I’m a little late posting about our 7th month on the road because I’ve been having so much fun! So here is a belated post about month number 7.
A kiwi in London's travels and adventures
I’m a little late posting about our 7th month on the road because I’ve been having so much fun! So here is a belated post about month number 7.
The road to the Masai Mara can be described in one word – bumpy.
We were picked up in our 4×4 vans a few hours before entering the Masai Mara and the road was long, bumpy and very unenjoyable, I’m glad I had a sports bra on!
When I did my first Europe summer backpacking trip back in 2010 one of the best things I did in each country was a bike tour. It became our thing we did, we did one in Austria, Germany, France and hired our own bikes in Belgium (and got lost and ended up in The Netherlands).
Bike tours are fun, informative, a great way to see a lot in a short time and of course it’s good exercise.
I did a Fat Tire Bike tour in Paris and Berlin, I learnt more on that half day bike tour than I ever did sitting in a classroom. The guides are laid back, funny and tell you about important historical events as well as pop culture references. An example is: we went to the location of Hitler’s bunker followed by the hotel where Michael Jackson hung his baby out of a window.
I thoroughly enjoyed both of my bike tours with Fat Tire so when they asked me to share a competition they are running I was more than happy to share. The competition is as follows:
So the time has come to pack up my life and decide what to fit in my rucksack for a years journey. So what the heck does one pack for an African overland trip, a beach break in the Philippines, summer in New Zealand and everywhere between Patagonia and Colombia in South America?
Well I can’t say I’m sure myself but I’m going to tell you what I THINK I’m supposed to pack and some great little travel accessories I’ve picked up in preparation for this trip.
I’m turning 30 next month, I can’t quite believe it myself. I can honestly say that my 20’s have exceeded expectations. I’ve done so many great things in the last 10 years and feel a huge sense of accomplishment and I thought I would share the 20 most amazing experiences I’ve had in my 20’s.
Time is ticking away and with only a matter of weeks left at work, a summer holiday in Europe with friends and a couple of weddings to attend it’s hard to believe that in less than 3 months I will be boarding a flight to Nairobi for our big trip and won’t be back in London until 12 months later and that is a scary/exciting/nerve racking thought.
A couple of weekends my girlfriends and I headed up North to spend a weekend in the cool, hip neighbourhood of the Northern Quarter in Manchester.
Travelling around Europe during the summer is one of my favourite things to do, since moving to the U.K in 2010 I have done 4 Europe backpacking trips through various locations in Europe so I thought I would share these itineraries so you can plan your own Europe summer trip and hopefully this helps you in some way. This Balkan Road trip takes in Croatia and Montenegro.
I did a Balkan road trip back in 2013 and it is one of my favourite summer trips. I am sharing just a snippet of this journey as I took six weeks to complete mine but this one can be done in around three weeks.
This itinerary takes in Zagreb, Plitvice National Park, Split, islands in Croatia, Dubrovnik, Bay of Kotor and Sveti Stefan.
My first guest blogger for my series ’10 things to do in…” is Gem from Gem Abroad. She is an Aussie who moved to London a year ago and is new to blogging so go and check out her new brand new blog and instagram.
I have been living in London for 12 months now and have already visited Edinburgh twice: I spent a week there last August for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and visited recently on a day trip over Easter. It is a wonderfully quaint city and one I’ve loved exploring.
Climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat
For the most magnificent views over Edinburgh, it doesn’t get better than the top of Arthur’s Seat. I’d recommend going solo, so you can huff and puff (and rest) as much as you’d like. The round trip from my hostel took about three hours at a gentle stroll and I was able to get there and back following Google maps. I was lucky to have the perfect day when I climbed in August but, as long as it isn’t pouring with rain, I would put this at the top of your Edinburgh to do list.
Madrid is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities I’ve ever visited and I had such a blast there. The food, the sun, the history. Here are 10 things to do in the wonderful city of Madrid.
San Francisco is one of my favourite cities in the States and I can’t wait go back one day to see even more. I visited as part of a two week Contiki trip back in 2010 and I only just scraped the surface of this fantastic city. Here are the top 10 things to do in San Francisco.
I visited the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro back in 2013 and never really shared the wonderful things I did here so I’m starting a new series on my blog called “10 things to do in…” where I revisit all of the wonderful destinations I have been to over the globe and share what I did and what you should do if you ever find yourself in that part of the world.
As you may know I’ve been to Jersey several times and it is fast becoming one of my favourite destinations to visit. I am very lucky to have family that live there so we try and get over at least twice a year, once in the summer which I have shared before but I thought it was time to share what it’s like to visit Jersey in the winter months.
It is time to start counting down to what I like to call ‘The Big Trip”. For those of you that don’t know, I am taking a sabattical from work next year and travelling for a whole year around the world to Africa, Asia, New Zealand, South and Central America. Check out this post about all the details!
So it is 6 months until countdown so I thought I would share some of the things that go into planning a round the world journey.
Afternoon Tea on Jersey at L’Horizon Hotel
During my recent trip to Jersey I sampled a delicious afternoon tea at L’Horizon Hotel which overlooks the stunning St Brelade’s Bay. I was invited to try their afternoon tea by Visit Jersey and I must say I was looking forward to the traditional afternoon tea in the weeks leading up. You may or may not know but I quite like afternoon tea since being introduced to it in 2014.
L’Horizon Hotel is located right on the beach and the room where we were seated for our afternoon tea couldn’t be closer to the sea.
This months travel link up is all about our greatest adventures, I have been very lucky over the past 8 years to experience all sorts of adventures since I left my home in New Zealand.
I lived on the beautiful island of Koh Samui in Thailand for a year, travelled throughout South East Asia, moved to the other side of the world, backpacked around Europe (more than once), got married and now I am planning my biggest adventure of all, a year long adventure around the world.
But one particular adventure sticks out as the greatest – my adventures getting to London and my first year here where I visited 10 countries and got up to all sorts of crazy things that 24 year olds get up to.
It’s time again for the monthly round up about all the adventures I’ve been having.
Firstly, welcome back after a week offline due to my little website getting an upgrade from Gatto Web. There are a few tweaks and new things floating around the blog so have a look around and let me know what you think.
I am continuing the View from the top New York edition with one of my favourite things I did whilst in New York for two weeks over the Christmas holidays, the Highline.
The Highline is a simple concept, it is an old disused railway that has been turned into a useable urban space. There are gardens, street art and most importantly spectacular views of New York City.
We entered the Highline on W23rd Street and straight away I was impressed how the space had been used. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, through to Chelsea. Two of the coolest neighbourhoods in New York.
Getting above it all and seeing great views from the top is one of my favourite things to do in a new city, I love to get incredible views over places and I started this little series on my blog over a year ago showing all of the wonderful views I have seen from around the world. View from the top is now back after a little hiatus with a New York edition. View from the top of the Rockafella Centre was one of the most incredible and iconic views I’ve ever seen.
I spent three days in Brooklyn during my two week stay in New York and I fell in love with it. I started my Brooklyn love affair by walking over the Brooklyn Bridge which was one off my bucket list. Walking the bridge was almost like being in a battle because it was super busy. It was filled with tourists, selfie sticks, cyclists and angry New Yorkers so it was pretty hard to get the perfect photo but try we did.
During my recent visit to New York we got a booklet filled with activities and attractions from CityPASS to use. We managed to visit most of the attractions that are provided in the CityPASS booklet. Here is what we saw, did and enjoyed!
The CityPASS is a simple concept, you are given a booklet with vouchers which you exchange for tickets at these attractions:
If you visit all of these attractions with the CityPASS rather than purchase the tickets individually you save yourself $83USD which is a sizeable chuck of cash between two people or even more if you are a family.
‘The MET’ as it is more commonly known was our first stop with the CityPASS, I had visited the MET before but I saw much more this time as I had more time. As soon as you climb the grand stairs and enter the busy atrium you are graced with these incredible stairs.
We found the room that possessed all of the Monet’s and Van Gogh’s as that is what I was most looking forward to. There is something very special about admiring these paintings that I learnt about in my art history lessons back in school.
This was one of the highlights of my New York trip as nothing beats the iconic view you receive once you are at the top. The actual getting up there process was a little confusing to begin with as it was just so busy there but after a few queues and asking several staff members we were able to exchange our CityPASS at a kiosk and book a timed slot in 2 hours time to get to the top of the Rock.
We arrived during our 10 minute slotted entry time and got in a lift swiftly that took us up to the viewing area. There are three separate areas but we went straight up to the top as it offers the best views without the glass wall!
It was a crisp, cool day in NYC but nothing could deter that view. The classic view over Central Park along with the biggest and iconic building in London on the other side (The Empire State) it was such an awesome experience being up there.
Like all of the other tourist attractions in New York this one was no different…there was a massive queue! We attempted it twice before finally getting on the boat and out to Liberty Island but I must admit once we got there all of the queuing in the cold made it worth it. Seeing Lady Liberty standing in front me of was a surreal experience.
We spent about an hour on Liberty Island, we read up about the history and circled the tiny island getting some photos along the way. There was plenty of people on the island but it wasn’t busy enough that you couldn’t enjoy it. You can also go to Ellis Island as part of the CityPASS to learn about immigration from the past but we skipped it as it was a freezing cold day. The view on the ferry back to Manhattan was also incredible, it was shadowed in fog as we came back in.
I was really excited to go here as I love the Night at the Museum films but again due to queueing and major overcrowding this was a pretty unpleasant experience. We really struggled to see the exhibits as the museum had far too many people in it. Everyone was pushing and shoving and we ended up going after an hour because it was just too busy. This was no fault of CityPASS rather the museum.
We did manage to see a few of the mammals from America and the dinosaur section which I was really impressed with. The staff here were the most organised of all the attractions and this was the least queueing we did while using the CityPASS.
This was the queue for people that didn’t have a CityPASS! Apparently it was 1 hour and 45 minutes long (in the rain) as opposed to our 25 minutes (undercover). CityPASS for the win with this attraction!
One of the great things about the CityPASS Empire State Building experience is that you can visit during the day AND in the evening, yes you can visit twice in one day! I opted just for a visit at night though. Seeing the Big Apple all lit up late at night was wonderful. It was surprisingly calm up there and it was so nice to be able to look down on one of the craziest cities in the world and just take it all in.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the 9/11 Memorial Museum this time, I had hoped to but I just ran out of time but from all accounts and reviews I read it is a must see.
The CityPASS in theory is a fantastic idea if you want to see all of the best New York attractions but we did have to spend many hours queuing and I wasn’t expecting that. Most attractions make you queue to exchange your CityPASS for a ticket and then queue again to enter the attraction with a ticket. I understand this is no fault of CityPASS rather the actual attraction but it was still pretty frustrating at times especially because most attractions were shambolic and so disorganised with either ill-informed staff or lack of staff. I was in New York during the holiday season so this most definitely contributed to the huge amount of tourists as well.
I would still recommend the CityPASS if you are going to visit all of these attractions as the cost is well worth it. It was easy to use, you can either get it sent to you or pick up at one of the attractions after purchasing online or you can pick it up from many locations in New York. It certainly made us get out there and enjoy all of these attractions.
Disclaimer: I was provided with 2 New York CityPASS booklets. Thank you to CityPASS for this, we loved seeing all of these great attractions in New York.
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My recent holiday to New York City was one of the best yet, being able to spend two whole weeks in a city was something new for me but it allowed me to actually see it properly, get my bearings, hit up some local spots and just enjoy it at a good pace.
We got asked to house sit for friends who are currently living in the East Village of New York (how cool is that?) over Christmas and New Year while they were back in the U.K. I had never been to the East Village before but I was so happy to be staying there as it was less crazy than Uptown. All the brunch spots on my list were very close by and there weren’t loads of people so in not too many words here is what my two weeks in New York looked like.
We kicked it off with brunch at The Butchers Daughter
Followed by sunset at Battery Park.
Selfies under the iconic Brooklyn Bridge
Basketball game at the incredible Madison Square Garden to see New York Knicks play Orlando Magic. The atmosphere was electric!
Our friends arrived and we kept going with the brunches at Two Hands, an Aussie cafe. We popped around the corner to Happy Bones which is a little coffee shop that I have been following on instagram for ever. Now that I drink it, I have total appreciation for good coffee.
We went to The MET. So many rooms full of some of the worlds best art, new and old. Nothing beats seeing a Monet and Van Gogh up close and personal, followed by the lads eating hot dogs (this was a regular occurrence).
We walked the Highline which starts in Chelsea and traverses the Meat Packing District. This was one of the highlights of the trip,; a really simple idea of turning a disused railway into a walkway/urban jungle in an uber cool part of town. Luckily we got there just in time for a beautiful New York sunset.
Followed by a stroll around the Meat Packing District.
Christmas Day was like a dream; ice skating in Central Park in 22 degrees followed by a feast of ham, chicken, veggies, sticky toffee pudding and my contribution a New Zealand pavlova.
We walked the Brooklyn Bridge (one ticked off the bucket list) and explored Williamsburg on Boxing Day, sipping beer at the famous Brooklyn Brewery. Night fell and we hit up a roof top bar to get exceptional views of the NYC lights.
More sport – we made our way out to New Jersey to see an American Football match. The New York Jets vs The New England Patriots (the current Superbowl champions) was an exciting game to go to. The atmosphere was like nothing I’ve experienced before. There was screaming, shouting, waving of flannels, attitude and rivalry all in the name of NFL. We grabbed our beers, cheese fries and hot dogs and settled in for an absolutely epic game of Football.
We got up the ‘Top of the Rock’ for an insane view over Manhatten and battled the selfie sticks to get the perfect photo.
After we had evening at the Renaissance Hotel bar overlooking Times Square. It was great to witness the madness from above in a comfy chair with a cocktail in my hand.
We popped by Grand Central Station to see what all the fuss was about and we weren’t disappointed. It was so beautiful.
Then had a very late brunch at instagram famous Jack’s Wife Freda.
We marvelled at the beautiful homes in Greenwich in the West Village and laughed at the Sex and the City fans lining up to have their Carrie moment.
We froze our butts off at Liberty Island to see one of the most famous statues in the world – Lady Liberty and literally bumped into some friends on the boat over! Such a small world.
We ate at super cool Egg Shop and had the best brunch of NYC (in my opinion).
We rung in the New Year after way too many frozen margaritas and some questionable Mexican cuisine in some pretty sweet glasses.
Finally, we had to say goodbye to our new favourite city.
I have so much to share on this amazing trip and I wish I could do it all over again, can I move to New York now?
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I have been bursting to write this post and share my news about my plans for the coming year and this month’s travel link up with Emma and the brand new hosts Jessi and Angie is the perfect time to share.
So this year my big news is that I AM TAKING A YEAR OFF WORK TO TRAVEL THE WORLD!!! I have been granted a sabbatical from my job and my husband Dan and I are jetting off to 4 continents – Africa, Asia, Australasia and South America for a dream trip around the world. This has been a plan of ours since we got together five years ago but life has always got in the way. We bought a flat, then we got engaged, we had to save up to get married and then we bought another flat so now we’ve got all that stuff out of the way and set ourselves up, we just knew that this is our time to get out there and do it.
We are both teachers so we are taking the school year off which is July to September so although we don’t leave for a little while yet (7 months and counting) there is so much to look forward to and so much planning to do and of course the dreaded saving to do.
This is what we have planned so far
We leave London at the beginning of August and head south to Brighton for a couple of days for a wedding before heading over to the island of Jersey for another wedding.
I then jet to Barcelona for a girls trip with my friends Nikki and Cara, I’ve been before but I can’t wait to get back. We all continue to the island of Majorca to celebrate my 30th birthday. We’ve rented a villa, hired a boat and plan to explore, drink and enjoy! The final part of the Spanish summer is the island of Menorca with just me and Dan when everyone goes back to work. This will be the last Balearic Island for us to visit and we’ve done this as the ‘calm before the storm’ (see below).
We have booked a 77 day overland tour which goes to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa Swaziland, Zimbabwe and finishes in Zambia. This trip is going to be a tough one but a rewarding one I am sure. We went to Africa for two weeks a few years ago and absolutely loved it but we knew straight away we wanted to spend an extended period of time there. We are camping for the majority of the trip so it’s going to be proper back packing (no flash packing) but without doubt a once in a life time trip.
From there we go to the Philippines for two weeks for I’m sure some much needed beach time. We are going to spend most of the time on the island of Palawan so Dan can get some diving done and I can top up my tan on the beach and relax and unwind from what will be a full on trip in Africa. We will be staying in El Nido, Puerto Princesa and on Modessa Island.
Image via pinterest
The final stop in 2016 is going to be my home country of New Zealand. It will have been two and a half years since I last visited so I am in need of some time at home. We are going to be there for 2 months so we can both spend some quality time with my friends and family and get a real feel for Auckland as well as we are hoping to move back there one day if it feels right for us both. I can’t wait to have a kiwi summer; there is no where on earth like New Zealand and I just can’t wait for this part of the trip. My sister has had two kids since I’ve lived in London, friends have got married and I can’t wait to just spend time with special people.
After a kiwi summer we head over to Brazil to begin 6 months in South and Central America. We kick it off in Rio for the famous Carnival. I’ve always wanted to go to Carnival so I am so excited about this part of the trip. We have booked an overland trip through Patagonia for 2 months to see this unique part of the world, again we are camping for most of it. The trip takes in Brazil, Argentina and Chile where we finish in Santiago in April 2017.
From this point on we don’t have any real plans except to make our way from Santiago to up to Panama where we hope to finish in August 2017. We are planning to go to Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and hopefully the Galapagos during this time.
The final part of the journey is going to be in Panama where we will go to Bocas del Toro which is a chilled out backpacker haven by the beach before going to the San Blas Islands which is one of the most remote places on the planet. There are no hostels/hotels/resorts and not a lot of electricity either, just hundreds of stunning islands dotted around and apparently some incredible snorkelling. I can’t think of anywhere better to finish this mammoth journey around the world.
Obviously this is such an exciting opportunity for us but of course there are many sacrifices we have to make as this is going to be one expensive year off. So between now and when we go we probably won’t be going on any trips because we are saving every last penny so we can experience everything on offer along the way. This is going to be so hard for us as we both love to go away during our school holidays but I know that it’ll all be worth it when I won’t be getting up on a cold, wet Monday morning in London and walking in the rain to get to work.
Any tips on any of these places are welcomed!
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2015 has been yet another amazing year filled with lots of adventures and travels around the world. I am very grateful that I get 12 weeks of holiday a year to enjoy how I please and I’ve spent so many of these weeks travelling around Europe. Dan and I have ticked a few more places off the bucket list so here is what we got up to this year.
February – Tromso, Norway
The first trip of the year was to the Arctic Circle town of Tromso in Norway in February, after we went to Iceland in 2012 and failed to see the Northern Lights we knew that Tromso had to be on our list of places to go as we were both so looking forward to seeing them. We went to Tromso for 5 days in February and were graced with a huge dumping of snow, clear skies and the awe inspiring Northern Lights. It was such a memorable trip and I would love to return to this stunning town.
Best bits: Seeing the Northern Lights, drinking in the most Northerly pub, getting the view over Tromso.
April – Scotland
The next adventure was a little closer to home but that didn’t mean it wasn’t one of the best trips I’ve ever been on – Scotland! This country is so much more than I could have ever imagined, every turn we took in the road, every Loch, and every mountain was just breathtaking! I never knew just how beautiful the scenery was until I saw it for myself. Scotland totally blew me away and I can’t wait to explore it even more.
April – Ireland
We took a trip to see a friend in West Cork in Ireland and I fell completely in love with the place. We stayed at his family holiday home which was a gorgeous old house propped up on a hill overlooking the ocean. It was a magical place and the perfect place to just sit back, unplug from the world and take it all in.
May – Ibiza
The first glimpse of the European summer arrived on the Balearic Island of Ibiza in May. My friends and I went to Ibiza for one reason and one reason only…to party! Having been to Ibiza before I knew what to expect – lots of drinking, going to bed at 6am and dancing on the beach. An absolute highlight of the trip was dancing to Fat Boy Slim ‘Eat, sleep, rave, repeat’ in Pacha nightclub at 4am on a Monday night and visiting the nearby island of Formenterra!
Best bits: Bora Bora day club, taking crazy selfies on my new GoPro and biking around Formenterra Island.
August – France, Spain and Jersey
My European summer continued in August with trips to Biarritz and San Sebastian and Bilbao. Biarritz in France was a welcome break after stressing out over buying a flat so it was nice to get away, spend some time by the sea and eat some lovely food.
Best bits: Watching the surfers tackle the waves, the late night drinking on the street and people watching of the posh French people.
San Sebasitan was everything I was expecting it to be, it was laid back, plenty of good food, wine and lots of sunshine! We had such a relaxing break that involved lots of walking to get some amazing views, swimming in the turquoise sea and lots and lots of pinxtos.
Best bits: Hiking up to Monte Urgull, stuffing myself on pinxtos and watching epic fireworks for the San Sebastian festival.
The next stop was in Bilbao, this city is totally underrated and we had a great time in the small old town in Spain. We ate more pinxtos and drank the lovely cava until the sun went down before exploring the Guggenheim.
The final summer fling was to Jersey in the Channel Islands. This is one of my favourite places to visit, it is so varied and I just love the beautiful coastal views, we got to see dolphins, we ate at some fantastic restaurants and enjoyed some time out on the boat.
Cardiff – October
I spent just half a day in Cardiff in Wales as I was visiting for a Rugby match during the World Cup, admittedly I didn’t see much of the place except the Millennium Stadium and a couple of bars but what I saw I liked and I’d love to go back again!
October – Latvia
I spent 4 days in the old town of Riga with some girlfriends and we had a blast. We stayed at a hotel that had a spa so we spent some time there, got treatments, drank wine, ate food, took silly selfies and just had a nice chilled out time in this beautiful city in Latvia.
December – New York
I am finishing up the year in the amazing city of New York! So far, having a great time, it’s not too cold, it’s festive and I’m enjoying being away from London and not working!
There are so many adventures planned for 2016, more on that soon! I hope you’ve had lots of great travels in 2015!
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