Monthly Archives: February 2016

Things to Do Before You Leave for Holiday

23rd February 2016

go

It’s not only about booking a ticket, packing and adding an out of office before heading to the airport. Today I’m sharing some essentials to cross off before you leave for a holiday/city trip.

Find out if you or any of your party needs a visa to travel… trust me on this through personal experience.  A lot of non-EU countries for example require your passport to be valid for six months beyond the date of entry, so make sure to check the immigration requirements of the country you are travelling to – these will usually be on the country’s ‘ministry of foreign affairs’ website.

Depending on where you’re going, you may need to get special vaccines or medications as a precaution against various diseases. I like how Fit For Travel is laid out, but for an up-to-date medical recommendations check the health agency/ministry website of your country.

Make copies or scans of important items. Be sure to have copies of your passport and credit cards with you in case you lose them on your trip. You should always have paper copies or scanned copies in your email.

Check your health insurance policy to see if it includes international coverage. If not, consider buying a short-term policy that will cover you while you’re abroad, in case something should happen.

Plan your route from home to the airport, ensuring you have all the contact details for a hotel or airport parking lot  you are staying at, and the airline you are flying with.  And if you’ve left your car in an airport parking lot, write down exactly/ take a photo where you left so you can find it when you get back.

Plan out your first day as planning ahead will help you make the most of that first confusing day. I like to check if there is a Sandeman New Europe Free Walking Tour at my destination as they take you to the important tourist attractions and from there you can plan more things ahead.

Order your foreign exchange on time and make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at. It’s good to find out that 100 Czech Republic Koruna equals just 3 pounds.

Also ring your bank or credit card provider and let them know that you’re going to be out of the country so they should expect to see some international charges. Some banks want you to call before you go abroad so they don’t flag your account and reduce the chance of your card being blocked when the bank systems detect unusual activity.

Did I miss anything?

The Leaked WanderList: Awesome Things I’ve Already Seen & Done

22nd February 2016

bucketlistWhen it comes to wander – or bucket – lists, I tend to add things to it once I’ve completed something rather than crossing items off. Why try to force something when you really want that realisation that slaps you in the face when something needs to be on there? Before I start looking for face-bruising epiphanies, I want to look back and see if the experiences ticked the boxes in the happy part of my brain, rather than just ticking a box on a page/blog/screen.

I SAW THE – NORTHERN – LIGHTS
A few months ago I laid my eye holes upon the Northern Lights in Iceland. Sadly, it wasn’t one of the most extraordinary, beautiful and magical things I’ve ever been lucky enough to witness. And that’s ok, because I kinda missed planning for it. It was a bit of a surprise as the forecast was low and I was out on another mission. It wasn’t particularly worthy of a screensaver (remember those?!), but it was enough to take my breath away. The first time I caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights a few years back in Finland they weren’t that bright and since me and my friends were intoxicated we weren’t sure if it was even them. Next time, more planning needed!

I would give it a 6/10, I mean, both times it wasn’t the most brilliant show of the, but I SAW IT.

bucketlist

I’M DIVING IN
I knew cliff diving was done around Dubrovnik, but had no idea you could leap off actually in the city – but when I spotted people falling into h2O I assembled all my courage and faced the unknown. It probably wasn’t the highest spot or world’s most thrilling cliff but it was one of my favourite me vs fear moments

A 7/10 for the falling into paradise experience.

bucketlist

ROAD TRIPPIN
Don’t you just love it when in TV-shows and film characters go on a super spontaneous road trip? It’s sadly not that common in the Netherlands – where you can drive through it in less than three hours, so it’s more of a ‘road blip” than trip. However there was this one friend who knocked on the door, said you have 5 minutes to pack drove us from south of Netherlands to Trier, Germany (where we met during a summer job). We didn’t book a place to sleep and ended up in a watching tower on a hill. Next day we drove to Paris (just because it was ‘near’ (still a 6 hours drive) and it’s still one of my favourite experiences. When I have no more content left to scrape out of my head, I’ll do an individual post on this.

This was a 8/10 and the closest I got to Kerouac spontaneity

LET’S START THE SHOW
I went to a recording of the Graham Norton Show! I am adding this one because Graham is a national treasure and you can visit the show when you visit London, it’s for free and I highly recommend it and yes, Graham is really what you see on TV – adorable, funny and now with a beard!

A 9/10 because I didn’t thing I would get in and had low expectations. Also … Channing Tatum.

bucketlist

LIKE A KID IN A CANDY FACTORY
You guys remember PEZ and those cute dispensers you used to leave around the house and your parents would step on and break and then you would cry as it was the end of the world? Ok, maybe that was just me, but these plastic joy sticks also have heads of everyone from Darth Vadar to Bugs Bunny and Hello Kitty and were one of my favourite things to rot my teeth on as a kid. More recently, my dreams were dispensed to me when I got to see their factory in Austria (it since now moved to Hungry) and got a tour. It’s now one of my favourite ice-breakers when meeting new people.

A big fat 10/10 and probably nothing can beat this EVER! (famous last words…).

What have you recently crossed off your wanderlist and how would you rate it?

Not So Remote Islands I Have Visited: The Many Faces of Lokrum

17th February 2016

lokrum island (1)

A bit inspired by Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will I am giving the world some photos from some not-so-remote islands I’ve come across in my travels in this new feature.

Southern Croatia, Dubrovnik to be precise, is where someone dropped the little island of Lokrum into the sea, and its 0.8 square kilometres (or 0.31 sq mile) screams diversity more than a 90’s Benneton ad (apologies for the outdated references).

With everything from an animal kingdom stuffed with peacocks, turtles and the cutest bunnies, to a trip back in time to the crumbling fort atop its stone-laden hillside, topped off with its Dead Sea style lake and its Game Of Thrones sets – there’s a lot to see/do/explore. I could ramble on and on, but I’ll let the pictures do the talking (sadly the pictures won’t write my blog :[ )

 lokrum island (2) lokrum island (3) lokrum island (3.1) lokrum island (4) lokrum island (5) lokrum island (6) lokrum island (7) lokrum island (8) lokrum island (9) lokrum island (11) lokrum island (12) lokrum island (13)

Have you been to Lokrum, or any similar little island gems?

Hoi from Groningen

14th February 2016

2016-02-12 05.21.04 1-1280x960It may be pronounced a bit like ‘Groan’ but it’s the place I’m least likely to groan in the Netherlands and everyone should circle it on their respective travel maps.

I say Groningen – or Grunn, but it’s actually a small town outside called Dullsville which I called my hometown for a few years.

2016-02-12 05.18.19 1-1280x960This bad boy flew me, Indiana Jones style, to Groningen Airport. Groningen is a city is the far North of the Netherlands, where I went to college in my teens. Since it’s kind of my city and I always try to encourage people to go to the far North and see why I love the place so much. Groningen is a bit like Amsterdam, quite hip, easy to walk around and young, but without the zombie hoards of tourists.

2016-02-12 05.21.05 1-1280x960I had a quick meetup with Olga from Team Confetti – where once a month I write a guest post – and she is the sweetest person I’ve come across in a long time. She by the way sells the best to do lists (and other printables) here.

And the The French toast was just €3.75 (that’s £3!). All of it!

2016-02-12 05.21.04 1-1280x960The most most famous building in the city is Martini church on Grote Market (the main city square). It’s not too tiring a stair way walk to reach a nice spot for standing over the city like a power hungry dictator, though sadly no one listened to my demands from on high.

2016-02-12 05.21.02 1-1280x960And then you get some delicious fresh made stroopwafel in your pie-hole – proclaimed as one of the best Dutch sweets by yours truly from the market.

2016-02-12 05.21.06 1-1280x960Though it’s kinda obscured by an ugly concrete ramp from the front, Groningen Central station still looks like something from a fairy tale and check the wheel with wings on top.

2016-02-12 05.21.05 2-1280x960The Groninger Museum is across from the station and is a highlight even if you don’t go inside, it’s main tower is the exact colour of everything I want in my kitchen (kettle, pots, plates). If you are a Bowie fan you might want to combine a city trip with a visit to the David Bowie is …  exhibition that currently in residency.

2016-02-12 05.21.51 1-1280x720As soon as I get to Dullsville I jump on a bike – about 99% of Dutch life happens on a bike. I love the fact that I can go around without having to be scared someone will give you a free ride to the hospital.

2016-02-12 05.21.53 1-1280x1280A little as seen in: When a baby is born people put this in with either blue or pink accents in their garden.

2016-02-12 05.21.52 1-1280x720And I close off with this photo of misty street of Dullsville.

How was your weekend?

YES, NO, MAYBE: What (Not) To Do in Tallinn

11th February 2016

Tallinn

You might think that Tаllіnn, thе capital оf Estonia, is a pretty mоdеrn Baltic city, but surprisingly (at least to me), it has a long hіѕtоrу that dаtеѕ bасk all the way to 11th сеnturу AD, which of course means a ton of cobbled streets! On the other hand Tallinn is popular because you know …it’s cheap.

Planning on taking a trip tо Tаllіnn? I’ve got a few awesome things you might want to check out if you’re in town.

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YES

Tallinn‘s Old Town is a UNESCO Wоrld Heritage Sіtе – this means a bunch of old people thought it should remain protected and is important – so listen to them. Aside from that it looks like you could run into a character from a Grimm Fairy Tale within the walls, so get searching. The daily tour which starts outside tourist centre is not bad at all.

Onе of the most ѕtrіkіng fеаturеѕ оf the Old Tоwn is hоw, unlike most Eurореаn cities, Tallinn‘s medieval centre rеmаіnѕ соmрlеtе, frее of mоdеrn аrсhіtесturе. Forgot skyscrapers, horrible concrete monstrosities and video screens and pass bеnеаth the arches оf thе сіtу’ѕ ancient stone walls to explore dіm аllеуѕ, flісkеrіng torches and secret stairways.

Eаtіng out іѕ a bіg part of trаvеllіng, but eating аt a lосаl medieval rеѕtаurаnt, wеll, іt’ѕ dеfіnіtеlу nоt ѕоmеthіng you get to do very оftеn (medieval banquet lover). There are рlеntу оf restaurants іn Tаllіnn whеrе they serve mеdіеvаl specialty fооd in a vеrу historic ѕеttіng meaning nо lіghtѕ and just candles аnd your ѕеrvеrѕ are drеѕѕеd up. Sadly the prices aren’t medieval and even worse, I wasn’t able to barter – so my hopes of trading my hat for my meal were sadly dashed. Whаt іѕ fun аbоut thіѕ іѕ thе fасt thаt thе аtmоѕрhеrе feels authentic and sincere. Among thе mоѕt іmрrеѕѕіvе аnd memorable Estonian dishes is Tаіdеtud Vаѕіkаrіnd whісh іѕ a rоаѕt ѕtuffеd ѕhоuldеr of vеаl and Sіlguѕоuѕt, a hаm bаѕеd dіѕh that almost made my friend cry with taste bud happiness.

Estonian Museum of Occupations and the KGB Museum are surprisingly detailed and informative if you want to get to know the more recent history of the city and region.

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Skip Starbucks and Costa go The Pierre Chocolaterie for a cup of the best hot chocolat. This cup of joy is made by combining organic dark chocolate shavings with fruit oils and spices – and the results speak (or taste) for themselves.

NO

Don’t think you can spend 5 full days exploring the city. If you are staying longer definitely combine your stay with a daytrip to Helsinki or Riga.

Tаllіnn’ѕ nightlife іѕ sadly known fоr the inevitable ѕtаg parties and wееkеnd gеtаwау сrоwdѕ looking for cheap booze – it’s probably the reason you’ve heard of Tallinn. Gоіng out is … uhm interesting as the lосаlѕ lіkе tо drіnk аnd party аѕ muсh as thе tourists do. It wasn’t for me.

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MAYBE

Go to thе Oреn Aіr Muѕеum оf Estonia which is іn Kорli.Thіѕ muѕеum hаѕ preserved ancient buіldіngѕ оf hіѕtоrісаl іmроrtаnсе that have bееn moved frоm vаrіоuѕ parts оf Estonia. Thе іdеа bеhіnd the ореn аіr museum is ѕіmрlе: they went аrоund the country рісkіng uр оld hоmеѕtеаdѕ and dumріng them here and it has grown in a place where уоu’ll еnjоу lеаrnіng аnd exploring about thе various trаdіtіоnаl buіldіngѕ. It’s a bit like a scrapyard of historical buildings.

Whеn thе ѕun gоеѕ dоwn аnd Tаllіnn сrоѕѕеѕ оvеr to thе dark side, dive іntо the nіght and 700 уеаrѕ bасk in tіmе оn a fаѕсіnаtіng walking tоur оf thе сіtу’ѕ mеdіеvаl Old Town. No, not like the Jack the Ripper/Tower of London ones but spooky ѕtоrіеѕ, ееrіе mуthѕ аnd ancient legends will be told as уоu еxрlоrе haunted ѕtrееtѕ with a lосаl guіdе.

Have I broken any of my own rules?