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Istanbul, where East meets West.

A sea of tulips in front on the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet; markets bustling with bodies as the aromas of spices fill the air; smiling faces standing outside restaurants ushering you in to sample their meals; stray cats and dogs milling on the streets in search of the scraps given by kind locals; cobblestone pathways winding through the streets that are lined with cramped buildings.
These are the images that come to mind when I recall my time spent in Istanbul, the city where the East and West meet.
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Hagia Sofia

Filled with culture, history, religion, and delicious food, my time in Istanbul was fleeting. Four days felt like a long time to spend there, but when I think of the sheer expanse of this city compared with what we saw, we only scratched the surface. The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the Grand Bazaar and the Topkapi Palace Gardens were all on the to-do list. The mosques were stunning with their intricate mosaic walls and ceilings, and the gardens surrounding them flooded with tulips in full bloom. The bazaars hummed with the constant stream of people moving through the stands looking at the sweets, spices, mosaics, carpets and Turkish wares.
Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

 

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Inside the Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque

 

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The highlight though of my Turkish adventure was most definitely the food. Oh my, it was delicious. Fresh Turkish bread straight out of the oven with baked hummus, kebab plates filled with charred meat, vibrant salads, manti (Turkish ravioli), baklava, Turkish delight and apple tea are just a few of the highlights.
Delicious, divine, delectable Apple Tea.

Delicious, divine, delectable Apple Tea.

 

Galata Tower

Galata Tower

 

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To the Seaside – A day trip to Brighton

Just a one hour train ride from London and the pebble beaches, carnival pier, and bustling lanes of Brighton provide the perfect city escape. I’ve done two separate day trips down to the coastal town, enjoying the sea breezes that one misses after being in the city for so long.
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What I love about Brighton is that it has the perfect mix of relaxed seaside vibes and cosmopolitan charm. The town is entirely walkable if you’ve got comfy shoes on, the beach is only ten minutes from the main train station and the rest of the town’s attraction are all within 5-15 minutes of one another.
The North Laine area is my favourite place to wander around, with unique cafes and eateries spilling on to the streets and a festival-like spirit in the air. Charming vintage and homeware shops are on every corner and it’s easy to just spend a few hours slowly ambling around the streets.
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The Royal Pavilion with its beautiful regency architecture is another must see as well as the famous Brighton Pier if you fancy some sideshow games and endless rides.
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Walking right up along the beach to Hove lawns, candy coloured beach huts line the boardwalk. Tourist crowds begin to slowly ebb away and the seafront is instead filled with locals, dog walkers and the odd roller-blader winding their way through. While I’m not sure I would brave the cold seas for a swim (no matter how much of a “warm” day it is), enjoying some good ole fish and chips on the pebbled beach is the perfect way to wrap up a day by the sea.
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Santorini

I know what image pops into your head when I say Santorini; it’s these views.

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Fira, Santorini

Santorini really is exactly as you imagine it. Sparkling blue water, pastel coloured buildings perched one on top of another, steep cliffs with donkeys walking up their winding staircases and domed churches contrasted against the bright sky.

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As one of the most popular Greek islands though, expect high prices during the peak season and bustling groups of tourists crowding the small roads and walkways.

We kept up our tradition alive and hired a quad bike to make our own way around the island, first riding from Fira where we were staying to the small town of Oia. Home to those blue domed churches and beautiful sunset views, Oia is one of the most popular places to visit in Santorini. As we wandered around we saw multiple brides being photographed for a bridal shoot and tourists hustling to get the pictures of that iconic view.

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Oia, Santorini

There is also a coastal path you can walk from Fira to Oia, which we did half of on our second day. The second half of the walk is along the road we had already driven, so we just did the first half taking us right along the coast with breathtaking views all around us.

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Oia in the distance

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Looking back at Fira

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What dreams are made of (where we wished we could stay)

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We also quad-biked to the black and red beaches, trying to make the most of our transport and see as much of the island as we could.

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Once again though, one of the highlights was the delicious Greek food, in particular Lamb in a Nest from Volcano Blue. With views of the sunset over the caldera, we enjoyed this delicious specialty of slow cooked lamb cooked in a bag with vegetables and feta on our last night in Greece.

 

Where we stayed: San Giorgio Villas, Fira It was great value for money with big, clean and modern rooms, and a central location right in the middle of Fira.

 

 

Let’s catch up

Well hi there. It’s certainly been a while hasn’t it. It’s time for that typically cliched post about why this little internet space has been neglected, and I could go on and on giving multiple excuses. But really, life just got in the way. Time has passed quickly, I kept putting off writing that post about that place I went or this thing that I did, I worked, I saw friends, I did absolutely nothing on some days too. And that’s just life isn’t it. Suddenly it’s the end of February 2016, 10 months since I left home, and I look back and realise I haven’t got any posts on this blog to show everything that’s happened since then. Because my oh my a lot has happened.

So that’s what I’m going to do, start documenting it all, just like I always wanted to.

I live in London. I guess that’s the crux of it all. Leaving the little bubble of Adelaide and my comfortable existence among family and close friends was one giant leap of faith, naivety and guts. There isn’t a day that I don’t think of my family and best friends; what they are doing or how much I miss them. But I am also so thankful for the life that I have built for myself here, completely from scratch and with only myself to rely on. There have certainly been tough times where I’ve questioned what I’m doing and considered buying that plane ticket home. The winter blues are getting me down, the hustle and bustle of the city is too overbearing, or I am just having that all to common existential crisis about what on earth I am doing with my life.

But then I also think of how grateful I am for this vibrant city, the network of beautiful, wonderful friends I have here, and the experiences that I would not get anywhere else. I see Big Ben out of the train window on my way to work, I enjoy delicious food at different restaurants and cafes, I take street dance classes on Tuesday nights in Southwark, I go for walks in a park filled with deer, I can visit work renowned museums and galleries, and more than anything, I have travelled to places I had always dreamed of. Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, France, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

Two years. That’s how long my visa will allow me to stay. I’m already 8 and a half months in, and the list of what I want to do and where I want to go just keeps growing. Plans are in the works for more trips, including a special one back home for a few weeks, and my London bucket list gets two more additions for every one thing ticked off.

For now though, I’ll be catching this blog up on everything that’s been happening. Throwback posts on each of the places I’ve been, both internationally and here in the UK and London, plus some little updates here and there of just life in general. I hope you enjoy  coming along with me.

 

 

To the islands. First, Mykonos!

Blue and White.
There’s a reason these are the colours of the Greek flag, because Greece is blue and white. Particularly the Cyclades, and most certainly Mykonos. Crystal clear water, white houses with blue shutters and window boxes spilling with blooms, white crazy-patterned pavements, and picturesque churches around every bend.
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If you’re going to make the trip, head there in the shoulder season months of April, May, September and October. It’s warm but not stifling hot, prices are cheaper, and it’s not as busy but everything is still open after shutting down over the winter. It’s also a more relaxed, local atmosphere as opposed to the high-rolling glitterati that descend during high season.
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Our picturesque accommodation.

Our picturesque accommodation.

We spent one day strolling through Mykonos town exploring Little Venice and the shops that spill onto the lanes. We wandered along the beach, ate gelati, ate gyros, and then wandered around some more. It was a hard day, very strenuous.

 

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Sunset on the windmills near Little Venice

 

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Little Venice

On our second day we hired a quad-bike, which started some kind of tradition as we did it on each of the Greek islands that we visited. It’s the easiest way to get around the relatively small islands, and it allows you to take it at your own pace. We only had one incident with the bike and a very steep hill, but otherwise enjoyed the day visiting the smaller villages on the island.
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Beautiful sunsets were not in short supply.

Beautiful sunsets were not in short supply.

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The ancient city of Athens

The Acropolis stands over the city of Athens as a lasting symbol of its past. Because everything about Athens is its history. The birthplace of democracy, Aristotle, Plato, and civilisation as we know it is because of Ancient Greece and its capital Athens.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

The Acropolis...under constant repair

The Acropolis…under constant repair

Mt Lycabettus and The Acropolis

Mt Lycabettus and The Acropolis

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I’m not lying when I say that I left Athens after barely two days feeling smarter, and more appreciative and understanding of history. Some fun facts:

  • A misconception that I was guilty of thinking (and let’s not judge if you knew better), but the Acropolis is not the beautiful temple sitting on top of the rock, it is the rock. The word Acropolis means highest, outermost (acro) point of the  city (polis) which is typically chosen as a point of defence. The most commonly photographed temple atop the Acropolis is the Parthenon, which was first built as a temple to the goddess of Athena, the city’s patron.
  • The official distance of a marathon (42.195km) is the distance a soldier had to run to Athens in his full armour to relay the result of the battle of Marathon. He died from exhaustion.
The guards outside Parliament

The guards outside Parliament

Changing of the guards...the most unique in the world I would say.

Changing of the guards…the most unique in the world I would say.

I’m going to mention food again, and I would just advise that you prepare for me to mention it in every single post because we basically did a food tour of the Mediterranean. Athens was our first taste of delicious Greek food which we indulged in with marathon dinners. Moussaka, simple Greek salads, dolmades, loukamades, olives, and the holy grail of all Greek foods…tzatziki. They don’t disappoint with the serving sizes of this wondrous dip, dishing it up on a large plate for you to enjoy with bread as an “entrée”. I would just eat it for my main meal.

I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t find there to be much else to the city of Athens, it is their capital after all. The ruins are incredible, and the city’s eventful history seeps out of every site that you see, and this is why you visit Athens. If it’s picturesque, quaint, traditional buildings and beautiful landscapes you are after, you go to the islands. That’s where we went next.

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Popping the comfort bubble.

It’s not something that I have to do, it’s not something that I need to do, it is purely just desire. A desire to see the world, to experience different cities and cultures and to wander where my feet take me.

Deciding to leave the bubble of comfort that I was living in would seem ridiculous and unnecessary to some. I had a wonderful family and great friends, a job that kept me solvent and I lived in a nice house surrounded by all the necessary comforts for day-to-day living.

But as I write this from an airport lounge about to depart on a way ticket to Europe, I am breaking out of that comfort bubble for the first time ever. Yes I have travelled before, but I have always gone back home. Today, I am going to create my own home and leave what I have behind. Saying goodbye to my family and friends was tremendously hard, but it’s nice to know that I’ll be seeing them soon as they visit me and I visit them, and also using the great thing that makes communication these days so easy, the good ole internet.

cf1ca8cb0f3225831ae736eb220dbc10It is scary, exciting, exhilarating, terrifying and nerve-wracking all at once. But despite this, I feel that I am going to gain so much in return. Independence, maturity and a greater appreciation for the world, just to name a few.

So follow me as I embark on this new adventure, I keep this little blog updated as I go along.

 

Don’t just go to Queenstown when you go to Queenstown

Yes, my trip was a few months ago…yes, I’m finally getting around to posting…no, the mountains probably don’t have snow on them anymore…sorry.

If you have the time and the means, the surrounding areas and towns around Queenstown are worth a visit, if not just for the views. I know, I know, all I have gone on about in these Queenstown posts is the scenery…but I tell you, it’s just so beautiful. Who doesn’t love a bit of pretty nature hey?

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We hired a car and made our way to our first stop of Arrowtown, a charming old miner’s town only 20 minutes out of Queenstown. It still has a street of miner’s cottages and old store fronts, and provides the perfect place for a stroll, some coffee and morning tea, and maybe even a wander through the museum.

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We then wound our way up Crown Range Road over and through the mountains to the lakeside town of Wanaka. Sitting on the edge of Lake Wanaka, the town is a popular resort town for the nearby ski fields. It’s also really pretty…

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Lake Wanaka

To complete our loop, we made a stop to checkout Lake Hawea before heading back through vineyards and fields of sheep to Queenstown. It wouldn’t be New Zealand without some sheep.

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Lake Hawea

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This is the third and final instalment of my Queenstown posts. I hope they have shown you some of the delights that the New Zealand city has to offer and maybe inspired a visit. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

The breathtaking beauty of Milford Sound

Yes, my trip was a few months ago…yes, I’m finally getting around to posting…no, the mountains probably don’t have snow on them anymore…sorry.

I think the only phrase I could use to describe Milford Sound is ‘stunning natural beauty’.  It’s a place that rains two out every three days, is surrounded by cliffs, mountains and rainforests, and is one of the most popular places to visit in New Zealand.

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If you like waterfalls, mountains, trees, penguins, seals and just all round spectacular landscapes, then I would suggest the day trip to Milford from Queenstown is a must do. It’s not an easily accessible place unless you have some major coin to spring for a plane or helicopter ride, but tour companies offering day bus trips are bountiful. The tour will include your bus trip to and from Queenstown to Milford Sound as well as a cruise (some might even throw in lunch), but be prepared to be up at the crack of dawn and spend most of your day on the bus.

We were lucky enough to visit on a clear sunny day, but even in the fog and rain I think this place would still be beautiful. Have a look and see for yourself.

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What’s In My Carry On?

 

What’s in my carry on? All the bits and bobs that I’ll need in the coming week, because I’m going to New Zealand! Be prepared for some future posts about my adventures in Queenstown, which will hopefully include lots of beautiful scenery, relaxing, good food, and jumping out of aeroplanes (just kidding on that last one, that’s definitely not happening).

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Leather love

I have a new love. I didn’t expect it to come along, but when I saw it hanging there, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t know I needed it, but now I have it, I couldn’t be without. Yes, I am talking about a bag. Read More

Spring Daily Face

 

Simple and quick with subtle pops of pink and glowing skin (with a bit of powder thrown in there to stop the glow turning to oily).

Spray on some Marc Jacobs Oh Lola (think floral, sweet but not sickly, and fresh) and you’re spring look is set. Read More

Welcome to the Birk club

You either love them or you hate them, but the lure of the Birkenstock cannot be denied as they make their way onto comfortable feet all over. The 90’s comeback is in full swing and while some are cursing that the German sandals are “in” again, I’m revelling in the thought that I once again I can somewhat acceptably wear the Birk .

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Lips!

 

Be prepared for some gushing, I’m not kidding. It’s quite often that you find a product that you love. But it’s not as often that you find a product that will forever replace all those like it that you have used before. I have found my favourite lip balm and I’m never going back!

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LUSH is lush

I must have been living under a rock because apparently Adelaide has a LUSH store…how did I not know this! I remember shopping in the UK when I was travelling and going inside LUSH and just drooling at the wonderful bath bombs and massage bars (among other things). So when a friend told me there was one in the city, I hightailed it there and bought myself some goodies.

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Fringe-tastic

It’s known as ‘Mad March’ in Adelaide, and it’s slowly coming to an end as our major festivals shut their gates. I can’t say it enough…if you’re going to visit our fair city, mid Feb-mid March is the time to do it. The Fringe Festival, Adelaide Festival, Clipsal 500 (cars drive around in circles or something), WOMADelaide music festival, and Adelaide Writer’s Week all feature, as well as much more.

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Sunday Funday

It has been one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a while but it was well worth it for all the fun that it contained and I thought I would share a couple of the highlights. A little fun fact is that my dad, mum, brother and I all have our birthday’s within two weeks of each other and we are right in the midst of it at the moment.

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