Decisions, decisions, decisions

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always struggled with making decisions. I’ve read it’s a thing that many INFJs struggle with because we see multiple pathways ahead of us and struggle to commit to one, feeling that if we do, we will exclude all other options. I think the first big decision I remember having to make was choosing my GCSE options in Year 8. I mean, it wasn’t that big of a decision but to my 13 year old self, it felt quite daunting.

Then when GCSEs were over and I had to choose which college/sixth form to go to to study A Levels, I found myself toying between two. It took me even longer to decide what A Levels to actually take and I changed my mind several times along the way. At the end of Year 12, I had to decide whether I want to go to university or not, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to study. This was probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made. I wasn’t sure if university was right for me but the prospect of not going and having to start working was even more daunting.

From about Year 10-ish I said if I did go, I would study history as it had always been an interest of mine. Then when I got to college,I found myself really enjoying geography, so thought I would study that. Then I was considering a joint honours in history and geography. Then I realised I didn’t really enjoy those subjects enough to study them at degree level and that languages – specifically French – were my passion. Although I was advised that studying just French would be too limiting, so ended up applying for French and Politics, despite wondering if I should switch to German instead as I’d always wanted to learn it but never had the opportunity. So that was that, I thought. I would go to university and study French and Politics, graduate with a language degree and pursue a career in the field of languages.

Choosing which university to go to was hard, but simplified by the fact that not many university in the South offered that course combination so I didn’t have too many to choose from. After accepting my place at my current university, I still wondered if it was the right place for me, if the campus was too small, if it was too far from home, if I would meet like-minded people. But I went, I passed first year and I still don’t know if it is the right place for me or if I’m studying the right subject.

I ended up dropping French two weeks into term as the way it was taught just didn’t work for me and my style of learning. That was a really, really hard decision to make. It felt like the life I had planned for myself was falling apart. I would no longer get a language degree or be able to pursue careers that require language degrees. It felt like everything I had been looking forward to had been taking away from me. I mean, in reality there was nothing stopping me from continuing to study French and graduating with a French and Politics degree except for my gut feeling that it just wasn’t right for me. I just didn’t want to be in those French classes and wanted to take the extra Politics modules that I was missing out on. This probably sounds really dramatic but it just made me feel really sad and lost because I realised I wasn’t who I thought I was. I still enjoy French, yes, and I want to continue studying it in the future but realising I wasn’t going to be language student was…hard to get my head around.

So now I am a politics student – well, international relations in fact as I changed degree again, turns out politics is too much of a mess for me to enjoy studying. And honestly, I still feel lost. I have no idea if I made the right decision and if this is the right pathway for me. When I started uni as a joint honours student, it felt like I could see two different pathways emerging, two different futures. The one where I continue to study French, make friends with other passionate linguists and pursue a career in translation or interpretation and the one where I become a single honours Politics/IR student, a route I could follow with no idea of where it would take me.

One thing I’ve reflected on over summer since having some distance from university is that we can’t always know if we’ve made the right decision right now. I’m guilty of being a perfectionist and trying to plan out how my life will go but in truth life never, hardly ever goes the way we plan and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s hard to accept tough decisions we’ve had to make in the present because we can’t see yet how they’re going to benefit us in the future. I might not realise that this is the right degree or university for me until after I graduate or maybe even later. I just have to trust that I enjoy what I’m doing at the moment and even if I don’t know why I’m pursuing this path and not furthering my French fluency like I planned, it will all make sense in the end. Maybe I wasn’t meant to study French now because I’ll get that opportunity in the future. Maybe in 10 years time I’ll end up in a job that’s perfect for me and wouldn’t have been possible without studying IR. Who knows.

As someone who’s a serial worrier and ‘what if-er’ when it comes to making decisions, I want to reassure you that whatever difficult decisions you’re having to make now or in the future, if you trust your gut feeling and go with what feels right for you, you will end up where you’re meant to be.

I know that I’ve rambled on about changing degree 193929485 times on this blog, but this is just my way of accepting and processing what has been quite a big change in my life and future plans. And there’s no shame in wondering where we would be now if we had made different choices, but it’s important to embrace the new future that lays ahead of you and the opportunities and experiences that will bring.

For now, I’m trying not to plan ahead. I hope that if I work towards what interests me now, I will end up where I’m supposed to be in life eventually and I hope that you all do too.

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HOW am I half way through second semester??!!?

Snow in Windsor!

You can tell by the slightly over the top title that Spring term is just going SO FAST and next week is the last week of lectures before reading week (a.k.a. half term but not half term bc unis don’t get that lol…except some of us do). Honestly since coming back from Winter break, time has passed so quickly and I think that’s because I’ve been throwing myself into lots of things, which is good!!

I wanted to just write a little update about what I’ve been up to and reflect on the term so far!

I was determined to make this term better than the last and although it got off to s bit of a rocky start with some major breakdowns and trips to the uni wellbeing service, I am doing a lot better now! I feel like I’m the happiest I’ve been since starting uni.

Talking to the wellbeing advisors has helped me let go of a lot of stuff that was holding me back and getting me down last term, in terms of both the social and academic side of uni. I’ve always put pressure on myself academically and I think just having someone to tell me that I my work doesn’t need to be perfect and I am allowed to let myself relax has really helped. Also, I was feeling very lost and struggling with making friends, but the wellbeing team helped me to realise that friendships take time and I will make good friends eventually!! So I’m generally feeling a lot happier in myself now.

I’ve also stopped using Snapchat and Instagram, because I think there were affecting my mental health quite a lot as I kept comparing my experience of uni to my friends and making myself feel bad that I wasn’t having an “amazing” time, but I think I’m over that now because I know that I can shape my uni experience to how I want it to be and I don’t need to live up to society’s expectations of student life.

In terms of what I’ve been up to this term, I’ve done quote a few fun things! I’ve been trying to go and explore new places every Sunday to give me a day off and help me relax and so far I’ve been into London to see the Winter Lights Festival in Canary Wharf, which was amazing although I practically froze and I’ve also been to Windsor and Eton to explore. I’ve also been on a hike in the snow (IT SNOWED!! TWICE!! And uni turned into Narnia!) with hiking society and trying to meet up with friends from outside my course more often, which has been really nice!

I feel like this term I’m definitely balancing the social side of uni with studying more and I’m feeling really good in myself, which I’m happy about!!

Something else I’ve started doing this term is volunteering at a local Scout group which was honestly terrifying at first and quite far out of my comfort zone, but I’m so proud of myself for doing it and now I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve got lots of exciting things coming in the second half of this term like going to the watch The Last Leg live on Friday and doing a Monopoly Run around London with the Scouts which my mum and sister are both coming down to do, so it will be nice to see them!

I’m going home for a few days in my reading week just so I can focus on essays as there are too many distractions at uni, and also it’s my friends birthday so I’ll be able to catch up with her. Also in March my friend from home is coming to stay and we’re going to explore London together which will be so nice!!

So yeah, I think that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to so far this term! Hope school/college/uni is going well for you all and catch up soon! 🙂

Climbing Snowdon the Hard Way

View of mountains. Title reads 'climbing Snowdon the hard way'

A few weeks ago, I ventured off on a camping holiday with my family to Snowdonia, North Wales. As the unorganised blogger I am, I’m only just getting round to sitting down and writing about the experience of climbing Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain. For me, this was one of the highlights of the trip as it proved to be quite an emotional experience, so I thought instead of doing a whole series of travel posts like with Amsterdam, I’d focus on climbing the mountain. 🙂

Now it’s hard to imagine just how big a mountain is until you’ve seen one and even whilst driving through Snowdonia on the way to our campsite, I just couldn’t believe the sheer size of the mountains there, let alone get my head around the fact that I would be climbing one!

Snowdon itself is 1088 m high – or 3568 ft, if you prefer. This wasn’t my first experience of mountain climbing though. In 2011 I went to Austria with my Scout group and we descended a Tyrolean mountain (can’t remember which one) after taking the ski lift. However, the prospect of climbing up a mountain was more daunting as I wasn’t sure if I’d be physically fit enough to do it.

We chose to climb Snowdon on the third day of our holiday to give us time to settle in to life at the campsite and also give the drizzly weather a chance to pass us by. We didn’t want it to be swelteringly hot like back home (we did go away in the height of the heat wave but it was cooler in North Wales than at home in Somerset) but we also didn’t want to hike in the rain. Luckily, the weather on the day we went wasn’t too bad. It was very cloudy though, so much so that we couldn’t actually see the summit from the ground, but it was cool and dry so we were happy.

Lake in foreground with mountain in background, covered in cloud

I was a little apprehensive about hiking in the fog/mist/clouds (??) because I know how dangerous it can be if you get lost in the fog, however as we were walking one of the more moderate and well-traversed paths, my parents reassured me that we would be fine and wouldn’t lose our way.

One of the hardest parts of the climb turned out to be the very beginning when we were ascending the foothills before actually setting foot on the mountain. There was a very steep zig-zagging path through a sheep farm that was very hard going on your legs and lungs – I struggled to catch my breath and had to rest many times!

I did wonder at this point if I would be able to complete the 8 mile trip up and down the mountain if I was struggling on the first bit, but my determination to reach the summit made me persevere and I’m so glad I did.

The next part of the route was fairly flat as we walked along the foothills towards Snowdon. The mountain itself is sort of nestled between other, smaller mountains and hills so you have to cross these hills before you actually reach Snowdon.

Twisting path up a mountainside covered in cloud

Starting the ascent of Snowdon was required some climbing and scrambling the terrain was very rocky and the path zig-zagged between large rocks jutting from the mountainside. It actually felt like we were walking through the set of Doctor Who or something, it wasn’t like anyone I’ve ever walked before and the Austrian mountains were certainly very different! The looming cloud made it feel slightly eerie too.

Rocks pertruding from mountainside
The rocky mountainside surrounded by cloud.

The higher we ascended up this steep section of the mountain, the further into the cloud we plunged. At some points it seemed as if the clouds were moving up the mountain with us but then the wind would force the down again, surrounding us. Walking through clouds is a strange experience – in some places our field of vision was restricted to a two metre radius, and by the time we’d reached the top, we were quite wet as if we’d been in a rain shower due to the water vapour that forms the clouds and clings to your body.

Once we’d reached the top of the first ‘peak’, there was a flat area of ground where – if the cloud cleared – you could see the nearby town of Llanberis, where many walkers choose to start their ascent from. At this point, we had no idea how far we’d walk and even less idea of how far we had left to go. We still couldn’t see the summit and the path ahead disappeared into the cloud so it was sort of a guessing game really.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
The path ahead!

The next section felt like it lasted forever as if time had stood still. The path wasn’t particularly steep, more like a gradual slope, but it was at this point in the climb that we began to feel the temperature dropping and as we were even further into the cloud, the fog became much thicker, even distorting the sound of jet planes flying over the mountain. It was really quite disorientating not being able to see the planes over head. They felt a lot closer than they probably were.

Since we’d started climbing the mountain, we’d barely passed any other walkers. I don’t know if it was because the weather put people off, but we probably encountered only about 3 or 4 other groups of people. Their shadows would emerge in the fog, they’d pass us by and encourage us to keep going and then disappear back into the fog. At some points, we were very relieved when this happened as it really didn’t feel like we were anywhere on Earth.

The cloud also was disorientating in the sense that it distorted images too. I remember debating with my family many times whether a vague lump in the distance was a sheep (as there were many sheep on the mountain) or a rock. Some of the sheep just looked huge! I even mistook a seagull for a llama, which sounds rather stupid, but I saw a long neck emerging through the fog which looked much bigger than any seagull I’ve ever seen, so I just presumed it was a llama!

Even though passers-by kept reassuring us we were nearly at the top, it really didn’t mean anything when you can’t see where you’re heading anyway. The summit still felt miles away.

It wasn’t until we heard – and saw – the Snowdon mountain train emerge through the cloud, heading down the mountain, that we really felt we were almost there, as at this point the route we were following joined with another path so we encountered many more people, both going up and down the mountain.

Single carriage train in mist
The train surrounded by fog.

Although we still couldn’t see much, we knew we were walking along the top ‘edge’ of the mountain, on our way to it’s peak, as the path had flattened out and it was considerably colder. We were later informed that it was actually 10 degrees at the top, compared to 24 at the bottom. We were glad we’d brought extra layers with us as we’d walked the majority in just shorts and t-shirts!

This was one of my favourite parts of the climb as as we were heading towards the summit, the path was lined by large pointed rocks sticking vertically out of the ground, and as we couldn’t see much more than a metre either side of us, we had no idea how high up we were or how close we were to the edge. It was thrilling, in a way, knowing whether was a large descent but not knowing how close we were to danger. If it was a clear day, however, I probably wouldn’t have like it as much as I’m not a big fan of heights.

Eventually the rocky path gave way to steps heading upwards and we could see the vague shape of the summit itself in the distance, people swarming round to take photos.

Rocky path towards small mound of rocks (summit) in the distance
The summit, still shrouded by mist!

To reach the summit itself, you had to walk up some large spiral stone steps. At this point, our legs were so tired we ended up crawling up the steps. Also this was out of fear because we couldn’t see either side of the steps so we had no idea how close the land below was if we fell. (We probably looked like right idiots haha).

Spiral stone steps
The steps!

My mum almost didn’t make it to the summit as she has problems with her knees but we persuaded her to do it as she’d made it so far, she couldn’t let a few steps defeat her!

Me stood behind trig point wearing a blue rain coat and looking rather soggy
Hello, this is me at the summit, looking rather a mess but happy!!

The trig point on the summit itself told you how far it was to other places in Wales and around the world, but I didn’t want to hang around up there too long to read things because I was starting to feel a little be wary of how high we were!

It was an exhilarating feeling to reach the summit though, knowing that I’d overcome physical challenges in the three hours it took us to ascend, but also mental challenges in motivating myself to carry on. It sounds strange but I’ve never felt more alive than I did on that mountain. I was tired yet so energised and my mind felt so refreshed. In a funny way I couldn’t help feeling that the climb had been a bit of a metaphor for life because once I’d overcome the challenge of climbing the mountain, I felt like I could overcome any obstacle that life threw at me. I felt strong. And even though we were wading through fog for most of the hike, we knew we had to keep going and trust that our feet would lead us where we needed to go, even if we couldn’t see the path ahead. That made me feel that even when things feel foggy in life, I’ve got to keep going, keep fighting. I think I needed that revelation, more than anything else about the experience. It really helped me to regain my perspective on life again after a difficult few months mental health-wise.

Anyway, let me get back on track. After reaching the summit and taking a few photos, we went into the visitor centre. It felt strange that somewhere so natural and far from modern life had been commercialised – with train and now the visitor centre. Either way, I was happy to have somewhere warm to rest my feet, eat and buy a few souvenirs (now I can say I’ve been there, done that and (literally) got the t-shirt!).

I think people who had taken the train up that day were a little disappointed that they couldn’t admire the view from the top because the cloud was so thick but we were happy that we’d made it, and climbing the mountain proved to be more about completing the challenge rather than admiring the view for my family and I.

After about an hours rest, we headed back down the mountain with a new-found spring in our step. The paths that we had traversed earlier which felt like they were never-ending we now descended with ease and we walked down about twice as quickly as we’d gone up.

Railway track to the left, people descending in the centre and roc
Descending the mountain and disappearing into the clouds.

The cloud still hadn’t really cleared, but when we’d reached the sort of viewpoint again where you could look over Llanberis, the cloud did clear for a few minutes so we could get a glimpse of the view (from about a third of the way up the mountainside).

View of town with mountains either side
Looking out at the view of Llanberis.

We stopped again at the top of the second zig-zag section we’d walked up, where I took a few photos of the view across from Snowdon.

Lake in the foreground, mountains in the background
We started our walk over the hill on the right.

It turns out walking down the very first zig-zag section through the sheep farm was just has hard as walking up had been. it really does take a toll on your knees, walking down a steep slope.

Eventually, we got back to the car and our time on the mountainside was over. It was a bit sad, in a way, as we had to go back to reality now, but I was still very proud that we’d all managed to it.

In an amusing turn of events, as we were driving away from the mountain, the cloud around the top completely cleared! It was so ironic we had to stop to take a photo of the whole mountain. If only the cloud had cleared just a few hours earlier when we were at the summit we would have been able to witness the stunning views!

Mountain through the trees
The summit is the pointy bit in the middle, we climbed up from the left hand side!

All in all though, climbing Snowdon the hard way was everything I expected it to be and more. I’m so grateful that my parents were willing to drive almost 6 hours to take us to the beautiful place that is Snowdonia. By the end of our long week away, I had grown quite attached to the scenery and didn’t want to leave.

I know someday I want to return and climb Snowdon again, to feel the emotions I felt up on the mountainside again. But for now all I can do is plan my next adventure and keep hold of these memories. 🙂

Shuffle Song Tag :)

I haven’t done a tag in such a long time (sorry to anyone who’s nominated me, I don’t often have time to do them and keep losing track, but thank you anyway!) but I saw Bethany did the Shuffle Song Tag on her blog, and I was interested to see how my music taste has changed since the last time I did a tag like this.

So the rules are to press the shuffle button on whatever platform you use to listen to music and reveal the first ten songs that come up.

Here are mine:

London – Paris Youth Foundation

Paradise – George Ezra

Hard Times – Paramore

Tiger Teeth – Walk The Moon

Lost in Paris – Tom Misch, GoldLink

Wild Love – James Bay

Mercy – Madame Monsieur

Hell – Eliza and the Bear

Falling – HAIM

Hunger – Florence + The Machine

I feel like my music taste has definitely broadened in the last two years! I still listen to some of the same artists like Walk The Moon and James Bay which will always be amongst my favourites, but I’ve started listening to smaller artists too. 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my music taste and if you’d like to do this tag too, consider yourself tagged!!

 

 

Summer’s The Word #3: Reflections on traveling

Summer's The Word

When thinking of summer, traveling is usually the first thought that comes to mind for me. Ever since I can remember, my family and I have spent our summer’s camping in the Great British Countryside from Devon and Cornwall to Wales, we’ve been exploring our country one summer at a time. Even though we’d spend just a week away at a time, those nights spend under canvas felt like they stretched out forever when I was a child.

In my teenage years, I’ve been lucky to travel abroad in the summer too, including an amazing Scout adventure in Austria and various city breaks in Berlin, Marseille and, most recently, Amsterdam.

Since returning from Amsterdam, I’ve realised that traveling really does give me a sense of fulfillment in life and I can tell because I’ve found my inspiration to blog again, I’ve started some painting and sewing projects and I’ve started reading again after 6 months of a reading slump. The thrill of exploring a new culture and being surrounded by foreign languages will never grow old for me and when I spend time abroad, I feel content as if there is nothing more I need in life. In Berlin, I felt – for the first time outside of the UK – at home as if I could leave my life here behind me and start a life in Germany. Then when I travelled to Marseille last year, I experienced the same feeling but more intense as I can (somewhat) speak French so felt more immersed in life there, which made it hard to adjust to being back at home and having to switch into English-mode. I was surprised how quickly my brain switched to understanding and thinking in French during my four day trip. In Amsterdam, I also felt this homely feeling – and almost a week after returning when I’m writing this, I still feel as if I want to go and live there.

In the near future, I would love to spend a summer interrailing around Europe, revisiting these cities that I’ve come to love and long to return to but also exploring new places.

Before, the prospect of travelling on my own seemed daunting but since going to Amsterdam with two of my friends, I know that I’d be able to get by and that thrills me because now I can plan a future of travel and experience this sense of fulfillment more often.

Maybe one day, my travels won’t be exclusive to the summer and I’ll be able to live abroad for a few months, maybe years.

When this post is published, I will be camping in North Wales, exploring the beautiful mountainous Snowdonia but after that, I’m not sure where I’ll be traveling next. My friends and I were thinking about going to Rome or Barcelona next summer or maybe somewhere else. I love the uncertainty of it all. Who knows where I’ll end up next!

Do you like to travel? What is your favourite place that you’ve visited? 🙂

Amsterdam Day 4|5am adventures and home :'(

Day 1|Day 2|Day 3

Our last day 😦 Due to our early flight, we had to check out from the hostel at 4am. Considering we’d only gotten to sleep at 2am due to noise in the hostel after the football game, we were pretty shattered.

However it was fun to navigate the streets of Amsterdam in the semi-dark when there weren’t so many cars, trams and bikes to avoid!

We walked through the Rijksmuseum tunnels into Museumplein before getting our bus so we could finally take photos by the i.amsterdam sign without hoards of tourists.

Rijksmuseum at night

We then discovered that the art installation Self-Portrait of a Dreamer by Joseph Klibansky in the water outside the Rijksmuseum was lit up at night! It looked so pretty and space-like with reflections of light in the water – I managed to get some good photos!

Astronaut statue lit up

Then it was time to get the bus and headed back to Schipol Airport. We saw a lovely sunrise that morning but it didn’t stop me from being sad about living such a wonderful city behind.

We spent our time at the airport getting breakfast – I had a cheese and ham croissant which was AMAZING – and doing some last souvenir shopping before boarding our flight and sadly heading off home.

The only good thing about the flight home was that we flew right above our local beaches and it was so cool to see them from the air!! When we landed on the runway at Bristol it was raining (surprise surprise) which just made me want to go back to Amsterdam more.

I was very tired for most of that day, as we’d had to get up at 4am and when I got home it was only 8:30am so my family were just waking up but it felt like lunch time for me 😂.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay in Amsterdam and there is definitely more I want to come back and do!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini-series and if you’re heading out on your travels soon, have a lovely time. 🙂

(P.S. I am writing this just before heading off on holiday to Wales so I don’t have time to upload all the photos that I’d like to from my laptop so it’s possible that I’ll add more when I get home!)

Amsterdam Day 3|Art, architecture and nature :)

Amsterdam Rijks

Day 1| Day 2

Day 3!!!!!!! We all managed to get a much better sleep, and as we were planning to have a more relaxing day today, we weren’t in a rush to have breakfast and go out. I actually really enjoyed breakfast at the hostel, as I mentioned before the food was really nice, but also the general atmosphere of the hostel was very friendly, despite the mixture of ages and nationalities. Also the restaurant area was really artsy with bright, colourful patterns and words relating to Amsterdam written over the walls in big letters (looked nicer than it sounds, trust me!!).

Our first stop of the day was again the nearby Albert Heijn to buy lunch for the day – I bought some honey stroopwafels which were delicious!!!!! I’ve been obsessed with stroopwafels since my swap box with Michelle a few years ago, so thanks to her for introducing me to them! I couldn’t leave the Netherlands without buying some!

Our plans for the day were to visit the Rijksmuseum which is a museum of Dutch art and history across the past few centuries. Since we are under 19, our tickets were free which was cool! The actual architecture of the Rijksmuseum building is so beautiful (I attempted to draw it in today’s header but lol it doesn’t do it justice!!) and HUGE. When we were inside, we somehow walked past the desk where you could collect a map, so we ended up wandering around the various floors and exhibitions not really knowing where we were??

Rijksmuseum

I think we managed to see most of the Renaissance exhibition, which had many religion-based paintings and artefacts from France, Italy and Spain from what I can remember! I particularly liked these mourning statues.

Row of metal mourning statues

We then went on a hunt for the library as I’d seen photos online beforehand it was definitely worth having a look!! I mean, wouldn’t it be amazing to have your own library like this with spiral stairs?!?!?

Library
Source

We then ended up upstairs where we saw an exhibition about the Napoleonic era and some Vincent van Gogh paintings!! I was really excited to see the van Gogh paintings – I think these are probably the most famous pieces of artwork I have seen (I went to the Tate Modern years ago but can’t actually remember what art I saw as smol Em wasn’t as into art). I’d love to see Starry Night one day.

Van Gogh self portrait and other paintings

Finally we made it to the Hall of Honour on the top floor where famous Dutch paintings (I think they were just Dutch but as I didn’t have the guide I could be wrong) are displayed. Here we saw Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and admiring the huge stained glass windows at the end of the hall.

The Night Watch, Rembrandt

Somewhere in the museum, we also came across this Studio Drift exhibition which I believe is called Shylight. I think they’re meant to represent flowers opening and closing – they were really relaxing to watch and almost kind of hypnotic??

101_0112

Overall, I really enjoyed visiting the Rijksmuseum – my inner art-lover was happy although wishing we had more time to explore the whole museum and other art galleries in Amsterdam!

We ate lunch in Museumplein, watching the hustle and bustle of people around the i.amsterdam sign and desperately trying to shoo away pigeons that kept trying to eat our stroopwafels and fruit!! We did walk around Museumplein as well and almost went into the Moco Museum as there was a big Banksy exhibition there and Banksy is from Bristol (near home!!). However we didn’t have enough time to go in as we had other things planned for the afternoon. We also saw Stedelijk and the Van Gogh Museum, which I definitely want to come back and visit!

Our next plan was to try to find the bus stop that we would have to take the airport express from the following morning. The stop was by the Rijksmuseum but it took us ages to find it because for some reason, when we got off the bus there a few days ago, the bus didn’t actually stop near the bus stop so we weren’t sure if it was the correct one, but after checking timetables and signs we figured it out eventually.

As the sun had come out and it was getting warmer, we headed over to Vondelpark to walk around and explore. My friend showed us the hostel she stayed in last year that was in the entrance to Vondelpark, then we walked around a few of the lake areas and ended up just sitting down and chilling for a bit in the sunshine. I love parks and nature, so it was really relaxing to be out of the busy streets into a more peaceful area of the city!

Flower bed and statue

After a few hours, we headed back to our hostel as we wanted to head out for dinner earlier as it was our last night. We chose to go the De Carrousel Pannenkoeken for dinner, which was a really cool pancake house on an old carousel. It was in an area of Amsterdam that we hadn’t explored yet, so it was nice to see a different area of the city! (Plus pancakes are delicious!!!!!!!!). I had a ham and cheese pancake and then poffertjes (which are a Dutch speciality, kind of like mini-pancakes???) with cherries and cream – it was sooo nice!!

Finally we went back to the hostel and packed our things as we had to check out early for our flight the next day. We spent the evening in the hostel bar watching the England/Croatia game, which was possibly a bad idea as most of the guests were supporting Croatia so we just hid in a corner haha.

I was kind of sad it was our last day, because I was really enjoying the trip and the freedom of being able to do what we wanted to do that I hadn’t experienced before on family holidays or school trips – I actually felt like a responsible adult for once! However as I loved Amsterdam so much, I knew I would be coming back some day! 🙂