GB road trip – Wales

Our adventures took us to Wales, an often overlooked part of the UK, but Wales has a lot of history and natural beauty, and some of the friendliest people.

We started up north and were seeking out one thing in particular… castles!

As you can see, we found some castles. Our first stop was near Abergele, at Gwrych Castle. Technically you’re not supposed to go near the castle, but we skirted around the perimeter and admired it from afar. Then we headed to Conwy for the night.

I did not know that a walled town like Conwy existed in the UK, so to say that I was pleasantly surprised when we got there would be an understatement. I loved everything about Conwy. The castle, the boats, the smallest house in Great Britain, the food. One night there was not enough.

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From Conwy we headed through Snowdonia National Park. We had originally planned to do a big walk while we were there, but we simply ran out of time (and it was pretty rainy too). So after a night in Dolgellau, we headed south.

 

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And though we didn’t visit any castles in south Wales, we did see caves, waterfalls, distilleries, beaches and a male Welsh choir. All of which were pretty goddamn amazing.

So all in all, Wales has lot to offer. I know a lot of English people dismiss Wales and the Welsh people, but I cannot recommend it enough.

 

Camera: Olympus OMD EM5 and iPhone SE

Lens: Olympus 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 

Edits: Lightroom 

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GB road trip – Scotland

It has been over a year since we left Australia and while we have had a lot of fun, there are things that I miss – and there is probably nothing I miss more than my friends and family. Luckily, one of my closest friends decided to escape the Aussie heat for a couple of months and hung out in London with me.

As expected, the two months passed by all too quickly, so we decided to spend our last week together by embarking on a Great Britain road trip. Starting in Edinburgh, the plan was to visit parts of Scotland, Wales and England, and that’s exactly what we did.

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After a stay in the imposing, but impressive, Scottish capital, we headed to Melrose Abbey for a dose of history, and, of course, a few photo opportunities. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint.

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The Abbey was fascinating and while it is sad that such amazing architecture is disappearing, it is also nice to see nature fight back and have a win every now and then.

Next stop was Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Guesthouse, where we decided to spend a night. Yes, you read that right, a Buddhist monastery in south Scotland!

Our stay involved attending silent prayers in evening, eating simple (but tasty) vegetarian food, waking up early for Green Tara prayers (at 6am) and coping with the lack of phone reception and wifi. I say “coping”, but it was actually really lovely to switch off and slow down for a little while. None of the prayer sessions are compulsory, but it felt appropriate to attend at least one. And I am glad we did, it reminded of how much I love Nepal – somewhere I really must go back to.

Feeling relaxed and centred, we left the Monastery, and Scotland, behind and headed to the Lake District… but I will leave that for my next post.

 

Camera: Olympus OMD EM5 and iPhone SE

Lens: Olympus 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 

Edits: Lightroom 

women’s march

I attended the Women’s March on London on Saturday 21 January, in solidarity with women and girls, and men and boys, all around the world, as a response to Trump’s Presidency.

I’d never attended such an event before and was overwhelmed with emotions throughout the day. I felt belonging, pride, frustration… but more than anything, I felt like an all-conquering, strong, fierce woman.

Trump has shown us what kind of President he wants to be – a self-serving, bully. So I post these images now, because we need to be reminded that the march may be over, but real battle has only just begun, and together we are a force to be reckoned with.

Girls rule

 

Camera: Olympus OMD EM5

Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8

Edits: VSCO (on iPad)

brockley market

I love markets, and food markets in particular. So when I found out that there was an award winning food market near me (seriously, less than a 30 minute walk), I had to go there.

What I discovered was amazing local produce, a lovely community vibe and food trucks – so you can grab your weekly shop and a spot of lunch!

Small pies

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Cheese

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If you live in South East London, particularly near Greenwich or Lewisham, then I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Brockley Market one Saturday. You can grab meat, fish, cheese, veg, even wine and potted plants. And you can feel good knowing that you are supporting local producers and the environment.

 

Camera: Olympus OMD EM5

Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8

Edits: VSCO (on iPad)

travel update 15/02/16

It’s been a week since my first update post, so it’s time to crank out another one.

The journey… so far 

Melbourne (Australia) > Singapore > Hong Kong > London (UK) > Faro (Portugal) > Lagos (Portugal) > Paris (France) > Hesdin (France) > Bruges (Belgium) > Ghent (Belgium) > Brussels (Belgium) > Antwerp (Belgium) > Rotterdam (Netherlands) > Amsterdam (Netherlands) > Utrecht (Netherlands) > Cologne (Germany) > Hanover (Germany) > Berlin (Germany)

Weekly recap

We started the week in Utrecht, Netherlands, which was the perfect pick-me-up after the disappointment of Amsterdam. Utrecht is beautiful, has an interesting history (which we learnt about in the DOMunder tour) and great places to eat. Anyone who plans a trip to the Netherlands and does not visit Utrecht is missing out.

Tip: Check out Trajectum Lumen, it’s a path to different light installations throughout Utrecht and is a great way to see the city at night.

Utrecht

I have been thinking about visiting Germany since my first German lesson back in high school, 18 years ago, and I am so glad I finally got here.

Our first stop was Cologne, which is not the prettiest German city – as described by one local we met – but it has plenty of character. And sometimes a city is about more than the number of photograph-worthy sites, it is about the atmosphere and the people. And that is what we experienced in Cologne.

Tip: Find a local eatery, order the pork knuckle and try to finish it while they continually bring you beer. Seriously, the moment you drink the second-last sip there will be a new beer in front of you. It can be a little overwhelming for people who don’t speak German, but we had a great time at Päffgen. (Thanks to my Uncle for this tip.)

The journey from Cologne to Berlin is fairly long, so we stopped over in Hanover for a night. We didn’t get to see much of Hanover, but… we did see snow! The first we’ve seen during our European adventure and it made me giddy like a kid on Christmas morning.

And now we’re in Berlin, but I will tell you all about that in the next update.

Dani x

 

 

travel update 08/02/16

It’s official, I’m the worst blogger ever. So rather than waiting to perfect posts about each place we’ve visited, I’m going to start a weekly update. This first one might be a bit all over the place.

The journey… so far

Melbourne (Australia) > Singapore > Hong Kong > London (UK) > Faro (Portugal) > Lagos (Portugal) > Paris (France) > Hesdin (France) > Bruges (Belgium) > Ghent (Belgium) > Brussels (Belgium) > Antwerp (Belgium) > Rotterdam (Netherlands) > Amsterdam (Netherlands) > Utrecht (Netherlands)

Highlights

Bruges has been, without a doubt, our favourite location so far. We even extended our stay. I imagine that it would lose some of its charm in peak season, simply due to the big crowds and long lines. But our winter visit involved neither of those things and yet Bruges was still perfectly charming – this town does not need sunshine to be appealing. If anything, walking along the cobbled streets arm-in-arm in boots and coats, and enjoying a Belgian beer in a cosy pub/bar seemed the perfect way to enjoy Bruges.

Our bike ride from Bruges (Belgium) to Sluis (Netherlands) was another highlight. The scenery is stunning and there are a few quaint towns to stop at along the way. Definitely recommend it for anyone visiting Bruges.

Paris lived up to the hype of my first visit and continued to impress. There is so much to see and do. You can visit every amazing museum or spend each afternoon in a different Parisian garden with a fresh baguette and cheese. We enjoyed a bit of both. Oh, and we went ice skating on the Eiffel Tower… yeah, that was pretty awesome.

Brussels was pleasantly surprising and it was oddly comforting to see glass skyscrapers. (Yep, think I am definitely a city girl.) We were lucky enough to be there during Brussels’ Colours, which basically involved street performers, a concert, some strange Belgian dancing (that everyone around us seemed to know) and a lot of yelling “Bruxelles! Bruxelles!”. We loved it.

Throughout the trip we are varying our accommodation – a mix of hotels, hostels, airbnbs and farm/homestays. We had our best hostel experience in Rotterdam. It wasn’t the best place if you wanted to go to sleep before 2am, but we met some fantastic people and we are now keen sjoelen players. Oh and we saw some old windmills (Kinderdijk), very cool.

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Last but not least, our first and only (so far) workaway experience, which is basically a farm/homestay where you work for a few hours a day in return for food and accommodation. We want to experience more than the usual tourist traps and this is a good way to do that.

We stayed with the lovely Donna and Nik in St Georges (near Hesdin) in Pas-de-Calais, France for a week. The work was pretty different for me, since I’ve never really done any physical labour. But I learnt how to use a jigsaw, circular saw and angle grinder, and now know much more about roof tiling (in the old French style). Even more remarkable though, I actually bonded with cats. I had to take a heap of antihistamines to be around them, but I actually found a soft spot for cats… crazy. Anyways, Nik and Donna were great and we are planning to visit them again in the summer.

And now…

We have just arrived in Utrecht, our last stop in the Netherlands, and then we head to Germany.

At the moment we’re still planning to travel for another two months, but we might skip some of mainland Europe so that we can tour Ireland and the UK.

Missing you guys

Dani

 

borough market

I would love to use this blog as a way of keeping you all up-to-date with our travels, but I don’t think it’ll be very up-to-date afterall. I have no good excuses, I am just terribly slack. Instead, just think of it as an electronic, impersonal postcard that may take weeks or months to reach you (sounds great, right?).

Anyways, I will try to post some pics from our European escapades soon, but for now, here are some of my favourite snaps from London’s Borough Market.

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If you love food you will love Borough Market. Everything tastes (and smells) so good. It is a feast for all the senses. It will definitely be a regular destination for me once I’m settled in London.

Camera: Olympus OMD EM5

Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8

Edits: VSCO (on iPad)