A kiwi in London's travels and adventures
We walked down to Kings Cross to have lunch at Granary Square. I haven’t been down there in around a year and so much has happened since then. More restaurants, easy access to Kings Cross and St Pancras stations and a really great atmosphere to boot. The whole Kings Cross area is having a major re development and if you haven’t seen it yet you must!
The following day it was on to Primrose Hill via Regents Canal in Camden which is one of my favourite walks which you can read about here. It was 99 cones all around from the ice cream truck man before trekking to the top for a sit down and a view over this great city of London.
Our final destination was Jamie’s Italian in Angel. We were all looking forward to this meal after a busy day of walking around London and it delivered. The actual restaurant was on trend in every possible way, the service was excellent and the food was to die for! I ate Jamie’s Must Try Gnudi which was delicious ricotta dumplings with sage, lemon and parmesan butter.
A wonderful weekend with family and there are plenty more London adventures with the family to come.
After she landed at Heathrow I cooked up a nice meal before she collapsed on the couch from jet lag, Tuesday we spent a fantastic afternoon and evening strolling around central London and basking in the British sunshine.
So many people I have met travelling have said ‘yeah Auckland is OK, not great’ I then ask if they got out of the city and 90% of the time it is a no. I come from the eastern suburb of Howick, it is on a peninsula which means one thing only…beaches and lots of them! There is Eastern Beach, Bucklands Beach, Howick Beach, Cockle Bay Beach…you get the drift. The western beaches of Piha, Muriwai and Bethels are also fantastic wild west beaches with black sand and plenty of surf. The beaches closer to town in Mission Bay and St Heliers are also gorgeous but a little over crowded on the weekends and even further afield but still only a 30 minute drive from East Auckland is Maraetai Beach.
|St Heliers Beach|
2. Waiheke Island
I have been going to Waiheke Island for as long as I can remember, it was our annual summer holiday and I have the fondest memories of my childhood there. Waiheke is known for its vineyards, beaches and now fancy houses. Having once been a hippy retreat from Auckland, more recently it has turned into the island of the ‘rich and famous in New Zealand’. There are too many beaches to choose from and now plenty of cafes, restaurants and wineries. The wine tasting is cheap and most vineyards have incredible pieces of land and there’s no many places in the world I’d rather be sipping a wine.
It is a short 45 minute ferry from Half Moon Bay on SeaLink (my Mum works there) if you are taking a car or a passenger ferry goes from town from Fullers.
3. Small population
Now when I lived in Auckland I used to think it was busy but after living in London I know realise this isn’t the case. For the most populated city in the country there is still plenty of green space, most people live in a house that is detached and pretty much everyone drives a car (except morning traffic it isn’t so bad). Auckland is a small place, you’re guaranteed to see some one you know at the supermarket or local pub.
4. Just beautiful
It really did take me to travel the world to realise how stunning Auckland actually is. It is surrounded by water and volcanoes. The views from many places in Auckland are breath-taking and are something that should never be taken for granted.
|Browns Island & Rangitoto|
|View from North Head – Devenport|
|View from Bastion Point – Mission Bay|
|View from Cable Bay Vineyard – Waiheke|
5. Friendly kiwis
Everyone is New Zealand is generally pretty friendly. From the border control at the airport to the owner of your local dairy. You can always count on a smile and a greeting and a bit of a chat. Kiwis sure know how to make people feel welcome! Even though Auckland is a big city and the rest of New Zealand likes to call us Aucklanders Jafas (Just another f***in’ Aucklander) we are all a good bunch!
There is so much to see and do in Auckland and for me it was the perfect place to grow up and I’m sure the perfect place to settle down in once I am done living in London.
In the meantime here are some photos of my trip from the beautiful country that I call home.
Go to the London dungeon
Have lunch somewhere in central London
But it went something more like this:
Go to London dungeon, see the queue, ask how long, decide that 2 hours is too long, walk away.
Walk over Westminster bridge and admire Big Ben (cue the selfies). Walk down Whitehall past Downing Street, past horse guards (cue awkward picture next to soldier and horse). Laugh a lot because the horse tried to get into Nikki’s bag. Walk through horse guards and down The Mall to Trafalgar Square, discuss whether or not we should climb on the lions. Decision made, although how is the next obstacle. Watch how others attempt, jump up onto lions, take photo, get told off, get down.
Go into the National Gallery to see Van Gogh’s two sunflower pictures, told that the wait is 45 minutes, decide against, peak through the door as they open it, tick done! Go through the maze that is the gallery to the 4th floor which is an incredible restaurant/bar overlooking London. Amazing views! £9 cocktails later and we were a little bit chirpier than before. Walk through Leicester Square, find movie theatre playing retro films, go inside and find times for The Breakfast Club and Labrinyth, take photos in China Town, walk through Soho searching for a bar with the name of a bird.
Now this is just one of those memorable days you’ll always remember with good friends and great memories. You have to love those random, crazy, totally unplanned days.
Maya Bay – Phi Phi Island, Thailand.
I know this beach is visited by millions of people a year and I know it is because of a fairly mediocre Danny Boyle film but I don’t care I just loved this place! I first went to Thailand in January 2007 and went on a day trip here on a long tail boat from Phi Phi. The water was like nothing I had seen before, it was the best snorkelling I had done so far and although it didn’t look exactly like the film it was still absolutely stunning. I visited it for a second time in August 2008 and again fell in love. So much so myself and friends booked to camp out at the beach for the evening. It was a great night with like minded people sharing travel stories and singing around the camp fire. Even the sparkly plankton from the film come alive at night when everyone got in the water. I also witnessed the most beautiful sunset I think I ever seen that evening, it was a very memorable place.
We have just booked the Eurostar over to Paris for myself and some girlfriends for my hen weekend (but mainly because I just want to go to Paris and Euro Disney). I can imagine the weekend will be filled with laughs, wine, good food, more wine and I’m sure we will create some great memories.
Here are my other posts about Paris:
I got to this exhibition on the very last day which was a shame because I didn’t get to have a proper look around as it was quite dark with lots of lights going on (there were musicians playing) and there were tables of people eating their Sunday roasts so it was a bit awkward getting past them whilst trying to enjoy the photographs but that was completely my fault for leaving it to the last minute. From what I did see I loved though.
Anyway, as a Warhol fan this was a must see but after seeing the film ‘Factory Girl’ when it came out it was hard not to fall in love with Edie (Warhols muse). She seemed to be a fascinating person so it was great to see some photos of her I hadn’t seen before.
Here are some of my favourites.
Images courtesy of: David McCabe
This has become an annual post on my blog. I started writing this blog in 2010 and each year have written about all the wonderful things I have done and all of the great places I have been.
So rounding up this years adventures it has got to be one of my favourite yet. So much has happened this year, it was my third year living in London, I changed roles in my job slightly which has been a real challenge for me, I of course got another year older and 27 is starting to make me feel like a grown up. I got engaged to my wonderful bf and have continued our love of travel this year by visiting 12 countries and of course have had some wicked times with great friends.
I have already written about my 2013 travels here but for a quick re cap we went to Iceland, Demark, Switzerland, Spain, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Norway.
I’ve enjoyed countless nights out with friends, awesome gigs, some great time with my new family and of course living the London life. Going to the Harry Potter studios was the best Christmas present but saying farewell to a friend who was heading back to NZ was the hardest (damn you UK border agency). Having a fun day in the snow with friends in February was awesome, especially the snowball fight we all had (snow will never get old for me!). A girly weekend in Brighton was fun and getting engaged at Glastonbury was a definite highlight. Seeing Andy Murray play weeks before he lifted the Wimbledon trophy was epic and watching my other half collect his Masters degree was one of my proudest moments (and a massive relief).
Some of my favourite memories from the year are in Croatia whilst doing the sailing trip. Watching the sunset from the top of Hvar Castle was immense and I’ll never forget walking the wall through stunning Dubrovnik. We have had visitors from near and far come to stay and it has been so nice to see people I’ve not seen for a long time.
This blog has also massively expanded this year, in January I was ecstatic to get 5000 views only to have the number grow so much over the last 12 months. After joining social media such as twitter, blog lovin’ and google + my audience has grown and I have just cracked 17,000 views (and no they are not all my mum). It’s great to have this little blog as a hobby and I really enjoy writing about my travels and London.
So here’s to another great year! I know 2014 will be filled with so many great occasions and memories. Happy New Year!
|Snow coincidently outside where we will get married next year|
|Drinking some butterbeer on Privet Drive|
|Friends, sun, drinks in Croatia|
|The best weekend EVER!|
|Girls weekend in Brighton|
Well in the last five years I’ve had some pretty sweet Christmases but this one takes the cake for most fun.
The one that really sticks in my mind as being very different to any other was the time I went to a full moon party on Christmas Eve on Koh Phangan island in Thailand. It was just sheer luck there happened to be a full moon on Christmas eve (as there is always one on New Years Eve – full moon or not). A group of us (people I haven’t seen for years and probably won’t see again) headed from Koh Samui where I was living at the time to the hedonistic island of Koh Phanghan. How we managed to find accommodation I’ll never know as over the full moon time everything on the island books out and there is always a minimum stay of over two nights but I do remember not actually sleeping in the accommodation because the hammocks outside where much more appealing than the dark and dingy room. We met up with someone I had been on a visa run to Malaysia with who was living on the island already for a little pre party dinner and drinks and then headed down to the madness that is Had Rin beach.
I had been to a full moon and half moon party before so I knew what to expect:
1. Crazy English people
2. Fire dancers
3.Fluro body paint
4. Loud music
5. Thousands of people
6. A damn good time.
Now even though it was on Xmas eve of course as the clock struck midnight the Christmas cheer arrived, there were all sorts of weird and wonderful Christmas outfits and plenty of Santa hats. There was the skipping rope of fire, fire dancers and all sorts of weirdness. I will never forget sitting on the beach and watching the sunrise on that Christmas day. I do love a good sunrise and this one even though there was bellowing dance music in the background and all sorts of weird and wonderful people stumbling down Had Rin beach there was something oddly calming about it. I somehow managed to bury my cell phone in the sand at some point of the night so there was no contact with home that day but someone tried to phone it a few weeks later and a Thai lady answered so it was obviously found. After the full moon party I escaped to Ko Tao for a bit of a relax after the madness.
Definitely one of the most memorable Christmas days and probably one that will never be repeated.
The finale of the trip was Gullfoss waterfall and what a finale it was, like I’ve said before, I have never really been impressed by waterfalls but this one was something else. It was on such a huge scale and looked so different from the various viewing areas. I liked how the steam from the waterfall had frozen on the side the most. This waterfall is a must see whilst in Iceland.
I would highly recommend either the golden circle or southern Iceland trips, we went through bus travel tour company, they were cheaper and offered the same trips as the other companies with wonderfully entertaining guides.
More from my trip to Iceland:
So I have narrowed it down to a few…enjoy my photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.
Paris – nothing compares to seeing the Eiffel Tower at night flashing it’s beautiful lights at midnight. I love Paris, even though I have been three times I always long to go back, there is so much more to discover.
Rome – I like to think of Rome as an outdoor museum and the best place for real and authentic Italian food (you just have to go looking for it). This really is a city I am dying to get back to, so many great buildings, so much history, I have so much love for this city.
Iceland – Best natural beauty in it’s rawest form. For an island so far from the rest of the world it is hard to pin point what it is. It’s not Nordic, European or Arctic so this place is something very special.
Berlin – the best history lesson I ever received was visiting this city. This place has been through so much and it is still so evident in many places around the city. I really enjoyed learning whilst I was there (which is rare for me).
Dubrovnik – the most photogenic city I have ever been to! For me this really was the best place to take photos as I was given so many opportunities to do so!
There are many reasons for returning to the mother land:
1. I’m getting married in August and I feel an overwhelming urge to go home before taking this rather large step in life
2. I miss New Zealand
3. Like any family – you can’t live with them but it’s pretty hard to live without them too
4. We are hoping to move back to New Zealand in the next few years so it is a great chance for Dan to see Auckland again before moving.
5.Two of my bridesmaids are coming from NZ so dress shopping will definitely be on the cards
6. In April it will be four years since I left and I have only been home once
So we will have two weeks mainly in Auckland and I have to convince Dan to move here, what shall we do?
|Me and my sister|
|Mount Maunganui Beach|
|I have all these treats to look forward to|
|Just one of the beautiful views on the drive the the Coromandel|
Although I’ve skipped the gym, eaten too much, drank way too much and spent far too much money we had a great time together and saying goodbye was sad today.
Since their arrival on Tuesday we have drunk at our local Assembly House, eaten at our favourite restaurant Pizzeria Pappagone, strolled around the South bank, Whitehall and St James Park and did some serious ‘teaching drinking’ on Friday night.
Saturday was spent walking firstly down to Camden Town to see For you I was a flame then carried on to Primrose Hill for the view over London. Today (Sunday) was spent mostly enjoying the rare October sun at The Flask in Highgate eating delicious roast dinners and drinking cider and beer. It was so nice to sit outside for hours and enjoy the sunshine and company.
Our final stop for the weekend was The Pineapple Pub to participate in their beer and cider festival that is currently running for a few days. There was also an incentive of free sausages which may of helped!
All in all, a great weekend with even better friends from the other side of the world. We will miss you but look forward to your next adventure.
Haley (Noddy) has had so many adventures since leaving home two years ago and I know there are plenty more adventures for her (and us) to come. I will look forward to seeing her again as a beautiful bridesmaid at my wedding next year.
All the best to my friend x
|Noddys first tube ride|
|Christmas party time|
|Hackney Weekend Festival|
|I am going to miss this face!|
We didn’t get to spend much time in the town as I was attending Dans graduation but we managed to get a good look around and I saw some things I had missed the first time. Here are some of my photos from the weekend. I absolutely loved the bridge in the last photo.
Since Friday when I got back I had a brilliant day/night with friends, celebrating birthdays and just being back together after a long hiatus due to our summer trips.
I have started back at work (I am yawning already) and my cousin and his girlfriend are over from New Zealand staying with us which is great as I haven’t seen them in a year, we are going to see the Lion King show in the West End tonight which is very exciting.
This coming weekend I have the pleasure of attending my other half at his graduation ceremony in Oxford as he is now a fully qualified Teacher of the Deaf. I’m so proud of all the hard work he has done over the past two years and I am really looking forward to having him back every weekend! We are also attending our first ever wedding fair on the Sunday at Fulham Palace, yes it’s all getting very real now, this could easily be Dans first and last one (don’t worry this will not turn into a wedding blog).
After that extremely busy week, my best friend who is very sadly due to leave London after her visa has expired will be spending a week at my house, it will be so nice to spend her last week here with her and have a great final weekend in London, there are plans…we just don’t know what they are yet!
After she leaves I have a weekend away (booked pre proposal) to Bergen, Norway which I am really looking forward to as I have always wanted to visit Norway. Bergen is a smaller city with beautiful fiords but I’ve heard it rains a lot.
The weekend after Bergen, my cousin and his girlfriend come back to London for another four days of more sight seeing and partying no doubt, I must find a great gig for this weekend!
The final weekend of the madness that is my life at the moment will be for me the most exciting, our engagement party! Having got engaged in June it only seems fitting that we have a party to celebrate and what better place that a great pub in Camden The Colonel Fawcett . I can’t wait to see all our friends and family in one room. Now I just need to find that perfect dress and shoes.
I had to write a separate post about the wall in Dubrovnik because not only is it brilliant, it was one of my favourite things I have done on this trip. After walking the wall I decided that Dubrovnik, in particular the wall is the most photogenic city/place I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
|One of the ‘secret’ cocktail bars|
We chose to walk the wall in the evening because:
1) we wanted to avoid the day tripper tourists from the cruise ships that visit Dubrovnik daily
2) it was much cooler in the evening.
3) We would be graced with a beautiful sunset
The cost to get in was 90K, the ticket office was open from 8am-7pm, we got in just in time at 6.45pm, they told us it closed at 7.30pm and we must be out by then but actually we didn’t end up leaving until 8pm and no one bothered us.
From the moment you get to the top of the stairs the view over Dubrovnik’s old walled town is magnificent. Now for those Game of Thrones fans you start to instantly recognise areas where they have filmed. In this case pictures will speak louder than words so all I can say is, if you are going to do one thing in Dubrovnik, this is it! Also, while you are walking around look out for the ‘secret’ cocktail bars on the rocks, they are worth finding after the walk.
We spent most of the afternoon just wandering around the alleyways, finding cute buildings, churches and stray cats. After some time we were all dying for a gelato and thank goodness this great little place on the water front delivered. After walking around for the afternoon we headed back to the boat to get ready for a wine tasting evening at a vineyard just a short journey from the old town.
For around £10 we were graced with four quite generous glasses of wine (two whites, a red and rose) and a small food platter that complemented each wine. The scenery was stunning and there were horses, donkeys and dogs on the vineyard too. All the wine and food were made either on the vineyard or were from the island. We had a great host who talked us through each wine and it was a fantastic afternoon in the sunshine.
Once back in Stari Grad (and a little tipsy) we changed and got ready for the Med Sailors ‘cocktail party’. It was not exactly a cocktail party but they provided a rather dodgy mix of alcohol on the quay for all to share and it was a great opportunity to meet other people from the boats. That night we all went out for dinner and after having a few too many I had to dash off to bed, but I hear the party kicked off at a local bar and the partying went on until the early hours.
I loved Stari Grad, I thought it was an incredibly quaint little town. Worth a visit if you are on the island of Hvar.
After that drama was over we found our guest house which was in a very small village in the country. You could smell the nature! After being in so many stinking hot cities the country was a welcome break. Our guest house in Plitvice had a kitchen which was useful as there were no restaurants nearby and plenty of deck chairs to laze about in the garden with, we even saw a deer go right past us one evening.
The actual Plitvice lakes were a real highlight of our entire trip. We went in at gate 1 at exactly 7am when they opened. The reason being that it was much cooler at this time of the day and there were literally us and three other people. The first few steps you take into the park are breathtaking as there is a huge waterfall as soon as you walk in.
The lakes from gate 1 are the lowest point of the gradient so we were walking up stream the whole time, it is a fairly easy walk though it was just when the heat got up that it became more difficult. The lakes are all a stunning turquoise colour and most of the time so clear you could see fish swimming. We really enjoyed the early morning walk because as time went on more and more people arrived and by midday it was so difficult to walk along the path and enjoy the scenery as you were literally being pushed around by hoards of day trippers.
During the six hours we were there we walked around 15 kilometres and took a short boat ride which was included in the ticket (it can only be used once though so unless you leave through a different gate you will have to walk back). We chose not to take any buses as we didn’t see the point in missing out on the spectacular scenery. This place is well worth the trip from wherever you are in Croatia, but I would advise that you actually stay there so you can get in early and avoid the crowds. Another piece of advice if you are visiting, take your own supplies as there is no water stands or food places until you reach an entrance or by the boat.
Plitvice National Park is such a gem in the middle of this beautiful country and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed my day walking around this Natonal Park. I would highly recommend visiting.
Have you visited Plitvice National Park?
I am away for a total of five weeks, I’m visiting six counties and countless cities and towns. I am really looking forward to some time away from London and good times with my (I hate saying this word) fiancée.
I am taking my laptop with me but whether or not I will have time to blog is another story (I hope not).
See you in September.