January Wrap Up

January’s travel events from a spectators perspective couldn’t have been more boring. As I reported last month, January in Budapest was all about dental work which thankfully is mostly complete. From my personal point of view though January was actually quite big in the realisation and decision making categories if less so in the tourist and travel area.

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One of my 2017 goals from News Years was “BUILD”. Not literally as in bricks and mortar but the base of my life going forward. So financially, career, family and friends, health, home. All the aspects that make up your life. I want to take them to a new level. Changing directions where I needed to. Implementing or learning whatever that meant in various areas to make that happen. When I left home nearly 12months ago the plan was to travel for 12 months (if I didn’t hate it and everything went ok with the option to add a few more months up to 12 if money allowed and the desire to keep going was still there.) Then I would decide next moves. January was when I realised that my goals for 2017 would mean finishing up this travel episode at the 12+ month mark and ticking off that life goal as finalised in the not too distant future.

For me BUILDING needs to come from a stable base and I don’t have that while travelling. You’re on the move often. You can’t rent in a traditional sense – making a home, you never really unpack 20170214_154634and unless your job, business, income is online you’re not building your career obviously. Your long term friendships are back home and new ones often with fellow travellers and usually from different countries can be fleeting, apart from on social media. I ran some options in my head for not heading back, visa’s to stay in a different country longer term etc. What country. What options would that give me. To and fro with the for and against. What life goals did I have left that needed for me  to be overseas to  accomplish them, was I ready to head back – did I want to? What were some of the more tangible things I knew I wanted to do or aim at achieving this year and what would that involve. Not the easiest decision to make but within a week or so I decided that ultimately for me, at this point…. the best chance and most options I would have to achieve my aim for 2017 would be in my own Country.

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With the decision made it was actually a weight of my shoulders having a more solid plan than “continueing to travel” in place. I have had an absolute blast travelling and challenging myself in the last 12 months. Met so many great people. Mind blowingly interesting people, doing amazing, intriguing, outstanding, wonderful and or creative things. I have seen the most amazing sites and places and things. I have gotten to have experiences I could only have dreamed about previous to going abroad and challenged myself to do new things. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses and there was a couple of challenges but it was definitely the right decision for my life. It’s been a great break away from everything and absolutely the way to reset your life if you ever have that option. Now I’m excited for the next adventure. To have a purpose again. To see what I can create from here on in and although I haven’t booked the ticket yet I know that within a few months at most I’ll be heading back. There are a couple more things I’d like to do and then … a new start in a different city because it’s also time to move and that decision has also been made.

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My time in Budapest in between dental visits and decision making was spent doing some of my favourite things there. Walking the streets photographing the gorgeous buildings and various statues around the city, eating Isla, street markets and musicians, and visiting or revisiting some of the tourist sites. It also marked the closest I got to actually being out while it snowed. It wasn’t huge but I was thrilled non the less. It got cold enough for the Danube to start freezing which was a big deal and pictures of that went up around the world. The Russian  president Vladimir Putin visited the capital increasing security everywhere for a time. It warmed up just a bit and the snow and ice that had laid on the ground for weeks melted away so quickly you could hardly believe it had been there to start with. There one day almost gone the next. February I head into a new country and also will likely start to wrap up the last of this amazing adventure.

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Lastly..I had some inner turmoil moments over the Opera in Budapest. I dearly wanted to go to the Opera walked past it many days, but it’s one of the few things in life where I feel like it’s something you should do with someone else. Half the joy would be lost doing it by myself. So I passed on that *sigh* I think I’ll have to add dressing up and going to the Opera with someone to my life goals list. Or better yet someone taking me to the Opera… very Pretty Woman / Moonstruck. I know there’s other movie examples but my brains not  giving them to me at the moment. If you can think of them put them in the comments. Ahh such simple dreams and pleasures I have …

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Till next time. Big love E x

And, that’s a Wrap. December 2016

December I reluctantly finished up my time in Vienna and journeyed forth to Budapest for a week before heading to Paris to celebrate Christmas.  Each city seems to have it’s own charm and endearment…something I fall in love with and for me in Budapest that was their buildings. Lions and faces, statue’s, swirls and twirls, arches, windows and decorations of every imaginable kind. Old and discoloured, fading, crumbling and still you can see all of their magnificence while they wait patiently to be scrubbed clean or restored to their original glory. These beauties definitely warrant the time and energy and likely lots of money that would be involved in restoring them.

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I walked much of the city as usual and when it got too cold, worked out how to use the transport system which was not too difficult. Their old trains are delightful and along with above ground rail etc from my experience efficient. My two main wants while I was in Budapest was simply to try out the thermal baths (delightful, I actually fell asleep for a while) and to check out the ruins pubs. These are literally pubs that have been set up in the ruins of old buildings. Initially popular with the student crowds they have become a big draw with the tourists. I went to one of the more popular ones with a fellow traveller I met at the hostel. The combination of derelict building, odd and assorted decoration and staging, open air or tarped roofs, music and general atmosphere made for a fun night.

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Heroes Square with its kings and Archangel Gabriel up on the Column, Parliament, The Great Market hall, The Opera. Budapest like most cities has a couple of noteworthy churches of great beauty. With it being nearly Christmas the choir was practicing in one of them and for me that is the equivalent of snake charming. I would have been one of those kids that followed the Pied Piper and his beautiful music and so I whiled away much enjoyable time there just listening to the music and song. Definitely go and see what’s left of the old Royal Palace. Chain Bridge and the Lion Statues who guard it. Budapest has no lack of gorgeous sites. Gellert Hill with it’s Liberty Statue and the Citadel and fabulous views of the city also noteworthy.

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Hiccups along the way:

The night before I was due to fly to Paris. One of my teeth starting playing up in a big way. The hostel helped me find an English speaking Dentist and luckily they could fit me straight in. Problem solved and averted right. Wrong ! A couple of days later in Paris I realised …. we hadn’t found the problem and so the hunt was on again for not only an English speaking Dentist but one that could fit me in 2 days before Christmas. There was zero chance this could or would wait so long story short… December I added to my list of firsts along with my first set of stitches last month..my first root canal on Christmas eve. Can’t say I’m a fan of those either really.  After spending the better park of a week in Budapest and Paris messing around fixing my teeth and finding out what work was needed to completely fix the issue I was completely thrilled as December 25th rolled around thankfully mostly pain free now and I ticked off another life goal.

Life Goal tick off:

Christmas in Paris. Christmas Day in Paris dawned and I was beyond excited to be in Paris and getting to tick this off. I had a slow breakfast and then after lunch walked Paris into the evening checking out the decorations and lights I hadn’t had the chance to do up till then and…. it was divine. The animated Christmas windows of Galleries Lafayette. The Champs Elyse. The Christmas Markets. The River and the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe. King George the fifth,  one of my favourite streets in Paris.. home to amongst other places the Crazy Horse and some of the most outstanding hotels of excellence. I had discovered this Street back in March when I had gone to see Dita Von Teese’s Burlesque show as my late birthday present to myself and fallen in love with it immediately.

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The Louvre was back on the agenda again this trip to see a bit more of that wondrous place. It’s been estimated that if you spent 100 days and looked at each piece of art for just 30 seconds you could see all of the Louvre. Sounds about right if not veering towards the slightly optimistic. It really is a wonderland of awe and joy. The Catacombs on what used to be the outskirts of Paris was another treasure I got to in Paris this time. With over 6 million bones it’s sheer size is mind boggling. The catacombs started with the relocation of the Cemetery of the Innocents which had after hundreds of years in use become a serious health risk and cause of infection to the people of the area directly surrounding it. Food and beverages went off within hours, disease etc and to avoid the living joining the the party at the Cemetery of the Innocents earlier than they’d like the cemetery was closed. Relocation began a little later very respectfully always at night preceded by priests in surplices singing the service for the dead along the route taken by the carts loaded with bones, which were covered by a black veil.  When the Cemetery of the Innocents had been cleared the Ossuary as it is more correctly called continued to take the bones of other central Paris cemeteries’  for nearly 30 years. Housed in acres of disused lime quarries under the city that had to be reinforced and mapped due to their occasional collapse and consequent caving in of streets above it solved a couple of issues at once.  The Catacombs has seen visits from Kings, Emperors..Napolean and his son took a look. It has played host to an orchestral concert which fittingly played to an audience of over a hundred people such tunes as  Chopin’s Funeral March and the Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens. Centuries of fascinating history well worth a look.

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January will be slow .. with no sight seeing planned but plenty of dental work to look forward to as it turns out (absolutely read that in the most sarcastic voice you have) Economics dictated that instead of heading where I had planned next –  it was back to Budapest which it turns out has a roaring trade in foreigners dental work. Who knew. I was told that in passing conversation last time I was there never for a second thinking the information was gold I would soon be mining. It’s winter in Europe and while friends and family sweat it out back home in ridiculous temperatures I am thrilled beyond telling with these cooler climate places. Having been born and lived in Australia all my life and never having much of a tolerance for cold, I couldn’t be more surprised if someone punched me in the face at loving being in these cold places. To be fair though about as cold as it’s gotten is -7 quite mild compared to some places and everywhere is heated so it’s only when your outside that you’re really subjected to it. Rug up and don’t walk around outside for hours on end and you’re good really.

So that was it for December. New Years came and went… some plans were  made., goals were thought about and then it was time to jump a flight back to beautiful Budapest.

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Blogging Old School Egyptian style. (aka: “The Scribe” Louvre Paris)

Roll on January…

E x

Currently – November 2016

November had me finishing up my time in Croatia. Ticking off one of my life goals. Cutting the top of my pinky finger nearly right off and moving on to Vienna Austria. It was a big month.

Life Goal Ticked Off:  Fruit Picking.

Olive Harvest in Croatia starts around the end of October / early November and I was thrilled to be able to be part of it. We scrambled up mountains and climbed trees and decades old rock walls to nab every olive possible. That it was a family owned organically run crop made me even happier [caveat: they do use commercial fertilizer] Unfortunately it had not been a good year for a couple of reasons one of which included not enough rain earlier in the season.  So we were done in 3 days and the yield was the smallest one the owner remembers the family ever having. [60 litres] I didn’t get the tally on how many kilo’s of fruit that came from but a lot. The previous years had been 350 litres of oil and that was not overly large. It all gets carried down to a community processer which for us was in little town called Brusje [not far from the fields and the place of the original family home] where they also process the oil from the Lavender crop. We handed over your fruit and hour later they handed over your oil. We got to see the process at work and it’s brilliant. Also showing the abilities within communities without out sourcing. Keeping it local which I loved.

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Hiccups along the way:

With Olive harvest done. One of my life goals ticked off with gratitude and thanks for the opportunity. I was off to explore a little more of Croatia AND promptly forgot my pin number to my banking and sat in place for a week sorting that out with the bank. List that under travel adventures right! Luckily I was still with my olive family when that happened. Sorted. Time to go and then deciding to have a delicious breakfast of eggs and hard cheese.. I cut the top of my finger off nearly all the way through. New knife. Hard Cheese. It slipped. Trip to the hospital and my first ever set of stitches. It didn’t go well, surgery was on the cards. I’ll spare you the photos.. It was not a fun time . A week later I had to go and so it was good bye to Croatia and I headed straight to Vienna finger strapped follow up instructions in hand hoping one of the things I got to do there wasn’t going to be trying out their hospital system . Alas I didn’t get to see some of the lovely places I still wanted in Croatia. Good reason to go back though right. Vienna though ..Oh.

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Back on the Road:

Vienna has been my favourite city so far. I am here in the Winter so everything is bare and cold and looks dead and still I have been completely delighted and enchanted by this beautiful city. The buildings and gardens, palaces, churches, monuments and parks. Look up – the buildings are gorgeous works of art themselves. Their train system is marvellous, simple and efficient and I used it constantly and easily which is really saying something. If I can use this system easily… anyone can. The United Nations has one of it’s homes here and they run tours which are worth the visit. Schonnbrunn Palace, Hofburg, Belvedere .. go and see them all if you get a chance. You won’t be sorry. Trip right into the city visit the shops, see the Museum Quarter which is fabulous. Try the pastries and the warm punch and wine. Prater Park is where you want to head if you like carnivals, rides and fun parks.  My experience of the people of Vienna is that they are friendly and helpful. Oh Vienna how I love thee. I would definitely have snuggled in and spent Christmas here if other plans were not already in place. Luckily I got to see this gorgeous lady all decked out for Christmas AND between mid November and Christmas Vienna has “Christkindlmarkt” The Christmas markets. Ice Skating … and the ring is enormous. Food. Gifts. Music. Souvenirs an Amazing Christmas Tree. If you’re here at that time you should check it out.

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November drew to an end and it was time to start preparing for Christmas and new adventures.

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E x

PS: You can follow along on Instagram if you’d like to see what I’m up to, what I’m seeing, thinking and doing more regularly.

 

Currently: July 2016

Stand outs this week.

This week I got to tick off one of my life goals. Seeing “Phantom of the Opera” Phantom for me has always been one of those things where after missing it initially years ago…time, opportunity, money etc have never all come together at the same time again. Onto the list it went with the hope, also on the list that maybe, just possibly I might get to see it in the West End. This week I got to do just that and no words can describe how excited and blessed I felt. It was magnificent.

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Exploring: St James Park and Palace. The West End. Piccadilly. Trafalgar Square. The National Portrait Gallery.

 

Listening to:

 

You learn something new every day:  Apparently 1 serve of freshly frozen peas contain as much Vitamin C as 2 large apples. Well there you go.. who knew.

 

Missing:  Books. Travelling around, changing residences or countries regularly it is completely impractical to carry around real, honest to god, turn the pages books. I have a kindle but as most of you would agree I think, it’s just not the same. Also libraries. At home I am a regular at our local library have spent many happy hours there perusing, choosing and borrowing books. This week I walked up to Harrods just to get a book fix. Flicking through all the beauties that caught my eye. Thank you Harrods.

 

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Loving:  I loved Harrods, the next day though I found Hatchards. The oldest bookstore in the UK and booksellers to the King and onwards. Opened in 1797 it is four floors of complete love. Photos of Royalty, Hatchards back in the day, old receipts. Threadbare carpet which is absolutely perfect, hand written notes on the attributes of a book attached to the shelves. Floor to ceiling bookshelves for days. I found Fortnum and Mason just after this and considered that the perfect holiday may just include lodging at Fortnum and spending your days in Hatchards with occasional sight seeing trips elsewhere. Hatchards.. or booksellers in general are like the real life version of the “Magic Faraway Tree”. Walk in and see or better yet choose which incredible lands you find there.

 

E x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently: July 2016

Stand outs this week.

This week I decided to reinstitute Slow Down Sundays aka Defrag Day. I used to do this at home. A day when I make myself stop. No being productive allowed. The day can include anything I want as long as its for me and not work or catch up of any kind. In honour of the events grand re-opening the day was spent doing nails and hair treatments in the morning and moved onto a walk to the park buying smoked cheese, juice and an English fashion magazine along the way. I have been so keen to check these out. Some time in the sun on the grass eating, drinking and totally immersed in either my beautiful surroundings or the magazine and I walked back happy indeed.

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Exploring: Kensington Gardens. Kensington Palace Gardens. Hyde Park. Big and Little Ben. The streets of Kensington and Chelsea. Sloan Street.

Listening to:

 

Missing: Of all things – Kitchens. Never thought that would happen. I’ve realised after 4 plus months of improvised meals depending on facilities available that having a stocked Kitchen, appliances and storage to be able to put together more rounded and varied meals when you choose really is a life benefit I like to have. Not being able to prepare even the simplest of foods at times is trying and packaged or microwaveable  food is less than ideal often nutritionally and mostly always taste wise. Actually probably mostly always for both.

Loving: Squirrels. Sculptures and painted nails.

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E x

 

 

Currently: July 2016

 

It’s voting time in Australia and so the hunt was on for Australia House in London. Along the way I enjoyed finding all the Monopoly streets and the quintessential English past time of tea drinking offered up the Twinings shop also. The tea they were serving at the time: Jasmine Pearl, one of my absolute favourites. Win!

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Negotiating transport systems and finding new places which always gives me raging anxiety attacks was made easier by the extremely helpful and I found absolutely lovely employees of the transport systems over here. Great success on the underground so far I am happy to report.2 out of 2 for getting to the place I meant to go first time. No back tracking, no redirections. Woo! Less success myself in the streets but that is always me .. and I find so many things while being lost or just wandering. So I can’t complain too much.

 

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Exploring: The mother ship that is Harrods. The Albert and Victoria Museum. Canary Wharf and the Cross Rail Tunnels roof top gardens. Bliss. London and its museums and galleries  10/10.

 

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Listening to: Songs on Repeat July 2016

 

Missing: Game of Thrones. Everyone is saying the new season was awesome. The Blacklist. I am going to have so much catching up to do… and finding out whether Blindspot is worth investing time in. Also my peeps. Traveling solo is fantastic. Some things are better with conversations, comparisons, ongoing commentary, laughs, giggles, guffaws and judgements.

 

Loving: Red Geraniums all over London. Discovering new varieties of Tomatoes. Museums that let you play.

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E x