my year in england.

my year in england.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Top travel tips

So in two weeks time it will be our  50 day summer holiday and we'll be hitting the south of Europe, our tips includes madrid, Valencia, Barcelona (Spain), pairs, ( france) split (Croatia) Budapest (Hungary) Belgrade (Serbia) Ohrid ( Macedonia) and Corfu ( Greece) then we're going to +Creamfields Official  the most amazing music festival and finally spending a week in London. So it's going to be pretty jam packed to say the least. After our Easter traveling I learned quite a bit about what to do and what to avoid so in light of the up coming trip I thought I'd write my top 10 budget travel tips.

1. Make a BUDGET before you leave
I didn't do this for Easter and I over spent in some countries and then had too scrimp later on and eat bread only for a couple of days. So make a plan of how much you can spend per city or country and stick to that, take into consideration the expensive of that place, paris for example will obviously require quite a bit more cash that Budapest. The Internet is your best friend here as you can google the price of just about anything. This may seem like a huge effort but it will be 100 percent necessary if you have limited funds and need to stick to what you have. Save money by shopping at +Lidle huizen and cheap supermarkets and don't eat at restaurants. Also don't spend money on public transport if possible don't be lazy - walk as much as possible, and this will give you the best view of the city you're in anyway.

This is an absolute must and can cause huge problems to your aching back muscles when you are wondering around for hours looking for your hostel (trust me this will happen) when you pack firstly make sure you are taking a BACKPACK do not even consider a wheel suitcase as this will simply be a nightmare from start to finish. Invest in a good backpack and then think long and hard about what you essentially need. Think about the weather and how long you're going for and remember washing your own clothes is perfectly acceptable. Make a list of what you need, then try fit that into your back pack. It probably won't fit or will only just make it. In that case take everything out and basically half it, you don't need that fancy dress you've only ever worn twice or those shoes that aren't too comfy. You need to make sure that everything fits easily into your bag so packing is quick and easy also remember you WILL end up buying some clothes so allow space for that.

3. Find the right ACCOMMODATION
This is also very important as where you stay can make or break your experience of a city. If you're a young person on a budget youth hostels are definitely what you'll be looking at. Try +HostelBookers France or any hostelbookers for whatever country you're looking at. Read the reviews and decide what suits you. Look at things like the location and vibe of the hostel, like whether its more family or party orientated. Also check if it includes breakfast, kitchen facilities etc. accommodation can be super affordable if you spend time looking. Also party hostels can be lots of fun and you will meet great people. The bigger your room and hostel the less people you'll meet so consider that too if you're traveling alone or want to make lots of friends.

4. Get a good BACKPACK
While your holiday could be super low cost you need to invest some money into a really good comfortable backpack. This bag is going to become your companion and you don't want it breaking during your trip. I got mine on amazon as a birthday present it's a +Berghaus which is a brand you can't go wrong with. Mine has a daypack that zips onto the bag and was perfect for just taking with me on day trips. You will need a day pack and its something to consider when buying. Make sure it's light and if possible can zip open all round so you can reach items even if they are at the bottom of your bag. Look on ebay and amazon for good deals you're bound to find a quality backpack for a cheaper price.

5. Be RELAXED and spontaneous
Don't plan every minute of your holiday before hand, let most things happen by themselves. I would definitely pre book accommodation  because the last thing you want to do is sleep in train stations and waste half your day knocking at hostels only to find out they are already booked or only have the most expensive rooms left. Pre booking lets you choose a place you like and will give you peace of mind but leave the rest to chance. Don't have too much of a full schedule you never know what opportunities will present themselves but don't leave your whole holiday up to chance. If you are a very organized person plan a basic itinerary to make sure you get  everything in that you want to visit otherwise chat to the staff at your hostel and locals they will direct you to the cities best sights, clubs, hidden gems etc.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

european travels

so iv recently returned from a trip through northern /eastern Europe ( Bruges, Amsterdam  Berlin  Krakow  Prague) and i thought instead of giving a detailed account of 22 days of travelling it would be a lot easier and probably less boring if i summarized some of the lessons we learned along the way about the countries we visited and about travelling on this kind of low budget trip. so the countries we visited were firstly selected at random, just places that had been recommended to us or places we were just keen in general to go too. and honestly we didn't research them much before we left. now we were on a tight budget and this meant we stayed in hostels and basically the cheapest ones we could find, however i wouldn't have done it differently as its the perfect way to meet people who are travelers more than just tourists and who are all doing a similar kind of trip.
so lets start we Belguim, BRUGES

  • firstly you should know that its a really lovely place. pretty small but enough to see to fill three days if you make an effort to look around. we stayed at a really nice hostel called Snuffel Backpackers which was small but really nice and we meet lots of great people there which is largely thanks to the fact that it is small and so you get to know people easily. another thing you should know about belgium is that its not cheap to eat out but if you go to the supermarkets (which were nearly impossible to find) we found a small nightshop near our hostel, and buy food like pasta, frozen pizza etc that will help you save a lot of money. another thing is that the nightlife isnt amazing in Bruges, although iv heard its a lot better in other parts of Belgium like Ghent or Brussels. so dont expect much, however if you are with a group of friends you can make the most of it because the locals wont spend time chatting you up even paying the slightest attention to you. they dont seem too keen on tourists however if you tell them that they'll probably deny it. 
  • on to AMSTERDAM our next stop on the trip. now Amsterdam is definitely a place worth experiencing but in my humble opinion its pretty over rated. im not saying dont go, im saying dont stay for too long and dont plan one trip around Amsterdam  if you've got lots of money to spend on doing all the museums, Ann Franks house, loads of shopping and other tourist-ie things then spend a week, otherwise id say three/ four days covers it. its very expensive, to do anything really from going on the trams to basic food shopping and dont even get me started on the clubs prices, entrance fees etc. but its well worth it for some legal weed and some really good nights out and the free cheese samples are pretty good too. also spend some time looking for a good party hostel because that really makes a huge difference. ours had nothing going on so that didnt help much but there are good ones around.
  • our next stop was BERLIN. i really didnt know what to expect especially since id never considered Germany as a place id like to go on holiday but it was really amazing. Berlin is just an energetic city, thats really well priced, interesting and fun. there are lots of good walking and riding tours around and lots of young people. everyone we encountered was really friendly and helpful. the night life is amazing and not too expensive if you avoid buying drinks at the clubs. you also can get away with never paying for a train ticket because no one ever checks and there are no turn styles. also has lots of interesting history and the street art is so good. our hostel plus berlin was also really nice, it was huge so we didnt meet many people there but it was really new and modern.
  • next up was KRAKOW. Poland always seems like such a random place to go but its a hidden treasure. its cheap, beautiful and has all the modern necessity's you could ask for. everyone we met was friendly and helpful and our hostel was so much fun. the Greg and Tom party hostel. we did pub crawls basically every night and they were so cheap it was laughable. the vodka also really lived up to our expectations as did everything else. the nightlife was really good and every night the clubs were full, as well as modern and interesting. we found our selves in a zumba class in a club one night and another one thats walls were entirely made our of mirrors and glass (including the bathrooms) which was quite insane. we also made a visit to Auschwitz which is hard to describe other than being really sad. but it was an experience ill never forget and im so glad we went. Krakow is the perfect place if youre on a budget and still want to have a good time. i thoroughly enjoyed it and would go back in a heartbeat.
  • our last stop was PRAGUE. it probably tops the list as the most beautiful city we saw. the buildings are architecture blew me away. every where you look its just intricate designs and unique colorful buildings. the castle and Charles bridge are also a sight to behold and just walking around the town was such a experience. it was slightly more expensive than Poland and the currency was a mission to convert but it was still well priced and we got the most out of the expensive pub crawls. prague is just so beautiful that i doubt anyone could go there and not love it. its full of tourists which just livens everything up i think. nights out were lots of fun and the clubs were really good as well.. Prague is a must do for any traveler and it wont disappoint. . 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

just a few ireland pictures

IRELAND - whats the craic

so iv recently returned from doing a six day Paddywagon tour of all of Ireland, well i guess I didn't see ALL of Ireland but we got to the important parts, in the south and north. i really loved it which is why im so keen to share my first travelling experience of my gap year in the UK.
we started in Dublin but getting to Dublin was a whole other issue. you see we had booked to go on the coach from London but we missed it due to numerous unexplainable events that included getting lost on the tube, it then having 'engineering' problems and eventually running around trying to find a taxi that costs us waay to much to get to the coach station just so that a rude man could tell me we were too late and to move along to the back of the que. wonderful, our first trip couldn't have started on a worse note if we tried. we then needed to get to another country by 8am the next morning and I had no idea how we'd get there. at that point I felt like breaking down, sitting on the floor and crying whilst someone else sorted everything else. but this was reality and that wasn't going to happen. hello major learning experience number one. so we did the only thing possible we got ourselves to the closest train station and spoke to a really helpful informations man who basically seemed to feel sorry for two girls with South African accents and probably very pitiful tones and he magically sorted everything out and saved our lives. all we had to do was pay up and not miss any more of our transport. we could get three trains to Hollyhead and the the ferry to Dublin. it was the such a relief to know we had a way of getting there, however it wasn't a comfortable journey. trains give me anxiety at the best of times but this kind of situation was a whole new level of stress.  I couldn't sleep because we had to change trains every about two/three hours and then of course there was the worry of being asleep when we needed to get off. so basically the night was spent without sleeping but making our way to Paddys Palace (only a short bus trip from the ferry stop away) our starting point. Once we finally got there I couldn't have been more relived. everything from here on was taken care of and all we had to do was get on the bus and have the best time. which im happy to say is exactly what we did. surrounded by other gaps we got on a bus and started our journey, at that stage we had no idea what a good choice we'd made, our bus was the best without a doubt and our tour guide Shaunie was such a laugh, and impossible not to like (his irish accent make me smile all the time and his pronunciation of three as 'tree' cracked me up every time he said it.) we started in the south going along the coast and stopping in the Dingle  peninsula which really was stunning, we carried on to kilarny, cork, galway, derry, limerick, belfast and back to dublin over the next six days. every night we'd stop off at our hostel, get some food and drinks and the evening fun would begin. we were usually close to irish pubs which always provided lots of entertainment, the irish really do come out at night and having 57 other amazing people to go out with really ensures entertainment and such good time. some of the sightseeing major highlights were the basket islands, the sleeping giant, the blarney castle (and kissing the stone of course) the cliffs of mohar, the giants causeway and the black taxi tour of the divisions in Belfast. other than just the sights our tour was made amazing by all the laughs we had on the bus, learning irish slang (good craic ya know?) learning all the words to a famous irish song, molly malone which we then sung every night (making the locals love us) and who could forget the top level of the guinness storhouse that overlooks the whole of dublin. everything about our tour was great.
so when we returned,exhausted and craving proper pillows, we were so happy to have had met such awesome people and have had such a good tour but we were so sad to get off our bus and face reality again - the daily routine that didnt include the kind of excitement we'd experienced over the last week. but all good things must come to an end and luckily we will no doubt meet up with our new found friends again and many more months of adventures lie ahead of us.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


things iv learned about: being a foreigner working in a totally new environment 

1. always be enthusiastic and positive, people will respond.
2. make as many friends as possible where ever you go, and don't be afraid to contact them.
3. always look at the bigger picture when something gets to you and then decide whether its worth worrying about or not.
4. ALWAYS think before you speak and act.
5. use your 'weird' accent to your advantage, people are very likely to help you as soon as you ask.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

one month in..

dear blog..
so today is my official ONE MONTH in England. im trying to decide if ive settled in or not but that's a tough call.
you see i remember leaving home (Cape Town, South Africa) and arriving in London like it was yesterday.  Running for the check in because we (my friend who im living/ working with this year +Nicola Moskoff ) thought we were late - standard - and babbling on with excitement to really anyone that would listen; we were going to England for a year and it was the most exciting thing we'd ever done. the loonnngg flight but at the same time having that feeling of not really wanting to get off the plane because it meant facing reality. and then touch down.. getting off the plane and finding our way around heathrow which proved more difficult than expected, it really was huge. but eventually we found our luggage and called the couple who were picking us up. cue entrance of two important characters, lets call her Mrs Boarding house and her husband Mr boarding house. they were in charge of our lives now.
the long drive back to the town that would soon become home, Andover in Hampshire. now one thing you need to know about andover is that its small. im guessing youve never heard of it. well theres a reason for that. but thats okay. we'll work with that. it only takes a few minutes to walk to the train station and a little further to the 'town' which supplies all the basic necessities.
so what can I say after a month,? well the work we do isnt too bad. looking after children for about 6-7 hours a day has its pros and cons but really its not too terrible. the people we work with are mostly really great (emphasis on the word mostly but thats a story for another day) and our pay is okay. we should get by. so why exactly have I chosen to do this for a year? everything seems pretty average right now but as soon as school holidays arrive the real fun will begin. we have already booked our +Paddywagon Tours to ireland. these travels are why i have a blog and ill be sharing lots of what we already have done (london, bath, salisbury, reading) here too.
so heres to my new home and blog