Rediscovering the Magic Day 7 – Disneyland Paris 2016

I am sad to say that this was the last day of our holiday!!!! ūüė¶

After a short lie in we packed and had breakfast and after a quick exploration of the hotel we headed to the Park.

 

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We walked along the riverside to the Disney Village and took a little look in the shops, then it was into the park.  One of the things Mum had been wanting to do was ride one of the vintage transports up Main Street.  We were trying to see if the bus was taking people but as we arrived it pulled away, but when we turned around the Paddy Wagon was pulling up and we were first in line so stepped right onto the wagon.

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We walked up through the castle and after a look in the Christmas Shop, we headed into Fantasyland and to Pinocchio.

I have never seen Pinocchio Рthis surprises a lot of people as I am so obsessed with Disney but there are a few of the early movies that I have never seen. However, I do have a vauge recollection of riding this ride when I was 8 of a scary whale that jumps out at you near the end of the ride, a traumatic experience, so naturally, my 18 year old self was very nervous. As it turns out there is a whale, which pops up quite slowly from behind a boat Рnot as frightening as I remembered. I think this is really fascinating at how your mind plays tricks on you and remembers things very differently.

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After the ride, we walked over to Discoveryland and on the way we saw Pinocchio and Gepetto, which seemed sort of appropriate.

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Our destination was the Pixar Shorts film festival, which mum had heard about.  We love the shorts,   and so we wanted to see this.    Before the main film,  they showed a history of the shorts which was quite interesting, and then you went into the cinema and watched 3 shorts.

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We came out of the theatre, and walked around the back of Space Mountain to take a look at the Nautilus exhibit.

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That was all we wanted to see in the park so we headed out and over to the studios, heading into the animation studio

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It was pretty quiet so we all had a go.¬†¬† We did Goofy. ¬† I find it really fun as I am training to be an artist – the shapes used to create the characters is fascinating (Eeyor, is made up of tear drops, Mickey – is full of M’s and Goofy in this hand is completely uneven)

When we’d finished drawing it was time for lunch,  we were booked into the Restaurant des Stars.  And although there was  lack of themeing the food was really nice and hit the spot.

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After lunch,  we walked over to see if we could get on Ratatouille one last time,   and we rode it with the single rider, which cuts half the queue.  It would be really interesting to see the full queue experience however I am not going to wait 2 hours in a queue to see that.

The final thing we headed too was Stich live. ¬† It‚Äôs a funny interactive show, where Stitch chats with the audience, including a member from ‘the holland’. After Stitch, we decided it was time to leave.¬† We walked back to the hotel,¬† and collected our cases. ¬†Then we sat in the lobby for a little while,¬† before we got the bus to the train station, and onto the Eurostar.

 

We arrived back at my uncle Mark’s house to find he was having a barbeque¬†with some friends,¬†¬†¬† so a couple of cocktails,¬†¬† some barbeque, and the Olympics on the telly,¬†¬† and we ended up staying up late to watch Mo Farah win his gold.¬†¬†¬† It was a great end to a great day.

 

Rediscovering the Magic Day 6 ‚Äď Disneyland Paris 2016

Today was the day we decided to venture outside of the magical world of Disney and into the enchanting world of real-life Paris.  I was very excited as I have never been before and as we wanted to watch Dreams we knew we would have to be back in time for Dinner because that night was our last night so it was a bit of a whistle stop tour.

After breakfast, we took the bus over to the train station, and bought some tickets from a machine and got the train into Paris emerging at the bottom of the hill near the Sacre Coeur.     There was a very short discussion about walking the 270 steps to the top but that was quickly overruled and we used our metro tickets to go up on the Funicular instead. The view from the top is stunning absolutely magnificent and probably rewarding. If you had gone up the stairs.

We walked around to the Montmartre. We had a little walk around and Molly browsed for a few items and we considered looking around the Dali Museum, but it was 11 Euro’s each,  so instead, we had a Croque Monsieur in the central square. We then set off shopping and after a few purchases settled for Ice Cream and crepes for dessert.

Next, it was back to the station and with a quick visit to the Arch de Triumph we changed lines to head for Le Tour Eiffel!

 

I was really excited to see the tower and after quite a lot of photos, we headed back to the metro’s to head for the Norte dam.¬†¬†The sun was really shining by now, and it was glorious. Molly wanted to see the largest window in the world,¬†so we headed off in search of it, and were really enjoying the lovely weather.


We then headed back through the train lines to get back to our hotel and freshen up, before dinner at 7pm at Billy Bobs Parlour.

This for me had to be my favourite meal of the holiday. It was a Tex Mex buffet and as  I have recently discovered Mexican food is a guilty pleasure of mine. and there were tonnes of Mexican, fajitas, ribs, etc.

After dinner, I bought some attraction posters from the art shop and we headed into Disneyland Parc, just in time to catch the¬†Frozen ‚Äėparade‚Äô¬†which wasn’t much of anything, to be honest.

We got quite stuck then as Fantasyland had closed and we had 2 hours to wait for the fireworks. After a quick conversation, we headed to Pirates for yet another ride of this classic coaster, and then with the park closing around us we headed back to Main Street, and had drinks and brownies whilst we waited and finally the show started.

No photos, we just stood and watched. It is pretty amazing. It’s not really a fireworks show, it’s more about projections on the castle, but it’s very good. After it ended, it was the long walk back, and we were out like a light!

Rediscovering the Magic Day 5 ‚Äď Disneyland Paris 2016

We forced ourselves out of comfy beds, put on Mickey Mouse t-shirts and even made sure the camera’s and autograph books were at the ready – had anyone guessed what time of the holiday it is yet? ¬† It’s time for a character breakfast!

We had an early breakfast booked at Cafe Mickey this morning so we started the morning with a very french style “American” breakfast and a visit by¬†Dale, Goofy, Pluto and Mickey – we did spot Chip but he never arrived but did get to see Mickey twice so we left the meal in high spirits.

(I know I am 18 but in my opinion, Disney characters just give the best hugs so when the offer I accept! No matter how old I am)

After breakfast, we headed to the Studios Park to wait for park opening as we wanted to ride Crushes Coaster and after picking the wrong gate to stand in again – seriously if you see us in Disney¬†don’t come and stand behind us, our line ALWAYS moves the slowest – we headed up to crushes coaster and were on in what felt like no time – the wait didn’t feel too¬†bad (they had installed WiFi into the queuing area though so I could see that the line normally moved a lot¬†slower. The ride itself was pretty fun, it made me kind of nauseous¬†but Florida’s Space mountain is harder on the body, the ride was set up very similar to space mountain¬†with most of it in the dark along with some cut scenes from the movie.

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After Crushes Coaster and a quick look around Cars land, we headed for my favourite, the Art of Animation. It started off with a talk on how different characters came to be and more specifically the origin of Mushu the Dragon from Mulan, being someone who studies art this is really fascinating I thought it was really interesting at how the original drawings for Mushu evolved and changed, going from 3 separate dragons to one three-headed dragon to the small red dragon we all know and love.

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After the talk, it was time for the drawing class. This was a lot¬†smaller than in Florida and the main teacher was just tracing the image at the front so after Molly and I finished our drawings and proudly held them up I think she was very surprised that we had managed to draw something which looked a lot like Stitch. I really love these small classes I think although the drawing is not realistic it helps you understand proportion and using guidelines effectively to create¬†a character which needs to look the same every single time you draw it (like Mickey’s eyes always need to be a certain distance apart so it looks like Mickey).

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After drawing Stitch we left Disney Studios and headed towards the Disneyland Park to be greeted by The practically perfect Mary Poppins, Burt, and Mr. Penguin! And after a really nice meet and greet we headed to Discoveryland to pick up Buzz Lightyear fast passes.

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After grabbing the fast passes we found Space Mountian on a 15 min wait so Molly and I nervously joined the queue to get on the ride.  I was very nervous on this ride as I had heard that it was a really big ride. But as both of us were waiting in line, I actually found myself comforting Molly as we waited as she was as nervous as I was.   Eventually, it was our turn to ride and although it was very scary I was very proud of myself for riding it.

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After Space mountain, it was time for lunch so we headed to Main Street and tucked into hot dogs and nuggets from Casey’s Corner, a pretty nice meal.

During the meal, we decided it was time to try and figure out how to see Maleficent the Dragon again since the last time we hadn’t managed to see her. ¬†We left Main Street to head towards the castle and actually managed to find the sleeping dragon. ¬† ¬†It’s was really interesting to see as I am interested in set design, the way the dragon moved was really intriguing. ¬†It would be a very cool job to be an Imagineer.

After our short encounter with Maleficent, we headed on an intergalactic mission to protect the planet from the evil emperor Zurg, or as normal people would call it… ¬†the buzz lightyear ride.

Defending earth is very hard work so we decided it was time for a quick Pitt stop in the form of water and ice cream. Before heading off to the storybook boats ride for a relaxing journey through the different story lands.  I especially liked the cave of wonders and beauty and the beasts town and castle as I performed in that show earlier this year. So anything remotely related to Beauty and the Beast was exciting to me immensely!

After a trip into the¬†storybooks, it was time for a tea party in wonderland or Alice’s Labyrinth. This is ridiculously confusing but fascinating as the theming is very cool.

After a walk through the maze and a sit down we headed for the carousel which seemed to take ages to start once we had sat down in the ride but it did start and although it is a primitive ride it is very nostalgic.

Speaking of nostalgia there was just enough time for another ride on Pirates before the parade started.  And after a yo ho hoing time we headed into fantasyland and found a great spot to watch the parade from.

Tea time was upon us and mum had made reservations at the Agrabah Cafe this was an amazing treat. ¬† The food was amazing and the theming really made you feel like you were in a different country. ¬† At first, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to like. ¬†Everything looked amazing but I am not a fan of spicy food so was a bit wary, to begin with but after my first plate, I just dug straight in.

In keeping with the Arabic theme Aladdin’s Enchanted Passage was out next destination and then it was agreed that we were all knackered so it was time to go back to the hotel. ¬† Dreams the nighttime display would have to wait.

Rediscovering the Magic Day 4 ‚Äď Disneyland Paris 2016

We had had a very long day the day before and therefore all plans of getting to the park for opening went out of the window and instead we had a lie in. Our hotel provided a buffet breakfast which contained cereal and croissants, so we ate up and then set off to Disney Studios.

When arriving at the studios we realised that the line for Crushes coaster was too long so instead we speed to the Ratatouille ride to get fast passes and then as it was 20 minutes long, ride the single rider line. As the ride is 6 people per car this line moves quite fast so we were on the ride in no time. This ride was absolutely amazing, a lot of it was 3D films mixed with live sets and the movement of the cart made you believe that you were actually running for your life around a restaurant.

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After Ratatouille we were unsure where to go next so took a stroll through Toy Story Land and back to the main entrance to regroup, deciding to go into the Mickey and the Magician¬†show as it was going in so we joined the back of the very long line. ¬† Eventually, we made it to the 4 group to the front and they announced that the show was full so we had to come back later to see it. ¬† Our very disappointed¬†group decided to go to the Flying Carpet ride as it is located right by the entrance to the show, whilst we waited for the next show to start. After the Carpets and a quick meeting with Cruella we saw that the line for Mickey and the Magician was starting to form again so quickly joined it so we didn’t miss the next show that was on.

After a long cramped wait, we entered the theater and found pretty good seats, before the curtain went up. The show was absolutely amazing   one of the best Disney shows I have seen. Absolutely EPIC. The show contained snippets from Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Lion King and Aladdin (a massive tap number), as Mickey went on a journey to discover the secret of magic and how to control his own magic. I loved this show. It was absolutely amazing and if I went back to Paris defiantly want to see it again.

After the show, Molly and Dad rode the Tower of Terror and whilst they were riding it Mum and I explored the area and took some photos. Molly and Dad exited the Hollywood Hotel and we raced to Chez Remi as our reservation time had arrived.

Chez Remi was one of the main highlights of this holiday, it combined a great theme with great food and a great atmosphere, making the whole meal a success. As you walked into the restaurant you were shrunk down to the size of a rat and the whole restaurant is “shrunk” down to this size, with the chairs and tables made out of lids, the whole restaurant lit by oversized fairy lights.

The food was absolutely brilliant. I was the only person to order the steak Рthe rest of my table opting for the fish. I was really happy with this choice as after the salad starter, a steak was a nice meaty filling meal which I really needed. It was cooked perfectly and along with a running play argument with mum and  the waiter (who was exaggerating a stereotypical French waiter) the meal was a nice relaxing and entertaining way to break up the day.

After our gorgeous meal our FastPass times had arrived for Ratatouille again so was heading straight back into the queue and were once again shrunk to a tiny rat, I don’t know why we bothered growing after the meal. At the end of the ride, you actually get a glimpse of the restaurant and we got to see our corner table all over again which was very cool.

After another trip to Remi’s Paris, we headed out of Rat World and into Toy World heading for Slinky’s ride. All the rides in the Toy Story section look like really cool versions of the classic fairground rides, the RC Racer’s being the Pirate Ship and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop similar to the lift like one (not actually sure the typical name). Slinky Dog Zig Zag Spin was no exception, the ride being very simple but the theming made it very clever, you weighted within the box of the board game and then emerged to sit in Slinky’s body as he span around his dog bowl with all of his favorite treats inside.

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After quickly stopping off at Studio 1 to collect some snacks for later we decided to head for the Studio Tram Tour – a favourite of mine from Walt Disney World, however after waiting for around 30 minutes, 5 tram’s leaving with no passengers and the fire rescue crew arriving we turned around walked out of the line to continue our day, this turned out to be the best plan as whilst we were leaving there were staff members closing off the ride so no public could get in, however, no one had alerted the public already in line?

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After that disappointment, we headed toward Cinemagic as Mum had heard it was very good. And after not a long wait we were through into the cinema. I have previously been to DLP – when I was maybe 5 or 6 and can hardly remember any of it – however whilst this video started I recognised a lot of the movie which followed – ‘the plant in the audience, a sword shooting through the screen, and even remembered having a conversation with some friends we were with trying to decide if the Plant was already planted yet (because I was so young) I distinctly remember thinking that I¬†couldn’t see a tree growing anywhere inside the cinema. The bizarre thing, however, was that Mum has never seen the show – or else couldn’t remember any of it?

After a long day it was time to head back to the hotel and after complications with the bus (there was a bomb scare at the train station, therefore, we couldn’t get to the bus stop) we slowly walked back to our hotel room happy to just sit and read my book.

After a while we were hungry and all plans of heading back into the Disney Village for food failed we settled on a nice hotdog and drink in the hotel bar watching team GB gain a gold in the Diving Pool at Rio 2016 accompanied by a western folk band, it was a really relaxing end to yet another exciting day.

 

 

Rediscovering the Magic Day 3 ‚Äď Disneyland Paris 2016

Another early morning awaited us as we awoke at 5am to catch the 7am train to Lille before a transfer to Disneyland Paris. So we drove to Ebbsfleet¬†Train station and made our way through security, to enter a waiting room – kind of like an airport waiting area. Except the only place open was the cafe Nero so… we went to Cafe Nero for breakfast having a hot chocolate and Pain au¬†Chocolate to get ourselves in the french mood. Then they announced the platform we were going to be on and we made our way to our space and the Eurostar pulled up so we headed inside to find our seats.2016-08-09 07.13.082016-08-09 07.13.17

We arrived in Lille in no time the train was so fast and after a 90 minute stop over we boarded our next train which took us right outside the Disney gates.

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Once arriving in DLP we took teh bus from the train station to the hotel Chayanne which has a cowboy theme to it and is really impressive when you walk through it as it is decked out like a western village, complete with jail and saloon. after checking in an nearly having to drop off the bags at the reception we were given our room keys and arrived in our room, where we quickly freshen up and then headed out towards Disneyland Park.

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After discovering that her hand made mickey ears didnt fit ( a real shame as they looked amazing complete with a pink bow) on our way through the Disney Village, Molly bought herself some minnie ears and then we were on our way to the park.

I can’t imagin staying in the Disneyland hotel as it is so close to the parks, some of the rooms even look down main street. This hotel looks absolutly amazing and since we had to walk through the hotel to get into the parks it wasnt hard to have a nosiy around. if we weren’t in it before this hotel definatly put us in the disney mood, as the magic of disney shone off every cravice. Including a giant verson of Dads watch.

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Soon after we were out onto main street and ready to explore a different  magic place. Unfortunatly we did compare it alot to WDW except I dont know how you could not as although based from the same movies every Disney park has its differences. In hignsight this for me made the experience even more special as (as the title suggests) I was rediscovering the magic all over again, as I was appreciating the detail that goes into the the parks at a completly different level.

We went through the castle in an attempt to find the dragon however this failed as the entry was know where to be found so after a quick look through some jail bars we made our way through the castle and out into Fantsyland. On our way in to Fansyland we passed the Snow White ride and as the time said 10 minuets it was a winner in all of our eyes. This ride was very dark, only featuring Snow White twice whilst showing the jorney of the queen in more detail. It also seemed to go very fast – now this may be normal for this ride but it definatly felt spead up as it was over in a matter of seconds.

After Snow White it was time for a classic It’s a Small World. This was very intresting as in WDW they dont have a USA section as the ride is in the USA however half way through Its a Small World the USA arrived and it shocked me as I was not expecting it. I thought the section was very cool as it featured Hollywood along side the statue of liberty and Canadan Ice Hockey. Another thing which I thought was odd was that in WDW America was not featured but in DLP there was a distinct France section – with the Eiffle Tower and Can Can girls in there full glory. (I am done with the comaprisions now I promise (For now)).

After IASW we walked towards Fronteerland to get some lunch. Unfortunatly Big Thunder Mountain is closed a the the moment so we will not be riding that however we walked past it to get a table at the Lucky Nugget Salon, in which we all ordered the BBQ Ribs. This was a great meal as there was a live pianist playing and then the curtains opened to reveal a puppet show featuring Woody’s Round Up. The meal was finished of with ice creams and we left stuffed and ready to go.

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After lunch Molly and Dad rode on Pnatom Manor. Now I have a massive fear of this ride – I have never been on it and I know it is a stupid fear but it is what I am scared of. So I was going to sit it out however in a moment on blind panic I was up for going on it. So me and mum started walking towards to ride, Mum (and me agreeing) seeing the 30 minuet queue knew I was not going to last and bail out halfway through the ride so instead she told me we were gping to look at the cool gravestones in the grounds whilst we waited for Molly and Dad, however in Paris thease gravestone do not exsist so after a quick walk around the grounds – even looking in the exit side we sat by the exit and waited for Molly and Dad. I know it isnt much but I was very proud of my self for going in the grounds as it was the closest I had ever made to the ride and although didnt make it on I did venture into the hauted grounds of Phantom Manor.

After Molly and Dad rejoined us we made our way around Big Thunder Mountian towards the Chaparral Theater where there was a Frozen Sing Along Show starting and luckly the next show was in English so we hopped in the line and were sent into the theater where we sant down. In the centre of the stands was special blue cushioned seats which it turned out were for any girls/ or boys who arrived at the show in princess dresses (kind of like the royal box). This was a really nice added touch which I think made the whole show even cooler. The show was very fun, the songs from the movie where shown on a screen and the ‘Villagers of Arendelle’ danced along to the songs and helped you sing along. It was alot off fun and yes the emotional me cried at the show.

I think I cry at every Disney show to be fair so that one was no exception. After the show we decided to get the train around to Fantasyland and afterwards head around to Pirates, this definatly takes longer, but it is very cool to go on the train and you get to see a whole different side of the park. Once off the train me and Dad went to the toilet and in the toilet they were playing the Blaydon Races a famous Geordie folk song, which then lead to me and Dad leaving the toilet singing at the top of our voices, much to Mum and Molly’s amusment/despair.

Next up was Pirates!

This is a favourate of mine from WDW so I was really looking forward to this ride, and it didn’t fail to deliver, the ride was brilliant with some similar scences that we recognised – the dog with the keys and “who wants the red head” and some others which I had never scene before including a skeleton drinking rum and you could see the rum going down the skeletons throat.

After Pirates we then walked “Right down the middle of Main Street USA” and explored the shops before heading out and making our way througt the Disney Village. Molly and I bought some glasses for Mum and Dad’s Anniversery Present whilst they were buying snacks for the room, and seeing as we had had a big lunch for tea we ended up getting takeaway Pizzas from Earl of Sandwitch and eating them in our room.

A great first day in Disneyland Paris!

Rediscovering the Magic Day 1 and 2 – Disneyland Paris 2016

TRAVEL DAY 1

Having just finished a long show week Рmy sister (Molly) and I had just finished a week of rehearsing and performing with ABD Productions doing Pied Piper Рwe woke up on Sunday morning with little enthusiasm for an early start to finish packing and hit the road, however, that being said we were off and on the road smoothly on our way to Sawbridgeworth to stay with my Aunt and Uncle before getting the train to Paris.

Because of our early start we failed to get breakfast so stopped off at a service station around 10 ish to get some. I decided to have a Chocolate Chip Cookie Mocha Iced Creamy Cooler, (which was yummy but the name needs to be shortened) and a lemon muffin.

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Because of our early start we made io to Mark and Ruths by around 1:45 and were greeted with the most delicious BBQ and weather. Leading to a great meal in the sun Рthe perfect way to start our holiday. I then spent the rest of the afternoon lying on a sunlounger listening to the newly purchased Hamilton soundtrack, this soundtrack is absolutely amazing and I may have danced a little too much whilst listening to it.

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As the sun went down Mark arrived outside and started firing up the BBQ again filling it with cooked chicken wings and sausages (VERY YUMMY). After stuffing ourselves and a massive struggle with a Rubix Cube. I went to bed shattered.

TRAVEL DAY 2

After the early morning the day before we decided to have a relaxed morning, but eventually we had to leave Mark and Ruth’s. We drove straight to the train station to figure out the tickets and then dropped off our bags at the Premier¬†Inn, before heading out to Bluewater Mall to see Finding Dory. After buying our tickets for the movie we wandered around to the food court and treated ourselves to an Earl of Sandwich, which is a restaurant we all associate¬†with Disney and therefore had to ¬†be the place to get us in the Disney mood.

When we had finished¬†it was then time for…. FINDING DORY!!! This movie was amazing the short ‘Piper’ at the beginning was set at the seaside to get you in the mood for the movie and was as cute as ever and the BAM the actual movie was brilliant. Exactly what you¬†would expect from a Pixar movie and will become a classic, as it explores the life of a fish in further detail and different ways than¬†Finding Nemo did. This movie¬†takes you inside a Marine Life Institute in Morro Bay California and shows us the back story¬†behind Dory and what goes on in her brain as she slowly remembers her past.

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After a quick browse in some shop’s we left Bluewater and returned to the hotel to freshen up and¬†make our way to the Beefeater across the road for some tea. I had the enchiladas¬†alongside a delicious salted caramel milkshake.

We then left the restaurant to go to bed as we had a really early start the next day.

Thoughts from the end of a show week 

What I like about theater is it’s teamwork. Theater is also all time creativity.

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It’s funny. When you finish a show the first thing you feel is absolutely shattered! It’s strange. Your body has completely given up on life and your feet have swelled to twice the size from pushing yourself to the limit each and every night. However there is absolutely no way you will get a decent nights sleep. Your mind is buzzing with the music and songs of the show and your head replaying several moments on stage which you could have done differently. Literally replaying the entire show behind your eyelids whilst you crave the beauty that is sleep.

However aside from all the exhaustion. The end of a show provides the best time for self relection, promises for the future and rewards. You as not only a performer but as a human being have achieved amazing feats in the weeks prior to this self reflection.
You have been forced into a room full of people you don’t know and told to remove all barriers of self preservation and pore your heart and soul out on the rehearsal floor because that is when you get the best results. Because of this you have made friends with these strangers and shared memorable moments which will not be forgotten in years to come. And on top of all that you have stretched your mind body and soul to become characters, learn steps and, sing in harmony. All to understand and portray a storyline. This is the best feeling of all.

Doing and performing shows has to be one of the best things I have experienced. Time and time again you see total strangers turn into life long BFFs in the space of a few weeks of blood sweat and tears, and it is this which makes you come back to do another show.

Not the endless stress of rehearsals, quick changes and mess ups on stage. ¬†Or the nervous nail biting and hair pulling as you watch your friends pull of the most amazing scene ever and you know you have to follow. ¬† Or the constant rescheduling and letting down of your friends because you “have a rehearsal”.

It’s the feeling of accomplishment shared between the entire cast and crew when the curtain goes down. ¬†The blasting of show tunes 5 minutes before curtain call in which the whole dressing room screams ABBA at the top of their voices. ¬†Even when we know it’s unprofessional. ¬† ¬†And finally the memories and jokes shared by a group of people which only they will understand and haunts your everyday lives forever.

So at the end of this really sentimental post I would like to thank anybody and everybody who has taken part in and helped out on shows with me to date.   You are all the reason why I go back and continue to do more and more. I love you all so much.

Don‚Äôt Give a Dam, our trip to Holland ‚Äď Day 3

The time has come to write about our final day in Holland!

Because of our long day on Wednesday we had a lie in and a late breakfast. We packed our bags and were out by 11:00, our first stop being the canal cruise (‚ā¨10) which we had skipped on the first day due to sea sickness. ¬† This, however, turned out to be the best thing for us as the weather on Tuesday was very drizzly and cold compared to the hot sunny day the boat trip actually ended up on, making the trip all the more enjoyable.

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This trip was amazing, really would recommend it. It was a one hour tour of Amsterdam, and we got to see all the sights of the city on a sunny trip without leaving our seats. After all the walking the day before it was just what we needed.

After our canal trip, it was time for lunch so we headed to a nearby stall and treated ourselves to chips and mayo, which we all agreed was the right thing to have at this moment in time.

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After lunch, it was time for souvenir¬†shopping. A really enjoyable experience which sent us right around the main touristy areas of Amsterdam so we could¬†buy something we really didn’t¬†need for prices¬†we couldn’t afford (but we bought them anyway). One of my favourite purchases was a bead for my Chamilia Bracelet (similar to a Pandora). This particular bead was white and blue referencing the traditional Delft pottery and was painted which flowers. I am so happy with this purchase and really like this as I will be able to look at this bead and remember my very first holiday without adults and it will be a beacon to tonnes of memories from this trip.

Souvenir shopping took us back to the street our hotel was on and a shop opposite our hotel called Asian Spirt. This was like walking into Disney world as everything was decorated and themed so the whole place gave off a mythical ideal sort of Neverland meets Norway meets the Enchanted wood. There were two different shops in this building, on the first floor was ‘Asian Spirt’ which sold all sorts of Japanise inspired items and underneath¬†was the ‘Fantasy Shop’, which sold many wacky and wonderful garments (many of which took my fancy as they were 50’s style – my absolute favourite clothing style ever) but the hefty price tags sent us all packing only after we noticed down the websites to have another look when we got home.

http://www.fantasyshopchimera.com/

http://webshop.asianspirit.nl/

 

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Yes, I did rub his nose!

We all decided that before we left Amsterdam we had to have tried Poffertjes which we had failed to until now, at every opportunity of getting them something else appeared to take our fancy. So seeing as our holiday was coming to an end we headed up the street and back to the waffle shop to stuff our faces which yet more yummy sweet food.

 

After stopping off at the hotel to pick up our stuff which we were easily able to store at the hotel until our bus back to the ship, we headed to the bus and made our way back to the DFDS port, and after a quick check in were back on the ship in no time!

Our first destination after our room (the same room as the last time) was to the Sky Bar to sit and enjoy our last few hours of sun. Our plan, to enjoy the last night on holiday fully. There was live music on the deck and we all sang along to,whilst enjoying some cool drinks and relishing what we had actually accomplished – booking, planning and actually going on a holiday independently which no major hiccups.

After a quick stop to deck 6 to obtain some sea sickness tablets, we returned to our room to freshen up and made our way to the Italian restaurant on board to have even MORE food.¬†I really wasn’t feeling too good at this moment so a nice Spaghetti Bolognese was just what I needed so my stomach could attempt to sort itself out again after the junk food and sweet carnage it had been through in the past couple of days. This meal was huge (definitely one bowl could feed two people) and very pricey (just under ‚ā¨20) but thoroughly enjoyable and just what to doctor ordered a really yummy hearty meal.

After dinner, we made our way to the Columbus Club hoping to see the whole of the live entertainment (we only got to see the last set on the way to Amsterdam). This live band, Stereo Revolution, were a lot better than the band on the way there and after buying some cocktails Melina and I took it to the dance floor – the only ones on the dance floor I must add.

One of the best songs of the night was the Jackson 5s ‘Blame it on the Boogie’ only because the singers appeared to copy the dance that I was doing halfway through the song as they began to pick it up. By the end of the night, we were all exhausted so made our way back to our room for some shut eye.

It was at this point in the night that as we were all talking before bed there was a really loud noise which startled all of us. It turned out that the cabin next to us had decided to knock on the wall between our cabin and there’s – incredibly loudly and rudely. Something which we all didn’t appreciate and were very annoyed by. I had a very good sleep that night however as we were all exhausted from our packed holiday.

Disembarking on Friday was an easy process. We ate in our room again and then made our way up to deck 6 – the deck above where we got off in Amsterdam (deck 5), and after moving to deck 5 were pushed to one side as everyone attempted to be the first people off the ship. We, however, got the best end of the deal as instead of disembarking on deck 5, it was actually deck 4 and we were the first people escorted down the stairs to deck 4 and off the ship, meaning that we were through immigration in a matter of minutes and back into England.

Our holiday was now officially over! ūüė¶

I would just like to send a massive thanks and all my love to Frances, Emily and Melina, who were the BEST travelling partners I could ask for – no one was left behind, everyone supported everyone else’s views and overall it was the company I was with which made this holiday one of the nest experiences of my life and created memories I will cherish forever – I love you all so much, and couldn’t have asked for better people to spend my first adult free holiday with!!! ¬† ¬†LOVE YOU ALL!! ‚̧

Don‚Äôt Give a Dam, our trip to Holland ‚Äď Day 2

We had had quite a relaxing first day, not much was planned meaning we just could go with the flow and see where we ended up. Day 2 however, was planned at a completely different pace and was packed full to the brim with amazing experiences.

From the get go the day was a lot more organised than the Tuesday. We woke up at 7:30 and after showering and getting dressed we headed downstairs to meet up with the other half of our party over breakfast Рprovided in the hotel booking. This breakfast was really nice. The hotel provided a continental spread (toast, cereal, juice and small pastries). This was very refreshing and we just what we were looking for in a breakfast and after a quick trip back to the room to collect stuff, we set out to Centraal Station to buy bus tickets and we had planned to do a bus tour of Holland. This was a great thing about this day but also something we all marveled at, the buses all seemed to run on time and at really frequent intervals (unlike the metros and buses in Newcastle).

Buying the tickets was one of the easiest things in the day, we just had to mention the 4 places we wanted to go and the women knew the tickets we needed and the money was handed over (‚ā¨10 for a whole day of bus rides). We then headed up to the bus station and jumped on a bus. (This was my first mistake, we were trying to reach Edam, instead we were going through Volendam so decided that we could just stop in Volendam first (in hindsight¬†it would have been better to go to Edam first.))

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As the bus arrived in Volendam we got off fine and we were on our way to the main street when we passed Hema; now our family has fallen in love with this shop and therefore I had to stop and visit, buying some soap for my mother and a bag for me.

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We then went to the supermarket next door, buying water bottles and some De Ruijter. When we left the shops we then went down to the main street and went souvenir shopping. The weather was absolutely amazing this meant that the scenery was absolutely beautiful and the views were perfect, the sun was bouncing off all the water which was so pretty.

I purchased an Amsterdam t-shirt and various other items were also bought.    We also stopped into the cheese shop to take some very cheesy photos (see what I did there).

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Our next stop was Edam and because of the mistake made when we went to Volendam first, the cheese market in Edam was just¬†packing up so we missed the main part of it. However, we still saw them packing up and were able to purchase some cheese (the idea of ¬†Edam cheese for Edam was way too appealing). The cheese was very yummy and although initially, I wasn’t¬†going to buy any after tasting it I had to, so bought a cheese cutter and garlic and herb cheese. It was a very quick whistle stop tour of Edam but a very enjoyable one. ¬†P1260541P1260542

At this point, I was very worried about the time. I have family that lives in Monnickendam, a small village located around a 20 minute car ride outside of Amsterdam and seeing as we were so close to them it would be horrible to go to the Netherlands and not see them for at least a short time.  Therefore I had planned to meet them in their small village at 2pm where my Antie Jane kindly was going to treat the whole group to high tea at Coffee & Cacao.

This although being personally one of the¬†best experiences of the holiday¬†(as I was visiting family I hadn’t seen for around a year) it proved very stressful as I didn’t want to arrive in Monnikendam late however the bus ride was not as long as I thought it would be so we arrived in Monnikendam in plenty of time¬†and were able to sit and relax on the harbour for 30 minutes whilst we waited for my Aunt and Cousin (Jane and Jolanda) to arrive.¬†Monnikendam is the prettiest village I have seen. I really love walking through the streets as they always show so much character.

It was very lucky that we did arrive in Monnikendam early as it was during our wait in the sun that Melina received a call from Newcastle University about her accommodation¬†, and although she mentioned that she was in a different country that still persisted to arrange details about her accommodation. This is one thing I just don’t understand about Uni’s they are persistent in trying to arrange this even if it means interrupting someone’s holiday and cost them more money. We were lucky though as the arrangements were sorted out before my Aunt arrived and therefore Melina was able to just enjoy the meal without constantly checking her phone.

My aunt arrived and we made our way to the cafe. The meal was so huge, and I unfortunately only took photos of some of the courses. We arrived and were served some tea (with a timer so the tea didn’t steep for too long) I had the jasmine tea. then were served a nutty chocolate thing – as a sort of starter. Our next course was soup, sandwiches, and other savoury things. This contained a fennel and prawn soup which was divine as we all started drinking it thinking it was cold only to find it was hot and really yummy. The next course was the sweets – containing a scone, cake, lots of chocolate, (and a particularly nice elderflower and white chocolate mousse which was a nice change from all the rich chocolate). This was an amazing round as we were able to try everything without feeling too greedy. Then just as we thought the meal had finished the staff brought out more tea and a chocolate fondue. We all left as well with chocolates as a favour however they were all melted by the time we got back to the hotel.

It was really nice to see my family, I hardly ever see them so it was great to be able to see them even for the short time we did. I always enjoy spending time with them and I definitely can’t wait until I see them again. What I was nervous for was if it was going to be awkward with my friends as well as they have never met my Aunt and Cousin before but conversation ran smoothly so I didn’t have to be worried. All my friends seemed to really enjoy our time with my family and they made a great impression on them, especially the fact that they are both bilingual.

After a quick visit to their house – meeting the new dog Stanley, my Aunt very kindly drove us to Marken – our next destination, meaning we didn’t have to catch another bus. Our next stop was the clog shop which not only sells the nation’s favourite shoe but shows a demonstration as to how clogs are made. The man giving the demonstration was very talented, switching effortlessly between 3 different languages to include all the different groups watching the demonstration. It was really interesting to see how the shoes were made and why they existed in history. After the demonstration, some clogs were bought and I tried on a more fashionable pair which I was really tempted by but the ‚ā¨45 price tag made me put them back on the shelf.

After buying clogs we went down to the harbour just to look around the island, but it was getting late so everything had closed, so we headed back to the bus stop to make our way back to Amsterdam.

When we got back to our room the plan was a 20 minute refresh before heading out to a pub, however, 20 minutes turned into 1 hour 30 and we all found ourselves engrossed in an intense Catfish episode, in which a man was catfished for over 2 years with the Catfish taking on 3 different alternate personas. But eventually, we finished getting ready and headed out in search of a pub. On the way to where I thought a pub was we became paranoid that we were being followed, so we did as anyone would do – took 4 left-hand turns – if the guy is still behind you at the end of it, you are definitely being followed, this lead us to a very thin lane which had lets just say some interesting things on show in the shop windows.

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When we found the pubs however what we hadn’t realised beforehand was it was the semi-finals of the Euros and therefore all the pubs were full of insane football fans so we ended up just eating at the New York Pizza and a Burger place (Burger Fabriek) before going to explore the city some more I decided a good way to do this would be to do a 2p walk. If you want to explore somewhere this completely takes the way you walk out of your control making it random and interesting. Basically, when you reach the end of a road you toss a coin, heads = left, tails = right. This was a great way to explore the city a bit more and at the end of the walk, we accidently ended up at the end of our hotel street so just went back to the room. Overall a brilliant day!!

Don’t Give a Dam, our trip to Holland – Day 1

I haven’t had much experience sleeping on a ship – only a few nights here and there a long time ago, however, the beds on the DFDS ship provided one of the best nights I have had. In the October of last year both me and Emily had spent a night on the Transiberian Express, which had a very similar setup and have both vouched that this way of sleeping provides an amazing night sleep as the movement of whichever mode of transport you are on rocks you as you attempt to fall into a deep deep sleep. This meant that for me the early morning on the ship¬†was not that hard to stomach.

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The Tran-Siberian Express

Originally we had planned to wake up around 8:00 knowing the ship docked around 9:30 however we were rudely¬†awoken at 7:30 by some people banging on our room door – what we think happened was we were surrounded¬†by a school group and they were knocking on everyone’s door to wake them up so they could all go to breakfast¬†together we were just unfortunate that our room happened to be hit by accident.

We had decided to¬†have breakfast in our room – each bringing a different array of breakfast foods to share, this was really convenient¬†for us as it meant that we didn’t have to worry about getting up for a reservation and that we could all eat just what we felt we needed. After all changing and a quick sweep of the room to check nothing was missing we headed upstairs and outside to watch the ship come into¬†Ijmuiden, this provided some fresh air and also a chance to marvel that we had all actually managed to plan and book a holiday (as we have attempted to in the past but to no avail).

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The passport control was very quick and easy – we were one of the first people of the ship meaning that the queues were short and with a flash of our passports we were out into the open air and on the bus to Amsterdam.

This bus ride lasted for around 35 minutes and was reasonably pleasant, my only¬†concern¬†during the bus ride, however, was that my data on my phone wasn’t working (#firstworldproblems). I had specifically sat down with my mum the day before to make sure it worked and this lead to a confusing¬†10 minutes where I switched on and off any and every button¬†linking to data on my phone (it turns out with the package I had you have to switch EU internet off but keep data roaming on).¬†The bus took us straight into Amsterdam right by the Centraal Station and was really easy to get to.

Located (as we found out later) on the outskirts of the red light district the Hotel De Gerstekorrel was a mere 10 minute walk along the main road and down a little side street filled with food shops. Our hotel was one door situated between the Wok To Go and New York City Pizza. Inside was a spiral staircase which took you above the shops and opened up to reveal the rooms. When we arrived only one of the rooms was ready for us to stay in therefore we all congregated in it to dump our stuff. Our room although very small was just what we needed containing a double bed and a bathroom with a shower. The rooms even included a fan (which always remained on as they were really warm) and a hair dryer.

Our plan was to go and do a canal cruise Рhowever as one of our party had been sea sick because of the ship this morning, we vetoed the idea, postponing it until our last day when we had not much  planned. Instead, we went to the flower market. The weekend before we left I had spent the Saturday going through all of the papers that we needed and adding everything which looked remotely good into google maps to we could find it easily. This was a really useful thing as for the first two days we really had no idea where we were going. The phone took us through the many beautiful streets of Amsterdam and all we could do was revel at how it did not compare to anywhere we had been near our hometown.

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These winding streets took us to a busier road and after carefully crossing (we were not used to the ratio of bikes to cars to be at an equal let alone their be more bikes) we found the flower market. Unfortunately, most of the shops only sold blubs meaning the spectacle of it was not as impressive as the pictures you see online – however the smell did not disappoint. Let’s just say if you could bottle that smell I would have bought it.

We walked along the flower market and saw a Christmas Shop along the street which of course we had to visit. It was really strange, but a very similar shop to one I have seen on York. Christmas music was blasting everywhere and various different dutch themed Christmas ornaments were arranged all over the shop as if a tinsel cannon had exploded in there, a few ornaments were purchased and we set off to continue our search at the flower market.

It was coming up to lunch time now and we knew that we had tickets booked for the Van Gogh Museum at 4:00. Therefore we set off to try and find the place so we knew where we were going with the notion that we would stop off for some food on the way. This, however, didn’t happen, although passing various food shops we all just kept going forward and made it to the Van Gogh Museum very early indeed.

Our next 30 minutes were not the brightest plan we had, we spent them searching for somewhere to eat. We kept finding places and either not fancying it or there being no room for us to eat. We did luck out however when spotting the signs to the Hard Rock Cafe, which although we didn’t want to eat there we knew the probability of more restaurants to be near it was high.

Eventually, our guess worked and we found a square filled with restaurants right next to the Hard Rock Cafe. We ended up in an Italian place connected to an Ice Bakery (‚ā¨32.25 for all 4 of us). This hit the spot perfectly as we were all after something small and not too filling. I had the tomato soup which was absolutely divine and accompanied it with a Chocomel which although I think was meant for kids I enjoyed greatly.

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The next stop after lunch was the Hard Rock Shop to buy souvenirs, and then as our time for the Van Gogh Museum had still not come we decided to make our way to the Vondel Park, which we had walked through when searching for lunch. This was a relly nice thing to do as we all just sat and relaxed on a bench and although the weather wasn’t the best it was a really nice space. This park was full of cyclists and led us to wonder really how everyone is so comfortable cycling – there was someone carrying what looked like flat pack furniture on the front of their bike something which I really didn’t think was humanly possible.

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Pee-Joon

Eventually, our time was up for the Van Gogh Museum and we had to leave the beautiful park, and make our way back to Museum Platz to find the Van Gogh Museum. Evidently pre-booking the tickets was the best thing we could have done. We were able to skip the really long queue and were inside the museum in a matter of minutes. The Van Gogh Museum was one of the highlights for me, I am an artist myself and watching how Vincent Van Gogh’s art style completely changed through his decline in mental state was really fascinating, going from black and white detailed sketches to oil painted intricate realism to the colourful uses of loose lines and shapes which is most recognisable in Van Gogh’s pieces. It is really intriguing to me how much his style changed and really gave me hope that although I don’t have a solid art style yet, even when I have found one I like it doesn’t stop me from changing it completely.

After the Van Gogh Museum, we made our way back to the hotel to freshen up before going to get waffles, of which we had seen in a shop on our street and taken quite a fancy towards. When we got back to the hotel the other room was ready so Mel and I separated with Emily and Frances as they moved their bags upstairs to their room, this, of course, made me incredibly sad as when we went to visit their room later we found out that it was bigger than ours which was rather annoying.

After a quick freshen up it was time for waffles. However when reaching the shop there was an array of different choices and toppings we could have had and instead, the choice changed to churros and a crepe. This was a great way to end a really great day as we all filled up with yummy goodness and really did not need much else afterward.

 

I know now most people would expect us to go out and party all night however because of our early start that morning we were all shattered so instead we all donned our PJs and played cards whilst watching MTV in the hotel. Overall a great day!