Scotland for Dummies

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In 2015 I went to Scotland for the first time. Not a place I’d really thought of visiting before possibly due to the curse of Londoner’s ignorance, I can only put the urge down to hearing ‘Scottish Independence’ around 451 times over that past year and my subsequent fondness for Nicola Sturgeon. That aside, any country who has a unicorn as their official animal has to be pretty awesome.

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Rome & Tuscany For Dummies

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Having gotten a delicious taste of Italy while travelling to Sicily, Venice and Milan together previously, my girl Dian and I decided to set aside five nights to venture to Rome and Tuscany – here’s what happened.

HELLO THERE: This turned into a long read – if you want to know something particular, please do ask via the comments section or try searching with your friend Control + F. Alternatively, I’ve bulletpointed the highlights at the end – scroll away / forgive me x

Arriving in Rome, we got the express train from Fiumicino Airport to Termini Station (duration: 30 minutes / cost: 14) and set out to find our way to the Best Western Globus Hotel which was said on their website to be ‘nearby.’ 20 minutes later I had a dead battery thus no Google Maps and subsequent anxiety, but we managed to navigate ourselves through the eerily quiet graffiti splattered streets to our base. On the subject of Google maps and the convenience of internet usage abroad, I’d recommend Three as a network provider for their ‘Feel at Home’ service alone.

Halal food termini

We were pretty knackered on our first day so excitedly grabbed some food when we peeped a Halal sign near Termini. I got a diavola pizza whilst Dian got a lamb biryani because only a sick human being would order a curry as soon as arriving in Italy. Both were so greasy that we left with a higher chance of heart disease – stay away! Continue reading

Moving To Egypt, BRB

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I’ve wanted to explore Egypt since I was a teenager; my room was strewn with DIY Ancient Egyptian art and much to the dismay of my parents I had a shisha set-up in my room, forced myself to be into Turkish coffee and had mastered the art of Kushari (that part is impressive, shut up).

It was one of those things that never came to fruition for one reason or another, until last month – and even then, it was scarcely planned; I’d barely had time to get to grips with the layout of the country on the map, which is something I like to do before visiting any country so I can sound intelligent and informed providing you don’t ask me too much. I mean, did you know the Sinai peninsula was once under attack by… No, I’ll do that later.

I flew to Cairo on December 22 after confirming it the day before and packing on the day. Continue reading

Amsterdam in a Weekend- My Holiday Diary

My best friend Dian and I decided go abroad for her 21st birthday. With rebellion in mind, we thought Amsterdam would be perfect for some unforgettable times. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how rich in culture the city really was.

Friday 

We arrived at Schiphol airport after a smooth 45 minute flight and hopped on a double-decker train to Centraal station, just twenty minutes away. I instantly felt at home with the hustle and bustle, the clock tower, the Maccy D’s on the corner… Until I nearly got trampled on by a cyclist. I would recommend hiring a bicycle when out there, as they run the road, quite literally. It is dead easy to hire a bicycle for as cheap as €6 a day, which is cheaper than public transport. We went to our hotel, Floris France, a 4* beaut in the heart of it all with breakfast included, which we got on a great deal on http://www.opodo.co.uk. We ventured to our first coffee shop, Hill Street Blues. Dimly lit and covered in graffiti art, despite how it sounds, made it incredibly homely and cool. With large sofas, tasty but cheap drinks, pool tables and an outdoor area, this became my favourite place. We moved on to explore the town, which seemed very London to me, but if anything more multi cultural. I couldn’t help but stare at the variety of fascinating looking people who were visiting from all around the world. After walking around exploring for hours and stopping for ‘coffee’ breaks every so often, by time the sun set, we were pretty stoned. Feeling intoxicated and wanting a giggle, we ventured into Le Casa Rosso Palace. The Casa Rosso is a famous, well established Palace in the city of Amsterdam and we had been told by  locals that it was a unique experience, not at all sleazy. Thinking ‘when in Rome…’ we purchased our tickets and soon became quite nervous about what this show might entail. To my relief, it looked like a standard, legitimate theatre, so we took our seats and waited for the curtains to rise. All I can say is I was not prepared for the things that went down on that stage. Particularly the performance by a young lady who was very experienced in banana tricks. The thought makes me cringe to this day. Buying a reasonable price ticket into the theatre provides you with four drinks and a 60 minute show, which you will never forget. Ever.

Saturday

Dian woke me up at a ridiculous hour for our free buffet breakfast. Fighting the urge to shout at her (I don’t do mornings with ease) I managed to escape my fluffy duvet and got myself ready. After our short tram journey to Anne Frank’s Huis, we grabbed a homemade ice cream while we queued. Tickets were €8.50 which gave us a lengthy tour along with videos and artifacts, making it an emotional must see. Next door is The Pancake Bakery, also known as the best pancake house in Amsterdam – I can confirm that it is. We strolled down to Vondel Park next, the most idyllic part of the city; with food from the local supermarket. Vondel Park is free, fun and great place to sunbath, read, picnic and play in the paddling pool. Behind the park is a lush restaurant (I gained a lot of weight on this holiday) with an outdoor terrace and next door is Amsterdam’s Film and Theatre museum, which has a spectacular open air theatre, which you can experience for decent prices with English subtitles. Keep an eye out for events on http://www.iamsterdam.com as they also hold free ‘party in the park’ like concerts there regularly. We returned to Centraal station for a canal cruise, where you simply turn up and pay €8 to be taken on the 75 minute tour. Amsterdam has been dubbed the ‘Venice of the North’ and it certainly was a spectacular way to see the whole town. We ended the night by ‘coffee shop/bar hopping’ – every place is so different it is like going from one adventure to the next.

Sunday

After another excruciatingly early breakfast (thanks Dian), we hopped on the tram to The Van Gogh museum. Even if like me you are not particularly arty, just do it to hear the truth about why he cut his ear off. It is €14 but if you are 16 – 25 you are entitled to a discount. Result. A few minutes away is the Rijksmuseum of Art and History, which is simply a once in a lifetime experience. Check out Amsterdam’s most sought after photo opportunity outside the Rijksmuseum – the ‘IAMSTERDAM’ letters. Towering at 2 metres high and 26 metres long, I attempted to clamber on top to get our photos taken with no joy, but it was entertaining to say the least! We then went to the bibliotheek (library) for lunch. I was sceptical of how good a libraries canteen could be, but with a fresh buffet of iced mango juices, salads, pizza, cake and more, it was phenomenal. Another highlight of the library was the roof top dining area, which gave a stunning view of Amsterdam. There was also free internet available which was a huge saver, as the internet cafes in the town are VERY expensive. Next door you can see the Nemo Science museum, a funky looking building surrounded by water, which is definitely worth checking out. When it was time to go to the airport, I felt I was nowhere near finished exploring the vibrant city. Amsterdam maybe a small place, but it definitely holds many, many treasures.