In London: The British Museum

In all my years of going to London, I had never been to the British Museum. So when I had some free time on a recent trip I headed straight for it. The only tip I have is, and this goes for any museum visit in London is to go early, especially at the weekend! PhoebeGill160508007The British Museum is free to enter, which really is wonderful. The building is so grand and it is very impressive. As a first time visitor it can be a little confusing where you should start but there is a big information point inside the door where I am sure they will point you in the right direction. It get’s very busy as time goes on so it can feel very cramped but just respect other people and let everyone have a turn. Remember manners people! PhoebeGill160508011Museums are really important so that we can learn and understand history. People don’t often get the chance to travel and see artifacts that are native to that country so I understand the need for museums. I got to the Rosetta Stone and it was so crowded and people had to squint to see the information written beside it and there was different information on each side. Which was a shame but still really great to see such an import piece of history that deciphered an amazing ancient writing system. PhoebeGill160508016Although I understand the need for places like the British Museum, I have to say that I felt very emotional walking around the Parthenon room. In school I learnt about Greek and Roman architecture and mythology and having been to the Acropolis and seeing how incredible that site is, it’s horribly sad to see the amazing elements of the Parthenon sitting in a grey, cold room. There was a caryatid all by herself! PhoebeGill160508019As interesting as The British Museum is, it really does feel that the artifacts that decorate this building aren’t theirs, and sometimes it feels like it should be back where it belongs. Maybe it is just the fact that I have been to the countries where these pieces come from that I have more of an emotional connection but I just didn’t really feel comfortable there.PhoebeGill160508030Thats not to say this building isn’t impressive and the design isn’t immersive but to be honest if you are going to have big pieces from places with such a rich history, I would have liked way more information! I suppose I would just like a person like my sister beside me all the time who can explain it’s history in such an engaging way! Definitely go for a visit, there is so much to see I am sure I actually saw very little!

Happy Travels!

In Spain: Dalí Theatre and Museum

I had to take these images off Bebo (such a throwback) so the quality and selection I have isn’t the best but I can still remember like it was yesterday. It is where my love of his mind came to be.

Located in Figures, Gerona, Spain, Dalí’s hometown. The building is amazing, its crazy with so much detail. I would go back tomorrow! There is actually a big trip I want to do in this area. So maybe one day soon I will be showing you this area properly!

I definitely recommend you take a trip to see it, it is unique and so unlike most museums.

Happy Travels!

In Travel: 5 Reasons Why I Hated Amsterdam

I have been to five continents, 22 countries and I have only hated one place.

This will surprise some but I hated Amsterdam. The list is endless but I will try sum up the things I didn’t like.

We decided to go to Amsterdam as a layover back from Greece. Greece is one of my favourites, I would happily go back tomorrow but Amsterdam, very different story.

Flying Ants.

It was the summer and just my luck it was the few days when flying ants were plaguing the streets. Imagine having breakfast by a canal, a typical Amsterdam experience, when suddenly you see the air moving and fluttering. I cannot stand them, they are stupid and get everywhere, even in my orange juice that morning, I felt like tearing my skin off and ruining my breakfast didn’t help. It was vile.

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By Francisco Anzola (Amsterdam Canal) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Drugs

I don’t care if you want to get off your face, I will think you’re an idiot but I don’t really care. What I do mind, is seeing needles on the ground outside, seeing people off their heads in supermarkets and people starting fights in the street. It made me so uncomfortable. And no I wasn’t in the red light district for any of this, I was 15 and my father knows Amsterdam very well. He wouldn’t take his family to the sex district.

Trams

Why are they so close to the paths? Like do you realise people could step out to avoid another human and bam. Also that ding-ing really grates after a while.

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By Ilonamay (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bicycles

Shut up with your bells, pedestrians need to cross the street too. I have always hated cyclists so a country celebrating bicycles isn’t really the country for me.

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By Alfredo Borba (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Hotel

I can’t remember exactly what hotel we stayed at but it didn’t have any air conditioning. In the height of summer for your air conditioning to be broken isn’t ok. Me and my sister couldn’t sleep and decided to watch Monty Python, which was a lovely bonding moment but I’d rather the sleep.

Basically Amsterdam made me feel gross, angry, tired and so damn appreciative of my home. As we turned the corner in the taxi I started to quiet cry because it’s so nice having my home to go back to. Although the trip was a disaster it made me realise what I had.

It’s amazing what a bad hotel and bad atmosphere can do to your enjoyment of a city. I might go back one day but right now I have better places to go.

Happy Travels!

In Life: My First Solo Travel Experience

Smith & SonsStory Time

I never get stressed before I fly I have been flying for years and I know what to do, it’s all good. This was not the case right before my first solo trip. I didn’t know where my passport was, I was dealing with a suitcase, weight restrictions and no online check-in and I got very angry.

Before I went my wonderful friend Jess, The Gap Year Guru, told me that problem solving was going to be the thing that made all the difference and if a problem did occur, being by yourself is going to be a much bigger challenge. I nodded and didn’t think much more about it. Don’t worry Jess, your words would come to fruition!

Day 1

As in most cases there was no need to be stressed at all. I got to the airport, sent my case away and got on my plane. Had a row to myself, I got to nap. All fine.

So as I stepped off the plane in Iceland, My laces got caught in my hiking boot eyelets and I fell over and grazed my knee, hilarious, if only I could have a gif of my falling over, it would actually make any situation a million times better. I am laughing thinking about it now but yes, I was in a lot of pain but I got my bag and changed my shoes and everything was fine!

I got picked up by my rental company and I got given my camper. I went to the shops and then I drove all day to the glacial lagoon. Wonderful, productive first day. Hurray!

Day 2

What a glorious morning, I wake up, go to the black sand iceberg beach at sunrise, take some photos, get annoyed by an ignorant german guy who kept standing right in front of me when I was taking photos. Swine! I then go back to the glacial lagoon, spot a seal, take some pictures, go for a walk. I then go back to the beach to take more shots. When I get back to my car to go off on my adventures, I can’t find my phone…I lost my black phone on a black sand beach. Well the profanities that were coming from me at this time was unnatural and I started to cry, then I started to problem solve.

I thought to myself, do I have to drive the 6 hours back to Reykjavik to buy a new phone? Do I go to a petrol station and ask to call home? How am I supposed to navigate anywhere? At this point I realised just how handy the damn things are!

Thankfully after two rounds of retracing my steps, two lovely girls held up my phone, I thank them profusely and I then went to hug an iceberg with happiness. Thank you kind strangers, I would have been lost without you!

Day 3 + 4

So these two days were fine, I drove, I explored, I went for walks, ate hotdogs, grand stuff. Apart from cooking, that really did suck. I can’t cook and I gave up pretty quickly. Also I did have to sleep in a petrol station car park because I was exhausted and the campsite in town was closed. Kind of felt like a tramp but gave up feeling anything once I was watching Firefly snuggled up in my sleeping bag.

Day 5

My final day, I had gone over my miles in the car so I decided to stay in Reykjavik and explore more, walk the entire length and breath of the city centre. I get quite weird on my own in a city, I feel like I should rush through things, I have no idea why I do this. It was getting pretty exhausting trying to find things to do and I had eaten everything I could. I now had to find a petrol station close to the airport that I could sleep in.

Luckily my parents rang me and said that they had booked me a cheap hotel room really close to the airport. I cried with happiness because living out of a van and walking/driving all day is extremely tiring. I drove to the hotel, got lost, had a cry, got into my room and at 7pm I fell asleep. Woke up at half 2 in the morning, watched some YouTube, ate some breakfast and left for the airport. Nothing could stop me…

Oh wait, everything can.

Getting to the airport

You see, I wrote an entire blog post about my rental. It sucked and at this point I hated it, like with a fiery passion!

It was really dark on the roads and the road I needed to take to get to the airport was closed, so I cried, I was driving around trying to find an exit and I go down a dead end.

This is where it gets fun; there was a giant patch of water in the middle of the road, that I didn’t see and of course I drive into it, I quickly get out of it and try to turn around but it’s too late. The wheels sort of lock up and I am in a lane behind a Subway and I can’t turn my wheels. I thought, I am 5km away from the airport, how am I going to get there, am I going to have to abandon the camper, there are no taxis anywhere. I cry more and I am just so done with this camper, it is a piece of shit. Thankfully I get out of this situation. Park at the airport. Run far far away from the camper and go stand in line for a hour to get on my flight. Then home.

What I learned:

  1. I am a stress cryer. I don’t mind a good cry to cleanse you of woes but good god I cried a lot! When I was in a tight spot I just started to weep. Damn it tear ducts!
  2. I do things very quickly. When you are with people you saunter places, you stop and chat and take pictures but when you are on your own, there is nothing left to do. I am Speedy Gonzales. In theory I could have driven the entire island in my 5 days but I didn’t know how quickly I could tick stuff off my list.
  3. I don’t need to talk to people. I think some people may have gone insane with the lack of human interaction I found myself in. I think some days I talked to one person. That is ok to me.
  4. Despite all this, I really do want someone or a small group of people who I can travel with. I like being by myself and doing my own thing but I’d like to have the option. I just haven’t found them.
  5. I am very capable. I have always known this but it’s nice to have confirmation. I can book, travel, explore, everything, by myself. Although I do ring home to talk things out, I can do it. It’s a nice feeling.
  6. I have a great relationship with my family. They may drive me mad at times but they get me, I am a product of their madness and it’s always nice to know that I can call and they will listen. Most people see this as a weakness and think that I get home sick because I call them. Thats not the case. It’s because I feel comfortable talking to them, I trust them when I may not be comfortable or trust talking to others.
  7. Taking pictures of yourself is such an ordeal! I know I could have asked people but I don’t like doing that. Also setting up a tripod is annoying. I saw a solo traveller take some photos of herself and I just wanted to give her props for not caring and doing her thing. I am not there yet.
  8. 5 days was a little long for what I had planned. This is something that will always be hit or miss. Maybe I should be the type that doesn’t plan too much and just go off and come back whenever.

Would I solo travel again? Hell yes! I love doing things my way, answering to no one and not worrying what my travel party thinks of me. It’s so refreshing.

Would I drive solo again? Yes! There is nothing better than being independent. I love driving and the freedom it gives. I will happily rent a car all around the globe if I can.

I think if you are like me and are socially capable but just not forward, start small and work your way up. Get comfortable with yourself in solo situations. That does sound strange but what I mean is, I didn’t know I would cry so much, I didn’t know how quickly I would get stuff done. Start small and see what happens, then go on to bigger and better projects.

Or just jump right in, who am I to tell you anything!

If you are taking your first solo trip I wish you all the luck and hope your tear ducts don’t explode like mine!

Happy Travels!

In Croatia: Visiting Dalmatia in June

My trip along the Dalmatian coast was nice but it is the first place I have been in a long time where I felt very much like just another tourist. Croatia is a very popular spot in the summer months which means there are lots of people wanting you to eat in their restaurants, take a boat trip, sell you some nicknacks that you don’t want or need and there is going to be someone in your pictures all of the time! If you aren’t into this type of travel you have been warned but now lets get to the important stuff.

Croatia is beautiful, it’s got the beautiful sea, gorgeous countryside and perfect old towns that are steeped with history! I highly highly recommend you go to this beautiful part of the world, this country during the off peak season with a rented car would be perfect!

So lets break down each place I visited and the things I did!

Zadar

Although I didn’t spend a lot of time here, this tiny town is the perfect integration into Croatia’s beauty and relaxed vibe. Walking around old town is so easy and picturesque. A must do in Zadar is watch the sunset while sitting at the Sea Organ. It is so relaxing to hear the current. Read all about my 16 hours in Zadar here.

Need a place to stay in Zadar? I stayed in the most perfect apartment with AirBnb! It’s location is fantastic and it has everything you will need I highly highly recommend you stay in Apartment Sea Organ.PhoebeGill150614060-2

Plitvice Lakes National Park

A beautiful place to visit, it’s waters are a magical aquamarine colour with the most beautiful waterfalls and pools. There are so many to see in this small area, I definitely recommend that you take two days to do this park. It’s doable in a day but to have comfort and to take advantage of the area two days is best! Although I only spend one day in the park I have lots of handy tips in my post all about Plitvice Lakes National Park 

Need a place to stay in Plitvice? I stayed at the Hotel Plitvice located right beside the park at entrance 2 (so get off the bus at entrance two, it is right opposite the bus stop) This hotel is a really affordable, relatively comfortable stay, I don’t think the aircon was switched on at this point in the year so it got very hot but other than that it is a great place to stay! There is breakfast included and the food served downstairs is very tasty!PhoebeGill150615079-3

Split

Split is a really nice place to stop on the coast, it is in between Zadar and Dubrovnik and there are lots of fun things to do. I stayed in this area for three nights, two and a half days. Split is a really nice area, it has a great marina area with lots of bars so when it gets too hot you can sit and relax. There are really great shops and lots of restaurants of different prices and there are great cultural stuff to see and do. The old town is absolutely beautiful. Here are my top 8 things to do in Split. I also loved going to Marjan Hill, it’s a great place to get some exercise!

Need a place to stay in Split? I stayed in Studio Palma with Airbnb. I recommend this for a couple, although it sleeps three, any more than two and it feels like the walls are closing in. It is a very small space but it is very comfortable and has everything you need except a bottle opener!!PhoebeGill150616110-4

Dubrovnik

I really liked Dubrovnik, it’s a beautiful city. There are a few things to do, I recommend you go to Rector’s Palace and with your ticket that costs 100 kuna (€13) you can then gain entrance into 8 other museums around the city. Walking around the harbour is also a really nice thing to do there are benches for you relax and there are even places for you to take a dip in the water outside the walls. The number one thing you have to do is walk the city walls it is a great way to spend your time! Also something I definitely recommend is to take the cable car and watch the sunset above Dubrovnik.

Need a place to stay in Dubrovnik? I cannot recommend Apartment Paradise with AirBnb enough it is absolutely perfect! It is in the centre of old town, it is close to a supermarket, it is close to all the main attractions and museums. There is lots of space, although Croatian houses are narrow and tall this space feels airy and open. There is also a rooftop terrace and it is just perfect!PhoebeGill150620188-5

Also I definitely recommend you get into the sea, you can swim in lots of different spots along the Dalmatian coast here are some of the spots I tried.

What I Ate

So I really didn’t venture much with my eating. There is lots of fish on menus all across the coast but I don’t eat seafood for lots of different reasons. I ate pizza a lot. It’s the cheapest thing on every menu and I had some steak on my birthday which wasn’t good. So basically stick with pizza. Ice cream is everywhere! There are lots of flavours and it’s really tasty. Choose pistachio becuase it’s the best!

Take Note

  1. If you go from Zadar to Dubrovnik, it goes from ridiculously cheap to quite expensive so keep that in mind when you are budgeting your trip.
  2. It also gets busier and busier as you go down the coast, so it is nice to start with Zadar to relax and settle in.
  3. Buses are a great mode of transport but have to say Croatia Bus company was the worst journey I have had in a very very long time. I don’t know why we went through a different country but we did!
  4. Croatia adds it’s own soundtrack on attractions. You will be walking around an amazing historical place and there will be a stall or cafe blasting some crappy song. It was quiet common and a little annoying but you can get away from it pretty quickly.
  5. Their animal laws are horrible. I have already mentioned Splits zoo in my Marjan Hill post but I also went to an aquarium and it was just awful to see a critically endangered loggerhead turtle in a paddling pool where people had thrown their coins into. It was despicable. By law it is legal but it is disgusting, do not go to the aquarium in Dubrovnik!
  6. If you want to get €31 off your Airbnb stay click here 

So that sums up everything I did in my week in Croatia. I really enjoyed my time there but I am not done. I really want to go back in the quieter months of the year with a car. I really hope you enjoyed this post. Tell me have you been to Croatia? Is there somewhere you recommend? 

Happy Travels!