Sunday, 28 June 2015

5 Disappointing Travel Experiences

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Bavaria
{Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany}
Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany 
I'm so sad that Schloss Neuschwanstein made it on to the list as I remember being so excited at catching a glimpse of the fairytale castle dominating the Bavarian skyline as our coach drove deeper into the mountains. It's beautiful, it really is - but I just don't think it's worth the cost and hassle of getting there. While there are lots of vantage points that make for some amazing photo opportunities, the tour isn't very interesting and the interior left me feeling desperately sad and trapped. My top tip: it's probably best to not follow our itinerary of combining your visit with a trip to Dachau Concentration Camp...

Frankfurt, Germany 
Germany is probably my favourite country in Europe, so don't let the Vaterland's second appearance on this list put you off going. Frankfurt is mostly on here because I don't actually remember very much of my trip at all. And sadly not because I drank a Stein too many. So many people told me that Frankfurt is the best city in Germany but all I can recall is inadvertently flashing a group of tourists enjoying a river cruise and mild joy at the sight of a Primark after being away from home for far too long. I don't even seem to have any pictures to share! Maybe I just wasn't looking in the right places. 

Duomo, Milan
{Milan, Italy}
Bergamo, Italy
Okay so I didn't actually see very much of Bergamo itself and that's exactly why it's on the list. We were actually visiting Milan a few years back and using Bergamo as our base to save some money on hotels. I loved Milan and don't want to take anything away from that, but I wish we'd spent less time on trains to the city and more time exploring Bergamo because the pictures I've seen of it are beautiful. I know we'd have loved it and I'm still kicking myself that we didn't get to experience it ourselves.

The Louvre, Paris
Can I be really controversial here and say that I really didn't 'get' Paris? Sure it's beautiful and I had a great time there, but I just didn't fall in love in quite the way I expected to. Still, I wouldn't put it down as one of my disappointing travel experiences and the Bastille Day light show at the Eiffel Tower is one of the most magical things I've seen. The Louvre however....God I hated the Louvre. I can't complain too much as it was free (the beauty of being younger than 26) and the sweltering July heat and crippling period pains probably didn't help my mood, but I can think of far better ways to spend an afternoon than battling through throngs of other tourists in a museum that actually isn't (in my opinion anyway) that spectacular. Probably an unpopular opinion, but my advice is to give it a miss and wander through Pere Lechaise or The Old Shakespeare Company instead. But then again, I'm notoriously uncultured.

Vatican Museums, Rome
{Rome, Italy}
The Vatican Museums, Rome
Once again my hatred of crowds might be more to blame for this than the attraction itself, but I just did not have a good time at The Vatican Museums. We made the mistake of visiting on the last Sunday of the month when the museums are free to enter and seriously, spare the extra cocktail on Saturday night and just pay to go on another day. As well as huge queues and bigger crowds, the museums only stay open until 2pm and the sheer amount of things to see is so overwhelming you can barely even scratch the surface. Do go and visit once, but give me an afternoon kicking back in lazy Trastevere instead any day.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

30 Before 30 {the travel edition}

I've made a lot of lists in my time, and the thirty before thirty thing is no exception. I love planning - it's one of the things I do best, it's what I'm paid to do and I don't have a spontaneous bone in my body. And yet when it comes to making plans and sticking to them there's no two ways about it - I'm terrible. I get so overwhelmed by things I'd like to try and goals I want to accomplish that I find it hard to focus my brain long enough to get it done. Like I've said I've made lists like this before and, two years down the line, I'm still not any closer to publishing that book, getting my Masters degree, reading a German novel or weighing 120lbs (ha!). I know I'll manage it some day (though I think it's safe to say the diet plans have been scrapped...) but for now I've decided to do the one thing I know I can stick to - seeing as much of the world as possible.

I've reached the stage in life where my boyfriend and I could feasibly own our own home within the next twelve months, where we could get married, start a family and progress into good, well-paid careers. Yet travel is the only thing I really want right now. It breaks my heart that I've seen so little in the last twenty five years and I'm tired of all the 'one day'promises I make to myself. So I'm in the process of selling everything I own to pursue my goal - visiting thirty new countries before I turn thirty on 1st March 2020. So that's...6.66 countries a year! I should probably stop making lists and start travelling...Luckily my heart is still in Europe, so that makes things slightly easier.

The list below is by no means exhaustive, but includes the countries right at the top of my bucket list. Will I fail? Well probably, but I'm determined to have the best time trying.

30 COUNTRIES BEFORE 30 

Start date: 21st June 2015
End date: 1st March 2020

{EUROPE}



Iceland {Arnarstapi, Reykjavik, Siglufjörður}
Austria {Salzburg, Vienna, Tyrol}
Ukraine {Kiev, Lviv, Pripyat}
Denmark {Faroe Islands}
Norway {Bergen, Flam, Trolltunga}
Spain {Girona, Barcelona}
Bosnia and Herzegovina {Mostar, Sarajevo}
Macedonia {Ohrid}
Serbia {Belgrade}
Russia {Moscow, St Petersburg, Lake Baikal}
Greece {Crete, Athens, Santorini}
Albania {Albanian Riviera}
Croatia {Plitvice National Park, Dubrovnik, Hvar Island}
Turkey {Istanbul, Pamukkale Thermal Spa}
Slovenia {Ljubljana, Lake Bled}


{SOUTH AMERICA}


Bolivia {Lake Titicaca, La Paz, Salt Flats}
Chile {Easter Island, Santiago}
Colombia (Cartagena, Bogota}

Ecuador {Quito, Galapagos Islands}
Argentina {Glacier National Park}
Peru {Lima, Cusco}

{NORTH AMERICA}
I've actually already been to the US but sssshhh...Florida and New York as a 10 year old doesn't count, right?


USA {Zion National Park, Death Valley, Crater Lake, Alaska}

Mexico {Yucutan, Oaxaca}
Cuba {Havana}
Canada (Banff/Jasper}

{ASIA}


China {Zhangye Danxia}
Myanmar (Yangon, Bagan}
Cambodia {Killing Fields, Angor Wat, Siam Reap}
India {Jaipur}
Japan {TokyoDisneySea, Mt Fuji}


What other countries do I need to include? Please add your own suggestions for these countries and links to blog posts too. I'll be updating the list every now and then with more of my favourite posts!

{image credit} iceland // austria // ukraine // denmark // norway // spain // bosnia // macedonia // serbia // russia // greece // albania // croatia // turkey // slovenia // bolivia // chile // colombia // ecuador // argentina // peru // canada // mexico // cuba // usa // china // myanmar // cambodia // india // japan
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