5 Not So Typical Travel Recommendations

I blooming love travelling. Ever since I lived abroad, I’ve well and truly caught the travel bug. I even have a tattoo dedicated to my love of travel. As it’s summer, everyone’s favourite time to get away, I thought I’d give y’all some recommendations. Some of these places are maybe a little more off the beaten track and severely underrated.

1. Hastings, UK – An Alternative British Seaside Experience

Oh how I do like to be beside the seaside! When most think of seaside holidays, they think Blackpool or possibly Brighton. I think Hastings. I’m a little bias to this place since my Dad actually lives here but this town’s charm has really won me over. British seaside towns tend to have a tacky set up of amusements and overpriced rides, which don’t get me wrong I like to partake in occasionally. I love me some crazy golf. But sometimes you need something a little less gaudy and that’s what Hastings, especially the old town, has to offer. The streets are filled with really individual shops, cosy bars and welcoming pubs ready to take you in. There are festivals on all year round, so if fancy dress is your thing you’re sorted. If you’re a creative person looking for a change of scenery to inspire, Hastings is the perfect spot. I always feel refreshed and ready to write after a visit (like right now for example, I only got back a few days ago). While it may be a pebble beach, it won’t stop you from lounging about to top up your tan or going for a swim. Hastings offers the idyllic seaside experience for all.

Especially Check Out;
The Hastings Arms For great food, go to The Hastings Arms for tapas night on Thursday. Great price for some beautiful food, perfect to share when you’re going with a big group of people.
S. Forrest – Again I’m a little a bias as I know the owner of the shop but I’ve never seen a shop like this before. They sell dried flowers, herbs, spices, teas, baskets and so much more. It’s wonderfully quaint and a good shout for when looking for a gift or possibly just a treat for yourself.

2. Warsaw, Poland – Lots of Culture on a Budget

First off, this was the cheapest holiday I’ve ever been on. Every time I paid for something I would check the equivalent in pounds and I was pretty stunned every time. If you love taking in lots of culture but don’t have a huge budget, Warsaw is the place for you. Poland as a holiday destination is definitely starting to become more popular, with lots visiting Krakow. Warsaw happened to be an easier option to travel to and I’m so glad I went. The history of the city is absolutely fascinating, if you’re a history buff you’ll love it. Just walking around you see living history in the architecture and how it differs area to area. It’s a good place for a long weekend too, if you’re into partying then you’ll love the cheap cocktails. I swear the drinks are a lot stronger though, so be cautious! There was so much to see in Warsaw, pack in as much as you can but I can guarantee you’ll want to visit again. And remember to pick up a bottle of vodka in duty free, my cherry bottle is the yummiest vodka I’ve ever had.

Especially Check Out;
AioliThis trendy bar is so good we went twice. The food is fantastic (especially the desserts) and the cocktails are delicious. You may have to wait for a table but I promise you it’s worth it.

Łazienki Park – This beautiful park goes on for acres and is perfect on a sunny day. There are lots of different gardens to explore, you’d probably need a week to get round it all. The Palace on the Isle is a real highlight.

3. Koblenz, Germany – For When You Don’t Want to be a Tourist

Koblenz has a little place in my heart. I lived there in 2013 over the summer for my semester abroad. Koblenz is perfect if you want somewhere a little off the beaten track, it’s not packed with tourists. It’s famous for being where the Moselle and Rhine rivers meet and they meet at the Deutsches Eck (photographed above) which happens to be a rather nice spot to chill out on a warm summer’s day with a beer and some good company. Koblenz is a great blend of old and new, the streets are rustic but there’s also a great mall if you fancy doing a bit of shopping. If you’re looking for a good night out, Koblenz has a great offering of bars and clubs with reasonable prices. I’ve had many a fun night out, from what I can vaguely remember! If you’re in Frankfurt or Cologne, Koblenz is only a train ride away. It’s worth a day trip.

Especially Check Out;
Gekco Lounge – Now I’ve been to a fair few cocktail bars in my time but this is my favourite. The interior is like a cave so you have no idea of time going by, it’s super cosy. The menu is massive and they have a happy hour too. I’d recommend a Zombie, this bar makes the best one I’ve had.
eGeLoSIa – Best. Ice. Cream. Ever. It’s kind of sad how much I miss this place. This ice cream parlour has some of the best flavours, plus they do sorbet as well. If you get the chance to visit, get multiple scoops and different flavours. And go for seconds. Can you tell I really like this place?

4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands – The All-Rounder

If you’ve been anywhere on this list already, it’s Amsterdam. And there’s reason for that, the city appeals to pretty much everyone. I’ve been on three different visits, on my own, with family and with friends and in different seasons and every time I go I want to go back instantly. It’s one of those cities I could easily see myself living in, it has such a relaxed atmosphere. If you’re there for a weekend of partying there’s plenty bars and clubs ready and waiting. If you’re more of a culture vulture, the city offers plenty of historic sights and museums. Anne Frank’s House is a must for anyone, it gives you a real sense of what happened back then and really respects the history. If you’re looking for nature, check out Vondelpark. It produces wonderful colours all year round, even in winter it looks beautiful. Amsterdam is great for a few days or a month, it works for solo travel or a family of four. I guarantee one visit however, will not be enough

Especially Check Out;
House of Bols – Whilst most know about the Heineken Experience, not a lot know about House of Bols. Most have heard of Blue Bols, it’s used in cocktails. It doesn’t just come in the blue flavour however, there are over 40 flavours! This experience tells you the history and what goes into making it. You will also have the most bizarre tasting experience of your life, I can’t even describe it. Your ticket includes a cocktail at the gorgeous mirror bar too.

Moco Museum – If you’re into modern art, you should check Moco out just now. They have a huge Banksy exhibition which is so much fun to look around. Plus there’s a Warhol exhibition on, if you’re into pop art it’s not to be missed.

5. Copenhagen, Denmark – For the Travel Photographer

If you’re a fan of Amsterdam, you’ll enjoy Copenhagen. It has a similar relaxed vibe whilst also being sleek and refined. For those of you who love travel photography Copenhagen is an Instagram dream. As you can see above, Nyhavn is a must see, even in the rain the colours look gorgeous. If you’re willing to take a train out of the city centre, it’s worth stopping off at Kronborg Castle to do your best Hamlet impression. On the way back, if you’re a modern art fan, you need to check out the Louisiana Museum. They have a massive collection and the building and grounds themselves are lovely to wander around. Feeling peckish? The Street Food at PapirØen (Paper Island) is ideal for the foodie. It is a hall filled to the brim with every kind of food you can think of from butter chicken to crème brûlée donuts. On our visit there was also a second hand clothes sale going on – perfect if you’re into food and fashion like me – check out the website to see what other events are coming up. Copenhagen is classy but has a warmth that pulls you in. It’s a refreshing city which is perfect for all you holiday snappers.

Especially Check Out;
The Yellow House –  This was our first Airbnb experience and we got very lucky. Nathalie, her daughter Caroline and their cats Lucky and Luna made us feel extremely welcome. Their home is of the typical Danish style which we all dream of having in our own homes. Nathalie was very helpful answering any questions we had and was a fab host. The cats are incredibly friendly, they make you feel very at home. When we inevitably visit Copenhagen again, we will definitely be staying at the Yellow House and so should you.


Design Museum   This is one of the best museums I’ve ever been in. The exhibitions essentially give you a history of design; this includes furniture, clothes, posters, advertising and so on. There’s even a whole section where you can interact with the exhibits, that’s right, you’re allowed to touch things! If you’re a visual person, you’ll love it, all the colours and textures are stimulating.

Getting it down to five places was difficult so I will definitely being writing another recommendation post in the future. In the mean time, happy travels!

 

 

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Warning: clichés ahead.

So I’ve sat down with a green tea to reflect, like a gazillion blog posts before me. I don’t think I’ve ever really appreciated the whole celebration of New Year until this year.

I was sensible this year, I stayed in for most of the night with my best friend and her dog. We watched films, treated ourselves to pizzas and chocolate and stayed sober the entire night. As midnight approached we went to a firework display the town over. At the stroke of midnight we gave each other that huge cheesy grin that Hogmanay qualifies for and hugged. We were surrounded by tons of people doing the same. Greeting each other with hugs and kisses and all the well wishes in the world. It was a pretty adorable sight to see.

While I’ve usually found making New Year’s plans stressful, only finding that it was another excuse for a party and while I’ve had fun at those parties, the next day comes with an inevitable hangover and a bit of let-down. Was all that fuss worth it? I think New Year is about coming to the end of a year and appreciating what you’ve got in your life. All the alcohol and party dresses aren’t necessary to appreciate your wonderful friends and family.

I have a feeling my reflections on New Year, have something to do with the kind of year I’ve had. 2015 has been full of ups and downs. I lost two family members early in the year and I’m still getting through that now. That, the stress of finishing university and my general lack of routine for the second half of the year have made me really ill. Unfortunately it’s not something I can really help, having a rare headache condition sucks. With all the negativity though, I can truly adore the positive in my life. I graduated with an honours degree in English and Creative Writing, seen some of my favourite bands live, had an amazing holiday to Amsterdam with my Mum, spent my 22nd birthday playing childish party games, visited my Dad’s for a lovely chilled break, I’ve dressed up in fun costumes for birthdays and Halloween, spent plenty of nights out with friends and I’m ending the year in a job which has its challenges but I enjoy it.

I’m very much ready for a new start, 2016 brings a nice clean slate. I’m not usually one for resolutions but I want this year to be all about writing. I’m determined I’ll finish my first novel, I started it as part of my final project for university so it’s not like I’m starting from scratch. It’s an achievable goal and I know how satisfying it will be. So with this post, I’m starting the year as I mean to go on, writing.

Happy new year everyone, I hope 2016 is good to you all.

The Work Experience Year.

After writing my first entry on finality, this one is strange to follow.
So this year will not be my last year of my BA education. Unfortunately I did not pass all my classes in Germany and therefore did not come back with enough credits to continue to my third and final year. Due to this, I am a now a part time student, having to take two second year classes next semester so I can then continue into my third year, next year.

At first I was obviously annoyed with myself. I clearly had not worked as hard as I thought. A lot of people have asked me if I regret going to Germany now. Every time I will answer back no. I got more than an educational experience by studying there,  I got cultural one and quite frankly a hell of a lot more life experience there than I would have ever got staying in the UK. My time abroad, in Germany and travelling has given me so much inspiration to write. I even have the boarding passes and train tickets covered in messy scribbles to prove it. Since writing is what I want to really do with my life, I’m glad I took the leap because now I’ve actually got some idea of what I’d like to write. Travel writing is something I’ve done a little of but now it’s become a passion and I certainly would not have discovered that living in Sunderland. Saying that, after being in a different culture for so long it has made me realise all the little beauties in the places I’m so familiar with like Sunderland, my home town and Edinburgh.

So instead of seeing this as a hindrance, I’m calling this year ‘The Work Experience Year’. While my fellow classmates will be writing up dissertations and portfolios I plan to get as much experience to add to my CV as humanly possible. While I’ll be graduating a year later (which I would have done had I gone to a Scottish university) this gives me one more year to make that all important CV really stand out. Whether it be with in a full time retail job, a few writing competition wins or even some unpaid work at a publishers, I’m happy getting as much experience as I can.

Have I said experience enough? No? EXPERIENCE.

Finality.

Today I began my third and final year of my degree. You could really call it the beginning of the end.

I have mixed feelings towards the end of things. Something as trivial as my favourite television show ending, I cannot stand. You’re emotionally attached to fictional worlds and characters for weeks, months, years and then all of a sudden they’re off, sometimes without a real goodbye. It’s really rather rude if you ask me.

However, when it comes down to reality, the ending of those big stages in life excites me. In primary school, I could not wait to leave for high school. Education enthralled me and finally I’d be in a place where I could learn about everything and anything. I was genuinely keen to write essays on my favourite literary heroes like Shakespeare.
Six years later, I could not wait for high school to finish. After studying everything and anything, I had realised that I wasn’t so keen on all subjects. University brought, despite limiting me down to one area, a sense of freedom. I was no longer obligated to study Geography just because of timetable regulations or prepare for a ridiculous exam which probably covered everything you didn’t revise for. Of course I would miss the people of my high school experience. Luckily I keep in touch with most of my friends from home still, thank goodness for Facebook! However, the essence of high school, the education, I was glad to see the end of.
For the second half of my second year, I studied abroad in Germany. It’s safe to say, I had the best summer of my life. I was opened up to a world of new cultures and new types of people. Considering that though, it made me appreciate home and the country I’m from a lot more. I miss Germany an awful lot but I remember that satisfying moment when the flight attendant announced we’d arrived in Edinburgh and I knew the end came at the right time.
And now here we are, my final year of university. This is one particular ending which should be handled with care. While I can’t wait to go off on more adventures (I hope to do my Masters in New Zealand), I will be sad to leave this stage behind. Sunderland is a city which will hold a place dear in my heart, despite some of remarks I’ve heard about it. It is where I lived on my own for the first time, where I marvelled over language and literature in a much brighter light and wrote my first Gothic play. Thankfully, this is only the beginning of the end. This university and city isn’t getting rid of me just yet.

Ends are certainly a puzzling thing to handle. For example, I’m not sure how this blog should end…