Travel Favourites: Memories from Extraordinary Places

Hello! I’ve been loving writing more travel-themed posts this summer (mainly because I really wish I could be traveling right now!!) and I think this is the direction I want my blog to head in, as well the odd post about studying or ramble about life. This time I thought I’d reminisce on some of my favourite memories from travelling and favourite places I’ve been to over the years. I haven’t travelled a lot or gone on a massive tour around multiple countries (I’d love to though!!), but I have been lucky enough to go to a few different places over the past few years, whether that be on family holidays, with school, friends or Scouts. I hope you enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Austrian Mountains

Sunset over a river with mountains in the background
This is one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken??? (I just wish 11 year old me knew how to focus a camera properly lol)

I went to Austria back in 2011 with Scouts and we stayed in a town called Stanzach in the Tyrol region. The scenery was breathtaking, particularly the mountains which you could see form anywhere within the valley. I remember going on many evening walks to the river in the photo and skimming stones and building dams whilst the sunset. We also took a ski lift to the top of a mountain then hiked down. I’d love to go back one day and explore the mountains more!

The Eden Project, Cornwall

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It’s been a fair few years since I visited the Eden Project, but I remember really enjoying my visit. There are some really interesting and exotic plants within the rain forest and tropical ‘biomes’. My family and I were obsessed with the mimosa which look like mini ferns but when you touch their leaves they close up! It was really cute haha.

Studland Bay, Dorset

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Studland is one of my favourite beaches! When I was younger, we went camping in Dorset quite often so we’d visit Studland a lot. It’s great for swimming as the water doesn’t get deep very quickly and great for sand castles too! One of the most amusing memories I have comes from this beach. My sister and I decided to partially bury my mum in the sand and turn her into a mermaid but we later discovered that we’d left the camera in the car park down the other end of the beach. Not wanting to miss this photo opportunity, my dad, my sister and I walked back to the car park, and on the way my dad was convinced he’d seen his brother and children playing in the sand, so he went over to say hello. My sister and I realised immediately it wasn’t them but my dad insisted and kept saying to the man “don’t lie, you are my brother!” (in a friendly way). He thought his brother was messing around haha (can you tell we don’t see our family often enough to recognise them haha??). Eventually my dad gave up (my sister and I were so embarrassed at this point) and we carried on walking to the car park. When we got there, the funniest coincidence happened – we bumped into his actual brother and his family ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ It was so funny! We told them about the mishap with the look-a-like and they said that that man was actually staying on the same campsite as them and that my cousins kept mistaking him for their dad, so at least it wasn’t just us!!! It was so weird though ๐Ÿ˜‚ I’ll never forget that haha.

Double-decker trains in Berlin!!

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I still get slightly excited by this but DOUBLE-DECKER TRAINS AHHHH. I didn’t know they existed until I went to Berlin???!!? We took one out of the city one day and it was a really cool experience even though I’m too tall to stand up on the top deck haha.

Kynance Cove, Cornwall

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This beach really is a hidden beauty. We only found out about it as we are National Trust members and they own the land, but it is definitely worth a visit!! You have to walk quite far from the car park before you can descend the headland to the beach. The water was so blue!! And there were lot’s of little caves to explore. The main thing I can remember though is getting my hiking boots soaked. My dad told me to stand in front of this big rock to take a better picture of the sea, not realising that the waves came in really fast so when a big wave came in, my dad was able to scramble up onto the rock whilst I couldn’t because I was holding my camera so I was submerged up to my knees! When the wave went back out again though I was fine but had very soggy feet for the rest of the day!

Branscombe Beach, Devon

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As you may be able to tell, I really like beaches. I think it comes from growing up in a seaside town – I just love being on the coast! Branscombe Beach is another sort of hidden gem. We had to walk for a few hours to get there from our campsite, descending through the lovely village (and stopping for cake). The beach itself was stunning with sloping red cliffs and red-tinted water. My family and I spend a long time on the beach walking around, paddling and posing on various rocks for photos (as you can see above haha).

Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille

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I visited Marseille last year and one of the highlights of the trip has to be going to the Notre Dame de la Garde cathedral, which is perched atop a hill overlooking the city. The views were incredible, especially looking out to sea, and we had to take a little train up the hill to the cathedral which I’ll always remember as it was one of the first times I had a proper conversation in French (in France) as I was volunteered by my classmates to ask if our tickets were valid for the train. (Still surprised that I actually managed to do that, though! Speaking to natives can be daunting sometimes!).

MuCEM, Marseille

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Another memory from Marseille was visiting the MuCEM – the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. The architecture of the building was?? INCREDIBLE?!! The outside is basically made to look like water ripples (I think??) so on the inside the light reflects through the gaps in the outer shell making it feel as if you were underwater! The actual exhibits themselves were really interesting too as I got to learn more about Mediterranean history and lifestyles. There’s a rooftop cafe with a bridge connecting you to Fort St. Jean, which used to guard the entrance to the port of Marseille. The Fort was full of things to explore and sadly we didn’t have enough time (or energy- it was so hot!!!) to do it all, so I’d definitely love to go back!

A’DAM Lookout, Amsterdam

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If you’ve read my Amsterdam series from back in July, you may remember me mentioning the A’DAM Lookout! It’s essentially a hotel with a restaurant and ‘lookout’ on top from which you can see across the city. It also has Europe’s highest swing which swings you over the edge of the tower!! I’m not the biggest fan of heights but I do LOVE being high enough up to see an amazing view, and the A’DAM Lookout definitely didn’t disappoint!! The whole experience of the Lookout was so fun, from getting stuck on a giant red horse, to battling the fierce wind and running for the ferry! Definitely one of the highlights of the holiday!

Porthor Beach, North Wales

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(Another beach oops!!). My family and I visited Porthor Beach on our most recent holiday to Snowdonia, North Wales. My dad is very good at planning holidays in that he picks out the less well-known places for us to visit, such as Porthor. It was very difficult to get to as we kept missing turnings, but after a longer than exepcted journey, it was definitely worth the hassle!! As far as beaches go, Porthor wsas fairly quiet which was nice because sometimes Studland Beach (which I mentioned earlier) is very busy and you don’t have much space. Porthor is also known as the Whistling Sands beach because!!! THE SAND WHISTLES WHEN YOU WALK AHHH! (I was probably way too excited by this but it was so fun!!! Although you can’t really sneak up on people haha). Due tot he type of sand at Porthor, when you walk the sand compresses and makes a sort of squeaky noise!! We spent the whole day at the beach, swimming in the sea which was clear blue and home to some jelly fish and also playing multiple matches of beach volley ball with our make-shift ‘net’ made of pebbles. It was great fun!

Aberglaslyn Gorge, North Wales

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Another memory from my holiday in Snowdonia was hiking through the Aberglaslyn Gorge. This was in the height of the heat wave in the UK so it’s safe to say we were VERY hot and possibly hiking in the heat wasn’t the BEST idea. However, the gorge was so beautiful!! The majority of the walk involved scrambling over rocks along the side of the river – some of which had metal handholds to help you across difficult sections. It reminded me of going canyoning in Austria! We had to stop halfway and cool off our feet in the river. When we reached Beddgeleret – a small village which is the river passes through – we stopped for an ice cream and looked around. It was sch a lovely little village, I could have seen myself living there, surrounded by the mountains. We sat on a wall by the river eating our ice creams and two tourists asked if they could photograph us sitting on the wall within the space of ten minutes which was STRANGE??

Snowdon Street, Porthmadog

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My final memory to share is from the same holiday again, this time of Snowdon Street in the town of Porthmadog. It may not seem the most interesting honestly it was so cool just walking through the town then at the bottom of a side street you can see Snowdon, perfectly framed between the rows of houses. I have so many memories of climbing Snowdon itself, which I shared here, and considering I couldn’t get any non-cloud covered photos whilst climbing it, I’m pretty pleased I had the opportunity to see Snowdon again, from the ground this time!!

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of my favourite memories from traveling and places I’ve been, I’ve certainly enjoyed reminiscing about them! There are so many beautiful and interesting places to see, whether that be in your own country or abroad. I’d love to hear your travel top picks below!

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London Bucket List: Places to Explore!!

Map of London and text reading 'London Bucket List!!'

In three weeks time, I’ll be moving to the other side of the country to London for university which has come around SCARILY fast – it feels like I was taking my A Level exams just the other day! At the moment, I’m excited to go and meet new people and study subjects that I love, but I know nearer the time I’ll probably be quite nervous, so I thought writing this post would hype me up a bit and also give me some inspiration for days out whilst I’m there. I haven’t really been to London a lot – although I did go twice last summer which ultimately convinced me to go to uni there, but before that I hadn’t been since I was very small! So it’s safe to say there are a lot of London landmarks that I haven’t been to yet – some of which I will be sharing in this bucket list.

Before I start, I apologise for the lack of relevant (??) photos in this post! I wanted to include some fancy photography but as I haven’t really been to these places, I didn’t really have any. Although!! I do have a tube map and colour-in map of London (which I need to finish colouring!!) which the amazing Eve sent to me in a swap box we did a few years ago! So I did have a few London-y props. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling and get onto the bucket list!!

(Also: do any Miranda fans remember Stevie Sutton’s bucket list because I was SO TEMPTED to start this post with that haha)

Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book next to a pot plant

I couldn’t not include Harry potter in this could I??? When I was little, my dad took us on a tour of Harry Potter filming locations that he’d put together around London and it was SO MUCH FUN although Platform 9 3/4 wasn’t there then so I HAVE to visit it!!!! ( You never know, maybe I’ll get a Hogwarts letter soon too).

Warner Bros Studio Tour

More Harry Potter stuff but AHHHH I’D LOVE TO GOOOOOO!! I know my uni does an a annual trip so hopefully I can visit it then!!

London Eye

I have never been on the eye and I feel like it’s something you have in London?? I’m not a big fan of heights but I do love photographing amazing views so hopefully that’ll distract me from how high up it is haha.

Tate Modern

I remember going to the Tate when I was really young and I probably didn’t appreciate art much back then. I love going to galleries though – I find it so relaxing so hopefully I’ll find time to visit the Tate and other galleries in London!

See a West End musical

I LOVE MUSICALSSSS. And we don’t get many big musicals touring where I live ๐Ÿ˜ฆ There are so many I’d like to see though so it would take me forever to decide haha.

Using the Tube

Tube map hidden behind leaves

This may seem not seem very interesting to people who are used to taking the tube, but I’ve only used it once (which was HECTIC AHH) and my goal is by the end of uni to actually be able to navigate the tube by myself and not look like a flustered tourist.

Houses of Parliament

I’m hoping as I’m studying politics that we will get to visit and watch some debates. I visited the Welsh Senedd last year and it was so interesting!! I’m low key sad that Big Ben won’t be fully functioning for the entire time I’m in London though due to it’s repair works ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Churchill War Rooms

We wanted to visit the War Rooms last time we were in London but the queue was so big and it was close to closing time so we had to give it a miss, but the history fanatic in me definitely needs to go back and visit.

French Film Festival

This isn’t like specific to London as such, but every year there is a French Film Festival in the UK where lots of independent cinemas around the UK show French films. I wanted to go last year because my favourite French film was showing but all the locations were too far away from home, but hopefully this year I can watch a film or two in London!

London Pride!! ๐ŸŒˆ

I’VE NEVER BEEN TO PRIDE AHHH but I really would love to go!!! Especially London Pride as it’d be much bigger than back home! Hopefully I can find people to go with ๐Ÿ™‚

Day trip

Various train tickets next to a cactus

Also not London specific but because London is technically better connected to the rest of the UK than Somerset, I’d love to take a day trip on the train and explore somewhere new in the UK.

Well that concludes my ‘London Bucket List’ so far! (It bothers me that there are only 11 things in this list because ODD NUMBERS AHHH). I know there are many things that I have probably missed out of this, so I’d love to hear your recommendations of places to go and things to see. I’m really looking forward to exploring London more, so hopefully this post will give me a few ideas and motivate me to go out and explore!

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? ๐Ÿ™‚

Amsterdam Day 2|Canal adventures!

Amsterdam canals

(Read Day 1 here!)

The second day of our Dutch adventure began in a rather unexpected way. We woke up to find that we had no electricity in our room and our phones that we’d left to charge overnight were completely dead! We had to go to reception and report what happened and they called an electrician to come and sort out the electrics whilst we were eating breakfast (which was delicious!). It turns out we’d accidentally left the mirror light on in the bathroom and it had blown a fuse overnight, but it was soon fixed which was a relief (although slightly embarrassing that we hadn’t even been at the hostel 24 hours and already had an incident…).

Anyway, the breakfast we had was surprisingly nice – there was a choice of cereals, toast, cold meats, fruit and even pancakes so we definitely had enough energy for a busy day of sightseeing (and it really was busy) after eating!

As it was our first full day in the city, we’d planned to take a canal tour and get our bearings, as well as seeing the sights and learning more about Amsterdam’s history. Although before we got on the boat, we managed to locate our nearest supermarket, an Albert Heijn on the main street at the end of our road. There I got a second breakfast (I’m sorry I can’t resist croissants!!!!!) and we bought our lunch for the day incase we weren’t near a supermarket around lunchtime. I think we also looked in some of the tourist shops but I can’t quite remember as we walked down that street so many times throughout the trip!

It was actually raining quite heavily so we had to wear our rain coats (which I almost forgot to pack) and when we did get to the boat – which was a hop-on, hop-off tour so we could get on and off multiple times and explore the city – the roof was on, which made it a bit difficult to see out of the windows due to the raindrops but at least we were dry.

The boat had an audio tour guide which you could plug headphones in. I started off listening in French because I need to keep practising but eventually I switched to English as I was worried I was missing important information. It was actually really relaxing seeing the city from the water. I think we spent about 2 hours going round the whole route just to listen to the audio tour before we actually got off. So relaxing that one of my friends fell asleep for part of it!

Canals

Church next to canal

The first place we got off was at the Gassan Diamond Factory as we found out we could have a free tour of the factory included with our boat ticket. It was actually really interesting – we saw people polishing and cutting the diamonds and then learnt about how they were valued. We also stopped off at the shop to get a few souvenirs before finding somewhere to sit and eat lunch. My family and I collect patches on our camp blankets from places we’ve travelled and Scout camps so I bought some for us all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Embroidered patches

We wanted to go to the Waterlooplein market next but we discovered it was quicker to walk there than wait for the boat to arrive to take us so we (successfully this time) navigated ourselves to the market. I love looking around markets – we have some at home in Bristol but they’re all fairly small. What I like about markets is that there are a lot of handmade gifts and small businesses so you often find more unique products than you would in more tourist-y areas. My friend and I both bought some little Delftware animals for our families as gifts. I got my nan an elephant as she has a small herd of elephants in her living room, so I thought it would be a nice addition!

I also bought myself some clog slippers – which I had been wanting to get ever since my friend brought some home from Amsterdam last year. Plus my slippers at home were broken so I did actually need new ones!!! I got yellow and red ones with a windmill and tulips on the top – they’re actually the comfiest pair of slippers I’ve ever had and I’ve been living in them since I got home!!

We then walked to the next boat stop which was over the Skinny Bridge, which I didn’t realise we’d walked over until about ten minutes later! We tried to run for the boat as we had the app which told us the boat was just at the stop but when we got there it was just pulling away so we ended up having to wait half an hour sat in front of the Hermitage Museum. But as it had stopped raining by this point, it was a good opportunity to take photos of the canals!

Canal

We needed to take the canal boat to the other side of the River IJ to northern Amsterdam as we’d booked tickets for the A’DAM Lookout, which is basically a hotel with a viewing platform on the top where you can see across the whole of Amsterdam. It is also home to Europe’s highest swing as well (fun fact for you) which actually swings you over the edge of the tower! When you arrive at the tower, you get a free photo shoot in front of a green screen with various views of Amsterdam in the background and then you take a very cool lift ride to the top floor (no spoilers!!).

Modern tower
The A’DAM Lookout ๐Ÿ™‚

The views from the roof were just??? AMAZING??? I think we spent a couple of hours up there just admiring the view and taking photos and trying not to get blown off the roof by the wind. We could see the whole extent of the city and surrounding land, it was so beautiful and kind of a surreal feeling thinking about how many people were going about their everyday lives within the radius we could see. The sun actually decided to come out too which was a bonus!

View over city

View across the city and river

My friends went on the swing over the edge, but I’m not great with heights so I was quite happy looking out over the city and trying to pick out landmarks.

The A’DAM Lookout is possibly home to Europe’s highest red horse??? I mean, there can’t be many red metal horses 100m high! We had a bit of an incident with this horse too. I tried to climb up first but it couldn’t make it so I gave up (to be honest I didn’t want to get stuck!). My friend successfully climbed up second but then couldn’t get down so my other friend and I spent ages trying to help her down before a French guy came over and helped to lift her off. Then my other friend managed to climb up and down within a space of 5 minutes. It was quite an interesting experience…

We also went to the floor below the roof which was a bar and had a mini exhibition about Amsterdam, including a model map of the city. We managed to find the street our hostel was on the map so we can’t have been that bad at navigating!! There was also a glass floor, so an obligatory feet photo had to be taken of course.

Model of Amsterdam

Glass floorAfter leaving the tower, we went for a stroll along by the river. It was nice to be in a part of Amsterdam that wasn’t busy with tourists and residents and that we could walk around the grassy paths peacefully in the sunshine. We thought we’d missed the last canal boat so resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d have to take the ferry and walk 40 minutes back to the hostel in the south of the city, but then my friend spotted the canal boat at the jetty so we sprinted all the way along the waterside to see if we could catch the boat. The boat started pulling away so two of us gave up running but my friend carried on and the boat driver actually came back to the jetty to pick us up which was so kind of her (although a bit embarrassing for us!). One thing I noticed whilst in Amsterdam was how friendly Dutch people are – in Britain that never would have happened – and on other occasions too I was surprised at how friendly everyone was, like at some of the restaurants we visited where staff would have a proper conversation with you about where you were from and what you’d been up to – Amsterdam felt like such a friendly place.

View across river

Anyway, so we managed to get on the canal boat which would have taken us all the way back to the hostel but as the sun was out still, we decided to get off at the Anne Frank House and walk the rest of the way. I really wanted to go inside the Anne Frank House but we didn’t have time unfortunately, but I am definitely going to go back again!!!

We took a detour to walk through Dam Square and see the palace. It was very busy in Dam Square and pigeons (and my friend) kept photo-bombing my photos haha but it was good to see the palace! After that, we carried on walking back to the hostel which was surprisingly straightforward and we passed the Bloemenmarkt – or floating flower market – as well and had a look around because you can’t go to Holland without seeing tulips!! (These photos were taken on my phone because I somehow forgot I had my camera with me??? So excuse the poor quality).

Busy square
Dam Square
Palace with pigeons in foreground
Dam pigeons!!
Array of flower bouqet
Sunflowers = van Gogh vibes!

It really was an action-packed day, and we were exhausted by the time we got back to the hostel so ended up going out for dinner quite late. Especially as one of my friends got locked in the bathroom in our room so it took like half an hour for various hostel staff to unlock the door and let her out! Thankfully the staff saw the funny side of it – we thought they might be fed up of us after having to call in an electrician earlier that day – but we were all relieved when she finally got out!

We went to Leidseplein again and this time had pizza. The pubs and bars were really busy as it was the France/Belgium game so when we went to the Hard Rock bar for cocktails after dinner, we had to wait for the football to finish before we were served haha.

It was so pretty walking back along the canals at night, and this time I took my camera so I could get some decent shots. It felt really safe walking around too, even thought it was nearly 11pm when we left the bar, because the streets were still busy and a lot of shops were still open, whereas at home its dead at that time so I usually don’t like staying out that late.

Reflections of light in canals at night

Again we stayed up and played cards for a bit and then we swapped my mattress because I’d hardly slept the previous night as it was rock hard and I woke up aching, but luckily we had a four person room between the three of us so I could swap to a comfier mattress!

Hope you’re enjoying reading about my Amsterdam adventure and it will continue with Day 3 soon (when I get around to writing it!!) ๐Ÿ™‚

Amsterdam Day 1|Don’t trust Em to give directions (I got us lost oops)

amsterdam (1)

Hello! Or should I say hallo as I’m writing about my trip to Amsterdam last week. ๐Ÿ™‚

A couple of months ago, two of my friends and I spontaneously decided to book a holiday in Amsterdam. Well, it wasn’t quite like that – we didn’t just rock up at the travel agency and book a holiday on a whim. In fact, we almost didn’t make it to our appointment at the agency as we got the times muddled up and got carried away eating pizza (and our parents still trusted us to go abroad by ourselves?!?). We were hoping to go on holiday in the UK and stay in a caravan or something, but we actually discovered that it would be cheaper to go on a European city break than holiday here, especially as not many places in the UK will allow groups of teenagers to stay, so going abroad was sort of a last minute decision. As one of my friends went to a Scout and Guide jamboree in the Netherlands last year, we thought Amsterdam would be a good option as at least one of us was (kind of) familiar with the city already.

I’ve wanted to go to Amsterdam for a while now – not only because I’d have a greater chance of bumping into my bae Douwe Bob ๐Ÿ˜‰ – but also to explore Dutch culture too. I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to go so soon though!! To be honest, it still hasn’t sunk in that I’ve actually been, haha, but I’m looking forward to documenting the trip here to look back on in the future.

Anyway, we left the UK last Monday to head off on our adventure. I was actually quite stressed beforehand as airport security really stresses me out and I was worried I’d packed something that I wasn’t allowed to take (like my Harry Potter pin badges on my denim jacket – I would have been so sad if they had confiscated them, but luckily they didn’t). Funnily enough, I actually had to be patted down both times we went through security as I apparently had something metal on me which set of the scanners?? But it wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be and we were soon through security and waiting for our gate to open, so it worked out okay in the end.

The actual flight only took 55 minutes from Bristol to Amsterdam, which is mad because that’s shorter than the amount of time it used to take me to get to college everyday on the bus!!? I clearly should have just gone to college in the Netherlands instead ๐Ÿ˜‚ As we were flying with KLM, we did get free sandwiches and drinks which was cool as I’ve only ever flown with EasyJet before where you don’t get any refreshments, also the packaging was really cute!

Clouds outside airplane window

We’d tried to organise the holiday as much as possible beforehand, so we’d already bought our tickets for the bus that would take us from Schipol to the city centre. However, it took us a good 30 mins to actually find the stand that the bus was leaving from because the departure board kept sending us to different bus stands – one of which didn’t exist??? We had to get on at stand B17 but we couldn’t find any bus stops past B14 which resulted in us running around like headless chickens along with two other travellers, who were also looking for the same bus, until the bus we needed happened to pull up next to us, so I guess we’d found the invisible B17 stand without realising? It was confusing.

The chaos continued when we got off outside the Rijksmuseum 40 minutes later. I’d printed out a map and attempted to lead my friends to our hostel but everything looked different in real life and we ended up walking around in circles before we actually found the street we were staying on. I think we must of arrived in rush hour or something as well because the roads were so busy with cars, trams and bikes so it was a nightmare trying to walk through the city with all our luggage. So what should have been a 10 minute walk ended up taking over 30 mins due to my bad map reading. Oops. We landed in Amsterdam at about 4pm I think but it was past 6pm by the time we arrived at the hostel.

Looking down a street
Our hostel on Kerkstraat

We were lucky enough to be staying within the canal belt near to Museumplein and although our hostel branded itself “the worst hostel in the world”, it actually turned out to be rather good compared to other hostels I’ve stayed in! We were on the 4th floor so the view we had from the window was amazing. I spent so much time with my head stuck out the window looking at all the different buildings whenever we came back to the hostel. It really was a great view though.

Dutch houses
View from the window

After unpacking and having a rest, we headed out for dinner. Unsurprisingly, we again ended up walking around in circles trying to get to the Leidseplein area to find somewhere to eat, but we managed to find a shortcut on the way back which we remembered for the following days. We strolled along the canals after dinner and it was beautiful – I really wish I hadn’t left my camera in the hostel but I did manage to get a few (bad quality) photos on my phone!

Canals with flowers in foreground

Yellow car beside canal

Fountain

Multi-coloured Dutch houses

Canals with street lamp in foreground

Hard Rock Cafรฉ sign

I think we ended the day by playing UNO and Irish Snap in the hostel, and of course I kept looking out of the window trying to get photos of the street at nighttime (I was obsessed with this window ahh I miss the view!).

Most of day 1 was spent travelling to Amsterdam, as you can tell, as we had an afternoon flight. However it was really relaxing to have the evening to settle in before our busy second day of the trip!

Hope you enjoyed reading about our first day in the city, stay tuned if you want to see what else we got up to. ๐Ÿ™‚

(p.s. I drew all the featured images for this mini-series myself so apologies if the drawings aren’t great haha)

A Place to Escape

As bloggers, we often find inspiration in the most unlikely of places. Today I was so inspired by a place that the words for this post were forming in my head as I was walking home from visiting it. I was in such a daydream that I actually twisted my ankle on a lump in the pavement and made fool of myself in front of a group of teenagers but I’m just happy I’ve found the inspiration to write again.

I wanted to write about the place that inspired me today as it has become an important part of my life recently. As some of you may know, I live in Somerset which is well known for its farms and countryside. I’m lucky to live on the edge of a suburb, so farms and nature reserves are just around the corner.

A habit of mine is to stroll through the lanes and fields as it helps me to clear my mind and put my problems into perspective. A few months ago, whilst on one of my “walks”, I noticed a little gravel pathway disappearing between the reeds by the river bed. I hadn’t seen this path before, however I knew over the past year or so the local council had been creating a nature reserve and flood plains by the river behind my house, so I assumed that this pathway was a new addition along with that.

As I soon discovered, this pathway continued right along beside the river, lined with reeds and grasses and trees and since then it has become somewhere that I visit often.

It’s quite a winding pathway, and often you have to push branches aside to recover it’s route. In some places, the reeds are taller than me and I feel immersed in the wildlife. It really is a beautiful place.

I love hearing nothing else but the sound of wind blowing through the leaves, birdsong and crickets. Occasionally there are ducks too. The river and pathway are sort of sunken below the pavement, so when I walk along I feel sort of hidden from the rest of the world and I find a blissful peace within myself.

As I mentioned, this place as become very important to me over the past few months. Anytime I’m feeling stress or overwhelmed with life, I go there to escape and relax. Nature has this sort of calming effect on me, making me realise that there is a world outside of my head and that it is thriving. This long, winding path has experienced some of my biggest breakdowns and the wildlife there has listened to my unspoken thoughts, given me time to contemplate before they are whisked away by the wind. It has heard me practicing for exams, going over and over French speaking questions, reciting essay plans and dates of historical importance.

When I walk here, I feel lost. But not a bewildered, disconcerting sense of lost. A comforting lost. I feel separate from the pressures of society, even if just for a small amount of time. My problems feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and that brings me peace.

I guess everyone has their “escape”. Sometimes it’s a person, an object, music, sport or a place. This place is my escape. Maybe – it’s impossible to know – but maybe it is someone else’s escape too.

Summer’s The Word #2: what I’ve been up to so far!

Summer's The Word

Hello and welcome to the second installment of my summer series. As my summer holiday officially started on the June 20 after my last French exam, I have had almost two weeks off now. As the weather has been lovely, I’ve been quite busy with friends and family. Although, most of the time I’ve just been lazing around watching Netflix because I still haven’t recovered from the mental and physical post-exam exhaustion I seem to suffer from at the beginning of every summer. However, I thought I’d share with you a few exciting things I have done so far. ๐Ÿ™‚

The first thing I did was meet up with two of my oldest friends as I hadn’t seen them properly for about a month due to exams and we really needed to catch up. We went up to Bristol for the day and did some shopping for summer, although I managed to restrain myself in Primark and only buy two tops (which I’m pretty proud of ๐Ÿ˜‚). We also went out for lunch to an all-you-can-eat restaurant with foods from around the world. However, due to exam exhaustion, I wasn’t feeling great so couldn’t make the most of the all-you-can-eat part, but I still enjoyed it! It was a great way to start summer and I was so happy to be in Bristol, as it is one of my favourite place (I even wrote an ~artsy~ travel guide if you’re thinking of visiting – which you should!!). However, on the way home our bus journey was delayed by 90 minutes and what would usually be an hour journey turned into 2 hrs 30 mins sat on a stuffy bus in boiling heat. Gotta love living in the countryside where there’s no alternative roads for buses to take detours!

The following day, my family and I went to watch two women’s T20 cricket matches at our local ground. Watching cricket has sort of become a summer tradition of ours, so I was really looking forward to it. We watched England vs. South Africa and then England vs. New Zealand as part of the summer tri series. It was actually really busy at the ground so the atmosphere was great and as it was an England game, we got loads of freebies, including some cool blue hair/wig things??!

The day after that (such a busy weekend AHH) we went to our town’s annual air festival. This is probably the only decent thing that happens here, so I was determined to go as we missed it last year. As it was so hot, we just decided to take chairs and sit on the beach all day, watching the planes. The Red Arrows were the highlight as always, however I loved the wing walkers too (yes, they actually strap people to the wings of planes and fly around??? Crazy). I did get sunburnt though, and it STILL hasn’t faded despite it being over a week ago now. The curse of pale skin!!

Red Arrows flying over beach

Red Arrows flying over beach

After such a busy start to the summer, the next week was more chilled. I had my friends over for a BBQ (the two I went to Bristol with) as we needed to finish planning our trip to Amsterdam (1 week away ahhh), and choosing our seats on the plane. We also played board games and I think that’s the first time I properly felt relaxed after A Levels. My sister and I also decided to visit our town’s museum (which I helped to refurbish a few years ago) last week as they had opened some new exhibitions, and turns out Doctor Who had decided to visit on the same day so that was great. We attempted to stroll around the beaches but it was soooo hot we ended up just getting slushies.

The TARDIS

Glass museum roof

Slushies and sea view

This week so far has been even more chilled than last week. I met up with another friend to have a catch up and watch films, and we’re hopefully going to have a beach day tomorrow. But apart from that, I’m just planning to relax so hopefully I can get over this exhaustion before I go away on Monday and I also need to start packing!

I expect the next time you will probably hear from me will be after Amsterdam next week. I can’t believe I’m actually going g after months of planning??? And I can’t wait to write about it and share photos (if my camera doesn’t give up on me, I mean, it’s already half-broken and held together with an elastic band oops ๐Ÿ˜‚).

Au revoir pour maintenant, mes amis!