5 REASONS TO VISIT CAMBRIDGE

5 Reasons to Visit Cambridge

Calling all England lovers and enthusiasts!

 

I have a secret for you and it goes by the name of Cambridge.

Of course, the aforementioned shire is famous for it´s historically significant colleges and alumni by the likes of Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, Jane Goodall and Ian McKellen just to name a few.

However, this breathtaking city is much more than simply a scholar´s paradise. Covered top-to-toe in various varieties of flowers, English Gothic architecture and delicious market treats, Cambridge is surely England´s other Crown Jewels.

The city is a mere hour´s drive from London and is very accessible by bus or train. So for anyone spending a few days in London, here are 5 reasons why you should consider making a stop in at Cambridge:

1) King´s College

Head to the centre of the city along King´s Parade and you will find yourself staring up at King´s College´s magnificent facade.

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King´s College on a cloudy day

Look to your right and you will spot the College Chapel. Architecture fans are sure to be impressed, as this chapel is considered an exceptionally exquisite example of Perpendicular Gothic architecture. The interior of the chapel also features the world´s largest fan-vault ceiling (for more information click here).

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The College Chapel

2) Chelsea Buns at Fitzbillies

Follow in Stephen Fry´s footsteps and head to the infamous Fitzbillies on Trumpington Street. Here you will find the stickiest, most delicious chelsea bun in all of England.

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Fitzbillies´ famous Chelsea Bun

In fact, the Fitzbillies chelsea bun is so popular amongst Cambridge locals that when the store reopened, after closing in 2011, the folks of Cambridge lined up all the way down the street and around the corner just for a taste of these delicious buns. You can be sure they were not disappointed.

3) The Bridge of Sighs

Aptly named, the Bridge of Sighs can be located at the back of St Johns College crossing The River Cam.

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The Cambridge Bridge of Sighs

A visit to St Johns to see this spectacle and enjoy the beautiful gardens is certainly worth the £8 entry. Keep your ears open as students give guided `punting´tours along the river and tell tales of their experiences at the college.

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A student punting along The River Cam

4) The Cambridge Market

A short walk from King´s College will land you smack bang in the middle of the marketplace along Market Hill. Have a wander through and enjoy all the street food vendors, fruit and vegetable stalls and art hawkers.

The Cambridge Market
Check out the noses on these babies
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Some seriously tempting foccacia

Make sure to stroll the lovely streets off Market Hill as well, and maybe stop in at Aromi for a homemade Italian gelato or two.

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Details along Market Hill
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Tell me this isn´t the cutest thing you´ve ever seen?
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Slightly melted lemon and strawberry gelati

5) Sir Isaac Newton´s Apple Tree

Of course, a trip to Cambridge is as beautiful as it is historic. For a little blast to the scientific past make a pit stop at Trinity College. Here you can spot Sir Isaac Newton´s famed apple tree where it was said to be the inspiration for his theory of gravity after being bopped on the head by one of the fallen fruits.

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Sir Isaac Newton´s apple tree in front of Trinity College

Unfortunately, this tree is not the original, however, it is a descendant of the first plant and worth a proper look.

 

 

So to all Londonites and tourists alike, add Cambridge to the list of English must-sees and be prepared to fall a little in love with this quaint university town.

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5 REASONS TO VISIT EASTERN NORWAY

5 Reasons To Visit Eastern Norway

Want to experience all of Norway´s natural beauty and vivid history while avoiding hoards of tourists clamoring for the perfect fjord picture to instagram? Then skip the West Coast and head on over to the Norwegian East Coast instead.

This underrated section of the country is full of spectacular things to see and do. The following are only 5 of the many reasons you should be considering Eastern Norway for your next trip:

1) To Climb Gaustatoppen

Gaustatoppen is the Telemark district´s tallest peak and an experience that should be illegal to miss, should you be in the East. On a clear day you can see one sixth of Norway from the top. Not only that but the mountain sits next to a beautiful velvety lake reflecting colours beyond the imagination.

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Lake view from the top of Gaustatoppen

This hike is a meer two hours to the top and well worth the effort. However, be warned as boulder-covered paths and slippery snow may make for treacherous climbing conditions for the less experienced hiker.

2) Heddal Stave Church

When heading towards Gaustatoppen from the east, it is impossible to miss the Heddal Stave Church. Being Norway´s largest stave church, Heddal is sure to impress, regardless of religious belief or lack there of.

 

Heddal Stave Church

Built in the 13th century, this church stands tall in the Heddal valley. This view is as peaceful as it is intriguing. Make sure to take a closer look to see the perplexing thick black lacquering covering Heddal Stave Church´s wooden panels.

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Heddal Stave Church up close

3) Fredrikstad

Fredrikstad´s Old Town is the epitome of a quintessential European fairytale village. A walk through the small cobble-stoned streets will take you back to early Nordic life. On a sunny day this city glistens with antique lustre, housing many boutique stores and some of the most magical cafés you could dream of.

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A candle-lit lunch consisting of: karbonade, parsnip soup & chocolate caramel slice

4) See Munch´s House in Åsgårdstrand

You´ve heard of the painting The Scream, but did you know the artist who painted this masterpiece, Edvard Munch, was Norwegian?

The Scream
Source: wikimedia

In the beautiful little white-washed town of Åsgårdstrand you can visit the famous Munch house in all it´s orangey glory.

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The beautiful town of Åsgårdstrand – known for it´s white houses

Here you can also stop into the Munch Cafe for a bite to eat. Don´t forget to order on one of the famous ´krabbelurers´ if you´re a fan of doughnuty-goodness (who isn´t?)

5) Visit Ancient Viking Burial Grounds

Take a trip to the Vestfold district and you will discover the Borre Mounds. This impressive landmark is host to one of the largest viking burial grounds in all of Scandinavia. Not only are the mounds beautiful to look at, but you can actually climb on top of them. Because who doesn´t want to stand on top of viking souls?

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A cheeky snap buy a viking burial mound

 

So why not skip the tourist traps this summer and check out Norway´s Eastern treasures?

 

6 STEPS FOR PLANNING THE BEST TRIP

planning a trip

Some people can spontaneously travel to a new destination without doing any prior research.

But, as anyone with any contact with me whatsoever can attest,  I am not one of them.

Of course, spontaneity is an important quality for fun, lighthearted travels, but a little planning can never hurt. Or at least, I like to think so. There´s just something exciting about arriving to a new city with a roughly sketched itinerary of the best sights, restaurants and a few insider tips to make the most of your journeys.

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That being said, researching an entire destination can feel a little overwhelming at first. However, when broken up into a few simple steps you can get a good overview of the main attractions.

So without further ado, here´s a helpful little guide to structuring your travel research:

1) Ask People You Know

Between friends, family, coworkers, and students you probably know someone with a few helpful hints about your next stop on the map. Often, people who´ve spent a little time in your desired destination have great tips on hole-in-the-wall restaurants and lesser known sights. If you´re short on time, they will often be able to give a good indication of what is a must and what can be missed. Budget travellers will be sure to find some sneaky tips from students.

2) Check Pinterest Travel Boards

Oh, Pinterest. This site is a gold mine for sharing some of the most tempting travel pictures. A quick search of your next destination will give you a simple visual of all the most popular attractions. You will also find helpful list posts on here to check out for some extra tips.

3) Scope Out Trip Advisor

Once you´ve picked a few spots you´d like to see, it´s best to scope out some traveller reviews. Of course, almost every place will have a bad review so take it with a grain of salt, but make sure to have a quick skim of these reviews to see if there´s any common complaints. Here you can also look for more inspiration of things to do based on popularity and traveller ratings.

4) Blog Investigation

Blogs, blogs, blogs. There are so many blogs dedicated specifically to sharing travel tips (this one included). Reading a few blogger experiences of different spots will help with gleaning a bit of inside info on what you should expect.

5) Search Engines For Specifics

Curious about the weather forecast during your planned stay? Want to know sunrise and set times to snap some beautiful pics? Looking for ticket prices, opening times, or maps? Google it.

6) Youtube (With Caution)

This is one of the more advanced planning tips for all you control freaks and perfectionists out there like me. Youtube has so many fantastic vlogs and tours of all sorts of attractions and expeditions that will be sure to answer any lingering questions as you can literally live the experience vicariously. Of course, it can demystify and dull the excitement of seeing things for the first time so use this tip sparsely.

 

Following these 6 steps should make for manageable travel research. What resources do you find helpful for planning a trip?

12 IMPORTANT QUALITIES IN A TRAVEL PARTNER

Not all of us are solo travellers. And that´s okay.

Of course, solo travel can be extremely rewarding, but travelling with a friend, family member, or partner can make all the difference between having a good time and having a great time.

The benefits of travelling with a partner are many:sharing pricey meals, feeding off each other´s energy, having a safety buddy and countless others.

BUT having great adventures together also depends on how well you and your travel comrade jell. I mean what´s the point of backpacking through Germany with your high school buddy if they´re slowing you down and killing that exciting travel vibe?

So, to help you find the perfect partner, I´ve created a list of the most important qualities to look for in a potential fellow globetrotter:

  1. Patient – Because not every situation can be decided in a matter of minutes.

  2. Flexible – Plans don´t always work the way you want them to. When this happens you need someon flexible on your side.

  3. Street smart – Because what´s worse than travelling with someone who gets you two conned into paying over-priced tour fares?

  4. Open-minded – Travelling authentically requires a non-judgmental and accepting mindset.

  5. Curious – Someone who is curious is going to be enthusiastic and passionate about discovering a new culture.

  6. Resourceful – As a back-packer this is almost the number one important quality. Travelling with a wasteful or careless partner is a recipe for disaster.

  7. Dependable – Because nothing´s worse than finding out last-minute that they forgot to print those ever so vital bus tickets.

  8. Cooperative – Working together gets the best results. Plus you´ll have someone to help plan activities and navigate.

  9. Independent – You won´t always want to do the same thing. Travelling with someone who doesn´t mind splitting off for half the day to do your own thing is a win-win situation.

  10. Calm – Travelling can be stressful. Very stressful. But having a calm companion by your side can help dissipate those `head is whirling´-type situations.

  11. Willing to compromise – Because where´s the fun in travelling with someone who only wants to do things their own way?

  12. Daring – To travel is to try new things. To try new things is to go out of one´s comfort zone. Someone who is daring will be able to make the most of new experiences and challenges.

 

So what do you think is important in a travel partner?

 

 

 

5 REASONS TO VISIT PRAGUE

5 Reasons To Visit Prague

By far one of my favourite cities, Prague is a dream come true for travelers, foodies, photographers and historians. With warm Bohemian style buildings situated along the gleaming Vlatava River, Prague is a must see for every man and his dog.

There are a plethora of things to check out in Prague, but the following were my personal favourite must-sees:

1) The Old Town

Surely Prague´s Old Town, or Stare Mesto, must be one of Europe´s most breathtaking medieval squares. Packed with attractive buildings and it´s oh-so pretty Tyn church, it is easy to get lost in enjoying this square for a good couple of hours.

Old Town Hall View
View from Old Town Hall Tower

For a spectacular aerial view of the square, climb the Old Town Hall Tower. The ascent and ticket prices, at only $5USD, are very reasonable, but for those who prefer a more leisurely experience there is an elevator to the observation deck. Once at the top, admire the pointed Gothic spires of Tyn Church and the red roofs outstretching for miles.

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The Astronomical Clock

On your way back down make sure to catch the proceedings at the Astronomical Clock on the Southern facing wall of the Town Hall. This show runs every hour on the hour and draws spectators from far and wide.

 

2) Trdelniks, trdelniks, trdelniks!

A sweet, grilled street food that will only take one bite to get you hooked, trdelniks are a foodies bestfriend.

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Trdelnik Stall

Prague is filled with little pockets of trdelnik stalls, serving the authentic doughy pastry. Covered in cinnamon and sugar, you´re tastebuds will thank you for trying this delicious treat. For a little more decadent of a dessert, opt for the trdelnik with plum jam.

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A trdelnik in the process of being dipped in cinnamon sugar

3) Charles Bridge

Ask anyone about what to do in Prague and they will mention the Charles Bridge.

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Of course, this cannot be missed, but be wary as it becomes very busy and touristy throughout the day. We visited Prague in March, the low season, and decided to try to catch the 6am sunrise. This was optimal as when we crossed back over the bridge around 5pm it was almost impossible to move, squished like sardines in the crowd with a very touristy view of locals selling postcards every few meters.

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A very sleepy 6am snap on Charles Bridge

4) The Lesser Quarter

The Lesser Quarter, or Mala Strana is a jewel just waiting to be discovered. This area has much to offer. The castle district is a definite must, housing many formerly royal buildings.

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St. Vitus Cathedral

Though St. Vitus Cathedral is the main draw, make sure to checkout a few of the buildings here as the architecture is stunning.

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Aside from the castle district, Mala Strana is also home to St. Nicholas Church in all it´s baroque grandiosity.

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St. Nicholas Church

Next to St. Nicholas Church stands a hidden gem, The Town Belfry. This tower provides a beautiful view over all of Prague from a different angle than that of the Old Town Hall Tower.

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For the lover of music, stop in at the Czech Museum of Music. With an array of old historical instruments and it´s `Mozart Piano´this museum has much to offer and can fill a good couple of hours.

5) The State Opera House

You may not be a fan of the opera, but you will be a fan of this opera house. The impeccable detail of The State Opera cannot possibly be met with indifference.

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Interior of The State Opera

Rich reds, gleaming golds, and an earthy green ceiling are a show in themselves, but if you do get a chance try to catch a ballet or opera here as the experience will be unforgettable and tickets are quite inexpensive.

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The Snow Queen performed by The Czech National Ballet

We popped in to watch a ballet adaptation of The Snow Queen and it was certainly one of the highlights of the trip and a really immersive cultural experience.

 

Though I have only listed 5, there are many reasons to visit this beautiful Czech city. So if you´ve got travel on the brain, pack your bags and head to Prague.

MY NUMBER 1 TRAVEL SECRET

Tiger balm.

Yes, you read that correctly. It may not seem like anything special, but I never leave the house let alone the country without this magical baby.

Why? Well, picture this:

You´ve woken up at 5am. Spent a good couple of hours sitting, waiting (in the car to the airport, at the airport, on the plane) and nervously quadruple checking that you´ve remembered your passport. You reach the airport of your destination, but alas, there´s more. You´re next step is to get to your accomodation. If you´re lucky enough, you´re dropped off at the door by taxi, but if not you may find yourself going by train and having to track down the hotel from the station which may entail a hefty backpack-laden walk.

Talk about a stressful day…and by this time it´s only mid-day.

Sure you´ve mainly been sitting, but by the time you finally plonk yourself down on the bed in the hotel you feel about as energetic as a sloth on a Sunday morning (I imagine that´s an extremely sluggish scene). Plus, if you´re anything like me, your head is probably pounding from all the planning.

So what´s a traveler to do?

Now´s the time to reach for the tiger balm. I rub a thin layer on my temples and forehead and wallah I feel as good as gold.

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This impressively potent little jar of goodness is a natural way to combat headaches or any aches and pains for that matter. Not to mention, it feels so fresh and rejuvenating, and smells great to boot. Rub it on your temples during a travel headache, or your aching legs after an action-packed day of sight-seeing.

It´s so simple and easy. Plus its in a travel-sized jar, perfect for fitting into your hand luggage. Trust me, once you try this stuff you´ll never leave without it again. Get your hands on a jar and see why it´s my favourite travel accessory.

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5 REASONS TO VISIT KRAKOW

If you´re looking for an underrated destination for your next excursion, I have one word for you: Krakow.

Just a week ago, my boyfriend and I visited this brilliant city. In fact, I´m still in the dreamy early days of being back home, reminiscing and not yet accepting the reality of daily life. Today, I´m reliving our experiences in this post.

So let´s get started.

1) Krakow is packed full of history

For today´s nomad, visiting Krakow is like a journey through time. Not only is this city full of colourful Polish architecture and the buzz of passersby, but every cobblestone has seen infamous events in history.

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In order to soak all this up we took two of the famous Krakow Free Walking Tours; the Old Town and Jewish Walking Tour. Both were exceptional. If you´re looking for a comprehensive overview of Krakow´s history, then I can recommend nothing better. I was happily surprised with the quality of the information and that the focus was on the city as a whole, rather than simply WWII. Don´t forget to leave your fantastic tour guide a tip.

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On a more solemn note, no historical journey to Krakow is complete without a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Though I can promise you this is not your typical fun vacation experience, it is one of great importance and will surely leave a lasting impact.

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For those of you who want an even closer look, I highly recommend stopping by the Oskar Schindler Enamel Factory. Inside is a museum dedicated to a snapshot of war torn Poland from 1939 – 1945. We spent a good hour and a half here.

2) You´ll never feel hungry again

If you´re hungry in Poland, you´re not doing it right. This place is characterised by it´s hearty savoury stews and rich cheesecakes. From street foods to michelin star restaurants, there is something for everyone here.

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Pizza-like baguettes by the name of zapiekanki are as traditional as they are popular in Krakow. For the most authentic zapiekanki experience we made our way over to Plac Nowy and stopped in at Endzior, popular with the local students. For those interested in trying new local foods, zapiekanki is one to add to the list.

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If you´re hunting for a quick and tasty snack, try obwarzanki. These circular pretzels can be found on every corner and made for a great breakfast-on-the-go during our journey to Auschwitz.

Of course, no trip to Poland is complete without at least one pierogi dinner. Try Zapiecek for a huge variety of pierogi. From potato & cheese to plum, this place has every flavour of pierogi you could imagine.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, there´s nothing quite like Polish cheesecake or ´sernik´. Feasting on the homemade sernik with raspberry coulis and fresh fruits from Cafe Camelot was one of my absolute highlights, not to mention the fantastic breakfast and coffee served here.

3) You can drink to your heart´s content

Vodka. Lots and lots of Vodka. Krakow is the perfect destination for a big night out.

For an inexpensive tasting put the Wodka Cafe Bar just outside of the market square to the test. Bison Grass Vodka is one of the popular choices here, but don´t forget to try the chocolate as well (my personal favourite).

4) The Old Town is full of energy and beauty

Krakow´s market square, termed Rynek Glowny, is the largest medieval square in all of Europe. No matter which direction you look in, this square is sure to deliver a pleasant view.

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Feast your eyes upon St Mary´s Basilica, with it´s unique mix of gothic and baroque architecture. We made our way inside a few times to marvel at the incredibly colourful ceiling. If you´re here on the hour you can also listen to the famous Hejnal, or trumpet call with its cheery tone and abrupt ending.

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In the centre of the square lies the Cloth Hall. Take a quick stroll through and enjoy the knick-knacky souveniers.

On the other side of the square is the Town Hall Tower. Underneath you can also find the unusually large sculpture of a face by the Polish sculpture Mitoraj.

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If you´re lucky enough to be in Krakow for the spring season you may also come across the market. Make your way around and be sure to hunt down the stall selling fragrant christmas wreaths perfuming the air.

5) Your wallet will thank you

For the Western traveler, Krakow is one of the most affordable destinations for a vacation.

We dined comfortably for an average of $7 (Australian dollars) at most places.

As long as you don´t get tricked into one of the over-priced tours to Auschwitz or the salt mines, you surely won´t find yourself counting pennies here.

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Whether it´s for a relaxing vacation or an adventurous escapade abroad, there is something for everyone in Krakow. Don´t miss out on your chance to visit!