Browsing Tag

culture

Europe, Travel, UK

Easter Weekend in London

April 13, 2016

Easter may seem like forever ago but I’ve been a bad blogger and haven’t got round to writing about my trip to London with my family. So now you can sit back and remember how nice having a 4 day weekend at Easter was and look forward to our next bank holiday in May! Not that I’m counting or anything…

Anyway back to London! Over the Easter weekend, I went to London with my Dad and Stepmum. Thinking about it now, it’s probably the first time that we’ve ever done something just the three of us as there are usually other family members in tow. I’m really glad we got to spend that time together. Travelling definitely made me realise how important it is to see your friends and family as much as possible.

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel which is right next to the Hatton Cross tube station. It’s about a 40 minute journey into Central London but you get a bigger and much nicer room than most inner city hotels which is a big plus for me! We stayed for two nights and I thought it was a lovely hotel. It’s full of lots of people going on holiday as it’s near Heathrow airport which made me extremely jealous! I also loved the breakfast buffet – purely because it had a toast conveyor belt and those little glasses of juice you get on holiday. It made the trip feel even more like a holiday for me (I know I’m weird…).

Now obviously there’s tons to do in London and this post isn’t going to tell you how to see all the typical tourist sights in one weekend. What I will do is share with you some of the highlights of our weekend. We seemed to do loads and I enjoyed myself so much. So in no particular order, here’s what we got up to!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Both Sarah and I had read the book by Mark Haddon, which is fantastic, so we were really looking forward to seeing how it translated into a play. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but you definitely won’t be disappointed. It’s a very clever set with talented actors who draw the audience in to the story. One of my pet peeves is when a play or film deviates too far from the original story so I was relieved when the play did stay true to Mark Haddon’s book.

The London Dungeons

Now I had no idea what to expect from the London Dungeons. Friends had told me that it was really scary and I’ve been around the Saw Maze at Thorpe Park before which has actors and that seriously freaked me out. However this was a lot more family orientated. All of the actors were good and stayed in character the whole time but I only jumped a couple of times and that was probably due to my Dad trying to scare me! It’s more of a fun thing to do and not scary but you do learn some of London’s history which can only be a good thing.

The Imperial War Museum


Now if you really want to learn some history then I suggest you visit the Imperial War Museum. This is a fantastic place to go if you like your military history. I had quite a few modules in my degree about the different wars in the 20th Century so I found it particulary interesting. I don’t think you have to be a history nerd like me to appreciate the IWM though as it covers such a broad timescale that there is bound to be something that interests you, whether that be Hitler or 9/11. One of the best exhibitions is the floor dedicated to the Holocaust. It’s a harrowing exhibition which might make some people feel uncomfortable but it’s a subject that everyone should learn about to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If you’re after something a little different to do in London, you should definitely visit here!

Camden Markets


Last on my list is Camden Markets. Incredibly, I’ve never actually been to Camden before. Seeing all the different stalls selling such an array of items and food reminded me of Glastonbury festival. I love wandering about markets and seeing all the different shops and smelling all the food – even if I rarely actually buy anything! We walked through the Stable Market with all the horse statues and then saw the Amy Winehouse statue on the way out. I’d like to visit the markets again soon and see what hidden treasures I can find.

So that was our weekend in London! It was good to be a tourist in my capital city and explore some different parts of London. Thanks to my Dad and Sarah for a such a good weekend!

 

Next time I’m in London will be in just over a weeks time for the London Marathon. Wish me luck and please sponsor me if you can – details here.

Fashion

What you wear matters when you travel – Here are 4 tips!

February 12, 2016

When people think of travel, sometimes the last thing on their mind is fashion. Sure, the thought comes up when packing, but too many people don’t think about it enough when choosing what to wear while travelling. There are quite a few factors I’ve noticed that are important when it comes to fashion and travelling.

Whether it’s what you wear to board a plane or perhaps your hiking gear, each part of travelling warrants its own set of fashion rules that are important to comfort, and sometimes, culture.

Here are some points to remember when packing for your next trip, no matter where you might be headed.

  1. Comfort (and safety) is key

Yes, this point might seem like a no-brainer, but too often people forget that comfort spans from your head to your toes. For example, if you are headed somewhere cold, it’s important to remember to pack socks that are thick enough to preserve your warmth. This article gives great insight on exactly how to keep your feet warm in winter, with tip #3 talking about special socks. On the subject of safety: Stay away from open-toed shoes unless you’re at the beach.

  1. Keep culture in mind

Depending on where you are heading, you will want to do some research on the cultural dress of the area. The last thing you want to do when visiting another country is to offend them,especially if it’s because of what you’re wearing. Like this article describes, wearing shorts in Jordan has the same effect as if you walked around Bournemouth or Baltimore in your underpants. Also keep in mind that when travelling to a Muslim country, it is customary for women to cover their heads.

  1. Splurge when necessary

There are certain clothing items that are worth the extra money, and there are others that you can skimp on without it really affecting its usefulness. It’s important to splurge a little on shoes, like many of the hiking boots highlighted in this collection, because they’re better equipped to handle the elements. They’re also built for endurance, giving you more bang for your buck. Items you may not need to splurge on include a hat, T-shirts, and liner garments, as many of these pieces are similar no matter how much you spend.

  1. Packing light comes in handy

There is nothing worse than over-packing or, even worse, over-packing and only wearing about one-fourth of the things you brought. Especially when it comes to backpacking, the weight you carry is essential to your trip. I like this article that helps amp you up to get in the right “packing mentality.” There are useful tips on which technique—folding, rolling, or bundling—is best for each type of suitcase or trip.

  
If you liked this post, check out my tips on ‘How to pack for a year’.

 

Europe, France, Travel

Three Nights in Paris

January 21, 2015

Stu and I went to Paris earlier this month and we were there when the Charlie Hebdo attacks happened. It was obviously quite a scary time to be exploring the city but in all honestly our trip was not affected by the attacks at all. The public transport systems ran smoothly and all the main attractions remained open with extra security. On the actual day of the incident, we didn’t even know anything had happened until we got back to the hotel and checked BBC News on our phones. Anyway, here’s how our trip went.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Staying at – Mercure Eiffel Tower.

Duration – 3 nights.

To celebrate our 5 year anniversary in true cliché style, Stu and I headed to Paris. We decided to stay in the Mercure hotel right next to the Eiffel Tower because of the amazing views it offered and for its accessibility. It is so easy to get to. From the Charles De Gaulle airport you can get a train to the Eiffel tower for under 10 euros each. I’d had a little search on Trip Advisor and this seemed the best way to get to anywhere in Paris as Taxis can be expensive.

We arrived late in the evening so checked in and went straight to bed but we’d already seen the Eiffel Tower all lit up as the hotel is ridiculously close to it. I always feel a bit surreal seeing famous monuments for the first time because it isn’t really the first time. My generation will never see anything for the first time, everything is over-shared on Facebook, Instagram etc. I think that’s the main reason anyone goes anywhere, just to take the same photo you’ve seen someone else take. Anyway, enough of me being cynical (I’ll save that for another blog post), let’s get back to Paris!

As this was our first time in Paris we wanted to be the typical tourist and go see all the main sites. As we were under 26 and EU citizens we also got into all museums and art galleries for free and to climb the Eiffel Tower for a reduced price. Just show your passport or driving licence and in you go! We headed straight to the Eiffel Tower on our first morning with the aim of climbing to the top. We were greeted with this.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Um, don’t think we’ll be seeing much if we climb it today! It actually looked a bit spooky in all the fog. We weren’t disappointed by the weather though as we still had a couple of days to climb the tower so we headed off in search of a croissant and a coffee.

We walked what seemed like miles for the rest of day and saw lots of the city. You can use the Metro system to get around but you get to see so much more if you take the time to walk. Paris is full of cute restaurants and boutiques that are tucked away down alleyways that are begging to be explored. We walked from the Arc de Triomphe to the Lourve and back to our hotel and saw lots of Paris this way. The Arc de Triomphe was really interesting with the tomb of the unnamed soldier. You can pay to go to the top of the Arc but we decided against it because of the fog. On the way to the Lourve we walked past the ‘Place de la Concorde’ where Mary Antoinette was famously executed. Best of all, once in the Lourve, I got a selfie with Mona Lisa!

10922708_10153142475874258_8254540293472101653_n

There are hundreds of restaurants in Paris so you really are spoilt for choice when choosing somewhere to eat in the evening. Stu and I went for our standard technique of walking around, reading the menu and choosing somewhere which looked reasonably busy and the food sounded nice. My GCSE French came in handy here as some of the menus didn’t have English translations. We found that waiters were happy to explain anything we couldn’t decipher so don’t worry if you can’t understand a word of French. We wanted to stick to the local cuisine so ended up eating a lot rich food with every course having some sort of cheese or bread. I’m pretty sure my blood was 3 parts brie and 1 part red wine by the time I came home. Stu ordered snails for one starter so we got to try some stereotypical French food. They weren’t too bad, a bit chewy and tasted mainly of the garlic sauce they were cooked in.

The second full day of our trip was the day after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. We were planning on visiting the Notre Dame today and we ended up there at midday when the bells of the cathedral rang out to start the minutes silence in respect to the victims. This was an extremely poignant moment with ‘Je Suis Charlie’ signs being held up along with pens to symbolise freedom of expression.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We walked around the Notre Dame afterwards and the cathedral is home to the most beautiful stained glass windows I have ever seen. I don’t seem to have the photos we took of them but I’ll upload them once Stu has sent them to me. I’m a massive Disney fan so I spent the whole time looking out for Quasimodo. Unfortunately he was nowhere to be seen but I did spot a few gargoyles!

We also climbed to the top of the Eiffel tower on this day. We waited until it was dark and got to see Paris all lit up which looked spectacular. There’s a little flat at the top of the tower where Mr Eiffel entertained guests – who knew?!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

On our last day I got to be a true history nerd and visit the Palace of Versailles which I have learnt about in so many lessons. The palace is so beautiful and extravagant, it’s crazy how much money each King and Queen spent on the place and the gardens are just as spectacular as the rooms. You can spend hours here, there is so much to see, from the King and Queen’s bedrooms to the ballrooms to the Hall of Mirrors where the Treaty of Versaille was signed to end WWI.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I loved Paris and I’m really happy I finally got to visit, it’s somewhere I’ve wanted to go for a long time. Stu and I have no trips planned now so we’ll be job hunting and hopefully planning a few city breaks. I’ll still be writing though, there are places we visited in Australia that I never dedicated a full post to so expect to see some of that and some of me moaning about the job hunt, enjoy!

Asia, Travel, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

February 27, 2014

Staying at Thanh Thuong Guesthouse.

We weren’t sure what to expect of the South capital of Vietnam as memories of almost being run over by motorcycles in Hanoi were still haunting us. However we were greeted by a fairly modern city and although there were still thousands of bikes, this city had discovered pavements for pedestrians.

The staff at our accommodation have been helpful throughout our trip but they were particularly helpful here, giving us a map and explaining how far it would take to walk to certain landmarks and letting us know how much a taxi would cost it we were feeling lazy.

Memories of the war are most prominent here with a large war remembrance museum and trips to the nearby Cu Chi tunnels heavily advertised.

The war museum gave us a chance to see the war from the Vietnamese’s point of view and although I knew it was going to be very one sided, I didn’t expect the pure hatred of Americans which most of the museum concentrated on. There was lots of graphic pictures which we wouldn’t see in Britain of corpses and injuries and even disabled foetuses in a jar. It isn’t a trip for those with a weak stomach. We spoke to some local people about the war and they still hold a grudge against America. Only our tour guide in the Cu Chi tunnel trip admitted that the museum is very one sided and Vietnam was at fault too.

20140227-174405.jpg

There’s a large backpacker scene here, mostly based on the Bui Vien street which is full of restaurants, bars and market stalls. The food continued to be good and the beer continued to be cheap!

There’s a few sites to see around the city, including the Notre Dame cathedral (not kidding), the Financial tower and the Reunification Palace. All are within walking distance of each other.

We were meant to spend 5 days here but due to a mix up with our flight (me getting the dates wrong) we actually spent a week. It was an enjoyable week but 5 days would have been enough.

Next stop is Bangkok and a chance to avoid the protests!

20140227-175126.jpg

20140227-175135.jpg

20140227-175145.jpg

Asia, Travel, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

February 22, 2014

Staying at Hoa Binh Hotel.

Hoi An, you beautiful beautiful town. After the madness of Hanoi, you were a much needed breath of fresh air. It’s fair to say that Stu and I fell in love with you.

We stayed a short walk away from the heritage town which is really pretty. The buildings are all painted yellow with colourful lanterns lining the walkways. It’s a ‘walking town’ with no cars allowed and for a few hours each day, not even bikes are permitted – bliss! A river flows next to the town with an old Japanese bridge connecting the two sides of town.

There’s lots of shops and restaurants and we both made a couple of purchases. I bought a beautiful pashmina scarf and we both got our first ‘traveller bracelet’. We just need a tan now and we will be looking like proper backpackers!

A Hoi An speciality is spring rolls and Stu and I could not get enough of them! You can tell fresh ingredients were used in all the food we ate here and the ingredients are sourced from a market in the town. We’re loving Vietnamese food and are becoming pros at using chopsticks!

I’ve really enjoyed my time in Hoi An, next stop is Saigon!

20140222-173048.jpg

20140222-173100.jpg

20140222-173115.jpg

Asia, Travel, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

February 21, 2014

Staying at Little Hanoi Hostel.

Welcome to crazy town! This is my first experience of Vietnam and what an experience… Hanoi is filled with people on motorbikes and scooters driving around beeping at each other and you just have to keep out of their way or lose a few toes. In fairness we did grow in confidence after a day or so but it goes against everything I’ve been taught to cross a road that busy!

Once you get past the crazy drivers you can start to enjoy Hanoi. We stayed in the Old Quarter of town which is filled with local restaurants and shops to enjoy. There’s plenty of parks and lakes just outside of the Old Quarter which we enjoyed even though the weather wasn’t great (I didn’t expect to wear my coat so soon!). We did see the strangest sights in one of parks… SEVEN WEDDINGS. Seven. Seven weddings?! All at different stages and having lots of pictures taken. We were literally speechless at first and then couldn’t stop laughing, especially as the couples all looked so miserable.

The food in Hanoi was good. Two places we recommend are New Day Restaurant on May Mai street and the City View restaurant which, you guessed it, gives great views of the city.

We used our time in Hanoi to plan the rest of the trip in Vietnam. As the weather is poor we have decided to give Halong Bay a miss and head to Hoi An next and then to Saigon.

20140221-225223.jpg

20140221-225250.jpg

Asia, Malaysia, Travel

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

February 17, 2014

Staying at The Travel Hub.

And so the trip begins! After months of saving and waiting in anticipation, we said our emotional goodbyes at Heathrow and set off to travel the world. Our first stop is KL and we are staying next to Chinatown. We found the hostel on www.hostelbookers.com and chose the ‘deluxe double room’ (a double bed in a room haha).

KL is amazing! You’ve got the luxury surrounding the Petronas Towers with beautiful gardens and up market shopping malls and then the madness of Chinatown just a short train journey away. Chinatown was filled with market stalls selling everything you could ever need at really cheap prices. Think Khao San Road but bigger.

Getting around KL was easy, the train system was easy to understand and works like the London Underground. You buy a token from a machine at your start station which you scan to get on to the platform and then the barrier swallows the token when you leave the station. We were pros after a day!

We fell in love with the towers and saw them at night all lit up and then went to the top of them in the day. This costs 80RM each which is about £14. It’s definitely worth doing as you can see for miles and KL is surrounded by beautiful scenery.

There’s lots of good places to eat in KL so we had a mixture of Malyasian and more Western food. We’ll be back here at the end of March to catch our flight to Australia but after a 3 night stay it is time to head to Vietnam.

20140217-222849.jpg

20140217-222903.jpg

20140217-222920.jpg

20140217-222942.jpg