Contiki, Day 1 of 12- Los Angeles, California 📍

So Day 1- I discovered I had 51 people to meet and interact with on my tour, and 12 days to do it- easy peasy!

One thing you should know about me is that I love Australians- to the point that I’ve actually changed the voice on my iPhone Google Maps to the Aussie bloke! Their fun-loving; yet chilled out; yet crazy; yet totally accepting of all things wonderful and weird nature- it vibes with me. So, lucky me that I got Bianca the Aussie babe as a roomie 🙌 We clicked straight away and she is one of the life-long friends I have made- thanks to Contiki (soppy, I know). Not only that- i’d say that 70-80% of the people on my trip were of Australian nationality.. winner winner chicken dinner! PS. not hating on any other Nationality okkkk.

To start the day, it was off to Venice Beach 🌴 Thanks to a friends recommendation, I had a breakfast goal in mind- Eggslut (yes that is the real name, and if you click the link, have a tissue ready because you’re going to drool).

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Eggslut Brunch at Venice Beach.

Going to be honest, I don’t remember what I had because I was that desperate to just stuff my face.. BUT just ask for whatever their most popular order is and you won’t be disappointed.

Venice Beach is pretty cool- you can feast your eyes on the gym-goers of Muscle Beach 👀💪, witness some cool tricks going down at the Skate Park or if you’re English like me, and not used to sunshine- just enjoy that!

Our coach pick-up point was in Santa Monica, so what better way to work off all the Eggslut Calories than to grab a Metro Bike and cycle along the beachfront over there?

Myself and another Aussie darling of mine- Bridget even featured on the official LA Metro Bike Instagram page with the below photo 🚴‍♀️ Tip: Rent the bike on Tuesdays for the $2 deal!

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Beach biking- Venice Beach ➡️ Santa Monica Pier

Enjoying the cool breeze, palm trees and sunshine on our backs- we made it to Santa Monica Pier. This is well worth doing!
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Only thing I would suggest is downloading the Metro Bike App first so that you can see where the station to put the bikes back is… we made the mistake of riding around for a good half an hour once we reached Santa Monica Pier as we thought there would be one pretty close!

Santa Monica Pier; did you even really experience it if you didn’t go on the iconic Ferris Wheel? We didn’t think so, hence why we did it 😊 Relax after your bike ride and take in the views of the beach.

Relax on the Santa Monica Ferris Wheel.
Santa Monica Ferris Wheel chilling.

IMG_6155After a chill ride on the ferris wheel, we took a slightly wilder ride on the Rollercoaster! You can get a ticket to cover both for $17 💵

If you fancy a cheeky bevvy afterwards Big Dean’s Ocean Front Cafe is a nice spot! If you get served by the Grey’s Anatomy ‘Dr Mark Sloane’ lookalike barman- even better, right? 😉

Next onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame- unfortunately the only celeb I saw was waxwork Zac Efron… I mean, it’ll do!

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The only celeb I saw in LA.

Also tried my hands against Marilyn Monroe’s handprints at the Chinese Mann’s Theatre.

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“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”

Our evening meal in LA was at Far Bar, located in Little Tokyo. They have a gorgeous outside terrace with pretty fairy lights where we all sat and tucked into Tacos. Realistically they were probably trying to keep the noise from a 51 strong group away from their other customers, but hey ho! Thoroughly enjoyed 😊

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The pretty outside terrace at Far Bar (not my photo).

One day down, 11 to go!

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LA to the Bay, starts today!!

13 days, 6 destinations- BRING IT ON!


Today marks the day I leave the UK to do a tour round Western USA.  I’m at LHR ready for my flight to LAX – and I’m super excited!! What will I see, who will I meet, what will I do?

Well, what I’ll be seeing and doing is a little less of a mystery than ‘ Who will I meet?’ as I’ve got my route set:

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This trip will tick off a lot of the ‘must see’ places in the USA but I’m under no illusions that there will still be plenty left for me to lay my eyes on. I’m a little nervous to meet my travel group, but I’m sure there’s got to be at least ONE person I get along with, right? 😂

I’ve got so many exciting new things to see and experience- I’m ready for sunshine, I’m ready for snow and I’m ready to meet my Contiki Group! Wish me luck 😀

Alpaca Trekking

IMG_5854.jpgMy bestie Meg and I recently did something a little random- so I thought I’d share it with you!

Groupon currently have a deal going  at a place called Alpaca Annie where you can accompany an alpaca on a trek down in Romney Marsh, Kent. Me being me, I bought it for Meg for Christmas as I thought it would be quite comical.

Naturally- the 2 alpacas misbehaving in the line-up were the ones we vibed with the most and that’s how we ended up with Andy Pandy (White) & Jeremy Fisher (Black) as our fluffy companions.

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Did not need to whip my hair back and forth- left it for Mother Nature to arrange.

The alpacas have an absolute mind of their own, so a trek that would take 10 minutes with your dog takes an hour with these guys! Nonetheless they are funny little animals- not interested in you until you have carrots!

3186c981-d17b-4ea2-bb35-6007a6aefe4f.jpgApparently, the alpacas have a specific order that they like to walk in- try telling Andy Pandy that! He pulled off to the side when he wanted, overtook when he wanted and jogged when he wanted- got us both in trouble! The way we saw it was if he wants to jog, jog with him- we’re all for a bit of exercise! But no- this was forbidden and we got shouted at to be sensible- come on Claire* lighten up a bit, we’re just trying to have a laugh- plus, we haven’t been sensible for pretty much as long as we have existed. Bad habits die hard! *Name changed 😉

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After we got back from our walk we were able to get some photos whilst feeding the mums and babies! With my hands frozen in place from the walk, this was easier said than done. Yes I know, I should have worn gloves- thanks mum!

b9264d3f-ccee-4385-9309-f1c2445e34a2.jpgThey were actually very gentle with us- it was the other alpacas that needed to watch out, being bashed out the way due to the love of carrots.

It was quirky, it was random but we had an enjoyable Saturday morning with the alpacas! Even got a certificate at the end, to show what great Alpaca Walkers we were! Should I put that on my CV under special skills? Perhaps not!

Anyway, I would recommend this activity if you’re stuck on things to do and you’re bored of the cinema or sitting indoors doing nothing!

Peace x

Reykjavík, Iceland- October 2016

IMG_0382.JPGIceland was a big one to tick off the travel bucket list! Over the past few years it has grown increasingly popular as a tourist destination, thanks to social media coverage. Even the employee at the Post Office made a comment about me being the 4th person that week to pick up some Icelandic Krona!

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International friends 🙂

I ventured to the land of Ice & Fire with my gorgeous best friend and ultimate travel buddy Meg who I also explored Italy & Amsterdam with. One of my Swedish friends that I met in Åre also happened to be working in Iceland at the time too, which was wicked! We booked our accommodation through Expedia and ended up in perfectly located Alfred’s Apartments. Cosy, warm and in the centre of everything- we were very happy with our choice!

We did a little research before we went which led us to book 2 excursions through STA Travel; The Blue Lagoon & The Golden Circle. Another must do for us was to try and see the Northern lights which we decided to sort out when we were actually in Iceland. We were very lucky to take a walk and come across ‘Guide to Iceland’. We were told that if we wanted to see them, the best night to go would be that very night! His last tour had already left but rather than just offer his apologies he started phoning round to see if there was anyone who could take us out 🙂 We were in luck!

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We were taken out into the ‘wilderness’ and just had to wait and wait and wait. For a long time I thought nothing was going to happen- you’d see glimmers and then just dark sky again. Eventually the Northern lights appeared, they looked magical. Despite being possibly the coldest I’d ever been, it was definitely a sight to behold but I wish they’d been more spectacular, like some of the other photos I’ve seen!

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The Blue Lagoon is somewhere that would be quite handy to have around the corner if you were hungover on a Sunday and needed a cure. The waters are said to be ‘healing’ and whilst I don’t know about that, the 38 degree geo-thermal water was certainly welcome from the freezing rain and biting winds! Despite the number of people, it is quite relaxing and yes, the water really is that blue.

Golden Circle
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The Icelandic countryside is otherworldly- like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We came across exploding geysirs (make sure you stand in the right spot), tectonic plates (above sea level) and the majestic Gullfoss Waterfall. My fingers were like icicles, it rained allllll damn day and I had to go out later with no coat on (not recommended) because my coat was still soaked through. But I tell you what- it was worth it! The landscape is truly alien- no wonder so many Sci-fi films are shot there; Star Wars to name just one. I really wouldn’t miss out on this trip, stand at the top of the waterfall, have natural boiling water shoot up in front of you and just take a walk along the rocky countryside.

Reykjavík- City Centre
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The Sun Voyager, despite many thinking it’s a Viking Ship is actually an ode to the sun! I just thought it was a pretty nice sculpture with a pretty picturesque backdrop of snow-topped mountains!

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Take in the view behind the sun voyager, then take a stroll along the walkway to the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. It’s free to go inside, it’s got some impressive architecture, and it’s a place to wander around- out of the cold! When I visited the Concert Hall there was some filming of a super-talented Pianist going on- he played some really beautiful music which just added to the visit.

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Walk back up through the town to check out Iceland’s biggest Church- Hallgrímskirkja. It’s got a huuuuge organ inside which weighs an astounding 25 tons! For a small fee you can go to the top of the Church to see some amazing views of Reykjavík- the coloured roofs give the city so much character.IMG_0517.JPG

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When in Reykjavík, you may come across a colourfully decorated Bakery- I have heard that they do the most incredible Cinnamon Rolls. While I haven’t been in myself (I hate cinnamon), I would urge you to. Seriously, I got so many people saying I should have tried it out that there has GOT to be some kind of truth to it, right?
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In conclusion, Iceland is a pretty damn cool place. My main pieces of advice would be to wrap up warm and take a load of money (it’s quite expensive)!

Bless!

My beautiful dog- RIP

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Dogs: The only thing on Earth that will love you more than they love themselves.

Today has been the worst day, only 19 days into 2018 and I know some people may think ‘well why write a blog about it’- but this is my way of letting it all out. My beautiful Spaniel Lola who was only 4 years old has been put down and I am absolutely heartbroken. I’ve cried constantly for 4 straight hours and it feels already like there is a hole in my life where she would have been.

I never knew it was possible to miss someone or something this much- I cannot believe she is gone. No longer will I wake up in the morning and have her excitedly bounding onto my bed to say hi, no longer will I come in from work and have her acting as if me coming home is the best thing that has ever happened to her. It will be quiet. It will be uncomfortable- and the thought of me going home tonight without her being there; it fills me with absolute dread.

IMG_5649They say that the best anti-depressant has 4 paws and a wagging tail- Lola, (fondly often called Roley) was this for me. She dragged me out of a very dark place and I’ll never be able to thank her enough for it. She made me laugh so much and all the time, she knew when to give me cuddles, she knew when to just sit or lay next to me. She knew when I was upset- even if I wasn’t crying and she’d be there. She knew me and she loved me- and now I’ll never see her again.

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IMG_0885This is the problem with having pets isn’t it? Unless something tragic happens to you- you’ll outlive them. YOU are the one that will have to say goodbye. They will provide you with the best day of your life and the worst. Luckily for me, the good memories are in abundance.

The way she had so much sass for a dog and refused to go out in the morning if it was raining or cold; the way she would make all of MY friends HER friends, despite not being a social dog; the way she slept in the most ridiculous positions but was apparently comfy. I’ll miss her always being up for cuddles, I’ll miss her utter excitement and constant wish to be around me, I’ll miss her soft fur, scrunchable ears and wonderful companionship. I’ll even miss her jumping on my bed when I’ve just put new sheets on.

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IMG_1733Roley filled me with absolute happiness and joy- it will be impossible to forget her and I’m so grateful for the 4 years we had together- although it will never have been enough. She made my house a home; she made me feel absolute love and she may not have been my whole life but she certainly made my life whole.

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Rest in peace you gorgeous & beautiful girl. I will forever miss you and forever love you- the little light in my life. I hope you find the best dog squad ever to play with in Heaven.

Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend- never had a dog 💔

A weekend in London.

I know a lot of people aren’t big fans of London- it’s ‘too busy’ or ‘too expensive’– I’ve even heard some people describe it as ‘a nightmare’, but here’s the thing… I LOVE LONDON. I love that there is always something going on, I love that there are a huge variety of places just waiting to be discovered and most of all I love that there’s a whole lot of awesome people in London- you just never know who you might meet.

I have a few friends who live in London, and the weekend just gone I visited a wonderful old school friend of mine, Poppy. We had rough plans that mainly consisted of food and a goal that whatever happened we didn’t want to just stay in.

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The Blue Legume, Islington. Disclaimer: Not my photo.

We had lunch at the Blue Legume- a lovely little Mediterranean inspired place. Due to the cheese I was planning on consuming later (you’ll see), I opted for a salad 🙂 still had Halloumi in it though didn’t it 🧀 I’m just a superfan, OK?

On our walk home we went past this Cakery (if it’s not a word, it is now) called Ooh Lou Lou and I could not resist getting something! If you find yourself in Stoke Newington, you should 100% check it out. My absolute favourite is Red Velvet Cake and lucky for me they had some. I had the most delicious slice- couldn’t even fit it all in! The girl who served me was also super happy to discuss my plan to have red velvet cupcakes at my wedding… despite not even having a boyfriend, but whatevs!

After going home it was onto to the next food-based plan; Cheese Town at Brixton Rooftop. It’s a festival dedicated to all things cheese! I’m talking Mac ‘n’ Cheese, grilled cheese, poutine, halloumi wraps and/or fries.. there is A LOT of cheesy things going on here.

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Cheese

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So lemme give you the pros of Cheese Town:
☺ Cheese, obvs- in a variety of different ways to enjoy it
☺ A music playlist that graaaaadually got better throughout the evening
☺ Pretty lights and a cool vibe
☺ Multiple bars- that’s always a good thing right? PLUS a bar that specialised in loads of different flavour Espresso Martinis- big yes from me.

Now for the things I enjoyed a tad less:
😞 I get that cheese is popular, but seriously those queues were ridiculous. Queuing up for over 30 mins to get Mac n Cheese only to get to the front and be told it’s another 20 until you’ll actually get it- no thanks!
😞 The ‘nibbles’ you get with your ticket- come on, you can’t call a tiny pot of crumbled up flavourless cheese, ‘nibbles’.
😞 Seeing a guy you went on a date with recently who kept telling you how much he’d had such a good weekend with you and would see you soon… on a date with another girl! Awesooooome 👍 Of all the places in London, really! But hey, guess I can’t blame Cheese Town for that! Except ‘hipster’ places will attract ‘hipster’ people haha.

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On a recommendation from Poppy’s flatmate, after Cheese Town we went to a bar/club under a Church called Gremio de Brixton. By day it’s an authentic Spanish Tapas Restaurant and cocktail bar, by night its a bar/club where you can drink and dance the night away. Being tucked away in the crypt, it’s super quirky- I really enjoyed it here! You’ve got alcoves where you can sit and chat, a huge dance floor and plenty of people to mingle with if you so desire.

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We stayed at Gremio de Brixton until our feet hurt too much to carry on- standard.

Sunday- A long lay in, no hangover and bacon sandwiches for breakfast- WINNING! A more relaxed day was needed and I was going home in the late afternoon- our activity of choice?

Columbia Road Flower Market
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This happens every Sunday and you can tell when you’re getting close because there are an abundance of people wandering around clutching various plants and flowers. It was super busy, but there were so many beautiful flowers to choose from- I ended up with a lovely bunch of burnt orange Tulips thanks to Poppy’s generosity! Got a lot of ‘oh she’s a lucky girl’ looks on the way home- little did they know, it was no potential suitor that had bought me them, lolz!

So there’s my most recent weekend in London- probably be back up in February to see another friend! Stay tuned for a possible Volume 2- there’s always something going on in the city!

Emily ♡

Budapest- June 2017

I hope you’re as Hungary as I was to find out what Budapest has to offer! (sorry, had to!)


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Budapest we thought 🤔 we haven’t been there, the weather in June is pretty nice and it’s cheap- SOLD!

My friend Portia and I took a flight with Wizz Air and arrived in Budapest on a sunny Thursday. We’d booked an Airbnb Apartment in the centre which was awesome- check it out 🙂 Sidenote: If you do happen to book the apartment, be aware that the bedroom upstairs has a pretty low ceiling- watch your head!

As I always like to do whenever I visit somewhere new, I have a walk around to check out my surroundings. If you’ve got no plans, why rely on Google maps to get you around when you can just take a stroll? There’s plenty of time to tick off the rest of the items on your ‘must do’ list!

Our first wander took us to St Stephen’s Square where we took a look inside St Stephen’s church- named after the first King of Hungary.
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For a small fee you can take the 300+ steps to the top and its well worth it, because once you get there you’re rewarded with wonderful 360° panoramic views of the city.
IMG_3067.JPGWhile you’re in the Square you might as well treat yourself to a refreshment- Gelarto Rosa not only have super tasty gelato, but they also do it in the shape of a rose! We went for 3 flavours which costs 600 HUF (just under £1.75) amazing!
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In the evening we continued our wandering with a goal in mind this time- go and see the Budapest Parliament Building in all of its glory!
IMG_3155As you can see- it puts the UK Parliament Building to absolute shame- stunning!

While we were walking along the River Danube we also stopped to take a look at the Iconic Chain Bridge which joins Buda & Pest together- because if you didn’t already know, these were actually 2 separate cities before!
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We did a hell of a lot of walking on this trip so the next day, we were at it again! This time, climbing to the top of the Citadella which hosts one of the best views over Budapest. Unfortunately it was pretty overcast on the day we did this- so the photos from the top weren’t as spectacular as they could have been.

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Not even half-way up!

Admittedly, it was a pretty good workout- it certainly made us feel less guilty about the alcoholic drinks we were going to consume later 😉

Sticking to our plan, we decided to go out to explore what Budapest nightlife had to offer. This brings me onto Ruin Bars (aptly named)- the Hungarians clearly know how to party! Our Ruin Bar of choice was Instant– I have no photos from inside as I was clearly having far too much fun getting ‘ruined’. I snogged a nice American guy, threw some shapes on probably all 4 of their dance-floors and bought multiple drinks at all 8 of their bars. Safe to say, it was a pretty awesome night- ended with a kebab of course. You can take the girl out of the UK but you can’t take the UK out of the girl!

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I’d imagine we didn’t quite look like this after coming back from the Ruin Bar!

Next morning, I actually felt fresh as a daisy! However, just in case of any potential hangover, what better way to cure it than to go to the Szechenyi Spa Baths? I would guess this is something on everyones to-do list when they visit Budapest.

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Not your average hot tub!

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The baths were as you can imagine, nice, warm and relaxing! The whirlpool in the middle was a personal highlight for me. We were planning on going to one of the ‘Spa-rties’ that evening- but there was just something about the place that put us off doing that. I am glad we went but I don’t think I’d arrange to go back if I visited Budapest again.

Zugligeti Libego- this is the Budapest chairlift situated on Buda Hills, we thought that it would be a nice break from all the walking. It’s a little out of the city so you have to take a bus, but it’s perfect for sitting back and taking in the beautiful panoramic views. It was 1400 HUF for a ticket up and back (that’s just over £4). At the top there is a Café and some nice woodland walks.

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The view from the Chairlift.

Outside the Café there was a food van- we ate a Hungarian Food speciality called Lángos. It’s a deep fried dough with a choice of toppings- we opted for sour cream with grated cheese all over it. If you can handle the carb overload, it’s well worth it!

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So tasty!

We wanted to go for some drinks on our last night in Budapest- not the Ruin Bar, down as many as you can kind, but the ‘get dressed up and have fancy cocktails kind’. 360° Rooftop Bar was the perfect venue for this! It never happens to me, but we managed to get the best seats there, just as a sunset was happening 😀

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Great cocktails, brilliant views and chilled vibes- there’s not much else to say, except I’d recommend going!

Our last night over, we had just one more full-ish day to explore Budapest. We chose to go up to Fisherman’s Bastion and hunt for little souvenirs to take home on the way!

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Apparently it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Budapest- I can see why. This place is soooo pretty, with fantastic views- and it’s free entry! You have to pay a fee to go up the turret’s but I happily had my ‘Princess Moment’ in one of the arches, overlooking my Kingdom! There is a Café which I thought was a little expensive for Budapest standards but hey, if you need a drink or snack, go for it. It really is like a fairytale castle- I wouldn’t miss this out!

While you’re there you might as well check out the beautifully tiled roof of St Matthias Church. I didn’t get to go inside but from what I’ve heard the interior is exquisite.

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Overall, I’d say that Budapest is well worth a visit! It’s not harsh on your bank balance, there are plenty of things to see and do and the weather for the most part is pretty nice 🙂

Have you been to Budapest- is there something I missed out? Hope you enjoy reading, let me know!

Viszontlátára!