Spontaneous Stockholm

Nothing beats a spontaneous trip away, especially not one with great company. All you need is £50 return flights and some enthusiastic friends. After a 3 week trip home to NZ, this is exactly the sort of thing that gets booked when you’re deliriously jet lagged.

As it turns out, there was a catch with the flights that cheap, as they were actually flying into an airport that was a 1.5 hour bus ride from Stockholm. Not the most ideal situation when you arrive at 12.30am. Oh well. We made it to bed eventually, and rallied the next day to make the most of our trip.

After a delicious hotel breakfast, which obviously included meatballs, we braced ourselves for the sun and sub zero temperatures to explore the city. First up was the Vasa museum, built around the remains of a ship built in the 1600s, which sunk within the first few hundred metres of its maiden voyage, still in Stockholm harbour. The ship was brought to the surface almost 60 years ago, and places where it is today. It was refurbished and is now a world famous museum. The ship is definitely spectacular.

After the museum, it was time for some Fika, also known as coffee and cake, before we joined a walking tour. The tour took us all through the old town and by the royal palace and parliament and was very informative, although also very cold. There was lots of ice about in the cobbled streets of old town which required concentration to dodge and not slip on.

After warming up with some more fika, it was time for the most anticipated part of the trip, the ABBA museum! Despite the crowds, it was a great interactive experience which saw us singing and dancing to ABBA’s greatest hits. Steph was absolutely in ABBA heaven.

It was now getting dark and we’d had a full on day. Queue Meatballs for the people! Dinner was delicious, with some of the best mashed potato you’ve ever had. I genuinely could have eaten another full serving, but as Sweden isn’t the most budget friendly of European getaway destinations, it was time for bed after a full on day.

The next morning was slow and chilled. After a sleep in and breakfast, we made our back to the airport and then home to London.

Kiwi Christmas in Vienna

For Christmas this year I decided to head off to Vienna with a group of friends for a kiwi orphans Christmas. Vienna turned out to be an absolute treat at Christmas time. It was freezing cold, no snow unfortunately but we did get some sun. What was even more special, was enjoying the beautiful city while hopping between Christmas markets. I particularly enjoyed the beautiful Hapsburg palaces and stunning architecture of the city. This was more or less how we spent our time, exploring the city and Christmas markets.

Christmas Day we started with a Christmas breakfast at our AirBnB, compete with secret Santa presents. Once that was done and dusted, we headed out for what was intended to be a few drinks, but ended up being the 12 pubs of Christmas, Vienna edition! Pretty unique but also fun way to spend the day and pub number 12 provided us with an unusual Christmas dinner complete with schnitzel!

On the 26th all we really accomplished was finding food and climbing a disappointing church tower before our flight home.

The Amalfi Coast

With my lovely friend Kristin visiting the northern Hemisphere, what better a time to spend 5 days frolicking around the Amalfi Coast. Over the 5 days we ate lots of delicious food, swam in the delicious waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and explored the coastal towns. 
We stayed in Positano, in a family owned and run bed and breakfast, high up the coastal hills and with spectacular views of the main town. Views aside, it was quite the sweaty climb which made for a great way to burn off all the calories. Amalfi town we explored by getting a ferry down, admiring the coast as we went. We also took a day trip by boat to explore the island of Capri, where we wandered and explored the island, as well as swimming off the boat. 

Unfortunately, a holiday like that can’t last, but I can highly recommend a relaxing few days on the Amalfi Coast. 


In the ‘Dam

Another weekend, another trip away. This time I was off to Amsterdam with Edin and Katharine. After a bit of a rocky start consisting of a cancelled flight, a night in an the Gatwick Hilton and a new 6am flight, we finally made it to Amsterdam and made a beeline for Anne Franks House museum. 

I was somewhat disappointed with this experience. So many rave about this, and although it was surreal being there and seeing where they lived, the place was absolutely jam packed with tourists and this completely ruined the experience for me. 

After depositing of our bags at our vey funky hotel room, we headed out to see the Rijksmuseum, and of course the I Amsterdam sign. This museum was quite incredible, mostly due to the Dutch Grand master paintings by Vemeer and Rembrandt in its collection. These were very stunning to see in real life, especially as these artists were the first to really explore light and depth and accurately illustrate this. 

After the Rijksmuseum and a drink and a snack, we wandered our way along the canals to the meeting point for our red light district tour. This tour was very interesting and informative, and was great way to see this world famous area and learn about it in an objective way. It is definitely strange to walk down a street and see windows with women pouting and smiling and bouncing in their underwear, trying to attract clientele. 

The next day after a bit of a sleep in, Katharine and I hired bikes and rode to meet my friend Julie who is currently living in Amsterdam. After breakfast in the park, Julie took us on a fab bike tour of Amsterdam including Vondelpark and the Jordaan neighbourhood, before heading to De Hallen for lunch. 

After De Hallen it was time for the Van Gough Museum, followed by a ‘rice table’ where Julie and a number of her friends also joined us for dinner, drinks and laughs. 

Our last day was only a half day really, so after another sleep in it was time for another museum, this time the Stedelijk. I found this museum somewhat underwhelming if I’m honest. Next up we went off on a canal boat tour to see the city from the canals and learn a bit more about the history, architecture and neighborhoods. This was our last activity before having to make our way to the airport after a lovely but full on weekend. 

Milano

Oh Italy, how have I managed to live in London for a year and not make it to Italy. Well, let me say, Milan did not disappoint. 

After a late night flight and creeping into my hotel room in an attempt to not wakemy travel  companion, I was reunited with my fab friend Antonia who was on a wee Eurotrip. 

Saturday morning it was all talking a million miles and an hour as we caught up and made our way to breakfast and then the Duomo. The Duomo and its rooftops were absolutely stunning, and provided a fantastic perspective on not only the famous Cathedral but also the city. Next up we wandered through the teeming Galeria, before setting off in search of lunch. We hit the jackpot with a fabulous Mozarella bar and so began our food heaven experience. Truffle pasta, buffalo mozzarella, delicious salad and Aperil spritz. All my food dreams coming true, much to the dismay of my PT. 

After lunch we explored the Castello Sforzesco and wandered the park, before making our way to the Church housing ‘The Last Supper’ to try our luck. Unfortunately there was nothing available so we opted for gelato and some errands before quiet time before dinner. 

Dinner again was food heaven, complete with more Aperol and of course some Italian red wine. With an early flight the next day, this bought my first Italian foray to a close. Bring on the Amalfi Coast! 


Barcelona!

Hola! Over the weekend I ventured forth on my first solo travel adventure, which was also my first trip to Spain! After being up at a completely unreasonable hour, I was off to Barcelona!! Luckily, I met a lovely new friend on the flight over, and we made plans to catch up over the weekend.

Once I had arrived and checked into the hostel, it was time for a quick lunch (Tapa’s) and I was off to explore!! First I made my way to arguably Barcelona’s most famous building, the Sangrada Familia. This epic masterpiece designed by the famous architect Gaudi, rises above the city in all it’s quirky glory, and really is something. It is so different, unique, crazy and beautiful than any other buildings I have seen before. It is also thronging with tourists and hawkers so after getting my fill of pictures I was onto the next Gaudi creations. Casa Mila and Casa Batllo were both residential projects of Gaudi’s commissioned by the owners, and both were as different and amazing and each other.
After my self guided Gaudi walking tour and a nap, I was off out for a Wine and Tapas tour through Barcelona. As a lover of food and wine, this was a fantastic way to learn about Catalonian and Spanish food and wine, while learning about the city and enjoying good compan 

Sunday sent me off on a walking tour of the Gothic quarter, where again I got to learn more about Barcelona’s history and hidden secrets. There were so many ancient stories and beautiful buildings hidden in the narrow winding streets, along with funky new shops and delicious treats. After the walking tour it was time for more Gaudi, so I made my way to Park Guell to check out the park and more of his creations. It was a pretty chilled out afternoon wandering the paths in the park enjoying the buskers, sights and views. After Park Guell I made my way back to the Gothic Quarter for some treats, before heading back to the hostel.

After a break, it was time for dinner with my new friends, Hannah and Jenn. We had a lovely dinner of tapas along with some good wine and chat, and some rather nice looking waiters. Pity their English wasn’t better. Our dinner led onto a night cap at a secret little Jazz bar we stumbled upon, complete with live pianist and singer. It was a pretty great end the day and very enjoyable. 

Monday was my last day in Barcelona, so I ventured to the La Boqueria markets for some cheese, ham and fruit juice. I followed this by getting completely lost in the Gothic Quarter and La Ribera neighbourhood, enjoying the winding streets and various shops and cafes. I was enjoying my wandering so much I had to powerwalk back to my hostel to pick up my bag and make the bus to the airport

The verdict on Barcelona: fabulous city, I can’t wait to go back, and better yet explore more of Spain.

The verdict on solo travel: I rather enjoyed it. It’s nice to be able to do your own thing and not have to worry about anyone else and I enjoyed making new friends. Will do again for sure.

Gothic quarter streets

Rooftop views

Churro!

Manchego and Iberian ham

Juice!

La Rambla

Placa de Catalunya 

Enjoying secret jazz bars

Cathedral of Barcelona

Park Guell

Park Guell views

Gothic Quarter

Delicious cheap wine, price is by the litre!

Wine and tapas!

Casa Batllo 

Barcelona Architecture

Casa Mila

Sangrada Familia