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January – March: Things I’ve Been Doing While Abandoning This Blog

2nd April 2018

I have to admit that the first quarter wasn’t super exciting travel-wise. But between London and Netherlands trips I got up to some other cool things.

Been There

UK: Cotswolds – Oxford
France: Paris
Done That

I escaped to the Cotswolds and I saw sheep, cute houses and lots of mud.

Oxford was a happy accident, but it was lovley following the footsteps of Harry and Alice.

In Paris, I hit 3 museums in the 30 hours I was there and got lost 5 times while trying to reach the Eiffel Tower.
In London I
– Gave V&A another chance – and still didn’t like it too much
– Went to the ABBA exhibition – I enjoyed it despite the price I paid for it
– Spent a long evening getting dazzled by the lights of Lumiere London – well most of them
– Watched lots of movies – Isle of Dogs, Downsizing, the Florida Project and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri being my favourites
– Checked out the T-Shirt exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum – it’s still on on, so head down if you are up for some T-Fun
– Saw lots of posters and packages at the Made in North Korea exhibtion – I liked the idea, but it turned out to be more like an article on Bored Panda

– Walked around the Wes Anderson Isle of Dogs pop-up like a kid in a candyshop

Bucketlist Moments?
Going to the Cotswolds is literally on my 2018 bucketlist, so go me! But the joy of randomly coming across the Isle of Dogs pop-up is burned in my heart forever.

Lowlights
I got a text from my bank asking if I’d used my card in Florida. Sadly, I wasn’t living it up at Disneyland (I was sitting in my pyjamas watching Netflix in London), so had to deal with the fraud helpline. Thankfully the card was blocked before they could get their prize! I think my card got skimmed in Mexico as it was the last place I used an ATM. All ended well, but it could have been very different, so please learn from my mistake and be weary when you take cash out abroad.

One of the most exciting moments when flying from London to Amsterdam is getting fries drowned in satay sauce at this one place at Schiphol Airport. My tradition was: race through passport control, get a train ticket, buy the fries and rush to the train platform. Sadly this tradition died when this fries palace was replaced by a poor pretender, just one step above McD’s. R.I.P.

Lessons Learned
In London, I’ve queued more often outside foodplaces than tourist attractions, so having to queue was a bit of shock. And there I was thinking those the skip the line tickets were a fad … Turns out visitors to Paris are really into queueing and when you only have 30 hours it’s a shame to waste a big chunk of it waiting in line.

Have you learned any lessons you’d like to pass on?

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Lost In Translation – Dutch Words We Could Use in English

11th February 2018

amsterdam polaroid

Last week I bizarrely bumped into #TeamNL at Schiphol Airport, those brave orange jacketed souls heading to South Korea for the Winter Olympics. It filled me with Dutch pride, and as the events kick off in Pyeongchang here’s some Dutch words we should all hear more of.

Gunnen 
To wish something for someone because you think they deserve it. Probably my favourite Dutch word and it makes me sad that I can’t say it as often as I’d like. I ‘gun’ Team NL 50 gold medals.

IJsberen – literally ‘polar bearing’
It’s the Dutch word for walking back and forth in a room when one is nervous or in deep thought. Just like me when I’m trying to come up with a suitable pun for the next post.

Voorpret – literally ‘pre fun’ or ‘anticipatory pleasure’
This is the excitement and pleasure you get before an event or trip, or whatever floats your boat.

Uitzieken – literally ‘sickening it out’
The recovery process of getting rest to get the illness out of you. Preferably not creating a giant mess.

Gezellig
Often translated a cosy, but it’s so much more. It’s the feeling of satisfaction, happiness and comfort when with people close to you. It’s like getting a cuddle from a giant teddybear who serves you hot chocolate.

Kouwkleum
Someone who gets cold quickly and is always suffering from the cold. A modern day White Walker.

Uitwaaien – literally ‘wind blowing out’
When you go for a walk to let the wind blow away your problems. Not recommended in hurricane season.

Beleg – literally ‘spreads’
We Dutchies love our sandwich toppings so much we have a special word dedicated to them! Beleg covers everything you want to shove on your humble piece of bread – not limited to only spreads but also chocolate sprinkles and sliced meat – anything goes!

Natafelen – literally ‘after table-ing’
Once dinner is over, but you continue your conversations around the table until the late hours. Sadly this word might die out with all the hip restaurant pressuring you to leave to free up a table.

What’s your favourite untranslatable gem?

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Will 2018 Be The Year I Visit These Destinations?

17th December 2017

Though we all want to snuggle up with presents and cheesy Netflix Christmas fare (I’m looking at you Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas) I’ve put down the cocoa and decorations to put on my blogger hat and gather up some of the top destinations I’m planning on heading to next year.

1 | New Orleans
NOLA is all by its lonesome as the last remaining ‘must-visit‘ that I posted on this very blog many moons ago. Maybe in 2018 I will finally blow my head off with excitement as i wander around French Quarter, go on a Cemetery Tour or check out the AHS Coven House?

2 | Belarus
As a Balkan Babe (yes we get a gold membership card, secret passcode, discount rakija and everything) it’s a crying shame I haven’t hit up Belarus – one of the few East European countries left on my list. If there was such a thing the evil Baba Roja will be cursing me and witholding all cevapi for at least a year!

3 | Azores
It may be a small rock in a giant pond, but it’s actually incredibly beautiful, lots of ruins and you can actually get a direct return flight from London for less than a £100 (and not at scary early morning times). As I’m typing this I’m still wondering why I haven’t booked this – BAD TEA!

4 | Bilbao
Bilbao would be perfect for a weekend trip where I finally get to see the metallic beauty of the Guggenheim up close with the giant scary Bourgeois spider (plus loads of art of course), plus the little old town, funicular railway and stuff my face full of pinxtos. Seriously, what else does one need?

5 | Hamburg
Ok I must admit I’ve actually been to Hamburg before, but my trip consisted of dancing in a club all night and then spending 2 hours looking for the right car park, so I haven’t really been there. But I’d love to go and wander around the Warehouse District, see if punk died in St Pauli, get my hipster on at Flohschanze market and act out my godzilla dreams at Miniatur Wunderland.

6 | Cotswolds
Yes Cotswolds might sound like a nasty infection (“I’ve got a case of the cotswolds!), but this is a sprawling countryside region with brick houses in fairy tale like villages that have names likes Stow-on-the-Wold, Wotton-under-Edge, Bourton-on-the-Water – nope I’m not making up those names, but just to be sure, let’s go see if they’re real.

7 | Terschelling
Terwhat? Terschelling is one of the Dutch islands (yes, we have islands!) and I simply want to to stroll on the beach, do a mudflat hike and light the hearth in the evening while reading a super cheesy book.

8 | Albania
Yes, another place I should have visited as a Balkan Babe™, plus it’s the ideal budget friendly escape for 2018. To top it off – WOW Air now flies from London to Tirana so there is not really an excuse left. Except you know that by now I don’t have any annual leave left.

9 | Malta
Nope, this isn’t where Maltesars are grown, but in fact it’s still pretty delicious – not only sunshine and beaches, but also historically rich and with prehistoric buildings? Where do I sign up? Skyscanner? On it!

10 | Giethoorn
Everywhere in the world has been called ‘The Venice of ….”, but this little Dutch town might actually have a good claim to it. It’s bursting full of canals so much so that you can only visit it by tiny boats. I doubt their gelato and pasta are as good though, but bitterballen is a good replacement, right?

11 | Wales
There is this trip I’ve been meaning to make to Wales, but whenever I check the weather the area is blocked by a giant cloud and I can’t make this type of trip without a bit of weather security. Global warming is kicking in, so 2018 might be the year.

12 | Taiwan
Aside the amazing food and night markets and a city vs nature balance I want to visit Taiwan for the abandoned beachfront resort and a cat village. Shushh…and don’t tell anyone, but in northeastern Taiwan is Jiufen – the town that inspired the bathhouse in a certain animated Oscar-winning film.

What destinations are you hoping to cross off in 2018?

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6 Different Things To Do in London

30th November 2017

Heading to London for the 265th time and think you’ve seen and done it all? How about these lesser known activities in London?
Up At The O2
Did you know you can climb to the top of the O2 Arena? It’s apparently called Urban Mountaineering and it’s more like walking over the huge building while you’re suited and chained. So conquer your fear of heights or get your adrenaline fix and climb to awesome views of London from up there. Prices start at £30 which isn’t too painful!
Dino’s at Crystal Palace Park
And not like the ones you know. See, the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park were designed and sculpted by a sculptor and natural history artist under the scientific direction of a biologist and paleontologist, representing the latest dino knowledge from the 1850s. This was all before Darwin’s “On the Origin Of Species” so they’re slightly inaccurate, but still very entertaining. While you are there make sure to have a cake and tea at the station cafe – they do the best millionaire’s shortcake.
Eltham Palace
In the 14th century Eltham Palace was the place to be but it fell into disrepair and ruins until it was saved by the new owners who put a definite Art Deco spin on their new digs. The couple were the ‘talk of the town’ at the time, the celebs you had know, and if you were lucky enough, be invited to one of their famed extravagant parties. And the best thing is that they’ve left the house for us to explore all the room (after you’ve paid an entrance fee of course).
 
Tube Supperclub
We’re not talking the Boots meal deal or a tuna salad from Pret. At the Tube Supperclub by the Basement Gallery you can revel in a set menu in a former tube carriage. It may well be the only time you can actually get a seat! They don’t happen often so you’ll have to book ahead. There are still some spots left for their Christmas Feast
Pub Quiz / Trivia Night
Especially now it’s cold, an escape to a pub trivia night competition is best way to keep you warm! The Ten Bells, next to Spitalfields has been hosting their Pub Quiz for years and is the great spot if you are into the fun and not too competitive quizzes. If you are up for something more creative the Mactbeth in Hoxton is the place to be, the crew love to put on an epic trivia night with themes like Beyonce, The OC and Game of Thrones. CALIFORNIAAAAAAAAAA HERE WE COME!
Junkyard Golf
Leave your polo shirt and golf cart at home as this mini golf is all about frozen margaritas and disco lights while trying to score a hole in one on a themed course (my favourite is the movie ones!). And as it’s only a tenner it won’t break your bank.

Do you have any London tips for those who’ve seen it all?

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Chichen Itza – the highlights and lowlights

26th November 2017

Euhm only one of the mysterious ruins of the Mayans and one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. Turns out Chichen Itza is more than just the The Temple of Kukulcan, you know … the landmark pyramid that steals all the the attention.
Of course the Kukulcan temple was the highlight, but I loved that learning about the other temples and their purposes – more on that later. I was also happy to learn that although it was busy it wasn’t as noticeable as the area is spaced out, at least until you got the the smaller areas.

I want to say that you aren’t allowed to climb to the top and go in the inside of the temple anymore, but given the amount of people that visit the site I do understand it that would mean it would be all just dust pretty soon.
Hate is a big word, but the descriptions were so short they would have been more informative in emojis, but I guess they gotta get some dollars for the tour guides.
Sheltering from the rain is never the best way to pick a restaurant, but that’s nature for you! We had nachos and quesadillas at a restaurant on site, it was your typical attraction overpriced restaurant that serves edible food. But the frozen fruit popsicles sold on site did it for me, I would definitely sacrifice someone to get more!
Yes, maybe for one of the Equinox celebrations.
Hell yes! If you are in the Yucatán Peninsula hit up this archaeological site and see what else the Mayans have gifted us besides tacos.

Have you been to the Chichen Itza or is it on your must go list?