vacation

How I do Walt Disney World and Universal on a Budget

People tend to ask me how do I go to Walt Disney World twice a year, and I am forever explaining mine and my families methods so I thought I would share some of our tips to you lot!
We are huge Disney fans and we have such a huge passion for the Disney Parks, especially Walt Disney World. When we visit the parks, we always find more hidden facts about the park, we like to hunt down Hidden Mickeys (I’ll leave a link to explain these here) and get up to date on the latest construction of lands and rides within the parks!

1. Annual Passes – that’s right, Walt Disney World have an annual pass option when it comes to tickets which works out as very beneficial to US residents and especially Orlando visitors. It is such great value and you definitely can get your money’s worth out of this ticket. Here is a link to all the information on Annual Passes.

The tickets are $829 this year, I believe and in the past years this has definitely been beneficial for us with the exchange rate of GBP and USD.
When you usually go to Walt Disney World, you will pay at least £299 minimum for a 14 day ticket (and more, if it includes the Water Parks).

As we go at least twice a year, it use to work out as you either break even, save slightly or have saved quite a bit of money from having the Annual Pass.
If you already have a 14 day ticket, you can always upgrade your passes at the parks to an Annual Pass.

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2. Cheap Flights and Accommodation – We tend to go through a travel agent in the past on icelolly.com and usually end up travelling with purpletravel. These fly with Virgin and Thomson I believe and they have some incredible packages! So definitely give them a browse on ice lolly.com and purple travel through ice lolly. We tend to get flights and accommodation for £450-500pp for two weeks with luggage included and then we rent a car on top of that which is must easier for us.

3. Non-Disney Accommodation – We think of it as ‘we get up super early in the mornings and don’t come back until midnight each night whilst at Walt Disney World. So does it really matter what hotel you have? As long as it is decent, clean, has the necessities that you need and isn’t too far from the parks then it’s great!
The Disney hotels are really great and are so lovely to go to. We stayed at the All Stars Movie Resort when I was 7 years old, but it does really bump up your holiday price unless you can find an amazing deal!

We tend to stick with one of our favourites now which is Celebration Suites in Old Town, Orlando. It is a 5 minute drive to Walt Disney World or maybe even less! You drive straight out of the hotel, down the road for 60 seconds and you’re straight onto the right entrance for Walt Disney World!

At the Celebration Suites, depending on how many of us are going we usually get one bedroom, a kitchen, bathroom and a living area that has a pull-down bed or if you go for the deluxe rooms, you will get three bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a living area.
It is so affordable here and we are always going back, unless we feel like going somewhere different and have found an amazing deal with the Radisson Blu Celebration which is also such an incredible hotel but a bit more pricey again!

4. Food – We don’t go crazy on food at the parks as we know that they can be very expensive, so we usually eat a huge breakfast at iHop or Golden Coral before we head to the parks. We are so full from having a huge buffet breakfast, that we don’t want to eat again until the evening! Some nights, we might still not feel like a huge meal so we will get something small to eat in the parks or a snack. I also completely adore Taco Bell, it is suppose to be Mexican food although Americans tend to say it’s the ‘McDonalds of Mexican’ food but I love it and it’s super cheap and affordable when you order a snack box!
Other days, we will then decide to have food at the parks and keep it as if it’s a special occasion for the bigger restaurants or dessert parties. (Check out my post on the Wishes Dessert Party!)

Every now and then, we really enjoy visiting Tony’s at the Magic Kingdom especially as we usually go to WDW when it’s Father’s Day or somebody birthday!

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5. Souvenir Cups – Take advantage of some of the souvenir cups that WDW and Universal sell. In the past, Universal use to sell a red tall cup that was $10 and you could get unlimited refills for just $0.99 each time! But, there was never anything saying that you couldn’t reuse the cup so people would always take them back each day and it was ALWAYS a huge must for us to remember our cup each year to go into the suitcase!
Usually Orlando Informer‘s website always has the ins and outs of everything and provide so many amazing tips and I would recommend going over to TheTimTracker’s YouTube for more tips and videos on updates at the parks!

6. Annual Passholder Discount – If you own an Annual Pass, do not forget about the discounts that you receive at the parks! We use to forget all of the time or just weren’t aware of them and now we’re getting on top of them more and more each year!
You can get discounts at Pandora, all of the merchandise stores, Starbucks, restaurants, at Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney) and on hotels, I believe..
Here is a link to all of the Annual Passholder Discounts for you to browse at!

We didn’t know until Christmas time, that you can get discount on the bottles of Coca Cola that you purchase but only at merchandise stores, not from the little kiosks selling snacks and refreshments around the park!

7. Disney Transportation and Parking – Take advantage of the free Disney Transportation System! There are buses that run from Disney Springs to all of the hotels, then from the Disney hotels they have buses that take you directly to the parks. In the past, we parked at Disney Springs if we were browsing around for a bit or getting something to eat and then we would hop on a bus to another park.
I am assuming that Disney frown upon doing this as it will take up the parking at Disney Springs (which is now improving) but use this at your own risk, incase they put anything in place from now on!

Also, again with your Annual Passes you will gain free parking into all of the theme parks if you show it at the main gate to the parking lot (this goes for Universal Studios, Sea World and Busch Gardens too!). Each year that I have visited Walt Disney World, we have seen the prices of parking shoot up! It use to be $12 when we visited around 2007/2008 and now it’s up to $20 per day for a standard size car. Anything larger is more expensive like a shuttle/limo/camper/trailer/RV..

8. Additional Discounts on Food Outside the Parks – Don’t forget to look through the coupon booklets that you will see everywhere in Orlando. At restaurants they will have stands of them and also at Tourist Offices and Ticket Sellers. 99% of the time, you will find a coupon for the big named restaurants such as Ponderosa, Golden Coral, Red Lobster, Crab Shack, Chick-Fil-A.. Most of these coupons will be 5-10% off your bill or a ‘Kid eats free’ voucher.

I know it’s only small but if you add everything up from each day, you will see what a difference it makes! We like to write down how much we have spent each day and then we will use the extra money to splash out on gifts for ourselves or family and friends, any extra activities or restaurants we want to visit!

I tend to join up to certain restaurants mailing lists too, for example at iHop they give you a free stack of pancakes on your birthday and usually other large events throughout the year like Pancake Day!

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9. Snacks – I always highly recommend taking snacks with you wherever you go. As you will find out, the theme parks can be quite pricey for snacks although we do tend to purchase these as it’s easier than taking a bag. The snacks are really good at the parks and this is what we tend to spend on at the parks, but you can always bring your own in.
We really enjoy going to Walmart and purchasing a huge 1KG bag of mini size Nerds, Laffy Taffy, Gobstoppers and Sweetarts. We also purchase things like Capri Sun’s to have at the hotel (they get a bit too warm in the car), cereal (always Lucky Charms to get those sugar levels soaring through the roof!) and fruit to eat in the morning at the hotel, cereal bars to easily take with us wherever we go and always bags of Cheetos as they are my favourite and you never know when you need to munch in the car!
We basically just keep a carrier bag of snacks in the car, so we can eat them there or take them out somewhere with us.

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And I feel like that is it for now until some more tips come to my mind! I might end up doing a Part Two to this post if I find enough additional tips for you but if you have any questions then feel free to comment down below and I’ll reply to them!

I really hope you enjoyed this post and I hope that it helped in some way for you all!

Have a magical day!

If you want to check out more Disney related posts:

Wishes Fireworks Spectacular Desert Party Review

Christmas at Walt Disney World

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Review

My Disney Jewellery Collection

Video: I Surprised My Mother at Disney!

Disney Theme Park Vlogs

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Christmas at Walt Disney World Pt.1

For the Christmas just gone, I was lucky enough to go to Walt Disney World with my family for the holidays and it was incredible!

There is always a huge bag of mixed opinions on Christmas at Disney from things like long lines for the attractions, the crowds and the parks being closed earlier so on and so forth..

We travelled from the 18th December until the 1st January for two weeks. Luckily the first week of the holiday is suppose to be the quietest as the huge crowds usually come from around the 22nd to stay for the duration of Christmas. I was a little nervous about this as I expected there to be really long lines for everything and as my mother puts it ‘You won’t get on many rides at all’ as she has been once before for christmas. In all honesty, when we went I felt like the lines for the rides were just like a normal busy day which wasn’t too bad at all although we did make sure that we had our Fastpasses sorted for each day to speed up the time too!

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For the crowds, again it was just like seeing a normal busy day apart from Christmas day and around the 28th December and New Years Eve. They were the really busy days in the park, Christmas Day at the Magic Kingdom obviously being the busiest (where they close the park around 10am due to full capacity). We had this in mind, got up early to get to the park for 9am and when we drove there, there was already a 30 minute queue to even get through the car park barriers (where they charge for parking – free with an annual pass though!).

We knew not to expect to get on many rides on Christmas Day, so we spent the majority of the day watching the parades, eating our Christmas Dinner (which was amazing from the Liberty Tree Tavern – all you can eat) and playing Sorcerers Of The Magic Kingdom. If you ever want me to go into more detail about any of this, then just leave a comment below and I will look into creating a post for you!

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Somehow although I booked our Fastpasses a month before our holiday, it is very rare that you can get a pass for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train but surprisingly the only day I got it for was Christmas Day (which must have been from somebody else cancelling theirs at the time that I attempted!)
I highly recommend trying to get Fastpasses a few days or even the night before, for the attractions you want (apart from Frozen Ever After and Seven Dwarves Mine Train – it’s very unlikely you will get these). On the day, your choices will be much more limited although there is a chance that people cancel when you keep refreshing the page! But just bare in mind, if you know which parks you are going into on what days, then definitely get the Fastpasses for the rides you want to go on the most!

The parks were really festive during the Christmas holidays, full of wreaths, festive songs and every now and then a free sweet treat – such as sugar cookies! There was snow falling down on Main Street USA, character meet and greets in their festive attire and not forgetting Christmas Wishes and you definitely cannot miss the Cinderella Castle light up as icicles – it was the most beautiful thing!

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Which reminds me that we also went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (at an extra cost) but I will write a separate post on that!

As this post is getting pretty long, I think I will split this one into two parts so you can send me questions on specific things to cover in the next one!
xx

Want more Disney related posts?

Wishes Fireworks Spectacular Dessert Party

How I do Walt Disney World on a Budget

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Review

My Disney Jewellery Collection

VLOG: I Surprised my mother at Walt Disney World!

VLOG: Walt Disney World

Tips on visiting the Disney and Universal parks!

New York Pt.1

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New York New York! I returned to a city that I adored and simply did not have time to do everything the last time!
I missed out on the Museums and Galleries last time, so my mission was to do the majority of my ‘Things I Missed’ list, although I did rush around like an idiot to do them all..

So, the first day I made some friends at the hostel during breakfast (which was weirdly a set free breakfast of doughnuts and a banana..) and headed off to the American Museum of Natural History (where they filmed some of Night At The Museum). It was such a beautiful building and it was full of amazing things to see – especially the dinosaurs, they’re my favourite!
I had such a great time here and managed to see quite a lot, but not the whole 3 floors as I had a lot on my agenda. I saw enough, took a whole load of photos here and took in the architecture of the place.DSC04133
I then decided to rush off by myself to the Metropolitan Museum of Art which was amazing, but eventually got super busy within certain exhibitions! I saw a lot of gorgeous pieces, but yet again I particularly fell in love with the architecture – it was such a beautiful building, I probably preferred that more than the pieces at the exhibitions! I really wanted to see the Costume Department as I heard that there’s a lot of House Of Dior and Yves Saint Laurent there, and I loved the exhibition that was on at the time but it was so, so busy that I gave up early!DSC04138DSC04141DSC04147
I fell in love with these two as I was quickly walking through, the filigree on the column was gorgeous and I couldn’t just walk past without snapping a quick photo! Too beautiful!DSC04154DSC04156
After I rushed around the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I decided to quickly go to the Guggenheim before I got a bite to eat. It was a great building, and although I love modern art, I felt like a lot of the exhibitions were a bit TOO modern for me. (For example, there was a dark room with one single light bulb lit inside – could have a strong meaning and definition, but it was literally a light bulb).DSC04179
Whilst in New York, I had the CityPass which I bought the time before, when I visited. It is a great idea, as it is a booklet full of tickets for the attractions such as the Empire State Building, Statue Of Liberty (Ellis Island and Cruise), Museums, Galleries, 9/11 Memorial.. and it is a LOT cheaper than if you paid separately for these! (Plus, they’re open dated).
So as I missed out on some last time, I purchased the CityPass again and decided to do the Sunset Liberty Cruise which went through New York in the evening, where I got to see the Statue Of Liberty, Freedom Tower and pretty much all of the sights from the cruise – it was beautiful!DSC04212DSC04234DSC04252
Sadly, my camera was not fond of the motion of the boat and the darkness combined – so here was the best photo whilst the sun had set! I guess I can say that I tried..DSC04264DSC04274
All in all, I had such a great time in New York and this cruise was definitely one of the highlights for me! Although I travelled alone and did all of the attractions by myself (apart from the museum that day) – I had such a great time and I feel strongly about the fact that you don’t HAVE to have company and restrict yourself because you’re by yourself!

Have you been to New York before? What was your favourite attraction?
I would absolutely love to go for Christmas, one year!
Part Two coming up!

xx

LINKS:
CityPass – CLICK HERE

Las Vegas Pt. 2

Here goes the second part!
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The second or third day, we decided to do the other half of the strip as people probably know it as the older, but original Las Vegas. Obviously this has changed massively from back in the day, when it was all the rave and famous people like Elvis use to play here.
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We drove past so many ‘Little White Chapels’ and some cool vintage cars!IMG_4007
We even drove past the pawn shop from Pawn Stars and went in for a quick look! (My dad is a fan).IMG_4031
I saw the Golden Nugget and had to do this..
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We then went for a walk down Fremont Street where they now do a zipline, that go through the whole building – which is pretty cool!
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They do these great animations that go across the screens above your head and really light the place up! This is now sponsored by Red Bull and they do some cool stuff like aeroplane shows and memorials on these screens..IMG_4061
This has to be my favourite room, in the whole of Las Vegas. This was inside the Belaggio, it was a display for fall/autumn and it was incredibly beautiful! I love stuff like interior design, environmental design and animation so I fell in love with this room. All of the flowers were real, too. Beautiful.IMG_4111 IMG_4113 IMG_4115 IMG_4132
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We were walking down the strip one night and this zombie guy came creeping out from behind a wall and scaring people (even without jumping out on them or making any noise, just the sense of being watched and actually realising!) – we got addicted to watching him in the end, we must’ve sat there for about 2 hours filming him and I eventually had the courage to have a photo with him and throw him a few dollars tip! He was actually a lovely guy, with a very soft, friendly voice!IMG_4354
The next morning, (our last full day) we went on the rollercoaster in our hotel. It was a lot of fun, did a loop and some corkscrews – a little bumpy and rackety though as it was pretty old, great fun though!
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We went for a drive to the famous Las Vegas sign, as we couldn’t seem to find it the night before. It is actually a lot smaller than I thought, I was surprised! There was also a huge queue to have a photo here, as an Elvis impersonator was there trying to get tuts and making people think that they HAD to queue up! So.. we just snook down the side and snapped a few photos – cheekay cheekaaay!
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And obviously, we couldn’t resist more Taco Bell as usual..IMG_4410
On the last night, I decided that I HAVE to gamble whilst in Las Vegas to say that I have and cross off the bucket list! We probably spent about $3, I know, I know.. We need to chill out on the gambling, CLEARLY!
Well, it turns out that it’s a lot more complicated than I thought! I thought you just pull the lever on the fruit machines and voila! Not quite.. turns out that I lost all of the money and ended up getting some of the remainder back..
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I sadly didn’t win, and this was my own money, back to me..
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On our last night, we went into the Excalibur hotel as we heard that they have a Dick’s Last Resort restaurant there, so we thought of giving it a try..
If you don’t know what Dick’s Last Resort is, it’s a restaurant where the staff treat you like crap. They are hired, to treat you like crap, give bad service and basically wind you up! It was a great experience, luckily we didn’t get it as bad as other people! (I would post photos, but I don’t think they would approve of it and I have no consent!).

We did have one nice waiter though as he noticed that we were Welsh, so we had a full on conversation with him and he was trying to impress us by being able to spell ‘llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’ (a small town in Wales, famous for it’s ridiculously long name and everyone non-welsh like to ask if you can pronounce it – yes, we can).
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At Dick’s, they like to give you very sexy paper hats with a charming comment on them. I was pretty thrilled to get a hat, and I must say, a lot of people say the same thing about me. I’m cute until I open my mouth 🙂
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It was our last day in Las Vegas, so we decided to go to Hard Rock Cafe for our last breakfast here and it was the best breakfast we had yet! We then set off for Los Angeles for our last 5 days of the trip.
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Have you visited a Dick’s Last Resort before? Share your experience with me 🙂
xx

Las Vegas Pt. 1

Viva Las Vegas! Just a quick note, I had met my dad in Los Angeles, 2 weeks into my USA part of the trip and we travelled the remaining two weeks together on the West Coast.
We jumped in the car from San Francisco, all the way to Las Vegas which was about a 8/9 hour journey and although it was mainly desert all the way there – it was quite enjoyable, especially spotting the several Taco Bell’s on the way! (which are my favourite).
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We saw a ridiculous amount of wind turbines on the hills..IMG_3750 IMG_3761 IMG_3770
We eventually got to Las Vegas at about 10pm, which doesn’t matter a single bit as Las Vegas is awake at all hours. We checked into New York New York which is a great hotel which has a casino, shops, swimming pool and it’s own rollercoaster! – amazing!
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We then went out for a venture around ‘the strip’ and saw some incredible things! Luckily, my dad has been here before so it was a lot easier knowing where everything was and what to see/do!IMG_3801 IMG_3803
One of my favourite bits of Las Vegas was definitely the Belaggio fountains! They were incredible – they basically play a song (from an extensive playlist, I never heard the same song twice) and the fountains ‘dance’ in time with the music! It is pretty breathtaking!
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We then went for a stroll through some of the hotels, which are tourist attractions over in Las Vegas as they are so grand. This was in Caeser’s Palace – they have everything in this hotel, casinos, cinemas, shopping malls, art galleries, swimming pools.
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We woke up the next day, bright and early, despite the clouds it was really hot outside considering that we were in the desert but it brighten up throughout the day. This is the hotels rollercoaster from our room window.IMG_3885
We ended up having a buffet breakfast which had amazing stuff like chocolate covered strawberries, cakes, pastries, you name it! And in Vegas, it seems like a theme to have a cheeky Mimosa or Bloody Mary in the morning – so we were handed this! Quite a perk up for a lightweight like me, I have to say!
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I opted for Fruity Loops, obviously.. The brighter the colours, the better in America!IMG_3887
We then went out for the day, again looking at all of the hotels and the sights. This is our hotel, New York New York from the front.
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We headed to The Venetian which was beautiful – they basically made it look like Venice inside the hotel and have Gondola’s that you can ride inside.IMG_3911 IMG_3915 IMG_3920 IMG_3926 IMG_3939
Afterwards, as it was incredibly boiling hot outside and my poor little ginger skin can’t handle the heat.. we decided to go up the Eiffel Tower (it’s half the size of the original, in Paris). This was great fun, the staff were full of humour and the views of the Las Vegas strip were great!
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That’s all I am going to put in this blog post for now, as it will be a few long one full of photos otherwise! So I will be posting another of Las Vegas Pt. 2 and one on the Hoover Dam very shortly!

Have you been to Las Vegas? Would you consider getting married there? I don’t think I would, doesn’t quite seem like my dream wedding to me! 🙂
xx

My brief travels to Fiji!

I have now been back home for the last month – I got my old job back pretty much instantly, but in another store that I am loving at the moment, back on the car insurance so I’m on the road again and I am finally getting into a routine!
So now that I’ve settled back home, I thought it’s finally time to catch up on all of the travelling blog posts and video editing.
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So I arrived in Nadi and like I’ve heard about Fijians, I had a very, very warm welcome. Not only in temperature, but the people are so friendly in Fiji! They greeted me, gave me this gorgeous shell necklace (one of many, I received) and offered to help with everything possible. Next, I got in a shuttle for a three hour drive, as I had booked a much nicer hotel which was on offer, for the same price as a standard hotel in Nadi. So I decided to make the gorgeous drive here anyway, as it was in Pacific Coast near Suva (the Capital).
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I stayed at the Pearl Pacific Resort and it was gorgeous here! I had a HUGE room all to myself (note: this bed was actually bigger than a double bed) and it was just beautiful here! They had their own private beach for the resort, a swimming pool, spa facilities, gold course.. oh, and buffet breakfast – of course!IMG_2287
I must say that the weather wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be, it was warm but I was going into Autumn/Winter. It was so nice though to relax on a hammock, reading my Kindle and completely destress!IMG_2310 IMG_2314
It was such a beautiful resort, and although it was windy from being right on the coast, it wasn’t as windy as the palm trees look – they’ve just been bent over time! Haha!IMG_2347 IMG_2350
Unfortunately, one evening some guests had no running water, they must have tried the shower and not realised that they left the tap on (obviously they had no water, so they didn’t realise). Turns out that when they were out in the day, the water came back on and had not only flooded their room, but it had flooded through 5 rooms in the corridor.
So I rang reception to tell them, maintenance came and found out the problem from a few doors down and we were treated very well. They offered us a room change for the night which had an Ocean View and two double beds (although it was only me travelling!) but it turns out that they just left me in this room for the rest of the week – which was great!IMG_2360
During the week, I decided to go to Suva for a little bit of souvenir shopping! Sadly I went on a Sunday and the markets were closed but I found plenty of souvenirs which were very cheap in their shopping centre!IMG_2372
It was really nice to get out and see how the Fijians live and what their towns were like (especially the capital) and I met a lot of friendly Fijians. Even if you’re walking down the street or alongside the road, they all shout BULA BULA at you, which means Hello. They are very friendly here! I even met this little girl on the bus back to Pacific Coast, who was so adorable and fell asleep on me the whole way back.IMG_2378
I had such a great time in Fiji, and thought that I would send the souvenirs home as they were pretty big as I bought a Fijian Bongo Drum, wooden carved bowls and some masks. So I hopped over to the post office to send them and was delighted at their stamps:
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On the last few evenings of being at the resort, I met the lovely Wati from housekeeping. She is such a lovely lady, who would help with anything at all. She would come in my room for a good chat and she even gave my family a homemade present from her, which was so lovely of her! (I will try to get a photo of the ‘Wooden Leaf, Bird Wind Chime’  that she made, it’s beautiful).
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o that was my visit to Fiji! It was lovely to just sit and chill out in a hammock and completely destress, as I got pretty stressed in New Zealand as I started to run out of my New Zealand budget – but I had such a great time here and would definitely recommend visiting here as they have a lot of activities you can do too, like snorkelling, scuba diving (much cheaper to do courses here, than Australia and NZ). My trip was purely for relaxation this time!

I will be uploading a few little clips from my travels (the ones I didn’t vlog, but had snippets of footage) into one video and I’ll post it on here for you all!
Look out for more of my posts soon! Would you visit Fiji, or have you been?
xx

LINKS:
Pearl South Pacific Resort: HERE