New York New York

I went to see New York to see a hottie,

But going there made me a bit snotty,

I did go for fun,

Not just for the sun,

There was still snow and it was icy cold,

But as soon as I saw Times Square I was sold,

What a dazzling place,

Bright lights in your face,

And pick pockets galore,

Gentlemen hold on to your wallet not a door,

The comedy was great,

The locals were irate,

But we had to learn how to tip,

And jet lag meant we had to kip,

I even got a tattoo,

After signing a waver that I wouldn’t sue,

I got a little heart done on my ribs,

No im not telling fibs,

As for pain it was actually fine,

But who is this hottie of mine,

It’s a lady I’ve always wanted to meet,

She stands at 3,700 feet,

Yes for me she’s a little tall,

It’s a long way to fall,

But she’s as steady as a rock,

It would take a lot to rock,

The rather snazzy Statue of Liberty,

She stands for the free,

I love her sense of style too,

All matching in greeny blue,

Piercing the sky,

Her torch held on high,

She been holding that pose for years,

She’s a proper Yogi – I’d be in tears,

When it comes to stretching she’s the King,

That commitment – 188 years working in a bingo wing.

Honeymoon, bottoms and bugs

Honey, moon sounds like an instruction,

For baring your bottom by way of introduction,

It’s not exactly a great first impression,

So I do … have a confession,

It’s not quite what I did on my honeymoon,

For nudist discussions it’s just too soon,

But we did go to Thailand and lie down a lot,

And I was in a bikini so my bottom was not –

Fully covered at all times,

Who knew I’d wrote a poem about my bottom that rhymes,

Anyway we had an absolutely wonderful trip,

There were lots of alcoholic cocktails to sip,

Sunsets and beaches and dips in the sea,

Sunburn and markets and currys a plenty,

We watched Thai kick boxing which seems a little rough,

They look so young and my gosh they are tough,

Then we saw a rather dangerous fire show,

No one minds if they drop it they just go with the flow,

It’s actually some of the bar staff that performs,

In Thailand there are no health and safety forms,

That same night the biggest bug you’ve ever seen,

Landed in my cocktail and was rather keen,

To finish it off – my mai tai was no more,

That bug will be pissed, rolling around on the floor,

It’s also owes me £2.50 which is 100 baht,

But I didn’t get to tell it before we had to depart,

So all in all a successful holiday,

And now I’m suing a bug to make him pay.

10 Top Tips for a Winter holiday in Reykjavik, Iceland

1. Bring Thermals

It’s not ridiculously cold in winter (well it can go up to minus 10) but it’s not generally as cold as you might think – it tends to be around minus 1. You’ll be glad of thermals under your trousers though, as well as a good warm coat and some thick gloves but it’s totally manageable.

2. Go to the Blue Lagoon

  

It’s warm and brilliant and theres even a bar that you can access from the water #ideal ! Check opening dates as there is some refurbishment going on at the beginning of 2016. 

3. Buy alcohol at the airport 

You can only buy alcohol from select shops in Iceland and they have minimal opening hours as well as the alcohol itself being very expensive. Save yourself time and money and buy any alcohol for your trip in duty free at the airport. You might clink on the trip to your accomodation but it will be worth it.

4. Check the Northern Lights conditions each day

  

The Northern Lights are magnificent. We spent an hour or so in out of our warm cars staring at the sky and finally seeing the lights dance across the stars is something I’ll never forget. 

To have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland go to vedur.is and check conditions daily. I’d advise getting out of the city to see them.

5. Bring lip balm and moisturiser

The cold air really dries out your skin.

6. Travel on the Golden Circle route

There are stunning views:

  
The Geysir (Geyser)

 
Horses along the Golden Circle route. 

  
Iceland’s National Park

7. Bring snow boots 

If you go off road there can be deep snow and you’ll be glad of your snow boots! They also have excellent grip which is useful for icey pavements (especially if you nearly broke your ankle before visiting Iceland – just me? Ok). 

8. Hire a car

You’ll save on taxis and transfers and can make your own schedule. Although whoever is driving should be comfortable driving on snowy roads.

  

9. Walk along the harbour in Reykjavik

Great views and a lovely stroll.

  

10. Check the condition of the roads each day (if you’ve hired a car)

  

They can be pretty icey and some will be blocked off by snow. Go to: road.is for daily updates 

11. Get a hotdog from Baejarins Beztu

Bill Clinton says they are the best in the world so…

   

There is always a queue but it’s totally worth it.
 

12. Visit the Cathedral 

A great piece of modern architecture. This is the place be on New Years Eve to see more fireworks in one place than you will ever see anywhere else… probably.

   
 

13. Eat dinner at the Perlan 

A rotating glass dome restaurant overlooking Reykjavik. The food is mostly lovely, not exactly to die for but pretty yummy and the view makes up for it. Although you will feel slightly seasick until you get used to the rotating floor! 

   
  

The beef carpaccio is delicious.

 

Have an amazing time and let me know your recommendations in the comments below!

Do follow me on Twitter: @samanthabaines

Travel: Visit the Golden Circle, Iceland 

 
Beautiful views – a great day out!

In some ways I enjoyed the driving of the Golden Circle route more than stopping off to see the places of interest. The views were amazing as soon as you got out of Reykjavik and at one point it looked like we were driving on clouds – like the end of the film Grease #winning 
  
The route takes you through the National Park and there is a cafe where you can stop and enjoy the hot drinks and a much needed loo break – ever the Brit I had several cups of tea before we set off! 

   
  
After the National Park we stopped at the Geyser (Geysir) which shoots hot water into the air every 4-5mins. The views there were totally Instagram worthy. 

Beware of the ice as you walk round the Geyser. I saw many people find themselves in an unplanned ice-skating scenario with painful consequences.

     
There’s a lovely cafe and huge gift shop at the Geysir but be ready to spend those Kronas as two coffees and cakes will set you back around £15! Ouch.

Next stop is the huge waterfall – that is some powerful water! There is a viewing platform at a higher level with amazing views but I avoided it as the stairs were treacherously icy: it’s ICEland afterall.

   
There are even more stops to keep you occupied on the Golden Circle route but we had to miss some out due to the shortened daylight hours and having too much of a lie in! But there’s more to enjoy if you are an early riser. 

There is quite a lot of driving so be ready for that. You can break up the journey by stopping by the side of the road to say hello to these fellas… 
  
  
There are friendly horses in fields at several points along the Golden Circle so be sure to stop and say hello. 

Do follow me on Twitter and share some of your Icelandic experiences with me in the comments below!

Photo credits: Samantha Baines (me)

Travel: the Blue Lagoon in Iceland 

 One of my absolute highlights whilst in Iceland! 

  
We rented a car and drove from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon (it only took about 40mins) and the views on the drive are definitely Instagram worthy. It also means you don’t have to be hearded into a coach with other smelly tourists and an overly charismatic and tip hungry guides.

BOOK IN ADVANCE – do book as it gets very busy. 

I’d recommend the ‘Comfort Package’: it comes with a towel, a free drink, moisturiser (which you will need afterwards as well as some drinking water) and an amazing algae face mask that you use in the lagoon. The algae face mask is properly amazing and will leave you smoother than any part of a baby …let alone just its bottom. 

There is a bar in the lagoon and with the comfort package you get your most expensive drink free – nice! 

  
The lagoon is blue in colour but looks white up close because of all those good-for-you minerals. There is also a white paste by the sides of the lagoon in bowls that you can use as a face mask but careful with dry skin as it can tingle! 

You can happily spend several hours in the lagoon and there is a cafe (and a restaurant which is more expensive) for a spot of lunch dinner.

TOP TIPS:


Flip flops :

are useful as the floor is cold but not essential 

A towel robe:

is a great idea as it keeps you much warmer than a skimpy towel. Although it’s hard to keep track of whose robe and towel is whose and you tend to just grab the nearest thing. You could be cheeky and just grab the nearest robe when you stumble out!

Hair: 

keep your hair out of the water as the minerals will seriously dry it out. Cover it in conditioner before you go in and leave it in your hair throughout your time in the lagoon. 

Shampoo: 

there is shower gel and conditioner provided but not shampoo so you might want to bring your own. 

Travel: Reykjavik (Iceland) in pictures

  
What a New Years Eve celebration! It will go down in the Baines chronicles as one of the best New Years I have ever had! 

We brought our own booze (as it’s shockingly expensive in Iceland) and headed to the cathedral where we watched the midnight fireworks light up the sky! 

 
There are also random huge bonfires around the country on New Years Eve just because. We just jumped in a taxi and asked the taxi driver to take us to the nearest one. I felt like I was in Game of Thrones (Song of Fire and Ice) but be careful of singed eyebrows if you get too close and the wind changes.

 
On New Year’s Day we had a stroll around Reykjavik (a lot of the shops are closed but cafes are still open). The views are beautiful! There is a great walk along the seafront to the harbour.

 

This is a sculpture on the seafront called the Sea Voyager – I call it a forking ship. There is a lovely description alongside it which says “we all have our dream boat to sail away in. This is my interpretation”.  
  
We also saw the Harpa on our stroll which is a concert and meeting hall. Funky architecture and a whole lotta glass. 

     
It snowed gorgeous powdery snow and I was glad of my warm coat bought in the Next sale! Yes I do feel a bit smug as it was half price!

Next for food…

    
I read that this place does the best hotdogs in Iceland and possible the world – big claim! Apparently Bill Clinton agrees that they are the best – make of that what you will. It’s called Baejarin Betzu, it’s by the harbour in and there is always a queue.

  
They sell two things: hotdogs and soda but why complicate things – I like their confidence. Not sure if they are the best in the world but they are definitely worth the queue. Three sauces and two types of onions: crispy and the regular kind. Yum.
 
  
Also spotted this little fella hand thought he was worth featuring in the blog!

Do follow me on Twitter and let me know your Iceland recommendations in the comments as I’ve got a few more days here! 

Travel: 10 things you HAVE to do in Marrakesh, Morocco

  
1. Explore the Souks 

 
Photo credit: Samantha Baines

If you like shopping you will love the Souks in the old town. Row upon row of market stalls with Moroccan goods from jewellery to teapots to hand made carpets to tempt you. Even if you don’t have money to spend the Souks are wonderful just to wander through and see the sights, although the sellers might coax you in, after all “looking is free”.

2. Eat a traditional tagine

  
Photo credit: Samantha Baines

This is not a tagine, this is a nice view. It is a view of the main square in Marrakesh and it is what I saw when I tried my first tagine in Morocco. I went for a lamb, prune and almond tagine with couscous and it’s sweet and delicious. Hightly recommended.

3. Stay in a Riad in the Medina.

  
Photo credit: Riad Romance
The Medina is the old town and it is where quite a few of the tourist attractions are so you are close to most things. The old town is also wonderfully atmospheric and the Riad’s are hidden away behind unsuspecting doorways. We stayed in Riad Romance (great name) and I would highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful Riad with spacious ensuite rooms and the best customer service I have received on any holiday anywhere! You really become part of the family when you stay with Sam and Youness.

4. Have a Hammam

There is no photo for this one as I was mainly naked and being scrubbed. But a Morrocan Hammam is a must, you feel so relaxed and clean afterwards. Yes, embrace the importance of exfoliating. It also fairly cheap (compared to London at least) around £30 for a sauna, scrub and one hour massage.

5. Have cocktails on the La Reniassance hotel roof terrace 

  
Photo credit: Samantha Baines

What a view! This is a lovely place to relax in the new part of Marrakesh whilst you take in the scenery over a tasty cocktail.

6. Visit the Atlas Mountains

   
 Photo credit: Samantha Baines

Spectacular views and a cooler climate make the Atlas Mountains a must see. You can visit a traditional Berber village, take in the sights and have lunch with your feet in a mountain stream! When temperatures peak in the city at 40 or 50 degrees, the Atlas Mountains are a perfect get away.

7. Have mint tea on a roof terrace

  
Photo credit: Samantha Baines

I fell in love with Moroccan mint tea! It is served in a sort of highly decorated shot glass, poured from a very glamorous silver tea pot and it has a LOT of sugar in it and it is so refreshing! It is the perfect way to unwind after a day of shopping in the Souks.

8. Buy some leather

  
Photo credit and leather bag owner: Samantha Baines

At some stage you will be shown around the Tanneries – this is where they soak the animal skin in urine and then dry them out. All that urine means that the smell is pretty pungent (they give you mint to hold over your nose) – be warned. Most of the guides you will meet around Marrakesh will try and take you to the tanneries and will ask you for money for a tour and then take you to their mates shop to buy some leather. Be aware that no one shows you around in Marrakesh for free! The leather in Marrakesh however is great and much cheaper than at home (in England) and you can purchase some lovely leather items, just be sure you haggle for a good bargain.

9. Visit the Marjorelle Gardens

  
Photo credit: Samantha Baines

You won’t see much greenery in Marrakesh but the Marjorelle Gardens are lush, green and exceptionally calming: the perfect place to stop and relax amongst the bustle of the city. The Marjorelle Gardens went to ruin and were rejuvenated by Yves Saint Laurent in the 1980’s and today the gardens include some lovely tributes to Saint Laurent including a gallery and a memorial column.

10. Get lost in the Medina

  
Photo credit: Samantha Baines

We did this on our first day but completely by accident! Even the most geographically minded will have problems finding their way around the Medina. Roads have no signposts and follow no set pattern, streets look identical and even the official signs send you in the wrong direction. The best thing to do is embrace being lost and when you do you will stumble upon some local hidden gems. Although have google maps as a back up.

Enjoy your visit! 

Samantha Baines is an award-winning actress and comedian who can’t tolerate dairy. As seen on BBC, CBBC and in new film A Royal Night Out. As heard on XFM, Radio 4 and BBC London 94.9. What the Frock Best Newcomer 2015, Funny Women Finalist 2014, occasional poet and big time show off.

This post is also available on Huffington Post Lifestyle.