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Tuesday, Three Times I Failed To Be A Sustainable Traveller On My Recent Holiday

19th June 2018

Everyone and their grandma have jumped on the sustainable travel bandwagon – it has become more accessible than ever, with lots of people preaching on the topic and telling you how to do it! During my trip to Georgia last week I had to come face to face with the reality. I mean, sure I supported the locals by staying in guest houses, taking taxi instead of Uber and eating local. But I also failed at really simple things…


Water bottles

Caring around my refillable Dopper bottle has become second nature. Yet, I barely refilled it in Georgia. It’s a shame as almost every park and monastery has a drinking fountain, but their set up made it impossible to refill a bottle and at other times yours truly was craving cold refrigerated water that only plastic bottles could provide. Should I feel ok that sometimes I did refill those plastic bottles? No? I’ll go stand in the corner and have a think.

Throwaway sandals 👡
This happened before I left actually, but since I had to face the consequences in Georgia I might as well add it. So, one of my 2018 goals is to make sure 80% of the clothes/shoes/accessories I buy are produced ethically and not by children’s hands. This requires more research and planning, something I hadn’t done for summer spring shoes. So when it got hot a while ago I ran to the high street and grabbed the first pair of sandals that fit. And I paid for it in Georgia as on day 2 and 35K steps later they were completely worn out.

Plastic bags ♻️

In addition to buying plastic bottles, I also got given a fair amount of plastic bags with almost everything I bought. My logic said it was ok as I could use them to store my trash, but now I’ve added those to landfill as well. Like everyone I cried when I watched the tragic Planet Earth episode, but it obviously didn’t guilt me enough, so I need to save the turtle photo on my phone so I can’t forget I must say ‘No to plastic.’

What have been your sustainable travel struggles?

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Tuesday, Three … More Free Things To Do In London

12th June 2018

Ok, maybe the best things in life aren’t free, but there sure are some pretty awesome things you
can do in London that just happen to cost you nothing.
See a free movie or opera
Did you know that House of Vans London is home to a cinema space? And it’s free! March was Women on Film month, April was low budget flicks and the month of May brings you the best of CyberPunk Anime. For the high-brow, The Royal Opera House is hosting free outdoor screenings during summer, with Swan Lake on 12 June, La bohéme on 26 June, and Don Giovanni on 12 July. All you have to do is arrive on time at Trafalgar Square (or one of the other less famous venues) and be ready to get cultured.
Walk the South East
Grab your walking shoes and take South East London by storm on one of the 11 sections of the Green Chain Walk. The idea is that you walk through green parks, commons and woods. Depending on which one you choose you’ll come across a hidden castle, a dinosaur park or one of the Magnificent 7 London cemeteries, one of the best free things I’ve ever come across.
Check out the Hampstead Hill Gardens

If flowers and trees are your thing, the Hampstead Hill Garden and Pergola is the place to be. Story goes that a rich philanthropist wanted to build a pergola for his garden parties, but sadly he passed away before it was finished, so in his spirit lets all go hashtag him while you spam our Instagram #Leverhulme . And while you’re there why not watch the sunset at Hampstead Heath? If you manage to cough up some change with all the money I’ve saved you, get cheese and a bottle of finest M&S red and enjoy.

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Tuesday, Three Places I Can’t Tell You Anything About

4th June 2018

Some places I’ve visited have inspired me with lots of posts (I’m looking at you Reykjavik and Berlin) and then there are the places I’ve been I could barely give you a few words on. They aren’t necessarily the worst places I’ve visited, it’s just that they never had the chance.
I stayed for four nights in Nice – but didn’t see anything of the city, as I was just there to sleep, wake up and then get on a train to Cannes where I hoped to spot Bill Murray, Edward Norton and check which dress Diane Kruger would be donning for the day. Apparently Nice is known for its beautiful beaches, pretty landscapes and IG worthy viewing points. All I can tell you is that there was the idyllic terrace at the hostel, a supermarket that sold instant noodles and the train station was charming.

Krakow was another of those places that was just a base – this time for Auschwitz. In this case I arrived at the hostel after a long train ride from Linz, I was too tired to explore the Old Town, visit the Schindler’s Factory Museum or walk the Royal Way. The visit to Auschwitz was such so emotional that afterwards I couldn’t just go out and play happy tourist.

During my semester abroad in Jyväskylä, Finland I visited the nearby city of Tampere a few times. I can tell you the cinema on the main square has good popcorn, I can tell you I enjoyed hot chocolate in a place just off the main square and that Tampere Dream Hostel has the dreamiest bed. But I can’t tell you anything about the The Moomin Museum OR Tampere Lenin Museum because I went to the city during a bank holiday – when they were both closed 🙁

Have you been somewhere exciting, but not really?

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Tuesday, Three Reasons Why I Avoid Travelling on Bank Holidays

29th May 2018

I avoid leaving the country on bank/public holidays, almost always have. I grew up doing jobs in hospitality which meant they were always days to work with the hope of overtime while everyone was out having fun, and that was fine by me. Then I worked in tourism, where you instead go on holiday during the low season and never pay the full price. Now I just avoid leaving London’s Zone 2 on bank holidays. Though many people would see it as wasting an opportunity, and I see why, it just isn’t worth the stress that it brings.

This bank holiday I was ducking and diving to avoid all the obstacles thrown at me and as each one hit me I clearly remembered why it’s not for me.

1 | Public transport is a mess
The drama already starts as soon as you leave the house. With a bit of luck someone’s decided it’s time to do some repair work on your route so you’re forced to get a bus, a train, a replacement bus, and alternative train and then a taxi. With journey times doubled or even tripled your patience may begin to wear thin as mine did, but whatever you do try not to think about the fact that the extra buses and train tickets really eat into that ‘cheap airline ticket’ deal you smiled as you purchased weeks/months before.

2 | Drama at the airport
If you do make it to the airport, chances are your flight will be delayed, plus everyone else’s will be as well, meaning it gets a little crowded in the tiny terminal and everyone’s eying up everyone in a desperate game of musical chairs while getting grumpy with the lack of information. If you succeed in grabbing a seat, be prepared to hold on to it with your life, and if you’ve got a plug nearby, make all you can it of it before it’s pounced on quicker than a 1st class upgrade!

3 | Expensive & Crowded
Ticket fares as well as accommodation costs go up during bank holidays to ridiculous amounts, meaning you’ll end up hurting in the wallet a lot more than you expect – 2-4 times as much in many cases (mine was 3 times for this trip) And while tickets for most attractions stay the same it gets super crowded, on a recent bank holiday I saw the lines double, possibly even triple for the London Eye

I’ll just stick it to staying in town and host a BBQ and support group for the people facing the same trauma.

Do you ever brave travelling on a bank/public holiday?

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Tuesday, Three Things To Do in Friesland

22nd May 2018

The world’s leading travel guide has just announced their Top 10 Europe destinations, highlighting the hidden gems you have to visit when you want to avoid mass tourism. Being a self-proclaimed traveller myself I’ve crossed of a whole three of them: Vilnius (you can read my findings here), Dundee (maybe one day I will find words to describe my experience) and the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. I lived in Leeuwarden during a lost few months in my life so as an expert and expat I can tell you what to see and do there.

When you think of Netherlands you think of Amsterdam and perhaps Rotterdam or The Hague. But according to Lonely Planet, Friesland is where it’s at. It’s located in the North West of the Netherlands and stands out as it has its own language, traditions and lovely nature (very hard to admit from someone from the the rival province). What are some things to see, do and eat then?

Visit One Town Visit All Towns
No matter which city of town you visit they all have the same blueprint: cute historical city centre with an old church, a random museum that showcased why it was important at some point in history and boats to escape to other places. If you have time to visit one city then make it Harlingen: get lost in the compact city centre and check out the charming houses, visit the port and see the #AccidentalWesAnderson light house and top it off with an ice-cream at Min 12. It was where I lost my salted caramel virginity and it changed the game (and jeans size) for me.

Culinary Sugar Explosion
The French have a croissant, the Scandinavian have cinnamon buns and Friesland has … sugar bread. It’s literally a white loaf of bread, with large lumps of sugar mixed in with the dough. Wait … what? It gets better… To top it off you it’s best when served with a layer of butter. So definitely not for the ones working on their #Summerbody2018.

Bring Out Your Inner Water Rat (It’s a weird Dutch phrase, but bear with me!)
Friesland is the watersport capital of the Netherlands and many school trips have taken me there. Canoeing or sailing are great, but you really want to go traditional rent a sloop and explore by boat. The engines are silent so you can also combine it with nature and visit a reserve like De Alde Feanen.

If you like climbing poles Fierljeppen might be for you: you basically jump and grab your pole (usually between 8 and 13 metres) and then climb to the top of the pole while trying make sure it moves forward and lands on a designated spot.

Or perhaps mudflat hiking: Twice a day – when it’s low tide, the Wadden Sea gets all dry and you have can actually walk in the gooey seabed to one of the nearby islands. I did it twice and ended up crying both times, once out of frustration and other time out of happiness that I made it. Make sure you book a guided tour unless you want to end up stuck in the mud!

Have you been to any of Lonely Planet’s Top Europe Destinations?