Tag: travelling

8 Reasons to Travel Colombia

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Since traveling around South America back in 2009 it has always been my dream to return to this magical continent and visit Colombia.

On our initial trip we chose to skip Colombia, feeling hesitant about the countries safely and political situation, and instead opted for the more central route of Peru, Bolivia, Brazil & Argentina.  I loved our trip and I would never wished to change it, but so many of the backpackers we met on route told us of the magic of Colombia and what incredible experiences they had there and the dream to explore Colombia was sparked in me.

This summer, nearly seven years after my first visit, we decided to finally make my Colombia dreams a reality.  We finished up work at the end of July, left our laptops at home and headed off on a three and a half week adventure that was one of the best experiences of my life.

It is an absolutely breathtaking place, full of colour, life, soul and some of the kindest people I have ever met.  Its a place of great contrasts, of poverty and wealth, creativity and corruption.  And it’s a place of awe-inspiring natural diversity with mountain ranges, amazon forest, cultural cities and Caribbeans beaches.  It is one of the best places I have traveled to, so I wanted to share 8 reasons to inspire you to travel to Colombia too…

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Unbelievable Bogota.

A city of contrasts, where anything really can happen, Bogota is exciting, lively, hectic and artsy.  Soak up culture in La Candelaria, see the cities creative side on a Graffiti tour, sample the incredible restaurants and bars or explore the markets and connect with the locals.  Bogota is a whirlwind that has so much to offer!

Beautiful Untouched Beaches.

Offering chilled Caribbean charm or rugged wilderness on the Pacific coast, Colombia’s beaches are a stunning mix of white sand, clear waters, coral reefs and aquatic wildlife.

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Some Incredible Coffee.

Colombia’s coffee is produced in the central ‘Zona Cafeteria’.  It’s lush, green landscape makes for some beautiful views and you can even have a relaxing stay in a Coffee Finca.  You can also find incredible coffee all over the country.  Try getting a freshly brewed cup from a street seller and drink it in a plaza watching the world go by.

It’s Home to the Kindest People.

Colombia’s are so friendly and kind.  They treat you like a family member and welcome you to their country with open arms.

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Inspirational Street Art.

Bogota’s legalization of graffiti in 2011 marked a creative boom for the city.  Sky scrapers, urban buildings and public walls are now the canvas space for street artists to express themselves and share their political viewpoints.  Everywhere you look, the city is an incredible mix of colors, patterns and murals.

Cultural Cartagena.

A World Heritage UNESCO Site, Cartagena is a colonial gem with cobbled streets, colourful houses, pretty plazas and a rich cultural offering of museums, churches and galleries.

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Diversity of Adventures.

Whatever type of adventure you like Colombia offers it all.  From sleeping in river-side lodges on Amazon excursions, climbing mountains in the Andes, trekking to the ancient Lost City or exploring one of the many National Parks, Colombia’s excitement and adventure comes in many forms.

Music & Dancing on Every Street Corner.

No matter where we were in Colombia there was always music booming from speaker systems and locals dancing together and having fun.  The energy for life is contagious and it’s one of the reasons why I love South America.

Have you ever traveled in Colombia? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below…

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How to Live Like a Milanese…

I have been living in Milan for nearly three years now, and although England is definitely still my home, I find it amazing to see how settled and homely Milan feels to me now.  I really noticed it on my recent trip home last month.  I was so excited to go home and had such strong feelings of being home when I arrived, but then when I got back to Milan a week later it felt like I was coming home too.  I found it so interested how both places can feel like home to me but in two very different ways, and it made me happy to think Milan has become my home away from home.

I started to think about all the little personalities traits and Milan-isms this city has for me that makes it different from home.  And though I am definitely still 100% English, I have noticed myself picking up on them and how they have become normal for me.  It reminds me how no two countries or even cities are the same which is why traveling is so exciting and eye opening for me.

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(Photo from Pinterest.com)

Here are some of the things that make up the personality of Milan for me…

Saying Ciao A Lot.   Especially when speaking on the telephone, which Italians love to do.  When you want to end the conversation you have to say Ciao Ciao Ciao and then they say Ciao Ciao Ciao and it goes on for a little while.

Taking Regular Espresso Breaks.  Italians go for espresso several times a day and there are so many coffee shops all over Milan.  You order and drink it standing at the bar and are in and out really fast.  It’s a great pick me up when you are on the run.  Normally there are lots of people bustling to get to the front but the coffee people always seem to know who’s drink is who’s!

Becoming a Regular at Your Favorite Cafe or Restaurant.  If you keep going back to the same place and they get to know you they will greet you like family, bring you things to try from the kitchen and make you feel so welcome every time you stop by.

Having Good Shoes and Handbags is Essential.  Milanese girls always have beautiful shoes and handbags made of high quality leather.  Its a great way to transform a basic outfit into something elegant and chic.

Skipping Happy Hour For Aperitivo Instead.  Nearly every bar in Milan does Aperitvo in the evenings and its so good.  Order a Spritz or Prosecco and get served yummy snacks of olives, cheeses, salads, pasta and savory pastries with your drinks.

The Rules are Made to be Broken.  Italians follow the rules up until a point but they are very comfortable bending them when they need to and are totally fine with you doing the same.  Need to park in the middle of the road while you run into a store to pick something up – no problem.  Don’t have time to buy a ticket before you jump on the train – no problem.  Just flash them a smile and its always fine.

Dressing Stylish is a Priority.  In Milan everyone loves fashion and being stylish and chic is a major priority.  I love it because everyone of all generations always looks beautiful and you can get so much style inspiration from the people you see on the streets.

Taking your Dog Everywhere.  Milanese people love dogs and they bring there little dogs out with them everywhere they go.  In restaurants, cafes, on the trams – once I even saw people bringing their dogs around Ikea!!

Sushi is Everyone’s Favorite International Food.  Italians are really proud of their heritage and their food and don’t often eat the food of other cultures.  However the exception to this in Milan is Sushi which everyone loves and there are sushi places all over the city.

Picking up on these things makes me feel like I am starting to live a little more like the Milanese and makes me so happy Milan has become my second home.

What are your favorite differences about living abroad? Let me know in the comments below…

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Why Traveling is Good for the Soul

Hello friends,

I hope you are all great after an amazing Easter weekend!

We had a really great time and five amazing days visiting my family in England! Even though I was technically going home, the whole weekend felt like a holiday.  I felt so excited all last week in the build up to going away and it was amazing to have long, fun filled days together without having to think about responsibilities or work.  We went out for lunch, watched the rugby with friends, ate amazing food, caught up with family at our big party on Easter Sunday and had long walks in the countryside.  It was so much fun!

And it reminded me of the main reason I love traveling – because it is good for the soul!  Having a packed out work schedule, a long to-do list and a whole load of boring responsibilities can sometimes mean we get stuck in the day to day stuff and forgot to make the most out of life.  Having an exceptional and beautiful life is something I am always working for and traveling reminds me of how important that is.  So just in case you needed a little reminder or wanted some inspiration to go traveling, here is my list of why traveling is good for the soul…

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(sigiriya – sri lanka – summer 2015)

Traveling opens your mind to new cultures, ideas and ways of thinking.

It allows you to build amazing memories with new people and places.

Traveling gives you the freedom to make the most of every opportunity and fill your day with exciting new experiences.

It can push you out of your comfort zone, boost your confidence and help you discover all the amazing things you can achieve.

With all the incredible experiences and challenges you are faced with, traveling helps you to get prospective and give you inspiration on the kind of life you want to live.

Traveling teaches you to live in the moment, enjoy every experience to its fullest and let go of negativity from the past.

Traveling lets you chill out and take a break from our crazy, fast paced lives…

which can give you the head space you need to reflect on your life and feel inspired to make some positive changes for the future.

And it teaches you to trust your instincts, your ability and your ambitions and goals, which leads to a full and happy life.

I decided pretty early on that I wanted my life to be adventurous, beautiful, exciting and interesting and traveling is one of my favorite ways to do that.  I hope it does the same for you!

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6 Must Do Things in Torino

Torino (or Turin in English) is located in the north west of Italy in the Piemonte region.  Originally the capital of Italy, it’s an elegant and grand city made up of wide boulevards, sweeping plazas and old marble arcades.  It feels less touristy than Italy’s other major cities and spending a day or two strolling around allows you to observe city life and local Italian customs without the heavy crowds of Rome or Venice.

I have visited Torino twice, both times with visiting friends and family, and found I fell in love instantly with the compelling mix of culture, architecture, restaurants and wine bars.  Located 120km from Milan it’s possible to arrive in under an hour on the fast train so makes the perfect place for a day trip.  Here are my 6 must-do’s while visiting Torino…

Visiting Torino - 6 Must Do Things

1 – Try some Chocolate from a Traditional Chocolate Cafe.

The Piemonte region is famous for growing hazelnuts and a result of this is they make really incredible chocolate! Torino city center is full of traditional chocolate shops and cafes, all of which have inviting counters displaying hand-made chocolate and treats.

2 – Take the Lift Up the Mole Antonelliana & Admire the City Views.

You can’t miss the beautiful and unusual architecture of the Mole Antonelliana towering above the city skyline.  Taking the lift up to the top of the tower allows you to admire the architecture up close and gives you panoramic views of the city below.

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3 – Visit the Film Museum.

Inside the building of the Mole Antonelliana is the Torino Film Museum.  One of the coolest museums I have visited in Italy, the museum features exhibits on cameras through the ages, optical illusions, famous film sets, movie props and 3D cinema.  It feels really crazy and as you walk through the rooms you don’t know what you might find next.

4 – See Mummies at the Egyptian Museum.

Torino also has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo housed in the Egyptian Museum.  See ancient Mummies, Sarcophagus, painted tombs, royal jewellery and even a Sphinx!

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5 – Stroll Through the Widest Plaza in Europe.

Torino’s ‘Piazza Vittorio Veneta’ is the widest plaza in Europe, with wide boulevards stretching between marble archways, elegant shop fronts and open air cafes.  The plaza finishes by opening up onto the banks of the River Po.  Take a walk around the plaza and finish up on the river where you can walk across the bridge and enter the beautiful church on the other side.

6 – Have Dinner in a Local Trattoria.

The Piemonte region is famous for being one of the best regions in Italy for food.  So make sure to eat in a little ‘trattoria’ – a simple style restaurant serving up local dishes from the region.  These places are frequented by locals and have menus based on the season so you are sure to try some authentic Italian cuisine.

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