Category Archives: Europe

uk

The 28th of December

23rd January 2016

*Note to readers…this is a very late post that I wrote while on the 28th of December. It still felt relevant because January has the special gift of feeling a bit dreary at times. I hope you enjoy.

 

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According to experts*, the 28th of December is apparently the most depressing day of the year. I couldn’t disagree with that statement more. Yes, the turkeys been eaten, the presents have been given out and work is looming but we all know everyone is secretly still wearing Christmas socks.
Then again I am technically still on holiday and excited to see all the UK has to offer so maybe I’m not the best judge.

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I am currently heading to Bournemouth from Wales on the train. It’s a trip I’ve made countless time in the past to visit one of my best friends. But today it feels different.
Ever since arriving back on British soil I have been the world’s biggest tourist. I’ve taken photos of quaint looking stone buildings, giggled at people’s beautiful accents and fallen in love with this country all over again. I’ve even loved the weather, which is saying something.
There is a beauty to the UK that you don’t find anywhere else. People are friendlier and inquisitive. The country is in a constant rally to get through the drizzle and a cup of tea is never far away.  I may have been away too long but coming home this holiday has been an eye opener. I never thought I’d want to settle back home but staring out of the train window at the rolling green fields and the cream brick terrace houses makes me yern to come home for good.
It does help you love a country when every day you see people from your past and laugh until you cry.I live in a small town and it feels like every street has a story from my childhood. Every road I pass has a forgotten game played on it, certain corners are first kisses and every road feels like home.
I love Australia and I can’t wait for future adventures , perhaps in Canada or New Zealand , but boy do I love my green green grass of home.

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* In this scenario the experts is referring to the radio telling me this is a fact.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

30th December 2015

Travel is an incredible thing. It’s the ability to expand your horizon & see things that your grand parents only read about in books. image
When I woke up this morning I was in Tokyo and when I go to sleep tonight I will be the other side of the globe and in the home I grew up in. From one of the busiest cities on the planet to my small little home town hidden away on a hilly valley.
Travel is exciting because it brings with it so many new experience but it can be a curse.
The curse of being away and living life means missing the people you love. Missing people vs. missing out can some times feel like an impossible struggle.
I do know how lucky we are though. I know that if we had wanted to move to Australia forty years ago we may have been on a boat for a month , we would have had to write long letters on blue travel paper that would maybe never reach it’s destination. Trying to communicate with people would have been as painful as pulling teeth (mainly for them because I can barely speak English- as you’ve seen from my writing here). All of this is before we start worrying about mastering a foreign language. image
With skype and sky scanner and Facebook and email, it’s as if you never really miss out completely. I don’t know how people use to do it. We are both in awe of those crazy ‘Magellan-esq’ loons.
Today’s adventure wasn’t our usual type of trip. The plane wasn’t taking me somewhere exotic or new. I wasn’t excited to lay on a pearly white sandy beach or giddy to stare at rainforests. I was ‘cheek hurtingly’ happy because I was going home.

It’s easy to forget sometimes how much you love where you came from. Travelers may moan about the weather or the locals but home is definitely where the heart is…and where the crumpets are. Oh and the Sunday dinners…oh and don’t forget all the delicious Cadburys.
Bridgend is a tiny town that most Welsh people don’t even know about but we love it there.It has made us adventurous, romantic and the curious wanderers that spend two hours queueing in customs and spending days locked in the toilet because you just had to have one of those *insert any crappy street food that you bought down an alley*.

image This Christmas I will be listening to my family play games while The Muppets Christmas Carol plays on TV for maybe the 50th time. We won’t have any presents to give because we are stupidly poor from the tear-jerking cost of our tickets but luckily I think I’m going home to a house full of people that won’t mind too much.
Travel can be incredible , it can be
tiring, thrilling and wonderous but traveling home will always be one of my favourite trips. It does help that I take my partner in crime and my little piece of home in human form along for the ride.

This Christmas I am happy to say that Lee and I are in rainy Wales, watching crappy TV and moaning to our families and you know what… I would change that for anything in all the world.

 

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Touristy Things To Do In Edinburgh

14th March 2015

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tour·ist
ˈto͝orəst/
noun
 a person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure.
Sometimes people will try everything to not be seen as a tourist but I am an advocate for embracing the term. Not the ‘loud, obnoxious’ stereotype but a person who is in search for pleasure and wants to discover a new place, respectfully.

Two years ago for Christmas my brother bought my mum and baby sister a surprise flight to visit him in Edinburgh. So selflessly I decided to join the rest of the Vincent’s and finally see the Scottish isles.

I LOVED it. I had just come back from Rome and I realise that it sounds crazy to someone who’s never been but Edinburgh reminds me a lot of Rome, history on every corner, gorgeous architecture and lovely people. So without further ado, here are those things that everyone needs to try in the Scottish capital: carltonhill1 carltonhill3

  • Visit Calton Hill 

This is the large hill in Edinburgh that looks out to Arthur’s seat and the town below, as well as the seas behind you. If you can go up and watch it turn to dusk you will be in for a treat.

  • Find some Bagpipes… and dance in the street

My mum was so happy to see a Scottish guard playing the bagpipes that she proceeded to do an jig in the street. She was lovely and it was a great moment. haggis

  • Eat Nipps and Tatties 

Haggis may not appeal to you but believe me, it is delicious. Imagine a meatball (or a faggot for the English / Welsh people out there) It’s great. If you can’t bring yourself to try it then you can always try one of the other Scottish delights. Oat cakes, swede mash, whiskey sauce, shortbread, hot toddies, mulled wine, deep fried mars bars,  cranachan….mmmm just eat everything while you are there.

  • Visit the Elephant Cafe

If you aren’t a fan of Harry Potter then this might not appeal to you but i’m a HUGE potter fan so going to the cafe where she wrote a lot of it was a cool feeling. There are also signs of the books all over this city. In the Greyfruars Kirkyard graveyard, which is also definitely worth a visit, you can see the gravestone of a man named ‘Tom Riddle’ and see Edinburgh castle that gave the inspiration for Hogwarts. If you do go to the elephant cafe, you might find yourself wondering why there aren’t any elephants in the books.

  • Go on the Edinburgh after dark tour

There are so many  walking tours in Edinburgh . We paid a little and had a tour of the underground tombs with the Auld Reekie Tour company. We had my younger sister with us so we didn’t do the ghost tour just the underground tour. The vaults under the city were made famous by the criminals Burke and Hare but have gone through so many changes throughout the year. It was a little creepy but interesting. Seeing the left over cockle shells from when there were secret bars under the bridge in the 19th century. It’s a great thing to see. dog marketstreet

  • Walk the Cobbled Street’s of Edinburgh

Sometimes you just need to walk around a city . Edinburgh is one of those. You should just walk and take it all in. (if you can stop off and buy a Irn Bru and a Tunnocks teacake while you do it, even better)

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Have you been to Edinburgh or anywhere else that you love in Scotland? Where in Scotland should we visit next?  signature

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26 Random Travel Facts

12th February 2015

me I recently read a fantastic post on Tea Was Here ‘s blog . It was 24 really interesting travel facts and it made me giggle so I thought i’d give it ago. I love finding out things about people and what better way to introduce myself to all of you than through travel facts. I wanted to make all 24 facts a list of foods I love from around the world but I resisted. I am also horribly indecisive so i’ve actually put 26 facts..sorry! So without further a do here is my (Tania) travel facts.

1. I come from Wales which I’ve realised through travel, is not a well known country but it’s a great place and I recommend for everyone to pop in… Mainly for the scenery and the Welsh cakes.

2. The first country I visited was Spain. When I was 3 my mum dropped my Aunty off at the airport for her vacation. She then spontaneously decided we were going too.

3. When I was 12 I lived in Saudi Arabia. It was a strange (and some times scary) experience but I’m extremely glad I did it.

4. In about 19 days I am setting out on the trip I’ve always dreamed of. 11 countries across Asia in 4 months.

5. I am trying to squeeze in as many working visas before I’m 30. Apart from my home in the UK I have lived in Korea, Saudi Arabia and will soon be in Australia and then Canada for over a year each.

6. I speak minimal Korean , German,French, Sign language and Welsh.. But I can order coffee in them all , which surely is the most important thing.

7. I LOVE Asian food but Italian is a close 2nd (yes I’ve squashed all of Asia into the number 1 spot because it’s too hard to pick)

newyork 8. I’d love to live in New York, San Fransisco, Germany and Italy once in my life. Even if it’s just for a month or two.

9. I prefer hot weather. I can’t wait for Australian weather.

10. My first trip without parents or teachers was a trip to London with Lee when we were 15. I fell in love with the place instantly.

11. The longest trip I’ve been on was a bus trip when I was 16 to Paris. It was just Lee, myself and about 50 old couples on a bus for almost 17 hours.

12. One of our biggest travel disasters was losing all our money in Bangkok. We took back ups and back ups of back ups but somehow fate was not on our side and they all failed. It was still funny though .

13. For my 21st birthday my mum saved every penny she had and sent me and Lee to New York. It’s still the best present I’ve ever been given.

tree 14. When we travel we always check for national holidays. We tend to win the national holiday bingo when we go on vacation. Unavoidable we are hitting 14 in our 4 month trek…opphs

15. As we get older we are probably more flash packers than backpackers but that’s ok… We still only drink the 12p beer.

16. I’ve spent more time researching scams than anything else for our up coming trip. I’m a loser.

airport 17. My mum was one of the only female airplane traffic controllers in the UK when she was in her early twenties. She always pointed out the tower to me when we were near the airport. I blame her for my wanderlust bug

18. The strangest travel fact I’ve ever discovered is that Saudi Arabian Mc Donald’s (& most other restaurants there) are split in two. On restaurant for woman and children and one restaurant for men.

19. Since I bought my camera two years ago it has become glued to me. Travel photography is a big passion of mine.

20. Since moving I’ve made friends from so many different countries including Canada, South Africa, America, Australia, Ireland,Korea….and many more. I can’t wait to spend the next few years visiting them all. Travel breeds travel.

22. My favourite holidays are too hard to pick but Rome, New York, Taiwan and Surat Thani in Thailand are all up there.

23. I LOVE animals. I will base holidays around what animals I can see.

elephant 24. When planning a vacation I only read travel blogs. They are addictive.

25. The places I’m most excited for on our up coming trip are Kyoto, El Nido and Indonesia.

26. As I was running through Heathrow to board my flight to Korea  I saw Danny Devitto. I almost considered missing the flight to hug him.

I’d love to hear all of your facts too so leave a link to your facts below. signature

How to Make Homemade Baileys (in Korea)

16th December 2014

This is a little video of our home made Baileys. We are gonna stick some peanut butter in it next time and blend it up. It isn’t fancy and it isn’t strict but it’s just what we do at Christmas. Enjoy folks and if you want a more detailed recipe then please send me a message ^^

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5 Things to See in London.

30th July 2014

thingstosee Originally we are both from Wales but London has always had a special place in our hearts. It was our first trip away together when we were 15. For some reason our families were brave enough to let us catch the bus on our own. We were so excited and spent all of one pound to ride the ‘Mega bus’. London seemed so big and daunting and we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. We did however stand on the south bank and pinky swear that one day we’d live there. Ten years later at 25 we were both making those plans a reality and moved to the big smoke.

The years we spent in London were mixed since we lived in very different areas. I lived in Finchley which was the set for Shaun of the Dead and where they filmed Spaced. Lee lived in the butt hole of London and had riots in his street. Luckily for the traveler coming to London for the day, you will see neither of these places as they are both a good hour away from anything worth seeing . (Yes, London is that big).

What we both agreed on though was that we loved London’s heart and its center. We both spent many hours exploring all kinds of things there and we wanted to share with you five of the things that maybe not every ‘Things to see’ list would share with you. Really it’s just an excuse for us to relieve our London day’s since I’m a little home sick and jealous of all my friends about to leave for home in the summer vacation

Things to see:

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  • The Gilbert Scott and Kings Cross Station –

These are two very different things but they are attached to each other so it’s easy to list them together. Kings Cross station was one of my favourite places in London. This station with its high vaulted glass roof, well thought out design, beautiful art and delicious restaurants of every variation makes it feel like you are getting a glimpse into a fictional world, reserved for Celia Ahern novels and Audrey Hepburn movies. It feels like everyone is heading somewhere important and everyone is happy about it. Obviously there is always the Harry Potter fandom reasons to head here since this is the location of ‘platform 9 & 3/4′  but the Euro star is also here which allows you to watch tearful reunions and excited tourists arrive from Paris. Or if you are really lucky,maybe even travel there yourself. The Starbucks opposite the Eurostar arrivals gate may be the best people watching spot in London.

If you leave the station then you will see the massive St. Pancras hotel that is attached to the building. This magnificent red bricked building dates back to 1873. It was used as the Railway offices for the whole of the UK. If you are facing this building and you head to the far left you will find the entrance to a hidden gem in London. The Gilbert Scott. gilbert Gilbert Scott was the original architect of this building in 1873 (after winning a competition to design it.) The bar and restaurant has taken on his name. This was an accidental find for Lee and I. We had met up one day when it started to pour down. We dashed inside only to come face to face with the most incredible bar we’d ever seen. The high ceilings are painted expertly and the original bells that once hung in the tower of this building are now hung from the roof. This bar makes you feel you have just entered the set of the Great Gatsby. The art deco glasses, jazz music, low candle lights and waiters in their three piece suits will throw you back to a bygone era. I must warn you that the drinks are scarily expensive, even for London but when you order a cocktail here you get a real cocktail. Hand made with precision and some interesting techniques. My friends drink arrived in a portable smoker to allow for the smoky taste of her whiskey. The 1873 is my personal favourite cocktail. Featuring Bombay Sapphire gin, Apple juice, Cranberry, Rhubarb and filled CO2 from an antique spritzer bottle right in front of you. gilbert2

The drinks are normally accompanied with free BBQ popcorn which sounds suspect but this secret recipe from a Michelin star chef makes it highly addictive.

The bar is attached to a restaurant and we never ate here but it’s on our to-do list. I would also love to try their afternoon tea. It comes on the silver tower with all kinds of delicious goodies, cakes and cucumber sandwiches (with no crusts obviously) and even some champagne. This is definitely our bar and any special occasion, if we are in London, you will find us there.

How to find it:

Take the underground to Kings Cross Saint Pancras on the Northern line , Hammersmith and City or the Piccadilly line.

No photo's of Waterloo i'm afraid but this is Lee and I on a speed boat on the Thames. A great thing to do if you have time.

No photo’s of Waterloo i’m afraid but this is Lee and I on a speed boat on the Thames. A great thing to do if you have time.

  • Waterloo –

If you leave Waterloo station from the back entrance instead of the large front entrances (head towards the McDonlads in the station) you will find yourself by one of London’s oldest theaters, The Old Vic. It has housed many a star and is a great spot for celebrity spotting. Kevin Spacy lives nearby and is quite a common sight. This area isn’t really a tourist area so you find great bars such as ‘The Fire Station’ or the Cuban themed ‘Cubana’ that does a fantastic margarita and great live music. There are also a range of vintage shops such as my old go to clothes shop ‘Radio Days’ as well as the best bakery in London called ‘Konditor and Cook’. If you like cakes then I’d say it’s worth the effort to head to this area but it is quite a maze of streets so if you particularly like the sound of any of this it’s worth researching a little more. If like me you like wandering and don’t mind what you find then this is a great place to head. It also is a very short distance to the south bank so not really a loss if you decide to head back to waterloo station. konditor

How to get there:

Take the underground to Waterloo on the Bakerloo line, Jubillee line, Northern line or Waterloo & City line.

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Portobello Road –

For the avid Disney fans among you , you make recognize the name of this street from the classic Bed knobs and Broomsticks. Portobello Road is basically Notting Hill. I love its tiny streets, vintage shops, antique market and coffee shops. Lee loves the crazy variations of food and the fact that at any second he thinks people will spring into song like in the movie.

It’s a great place to have a wander, buy some trinkets, eat pie and mash and find great ice cream.

How to get there –

Take the tube to Ladbroke Grove (Hammersmith & City Lines) or Notting Hill Gate, which is on the Central, Circle and District lines.

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The National Portrait Gallery, The Crypt and Trafalgar Square –

It may be cheesy to list this and I realise that every London list in the world will tell you to go there but I just love Trafalgar Square. From a certain spot on the balcony you can stand and see Big Ben while the fountains flow around you and happy tourists climb the impressive Lion statues. Everyone is normally so happy to be here since they are mostly tourists but it’s a great atmosphere and there always seems to be something going on. There are street artists, singers and bands’ always playing here to entertain the crowds and it’s a great spot to bring a sandwich and have lunch in the sunshine. gallery

The other benefit of this area is that right behind you is the National Portrait Gallery, a free and lovely way to spend an afternoon. I love photography and find portraits so interesting. There are paintings here ranging from actual paintings made of Henry the eighth all the way to the new Photos of Princess Kate. There is a fantastic modern art section with many famous paintings and sculptures as well as interesting exhibitions always arriving. I love seeing the wildlife photography exhibition as well as the photographer of the year.

Once you’ve taken in some art and culture you can head across the street to St. Martins on the Field, which is a church. Down below the church is not only old graves hidden in the stone but a café that’s been built into the catacombs called The Crypt. The foods not great and the drinks are expensive but if you happen to be here on certain days of the week there is live Jazz, Dixieland music and swing bands. People dance everywhere and it’s a fantastic spot.

trafalgar2 How to get here:

Trafalgar Square is a short walk from Charring Cross underground station and can be reached on the Northern and Bakerloo lines.

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The Players Piano Bar –

This is another of Lee and my favourite spots. Hidden away under the arches of the Charring Cross train bridge is this tiny bar. It doesn’t seat a lot of people and it only seems to be known by the directors, theater goer’s and actors from the theaters around it. On any given night you take a seat, by a relatively cheap drink for London and listen to the piano man or the cabaret star of that night sing all the classic . There is almost always a sing along and a fantastic buzz in the air. It is definitely where the cast of all the shows come to let their hair down. Fridays are especially great.  At 11pm (when most of London starts to shut down due to the mass exodus for the last train home) the place is full of singing and laughter as every one joins in for a cheesy classic. You know a bar is good when even Londoners are willing to take the night bus home.

I don't have photos of the piano bar but here is Lee enjoying a cheeky wine.

I don’t have photos of the piano bar but here is Lee enjoying a cheeky wine in the bar.

How to get there:

The Players Bar is hidden under the bridge below Charring Cross train station and can be reached on the Northern and Bakerloo lines.

So that is my 5 random favourite things to do in London…but there are of course more than 5. In fact food places alone can take up the entire list so here is a sneaky few places to try.

Great food places in London

  • Bodean’s Soho

A fantastic BBQ restaurant that specializes in messy pulled pork and delicious ribs. – Bodean’s Soho, 10 Poland Street, London, W1F 8PZ.

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  • Humming Bird BakerySoho- Notting Hill – South Kennsington.

Fantastic American style cupcakes in a variety of flavours.

www.humingbirdbakery.com

  • The Blues KitchenCamden

My favourite casual restaurant and night out in London with friends. This live music venue delivers delicious New Orleans food such as gumbo and pulled pork sandwiches as well as delicious cocktails. Try the salt beef ruben sandwich.

www.theblueskitchen.com

The beautiful and talented Joanna Woodward singing in Proud

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  • Proud CabaretCamden – Bank

This is another one of those places that guarantee’s a great night out. My personal favourite is the Bank City branch and is based around a 1930’s speak easy. The waitresses dress in stunning corsets and the entertainment is funny if not a little tongue in cheek. With singers, comedians and burlesque dancers to entertain you throughout your meal. Their 5 course meal is often offered for a discount so it’s worth checking the internet to see if you can find any deals. www.proudcabaretcity.com

  • Konditor and CookWaterloo

a delicious and unique bakery. Try their curly wurly brownies and their passion cake. http://www.konditorandcook.com/

  • Borough MarketLondon Bridge

A huge variety of foods can be found here. Fresh fruit and veg, the best meat, cheese, cakes, wine, olives, bread…well anything you can imagine. The vendors also make a great variety of food to eat on the spot such as chorizo paella, chow mein’s and hog roasts. Bring an empty belly when you come for a visit.

http://boroughmarket.org.uk/market-map

Where do you love in London or where have you always dreamed of going? What’s your favourite restaurant and bar? Where should we avoid? Let us know what you think about the Big Smoke . We look forward to hearing from you. signature