San Francisco

Last month we took a trip to San Francisco.  My cousin moved there last December so we'd talked about visiting later this year depending on whether we could afford it and still had enough annual leave after Mexico.


We booked the flights about 3 months in advance and paid around £300 each with Virgin.  We thought this was a pretty good deal and it was, the only catch being we still had to add luggage on (£45 per bag each way) and could only select our seats 24 hours in advance of each flight.  This is the economy light option they now offer and if you don't mind taking the risk it's a pretty good option especially if you only plan to take one suitcase between you like we did.


The accommodation, however, was a bit more expensive for what we got and worked out around £900 for a week in a 3 star hotel in the centre.  It was basic but a really convenient location so I would happily recommend it on that basis.  It was called the Herbert Hotel on Powell Street.

San Francisco is a pretty busy city with lots to see and do so we knew we had to be super planned and organised in order to fit everything in.  I wrote an itinerary in advance to make sure we did everything we went to and attach it below.



Day 1




3.45pm – land in San Francisco

4.45pm – take BART yellow Antioch to Powell St station

5.15pm – check in to hotel

6.15pm -  head out to dinner


Day 2

Explore Nob Hill and Mission.


Day 3

Yosemite


Day 4

10am – take cable car to Ferry Terminal Building

10.30 – get breakfast from Farmer’s Market

11am – walk to Pier 33

12pm – take ferry to Alcatraz

2.30pm – take ferry back to Pier 33 and walk to Pier 39

3.30pm – walk to Fisherman’s Wharf

5pm – take cable car back to hotel

7pm – go for dinner/drinks


Day 5

10am – breakfast in Union Square

11am – walk to Civic Centre

12pm – climb Fulton St towards Alamo Square to see Painted Ladies

1pm – lunch

3.30pm – climb Folsom to Bernal Heights Park

5pm – take the BART back to hotel

7pm – go for dinner/drinks


Day 6

10am – go for breakfast

11.30am – take BART blue to Dublin/Pleasanton from Powell St

12pm – take bus 14 to Jack London outlets from E.BART

4.30pm – head back to hotel

7pm – go for dinner/drinks


 Day 7

10am – take cable car to Lombard St

10.30am – walk to Hyde St, hire bikes (Blazing Saddles)

11am – cycle along water towards Fort Mason, down to Marina Boulevard

11.30am – stop at Palace of Fine Arts

12pm – continue along San Francisco Bay trail

1pm – grab lunch near Crissy Field

2pm – cycle across the bridge to Sausalito

3pm – park bikes near Marina and explore

4pm – catch ferry back to city

4.30pm – return bikes and head back to hotel

7pm – go for dinner/drinks

9pm – comedy


Day 8

11am – check out of hotel, get brunch

1pm – head to airport

5pm – fly back to London


We also visited some really lovely brunch places so I have listed these below too in case you ever visit:

Lapisara Eatery
Taylor Street Coffee Shop
Boudin Bakery
Dottie's True Blue Cafe
Gott's Roadside


One thing I feel like I do need to point out about San Francisco is the huge homeless problem they have but not just homeless people sleeping rough but mentally ill people on the streets.  It's so sad and quite shocking.  I did really love this city though, it has a really cool vibe.


Have you ever been?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Things I've Learnt Since Being Engaged

If you read my Mexico blog (here) or follow me on Instagram (here) you will know I got engaged earlier this year and am slooooowllllly planning my wedding.  So I just wanted to point out a few little things I've noticed in the last 6 months of being engaged.



People Will Want All the Details

Not just the details of the engagement although I have told that story so many times now (and it's not a complaint) but all the details of the wedding too.  I'm not a super secretive person and am happy to share my plans if people ask but I do also want there to be an element of surprise for my guests.  I think nearer the time when the details are more finalised I will tell people they just have to wait and see!

Be Organised

We got engaged 6 months ago and I'm not planning to get married for another 2 and a half years.  I want to be super organised, take my time over things and really just enjoy being engaged.  One of my friends actually pointed out to me that being engaged and being a fiance/having a fiance is only ever temporary so we really should enjoy it whilst it lasts.



Don't Invite People Too Early

The downside of having a long engagement is that there will be people in 3 years time that we are no longer in contact with, there will also probably be new people in our lives that we will want at our wedding.  So, don't send your invites out too early.  It's fine to create a guest list well in advance (we've already done that) but we don't plan to send our invites out until 6 months before the big day.

Dress Shopping is Exciting

I thought it would be stressful because I'm so fussy when it comes to clothes and every finer detail but it's actually super fun.  I kind of already know the style of dress I want but I think I will make appointments at all the big designer dress shops anyway just to have a fun girly day playing dress up with my mum and sister.

Will I Change My Name?

For me it's a yes.  I know not everyone wants to change their name these days and some men even take the women's name now but you just have to do what's right for you.  I'm quite traditional so I think I will change my name and I've also never been that keen on my maiden name!  However, professionally I will keep my maiden name as my reputation is connected to that name so I don't want to lose that.



What did you learn after getting engaged?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

How To Bring The Holiday Home With You

Don't you hate it when you come back from a really fun trip and just feel depressed?

This time last month I was in sunny San Francisco having the time of my life trekking through Yosemite and exploring Alcatraz.  Fast forward to now and I'm sat at my desk in freezing cold London!  So this got me thinking, how can we continue that holiday feeling when we get home?



Re-live the memories

Thank God for smart phones because now we can re-live all our memories just by scrolling through our phones.  Looking at photos and uploading them to Instagram, re-watching Insta-stories and reliving the magic.  Even printing them off and putting them in an album if that isn't too old fashioned for you!

Re-create the holiday

Why not try to do some of the things you did whilst you were away but in your own city?  When we were in San Francisco we went for brunch every morning at a different place, visited a comedy club one evening and took walks in the park.  These are things we can do here in London so we are now trying to go for brunch every Sunday followed by a walk in Greenwich Park!


Get planning your next trip

I know this isn't always feasible but the best way to get rid of holiday blues is to have something else to look forward to and it doesn't have to be another holiday, it could just be a visit to the theatre or dinner with friends.  As January is coming up we are going to look in the sales for flights to Stockholm and New Delhi for next year!


How do you bring the holiday home with you?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Why Are Our Formal Celebrations Not Linked To Academic Achievements?

Have you ever wondered why it is always our formal celebrations like births, marriages and religious ceremonies that are a bigger affair than celebrating our academic achievements or job promotions?

I have found this over the years anyway.  I was thinking about this a few weeks ago and thought I would reflect on it here so this may just be a load of ramble..

For me, I have always been quite late to the party when it comes to achievements so I thought maybe that was why they were never celebrated as much?  I also did a bit of research around the subject (I may be going off topic here but bear with me) so see how I compared with when we are 'supposed' to reach these major life milestones.

Yes I know comparison is the theft of joy but I'm not really bothered with comparison, this is just for fun!

MILESTONE                           AVERAGE    ME

First kiss                                      15              15
First full time job                        19              18
Pass driving test                          20              19
First holiday with friends            21              18
Buy first car (with own money)  22              21
First holiday with partner            23              19
Be Maid of Honour/Best Man     23             Never
Rent on your own                        24             Never
Get engaged                                 25             32
Live with partner                         25             30
Get married                                  27             35?
Buy first property                        27              24
Have first child                            28              36?
First house                                   29              31
Start earning average wage         30              23
Second child                                31              ?
Buy brand new car                       32             ?
Become a manager at work         34              32
Start a business                            35             26
Move to second house                 36              ?
Enjoy 2+ holidays per year          36             24
Earn in higher tax band                37            32
Buy property to let                       39            29
Retire                                           60             ?


So looking at that I don't feel too bad!  However, I kind of meant more in terms of graduating and settling down.  Those things I feel like I did a lot later and so there was never really any big celebrations but that's okay, it's just interesting how society dictates when and what we should celebrate.



What are your thoughts on the above?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

A Letter To My Harshest Critic


For anyone who needs this..


This letter is to you,

The you that’s had a rough week.  The you that seems to be under constant storm clouds.  The you that feels invisible.  The you that doesn’t know how much longer you can hold on.  The you that has lost faith.  The you that always blames yourself for everything that goes wrong.  Stop being so self-critical.  You are enough.  Instead look around you at all that you have already achieved, all the friends and family that love you dearly and the people that accept you for who you are.

You are incredible.  You make this world a little bit more wonderful.  You have so much potential and so many things left to do.  You have time.  Better things are coming your way, so hang in there.  You can do it.

Love, Your Future Self.


Just trying to do my bit for mental health.  We all suffer from time to time so I hope this helps you.


Lauren xx



Cancun and Tulum

After five amazing days in Mexico City, as much as I was sad to leave, I was excited for our next stop on the trip.. Cancun.

Cancun

Cancun was very different to Mexico City.  Very glam and luxurious with big hotels and even bigger shopping centres.  It actually reminded me a little of Dubai.




The hotel we stayed in was called The Grand Oasis and it literally had everything you needed, you really didn't need to leave.  It was huge, with multiple pools and restaurants and even it's own beach.  Best of all was the all inclusive drinks and swim up bars!

We did, however, go out to a couple of restaurants near our hotel and there were some lovely Italian places.  We had a really good pizza one night but some of the other restaurants were not that vegetarian friendly.




We didn't do much exploring here and stayed at our hotel most days as there was so much to do and we wanted some down time after being so active in Mexico City.  I'm not sure if I would rush back here as it was so built up and 'Americanised' but I would recommend it if you wanted a nice chilled beach break.

Tulum

After 5 days here we set off on a 2 hour coach ride to Tulum.  I would definitely recommend this for getting to Tulum as it's so much cheaper (about £15 each) than a taxi and the coach is fully air conditioned and drops you close to most hotels.




Our hotel here was called Hotel Posada and it was a cute boutique hotel with a small amount of rooms and a pretty plunge pool in the middle.  You could also hire bikes for very cheap (about £25 per day) and this was the best way of getting around Tulum.

We were only here for 4 days so the first day we visited the beach which was absolutely beautiful with it's white sand and turquoise water.  We found a lovely beach restaurant which sold the BEST cocktails and food.  We spent hours here (and a lot of money ha) but it was worth it.




The second day we visited Chichen Itza which is one of the 7 wonders of the world.  It was a super super hot day which made wandering about it a bit harder but I did really enjoy this.  We booked a tour bus to take us and guide us around which I would recommend.  We also got lunch and were able to visit the cenotes later which we needed to cool off!

On the third day we hired bikes and went to visit some of the ruins in the morning.  They were amazing to see especially on the beach, the views were insane.  They also had the cutest wildlife including these little coyote type animals (see below).  Then we headed back to the beach for another chilled afternoon at our favourite restaurant!




Just as I thought the holiday couldn't get any better, as we walked down the beach towards our bikes, my boyfriend got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!  I instantly said yes and now I have a fiance.  And a wedding to plan!  The most perfect end to a perfect holiday.  I was actually on cloud 9 and couldn't stop starring at my beautiful ring.

The nightlife in Tulum was really good.  It had a fun vibe but still chilled.  There were a lot of younger people there and backpackers.  Everyone sat around in bars and restaurants eating, drinking and just having a good time.  I much prefer this than going out to clubs now!




Have you been to Cancun or Tulum?  Where would you recommend I go next?

Lauren xx

5 Makeup Products That Will Make Your Makeup Routine So Much Quicker

I don't know about you but whenever I'm getting ready in the morning I always seem to be short on time!  Don't get me wrong, I love spending time on my makeup but if I'm in a rush I need to get in done quickly so with these time-saving products I've managed to get my morning makeup routine down to 5 minutes!




Any sort of 2 in 1 product is going to save you time so look out for those first of all.  This one is my favourite.  It's quite full coverage but you can thin it out by using a beauty sponge or mixing it with your moisturiser.




Bare Minerals Powder Compact

This is great because you can also use it for on the go.  The pressed powder comes with a mirror and sponge.




Laura Geller Mocha Blush

The colour of the blush is a near bronze colour so you can get away with not having to use a bronzer as well, saving more time!




NYX Tinted Eyebrow Gel

I love tinted eyebrow gels because you can fill your brows in at the same time as setting them, genius!  They also give a more natural look and stop you from overdrawing them!




IT Cosmetics Super Hero Mascara

This mascara really does what it says on the tin.  One or two quick coats of this and you're good for the day ahead.





Do you have any trusty and speedy makeup products you use for quickness?

Lauren xx

Follow me here @wonky_lauren

Mexico City


So I went to Mexico in May this year and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write a post about it but time has just flown!  Mexico is a country I’ve wanted to visit for ages but there’s so much to see, I wanted to do it properly and take a bit of time to travel around.




Flights

My boyfriend (kind of) surprised me with plane tickets to Mexico City for Christmas and we straight away got planning to where else we wanted to go.  We decided to fly to Mexico City for 5 days, then fly across to Cancun for 5 days and then get a bus to Tulum for the last 4 days before heading back to Mexico City and then home.  I will write about Cancun in a separate blog post (hopefully that won’t take me another 3 months!).

We flew direct with British Airways from London Heathrow and our flights were around £600 each.  This included luggage and seat selection.  I can’t fault BA at all, even with the delays, because it was such a comfortable flight.

After the long 11.5 hour flight from London to Mexico City plus a two hour delay we finally made it around midnight to our hotel (which would have been around 7am back home!).  We were very tired and just wanted to sleep.



Hotel

We stayed at the Pennsylvania Suites just outside the city centre and we had the penthouse suite.  The room was insane with it’s own living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom and bathroom.  We also had a long balcony overlooking the most beautiful plant wall.  The was definitely my favourite hotel room from the whole trip.



Day 1

We took an Uber into the city centre to explore.  Ubers are really cheap in Mexico City and easy to get around.  We meandered around the city seeing some beautiful architecture, looking around the shops and stopping for some Mexican lunch.  The food is also super cheap here.  A bowl of guac and chips cost just £2.50 and the beer around £3 a bottle.  After spending the day in the city we headed back to our hotel to change and then went out to a local restaurant for dinner.  There are a lot of Mexican-Italian eateries around so that’s what we went for that night.



Day 2

We got up early and took a taxi to Teotihuacán to see the Pyramids.  It was a super hot day so you can imagine climbing the pyramids were a challenge but we got there and it was worth it because the views were just amazing.  It’s crazy to think that this architecture was built by hand 100s of years ago.  After a long day in the Mexican sun we headed back to our hotel to change and jump in another Uber to the Azteca Stadium.  My boyfriend is a huge football fan so getting to see one of the greatest teams in the world play in one of the world’s biggest stadiums was a real treat for him.



Day 3

This was my boyfriend’s birthday so I let him decide what he wanted to do and being the geek that he is he said he wanted to go to the Museum of Anthropology!  The museum was nice (not as nice as the London museums) and it was very big, however, I did find that it seemed to repeat itself a lot as you went round.  Overall, however, we had a lovely day in the city and went back in the evening for a nice dinner at an upmarket restaurant for our final night here.



Day 4

We were flying to Cancun later this day so didn’t want to venture out too far from our hotel so we decided to look up some nearby parks to explore and found this really cool one with gardens, a running track, gym and children’s playground (where we may have jumped on the swings)!

I loved this city so much I really didn’t want to leave but was excited to head to the beach and get some warmer weather.  It was hot in Mexico City but not as hot as we were about to experience in Cancun.. *stay tuned for the next chapter*



Food

Places we ate at and would recommend:

Senora Grill
El Huequito
El Romano
La Rural Argentina


Have you been to Mexico City?  What did you think?  I will definitely be back!

Lauren xx


Follow me here @wonky_lauren