first time traveller – reviewing Paris

2019, travel

Hello!

Yes, I promise, after this post I’ll stop with the Paris spam (or at least, maybe stop mentioning it as often!) but I thought I’d do a little review post talking about the city from a travellers perspective, a tourists perspective and the perspective of my first trip abroad as a lead traveller!

Going from just going on a holiday and my only responsibilities being making sure I bring enough pairs of socks, to being the one booking the train tickets, finding a suitable hotel, planning a sort of itinerary is quite a big leap and it’s daunting when someone turns to you in a foreign country!

It was a weirdly adult feeling and on the one hand, it was cool because I proved to myself that I had the freedom to go anywhere but on the other hand ew does that mean I’m an adult?

I’ve picked a few key things that I was nervous about or felt were a barrier whilst I was there and I’ll just have a little natter about each one, if you have any tips or advice for any of these let me know in the comments below or send me a message on Instagram!

t h e   m e t r o

I was worried about transport around the city – I knew there was an underground-like system but having been to New York last year and gone the wrong way on the Subway, I wasn’t too sure how I would handle the metro. But I can’t speak more highly of it – using Google maps, it told me my final destination and what direction to be going in and we didn’t go the wrong way at all!

It’s definitely nicer and easier to understand than the London underground but would probably be much more difficult if I didn’t have Google maps on my phone.

It’s really reasonably priced, surprisingly easy to use (well, if you’re only wanting to buy single tickets and have Google maps!) and the ticket machines have lots of different languages to choose from!

And with that in mind…

t h e   l a n g u a g e

Before going on this trip, I felt confident in my minimal English – if nothing else, I knew how to say “sorry, I only speak a little French, I am English!”. But we got out there and I froze – I suddenly felt like everyone was judging me and I didn’t want to get anything wrong so I didn’t feel confident enough to try.

After the first few interactions, I did get a bit braver but then in the city it only took my vague attempt at a ‘bonjour’ for anyone to start talking to me in English. What it taught me is that I really should have brushed up on some key phrases before I left, but actually – I remember more French than I thought and my biggest barrier was confidence!

The thing that really helped me was that I thought if I was working in London and someone came up to me and tried to speak English as a second language, I’d be pleased that they’d given it a go rather than them making me speak their language! I’m sure most of the people who worked in Paris felt the same, I just needed the confidence to try.

f o o d

Following the language barrier, the next thing I was more worried about after we got there, was ordering food. I’m quite a fussy eater anyway and I get a little bit anxious about the ingredients that might be used that aren’t necessarily listed on a menu or packaging (mayo in sandwiches is my worst enemy!).

On our first day, we got sandwiches from Lidl, the next day we had lunch at McDonalds and dinner at Hard Rock Cafe (where the menu was in English anyway), the next day was a bakery for pastries (we were getting a bit braver), back to McDonalds (because it was easier and we knew we’d like it, we’re both a lil fussy) and another Lidl dinner. It’s something I definitely want to work on for the next time I go to a non-English speaking country because I didn’t feel immersed in the culture and I did feel a little like I was cheating.

But it’s intimidating on so many fronts – the language, worrying about having to eat something I don’t like (or going hungry) and wondering whether the places we were going were commercial enough to have English speaking staff or if it was too rural. Granted, most of this is in my head but it was something that I now know bothers me and I need to be aware of and face if I want to try more authentic food.

So in conclusion – I think in terms of first time lead traveller, I’d probably have been better off picking somewhere that is predominantly English speaking for my first trip, however I feel marginally more prepared to go to other non-English speaking countries, especially as most people we had to interact with in Paris spoke English to a service level.

I’m already looking to book a trip to Amsterdam in July so any recommendations and top tips on learning key phrases in Dutch would be welcome please!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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let me show you: Paris

2019, photography, travel

Hello!

If you haven’t seen all my Instagram posts, blog posts and YouTube videos… I went to Paris last weekend!

It was just magical – it was my boyfriend and I’s first real trip away (after over 3 years together!), it was his first time out of the country, it was my first time really taking the lead on booking a trip – it was hugely monumental for us as a couple and because it’s just such a beautiful city.

I decided when I went to New York last year that I wanted to start a travel series called ‘let me show you’ and when I first started that I intended to travel much more in 2018 – that didn’t happen! But I still want to carry on writing this series so as the title says, let me show you Paris!

Our first view of the Eiffel Tower – just breathtaking

a backlit Eiffel Tower, I have so many photos of the Eiffel Tower

but even the view opposite the Eiffel Tower was beautiful, the Seine is just stunning

see a cute avenue of trees? Clearly need an outfit photo

just LOOK at it!

It’s not often I actually like a photo with me in it, but this one is such a great summary of the trip, I’m so happy Lucas took it!

credit for this one has to go to the boyfriend – he started using my mum’s old Sumsung S7 before we went and the camera worked out really well for him, absolutely stunning picture

I’m still thinking about this nutella crepe, to be honest

This view is from the metro window!! Absolutely magical to speed past the Eiffel Tower and the Seine – not the most amazing photo but such a beautiful memory

Arc de Triumph, immediately viewable from the second you step out of the metro

the architecture in Paris is just second to none – to think about how this was built and how magnificent it all is? Just amazing

Doing a night cruise of the Seine was my sister’s suggestion – I thought it might not be dark enough and then by the time we were on the boat the sky was this beautiful navy colour and just look at the Eiffel Tower all lit up, it was just amazing

this was halfway through the night tour as we were turning round to head back – I love all the colour reflected in the water and actually? The photo from my phone was better than the one on my camera – really experimented with lots of mediums on this trip

The Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour and it’s the most magical thing, it’s just stunning

on to Day 2 – next step; the Louvre! Getting a picture without anyone stood in the way was actually a mission

I don’t know what this leaf with plants on is meant to be, but I kind of love it and I took a lot more pictures of it than I really should have

Notre Dam – it was just mind blowing, we sat for a long time just looking at it, I definitely want to go inside and up next time

sneaking up on the Pantheon

I think every building in Paris is just astonishing – again, definitely one to go inside next time, just even from the outside it was just stunning

And the original Statue of Liberty in the Jardin de Luxembourg! (I might have spelt that wrong) The gardens around the statue are actually just so beautiful – we sat there for literal hours, partially because we needed our phones to charge but it gave us this time to be disconnected from technology and really talk to each other and really embrace the moment. I’m definitely making more time to be without technology on any other trips we do in the future

This trip has motivated me more than effort to actually making travelling happen this year – I’m hoping to do an overnight trip to Cambridge this month and I’m looking into going to Amsterdam in July so if anyone has any (kinda budget) recommendations for those places (or anywhere else!) please let me know!

Tell me all about your favourite places to travel in the comments, I want to share the travel love today!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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5 tips for packing a weekend bag | Travel

2019, lifestyle, travel

Hello!

Remember when I used to write about travel on this blog? Well she’s bringing it back lads – between having a few trips planned this year and wanting to travel more, I want to write about it more too!

Already confirmed this year I’ve got a little holiday to Centre Parcs with a close family friend, a trip to Paris with my boyfriend and lots of ideas for the rest of the weekend but the purpose of this blog post is packing for a family wedding down in Devon this weekend.

Now though I’m going to be talking about packing as light as possible, I am going for 5 days (kind of by accident, it’s a very long story!) so bare that in mind!

Whenever I’m packing, I want to make sure that I use every single thing I take but, on the flipside, don’t leave myself short – if I’m going for one night and I’m only taking a backpack that I’m going to be carrying the whole time I need to make sure I’m only taking the bare minimum. Whereas if I’m going for a few days, staying in a hotel and driving there and back I know I can take a suitcase and not worry too much about it being heavy.

With all that in mind, here are a few of my top tips for packing efficiently for short trips!

1 – make a list!

Shock horror, isn’t my first suggestion always a list? I know, but what I mean is make something visual – whether it’s putting pen to paper and planning outfits for the trip, making a note on your phone of how many items of clothing or any essentials you need to remember or even if it’s laying everything out on the floor so you can see it all! Personally, I find it so much easier to think about what could be missing or what I’ve over packed when I can see it all.

2 – get everything before you start packing

Again, going to sound incredibly obvious but lay out everything you need (and I mean everything) before you start folding it all up and putting it in your suitcase or pack. Just so you know exactly what you’re working with and can figure out whether your bag is too big or too small. So much easier than rushing around everywhere collecting the bits you’ve forgotten!

3 – using packing cubes / freezer bags to separate things if it helps!

Whether it’s separating each outfit by day, separating items of clothing or even just putting all your toiletries and beauty bits in different freezer bags (or whatever your bag of choice is!) having some organisation within your travel bag can make finding what you want while you’re away so much easier.

Packing cubes can be a great long term investment but if you’re not sure if they’ll work for you yet, either use bags you already own or freezer bags, carrier bags, anything really! Whatever you can think of to separate out what you’re taking in whatever way suits you best.

4 – what toiletries do you really need?

It’s so easy to take every dry shampoo, moisturiser and face mask under the sun but realistically, what are you actually going to use? It’s so easy to feel like you’ll suddenly need everything but on some shorter trips you might not even need to do a hair wash, so why lug bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel when you don’t need them.

If you’re wanting to bring lots but don’t want to bring full size bottles, either buy travel versions or alternatively (cheaper but more effort) buy those little empty bottles you can get at Boots or Superdrug (or the like) and bring a little bit of each product rather than the full bottles.

5 – don’t bring entertainment you don’t need

A weekend away can mean such a variety of things – using public transport for a one night stay, driving somewhere for a 4 night stay or flying somewhere short haul for a three night stay (or any amalgamation of the three!) and consequently, different forms of entertainment may be necessary.

For a train journey, I tend to bring my laptop or use my phone to pass the time, in the car I can’t do anything but listen to music and sleep and if you’re flying anywhere you’re probably going to spend hours in an airport so it might even be worth bringing a back of cards or Uno!

But on the other hand, you don’t want to take your laptop, three hard drives and a full set of coloured pens (for bullet journal stuff, or colouring, whatever floats your boat) if you’re not going to have time to use them! Really think about what you’re going to be doing while you’re away, whether you’re going to have time to use them or if you’ll need them (for work or, let’s say, writing blog posts!) so you don’t have to carry anything you’re not using!

With all of that in mind, I’m off to pack! I hope this has helped, if there are any travel related blog posts (or anything related blog posts!) you’d like to see please do let me know in the comments below!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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preparing for a long haul flight | travel tips

2017, lifestyle, music, student, travel

Hello!

Whenever I write about travel I’m painfully aware that the only ‘big’ trips I’ve done were project work trips to Tanzania in 2013 and Ecuador in 2015 and I’ve not been abroad since but being able to write about travel doesn’t mean you have to fly regularly or have been recently or make me any less valid.

A little bit of good old self justification to start a blog post never hurt anyone, right?

So, I don’t think anyone enjoys a long haul flight – even if you are a seasoned traveller going all over the world, long haul flights are bring.

When I went to Tanzania it was two six-hour flights and Ecuador was a ten-hour and a six-hour flight. Here are six tips for how to keep yourself entertained on long flights assuming you don’t plan to sleep for nine hours and fifty-eight minutes.

1) Bring a notebook and pens – personally, I’m someone who likes writing things down on paper, I always start my journal for the trip on the plane, but even if you’re not planning on documenting the trip, you can write, draw or play silly games if you’re flying with friends. Nothing wrong with paper and pens!

2) Handheld gaming – if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a new Nintendo Switch, then you can bring big screen games to the sky, however anyone else who has a 3DS or 2DS or a gameboy or, I don’t know, a PSP maybe, I know I can get lost playing games from an altitude of two feet let alone fifty thousand – if you’ve got some good music and lots to do in game (I love seeing that full 100% completion on a game) you’ll find you’re a good few hours closer to your destination.

3) Music – always music – if you’re fully prepared with an up to date iTunes library or some good Spotify playlists downloaded, music can make hours feel like seconds. Music’s a good one for if you’re travelling with friends too because a headphone splitter and new music is a great way to find the song or make the playlist of the trip.

4) Games – word games, card games or even travel board games – there’s so many easy little games that you can squeeze in your hand luggage. Uni is a fun, sometimes friendship destroying, card game, or there’s the alphabet game that my family always liked to play. You pick a topic (i.e. films) then go through the alphabet letter by letter and thinks of something for each letter, for example – Avengers Assemble, Baywatch, Chronicles of Narnia, Deadpool etc. The Alphabet Game gets more exciting more and more family-destroying the more you narrow the topic.

5) Organisation – this might be more of a me thing, but I’d take the time to organise my life – sort out my bullet journal, plan ahead on my calendars, make a lot of lists that would make me very happy and would take a good chunk of my flight. I love coloured pens a lot.

6) Mindless iPhone games – I guess it counts as handheld gaming, but there are enough mind numbing basic phone games (you don’t have to have an iPhone, it’s just a phrase, there are lots of very nice Android phones) that are much cheaper than a handhold gaming console and have a habit of passing time just as quickly. I’ve been playing a game called Riddle Stones recently and I’m thoroughly enjoying that.

Obviously there’s always films to watch and perhaps talking to the people you’re travelling with, lots of snacking, y’know – there’s plenty of things to do! If I was travelling now I’d probably take my laptop and blog or write or edit videos, but depends entirely what you’re travelling for and what you’re interests are. Let me know what you’d do on a long haul flight in the comments!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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a night out in Weymouth

2017, travel, Uncategorized

Hello!

When I talk about travelling on this blog, I often talk about it not having to be a ‘big foreign’ trip to write about it – I went to Weymouth for the first time over New Years and it was a gorgeous sea side town so I wanted to write about it here.

Two of my friends and their bands were playing in Weymouth (where they’re from) for New Years and my boyfriend and I joked about going… and then we did.

We arrived in the afternoon and basically went straight to the sea and I loved it – it was full of little blue and white seaside benches and the pier is gorgeous and it was just so cutesy. I definitely need to go and spend more time at Weymouth beach.

After meeting my friends at the beach, we went for lunch at McDonalds (lol) and back to my friend’s house to chill out, watch Doctor Who and have dinner. It was such a lovely area – the house was on a big hill and you could see the sea from his drive and his garden and I just loved it, I just feel like I could live there – it was a big, seaside version of my home town.

In the evening we had sparklers and we let off a few fireworks and it was so much fun – I was so excited to have my first proper New Years that wasn’t sat in front of a TV watching fireworks in London and to bring the New Year in with such amazing friends I felt so privileged, so lucky and so grateful.

After the sparklers we went to our first venue for the evening – Finns, where my friend Dan’s band Coyote were playing and then went on to The Lazy Lizard to see my friend Pete’s band Under the Carousel. There was a nice break in the middle to sit on a bench and stare at the sea and talk about the New Year and how things change.

I mean, that was after I nearly got dragged into a fight and got kicked in the leg and had a minor panic attack about being in a new place and not knowing my surroundings – things like that happen, but I’m working on it and it didn’t ruin my night. Didn’t mean to include a ‘mental health’ update in those post but there it is!

Weymouth is a gorgeous place and I’d love to go back, maybe for a little weekend seaside holiday in the summer!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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Where for Christmas?

2016, travel

Hello!

I’m at home with my family for Christmas (well that answers that question doesn’t it!) but as someone who really loves travelling, the thought of Christmas in another country sounds really interesting! Here are a few places I’ve thought about spending Christmas and would like to in the future!

Somewhere sunny – as I’m from England, ‘nice’ weather over Christmas just isn’t something that happens but I think it would feel completely different. Part of me feels like I might not feel Christmassy but then I wonder how they decorate for Christmas in sunny areas like do they still have the image of snow and Santa in his big suit or is it different because they have sunny Christmas’s? The silly things I wonder about! I’d love to go to Australia or perhaps somewhere in Africa, culturally I think it would be really interesting.

Somewhere that doesn’t celebrate Christmas – I imagine if I wanted to go somewhere on my own and be a bit reclusive it would be interesting to completely separate yourself from Christmas. I know I’ve already used the word ‘interesting’ far too many times but these are the kind of things I find intriguing, this is what I think about! I’d need to do some research as to where I’d go if I was going to do this but, dare I say it, it would be interesting!

Somewhere really snowy – just like the sunny thing, England doesn’t get proper snowy, England doesn’t get ‘proper’ anything except rain but it would be so cool to spend Christmas in the snow. I feel the cold a lot anyways so I’d probably freeze but with seven layers and the biggest boots you’ve ever seen, I’d love to have a proper White Christmas. Maybe I could learn to ski too! I’ve never been skiing, don’t think I’d be very good at it, but it would be fun. Somewhere like Canada, Switzerland, maybe somewhere in Scandinavia – there are so many snowy places, especially at this time of year!

I fully intend to go everywhere, I really want to travel a lot and all these places will go on my list!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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Going to uni so far from home

2016, travel

Hello!

Writing about travel and new places for me right now is difficult because I haven’t done masses of travelling, but I want to practise travel writing so when I travel I then feel ready and that I already have some experience to write about it!

Part of going to university for me was being far enough away from home that I had to be fully independent and getting to see a part of the country I hadn’t been to before, and that involved moving 170 miles away to a new end of the country and from that, I get to visit lots of new places and towns and cities I’ve never been to all the time because it’s all so new to me.

I also get called “Northern” a lot but that’s not the point. (#DefendtheMidlands)

Travel blogging doesn’t have to be exotic (though if you want to be a ‘successful’ travel blogger you’ll probably have to leave the country, let’s be honest) – big trips to other countries are really fun to write about but it can be a new town or a pretty spot that you found on a walk. I’m hoping to do a few more of these as the summer months approach and hopefully money will be more on my side.

Going home this semester has been a no go with the amount of deadlines I’ve had and how they’ve been spaced out to every couple of weeks, meaning one weekend I’d be working on the deadline and the next weekend I’d be making sure the assignment was ready to hand in and this has been going on since October.

At one point the plan was that I was going to spend Christmas in Basingstoke with my boyfriend but we’ve decided we’re going to spend Christmas apart – I’m so excited to be going home. At this point even it’s still undecided when I’m going home or how long I’ll be home for but I’m hoping everything works out in my favour and I get to spend as much time at home as I can.

I’m so excited to be back somewhere the feels so familiar and I’m excited for the New Year and 2017, especially in terms for what I have planned with blogging and my YouTube channel.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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How to pack the bare minimum!

2016, travel

Hello!

I’ve been on a couple of big trips now and I’m slowly getting better at packing – I like being quite minimalist and I like using everything I take on a trip with me, so I thought I’d collate some tips that might help you if you’re packing for a holiday or a trip!

Side note: I’m assuming you’re going on a holiday, abroad for about a week – adjust more or less accordingly!

1) Don’t overpack clothes!

Realistically, don’t plan outfits for every day – you don’t need seven t-shirts, four pairs of trousers and three dress shirts! You can wear a t-shirt more than once and it’ll just be disappointing if you bring home clothes you didn’t even wear!

You do need spare underwear though. That’s useful.

2) You don’t need a whole library!

As someone who thinks they read but realistically don’t read as much or as fast as they like to think they do, I always take three or four books away with me and I barely finish one so save your own space and take a realistic amount of books! Or a kindle, that’s a good compromise and then if you do get really into reading you can read more if you like.

3) Be realistic with bathroom stuff!

Do you need that massive bottle of brand new shampoo with you? Probably not! Either buy travel sized cosmetics or buy those little packs of tiny bottles and portion that new bottle of shampoo into the little bottles and taking a little travel sized dry shampoo or hairspray.

4) Be careful with your other cosmetics!

Do you need all your make-up? Is it going to be too hot or too cold for make-up? Is there a sun-cream foundation you could take instead (two birds one stone?)? Only take the stuff you really need, not everything. A few hair bobbles will go in your make-up bag and do you really need your curling iron?

5) Keep only the stuff you need on the plane in your hand luggage!

Clothes, hygiene items and even some forms of entertainment can go in your suitcase – the kind of things you’d put in your handbag or your pockets (if you’re lucky enough to have male-sized pockets in your clothes!). The less you have to carry on the plane, the less you have to worry about losing – phone, passport, plane ticket, money, a book or music device, maybe painkillers or plane remedies, the list doesn’t get much longer than that.

The incentive is that you’ll have less to carry, you won’t have that feeling of ‘why did I bring this?’ when you where the same pair of shoes for the whole trip and if you want to buy lots while you’re there, you’ve got more space!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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