Adult Life, Living Abroad

Moving Abroad: The First 3 Days (ish)

Well it looks like I actually went through with the whole ‘moving to Newcastle’ thing, huh? It’s barely been three days (as I write this post I’ve been in the city for approximately 2 days and 18 hours), but I’ve been running around taking care of all the bits and pieces that need to be done before I settle in properly – namely:

  1. Completing registration at Newcastle Uni
  2. Registering with a GP
  3. Moving in to my accommodation
  4. Getting a UK number sorted
  5. Hitting IKEA for the first time in my life
    1. Trying not to panic about how big and maze-like IKEA is
  6. Shopping for the things I need to function as a normal adult human
    1. Such exciting items include: washing up liquid, laundry detergent, kitchen utensils, hangers, towels, etc.
moving abroad

It’s a work-in-progress..

There’s still a lot left to do, but I’m pleased with how much I’ve sorted over the past couple of days.

moving abroad

Yes, they do get sun here.

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One of my favourite parts of the city.

I was worried that I might struggle to talk to people and make friends here, but that was silly because everyone’s been so friendly. I’ve already been to The Botanist for drinks with some other postgrads, a pub quiz, and an actual night out – my first one in Newcastle. We hit a club called Flares, which was an instant winner because it’s totally committed to serving you the cheesiest music and your guiltiest of pleasures (in my case, that’s probably Despacito’). Not a hint of irony. The rest of the night was filled with indie music at a place I’m struggling to remember the name of, but anywhere that plays four Arctic Monkeys songs in rapid succession gets major brownie points from me.

 

 

 

Today I hit the Societies Fair at Students’ Union, and that was pretty cool. I was drawn to the Feminist Society and Debating Society (eek!), and I might look into the Model United Nations Society (double ‘eek!’). Anyway, what’s next? Tomorrow we’re thinking about hitting Alnwick for the day, and tonight the Mediterranean girl in me is craving pasta, so I’m hunting around for the right restaurant. Stay tuned for more northern updates and ‘toon’ quirks…

-Kelly

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lifestyle blog
Adult Life, thoughts, Travel

So…I’m moving to the UK.

Well I have been quiet for a fair while, haven’t I? Things have been a little hectic, partly because holy shit I’m moving abroad for the first time in my life. And that kind of thing takes time, you know? Existential crises take time.

 

Where am I off to and what’s the plan?

Anyway, I’m moving to a northern city called Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and I’ll be living and working there while I study for an MLitt Philosophy at Newcastle University. Hurrah! For a long time, it’s basically been my dream to do exactly that – but that doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and rainbows once I hit the big, red button.

The (Blind) Panic

There have been many times where I was gripped by this white-hot fear that it was all going to be a terrible mistake – that I’d end up alone, nobody there would like me, and it’ll all just be a massive failure resulting in me returning to Malta with my tail between my legs. The flip-side to that was pure elation at the fact that I finally took the steps I needed to get myself where I want to be; it’s easy to get too comfortable here in Malta. Easy to forget how badly you need to leave.

On wanting to leave Malta

Before some of you reading this hop on the ‘MALTA D BEST’ bandwagon and get on my case for wanting and needing to leave, give me a moment. Malta is a great, beautiful island with centuries of history and some of the nicest people you’ll meet this side of the Mediterranean – but no matter how great your home country might be, I think it’s just so important to live abroad for a while, in different countries if possible. Why? Well I just think it shapes us into generally better, more independent and interesting people. Living with your parents until you’re like 30 isn’t the way to encourage personal growth, just saying.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll move on to one other reason I need to leave: the way this country is being ruined one development, one crane, one bribery at a time. The fact that ‘we’ the people seem so powerless to stop it is maddening.

I’m tired. Tired of the year-round struggle with allergies and throbbing sinus headaches I get because of the dust. I’m tired of the 8+ cranes I see every morning as I make my way to work. I’m tired of the other (countless) cranes spreading across the island like some sort of plague. I’m angry about how the so-called Planning Authority is doing literally nothing to preserve our history or maintain some sort of aesthetic integrity in our cities, towns, and villages. They don’t care and they don’t listen. I’m angry that the government does nothing to stop this rampant over-development of our tiny island – we’re going to run out of space, and you can’t bribe someone into creating more land. I’m tired of the traffic and pollution. I’m tired of how disgusting this supposedly-1st-world EU country looks when you venture beyond the bits we show to those all-important dignitaries. I’m tired of the complete disregard shown to the environment. I could go on, but I think you get it, right? On to more positive things!

Things I’m Excited About

Oh goodie, my favourite part. I’ve been visiting Newcastle ever since I was a child because I have family up north – so I already know what I’m excited to do once I settle in there:

  • Waterstones, Blackwells, and all the other bookshops that are NOT Agenda
  • Cooler weather (I’m a winter person)
  • Sweaters and scarves and wooly socks
  • Hanging out with my English family
  • Newcastle University!
  • Grainger Market – a huge market in Newcastle where you can buy all the fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat you want (and more) at really good prices
  • Trains
  • Castles, lighthouses, ruined monasteries, etc.
  • Amazon Prime Now, not even going to lie
  • Having my own space that’s 100% mine and not in Malta
  • Lush
  • Snow (a little bit)
  • Pub lunches
  • Living right next to a huge park
  • Getting a bicycle

I’m a woman of simple pleasures. Give me a bicycle, a good bookshop, and the university of my dreams and I’m set. Oh, and here’s a picture of a tiny seaside town, just an hour away by bus, at sunset:

 

Anyway, I think I’ve moved past the whole ‘terrified to leave’ stage and into the ‘I’m so excited’ stage! Of course I’ll miss everyone here, but I’m only moving a 3 hour flight away. It’s not Australia.

Have you moved to another country? Do you have any tips for a newbie like myself? Hit me up!  

-Kelly

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rock werchter 2017
Travel

Arguably Abroad: Amsterdam and Rock Werchter 2017

Well, here we are again. Another travel blog. Hush – don’t look at the ridiculous amount of shopping I did, and ignore the packets of waffles and other Dutch treats next to me. Definitely don’t pay any attention to the two bags I didn’t need that I bought from duty free on the way back. Okay you can look, but don’t judge. I can explain.

Towards the end of last month, I set off for a week-and-a-half long holiday to Amsterdam (my second visit) and Belgium for Rock Werchter – a music festival I’ve been dying to hit for the last two or three years. I like things to be a little organised, so let’s break this down by location, okay?

Amsterdam

This was my first time visiting Amsterdam in summer, and it was absolutely stunning. Vondelpark was transformed from a quiet park made up of greys and earthy tones into a lively hub filled with lush, green grass and countless people relaxing in the sun or cycling around. We spent a couple of hours wandering around and having lunch there and I would 100% recommend you do that too.

vondelpark amsterdam

On our first day, we hit a place called Body Worlds. How do I begin to explain the strange beauty that is Body Worlds? Well, it’s an exhibit about ‘the secrets of happiness and its effects on the body’ – but using real human bodies that have been peeled back a few layers and posed doing normal human things. I feel like I’m not doing a great job selling this one, but trust me – if you’re into the weird and wonderful, then this is a cool alternative to your typical sightseeing.

Oh yeah – and if you want to go to the next level of ‘weird’ (and if you’re not squeamish at all) hit the Museum Vrolik Academic Medical Centre, just a short train ride away from the city centre. Here’s the low-down: this museum is made up of the private collection of…interesting…specimens curated and brought together by a super important Dutch scientist called Gerardus Vrolik (1755 – 1859) and his son, Willem Vrolik. You’ll find roughly 5000 different, um, “specimens”, including (but not limited to) loads of different skeletons, sliced brains, male and female reproductive systems, and various creatures (human and not) preserved in big jars. Moving on…

vrolik museum amsterdam

I’d wanted to visit the Rijksmuseum for ages, and had already spent a good chunk of time exploring the Van Gogh Museum (go – seriously). While the rest of my friends hit the Heineken Experience, I spent around three hours wandering around this huge space filled with century upon century of incredible art, completely in awe of everything. Rembrandt was a definite highlight, and they even had one of Van Gogh‘s self-portraits.

Rock Werchter (Belgium)

After a few days exploring Amsterdam, we set off on the journey to Rock Werchter. Two trains, a bus ride, and a fair few hours (and not enough coffees) later, we made it to the camping grounds – that, I’ll have to say, was not fun. I’m not a good or happy camper, and I especially don’t like queuing to find a decent spot to pitch my tent. Then there’s the actual camping – ugh. I’m already too impatient to queue for long – add the fact that I’m queuing for showers and toilets is just a little too much.

travel blog

I will admit that it was nice to wake up to the sound of rain drops hitting the tent one morning – but that’s all the positive feedback you’ll get about camping from this house-cat right here. Forget about all that – the music is what we were there for anyway! The lineup was pretty strong, but my must-sees were Imagine Dragons, Kings of Leon, Blink-182, Linkin Park, and Alt-J – you obviously can’t hope to see every single act at a festival. I was quite happy to enjoy the rest of the acts sitting down on the grass and being quite possibly more relaxed than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What else can I say? Travelling to see some of your favourite, most inspiring bands and artists live is something else. You can’t compare the feeling you get when you’re right in front of your idols, watching them play songs both old and new. I’m going to try and hit a music festival once a year – where to next?

Which music festival do you recommend? Leave a comment to help me choose my 2018 spot! 

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things to do in barcelona
Travel

Arguably Abroad: Barcelona

Well, it took us a while to get to this one, but here we are! A few weeks ago I flew over to Barcelona with a couple of girlfriends to watch Ed Sheeran in concert, then, just one day after returning to Malta, I was off to Catania with my parents. I don’t think I even needed to unpack (never mind the fact that it takes me roughly a month to full empty a suitcase). Here are some of the highlights from Spain!

Barcelona

We arrived early on Saturday afternoon and really hit the ground running. After checking into our gorgeous, Pinterest-worthy hotel, we were off again, looking for some much-needed tapas and wine. Every meal I had the pleasure of eating was just delicious, and service was always friendly – even when we struggled a bit with the language barrier.

Art in Barcelona

Barcelona is often affectionately referred to as the ‘artisan city’ – and I’d say that’s a spot-on description. The city is an open art gallery, and Gaudi seems to be everywhere. I could sit and type about all the incredible art and architecture Barcelona has to offer, but I’ll save you (and myself) the time and suggest a few things that you definitely shouldn’t miss, even if you’re only there for three full days, like we were.

The Sagrada Familia

Unfortunately, we left it a little too late to buy  tickets to get inside – but we still made time to visit and appreciate this stunning piece of magical architecture from the outside. My top tip? Book. Tickets. Now.

The Picasso Museum

You just can’t go to Barcelona without spending a couple of hours appreciating Picasso. Even if you’re not particularly into art, I promise you’ll find the main exhibition really interesting. It’s incredible to see Picasso ‘grow’ from a young artist, just learning the ropes, into the fully-fledged, confident master who gave us artworks like Guernica.

what to do in barcelonaPark Guell

I first found out about this beautiful, mosaic-filled park thanks to Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 on my PlayStation. No, not joking. It was kind of surreal seeing Gaudi’s flamboyant park in ‘real life’, and it was not as close to the centre as I thought it would be (for some reason). Anyway, plan your route there in advance and try to get there before sunset to get maximum photo-op time. To see the best bits at the best times, you can pay a small fee to get in before 8ish – after that, it’s free, but you’ll have loads of other tourists contending for the perfect photo spot.

things to do in barcelona

The Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter is Barcelona’s old city centre, stretching all the way from La Rambla to Via Laietana and filled with some serious sight-seeing spots. If (like me) you’re a bit of a history dork, you definitely need to spend a couple of hours wandering around the area. My top tip? Plan your visit to The Gothic Quarter, The Picasso Museum, and La Boqueria market on the same day, because they’re all within walking distance.

Something Extra Special: Montserrat Mountain

This one was a definite highlight and I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same. Just a train ride and cable-car trip away from Barcelona city centre, you’ll find Montserrat, an incredible mountain range with its highest peak hitting 1,236 m (Sant Jeroni). This idyllic place is home to Santa Maria De Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey where you can visit the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary, the rumoured location of the Holy Grail of Athurian legend. Oh, wear comfortable shoes  because you’ll be walking quite a bit if you really want to enjoy this piece of paradise properly, and if it’s sunny you’ll need a hat and sunnies to protect you during your little trek. Stay hydrated, kids.

things to do in barcelona

How to get there (well, this is how we did it anyway)

  • Go to Plaza Espanya train station – it’s in the same building.
  • Look for the signs leading you to the R5 Train.
  • Stop at Monistrol De Montserrat – a cable car (funicular) will arrive/leave to coincide with train times.
  • You can get tickets there, but the cable car might be included in your train ticket depending on which option you went for.

Remember to check train and cable car times to make sure you don’t end up stranded there! Not that you’d complain…

Something Extra Tasty: La Boqueria Market

If you love food then this is an absolute must-see. This huge, public market is located in the Ciutat Vella area and is probably one of the most colourful markets I’ve ever seen. You’ll find anything from freshly-squeezed juices, fruit cups, amazing fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat, to dried goods and artisan chocolates you can take  back home. It’s all ridiculously well-priced, well-presented, and so fresh the fish might just jump up and make a run for it. I got to see real ostrich eggs! (I’m very easily amused).

things to do in barcelona

Unfortunate timing, butt you get the idea. Pun fully intended.

Quick Tips

Here are a few ‘top tips’, collected from friends, the internet, and my own experience:

  • The city has a bit of a reputation for pick-pocketing (like any big, European city), so be extremely careful and aware of your surroundings. Forget those cute, just-a-flap-no-zip-to-protect-you bags, and make sure your phone, wallet, and ID are safe at all times.
  • If you do end up getting pick-pocketed, make a report at the nearest police station for insurance purposes. There’s one down the steps in Plaza Catalunya, the same place as the station.
  • Getting around  on foot is easy, but you might want to use the (really efficient) Metro system too. Buy a T-10 ticket from any station for just €10 – it cover 10 trips and will serve you well.
  • The Gothic Quarter seems to be a pretty popular nightlife spot – check it out!
  • Shops open at around 10 am, and close pretty late.
  • Do not leave without trying tapas and sangria!

That’s all for now – if you have any questions or tips for future trips to Barcelona, leave them in a comment! 

-Kelly

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Travel photo by Eva Darron
Travel

Packing Up: My 10 Travel Essentials

So I’ve recently returned from a week-long trip to Newcastle in the UK, and already have another three trips or so planned for 2017. The wanderlust is truly strong in this one. Far from being an expert, organised packer, I’m the type of person who frantically throws things into her suitcase a few hours before her flight and only remembers she’s forgotten a few things when the plane’s about to take off. My bad.

travel essentials

Even though I’m quite possibly the worst person I know when it comes to packing for a holiday, there are a few essentials that I always remember to chuck in before grabbing my passport and whirling out the door. Who knows, this post might help me become a more organised person when it comes to this sort of thing (indeed, it might not).

1. A book

And a backup book because you know I’m not going to be a happy bookworm when I finish the first book half way through my flight. I can’t be bothered to haul my laptop out of my hand-luggage, and I very rarely manage to sleep on a flight, so if I’m not reading a book I’ve probably got my nose buried in the latest issue of The Economist.

2. A hair tie or hair clip

Between Maltese humidity, a 2-3 hour plane journey, and all the trials and tribulations that come with any holiday, your hair might get in the way. If my hair is up, sh*t is going down.

hair essentials travel rihanna harvard

3. iPod

Raise your hand if you don’t want to have to listen to your drunk neighbour or screaming kids for the duration of your flight. Raise your other hand if that constant humming sound the plane makes gets on your nerves. Okay, you can put your hands down now, you weirdo.

travel essentials

4. Compact brush with mirror

This doesn’t even need an explanation. Do you have hair? Does your hair get messy? Does your hair get knotted sometimes? Do you just want to look at just how much of a hot mess you are half way through your flight? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these, get yourself one of these babies.

packing list

6. A pack of tissues

I confess, this is mostly because of my ridiculous year-round allergies, but this is actually a good quick-fix if you don’t have blotting paper on you and your make up is looking a little…worse for wear.

travel essentials

7. Water

If you want to be smart about staying hydrated during your flight, forget the teeny-tiny bottles you pay way too much for during the flight – buy a larger bottle for the same price before hitting your designated gate.

travel essentials

8. Lip Balm

Whenever you fly, you know your lips are going to get thirsty as hell. My personal favourite right now is Carmex lip balm, but Body Shop also do a good job in this department.

beauty essentials travel

9. My journal

If you read my recent article about keeping a journal, you’ll know I love writing in mine. At the end of a busy day sightseeing, there’s nothing I love more than sitting down with a glass of wine and looking back over all the things I’ve done, savouring each memorable moment as its written out.

what to pack travelling

10. Nail Clippers

Before you raise your eyebrow at me, hear me out. When you’re abroad and you inevitably hit the shops, you’re going to want nail clippers to de-tag everything so you can wear it immediately. I see you there, with the Primark bag.

travel essentials

BONUS: Instant Camera

A couple of years ago, I treated myself to a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8. The film is a little pricey (it works out to around €1 per shot) but I love the fact that I can keep a physical copy of my photos and stick them in my purse or display them on my desk at work. It’s something you can treasure and enjoy without WiFi.

What are your travel essentials? Let me know in a comment below! 

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Travel

Arguably Abroad: Sziget Festival

One of the top 3 things on my to-do list for 2016 was ‘go to my first music festival’ – and I’m beyond happy to say that my friends and I hit Budapest, Hungary, for the 7-day music bonanza known as Sziget (10 – 17 August 2016).

The festival actually takes up an entire island (Obudai Island to be precise), where the brave (i.e. not me) can pitch their tents, roll out a bed, and camp for however long they wish to be there for. I’m absolutely terrible at camping in any way, shape, or form – add my insane allergies to that and you’ll have one very cranky, sneezy, puffy-eyed excuse for a festival-goer. Trust me when I say no one deserves to deal with that. I stayed at a boat hotel just a short taxi ride away.

camping-angry

Me after 1 day of camping.

Getting to the festival was a bit of a mess thanks to a ridiculous train delay that left us stuck in Vienna for a few hours. When we finally stepped out of Keleti Station in Budapest, we were just desperate for a quick shower before getting a taxi to the festival and meeting the rest of the (massive) group.

Taxi Top Tip: Download the City Taxi app to make booking your taxi super straightforward. It’s perfect for the tourist who can’t pronounce anything Hungarian, because you can send them your location via GPS.

When we picked up our  Sziget Passport and walked into the festival for the first time, it was like stepping into some sort of Alice in Wonderland-type setup, with more fairy lights than an 18 year old girl’s dorm room.

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I would have been so lost without this.

 

On the first night, our priority was to rendezvous with the rest of the group and hit Tale of Us for some serious partying. The rest of the festival was essentially a non-stop party from dawn until dusk and beyond, with anything from techno or foam parties to daily yoga sessions, massages, guided sleep sessions, capoeira classes, TED talks, and impromptu dance parties in this little square we christened ‘Il-Pjazza’ (‘The Square’) near the main stage. There was something to do at literally any hour of the day or night to fill the gaps between acts.

The first major act I saw was Rihanna – but I have to say I wasn’t very impressed. She seemed a little bored, and turned up ridiculously late only to give a half-hearted performance. Not to worry – Muse, Bastille, The Neighborhood, Tinie Tempah, Sia, and The Lumineers more than made up for it.

If, like me, you see food as a top priority, you’ll be glad to know that Sziget caters to practically any taste or dietary requirement under the sun. Staying on the healthy side of things was a bit of a challenge, but if you look hard enough you’ll be alright. The streets are filled with food stalls offering fruit, corn on the cob, pasta, pizza, vegan dishes, burgers, wraps, piadinas, smoothies, gourmet (and not-so-gourmet) burgers, and even some pastries or ice cream for dessert.

Tasty Top Tip: Leave your food conscience at home. Seriously. 

I could write about Sziget all day, but the most important thing I could do is urge you to get a ticket to the next Sziget Festival. Next year is actually the festival’s 25th birthday, so I expect the organizers will have something pretty damn special in store for us all.

 

Want to know anything else about this incredible experience? Just leave a comment below! 

Kelly

 

 

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thoughts

My Top 5 YouTubers Right Now

If memory serves, the first Youtuber I ever properly followed was Ray William Johnson from =3, a channel devoted to taking a look at recent viral videos with hilarious commentary and an excellent Watchmen comic background. This was around 7 or 8 years ago, and although I’ve ditched poor Ray I’ve discovered a bunch of new content creators that have me absolutely hooked on their channels. Here are 5 of my favourites in no particular order!

iisuperwomanii – Lilly Singh

I first followed Lilly Singh because I thought her videos were just plain funny (especially the ones where she’d parody her own parents), but quickly discovered that ‘Superwoman’ was an all-round inspirational powerhouse encouraging women to build each other up in a world where we’re taught to see each other as competition. Bravo, Lilly.

Sharla In Japan / Sharmander

This Canadian ray of sunshine is one of my all time favourites when I’m looking for anything and everything related to Japan. I’m planning to visit the country in the near future, so her videos give some great insight into what Japan is like, where you might like to visit, and what kind of (sometimes rather strange) food you should sample. And there is a very, very cute cat named ‘Maru’ involved.

NB: It’s almost impossible to mention Sharla without giving a quick shoutout to awesome Youtubers like Kim Dao, Taylor R, Rachel and Jun, Micaela, Mimei, and Texan in Tokyo. In truth, I watch all of these brilliant J-vloggers in equal measure! 

Abroadin Japan – Chris Broad

Are you sensing a theme here? I confess – I’m a little obsessed with Japan. Chris Broad is the sarcastic and dry-humoured host of Abroad in Japan, an excellent channel covering a pretty awesome range of topics, including personal favourites like ’12 Tips for Learning Japanese’, ‘Teaching Swear Words to Japanese People’, and ‘Reading your Ridiculous Hate-filled comments’. Here’s the video that got me hooked on the channel:

4 Refinery 29

This channel is just top quality when it comes to lifestyle videos, but my absolute favourite series is called Try Living with Lucy. Lucy Fink is a charismatic 20-something stop motion artist and YouTuber with a penchant for taking up 5-day challenge like this one below – it almost got a heavy sleeper like me into waking up early, and that’s saying something!

5 Just Kiss My Frog – Leena

I stumbled upon this quirky channel when looking for videos about studying English as an undergraduate many moons ago. I’ve been totally hooked ever since thanks to an intoxicating combination of brains, wit, (beautiful) books, body positivity, and a generally magical personality that has any subscriber feeling as though they’re sitting down for a cup of tea and a chat with their good friend Leena.

Do you have a favourite YouTuber I should know about? Just link me in a comment below! 

Kelly

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Travel

Arguably Abroad: Amsterdam

As a woman decidedly set on a mission to travel as much of the world as possible, it is without shame or shyness that I present yet another Arguably Abroad post. Ready? Great. I hope you have a cup of tea ready. 

The start of my Amsterdam adventure really wasn’t a great one – I was basically stuck on a coach for at least 2 hours because of a multiple-car pile up on a highway in Utrecht. Not exactly what you want after a 5:00 am wake up call and 3 hour flight. But I survived (and mostly napped), eventually making it to central Amsterdam. The sight of row upon row of adorable canal boats was the first thing to catch my eye as the coach from hell pulled in to its last stop, but I was entirely too dazed to snap a photo of it.

After a quick (late) lunch and with the help of a really lovely public transport representative, I eventually made it to the AirBnb apartment near Rembrandtpark in Slotervaart (tip: avoid Easter period if you’re looking to visit – accommodation is a pain to sort out otherwise). 

 

Rembrandtpark Amsterdam

Rembrandtpark

The 2 hour delay meant I didn’t really have enough time or energy to do much, but on Sunday morning I woke up early and set out for breakfast at a place called Buurtboerderij Ons Genoegen. The quaint little working farm is a fair bit away form the city centre, but worth the short bus ride or cycle if you’re interested in a hearty meal and friendly faces. The food was tasty and fresh (and exactly what my body needed on a cold March morning), but one of my favourite things about the place was the pitcher of water packed with fresh mint and juicy red strawberries available to customers at the bar. Points.

Food Amsterdam

Yes, these are both mine

Later that day the following things happened in rather rapid succession:

  • Went to The American Book Center
  • Bought 2 super geeky t shirts and a Fallout sweatshirt
  • Rented a bicycle
  • Had hot chocolate
  • Got lost

Yes, ladies and gentlemen – I got lost. On a bike. In the rain. In a foreign country.

With a dead battery. 

As the 21st century tech-junkie that I am started to panic, the inner 90s kid rallied and remembered that I had a map, a bicycle, and a sense of direction. To cut an excessively long bike-ride short, I eventually arrived back at  the apartment drenched, cold, and wary of ever cycling again. Can someone please invent windscreen wipers for specs? Oh, and at this point I need to mention just how kind and friendly people are in Amsterdam. One guy just thought I looked a bit lost (I did) and asked me if I needed directions. More points to Amsterdam!

cycling in amsterdam

Monday meant meeting the lovely Luz Cubas for a few hours at the Van Gogh museum (followed by breakfast at the ‘T Blauwe Theehuis in Vondelpark). Being an arts-lover, I knew this would be one of the highlights of the trip; the sense of awe you feel when you’re face to face with a piece of art that you’ve only seen in films or online is tough to beat. The relationship between Vincent and his brother, Theo, was incredibly interesting, so I’ll definitely need to buy a book of their letters to each other.

After an early night and a morning of casual sightseeing, I popped over to stunning SkyLounge Amsterdam for some oysters with a view before making my way to Luz’s art exhibition.

She’s a photographer and visual artist (and make up artist, and hair stylist…) who was exhibiting her work in print production at the Amsterdam Grafisch Atelier. Here’s her Behance, just in case you were wondering!

 

the artist at amsterdam grafisch atelier

The artist with her work!

The remainder of my short time in Amsterdam basically involved

  • Packing
  • Praying that my suitcase could handle everything I’d bought
  • Checking and re-checking bus routes and train times
  • Sleep
  • Waking up at 4:00 am to start the journey back home

Hurrah!

Until the next post.

-Kelly

 

 

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Reasons to Travel
Adult Life, Travel

Arguably Abroad: My Reason to Travel

Reasons to Travel

As a girl who has grown up on a tiny island with just barely (and that’s being generous) enough room for around 450,000 inhabitants, I can’t think of anything worse than spending a lifetime living in the same country indefinitely. Take away the promise of yearly holidays, and it becomes plain terrifying.

It’s dangerously easy, I find, to get too comfortable; to become lazy and almost forget that just beyond our little trio of islands is a whole world to explore and a wealth of memories to be made. It’s terribly easy to forget that we’re a WiFi connection and a few clicks away from your next great adventure at any given moment. For some, that might mean a 1-2 week holiday; for others, that holiday might stretch into a month. Others – a year. Two years. Why not?

Reasons to Travel

Looking out over Ponte Vecchio, Florence

I guess one of the key points I’m trying to make here is that travel (real travel, not overgrown shopping sprees) is the way to develop as a person. It’s always interesting, rewarding even, to find out what ‘you’ are when you’re removed from the people and places that have been constants in your being and becoming. For some, it’s more frightening than anything else. But that’s okay (do it anyway).

Some might comment and ask how  you could possibly be planning another holiday, how you could spend your money seemingly without a second thought when there’s other things your could buy or save up for. Some will be surprised you’re not saving up for no specific reason other than to save up. Honestly, at the end of it all, what’s more valuable? Do I want things or do I want memories? I know which one I choose. Be self-sufficient, save up, get your own place (or rent) – but please, travel. See things and meet people; try new types of cuisine and see what it means to be you without the things which usually serve as the backdrop to your life.

At the end of it all, you might have less money in your account, but you’ll be so much wealthier. Life is entirely too short to be spent working solely to have lots of things  to fill the house on the island you’ll never leave.

So where to next? What are your top travel destinations? 

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Travel

Arguably Abroad: Vienna

A part of me feels like I should feel at least a little bit naughty about going on yet another adventure less than a month after getting back from Italy. The other part, however, is way too busy relishing the fact that I spent a week hanging out with Gustav Klimt and his buddies in stunning (and cold) Vienna.

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‘Vienna’ is synonymous with the flourishing turn-of-the-century art scene dominated by the likes of Klimt, Shiele, and Kokoshka; in order words, if you’re going to visit this city, you need to hit the galleries. My personal favourites have to be The Belvedere Museum and The Leopold, where you can find Klimt’s The Kiss and Death & Life respectively. Don’t let my 6-AM-flight-face fool you – I was fangirling hard on the inside.

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I love Christmas almost as much as I did when I was cute and little, so experiencing my first real Christmas market was a must. We had a pretty packed week planned out, which meant that we only had time for two – Stephansplatz and Schönbrunn. The market in Stephansplatz was smaller and had a bit of a cozier vibe which I preferred – but the Schönbrunn market was obviously beautiful in its own right (it’s held in a huge square which acts as the entrance to Schönbrunn palace).

One thing I can’t get over is just how efficient the transport system is in Vienna. Armed with a simplified map of the underground and solid advice from my Austrian workmate, getting around this gem of a city was easier than ordering schnitzel. The people are friendly and generally speak English pretty well, so if you find yourself confused just ask one of the locals for a bit of help.

If it’s a spot of shopping you’re looking for, then head on down to Mariahilfer Straße for the high-street experience, or take a train and a tram to Shopping City Sud – a huge expanse of shops to suit quite possibly any retail need you might have. Personally, I prefer the former; massive shopping centres have become a source of stress to me. I don’t know why, but that doesn’t mean my bank account suffers any less. Whoops.

Have you ever been to Vienna? What did you think of it? Share your thoughts in a comment below. 

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