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30 things to (d̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶f̶o̶r̶e̶) Rock my 30’s – Travel and Lifestyle Bucket List

Last month marked my milestone birthday and whilst browsing through my travel memorabilia box, I came across my ’30 things to do before 30′ bucket list.

After reading it and realizing I’d only ticked half the items off, it got me thinking about how little I felt I’d achieved.

I hadn’t yet bought a house, visited South East Asia or even had a career in plan.

Instead, I spent my twenties jumping from job to job in an attempt to beat the recession and wasted time running around after dickhead ex-boyfriends.

What had I being doing?

One item in particular on my list was to embark on a gap year to New Zealand, so I jumped online to check the age requirements for a visa, I was too old to do it anymore and it broke my heart.

In a world surrounded by competition and comparison, we are made to feel like failures for not achieving the ‘norms’ of what are expected of us by a certain age –

…and by the time the big 30 came around, I was shitting myself.

I turned to other blogs for ideas and inspiration on ways to embrace my new milestone but all I could find were bucket lists titled –

‘Thirty things to do BEFORE you turn thirty’

So I decided to create my own spin on it.

Not having completed your ’30 before 30′ bucket list doesn’t make you a failure.
Or feeling defeated by our 20 something counterparts who have.

This mentality has to change.

So you know what? So what if I hadn’t been to New Zealand yet, it will still be there later.

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So for this updated list I decided to take on a slightly different approach and re-write the rules, aim for new goals and scrap what no longer feels beneficial.

Not only do I want to focus on travel but I also wanted to include more enriching life goals.

Using my twenties as a reflection guide, here are 30 things I want to ROCK in my thirties.

I hope this inspires some of you to set new goals and be okay with the fact that hey, we get distracted. Lets make our thirties even better.

So here’s my new travel and lifestyle bucket list:

1. Attend a Travel Writing Retreat
I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen Pink Pangea advertise a travel writing retreat. I always thought I wouldn’t be very good in comparison to the other writers. Until I realized that we were all there for the same reason, to learn.

pink pangea

2. Learn Spanish
I’ve been saying I wanted to learn for years, I bought the books, downloaded the apps and even tried my had at practicing whilst travelling around Spain. I gave up because I didn’t feel confident enough to speak out publicly and worried about being embarrassed, when really the best way is to make and learn from the mistakes.

3. Go to Finland
Even before attending Finnish language classes back in 2009 I obsessed over visiting this mystery country. Despite travelling around Europe for the past 13 years I still haven’t been. Perhaps it was the price putting me off, or that I was low key worried that it wouldn’t be as magical as imagined, either way I still want to get my ass over there.

4. Move out! Properly
No more cruise cabins and shared accommodation with annoying house mates. Even though I still don’t feel ready for a mortgage I would still like to rent my own apartment. Possibly one with a high view over the skyline.

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5. Volunteer for a cause I believe in
This one is pretty self explanatory, I want to get out there and help out with more charities. Homelessness along with mental health and emotional distress is an ever growing issue in my home town. I would like to get on board and do my part to help these people. Even if it just requires a listening ear.

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6. Visit Myanmar
Myanmar has always been a quite an unusual place I have wanted to visit, purely because I hear so little. I’ve always wanted to admire the beautiful architecture of Shwedagon Pagoda. Forever fascinated with uniquely special builds. Maybe in a past life I was an architect.

shwedagon

7. Attend Photography Classes
My DSLR has been sat gathering dust for months, it’s time to branch out and learn some skills. A fear of mine is being approached by another photographer and me not understanding what they are talking about. Silly I know but a task I wish to remedy and of course to build confidence.

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8. Visit family in Australia
I’ll never forget the Christmas I witnessed my Australian cousin experience snow for the first time, she ran straight into the garden, no shoes! (Her first time in the UK)

I want to experience that feeling for something new in Australia and have the opportunity to get to know my long distance family some more.

9. Blogging to the next level
My hobby, my side hustle. I’d love to turn blogging into a real job on the side. I’m still in the very early stages.

It took me years to finally take the plunge and throw myself into the world of blogging and I’m so glad I followed my heart.

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10. Be more daring
No longer do I want my anxieties to get in the way of living, I want to be more daring and chase the adrenaline rush, like going skydiving or bungee jumping.

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11. Visit Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
You only need to see the photos to see what i’m talking about.

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12. Learn to fall in love again
I’m just going with the flow on this one. No rush.

13. Hang Gliding in Rio de Janerio
A friend of mine worked for British Airways and would share her stories with me from all around the world, one particular tale was her experience of hang gliding in Rio and how free and exhilarated she felt.

I’d love to experience that feeling too.

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14. Visit the Bolivian Salt Flats
A popular choice amongst travelers but for obvious reasons, I’ve found photos online and have never seen anything else quite like it. The first time was whilst watching a ‘Where the hell is Matt 2008’ video. It looked like he was walking through the air.

15. Get my UK drivers licence
I drove a little whilst living in California and hated it. It actually made me realize just how much more civilized us Brits do drive back home. Every other day I would witness pile ups on the highway. It truly was a scary experience for me.

This time I’ll take my dad’s advice and learn to drive a manual stick shift.

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16. Visit Plitvice Lakes National Parks in Croatia
Unfortunately I missed out during my last visit to Croatia, I fell sick with a really bad cold but I have every intention of visiting again. I badly want to visit this beautiful national park and explore the waterfalls.

17. Dip my toes in another Ocean
I’ve visited both the Atlantic and Pacific but I want to venture out to other seas such as the Indian Ocean.

Its just something I find quite accomplishing to do.

I’ve even contemplated dipping my toes in the Arctic ocean but have a feeling I may regret freezing my feet off.

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18. Visit the end of the world in Ushuaia, Argentina
A little more out of the ordinary but what is there not to love about wanting to visiting one of the southernmost towns in the South American continent, the only way south from there is Antarctica.

19. Try Yoga and meditation
For years I’ve struggled with costochondritis and would love to tackle this issue in a more healthier and organic way.

A way which doesn’t involve pumping myself with tablets/medicine.

This I plan to start once I move to the beach later this year.

New place, new start. A perfect hobby to practice.

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20. Write a book
Oh yes I went there. If there’s anything I want to leave behind after I’m gone it’s a book. As for subject matter I am unsure yet, possibly a travel memoir.

Stay tuned.

21. Work for my dream company
It’s no secret, I want to get back into aviation. No more corporate offices or short haul turnarounds. I wish to go all the way and work for my favorite airline/travel company.

Side note: What most people don’t know is that I’m also a BA collector. I have accumulated books, tags, tickets and even airplane figures. Some may call me sad but I love it.

Anything to keep me motivated to achieve.

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22. Take a road trip around Alaska
Most folks would choose Route 66, however I would love to take a trip from Washington State and through Canada and up into Alaska, stopping off at some of the most natural beauty spots along the way. Away from deserts and busy city life. Just me, the car and a tent.

23. Ride the Trans Siberian Railway
This one I simply cannot explain why, I just have this urge to take the worlds longest train journey. The idea of sitting and watching the world pass by seems so peaceful to me… and a perfect way to catch up with blogging and getting to know other travelers.

Maybe even learn a few Russian phrases too.

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24. Take a flying lesson
This one is really pushing myself out of my comfort zone but something I would like to try anyways, I may love it or completely crap myself.

I once looked into taking flying lessons at my local airport but felt I could never do it due to the cost. Nowadays I just think screw it and have a blow out for once.

Give it a shot, even if its just the one lesson.

25. Create Travel Vlogs
I already have a couple of mini travel vlogs on my YouTube channel but I’ve never really bothered to share them as I know they’re pretty poor quality.
Now I have a shiny new DSLR camera with a ‘record video’ function, I’m eager to try it out.

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26. Dye my hair a crazy color
I’ve always played it safe with either copper highlights or a full head of dark burgundy. For once in my life I want to try a crazy color such as mossy green or electric blue. Purely for fun and because many of my previous jobs haven’t allowed me to do it.

27. See the northern lights
Either in Iceland, Finland or Canada, this too is a popular item on many peoples bucket lists but I want to experience the Northern lights, just to be in awe of something absolutely unique.

28. Take a tour around South East Asia
Where would I begin with this?
Please if you have any itinerary suggestions then hit me up in the comments.

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29. Take my parents on holiday
For once in my life I hope to be in a position where I am able to afford to take my parents on holiday, after all they have done for me, they deserve something special. A wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time together.

30. Take a year out
Lastly, the big one.
I hope to take a year out to go explore the world. The ultimate goal on my bucket list.
If not in my thirties then I hope to be well on my way and prepared for my fourties.

After all they say life begins at forty.

So why not aim big?

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I hope this post has inspired some of you to get creative with your bucket lists and to remind you that life is not a race.
Who cares if you haven’t ticked off all your 30 before 30 lists.
Embrace your thirties and set new boundaries and goals.

They don’t all have to be extravagant travel goals, set some time aside for self care and development.

You got this!

Lastly I hope you enjoyed this post and I look forward to connecting with you. If you wish to add something or share with me your ‘Rockin 30’s’ goals then leave a comment below or hit me up on social media.
I look forward to chatting with you.

XO

PS: Where are all my blogging thirty-something sisters at?’

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3 Months Winter Backpacking with only a 25L Rucksack

This post was inspired by the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received in regards to my tweet.

‘How I traveled Europe for 3 months with only a 25L rucksack’

So I’m here to share my journey.

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1. Why I travel light

Growing up me and my family were not the materialistic type, this was largely down to space and money. My mother, barely in her twenties was a single working parent who raised me and my two brothers. We moved house a lot (due to financial hardship and work) and by the time I was 14 we had moved 9 times.

I recall one particular day getting into a taxi with my mum and brothers, our lives stuffed into four black sacks between us.

As a result, me and my brothers really were taught to always appreciate what we had and that materialism didn’t equal happiness. Instead of gadgets and new clothes every few months we would get creative elsewhere, such as baking, using the sewing machine and spending as much time outside as possible (then again being a 90’s kid there weren’t many other options)

My mother was and still is pretty boss when it comes to living fruitfully on a frugal budget, which over the years has definitely rubbed off on me.

Nowadays I seek adventures over possessions. I don’t own a car, I’ve never bought a house and I choose to carry my life in a backpack.

Having less stuff gives me more time and energy to focus more on what really matters, despite being 30 and still figuring things out.

*Disclaimer – This post is not a ‘How I think you should live your life’ everybody shares their own personal journey and values. This is just my story.

Over the years I’ve learned some pretty nifty tips on how to travel light.

2. My 3 month trip across Europe

90 Days, 8 Countries, 1 Rucksack.

My journey began early October 2018. I was working from home which allowed me to take it on the go with me, So I said goodbye to friends, gave the cats a hug and to my mothers relief (after years of telling her how much I just wanted to pack up and go) I grabbed my rucksack and left. My first stop, Florence.

I hadn’t planned anything beyond Italy and decided to play it by ear. I didn’t know where I’d ended up. With only a small rucksack in tow, I was free to go where and when as effortlessly as I wanted.

Here’s a list of destinations I visited over October – December period:

Austria, Vienna
Croatia, Zagreb
Czech Republic, Prague
Germany, Berlin and Munich
Hungary, Budapest
Italy, Florence, Pisa and Trieste
Slovakia, Bratislava
Slovenia, Bled, Bohinj and ljubljana

2. My 25L Rucksack

Given how little I brought with me, finding a suitable rucksack was easy to find. After scoping out a couple of shops and trying on a few options I decided on the Eurohike Nova 25L Daysack.

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It certainly isn’t anything advanced in terms of what a long term traveler would consider a ‘proper’ backpack but for me it was just what I needed. Small, sturdy and inconspicuous. (I didn’t want the ‘obvious backpacker’ attention drawn to me.

A few features I particularly liked where the half dozen of zip compartments which meant that I didn’t require any packing cubes, along with the breathable mesh padded back and shoulder support which were an absolute godsend when it came to my Costochondritis and if I didn’t fancy wearing my coat I could easily attach it to the front elastic bungee for external storage.

Inside the front compartment there are some claps which I clipped my keys and padlocks to so they were easily accessible. Of course I would always keep a spare on me too.

Solo travel minimalism

3.The perks of travelling light

Here are a list of perks when travelling light:

▪ Airport life becomes easier when it comes to check-in, nowadays many airlines offer online check-in as well as self check-in kiosks. There will be no need to queue to check your bag, you can head straight to security.

▪ Almost every Airline allows one free piece of hand luggage on-board, so if your packing light, you’re good to go. (however do check with the dimensions for your chosen airline)

▪ You will save money, by only packing a small carry-on, you will avoid any unwanted baggage fees.

▪ Airport security and bag searches (if any) will become a smoother and faster process as you will have packed minimal items.

▪ You will learn about restrictions on the amount of liquids you can take in your hand luggage and pack accordingly. (Check with your chosen airline)

▪ Storing your hand luggage will be easy and convenient, you can fit it under the seat in front of you, such as planes, coaches and trains.

▪ Ease of access in busy areas, because your only carrying a small backpack you needn’t worry about bumping into people and things.

▪ You’re in control of your items and can keep track of everything as it’s all in one place.

▪ Your back and feet will thank you.

▪ Walking to your accommodation from the train/coach station will be an easy task, also keeping your backpack close and hands free for using your phone when looking up directions.

▪ You won’t be phased if you reach your accommodation to find out there is no lift, stairs will be no problem.

▪ Everything will fit into one locker so you don’t have to leave your bags out in the dorm/room.

▪ Repacking your bag will be a quick and easy process, particularly if you have a method in place.

▪ Due to fewer clothing options, getting ready will be quick and no fuss as everything will mix and match.

▪ Doing laundry will be a breeze, as you can fit everything into one load, meaning less money and time spent, plus if you have packed dark clothing you don’t need to worry colors bleeding.

The list could go on…

25l rucksack
2 weeks in and still going strong with my Eurohike backpack.

4. Steps on how to pack like a minimalist

▪ Declutter, my biggest tip is to go through your items such as clothes, shoes and books and start by completely eliminating everything you know you don’t want. By cutting down to begin with this will help you feel more confident about your decision making when packing later.

▪ This is self explanatory but buy a smaller backpack and stick to it, now I’m not saying that everybody should rush out to buy a 25L rucksack but even just swapping out your bag for a smaller counterpart is a great step to learning to pack less.

▪ Take into consideration where and what time of year are you travelling. Summer, winter, little bit of both?
Summer items and even just partial winter items will be much more space efficient over a purely winter pack.
I traveled during winter so naturally I had bulkier items to tend with, so I had to get creative with my space.

▪ Identifying the difference between needs and wants. Think about what you will be doing. Will they benefit your trip?
In my case I wanted to pack my glittery flats with it being Christmas but were they practical for my trip? Absolutely not, instead I chose memory foam, sports trainers and my feet felt great throughout.

(I chose comfort over aesthetic, however in summer you can be a little more flexible)

▪ Gather all of your chosen items and pack about half a weeks worth (3 to 4 days) remember it’s perfectly normal to wear items such as jeans and sweatpants for more than one day so don’t feel gross, as for t-shirts I usually pack a few more than I did bottoms.

The general rule is about 2-3 pairs of bottoms and 3-4 t-shirts (including the ones your already wearing when you leave) 1-2 sweaters/jackets and on average about 2-3 pairs of footwear (including flip-flops)

▪ Learn how to layer. Keep your items simple and experiment before you go. Layer short sleeved t-shirts over a long sleeved t-shirts and vice versa, wear a plaid shirt and add a sweater under/over it, tie a cardigan over your shoulders or waist, experiment with different ways to style a scarf.

If travelling in summer, experiment with different ways to style a sarong, add shorts or a tie a plaid shirt around you waist to go with your bikini top, or a cardigan or jacket for cooler evenings.

▪ Be comfortable with repeat outfits. Don’t be phased by wearing the same clothes over and over, with each destination you visit you will always meet new people, chances of meeting the same people again (unless planned) are slim. In most cases, almost all of the backpackers you meet will be in the situation anyways and trust me, they really won’t care.

5. Practical packing and space saving tips for Winter backpacking

Clothing.

▪ Wear your bulkier items when travelling, its a no brainer really.

▪ T-shirts which are simple will go with everything plus they’re easy to clean and compact.

▪ Pack a couple of fitted t-shirts, particularly ones with Lycra as these will stretch out the creases once you start wearing them.

▪ When packing t-shirts opt for darker/neutral colors, trust me white t-shirts will get noticeably grubbier and stained quicker (but if you wish to pack white shirts I wont stop you)

▪ As I mentioned earlier, experiment with layering. Remove for warmer climates, add for colder.

▪ Sweaters, bring two, wear one. Choice of thickness is down to you, a regular knit/turtle neck will do but you can opt for just 1 thick sweater or two thin if you prefer.

▪ Dark bottoms, black jeans, sweatpants something warm and comfortable if your planning on hiking you can swap the jeans out for hiking pants.

▪ Get yourself some warm fleece lined leggings, an absolute staple. They’re thick enough to not look like leggings, wont show you’re underwear and go with everything.

▪ Roll clothes instead of folding, they will save space and create less creasing. It’s magic.

Outerwear

Whilst travelling in winter I took only one coat and wore it throughout the duration of my travels, along with 1 hat and scarf. That’s it.

Alternatively you can swap this out for a hiking jacket or waterproof/fleece lined jacket if you prefer.

▪ Wear your coat or bulkier item whilst in transit.

▪ Find a compact jacket/raincoat, the ones which can be folded down to the size of a tennis ball.

▪ Bare in mind cities will be a little milder than out in open spaces, just a thought.

Footwear

▪ Wear your bulkier footwear and stuff socks into the second pair in your backpack to utilize the space.

▪ Get yourself some memory foam insoles, they’re perfect for lots of walking.

▪ Check out some lightweight yet durable/waterproof trainers, the easily washable the better.

▪ Pack flip flops, useful for dirty showers and an alternative to trainers if your feet really are butchered up (although I would keep to the accommodation)

▪ Pack some thermal socks, your toes will get cold.

▪ Before you go break in your new footwear, you don’t want blisters.

Toiletries

I have a short post about my go to hair and skincare products for the backpacker on the go here.

▪ Purchase solid versions instead regular liquids when it comes to hygiene products. Useful if you’re concerned with exceeding liquid restrictions on the plane. (eg: Shampoo)

▪ Invest in a shampoo/conditioner bar, they’re super convenient and come in a reusable tin which makes it easy to take on the go, I bought mine from Lush and lasts up to 80 washes, even longer if you have shorter hair.

* Bonus, the Lush shampoo/conditioner bars in particular are also organic and can be used for face and body too as there are no nasty chemicals. (Not Spon)

▪ Pack a regular bar of soap and store it in a compact tin.

▪ Stock up on only travel size (100ml) toothpaste, moisturizer, deodorant, contact solution etc and pop them in a clear plastic bag.

▪ Pack some lip balm, that icy wind wont do them any favors.

▪ Don’t feel pressured to go overboard when packing hygiene products (or for the ladies tampons and pads etc) these can be replenished throughout your travels.

▪ If you want to completely eliminate pads/tampons altogether then look into other options such as a menstrual cup and find one that works for you.

▪ Towels are optional as many hostels/hotels will either offer them regardless (or for a small hire fee) however if you do choose to bring one, go for the microfiber option as they are less bulky and dry much faster than regular towels.

▪ Grab yourself either a tangle teezer or one of those compact brushes with the mirror attached. They’re easy to stuff into the small compartments of your rucksack.

Girl ABOUT Europe minimalist female solo backpacker in europe

Cosmetics

▪ Again this is self explanatory, purchase travel sizes instead and be sure to pack any liquids and powders into a clear plastic bag along with your hygiene products.

▪ Store them safely in a small makeup bag to avoid any accidental leakages.

▪ Remember you can stock up throughout your travels

If you don’t wear makeup, even better. You can skip this step.

Tech and Miscellaneous

What tech/gadget you decide to bring is your personal choice and do be mindful of space when doing so, however don’t forget to include:

▪ Mobile phone charger/USB charger

▪ Universal Adapter

▪ Earphones (much more space saving than headphones)

▪ Spare Camera battery and charger

▪ Earplugs and eye mask (for when your drunken room mate at the hostel stumbles in at 3am and switches the light on)

▪ Mini first aid kit

5. Lastly What I packed

So by now some of you may be wondering what I packed for my 3 month adventure.

Lets break it down:

4 short sleeve t-shirts (wearing the 5th)

1 long sleeve shirt

1 Plaid shirt

1 sweater (wearing a 2nd)

1 pair of fleece lined leggings

1 pair of dark jeans

1 pair of lightweight pants (which also doubled up as pajama bottoms)

1 woolly hat and scarf

4 pairs of underwear (wearing the 5th)

3 pairs of socks (wearing the 4th)

2 pairs of footwear (wearing the 2nd pair)

1 lightweight microfiber towel

1 Coat

1 Cosmetics bag which fit my hygiene/makeup products:

▪ Shampoo/Conditioner bar, deodorant stick, small bar of soap, travel sized toothpaste, toothbrush, tinted moisturizer, mascara, compact powder, eyebrow/eyeliner pencil and makeup brush.

▪ Tangle teezer (not spon) and a handful of hair ties

▪ Netbook and charger (for work, blogging and watching movies)

▪ Mobile Phone and charger

▪ European adapter

▪ Mini organizer which held my passport, copy of health insurance documents, plane ticket, notepad and pen.

▪ Purse and a small sunflower tote (bag) to store all the paperwork/techy items.

😮

Follow me

and that’s it!

Packing appropriately can be a challenge even for the experienced traveler, however learning to adapt a minimalistic approach will change your travel game forever.

If you don’t believe me, I have a video here (I suck at making videos so bare with me) 😂

So there you have it, how I travelled Europe with only a 25L rucksack.

I really hope you enjoyed this post and found some use tidbits to add and change up your packing routine.

If you have any other tips and would like to share, I’d love to hear them.

My socials are all @girlabouteurope (IG and Pinterest) and Twitter @girl_about_EU

once again thankyou for reading and happy travels.

xOx

Venice, a photo journal

Venice, a photo journal

I’ll never forget that overwhelming joy I first experienced as I paused on the Ponte Della Costituzione, staring across the canals.

I remember thinking to myself how beautiful this place was, it was exactly how I had imagined after pining over hundreds of photos online.

Watching gondolas effortlessly glide down the narrow canals, rays of blue and green hues from the water reflecting the light from the sky.

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Old crooked buildings, colours faded from the years of being beaten by the sunlight.

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Venice was a bustling city, a beautiful chaos, humming with hundreds of inaudible voices chattering away, the clack clack clack of suitcases rolling across the cobblestone pathways.

Venice has always been a very alluring and romantic place and given the sights, I can see why.

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Venice is a floating city made up of over 100 islands connected by bridges and canals, a geographically unique city situated in the Northern Adriatic sea.

Navigated by gondolas which have caressed the canals for over tens of centuries.

The winding and seemingly endless streets accompanied by piazzas scattered throughout, waiting for wanderers to inevitably get lost. Every corner presenting a picturesque surprise.

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Venice certainly holds both a laid back as well as a romantic element offering a rich history and culture and with over millions of visitors each year I can see why.

So here is a short list of some of my favourite things I saw in Venice.

1. Grand Canal

The largest and most well known feature is the Grand Canal, curving it’s way through the floating city.

Along the edge you can see the beautiful old 13th century architecture hugging the edges of the canal, which stretches over two and a half miles.

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2. Scala Contarini del Bovolo

Tucked away in the center of Venice stands a small Palazzo best known for its spiralling staircase which wraps it’s way all around and up. From the top you will be greeted by magnificent views of the city, including the bell towers of St Marks Basillica.

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3. Rialto Bridge

The arguably the most famous (and oldest) bridge in Venice. Designed by a Venetian designer Antonio da Ponte, Rialto bridge is one of four bridges which arch 24 feet high and over 100 feet long over the Grand Canal.

A crossing between the districts of San Marco and San Polo and a popular landmark for groups and travellers to gather.

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4. Squero di San Trovaso

One of only a handful remaining boatyards which are still in use today. Squero do San Trovaso is where boats and gondolas go for maintenance and repair. These skilled craftsmen are the heart and love behind keeping Venices gondolas servicable throughout the city canals.

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Even though you can’t enter the workshop you can grab a view from Ponte Longo Bridge.

5. Piazza San Marco

The largest square and most famous is Piazza San Marco, the heart of Venice. A truly beautiful scene. If you’re like me and enjoy a spot of people watching with a gelato in one hand and a coffee in the other (no shame) then look no further.

Admire the stunning marble exterior of the surrounding architecture.

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Bare in mind that what ever time of year you visit, the square will be packed with tourists. If your not one for crowds (which is hard to avoid in Venice) I recommend visiting late at night or super early before sunrise.

6. High Tide

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Known as Acqua Alta to the Venetians, the high tide commonly seen in St Mark’s Square where the entire floor surface if flooded. This is caused by conflicting winds from the Adriatic sea causing minor waves into the Venetian lagoon.

Honestly I’ve witnessed this myself and have seen nothing else like it.

7. St Mark’s Basillica

Easily the most popular stop on any Venice itinerary and certainly a must see. St Mark’s Basillica is the most famous church in Venice and for you architectural fans, a perfect example of Gothic and Byzantine works.

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St Mark’s Basillica sits at the far eastern end of Piazza San Marco which is connected to the Doge’s Palace.

(Unfortunately during my visit there was reconstruction work going on so I was unable to snap a decent shot of the Basillica) Bummer!

Ps; Entry is free but mind the long queues.

8. Libereria Acqua Alta

One of the oldest and most unique bookshops in Venice, each room piled high with dusty classics along with stacks of ancient travel guides and atlases.

One room in particular which houses it’s very own book filled gondola proudly displayed to admire. A book lovers dream but also eye-catching to the casual browser.

9. Burano
One for the photography lovers (to be honest all of Venice is) be sure to take time to visit the quaint island of Burano situated North East of Venice and can be accessed by boat or ferry.

Burano is considered to be one of the moat colourful towns in the world with its streets upon streets of popping colours. Burano’s traditional industry is fishing and used to be its biggest business.

Fun fact; the residents of Burano must seek government approval before painting their homes.

10. Ponte dell’ Accademia
During my visit I could literally not move due to the swarms of tourists squirming their way through for a photo view (Rialto bridge was even worse) however take a closer look you will find rows up on rows of lovelocks affixed to the railings of Ponte dell’ Accademia.

The Venetian government have set out plans to ban the use of love locks due to their heavy weight load causing the bridge to weaken and protect this already sinking city

In all fairness I do agree that love locks should be banned.

11. Caletta Varisco
Did you know that the narrowest street in Venice is called Caletta Varisco and only has a width of 53cm, infact one of many narrow streets of Venice.

Just be careful not to get wedged if passing through with a bulky backpack.

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12. Ca’dario Palazzo
Also known as the curses palace, Palazzo Dario is a Renaissance building overlooking the grand canal is believed to be cursed, including a series of unexplainable deaths which occurred, here I’ll include a link on this intriguing history click here.

13. Rialto Market
No trip to Venice is complete without checking out Rialto market. Visiting early on in the morning will guarantee you some of the freshest fish and local produce on offer. Located right next to Rialto bridge you’ll have no excuse to miss it.

14. Bridge of Sighs

Ever wondered where the name came from? It is told that the bridge of Sighs was once held as a passage where prisoners would pass and sigh over their last views of the city, whilst being escorted to their cells.

Nowadays the Bridge of Sighs is now associated with romance, the story goes that if any lovers kiss beneath the bridge at sunset, the the bells of St Marks will chime, forever interlocking their eternal love.

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15. Explore at sunrise/sunset

Venice is a crowded city no matter what time of year you visit but I always recommend a visit during the early hours of sunrise.

My list of favourite places and activities could literally go on all day however I condensed it down to just 14 for now.

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Honestly I could upload hundreds of photos of Venice… it’s just unbelievably stunning.

However if you would like to keep up on Instagram you can find me here.

However if there is anything you feel I’ve missed or should definitely check out then leave a comment below.

Happy travels, buona notte!

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How to spend 3 days in Oslo, Norway

When I think of Norway I think of strength and beauty.

The city of Oslo is a true example of this.

From old to new, not just in architecture but from a background steeped in history and tradition which is still celebrated today.

Norway’s relationship and appreciation for the simple things such as nature and laid back lifestyle is equally balanced with its modernistic buzz of the the city.

From a young age, the mysticism of Norway has always drawn me in, from its uniquely beautiful landscape to Nordic folklore and music scene.

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Despite being a metropolitan city, Norway’s cultural past is still very prevalent, even without having to look very far.

Oslo’s Viking past can still be admired and is sure to trigger a little bit of your inner Pagan roots.

I’m sure will you will fall in love with Oslo’s charm just as much as I did.

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Even though I didn’t get to see everything on the itinerary, the intent was not to be just a ‘guide’ but to share with you what I enjoyed and learned.

Fistly, get yourself an Oslo Pass

I purchased mine on the second day. (Everything on day one was free)

The Oslo Pass includes free transportation operated by any NSB and Ruter within zones 1 and 2 of the city (Train, metro, tram, boat and bus) including the ferry to Bygdøy.

The Pass also includes free entry to over 30 attractions, museums and even discounts on restaurants. Saving you a small fortune against what you would pay separately. (and hassle)

Since there’s are already a bunch of guides about the Oslo Pass, I will leave a link to the official website here.

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If you’re planning a trip for a few days then I highly recommended you get yourself a pass, I purchased the 48 hour passes.

*Just bare in mind that the Oslo Pass does not include airport transfers. I have included some information about this at the end.

Overall, Easy, convenient and no fuss.

Alrighty then lets begin.

Here are some of my highlights in Oslo.

3 days in Oslo

Day One

On the morning of the first day I decided to start early and focused my attention to a few of the main architectural attractions. First stop being Akershus Fortress and surrounding grounds.

Akershus Fortress

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Akershus Fortress is a medieval castle built around 1290 by King Haakon V and served as the residence and protection for the Norwegian Royal family. Over time the fortress has also been used as a military base and prison.

Nowadays Akershus Castle is still used for military space but also open to the public. Inside you can visit the Norwegian Armed Forces museum.

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The beautiful grounds which surround Akershsus Fortress are certainly worth the stroll. Offering stunning views across the Fjord and the harbour.

Along with many other families in the area, this was the perfect spot to enjoy a light breakfast which I prepared earlier.

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It was amazing to just sit and take it all in, watching the boats glide past whilst enjoying the scenery surrounding. I dropped on lucky with such a bright day, it didn’t feel like late September.

Mathallen

For late lunch I visited Mathallen. You can’t come to Oslo and not check out the atmosphere of this place.

Mathallen is a popular food hall famous for its wide selection of unique international cuisine and traditional Norwegian dishes.
Mathallen is also a market. Selling anything from alcohol to chocolate.

Although a tad expesnive the quality is top notch! I promise you.

Oslo Theatre

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Last up for the day one was Oslo Theatre, connecting land and sea. An important cultural landmark.

Designed to reflect the landscape and modern city. Oslo Opera house certainly makes a statement with it’s grand reflective glass and marble exterior.

One thing I found out is that the Opera House is one of few buildings where you can walk up the exterior and admire the views from the rooftop.

It’s unique ramp-like style allows for large numbers of people to sit and enjoy a beautiful sunset by the Fjord.

However, during late fall and winter just be sure to bring a warm jacket and umbrella, the winds do kick up from time to time.

3 days itinerary in Oslo Norway

Day Two

Today was all about exploring the museums over at Bygdøy (also known as the Museum Peninsular)

It soon became very clear just how much there was to see, so I recommend you dedicate a whole day exploring the museums.

Taking the ferry over to Bygdøy

To get there could only mean one thing, a Ferry across the Oslo Fjord.

The ferry ride to Bygdøy takes around 10-15 minutes and greets you with stunning views along the way.

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Once arriving at Bygdøy, you will be signposted towards the museums. Just a quick five minute walk through the residential streets.

Where to go.

The Norwegian Folk Museum

This Norwegain Folk Museum is a must for any of you history lovers out there. Here you will learn all about the history and lifestyle of our ancient Nordic ancestors.

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Crammed with original pieces and excavations, the museums holds a variety of exhibits including the day to day life of a Viking age household, items which include clothing to cooking tools and hand crafted bronze jewellery.

Other topics include the myths and legends of Scandinavian folklore, Sami Culture and a timeline of how Norwegain society has developed over the ages.

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Did you know that the Norwegain Folk Museum is the worlds first outdoor Museum?

Outside is a wide area dedicated to showcasing a collection of (reconstructed) builds from the middle ages right through to the 20th century.

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The area is split into different eras and regions in time and set out like a walkable timeline made up of a of mini ‘villages’.

Not only do you get to experience a beautiful walking tour of Norway’s past but the natural beauty of the greenery which surrounds the museum is simply stunning. See?

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Stave Church

The most popular attraction (and my personal favourite) is the Stave church. Originally from Gol (Hallingdal region, Buskerud county) the Stave church was reconstructed and moved to Bygdøy and is now serves as a museum and an important piece of Norway’s preserved history.

Back in the early 90’s members of the Norwegian black metal scene began a series of arson attacks against Christian churches. Within a period of four years there had been almost 50 church burnings.

Insane right?

Whether you’re religious or not, you can’t ignore the beautiful craftsmanship which goes into these churches.

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Vikingship Museum

For me this was the ultimate highlight of my trip to Oslo, the Viking ship Museum. A bucket list destination I’d been looking forward to visiting for years.

To come face to face and experience some of Norway’s most beautifully preserved Viking ships was a tremendous moment.

I felt I was home, as if I’d come back full circle and returned to my Nordic homeland.

Visiting the ships was my personal way of honouring my Scandinavian ancestors.

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If you’re only here for a day or two, please visit the museums of Bygdøy.

It truly is a magnificent experience.

Day Three

Sadly this was my last day, so I decided to keep it easy and explore more of the city centre. By this point my feet were aching after spending hours at the museums yesterday.

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Karl Johansgate

Karl Johansgate is serves as the main street stretches through the city centre and all the way up to the Royal Palace.

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A bustling shopping area filled with lots of restaurants and designer stores.

I particularly enjoyed the walk up towards the Royal Palace, enjoying small stops along the way to check out the National Gallery, Parliament buildings and greenery around us.

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Another gorgeous day.

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Royal Palace

Built by Karl Johan, a 19th century Swedish King who ruled Norway after Sweden took Norway from Denmark and the home to the Norwegian Royal family during winter.

One thing I noticed on my way to the Palace was how walkable the grounds were.

For a palace which houses the Royal Family you would expect to see large gates and high security.

But here there were no railings or barriers to be seen, just a solitary guard manning the front entrance to the building, that was it.

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In comparison to other palaces (for example Buckingham Palace, in London) it is simple in design. Not the usual pompously designed building with fancy embellished and statues.

It was a peaceful location but would pick up momentarily for the changing of the guard.

Lorrys traditional restaurant.

I had previously looked it up specifically as it was one of the few traditional eateries where you can try the national dish, fårikål.

You can read more about the Scandinavian dishes I tried here.

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Frogner Park (also known as Vigeland) is a park and regular spot for both tourists and families to gather.

A must place to enjoy the art within this natural setting.

Throughout the park you will see beautifully unique art installations.

Created by Gustav Vigeland a Norwegain artist, was commissioned by the City of Olso to create life like human statues (mainly made from granite and bronze) which depict Norwegians in everyday life.

Well… maybe not this one below in particular.

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Located at the top of the hill is the Monolith (Monolit) the grand heart and center of Vigelands pieces. Surrounded by 36 smaller statues which is said to represent the circle of life and unity.

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Visiting Vigeland was the ideal way to relax and reflect upon my busy few days.

The park is a peaceful escape from city life.

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Lastly, something quirky

Noseblod Records

The last location I wanted to include is a famous record store called Noseblod Records, originally known as Helvete.

It was the record shop owned by Mayhem guitar player/songwriter Øystein Aarseth better known as Euronymous and the central hub of activity for the original Norwegian Black Metal scene.

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A regular meeting place for Varg Vikernes (ThuleanPerspective on YouTube) of Burzum, the band Emperor, and Darkthrone and other bands of the Norwegian Black Metal community.

Only carrying music of the most extreme bands of the time, this shop and it’s infamous basement was the place where the church burnings of the 90s were conspired.

Here you will find an abundance of extremely rare tapes, vinyls, CDs and shirts from all across the extreme music spectrum, and the infamous basement where the original Black Metal community gathered.

I would just like to add that even though I am a fan of Black Metal music, I do not condone any acts of arson or disrespect to anyone and their religious beliefs.

I simply found the history of Norway’s extreme music scene interesting to learn about.

So folks…. I really hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

Oslo for me was a truly fascinating experience and highly recommend anybody passing through Europe to check it out.

Below I will include some useful tips on getting to and from the city.

Once again thankyou for sticking around and I hope to connect with you soon.

Happy travels xo

Getting to the city from the airport

Oslo Lufthavn (Gardermoen) Serves as Oslo’s main international Airport and has frequent transport systems which makes it easy to travel between the Airport and City.

*Please note that the Oslo Pass does not cover transportation to and from the Airport.

Purely for efficiency and price, my recommendations are:

Flytoget Shuttle Trains Offer direct routes every 10 – 20 minutes between Lufthavn (Gardermoen) and Oslo city centre. This is the fastest and most efficient way to travel and only takes 19 minutes. Tickets cost NOK 160 each way and run between 05.30am and 00.50am.

NSB Trains Provide a frequent service between Oslo S (Main Station) and Lufthavn (Gardermoen) Airport and takes approximately 25 minutes each way. A one way ticket costs NOK 101. Hours of operation run between 05.54am and 11.54pm