30/12/2016

Top 10 Travel Highlights of 2016


                                                                        14 countries, 14 flights, 17 trains, 10 buses, 6,453 photos and 250 go pro videos. That's my 2016 in numbers.

Looking back 2016 has been my best travel year to date. I was incredibly lucky to travel to so many beautiful countries. Out of the 14 countries I visited 13 were ones that I had never been to before! When I started planning this post and thinking about my favourite travel moments I realised just how lucky I've been this year. At the beginning of 2016 I had no travel plans at all but managed to see so much!  I've decided to put together a travel highlights post of the top ten travel experiences I had in 2016.

1. Having a girls get away in Barcelona


My first trip of 2016 was in April when I headed off for four days to escape revision for final year exams. This was my only holiday trip of 2016 (the rest were backpacking) so it was nice to pack a suitcase full of nice clothes and plan my evening outfits rather than pack everything into a rucksack. We went at the beginning of April. We were supposed to go the last week of March but then there were air strikes and our flights got cancelled so we had to re book after a lot of stress (thanks for letting us find out ourselves Ryanair; a text would have been nice). The weather was surprisingly warm and I  hadn't expected this so hadn't packed quite right! We didn't quite see everything, partly because we spent most of our last day in bed recovering from our night out but we managed to see enough of the city (and the nightlife!). My favourite place was Parc Guell, I loved all the tiles that decorated the area.

Park Guell, Barcelona





                                   2. Relaxing in Mexico


I'd always thought of Mexico as an All Inclusive holiday destination or where Americans headed for Spring break. But I was wrong, there is so much more to Mexico that Cancun. I saw some amazing towns and ruins on my two week adventure around Mexico. We didn't see quite as much as we had hoped partly due to not being able to travel to some of the places (more on that in another post) but what I did see completely changed my thoughts about Mexico being just a holiday destination.  That being said, although it was a backpacking trip, it was a very relaxed one. We went to lots of beaches including Tulum which was absolutely stunning. We also spent a couple of days at a spa hotel reading by the pool. I've never had a beach holiday so spending time relaxing between towns was a great way to celebrate the end of university. 

Tulum Beach, Mexico



                                       3. Hiring a golf cart for the day in Isla Mujeres 


As much as I enjoyed all the relaxing in Mexico some days I needed a bit more than just sitting on the beach or in a cute restaurant. When we arrived in Isla Mujeres we saw that you could hire out a golf cart so that's what we did! It was great, I only drove it for a bit as I didn't have my glasses with me and didn't want to risk crashing into anything! I'm not actually that blind but you never know. The island is relatively small so we managed to drive around it and stop off at various destinations. It was also great as we could pop back to our accommodation if needed.

Golf buggy, Isla Mujeres

                                         4. Visiting the Taj Mahal


I wrote a whole blog post dedicated to my visit to the Taj Mahal so won't go into much detail here but it was one of the highlights of my trip to India. The building is stunning and being able to see it in person and explore the grounds was an amazing opportunity.

Taj Mahal at sunrise



                                  5. Spending two days on a house boat in Kerala, India 


Another highlight from my trip to India. This was on the top of my list when I was making my itinerary for India. It was lovely to relax on a boat for two days. There was no internet which made it even more relaxing and I managed to get through two books. The food was also great, we had our own chef who prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was so much food!


Kerala house boat

Alleppey India





 

                          6. Walking up Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka 


I very nearly didn't do this. I woke up at 5am on the morning and decided that I'd rather not pay to walk up a massive rock when I'm terrified of heights. I then got up and decided that I couldn't just not go and try. I should at least go and see whether I could walk up. So that's what I did. And guess what? It wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined. I mean I did nearly break down in tears when I had to walk up some scary stairs to realise that the area they led to was optional and didn't get me any nearer to the top. But other than that it was ok. I was very relieved to get to the top and enjoy the views and I'm glad I pushed myself to do it.


Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka


                                                                7. Exploring Hallstatt, Austria


I wrote a whole blog post on why I loved Hallstatt so much so it's no surprise that it's one of my top 10 highlights. It's just so pretty!

Hallstatt, Austria


                                    8. Going on a frontline tour in Sarajevo


When we visited Sarajevo my friend Sophie talked me into staying at the war hostel. This hostel supposedly allows you to stay in the conditions you would have had to live in during the Bosnian war. It's obviously no where near what it would actually have been like but the beds are just mattresses on the floor and the rooms are full of posters and newspaper stories regarding the war. The person who runs it refers to himself as zero one, his family survived the war so he decided to set up the war hostel to educate others about it. As part of your experience there are tours you can go on. We chose to do two of them, the frontline one and the scars of Sarajevo. Both were very much worth the money. For both tours Sophie and I were the only ones on the tour so we were able to ask as many questions as we wanted and learnt so much. The frontline tour was very eye opening. There is still a lot of evidence of the war around Sarajevo including bunkers and there are still many land mines around.

9. Visiting Poland


Poland was the last country I visited during my Interrail trip around Europe. I wasn't completely sure what to expect but I really enjoyed the parts of Poland I visited. I also got the opportunity to visit Auschswitz, while I wouldn't describe this as an enjoyable experience I'm happy that I got the opportunity to visit. It was definitely eye opening. The Uprising Museum in Warsaw also taught me a lot about the second world war and Poland. There was so much I didn't know about.

Krakow main square


                                  10. Taking an overnight train from Goa to Kochi


When we booked our overnight train I did not, for a moment, think that it would be an enjoyable experience and I certainly didn't expect to be writing about it in a travel highlights post. This was my first overnight train experience. I'd been on an overnight bus in Myanmar (that most definitely was NOT a travel highlight) but trains were new to me. We were in third class meaning there were three levels of beds rather than two.  I had the bottom bunk. There were no curtains but I made one with one of the blankets I was given. As soon as I made my makeshift curtain I was able to relax. I really hate the idea of people watching me sleep and being on the bottom bunk meant that every time someone walked passed they stared at me. The fact that I'm the palest person in the world and female probably didn't help. The beds were surprisingly comfy, I had plenty of snacks and when the sun rose there was a great view! It definitely made me more up for doing other overnight journeys.

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I really enjoyed writing this post, looking back at 2016 has made me realise that it wasn't actually that bad from a personal perspective. What were your travel highlights in 2016?

Sophie

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20/12/2016

8 things I can't travel without






















 1. A pen


This is an incredibly boring choice but also an incredibly useful one. It's surprising the amount of people who ask to borrow my pen at the airport. There are only a few pens (if any) near the custom forms so having your own saves waiting around to use one. Although, you will end up waiting around, regardless, for the people you lent your pen too! A pen is also handy for filling in your travel journal.


2. My scarf


I always travel with a scarf I bought in Indonesia. It's lightweight so can be stored easily but also big enough to use as a blanket (it's great for an extra blanket on planes). I normally use it on train or bus journeys especially when the air con (if there is any!) gets a bit too chilly. 

I not only use my scarf as a blanket but as a cover up for when I visit temples. It can be made into a makeshift sarong if my knees need covering or to cover my shoulders. I get very hot so being able to wear a vest top and then the scarf over my shoulders helps me stay a bit cooler in places where I must cover up. 

3. My travel pillow!


My travel pillow is bright with fluffy ends. People do stare when I rock up with it ready for an 8 hour bus journey or when it's just chilling on my backpack. While it's very bright and a bit ugly it's saved me from many uncomfortable journeys.

Most people have the neck travel pillows but squishy (as I like to call it) is bigger and more like an actual pillow. This means it's not the most travel friendly but it's small enough to attach to my backpack. Like I said it's main use is for journeys from one destination to another or as an extra pillow on flights. Because, let's be honest the pillows you get on most flights are pretty rubbish. It's also great to have a pillow for when the hostel ones as too flat or rock hard.

4. A portable charger


I honestly don't know how I managed without one of these for so long. They are so useful! Especially when you only have one plug socket in your hostel room and three devices to charge. Mine is pretty bulky but lasts ages before it has to be charged itself. You can get slimmer ones that are the same capacity. If you don't already have one then go and get one! It's a life saver! It's also great for festivals or day trips or when you need to leave the house but your phone's not charged.

5. A reusable bag


I had to buy a shopper bag whilst in Sri Lanka and have no idea why I'd never packed one before. It can be used to keep things separate in your main backpack, used as a beach/day bag or used as extra storage when travelling to your next destination. I ended up using mine to carry around all the clothes I bought at a market in Kandy, Sri Lanka. In all honest,  I shouldn't have bought so many clothes but it was one of those think about the consequences later moments. The consequence being me having g
to carry an extra bag for the rest of the trip! We ended up asking my friends boyfriend to bring a holdall over with him so we could put them all in there. Lesson learnt. Don't over buy when travelling. But who can say no to a 20p top?!

The bag also saved me in my interrail trip where I fell in love with a pair of boots and had no room in my rucksack for them. Obviously, I hadn't learnt my lesson. They did come in extra handy though when the weather started to get colder!

The best thing is it folds up really small for the rare times you don't need to use it to carry your excess baggage!

6. My camera


I guess this one might seem obvious but on my first backpacking trip I only took my phone. I then invested in a smaller, more travel friendly camera. The blogger favourite: Olympus pen. I've never looked back. I bought the 42mm - 150mm lens to go with it. It's rather hefty but great for snapping detailed pictures. It was also great when I went on safari in Sri Lanka, we were lucky enough to see not just one leopard but two adults and a baby! Our driver loved my camera and lens and managed to get me some very good shots!


7. My travel towel


Since taking a travel towel with me on my travels I wonder how I managed with a normal towel. They save so much space. I'm surprised I managed to fit anything else in my rucksack when I took a normal towel. Ok, that's an exaggeration but honestly they save so much room. Did I mention how much room travel towels save? Yep I did. Although, maybe get an extra large one because the one I have is a *tad* short. This is fine until I have to do a dash from the bathroom to bedroom in a hostel. Let's just say if anyone was sitting down when I did my dash they'd see a lot more than I wanted them to.

8. Flip flops 


These are obviously great for the beach but I use them for day to day exploring and walking around hostels/ hotels. Just make sure you take comfy ones, especially if you're going to wear them all day. I tend not to wear them for outings anymore as I invested in some Teva sandals which I lived in whilst in India and Sri Lanka. I still take flip flops for hostels though. I'm not one of these people who is particularly fussy about gross bathrooms but sometimes flips flops are necessary for a toilet/ shower trip in a hostel. Especially in the middle of the night!

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After looking over my 8 choices I realise they're all pretty boring but I honestly wouldn't travel without any of these things. I guess it's better to be boring and realistic. You've probably got/ travel with all of these things already but if there's any missing from your own packing list then head out and get them. Or whip out your laptop and place an order because it's rather cold outside and shops are a *tad* busier than usual with it being Christmas on Sunday. What are your travel essentials? Let me know in the comments.

Sophie


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12/12/2016

10 things to do in Prague

10 things to do in Prague



                                                             Prague was one of my favourite places that I visited on my Interrail trip. I loved the buildings and the food and well, pretty much everything! I thought I'd put together a post with ten things you should not miss if you take a trip to Prague.

We spent four days there and still didn't quite manage to see everything. This was probably because we were super lazy and didn't make the most of our days. So if you do get up early and make the most of your time then you'll definitely be able to fit all the main sights into your trip. The ten things I've chosen for this post are all things I did myself so I could give you my own perspective and recommend them personally! So without further ado here are my 10 things to do in Prague:

1. Eat the local grub 


Food is important for any trip which is why it's at the top of my list! There's plenty to try in Prague but if you try one thing you HAVE to try a doughnut ice cream. These are AMAZING! They taste like Disney land and Christmas. Ok, they actually taste of sugar and cinnamon but to me these taste like Disneyland and Christmas. It's pretty easy to find these doughnuts around the main square; they're usually sold in small stalls on the street. I preferred having it with just Nutella rather than ice cream but try both.

The savoury food is pretty good too although I must say we didn't eat that much traditional food, we ended up having Indian, Thai and Italian food during the three days. This wasn't because the traditional food wasn't good but because it was quite similar to the food we'd been eating in the other countries we visited. There's only so many schnitzels a girl can eat. Especially when they're the size of your head! The schnitzels are great though and the pork knuckles. It's all pretty meaty so I can't really recommend any veggie options apart from the potato salad!

Ice cream doughnut Prague








2. Visit the dancing house 


This is something I found whilst searching for Prague on Instagram. It's basically just a building that looks quite funky. There's a hotel and gallery, as well as a rooftop bar and lookout. It's worth a trip if you have more than two days to explore the city.
The buildings full name is actually Fred and Ginger Dancing House. Referring to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers who are famous dancers (who I had never heard of until I googled why it was called Fred and Ginger!). Apparently the building is meant to resemble two dancers. 

We went straight up to the bar, where you're not allowed out onto the view point until you've bought a drink. I think this is pretty fair, they need to make money somehow! We wanted a coffee anyway so each had one then went out into the cold to snap some pics.

Dancing House Prague




























          3. Explore the main square

 

This was my favourite square of my Interrail trip. It was so pretty! I'm not normally one to be blown away by somewhere but walking into the square definitely made me go 'Oh wow'. We visited just as it was starting to get darker so the sky was slightly orange. My favourite building was the Church of Our Lady before Tyn which is shown in the photo below.


Church of Our Lady before Tyn Prague










Prague Town Square





                               4. Pop some bubbles

 

On our way to the main square we found a man with a giant bubble machine. There were lots of kids running around popping the bubbles and then there was us, four girls also running around popping bubbles. It was so fun, and a great opportunity for some photos. 

Bubbles in Prague











                    5. Visit the John Lennon wall


I don't think any visit to Prague is complete without visiting the John Lennon wall. It took us a while to find (so google map it!) but it was worth the wandering. We went quite late in the day which I think was good as we missed the main crowds. There were still quite a lot of people but it was quiet enough to be able to get all the pictures we wanted without waiting around. Just make sure you go there while there's still enough light!  I also love how the wall is constantly changing with new graffiti. If I ever go back it will be completely different!

John Lennon Wall Prague






                             6. Meet the swans 


On the other side of Charles Bridge (the side the castle is on) you'll find lots of swans. When we visited we also found a women having a photo shoot in a very extravagant (and beautiful) dress. It's nice and peaceful on the waters edge and also perfect for pictures.

Swans and Charles Bridge Prague















            7. Party in the biggest club in Central Europe

 

I know 22 is not old but when you're in this club being 22 feels like your 50 and doing mum dancing. People here are young. I don't mean 18 or 19 I mean 16. We went for my birthday night out and while I felt like a grandma it was still fun. There's five floors with different music, although, near the end of the night they all started playing the same sort of music. Also the R n B room isn't R n B it's old chart hits. My friend who was looking forward to this room the most was very disappointed! My favourite room was the cheese room which had a multi coloured dance floor and by the end of the night was completely empty so we had it to ourselves!

If you fancy a very random night out with lots of local students then this is the place to go. Or if you just want to experience walking up five fligths of stairs and feeling very lost and old then you should also make time to visit! I don't have any pictures from the club because, well, we were too busy having fun. The pictures I have are pretty bad and the internet does not need to see me doing some awful dance moves, that should be kept in my private collection!

8. Visit the Jewish Quarter 


Again I'm afraid I don't have any photos. This is partly because there were areas where photos weren't allowed and also places I didn't feel photos were appropriate such as the cemetery. Plus it was very cold and wet and we were in a hurry to visit as much as possible before everything shut.

The Jewish Quarter is located between Old Town and the Vltava river. We bought our tickets from the ticket office outside the cemetery. Make sure you bring your student card if you have one! I forgot mine (after having it in my bag every other day!) and it cost me €3 more than my friends. It's definitely worth a visit as it provides a lot of insight into the treatment of Jews in Prague during the second world war.

The synagogues included in your ticket are fairly spread out so make sure you allow plenty of time to see everything and don't go an hour before everything closes like we did!

9. Visit the castle 


St. Vitus Cathedral Prague
To get to the castle you have to walk up quite a few stairs but it only takes about ten minutes and isn't too tiresome. The walk up is definitely worth it. The views of Prague are great. I didn't think the castle itself was that amazing but in the courtyard is the St. Vitus Cathedral which is stunning. To get the best pictures of it you have to lie on the floor so you can fit it all in. There's plenty of other people doing this so you don't really stand out very much.

View of Prague from Prague Castle






                             10. Take a stroll over Charles Bridge


Charles Bridge connects the two sides of the river. We only walked over it twice but it's a must see (or must walk!). There's some fab pictures of Charles Bridge at sunrise on Instagram but I didn't fancy getting up at 5am. Instead we walked over as the sun was setting and just enjoyed taking in the views of the river.

Walking over Charles Bridge
























         
                                                            _________________

I hope my choices for ten things to do in Prague are useful for anyone planning a trip. There's so much to do in Prague so choosing just ten things was hard! Let me know if you've visited Prague and what your favourite thing to do was.

Sophie


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09/12/2016

2017 Travel Plans

2017 travel plans
















          2016 was a great year for travel and I'm hoping 2017 will be just as good, if not better! At the moment I don't have anything booked for 2017 but I have lots and lots of plans that I thought I would share with you in this post today!

Teach English in Vietnam


This is something I featured in my 25 before 25 post. I'm currently undertaking the TEFL online teaching course which will hopefully help me find a teaching job in Vietnam. It's surprising how many things I've forgotten since school so the course is very useful. 

I have no idea when I'll be going to Vietnam but I'm planning on staying there for at least two months to be able to settle in properly and enjoy the teaching and living in another country.


Travel around South East Asia 


This will either be before, after or in between the teaching. As you can see, again, my plans are very loose! I've started to look at itineraries and blog posts about different destinations. Thailand and Cambodia are definite. I also really want to visit Laos and the Philippines. This will be a long term trip which is scary and exciting. The longest I've ever travelled for is six weeks but this will, realistically, be at least six months; especially with the teaching.

Visit Dublin for St. Patricks day 


Whatever happens I won't be leaving for Asia until at least the end of March because I need to actually plan the trip and earn a bit more money to put towards it! I've always wanted to go to Dublin, especially on St. Patricks day and hopefully in 2017 I can tick this off. My friend and I have been discussing it so it's just a matter of booking it up.

Visit Berlin 


This would happen early 2017, again, before I jet off anywhere tropical. This one may not happen as there is quite a lot of other things to save and plan for but if I can fit in a weekend to Berlin it will be great. I really wanted to visit during my Interrail trip but we decided to prioritise more unusual places such as Hallstatt which I'm really glad we did but Berlin is still very high on my bucket list! 

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As you can see I have some pretty big plans for 2017. I hope I'll be able to fulfil all of thees plans. Do you have any travel plans for 2017? Let me know in the comments? 

Sophie 

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07/12/2016

25 before 25


25 before 25











Yep, that's right this post is a 25 before 25. The very fact that I'm writing such a post makes me feel old. Not that twenty five is old but the fact I'm even thinking about turning twenty five makes me feel old . I feel old being twenty two. I think it's also to do with the fact that I've just graduated university and am officially adulting. Which I am totally not ready to do. Who knows if I'll ever be ready.

Seeing as I am the ripe old age of twenty two I thought it would be the perfect time to put this post together. That way I have three years to actually do the things on the list. I wanted to make my list as realistic as possible but still as exciting as possible. So after great thought here's the twenty five things I decided upon.

1. Teach English abroad

This is something I'll hopefully be doing in 2017. I've just started my online TEFL teaching course and am hoping to go to Vietnam for six months or so to teach.

2. Travel to 30 countries

I was going to make this 25 countries seeing as it's 25 before 25. My current country count is 22 so I didn't think 25 would be that much of a challenge so have changed it to 30 instead to make sure I travel as much as possible in the next three years!

3. Get a job

Over the next three years I want (NEED) to figure out what I actually want to do. At the moment I'm looking into marketing roles. After my gap year of travelling I really need to sit down and start working towards a career. The perfect scenario will be that by the time I turn 25 I'm working in the sector I want a career in. Bonus points if I actually like it.

4. Move out

This is something I wish I could do at the moment but it's just not the right time. Part of getting a proper job will be moving away. I live in a small town and don't really want to spend my life here. I'd love to move to a city and enjoy the city life that I loved at university.

5. Become a confident driver

I haven't driven since I started university. I was always a nervous driver but by the time I left for university I felt much more confident. Having not driven in so long I'm almost starting again so I'd love to start driving again and actually enjoy it rather than stressing out every time I have to drive somewhere!

6. Go to Dublin for St. Patricks day

This has been on my travel bucket list for a very long time. Hopefully (fingers crossed) it will get ticked off in 2017.

7. See the Northern Lights

I've always wanted to stay in an igloo and watch the Northern Lights. They look sooo amazing!

8. Still be blogging!

I've had quite an on/off relationship with blogging over the years. Hopefully, now I'm blogging about what I truly love I'll still be at it in three years time. Who knows what the blog will look like then! Or what opportunities I may get in the next three years! It's quite exciting to think about.

9. Read 50 books

This is something I have on my 101 in 1001 days list but that finishes in April so I thought I may as well add it onto this list and read another 50 books!

10. Travel solo

The most solo travelling I've done is spending the day alone in Warsaw because my flight was at 10pm whilst my friends flight was at 11 am. It wasn't as bad as I imagined but I still felt pretty lonely and that was just a day! But I need to push myself outside of my comfort zone, plus solo travelling will mean I don't have to wait until my friends are around to come with me. I can just go whenever I want!

11. Become a morning person

Mmmm. Not sure this will ever happen but I can be hopeful. Maybe in the next three years things will change. Maybe I'll love getting up early.

12. Get fit and look after my body

I am incredibly lazy when it comes to exercise but I need to start looking after my body. This means less eating rubbish and more taking care of my body. This isn't just to lose weight but to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

13. Go for a bra fitting

Yep, I've never had a bra fitting and I probably (definitely) should. I don't even know if the bras I'm currently wearing even fit properly so over the next five years (preferably sooner rather than later) I should find out whether I'm even wearing the right size.

14. Find 'my' drink

You know some people know exactly what drink they want? I want to be that person. I want to go into a bar and know that I'm going to have my favourite drink which doesn't give me a killer hangover the next day and that I enjoy no matter what.

15. Be able to run for more than 10 seconds

This may sound like an exaggeration but it's not. OK maybe it is. I can run for 20 seconds without keeling over and dying. Hopefully this will change. I'm yet to start the 30 day shred I wrote about in my November goals but maybe I'll succeed in the next month (year) or so.

16. Go to Australia to visit my friend Lili

I met Lili whilst travelling around Europe and we clicked straight away. Which was great. Except she lives in Western Australia. So basically on the other side of the world. She's been in London for a couple of months so I went down to see her and promised I'd visit her in Australia. And I really want to keep this promise. Because then I get to see Lili and visit Australia! I'm hoping I can take a trip to Australia as part of my long term travel next year but if not I want to get to Australia before I'm 25.

17. Go camping 

Technically I've been camping at a music festival but I want to go camping where I wake up and go for nice country walks rather than wake up and discover that someone has peed up my tent.

18. Learn to play chess

I started to learn chess in India when we bought a mini chess set to keep us occupied. However, turns out we were playing it wrong even though we were following instructions! So I need to start over. I've found a chess set at home so hopefully my dad can teach me at some point.

19. Get a tattoo

I've been debating whether to get a tattoo for about four years now. I nearly got one whilst I was travelling Europe but I left it too late and wasn't quite ready. I think I know what I want so I just to pluck up the courage to actually get it!

20. Go on a girls holiday 

I've always travelled with my friends but usually only in a pair and even when we were a group it was still backpacking. I'd love to go on a holiday, where I pack a suitcase full of really nice clothes. An outfit for each evening! And drink cocktails around the pool. A girl can dream!

21. Worry less

I worry about everything. I over think everything. If I have to walk to the post office I worry about how long it will take, who I'll bump into, what I'll say when I actually get there. I need to learn to worry less and be more relaxed in situations. This is something that will take time. I'm definitely better than I was before I went to university so hopefully over the next five years I'll improve even more.

22. Take more photos of myself

This one sounds really vain but I actually never take pictures of myself. I only ever take selfies with someone else. I've only just started getting more pictures of myself travelling. I normally snap pictures of others or scenery and spend less time trying to get one of myself. I want to change this because, as my friend says,  I'm at my prime age and should be making the most of it. We're at the perfect age (apparently) so I should be documenting this otherwise all I'll have to look back on when I'm older is lovely pictures of others and none of myself!

23. Make the most of every opportunity 

I feel like I've done quite well with this so far but there's still room for improvement. As mentioned in 21 I worry a lot which sometimes stops me from doing things and this sometimes means I miss out on really good opportunities.

24. Still be in touch with school and university friends 

This doesn't necessarily mean I still want to be in touch with everyone, people do grow apart but I want to still be in touch with the friends that matter. The ones where it doesn't matter how long we've been apart, we still talk like we live with each other everyday. The ones who want to make the effect.

25. Wear what I want

I'm constantly seeing clothes that I love but then thinking 'I can't wear that'. Sometimes because I don't think I'm cool enough to pull it off, sometimes because I don't think it will suit me. But you know what, who cares? Why should I worry bout whether I'm cool enough, if I like something I should rock it anyway!

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So there's my 25 before 25. Hopefully I'll be able to achieve all of these over the next three years or so. I may do update posts whenever I tick one off. Do you have a 25 before 25 list? If you do then leave your link as I'd love to read them!

Sophie 

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05/12/2016

December Goals 2016



















  Can you believe it's already December? DECEMBER. This year has gone so quickly. I know it seems that every year people say this but for me 2016 was quick. This is probably because this year I graduated from university so the year was a kind of countdown to the end. And when you don't want something to end it usually goes extra quick. Why can't the hours at work go this quick?!

So like in November I've decided to set myself some goals for the next month to help keep me motivated and productive.

1. Get to 400 twitter followers

2. Reach 200 followers on Bloglovin

3. Learn how to use the till at work

The first two goals need little explanation. This third goal is something I've been trying to get the hang of. I've only had two shifts so far so am still learning everything but the main thing I want to master is the till. It's quite an old fashioned till so really isn't that complicated but I always seem to forget to press one of the buttons because I'm too focused on the customer and taking down the correct order. It doesn't help that I get extremely nervous serving people so I become a bit stupid and do things wrong. Hopefully, the more I practise the better I'll get!

4. Exercise!

In my November Goals I set myself the goal of beginning the 30 day shred. That never happened. So this month I've decided to be less specific and just have the goal of doing exercise (preferably everyday) whether that's a small workout or my walk home from work. 

5. Finish my interrail journal


When I go travelling I usually do a scrapbook about my trip when I return home. However, on my interrail trip I decided I'd journal as I went. This started well and I managed to document a lot of my journey but then I kind of ran out of time. Well rather I chose to do other things when I could be doing my journal. Mostly I chose sleeping. 

Now I'm left with a half finished journal. I really need to finish it by the new year so I don't forget what happened on the trip.  It would be great to look back in a couple of years at a finished journal and not one with random blank pages. 

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As usual I'll let you know whether these goal are achieved in a post later on in the month. Seeing as it's December I'm also planning on doing a few reflective posts about the year as a whole. I'm thinking I might do a general one and then a travel one. 

Do you have any goal for December? 

Sophie

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02/12/2016

24 hours in Bratislava





                            I visited Bratislava in September as part of my interrailing trip. It wasn't originally part of the route, however, one of my university friends suggested we add it in. And that's exactly what we did. The initial plan was to go from Vienna to Budapest and then on to Bratislava but we swapped Budapest and Bratislava around so that we could go to Sparty (the thermal bath party in Budapest). This made our train journeys a little longer but didn't have much of an impact overall. 

Another reason why we added Bratislava to our route was that we had a bit too much time in the places we were already going. We were already scheduled to have four nights in both Budapest and Prague and an extra day in either seemed a bit too long. Bratislava seemed like the perfect add in, it didn't stray from our route very much and could be done with only one night there. This post will show you what I got up to in Bratislava and what you should do if you ever visit.

Arriving in Bratislava


We arrived in Bratislava (by train) at around 6pm. The information desk was closed but thankfully the hostel we were staying at had a poster up in the train station with directions (we had forgotten to research directions whilst we still had internet!). We then got a tram to our hostel. One thing I find odd is that quite a few countries in Europe work out the ticket price for the bus, metro and tram by time. For example, we paid €0.70 for up to a 30 minute journey. It's pretty easy to buy these tickets form machines at the tram station. To get to this from the train station you have to rear left as you exit and walk down some stairs. We didn't do this and headed straight towards the buses so had to turn back on ourselves. This sounds easy enough but when you are exhausted and have a massive backpack on any extra walking is like running a marathon. Or maybe I'm just really unfit. 

When you get on the tram you have to verify your ticket or it's not valid. This means that if your ticket is not validated then you might as well not have a ticket at all.  In all honesty I ended up not validating my tickets in a couple of places (mostly Prague), I just forgot I had to do it! 

We stayed in the Blues Hostel in a three bed private room. It was in a fairly central location; it wasn't in the Old Town but was only a ten minute walk away.  The room and hostel were fairly basic but if your looking for a reasonably priced place to stay then I'd recommend it.

The next day we checked out at 10am and headed off to explore. We had considered doing  the free walking tour at 11 but decided we'd rather do it ourselves, partly so we could go at our own pace and partly so we could fit in a relaxed brunch before any sight seeing happened!


What to do in Bratislava


The blue church

Blue Castle Bratislava

                                       This was the first stop on our self guided tour of Bratislava. It's not in the main part of the city but rather around a ten minute walk from the Old Town area. It's well worth a visit. We only saw the outside as we weren't sure if we were allowed in or if it was even open. It's also incredibly hard to get a good picture of the church, there was just not enough space for a good full length pic hence why there isn't one in this blogpost. But at least I have my memories of the blue church! 

Old Town 


Bratislava was one of the places I visited where I was pleasantly surprised. Because it had been added onto our route I hadn't done very much research at all. I had not particularly stalked the location on Instagram so had no idea how pretty Bratislava was. It wasn't until we got into the main area (and of course visited the blue church) that I really started to appreciate how nice it was. 

Old Town Bratislava






St Michael's Gate Bratislava
                                          The old town is full of shops and cafes and of course lots of nice buildings to looks at. The map we were using had a little picture of each of the key buildings so we walked around ticking these off. The one in the picture above is Michael's Gate.


Graffiti  in Bratislava


 On the edge of the Old Town you'll find quite a lot of graffiti. This is great for pictures and having a break from all the buildings! 


Man at Work      


No trip to Bratislava is complete without a picture of the 'Man at Work'. You'll find him in the Old Town area but in all honesty I can't tell you exactly where (bad blogger I know) because we stumbled upon him. We were trying to find a souvenir shop so I could get a postcard when we saw a small crowd of people. Of course we headed over to see what the crowd of people were looking at and there he was! 

man at work Bratislava
                          

                                                Bratislava Castle                                                                                   


We ended up walking up to the castle a really long way so I'd recommend having a screen shot of a route there rather than using the map you get from your hostel which is not quite to scale. We didn't pay to go into the castle itself but we walked around the grounds.

Bratislava castle








Looking out at Bratislava old town from the castle


Orange roofs Bratislava


                                     Because it was such a nice day we stayed around the castle for quite a while and sat on the wall that looked over the city listening to Frank Ocean and just enjoying the view and sunshine. The castle has some lovely gardens (shown in the picture below). I loved all the white statues and floor, partly because it was so Instagrammable! Yep, typical blogger right there. 

Bratislava Castle gardens

Where to eat


On our first (and only) evening we didn't do anything apart from go for dinner. We ate at Bratislavský Meštiansky Pivovar. Yep I have no idea how to say it either! The food was very good and the portions were massive! After being in Austria, which we all thought was pretty pricey, it was great to get such good portions for a good price! My dinner cost me just over €7 but considering the portion this was a bargain! The restaurant was also a brewery so we ordered a beer to share. The beer was €2.10 which is also very reasonable. I'm afraid I didn't get any pictures of the food here, I was way too hungry for the blogger in me to function. 

The next morning we found a really cute cafe which was perfect for brunch. It was very reasonably priced. It was named Mondieu and turned out to be a cafe chain as we spotted a couple more on our explore. 

They had so many chocolate themed drinks including actual chocolate shots with strawberries and chocolate coffee. I had the chocolate caffe latte macchiato (that's a bit of a tongue twister!) and it was extremely yummy. 

Mondieu Cafe Bratislava



















Chocolate coffee Bratislava

Chocolate shot in Bratislava







The cost of the menu ranged from €2 for a croissant to €6 for a bigger breakfast. Nothing on the breakfast menu was over €6 which I think is pretty decent. And bonus, the food was actually great; I had the egg and bacon toast (which totally had a fancier name but I didn't note it down). My friends Soph and Tilli had avocado toast which looked amazing; look how green the avocado is! They also offered salads and crepes. The salads were pricier but none were above €10. While it wasn't traditional food or a particularly cultural experience I would still very much recommend stopping off at a Mondieu cafe even if it's just to have a coffee (or chocolate shot). 

Brunching in Bratislava

Food in Bratislava


We also ate at a place called Lemon Tree Sky bar which, as the name suggests, is a rooftop bar. We initially planned on just going here for a cocktail and to enjoy the view but our visit coincided with dinner time (and we were all starving) so we decided to eat here as well. The food here is pretty pricey but I think this is to be expected due to the kind of place it is. Soph had Pad Thai around €9 while I had some chicken skewers (€7). It's not exactly great for those on a budget but we didn't mind spending a bit more to enjoy the view. 


View from Lemon Tree Sky bar Bratislava


                                      If you have more time or plan your day better than we did then I'd recommend coming here just for a drink as you can definitely get food that's just as good elsewhere for cheaper. It was great to come here in the day but I also think the view would be fantastic at sunset. 

The bar is only small so I imagine it can fill up very quickly. Luckily, we got a seat outside overlooking the castle but we went at around 3 p.m meaning it wasn't prime time. The cocktails weren't that cheap but I think this is to be expected. Mine was €7 which I'd say is the standard price in the UK. The cocktail I chose was a Lychee Vodka one and it was AMAZING! I wouldn't normally go for lychee but the waitress recommended it and I'm glad she did.

After our cocktails we wandered back through Old Town towards our hostel. After a quick rest at our hostel we made our way back to the train station; this time we knew exactly how to get there! We did nearly miss the tram there though because we had to buy tickets and the tram pulled up as we were doing so. Thankfully, there were lots of people wanting to get on so we hung back a little then managed to jump on and get still get a seat. We nearly decided to risk it and just jump on without a ticket but it's a good job we didn't as there was a man checking tickets. This was the first time I'd seen anyone check for tickets on the whole trip. We eventually got to the train station and headed off to our next destination, Budapest.

In conclusion 

  • Bratislava is well worth a visit even if it's just 24 hours like mine. Don't let lack of time put you off!
  • The Mondeui cafe's are great for brunch 
  • Don't forget to buy your tram tickets, they'll cost you €0.70 for up to a 30 minute journey and that's pretty much all you'll need
  • If you want somewhere to watch sunset head to the Lemon Tree Sky Bar
  • Everything is in walking distance 
  • Take advantage of the free walking tour, it will pretty much show you everything you need to see
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Have you visited Bratislava? What did you think of Slovakia's capital?

Sophie 

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