Hooooome to Kiwiland

In November I had a pleasure of traveling home for the first time in 18 months. This was to attend the wedding of very good friends, as well as to catch up with family and friends.

Nothing beats quality time in little old New Zealand with those you care about most. Home for me in New Zealand is a combination of Auckland where I grew up and went to school and uni and worked, and the Bay of Plenty where I spent all my school holidays with my extended family, and where my parents and majority of all family still live. I shared my time between both on my trip, and was sure to get out and experience NZ’s best while I was there.

And with that, I share a snippet of my trip through pictures.

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Porto

Portugal is one of the countries in Europe it took me almost 18 months to visit, which I finally did with my fab flatmate Katharine just before my birthday.

Our trip to Porto was focused around a few key things. Port (obviously), food, architecture and history. We started our adventure by wandering from our hostel towards the famous bookshop, stopping off to admire the beautiful and iconic Sao Bento railway station on the way. After the bookshop, we wandered our way through the winding downhill streets, admiring the colourful buildings until we made it to the Ribeira Neighbourhood and the Douro River.

After wandering along the river and admiring the Ponte Luis I bridge, we crossed over to discover some port. Unfortunately we were too late for this, but booked a session for the following night and enjoyed some Port cocktails overlooking the river at sunset instead. Next we ventured back to the Sao Bento area for a delicious dinner and local wine before bed.

Our second day we had a quick sleep in before heading to explore the Clerigos Church and climb the narrow stairs of the church tower. The view were spectacular, however it was very windy and cold up there. Our next adventure was to the Casa de Musica where Katharine got her Architecture geek on as we admired the impressive and unusual modern architecture. Pre-lunch we made our way back to explore the Se de Porto Cathedral, before having a lunch break and then exploring Paco Episocal do Porto, also known as the palace of the Bishops of Porto.

By this time the temperature had soared to 28 degrees which was a bit hot for us in our jeans. The best option was Sangria and shade by the river, before heading to our Port tasting and Fado evening at the famous Salem Port House. We followed this with a fabulous traditional meal of Porto specialties and local wine, before rolling our way home.

Our last morning we ventured to Museu Serralves to check our the modern art and gardens. The Art was definitely interesting and the gardens were quite beautiful, but then it was time to head to the airport for our flight home to London.

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 β€˜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!