Reflections On My Travels

So this is a long overdue post! I promised it a while ago and as per usual life got in the way and i lost motivation and time. So here it finally is, less of a story of my travels as much as it was planned to be, and more of a reflection on the last year of my life.

So lets flash back to the summer of 2016 when i quit my perfectly reasonable job in IT and decided to travel to the other side of the world, to what i expected would be the sunny, chilled and beautiful New Zealand. In reflection, only really one of those was the case and it certainly wasn’t the weather! I packed up my little life in London, dragged my boyfriend straight from finishing his masters degree and we took the grueling 24 hour trip to paradise.

We had a 2 day stop over in Hong Kong and met some incredible people who would stay with us throughout our trip. Hong Kong beautifully broke up the flights and was a lovely start to the adventure of a lifetime. I wish we had the money and sense to have done a similar stop over on the way home because 31 hours straight travel was ridiculous. Not impossible, obviously, but definitely not something i will be signing myself up for any time soon.

When we arrived in New Zealand, we were faced with a few things we hadn’t really considered. First and forever the most shocking was that it wasn’t always sunny and hot in New Zealand, in fact the weather is basically England on a much more extreme scale. We arrived in Auckland on a gloomy overcast day, to check into a dorm room in a hostel just off the main street. It didn’t occur to us that we would be in a dorm, or that obviously that’s what happens when  you stay in a hostel. So that was a travel shock, the reality of having to share every inch of space and time with strangers. We quickly moved to private rooms in hostels after leaving Auckland, to minimize the awkwardness for us and for everyone else.

So our travels really began when we boarded that bright green tour bus that would be our home away from home. We traveled north to the brighter bay of islands, where we got to see dolphins and sit on the beach and really experience those minutes of holiday and travel. Including the diabolical alcoholism and mischievous activities in the early hours, which made great conversation on the bus the next morning. We made our down the north island to wellington. We sand surfed, caved, luged, spent a night in a Maori village, sat in a natural hot pool on the beach and of course basically drank ourselves out of pocket.

We arrived in Wellington to pouring rain, and yet it felt like we had come home. We spent the night in a hostel before spending two weeks with a distant relative of mine, who became like our mum and took care of us when we needed someone. That will be one of the things i treasure, building that relationship and having that love of family even when you are as far away as you can get from home. Wellington is where we set up our lives, made friends, got jobs, moved into a little flat, really lived like the kiwis do. And it was one of the best experiences of my life. That little flat will forever remain in my heart, as will the people and those gorgeous streets and views as you walk through Wellington and along the harbor. There are some bad memories of there, but they are by far outshone by the joy and beauty of the city and of my time there.

So after several months, it was time to pack my bag and go solo for my adventure down south. So i said goodbye to my jobs, to my friends, to my boyfriend and boarded a ferry to the south island. It was, without a doubt the most amazing and important thing i have ever done. The amount i grew within myself is impossible to describe, the relationships and bonds you can create with people in such a short time is life changing. You will be pushed to truly do what you want, to be responsible for only you and to deal with the consequence of what you do and want. You will push yourself into doing things you would never have imagined you would do, like skydive or learn to surf or crawl into bed with people who you barely know but love.

So New Zealand, you were stunning, absolutely the most beautiful place i have ever been and think will ever go, photos of you don’t look real and i cannot describe your immense totally consuming beauty. You were a challenge for my heart and my head, but most of all my liver. You were completely and utterly the best decision of my life and i cannot thank you and everyone who made you what you were for me enough ❤

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Home

So I have been home for almost 2 weeks now, and after months of pining to be back, I can’t wait to go again! 

The inevitable dread of starting back at work, at having to live at home with my parents again, of having to balance my social life and do all the other adult things is already wearing down on me! 

The only benefit: the fact it’s summer. The hot weather and promise of a holiday in a couple of days is the only thing dragging me through the harsh reality of being back from my travels.

Holiday blues are real, and they are punishing. 

7 Weeks

In 7 weeks today I will be back on British soil. I will be home. I will get to see my friends and family and my adventure on the other side of the world will be over. 

I should feel sad, I should be yearning for more travel. But I am not. I cannot wait to see my mum, to be in my house, to see my friends, to walk around my hometown, to see the lights and hustle and craziness of London. To see my dad and my sisters and get back to reality. 

I have had an amazing time, it has been the biggest learning curve of my life other than university. I will be forever thankful that I did this, that I saw this place, that it let me be a part of it and it a part of me. But it will never be my home, and my home is calling for me. My heart is yearning for the familiarity and safety of my world.

As the time draws nearer I may wish I was staying, but with 7 weeks to go my eyes are only fixed on the finishing line. 

Why you should visit – London

Obviously i am biased! This being my hometown, but that doesn’t make it not a spectacular holiday destination. As the UK’s largest city and England’s capital, it is a thriving hub of places to explore and things to see.

Notable attractions: Big Ben, Parliament, London Eye, the Shard, Tower of London, St Paul’s & Westminster Abbey, Buckingham & Kensington Palace, Tower Bridge & London Bridge, Cutty Sark and of course Trafalgar and Leicester Square.

So although they may be the most notable things to see while wandering the old streets of central London, they aren’t the only appealing things.

For a culturally entertaining day; the countless museums and galleries. For example the Victoria and Albert, Science, Natural History and  British Museum are worth a walk around. If you fancy a more artistic day, the National Portrait, Tate Modern, Tate Britain or National Gallery might appeal a bit more.

For theaters and shows, you have endless choice in the west end, or shows at the O2 or Royal Albert Hall. For a slightly different and cheaper approach i cant recommend enough a fiver standing ticket at the globe, your legs might ache a little by the end and you are exposed to the elements, but the rustic, traditional shakespearean productions will make a fan out of anyone.

If you want to walk around some markets, you are in the right place! From the delicious selection on offer at Borough Market, to the antiques at Portabello road, to the fabulous little stalls at Spitafields, you can have a whole day out exploring the little stalls of London markets. Another recently saved and soon to be fully restored indoor market is Smithfield market, brings you the crop of the day and the finest meats London has to offer. If you want something a little more alternative and a bit further out, a trip to Camden Market cant go a miss, the array of pubs and bars, mixed with food stalls and independent shops makes an eclectic but beautiful mix.

If you are more of an outside person and just want to explore the green spaces of London, you can walk from St James Park into Green Park and then through Hyde Park, and along to Regents park and up onto Primrose Hill with relative ease. Hyde Park in particular is a hive of activity from music acts through the summer months to Winter Wonderland in the winter, and of course home to Kensington Palace. Primrose Hill is a particular favourite and home to a delicious and stunning little cake shop, aptly named Primrose Hill Bakery.

Fancy seeing some famous little spots; Baker Street, the famous home of a certain detective, Mr Sherlock Holmes. Or, Abbey Road Studios, where a very famous band, The Beetles recorded an iconic album. Maybe a walk through Whitechapel on a Jack the Ripper experience is a little more your thing? In which case, with the London Dungeons not a stone throws away you can have a whole afternoon of creepy! Maybe you are a little more of a romantic and would rather have a walk along the canal in Little Venice? Or fancy more of the orient in China Town?

Not to mention of course, one the major appeals of London is the shopping. The busy rush of Oxford Street from Primark to Selfridges! Or the technology center of Tottenham Court Road and Regents Street. To lovely Carnaby Street slightly more hidden away but still rammed full of inviting shops. Notable shops are of course; Selfridges, Liberty, Hamleys and Harrods.

I could go on forever of things to see and places to go in London, but instead i’ll round it off here with a few of my favourite little spots. Brick Lane, the best place for an Indian in the West. Hampstead Heath, endless fields and foresty areas to get lost in, and if you are brave enough some ponds to swim in. Notting Hill at the end of August for Carnival. And finally, Haringey Green Lanes, the only place to get a Turkish, Kurdish or Greek meal in the country, Kebabs that aren’t just for 2am but for a gourmet dining experience.