fields and rolling mountains make a perfect scenic backdrop for any road trip or holiday. From the stunning scenery, unforgettable nature or even vibrant nightlife, Europe will not disappoint.

I’ve teamed up with Compare and Choose to round up my top five European road trips.

Verdon Gorge circuit, Provence, France

Province boasts one of France’s deepest central gorges, the Gorges du Verdon, and a lot of care has gone into keeping it as beautiful as possible. The circuit takes just under two hours at full speed, but you can easily enjoy it at a more leisurely pace – from the quaint little town of Moustiers Sante Marie to the spectacular views of Balcons de la Mescala, this road is a constant stream of new sights and sounds that you’ll never get tired of!

There’s plenty of places to stop and take in the fantastic view from a distance, and if you’re hungry, there’s classic French food available from the many towns and businesses that you’ll find on your journey.

The Autobahns, Germany

Adrenaline seekers will flock to Germany’s famous Autobahns, the giant highways that let you cut loose and enjoy miles upon miles of raw speed! If you prefer to pace yourself, you can always slow down on the side lane and enjoy a long, smooth, hassle-free afternoon drive.

Most Autobahn roads are lined with trees, fields and small forests – nothing over-the-top or exotic, but enough to keep you relaxed and interested throughout the whole journey.

Plus, with so many places you can break away from the road, who knows where you’ll end up?

La Route des Grandes Alpes, France

Designed, constructed and maintained specifically for tourists, this road takes drivers through over fifteen mountain passes and four national parks, as well as some of the most scenic points in the French Alps. The gorgeous Geneva Lake provides a lovely backdrop to the fresh air and wide-open spaces of the mountain region.

There’s no need to rush – the easy turns and straight roads make the Alps easier to explore than ever, offering a new way to see some of the world’s most famous mountains from the comfort and warmth of your car.

Furka Pass, Switzerland

A Swiss Alps road that challenges even the most confident of drivers – more variety and fewer stretches of plain straight road mean that you’re always seeing something new with each new corner you turn or hill you pass. The beautiful grasslands and majestic mountains give you a view that’s definitely worth the effort.

Patience is a key part of any good road trip, and there’s almost nowhere it’ll pay off more than Furka Pass.

Transfăgărășan, Romania

The “Road to the Sky” takes drivers from the base of the mountain range to the highest peaks in all of Romania, always sticking to an easy-to-climb angle that even the most overloaded car could easily tackle! From a beautiful grassy valley to a spectacular mountain peak, the Transfăgărășan is the definition of variety and can last anywhere from a few hours to a whole day depending on how you want to pace your trip.

The intriguing wildlife and scenic pathways offered by the mountains’ off-road areas mean that you can easily stretch your legs, so there’s no need to confine yourself to your car all day – every good road trip needs a stop now and then, after all, and the Transfăgărășan is more than happy to oblige.

Which of these road trips would you take? Where is your favourite place in Europe?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with Compare and Choose

A 20 something's guide to Budapest - Hungarian Parliament Building

A 20-something’s guide to Budapest: Top 10 things to do in Budapest

A city of beauty, culture and cheap eats, Budapest is simply on everyone’s European bucket list – and for good reason.

Celebrated as the “Paris of the East”, the winding Danube highlights the city’s beauty, separating Buda from Pest in a sea of twinkling lights by twilight, emulating the grandeur of its buildings and monuments that line its banks.

With a Budapest card in tow, it is time to explore this city and with your new card, all your public transport travel within Budapest is totally free!

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

The Hungarian Parliament building:

Renowned as one of the most iconic buildings in Budapest, The Hungarian Parliament building is a truly spectacular sight on the Pest side of the river and one that cannot be missed. You can venture inside and see its stunning interior and the Holy Crown of St. Stephen on an organised tour.

See it from the Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side at night for a truly enchanting view – and photograph to boot.

St Stephen's Church, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal St Stephen's Church interior, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal St Stephen's Church view, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

St. Stephen’s Basilica:

St. Stephen’s Basilica is a truly magnificent Roman Catholic cathedral, named in the honour of the first King of Hungary.

Step inside this Neoclassical church and discover its gorgeous and grand interior and the mummified hand of St. Stephen himself (eek). Once done, ascend up to its cupola lookout for some fantastic panoramic views.

You can save 15% off your cupola lookout ticket with the Budapest card.

Szimpla Kert ruin bar exterior, Budapest- A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Szimpla Kert:

Allow yourself a cheeky evening treat and stop for a drink in one of Budapest’s famed ruin bars. Within seemingly disused buildings and overgrown outdoor spaces, these bars are housed within their remnants.

My favourite? Szimpla Kert. A quirky bar embellished with stolen literature, mismatched furnishings and years of memories, its ceilings littered paper. It has a cool vibe and offers a fantastic selection of drinks, food and even shisha. It can get busy, so head there early or during the week to soak up the interior and just unwind for a few hours.

House of Terror - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

House of Terror Museum:

Discover more about Budapest and its fascist and communist past at the House of Terror Museum. Here, you will learn more about the historical terror the tyrannic occupying forces made locals endure as you immerse yourself in the interactive exhibitions within.

This haunting building served as the former Nazi and Soviet headquarters and commemorates the victims of these regimes. Its basement, the former prison, emulates the horror faced by these victims at the time, who were tortured in its darkness.

Shoes on the Danube - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN GalChain Bridge at Night - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Explore the Danube:

Regarded as one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe, the banks of the Danube are just asking to be explored. Be sure to take a cruise, be it in the day or at night, to soak up the architecture and beauty around you.

Once done, spare a moment by the haunting Shoes on the Danube memorial and pay your respects to the 20,000 lives cut short on the Danube banks under Ferenc Szalasi’s influence.

Be sure to cross the illuminated Chain Bridge at night, it offers a lovely evening stroll from Buda to Pest or vice-versa. With brazen lions standing to welcome you at each side, be sure to use it as a photostop.

Church Cave, Gellert Hill - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Gellert Hill, Budapest panorama - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Gellert Hill, Danube view - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Gellért Hill:

For the best view in the city, take a leisurely stroll-come-hike up Gellért Hill. Once atop, you will see Budapest in all her magnificence with panoramic views. It is the perfect place for a shop-bought picnic beneath the grand statues of the Citadella.

As you make your way down, stop by the Gellért Hill cave church for a unique venture into a church within the hill – not an everyday attraction.

Hospital in the Rock, Castle Hill, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Hospital in the Rock artifacts, Castle Hill, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Hospital in the Rock mural, Castle Hill, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Hospital in the Rock: 

The Hospital in the Rock presents a turbulent and at times tragic wartime past, offering visitors a fantastic history lesson. Step back in time and discover this former hospital located within a cave system underneath Castle Hill.

Tours are given on the hour in numerous languages and offer an informative insight into the hospital and its fascinating WW2 and 1956 Revolution history, as well as touching on the nuclear disasters within Japan – I held back tears on more than one occassion.

You can save 30% off your ticket with the Budapest card.

Fisherman's Bastion - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Matthias Church, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Fisherman’s Bastion:

Fisherman’s Bastion is a dreamy structure sitting atop Castle Hill. This fairytale terrace sits in front of Matthias Church and close to Budapest castle.

It is free to wander around but if you desire to go up the ramparts to the upper lookout there is a small fee. From here, discover the picturesque and panoramic views of the Danube and Budapest cityscape.

You can save 10% off your ticket to the upper lookout with the Budapest card.

Holocaust Memorial Centre, Budapest- A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Holocaust Memorial Center:

Within the Holocaust Memorial Center you will discover that around 1/3rd of the people at Auschwitz-Birkenau were Hungarian. It is a shocking statistic and the interior of this memorial center emulates the shocking reality of the horrors faced by Hungarian citizens, Jews, Roma gypsies and homosexuals during this time. Its a harrowing and humbling experience, and one that simply cannot be missed.

You can save 10% off your ticket with the Budapest card.

Budapest zoo petting zoo - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden:

The Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest in Europe and rather strangely, located within the city centre. It has nearly 1,000 species of animals on display from across the globe and a lovely botanical garden to boot. The best part for most? An interactive petting zoo where you can stroke goats and deer.

You can save 25% off your ticket with the Budapest card.

Have you been to Budapest? Where would be your first stop?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with Budapest card