Stopover in Taipei

Longshan Temple, Taipei

I forgot to put this blog in before my Tauranga one! I got too excited with my weekend away hehe.

So on my way home to NZ, I had a 12 hour stopover in Taipei which I had kind of not realised I had booked. I was debating whether to go into the city or not as it is an hour drive and I was a little worried about transferring money and whether I would get back in time before my flight that night. You never know if there is an accident or something and I would of rather stayed in the airport than miss my plane home!

But I didn’t have to worry about a thing!

I arrived in Taipei a little later than expected but still plenty of time, I made my way through to my transfer gate and I asked about leaving the airport. The guy was really blase and said it was fine to leave the airport and then showed me a poster for a transfer tour. It is a FREE tour for anyone who has a stopover of 7 hours or more – I was set! The tour started about an hour after I got through customs so I had time to grab some lunch and put my carry-on luggage in a locker. I was really impressed with Taipei. It is soooo efficient! I got through customs in no time at all, no visa required to enter the country. The tour goes twice a day and takes half a day. The tour started at 2pm and we arrived back at about 6pm so plenty of time before my flight at 11.30pm. Longshan Temple, Taipei

It was super easy, you go to the desk in the arrival hall and ask to sign up for the tour, they take your passport details and as long as the list isn’t full your in with a grin =) The tour guide shows up and takes us to a shuttle bus. We get taken into Taipei and he speaks along the way telling us history and general information, pointing out sights as we go. Once in the city we make a couple of stops at Longshan Temple and a memorial hall. We get a view from the outside of the Taipei 101 Building (a viewing tour), and before we know it, we are heading back to the airport. I would highly recommend taking this tour if you ever have a stopover. I didn’t have to worry about a thing, you get shuttled around so no worry of language barrier or getting lost and you get a glimpse of another city on your way home.

Taipei 101 Building, Taipei, Taiwan

Let me know below if you have encountered similar tours at other airports as it is a great way to kill time and see a new country!

 

Until next time x

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Top 5 Place in the UK

While I was in London, I wanted to make sure that I explored as much of the UK as I did outside of it. I went on a lot of day trips and weekend getaways. The people were always really friendly and I loved seeing all the gorgeous old English houses, and what the small and large sized towns had to offer. I have narrowed down the top 5 places I think you should check out if you are ever in the UK or you live in the UK and haven’t ventured around your own country.

In no particular order (its hard to choose!)

  1. OxfordOxford, United KingdomWhere to start! The buildings are gorgeous! I really liked Oxford, there is just college after college that is stunning. If your a Harry Potter fan, there were a few places that are from the films. I just loved walking around the streets and wishing I got to go to one of the colleges as a student.
  2. BathRoman Bath's, Bath, United KingdomBath was another stunner! If you like culture then this is the place for you. Jane Austen spent a few years here and it is one of the few places where the city is a World Heritage Site. The city’s website has downloadable walking tours which were really great and easy to use. It has a spa where you can get some relaxation where you can rest your feet after a long day of walking the streets.Definitely check it out and save your pennies to treat yourself to the spa!
  3. BroadstairsBroadstairs, United KingdomNot the biggest of places but if you want to go to a chill place where you can just relax on the beach for the day – then this is the place for you! It was so peaceful, and fun for all ages. If you got sick of sitting on the beach you can make your way up the coast to all the other little bays nearby before heading back for some fish and chips on the beach =)
  4. Isle of WightIMG_4367After a train ride to either Southampton or Portsmouth, catch the ferry across to the Isle of Wight. It is a very small island, and as you can see in the pictures it has beautiful buildings. It is not big at all and has one little strip of shops but if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of London then this is a relaxing getaway for the weekend, and if your really organised – take a bike as there are paths to get around.
  5. Brighton13876574_10153583781031567_7915946040027522415_nBrighton is not far from London, and is the perfect getaway if you still want quite a busy city but with the beach feel. So many winding streets to get lost in shops or eat and drink your way around the city. So many good options so make sure your wallets are full! Then relax on the beach when you have had enough of the crowds and want to cool off with a swim.

To see more on these cities check out my full posts on each one.

 

Until next time x

Relocated to New Zealand

up in the clouds, Brisbane, Australia

Hello All!

I have now relocated back to New Zealand. Two suitcases, one overnight bag and giving away / dumping in clothing bins half my belongings and I am back in my hometown of Hamilton. It was sad leaving London as I want to still do so much travel, but all good things must come to an end. I will still be going for trips around the world, just probably won’t be as often. So in the meantime I will be checking out what New Zealand has to offer and taking you all along for the ride!

Look out for day trips, hikes, events, you name it! I already have a few things booked to look forward to, so check back to see what I get up to.  I am already loving the summer weather and have started to get my tan back as burn time here is about 10 minutes!!

Until next time x

Cambridge – Oxford’s brother/sister

cambridge, united kingdom

In December I went to Cambridge for the day as I had not been yet and I loved Oxford so needed to get to Cambridge before I leave! I love the architecture, and all the colleges throughout the city. I went in and out of all the ones I could get into for free, they just look magical! I am so jealous of people that get to go there as we don’t have anything as old or similar that you can go to. I know some people stay at accommodation on campus, but you don’t really apply as such.

cambridge, united kingdom

There were some really yummy food places that I had to check out as well. It was pretty chilly there so I definitely took advantage of the warmth of a restaurant when I could!

First stop of the morning was Novi, I got some yummy coconut pancakes. The portion was a little small, but really nice! And it was quite quiet so it is nice being able to eat in a relaxing environment.

cambridge, united kingdom

I also checked out Fitzwilliam Museum, there was a lot of things that are the same as most museums – painting etc. but it was nice to get out of the cold for a bit and look around – its free so why not. I wandered through a couple of parks and had a look through their ‘winter wonderland’ – it was pretty small, and not very busy which was kind of surprising since London’s one is packed. Then it was getting dark and I needed to find some dinner before catching the train. I went to Pizza Hut which was my first time in the UK, I wanted to try their gluten free bases in case I had been missing out. I have to say I was surprised, the base was really good! It was let down though as there wasn’t enough topping so was more base than topping, but otherwise pretty good! Also if your in Cambridge I wouldn’t go to that branch as the service was pretty bad and a table arrived next to me ended up leaving as they took so long to give them menus and then never got their order taken.

architecture, cambridge, united kingdom

All and all Cambridge was worth the trip, I have to say I still hold a light for Oxford and if you had to choose, in my opinion Oxford was better but either way there are gorgeous buildings and if you are into that then you will be in awe!

Until next time x

Timisoara Days 2 + 3

cathedrala mitropolitana, timisoara, romainia

First thing Saturday morning was breakfast of course! I found a small cafe that does eggs only. They serve omelettes and they open before 11am so can’t complain! I got a spanish omelette and a tea. I don’t really get into normal tea but I love herbal/fruit fusions. The omelette was pretty good, and while I ate I decided what the plan of attack was for today. I decided to first go to the Banat Museum on the edge of the city, I found the building but couldn’t find an entrance and the place didn’t look open. I came to realise that if there is a door – try it. It opened! And of course the museum was open, a little deserted, but open. I went upstairs and it has been turned into what I can gather an exhibition hall now. There were paintings all over the walls. The lady took 20 lei off me, and I explored. Then it was onto the next place.

I then walked around to the botanical gardens, which was really peaceful, there wasn’t much to look at as the leaves were all gone, but it is still always relaxing walking among bushes and trees. I stopped off at a couple of cathedrals and the squares as I looped my way back into the centre of the city.

parcul civic, timisoara, romainia

For lunch I went to a kebab shop as it has good reviews on  TripAdvisor. The guy was quite nice that served me, the kebab salad was good, nothing to write home about, same as every other kebab shop I have been to. But none the less, still a nice cheap lunch if your nearby and I ate it out in the sun in the main square (Piata Victoriei).

I has also read that there was a good gelato shop (Gelato di Bruno), so I got some dessert later on, and it was definitely worth going. I got half pistachio and half cherry flavour. Not exactly summer weather but still yummy! Later on, I went back to the Vietnamese place for dinner again, and so silly I sometimes like to try new dishes as I don’t like getting the same thing every time, and every time I regret. I got the fried rice with chicken, and it was fine, but I am not really a fan. I find it a bit dry and I love the ‘Bun’s so I need to stick with it! I got another lot of spring rolls as I couldn’t resist so it wasn’t all bad!

I decided that I would be social tonight so I grabbed a couple of drinks from a mini-mart and took them back to my hostel and hung out there from early evening as it gets dark so early there and it is quite cold. I had a few drinks with a couple of guys who were both from the UK, and then the guy working at the hostel took us out later to a bar. It was really fun! It looked like we were going to a local bar and the atmosphere was really cool, they had decent priced drinks and we were able to get a table. It was home time now and I was looking forward to getting into bed!

Bega River, Timisoara, Romainia

Sunday morning I went back to the omelette place, and got a different omelette this time, I went to a museum (Muzeul de Arta) that also looked closed but was not. I had a walking tour booked for the afternoon so I went back through the main square to the meeting point. The tour was freezing! It was a really clear day and it was windy and chilly, so I spent another walking tour wishing it would end as my feet felt like they were going to fall off! I really need to buy some thicker socks!

near Bega river, timisoara, romainia

The tour was free, and you can just book online and they confirm with you if there’s enough people to go ahead with the tour. Timisoara is the start of the revolution in Romainia so it was really interesting learning about it. I finished the tour and remembered someone from the hostel talking about a shopping centre that was nearby. I made a beeline for the food court first to eat and warm up. Then I had a bit of a wander around, they had awesome decorations everywhere for Christmas, and a massive supermarket! I had a nosey inside and I couldn’t believe it, whole isles of bulk foods, spices being sold in huge crates. A pick and mix freezer section – there was anything and everything! I love a good supermarket! hehe

It was time to head back to the hostel to grab my things and head to the airport. The lady working at the hostel was lovely and called a cab for us and I had some company as one of the British guys was on the same flight as me which was nice =) Another weekend over, back to reality.

Until next time x

Part 2 – Iceland – The Main Attraction

Klambratun, Reykjavik, Iceland

Saturday morning I had home made breakfast as there doesn’t seem to be many breakfast places and also which would be gluten free, so I had some skyr yoghurt and museli. Today was alot nicer, no rain but alot colder! There were snowflakes in the air, and I had a walking tour so it was hard to pay attention near the end as my feet felt they were going to get frostbite! The guy on the walking tour was really funny, and informative so it was a pity near the end that all I wanted to do was unfrost. After the walking tour I went to Glo which is a vegetarian / healthy food restaurant and got some soup! They had some gluten free seaweed crackers that I could have with the soup and you got a free refill!! It was so good after being in the cold outside and I didn’t want to leave!! Since it wasn’t raining I went to a couple of look out points since the view would be better. The first was at the Hallgrimskirkja church, you can pay to go up the tower. It was freezing! But you get a really nice view over the city and some awesome shots.

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland

 

The second was called the Perlan and this was a little bit more of a walk and you get more of a panoramic view across the city as it was back from it a bit. And I saw a bunny on the way so it was worth it just for that!! He/she was a big white one, like you see at Easter!

That night I went to a seafood restaurant and got some fish since I am on an island it should be good seafood!! And it was, expensive seafood, but good seafood! I got an oven baked fish with roasted potatoes. Then it was home to bed as I had an earlish start and it was dark out by now.

Today was the most exciting one I had been looking forward to! The Blue Lagoon!!!

I got picked up at 9am and bused out to the lagoon. I upgraded my standard ticket and it came  with a free drink, an algae mask and a towel to use. Again it was freezing and it was raining again! So although it was warm, the wind and rain was sooo cold!!!! But oh my gosh! The view was amazing!!! It is so gorgeous, from the colour of the water to the landscape surrounding. There were alot of people but it didn’t feel at all like you were crammed in, the lagoon was so large! I floated my way around one side of the pool checking out all the little nooks and crannies and got my first mask – the silica. Everyone gets one with their ticket so we were all swimming around with white faces or half washed off ones. Then it was time to go back in for a rest as it is not recommended to stay in the water too long and I was all pruned up!

Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik, Iceland

The second time around I took my phone with me as I had wanted to take pictures. LOL big mistake!! I should of just taken the pictures on the deck, then jumped in for a bit in the water then taken my phone back to my locker, but instead I had it for the rest of the time and it was so awkward and was scared for my phones life! Firstly for obvious reasons, it was raining/drizzling still so my phone was getting wet, I got the algae mask, and was awkward using one hand to put the mask on, then I decided to get my free drink. So I had a pint of cider in one hand and phone in the other. My hand was freezing from the drink and I couldn’t put my hand under water unless I wanted to add it to my cider and my phone hand was also freezing. So next time – bring a sleeve to put phone in!!

Soon it was time to shower and get dressed to grab the bus back to the airport. Another Joe and the Juice sandwich then get my flight back to London.

Until next time x

Blue Lagoon and Other Things – Iceland!

At the beginning of last month I ticked another country off the list and headed north and went to the little island called Iceland! It has a population of about 330,000 and about 2/3’s are in Reykjavik.

The weather forecast was a degree or two colder than London, so I took the usual – beanie, gloves, scarf and a couple of jackets in case one got wet. I had found a hostel with good reviews in the centre of town by the wharf. It was really nice, if you want to pay €9 for their organic breakfast you can, and they have tours you can book on their website to get out and about in Iceland. I was in a 10 bed dorm I believe. It was really spacious and they seem to like looking after the environment as there was dimmer lights, and recycling bins in our room. The room had an ensuite and the room wasn’t full while I was there and people were coming and going on tours so there was never a line for the shower.

Reykjavik, Iceland - Coloured Houses

I had a really late flight and if you have never been to Iceland it is good to know in advance that the airport is actually about 40min – 1hr from the city centre, and there is a flybus that costs about £20 that you can get that runs with the flights but waits until everyone is out the airport before it leaves. So it was a late arrival for me, and since the sun doesn’t come up until about 9.30am I got a decent sleep in without feeling like I was wasting the day.

Reykjavik, Iceland, Church

It was raining on the Friday – for the whole day! And it was overcast so I spent my day going in and out of the gorgeous boutique shops there up their main street. If you have heaps of money you could empty your bank accounts but I stuck to browsing. They have the chain Joe and the Juice which did gluten free bread so I got a chicken, pesto, tomato and avocado grilled toastie- and it was delicious!! I also got a coffee, after looking stupid and asking what the different colours meant on the menu only to look up and see it was the different sized cups!

After exploring the streets I headed down to the waterfront where I went inside the Harper building which is a concert hall. It had some viewing stairs and areas on the different levels to sit and watch the sea. The architecture of the building is amazing, it has hexangonal shapes as the sides of the building, it looks like a rock from the outside.

Harper, Reykjavik, Iceland

I then had a short walk back to the hostel to chill for a bit and get out of the cold and wet. There was a girl in the room, and we grabbed some dinner at a burger place, then went for a drink at a pub in the main strip. It was nice for some company and was good experiencing some nordic lifestyles.

Until next time x

Top ways to save space and must haves in your carry on!

magazine, travel essentials, passport, travel containers, plug, eye mask, earplugs

I think I have become a pro at saving space when it comes to carry on as that is all I ever travel with since I have been in the UK. So I thought I would share some tips as it has really come in handy for bringing the essentials and also making it not heavy and getting all your liquids through customs. I also am putting in there some must haves to make your travel easier and handy when needed!

  1. Buy plastic containers – I bought mine just at poundland and another cheap store. They have been a lifesaver. I put my moisturisers, cleansers, shampoo, suncream and aftersun in these and they save so much room and weight for your bag.
  2. Organisers / Snaplock bags – It doesn’t have to cost the earth to separate out your clothing. Using organisers saves space by taking some of the air out of the clothes and makes it so easy to keep everything tidy as when everything is put together it can expand and look like you have less room. Also great for holding your dirty clothes so they don’t get mixed up with your clean ones =)
  3. Magazine – I always treat myself to a magazine when I go away, so I can keep myself occupied when I am travelling, and if you finish it while you are away you can ditch it and your bag gets lighter – always a good thing!
  4. Wear your bulky stuff on the plane, shoes and jackets can take up a lot of room, but if you wear them they keep your luggage weight down, and free up your bag.
  5. Padlock – If you are staying in a hostel, this is a good idea as then you don’t need to buy a padlock, and it keeps your stuff safe in your locker.
  6. Earplugs and face mask – keeps sound out if you are stuck in a room with snorers – which seems to be regularly at the moment, and also a face mask to block the light out so if someone comes in during the night or you need a sleep in if the windows aren’t that well covered, your sorted. I don’t travel anywhere without these! Even planes if there are crying babies or your in a hotel and its noisy outside – they are a must!
  7. Umbrella and beanie – you never know what the weather will be like – especially in a cold place. A beanie is small and fits easily in your bag, but keeps you super warm if it is colder than expected. And an umbrella. You don’t want to be stuck buying umbrellas or ponchos while your there and wasting money when you can bring your one from home.
  8. Currency – I have found that the best rates for changing currency is when you get there. Always check online first though as the occasional country will not have as good a rate. But in general wait until you get there and to save money on ATM cash, take out how much you think you will spend before you leave so you have it on you and don’t get stung then just exchange bits at a time so you don’t get stuck having to convert alot of currency back at the end.
  9. Make a list of sights/restaurants before you leave for your trip, especially if you only have a weekend. Saves you from becoming overwhelmed by thinking your going to miss something that you had wanted to see/do and its quite fun ticking them off at the end =)
  10. Finally make sure to have fun! If you don’t get to do everything you wanted that’s fine and I have come to realise that just walking the streets and ‘acting like a local’ by just chilling at a cafe and reading a book or walking through a park is just as fun and is just as apart of the experience as going to the more touristy parts of a city.

Leave you tips below for how you save time/space/carry on must haves as I would love to add some new ways to my list as we can always improve!

Until next time x