For some reason which I can no longer actually quite put my finger on, once upon a time I decided it would be a fantastic idea to head off to Greece, for a grand total of seventeen glorious days. I would be spending some time solo, some time cruising around with my good pal Rachel, and some time visiting another absolute legend- my other good pal Erin, who moved out there a while ago. Rachel and I had also been promised ‘THREE KEYS’ in Lefkada (one for a house, one for a boat and one for a car), several times, by a Greek chap we worked with; the elusive THREE KEYS never materialised but maybe that’s for the best. (In case you’re wondering, THREE KEYS has to be written in capitals because that’s exactly how he said it, with a good dose of spit thrown in for luck.) So here we go pals: after a failed attempt at sleeping in Gatwick airport (was awoken by sniffer dogs), and one night in an Athens hostel, resulting in oversleeping by two hours and almost missing my second flight, our story begins….on the tiny and very insta-famous island of Santorini. Continue reading
It was quite a surprise to be in Porto, I’ll tell you that for free. I was supposed to have left for home a few days earlier so when our ship docked at the port of Leixões, I made my way as early as possible to the closest tram station to enjoy a grand day out in a city I knew hardly anything about. When I say I knew hardly anything I mean: basically NOTHING AT ALL. I didn’t even know how to buy a tram ticket to be honest, so spent a good five minutes holding up the queue fumbling with all my change and trying to work out which ticket I needed (not even knowing the direction the city is in is, let’s face it, a poor start). But you guys, I only went and bloody made it there didn’t I!? And what a beautiful city it is, too. Located in Northern Portugal, Porto is Lisbon’s sleepier sister, still filled with nooks and crannies but with a slightly less urban feel. Despite my prior lack of knowledge about this beautiful city, I’m proud to say that with limited time I still managed to learn some stories and get a taste of what awesomeness Portugal’s second city has to offer. Continue reading
Silence is golden 💛
Whenever I tell people I’m off to Sweden (I have family there, so it’s a fairly regular occurrence), they often presume that means I’m off to the frozen wastelands of the far North. No, no, my friends! Contrary to popular belief, Sweden is not just about Ikea, Abba and snow. The cities are nice, but don’t shun the countryside, guys- look how amazing it is!!
After spending a few months travelling abroad, I realised I had explored more of there than I had my own metaphorical back garden; what’s the point of going to places so far away if I knew nothing about where Im from? Fast forward to last Summer and to help make up for that I was spending the day with my pals, exploring my hometown, TOURIST STYLE. Who says you need to cross half the world just to have an explore??
Between the ages of approximately eight and fourteen, I was regularly made the Official Chief Navigator in my Dad’s car. It was a job I took very seriously, because in those days my friends, GPS navigation was not a real thing; it was all about the A-Z Atlas. This was a job that involved real skill, not just the ability to talk to Siri.
I would look up our destination in the index, find it on the grid, pencil an ‘x’ (because we all know ‘x’ marks the spot), on our end goal and then attempt to determine a suitable route for our adventures. On quite a few of these adventures my dad would suddenly announce, ‘I don’t believe it…we’re lost!’ Turns out I might not have had such a strong hold on those real skills as I believed at the time.
But my point here is that all those times we got lost meant more fun, the discovery of new (way more scenic and pretty and interesting) routes, and set me up for life in the belief that getting lost- if you follow the Rules of Getting Lost- is always a good thing. Even if it feels like a bad thing at the time, you’ll probably learn something from it 😝
Brrrrr. You guys, I am full on freezing to the core. And also I have that thing called Reynaud’s, which is basically a fancy way of saying I get really cold hands; needless to say winter is not my friend and I doubt it ever will be. One thing I will say for sure though is…if you can block out the stabbing pain in your hands and feet whilst beholding it, West London in the winter is an extremely pretty experience.
Here, in no particular order, are my top places to have a little wander and attempt to brighten up your January days…
Marche is one of the least-visited regions in Italy. That’s not to say that nobody ever goes there, it’s just that people have far more pressing matters to be getting on with when venturing to Italy, like seeing Rome, or Pompeii, or Venice, or basically any of about twenty other must-see-before you die locations. It sits on the right hand side of the country, between the Adriatic Sea and the Appenine Mountains, and all I’m saying is it’s full on, big time, beautiful. I knew absolutely nothing about Marche whatsoever, until the actual day that I arrived there, but…it is incredible, and you should definitely go there, particularly if you like to explore locations that are a little less touristy.
Somehow, with no interview or even a whiff of a TEFL qualification on my CV, I had been offered a job teaching Drama in English to Italian kids, IN ITALY. I booked myself onto a flight to Bologna and only the night before leaving did I begin to panic that this whole thing was an extremely bizarre and elaborate prank. I mean, I’d never actually spoken to these people…they could actually be the Mafia for all I knew. AND WHY DIDN’T THEY CARE ABOUT SEEING A DBS CHECK?? After umming and ahing for some time I decided to board the plane on the off chance that it would be a worthwhile experience, and oh Lordy am I glad I did.
After two weeks of hard graft teaching kids in Marché, I decided the best thing to follow would be to stay in Italy a little longer and explore Venice before I set off home. The main objective for my time in the city (aside from having a bloody great time), was to spend as little money as possible. This is mainly because my two weeks teaching work- as amazing an experience as it was- paid absolute pittance, and I really didn’t want to end up leaving Italy with less money than I’d come out with. Know what I’m saying?
Many people had warned me of the extreme drain that Venice can be on one’s pocket- but I am a crafty old bean and in the words of Jessie J- ‘It’s not about the money, money, money.’ Nice one, Jessie. This is my life mantra, these days. Continue reading
I bloody love skyscanner, I do. After spontaneously clicking ‘purchase tickets’ whilst browsing flights to anywhere in the world one miserable Tonsilitis-ridden day, I was fully set up to travel solo to Nice for a few days of sunshine and good times. Granted, some people found my decision to go on holiday alone a little bizarre- some were
downright alarmed at the concept- but all I’m saying is, travelling solo can be a right laugh and is something I highly recommend to anyone who’s ever considered it. Continue reading