Thursday, 13 July 2017

Vienna Travel Diary - Day 2

Well Hello and welcome to day 2 of my Vienna Photo Diary. I you haven't read my Day 1 photo diary, I recommend heading over (here) and see what we got up to on day 1. I think you'll start seeing a bit of pattern with these post and that is that I love royal history so when Michael said that we could head just out of the city to Schönbrunn Palace, let's just say I was slightly over the moon. Keep reading to find out more about things to do at Schönbrunn Palace.

Schönbrunn Palace was original the imperial summer residence for the Austria Imperial Family and is located around about 10-15 minutes from the city centre (on the train system). It's the main tourist hotspot so we knew that this was going to be a full day activities so we went for around 11am and spent most of the day there. Along with the tour of the palace itself, the gardens of this palace are HUGE and I could have sat here all day and not moved.
The mass scale of this building is eye opening. I remember just standing with a opened mouth because I don't think I've ever seen anything this big in my life. We decided to do the Grand Tour which was €17,50 and this got you in to the state rooms and private apartments of the palace. Like the Hofburg in my last post (here) you were given a audio speaker to hear all about the history behind the palace. 

The tour can take around 40-50 minutes depending on how interested you are in Austria Imperial history you are. I took in everything, if you know me you will know that I'm a absolutely lover of royal history it doesn't depend on what royal family I'm just fascinated. The tour goes into detail about 40 rooms in the palace and fascinating stories spanning 3 centuries. We headed in the Palace Gardens and like when I first saw the palace, I was amazed by the size and beauty of surrounding I was standing in. We decided in the morning that we would buy lunch in the city and bring it with us to save a couple of euros. We found a little spot and sat and took in the views around us. I think getting to take in the garden was a favourite part of my day and I got to see a squirrel (easily pleased can you tell).

What we learnt after we got our tickets was that if we had bought the classic pass we could have done even more in the grounds of the palace including Crown Prince Garden, Maze & Labyrinth (a part I would have loved to do), The orangery garden and the Gloriette with the viewing terrace. I would definitely recommend getting the Classic pass (€24) instead of the Grand pass as you can get do a lot more within the ground. 

We headed around to the Palm House and it reminded me of somewhere similar England with what the outside looking very Victorian and 18th century. Before looking further into the ground we decided to head up to the Gloriette, I was slightly gutted that we couldn't go up to the viewing terrace but the view from the Gloriette was stunning itself. 

Here we just sat and took in the view and the beauty of our surroundings, how couldn't we. 

The grounds has 32 sculptures and Roman Ruins dotted around including the Neptune Fountian and what was originally known as the Ruin of Carthage.
Roman ruins is not really what you really expect to see in the grounds but it was kind of like a treasure hunt to see how many sculptures and ruins you could find dotted around. You could feel the wealth that the Austria imperial had was known by the mass scale of everything they built. 

I definitely think I left a small piece of my heart in Schronbrunn, it was everything I could have expected from a imperial palace, I felt like I was in a movie and was prancing around like a princess for most the day. This is definitely a tourist hot spot but if you go early and take lunch and search the grounds you can definitely get away from the large groups. 

We left Schonbrunn around 3pm after spending a good 3 or 4 hours there. Michael had read online about a Ferris wheel that gave you great views of Vienna. We decided to head down straight from Schonbrunn rather then head back to the air bnb. 

After a short trip on the train we ended up in Leopoldstadt and headed to the Prater to go on Weiner Reisenrad (€9). Tickets got you a little tour of the history of the Ferris wheel and on to the Ferris wheel.

The carriages can carry about 10 people and you get around 15 minutes inside. I have to say it's nothing like the London Eye and it does shake a bit but it is 120 years old it still gives you great views of Vienna. We had wanted ti di when it was getting dark but we learnt that it didn't get dark till around 10pm so settled with around 4pm. 

That was day 2 of our little trip to Vienna and I have to say this day was definitely my favourite day. If you fancy being a princess for the day and if you love a bit of European history I would recommend spending as much time at Schohbrunn as possible. This day made me fall even more in love with Vienna. We had 1 more day left in Vienna, so keep an eye out for that post coming soon. 


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Vienna Travel Diary - Day 1

Everyone has a bucket list of places that they want to go to on holiday and one of mine has always been Austria, I really want to go to Salzburg so I can go on the Sound of Music tour but when Michael found cheap flights to Vienna which is on the other side of Austria I knew I couldn't turn the opportunity to tick it off my bucket list.

Austria is located in Central Europe with Vienna located to the east of Austria and is famous for it's cultural events, its imperial sights, coffee houses and the Viennese charm. With tonnes of history throughout the city with Imperial Palaces, baroque building located all over the city and beautiful gardens on your doorstep its a tourist heaven.

Monday was out first day and was maybe one of the most beautiful days when it came to weather.  We went to Vienna with a bit of a plan nothing huge but a few places we knew we wanted to see. Monday we ticked off one of the places that was on my list which was the Stephansdom which is one of Vienna's most prominent Gothic Cathedrals. Ever since I went Wroclaw in Poland I kind of fell in love with looking at cathedrals, so when I go to a new city in Europe I have to check out the cathedrals they have so much history behind them and they are some of the most beautiful building to be created in a lot of cities. Stephansdom didn't let me down it was beautiful inside and with holy mass being held while we were there the atmosphere was amazing. Back outside Michael attempted his best King Kong impression! 

After checking out Stephansdom and climbing to 
the top of the tower to check out the view of Vienna (which is beautiful to see) which cost us €4.50 for us this was the opportunity to spot out where we wanted to go and it was great to see the city from the sky. We decided to head towards the Hofburg Palace, I'm pretty sure Vienna is known for its stunning palaces, The Hofburg Palace is 1 of 3 main palaces in Vienna it is the former imperial palace and was home for the Hasburg dynasty and is now home to the President of Austria and lets just say this place is big. We decided to go for the Sisi-Museum and Silver Collection Tour, this cost us €13.90 each which I think is reasonable for the amount you get to see. The Sisi Museum was definitely something I won't forget, the exhibition has personal belonging of Sisi and the myths behind the Empress as well discussing here assassination, when you enter you get giving a little audio speaker which goes into dept all through out the museum. I'm a massive history junkie so I was in my element.

Vienna was hot while we were there on Monday it was 24 degree if not hotter. Michael had heard that the MuseumQuartier (Museum Quarter) was the place to relax and get some ice cream, so we headed up there. The MuseumQuartier was originally the imperial stables and now hosts 10 different museums ranging from kids museums to Theatre. In the MuseumQuartier we found a great little ice cream stall where you could buy maybe the nicest ice cream ever which was from Biosk. We decided to chill there for a bit before  heading up to see something that Michael was really interested in seeing. 

Vienna has 6 Flakturm which are above ground anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers which were built around 1943-44 by the Nazis. These are dotted around the city in pairs and not been used since the end of the Second World War but Michael had found that one of these had been cleverly redeveloped into an Aquarium (Hans Des Meeres) and that you were able to go to the top for €5 (you do have to put a €10 deposit down for the keys) and again the views from here were amazing. This isn't one of them attractions that is huge with tourist so was quiet and great for taking pictures.

After a long day of discovering Vienna we decided to head back to our AirBnB which was located not to far from the city centre. Our AirBnB host gave use some great recommendation to get something to eat including Figlmuller which is well known for selling traditional Schnitzel (I'm going to talk about food in a different post so click here to find out more) it was on the pricey side but was highly recommended and it is very well known in Vienna. A lot of bars were closed because it was a national holiday but we found Roberto American Bar before heading back to our apartment to relax ready for our second day exploring Vienna... 


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Dacia Magic Weekend - The VIP Treatment*

If you saw my post on Saturday (here) which was all about day 1 of the Dacia Magic Weekend then you should have a good idea how great of a day it was.

Me and Michael were very lucky to get VIP tickets for all of the games on Sunday. These included Catalans Dragons V Huddersfield Giants, Leigh Centurions V Salford Red Devils and finally Castleford Tigers V Leeds Rhinos (or as I kept calling them, Captain America). The Tigers V Rhinos was one of the most of anticipated games of the weekend with fans travelling from all over England to cheer on their teams.

With it being a Sunday the first kick was at 1pm so me and Michael thought we would have a look around the Fan zone which was situated in St JamesPark car park. This included options to win a number of large competitions, to buy replica team shirts and other merch. There was also a stage where they were doing interviews with cheerleaders and ex players and the chance to win prizes.
There was also the chance to buy hats, shirts and underwear from ODDBALLS with money going towards the charity that rasies money and awareness for testicular cancer. You could tell that this was a popular charity with rugby league fans as the odd balls hats were everywhere.


We weren't sure what to expect with our VIP passes but we definitely weren't expecting the treatment we got. From walking through Milburn reception where we were greeted and directed up to level 3 where we were shown to the Heroes Suite.  If you are a Newcastle united fan then you will know that the heroes suite is a big deal and definitely a perk we weren't expecting. We were given our VIP wrist bands and our itinerary for the day.  When we walked in to the suite you knew you were in a room with important people this included chairmen of the rugby clubs, ex players and even one of the directors of the league.

After some food and drinks we made our way to the directors box to our seat and let's just say we definitely had the best seats in the house. With the seat being right in the centre we could see all the action happen both on the pitch and off. I will say that I've only ever been to one other rugby league match in my life and I didn't have a clue what was happening but with the help of Michael I started to get it and, being a girl with a tactical mind, I started to really get in games.

After watch Catalans Dragons V Huddersfield Giants we headed back in to the heroes suite and were given little steak pies and chips which I believe is a tradition of NUFC hospitality. We went out for the 2nd match of the day which is where the game pace picked up with Leigh Centurions playing against Salford Red Devils. Leigh Centurions were the underdogs but they didn't let that stop them  from putting up a good fight even when they lost one of their players through a tackle that wouldn't have looked out of place in a wrestling ring. This game definitely had a different pace from the first, you could see how much the Centurions wanted to win but Salford played the better game and the Salford fans were loving every moment of it.

Final match of the day was Castleford Tigers V Leeds Rhinos this was the game that a lot of people were here for. The fans were not let down and the Tigers fans must have been loving every moment as their team delivered try after try in the 2nd half. The atmosphere at this game was crazy the fans from both teams cheered, chanted their team songs and did what every fan does best and made lots of noise.

I have to say that this day was defiantly a high light of 2017, from getting the VIP treatment to seeing fans from all over the England coming together to cheer on their own teams but cheer on other teams along the way.

I would definitely recommend Dacia Magic Weekend to anyone, you could go with the family with the fan zone entertaining every member of the family to the half term entertainment (I'm sure we saw a pillow fight in the middle of the pitch). You can go along with a group friends and soak up the atmosphere with a beer and some chips.

Even if you didn't get to go to Dacia Magic Weekend you couldn't have missed the 65,407 fans that were running around Newcastle throughout the weekend. This is the 3rd highest magic weekend attendance with all 3 highest attendance being in Newcastle.

 The next thing to do is wait and see where the 2019 Magic Weekend, you never know it could be back in Newcastle or it could have a new home for a few years. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post all about Magic Weekend. 

This was a gifted post but all views are my own. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Dacia Magic Weekend is here and what a weekend it has been already

If you have no idea what Dacia Magic Weekend is then I don’t know what rock you’ve been under for the past 3 years. Magic Weekend is a 2-day event where the best in the world of rugby league come up to Newcastle to play some of the biggest games of the season at the historic St James Park.

Following the record-breaking success of the Dacia Magic Weekend in 2016, there was no reason why it wouldn't be coming back in 2017 so when the announcement came that the event would be returning to St James Park, you could feel the excitement in Newcastle.

I and Michael were very lucky to be able to get tickets for the full weekend but due to work commitments, we couldn’t make the Saturday games but the 2 family members I sent along instead loved every moment. My uncle is a massive Newcastle football fan so being in the stadium for any reason is always a bonus for him and his son.


They were really lucky as they got to watch all three games on the Saturday: Wildness Vikings V Wakefield Trinity, Hull FC V St Helens and finally Wigan Warriors V Warrington Wolves.

Everyone knew that some of these games were going to be great games to watch with Wigan Warriors V Warrington basically being a rematch of last year's Super League Grand Final (definitely a game I was gutted to miss out on seeing).

My uncle took along his son who has become really interested in rugby league and this was the perfect opportunity for him to get to see some great games. With his son only being 9 years old he was really glad the atmosphere and the event itself was really made for families, with the crowd full of families cheering on their team or soaking up the great atmosphere from the crowd.

For someone who had never been to the Dacia Magic Weekend, My uncle and his son loved every moment. From the welcome, they received when they arrived, to the family friendly atmosphere throughout the games. He recommended the event to everyone and said that it was worth every penny.

If you fancy getting some last minute tickets for tomorrow games which include:
Catalans Dragons v Huddersfield Giants (13:00)
Leigh Centurions v Salford Red Devils (15:15)
Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos (17:30)

You can get tickets from here:

Have you ever been to a Dacia Magic Weekend?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

This Girl Can: Jackie's Story to falling in love with Basketball

My name is Jackie and I have the great privilege of writing a guest blog post for Melissa about my favourite sport – BASKETBALL!
I thought that it was such a shock that Melissa asked me because she wants ‘Women in Sport’, I thought she had a made a mistake! I was NEVER one of the sporty girls at school, frequently being on the ‘D’, ‘E’ or even ‘F’ team at school, preferring volunteering to games lessons and even winning a wooden spoon for being the worst at badminton! 

Jackie's women basketball team at university.
However, when I got to university, I thought that nobody knows how rubbish I am at sport, basketball is something I have always wanted to try and it was only about two minutes away from my halls. They advertised it as something anybody of any ability can try’, no need to try out and best of all? It was free. So I thought, why not have a go? 

Much to my delight, basketball was very fun and easy to grasp; the other women were also extremely kind, supportive and welcoming and it was great for both my mental and physical health. Not only was I exercising regularly and becoming fitter, but it also gave me an opportunity to make new friends across subjects and years. It even managed to get me out of my room – something that I always tried to avoid doing at university. 
This Girl Can Social Basketball - Leazes Park
Three years later I moved back to Newcastle and I am now raring to join another club – a big city with two universities and a great city team – how hard could it be?
However, I couldn’t find any that were suitable – either you had to try out (be a certain ability to make the team), or they were too expensive, at the wrong times, exclusive to certain age groups, difficult to get to, just a series of irritating barriers that prevented me from playing.

I knew some people in Newcastle who played basketball and I would sometimes meet up with them to play at a local park but our busy lives often mean these opportunities are few and far between.
When playing on my own at a local court I thought that there might be women around Newcastle who might feel the same as me; who wanted to try a new sport but couldn’t due to some obstacle or that they used to play but couldn’t find an opportunity to do so.
This Girl Can Social Basketball - Leazes Park

I was nominated as a This Girl Can Ambassador through some volunteering for Streetgames and Factory Dance Academy. I had just taken part TGC activities previously, but I thought –why not do something about this?

With the TGC Play Basketball Club I hope to create a fun and social atmosphere where girls and women of any age and ability can come and make new friends, and learn something new or even share tips with each other. It’s free, with no gear or experience needed and easily accessible in the middle of Newcastle City Centre. 

I know that basketball isn’t for everyone but I really recommend you do some sport or exercise, even just 30 minutes a week or walking/cycling/running/jogging/table tennis or football. There are some wonderful local parks with great facilities you can use for free. Bring a friend, get some fresh air, take in the view, get the heart pumping a bit – it’s good for you mentally and physically.
This Girl Can Social Basketball - Leazes Park

Hope this has interested you and if you want to play some basketball - male or female – let me know. Hope to see you at Leazes Park Basketball Court soon!

This Girl Can Play Basketball Club meets every Saturday from 3-4pm at Leazes Park Basketball Court. Just wear some comfortable clothes, bring some water and get ready to have some fun! For more information please join the This Girl Can Play BASKETBALL group on Facebook (here). 

If your interested in trying out basketball, Don't be afraid to join the Facebook page or if you fancy trying out something different why not check out the Active Newcastle Facebook page to see what other This Girl Can activities are happening in Newcastle. If you would like to see other women's only activities happening across Newcastle you can check out Active Newcastle's Website for tones of other activities happening in Newcastle.  
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