It’s no Glow Eindhoven or Vivid Sydney, but Lumiere London is a pretty good reason to brave a cold, damp January evening. For four days, international artists get free reign to light up London with over 50 installations.
What they don’t mention in the press release is:
2 rude Dutch people
3 crying mums
10 kids on scooters
12 places trying to seduce you with hot chocolate
20 sites where you’re not sure if it’s part of the festival or just accidental Lumiere.
Despite this, there’s more than a few bright lights to dazzle you. Mine were:
Child Hood @ Trafalager Square – all my Hertz go to this one
Harmonic Portal @ 197 Piccadilly – loved these watts and wats
The Wave @ the South Bank – lightened up my mood
Entre les rangs @ King’s Cross – was truly delightful to walk around
OSC-L & Sixty Minute Spectrum @ South Bank – leave you in the dark
You might want to dim your expectations when you come across these ones:
Slow travel and digital detox! These buzzwords are going to be everywhere in 2018 so before you get bored of them here’s my Expectations vs Reality on travelling digiless.
When I planned my trip the plan was to do a little hike here, see a museum/castle there but mainly enjoy a few days off.. As Innsbruck looked compact, going digiless seemed perfect.
Expectation: I don’t use guidebooks too much, I prefer to research online and put together my own itinerary. But part of the magic was supposed to be to go around with a map and an old fashioned guidebook.
Reality: I was hit by this one quite early as it turns out there isn’t an Innsbruck guide. The best on offer was a regional guide so that idea went out the window. I ended up using a map and booklets from the tourist office and a charming folder my Airbnb host had prepared.
Expectation: Get a paper map and follow it travel nirvana.
Reality: The airport bus took 15 minutes to the centre, with the Airbnb a few minutes from there, meaning my first travel test felt a bit of a cheat.
Still it CAN go wrong and one CAN walk past the ski lift entrance. In my defence, my digiless experiment in asking a kind local for directions was a terrible mistake. Getting lost was actually ok as I got to talk practice my German and talk to people but it did almost cost me my relationship.
Hiking trails are beautiful, relaxing and some of my favourite places. BUT the sign posts are open to interpretation, which may have resulted in going down the wrong side of a mountain.
Expectation: Getting my Warhol on and snapping some magical Polaroids while on the go.
Reality: Well that magic was lost soon when it proved too cloudy atop the mountain and you actually can’t get the gorgeous landscape in frame. Thank God I was with a sane person who did bring a DIGITAL camera.
Expectation: Just go with the flow and see where you end up foodwise, why not ask a random person what their favourite place is or go where the locals seem to hang out.
Reality: I soon learned that you often need to book a table, I always forget that outside London this is essential, especially on Friday night. But I also learned that the most touristy spot in town that I would usually avoid actually had the best kaesespaetzle that has ever melted on my tongue.
Expectation: Who needs planning and getting travel tickets booked ahead of time? Why not spontaneously head down to the station and see what the lovely ticket office staff have to offer?
Reality: So many reasons why not! But guys … you can’t blame me for wanting to do Before Midnight and get on a train to anywhere but without booking it online weeks ahead I could barely afford 3 stops. Wait for me Ethan!
Expectation: Have a old fashioned notebook with scribbles of my adventures (and of course the perfect spot for accompanying Polaroids)
Reality: This is actually a great one … until I remembered I am missing the creative gene. And now I’m left with a notebook that’s 3/4 empty filed with handwriting that turns indecipherable after 3 sentences.
Conclusion: It isn’t that hard, it’s just a switch that needs turning off.
I’m not on Instagram or Twitter too much, so going digiless isn’t a giant step but I love the idea of doing it as much as possible, even if it doesn’t always work out as expected. However, I will say, there’s something about walking around London using memory, logic and landmarks to find my way. It’s somehow less draining (on my brain and phone battery) than following whatever Google maps has to say, so give it a try!
Chances are your relationship with your bank account is feeling a little strained at the moment. There was the expensive December month and you might have booked a flight or two when you panicked during your first week back in the office. Now you’ve got a few months to go and save up, but have you considered the money you might waste while on holiday? Here are some tips to avoid financial heartache I made so you don’t have to. You are welcome.
Not packing strategically can cost you quite a bit of money. Not only in terms of exceeding the weight allowance…but how many times have you forgotten your toothbrush? Not to mention all the full size products you by accidently packed and had to hand in and repurchase again. So make sure that you write down a packing list and double check.
Saving yourself £30 and flying with a budget airline to a smaller airport can feel like you just entered the wonder world of Extreme Couponing, but then you find out it takes 2 hours and £50 to get to the city from that small airport. So always compare how much it will cost you to get to from main as well as the regional airport to your destination. It might be dull, but worth it in the end.
Spontaneous decisions can end up fun, but could also end up costing you a lot, so you might want to look into planning your activities ahead of the trip. The train tickets for that day trip you planned might end up being the same amount for as it would have cost you to fly to your holiday destination.
Money exchange costs, especially at airports are a massive money trap and you should never ever change currency at an airport. Check online for the best deals in your country or use your card to withdraw cash when you arrive.
But before you do that do check how much your bank charges you for paying/withdrawing abroad .The first time I went abroad with my UK card I found out I paid over £30 for card charges! With that money I could have bought a one way ticket to Paris.
Not reading the fine print. So forgetting to check in or finding out your suitcase is literally 2 mm too big for the budget airline and you end up paying an additional £60. And you know what? You are the only to blame so next time listen to your mom when she asks you if the suitcase isn’t too big, they have a special extra sense for this.
Not making use of your hostel/Ar BnB kitchen can cost you a lot. Ok, true … in some countries it can actually be cheaper to go out, but your first stop should the supermarket. There you can explore and stock up on goods you can’t find at home. It doesn’t have to be a 4 course meal, but get your baguette and cheese for breakfast and invest what you save in an extra drink that evening – or invest it in something more useful.
It’s fun when you mix up the exchange rate and everything is CHEAPER than you thought, but it’s not too great when it happens the other way round. I remember in Latvia everything seemed super super cheap until I realised I mixed the exchange rate up and in the 48 hours I spend there costed way more than it should have been. It’s 2018 and there are apps for this so no more excuses.
How much have you wasted during your last holiday?
Happy New Year and heeellow 2018! Before I start spoiling you with new content let’s look at what I was up to in the last 3 months of 2017. Spoiler alert: actually not that much.
Mexico: Cancun – Vallolidad – Tulum – Isla Mujeres: to eat tacos and look at rocks that the Mayans left us.
I finally made it to Mexico! I had just over a week to see what the Yucatan region was all about:
The food guys! The food! We can all agree that visiting a new location is all about how many meals and snacks you can fit in between all the other activities and it did not disappoint. The variety in tacos, quesadillas and salsas was beyond even my high hopes – the overall winner had to be Antojitos La Chiapaneca in Tulum, mainly because of the giant salsa table with every topping imaginable.
Vallolidad was everything I wanted and more, from checking out to colonial buildings to cooling down in nearby cenotes (underground caverns) and evening walks in the park – even the schoolband that practices their Christmas show until 3 AM outside the hostel had its charm.
And then there was the magnificent Chichen Itza – you can read the high and lowlights here.
I still don’t know what to think of Cancun itself – one day I might share the story on how I looked death in the eyes not once, not twice, but three times while in Cancun…
I have read and seen so much of Tulum on blogs that I had the feeling I already kind of been there and it all sounded amazing on paper but apart from above mentioned tacos I didn’t really feel it… though the swings do get you a lot of IG likes.
I wish I could hibernate through the winter months, but as that’s not too healthy I managed to make something out of the cold and wet London days and I:
did the Underground Tour that I had been trying to get to tickets for forever – LOVED IT
drowned my tastebuds in a cheese fondue – why did I wait this long!?!?
kicked off the first section of the Green Walk – more like a grey walk, but that for another time
saw lots of movies – Thor:Ragnarok being a absolute highlight and Justice League the ultimate lowlight
made it to The Kitchens in Spittalfields – two thumbs up for the mezze and steamed tofu buns
peeked at the Geffrye Museum before they close for refurbishment – great if you love peeking inside other people’s homes
checked out the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret – such a little gem and I can’t wait to share more soon
Seeing the amazing Chichen Itza, finally getting one of the Underground Tours AND eating Tacos and Quesadillas for a week without getting sick or bored of it. Check, check and check.
As if an 8 hour hour flight isn’t bad enough, mine came with a really really loud little neighbouring passenger. It would have been understandable if the kid was in pain, but the tears were just for attention, and it only zipped it after it got what it wanted.
Missing out on tickets for the Harry Potter exhibition. By the time this self proclaimed fan found about the exhibition the weekend tickets were long gone and I’m not sure I can justify taking time off work for it! Thankfully I caught a documentary on the whole thing, so hopefully that can hold me off for the moment.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited about filling these pages with my new adventures and I’m just know that 2018 will be for Tea C what 2017 was for Cardi B. But before I look ahead I need to say goodbye to a few things.
This pair of sandals that served me good for 4 British Summers plus lots of trips broke beyond repair in Mexico and I had to leave them behind, fairwell you brave ‘soles’. I’ve tried Teva (#nospon), but they are either too big or too small and with the Saltwaters (#nospon) I had the feeling I was turning into some kind of duck creature.
I really need to be a bit less relaxed on confirming important details – and not just assuming things will all work out bright and breezy on the day. This relaxed attitude meant I my mouth was left hanging wide open as the train ticket person told me the price for a journey was three times what I had accounted for! I did do some prep research, but I probably got distracted by a cat GIF…
I have to stop going on trips without cleaning up my phone memory first. I don’t want to be in a situation with a killer sunset happening at Piazzale Michelangelo while I’m stuck deleting photos of a breakfast I had in 2015. Actually … can I leave my phone in 2017?
In addition to the shitty phone, there is also the untrustworthy external charger – that only works if the wind blows in a particular way at any given time and I do a small dance counter-clockwise three times on one leg. This charger with a personality needs the heave ho – it’s forced me way too many times to interact with people for directions without the use of online phone maps.
Stress before going away has eaten away at me a lot more than I like to admit, especiall with uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts and certain actions I had to do to avoid the thoughts. I have taken the first steps and I’m definitely ok and ready to leave behind a chunk of it. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to rearrange my travel guides in order of how hot it was on the day I visited.
And there is the suitcase whose wheels broke after the second time I used it, I need some kind of commitment otherwise you are going to end up in a dust corner. Plus it stressed me out as it’s one of those that may get checked in and who knows how it will reappear…Let’s hope my backpack will last me another 12 years because it’s my comfort blanket and I don’t know if I could take it if those straps gave up on me mid-trip.
When I see an amazing last minute super cheap flight to an exotic island I can’t help but why I didn’t save my annual leaving days instead of doing the 3/4 smaller trips. Just an example of stupid silly what ifs and other worries that come to mind, and as there really is no point in ‘what ifs?’ and they are not worth my time or energy so I’m letting go of those and making my second motto ‘better an oops than a what if’.