“Ciao bella”, “ciao bella” I already miss all the compliments from the friendly and good looking Italians. Sicily is definitely not a bad place to go if you want to travel solo and need some time off. I was determined when I was planning my holiday back to South Italy. Some people told me I shouldn’t go back to Sicily now when me and my ex had broken up, it would just be heartbreaking to go back. Well, my first thought after the break up was “Oh yes, watch me I am still going on holiday!” There was no doubt I still wanted to go, this time just alone! My flight tickets were already bought and I had the holiday off work. Who would say no to a bit of sunshine, sea coast and mountains, good redwine and lovely Italian food anyways?
So I packed my LonelyPlanet South Italy book and Italian phrasebook in my vintage leather weekendbag (you don’t want to bring a bag with wheel to drag in the Italian small streets for your information) together with a bit of clothes for a week and got on my 3h flight from London to Palermo. The holiday already started out quite good with getting invited out for dinner and drinks by the local guys I was sitting next to in the plane. Haha, those Italian men are really not shy! Anyways I had a great first evening and got showed around in the city and funny enough I saw a lot of beautiful buildings like the theatre and some ports that I didn’t even see last time I was in Palermo. After two days in Palermo with visiting a small village outside as well where they had a fun event with car race with old Italian cars I head off to the east coast. At this point I could speak a little (very little!!) Italian and managed to buy my train ticket from Palermo to Taormina all in Italian (the Italian class started to pay off), I was so damn proud of myself and realised that I manage just fine on my own even in a country they don’t speak much English, and I loved showing off my Italian language;)
The east coast was a perfect destination. Taormina was beautiful! It is a small town on the top of the hill so you have a beautiful view over the sea and all the small streets are full of stairs to go anywhere in the town, quite a special charm. However due to low season it was very quiet and a lot of restaurants and bars were closed for the winter which was a shame, also not many other tourists were around. After sightseeing for a day seeing the ruins of the Greek Theatre, the public garden, Piazza IX Aprile, Corso Umberto and Isola Bella I decided to continue my travel and go south to Catania.
Catania is a fantastic city, it is a big city but a lot of charm and again it was just beautiful. You still have a lot of the small typical Italian streets full of plants and with all the small restaurants and cafés and then the main squares and big shopping streets. It was just perfect for me as a solo traveller. I was staying at a B&B close to Piazza Duomo with the impressive cathedral and fountain dell’Elefante, I furthermore visited the park Maestranze and the teatre Massimo Bellini. In night time I went to Agorá bar which is very popular among the locals as well as tourists and it has a cool vibe, live music and very crowded every night, full of young happy people. The drinks are cheap and before you know it the clock is 3am in the morning. Definitely a visit worth, but for your info you need a table, just ask for one and you can have a drink while waiting about 20-30 minutes for a table.
I had some fun days and nights in Catania and booked a day trip to Mt Etna through Etna Sicily Touring, I can highly recommend them, it was not expensive, we travelled in a small group in a 4W car and the guide was great telling us all about Mt Etnas and “her” history. It was fantastic to see the volcano and walk around one of the craters even though all covered in snow on the day I went up there, I definitely want to come back in the spring or summer time to see some of the lava and see the scenic changes.
I was really sad to leave after a week, I could easily have stayed another week or two. The locals are so friendly and chatty and the food is inexpensive and delicious not to mentioned all the wine;) It was easy and safe to travel alone though quite a lot of attention as blond girl;) Sicily will always have a special place in my heart and I will come back for sure.
There I was all alone and abandoned in another city just dumped by my boyfriend like I was some garbage and then waiting for a bus so I could get home and cry.
Now when I look back I remember when I started seeing this Italian guy that I thought it was never going to work, we seemed so different both with culture and personality and ambitions in life, but sometimes you let your heart decide and give it a chance. Seven months later it turned out I was right; he decided that I was not the right girl and he dumped me…. at the train station when we came back from holiday.
I was so upset and suddenly felt very alone for the first time in a while. My head was full of questions and my heart of anger and sadness. How could any person just leave their loved ones in such a disrespectful way at a station and with so little words and without caring for the other person’s feelings or situation of getting home. It is hard with break ups when you live abroad or travelling – your really close friends are so far away and you feel an emptiness on a totally different level that is hard to describe.
I decided not to be embarrassed about the whole situation but be angry and sad instead and when everybody back at work and my friends asked me how my holiday had been I answered openly and honest and it actually felt as a relief to be able to do that. I didn’t have to hide my feelings and I could share the breakup with colleagues and friends. It was so lovely to feel all the care and support from them and that was exactly what I needed. After a week I sent him a message explaining how I felt he had treated me, not really to throw mud but to let the anger off my chest and to get a proper closure.
Now I am listening to myself and focusing more on my own plans and ideas and it feels free not to have to involve another person but just listen to my own heart and mind and what I want to do. I am happy again and excited about all my travel plans and changes in 2017. I can feel it is gonna be a great year and I am full of positive energy again.
So we did it again! Just taking off in the campervan, this time without doing much preparation (I remembered the tea this time though), but with our new brilliant guidebook AA’s “The Caravan & Camping guide 2017”, which has loads of camping spots all over UK
for our little campervan. I was working Friday so we had a good sleep in Saturday morning and my boyfriend picked a beautiful city for our weekend Christmas adventure 1.5h drive from here – Lincoln! We showed up at a campsite that was open this time of year located just outside Lincoln and to our surprise it was really beautiful and the owner was friendly and helpful. We had a perfect spot for the night next to a lake with company of the ducks and close to the bathroom and water taps. We had an amazing night out in Lincoln with dinner and mulled wine in a cozy pub, really a perfect atmosphere and then a good night in the campervan with the heater on. On the Sunday we had time for some Christmas shopping and visiting antique – and vintage shops before heading back home. It is a beautiful city and great weekend out, so if you haven’t visited Lincoln yet it is definitely a visit worth.
I love this new life style, it is so free and I can’t wait for all the future adventures with the campervan! I am in love!
The campervan aka Vituzzu was packed with sleeping bag,
blankets, road map, an electric heater, coffee, cocoa, redwine and food when we headed off to Peak District National Park in Mid England. We actually hadn’t planned much, but looked at some walking paths in the national park and found a camping place nearby. We arrived in the afternoon and after celebrating our first trip out with Vituzzu with a cup of wine (yes wine in a camping plastic cup) we walked down to the local pub and ended up staying there in front of the fire for 4 hours chatting with some lovely campers. I luckily remembered to bring a flash light to make our 10 minutes walk back again to the campsite later that night. It was brilliant at the campsite, we got electric heater in the campervan to keep us all warm and cozy in the evening and in the night when lying there in the sleeping bag talking and smiling about life. When we woke up we could make fresh coffee in the little kitchen and then we left the place to go trekking in the hills. It was so beautiful, we never really found the route we had planned but ended up just going free style and walking up the hill and around on the top and coming back down again further along the valley following the river back. It was a perfect weekend out and amazing atmosphere with camping in the campervan and hanging out at the pub in the evening. Good combination of trekking in the nature, being cozy in the campervan drinking redwine and visiting the pub <3 We will definitely be back out soon again.
It was pissing down rain when we headed off early Saturday morning from Mansfield but started to clear up when we arrived hours later in the small town Knighton in mid Wales. I used to live in Knighton when I first moved over to UK. Everything looked the same; the clock tower in the middle with the red telephone box next to it and the little Saturday farm market with homemade pesto and pâté at the community centre. After visiting the little market and buying some tasty stuff for our picnic we went to the local pub for a pint of beer and game of pool. Later in the afternoon we left Knighton hitting the mountain road through Elan Valley and following a scenic drive in the hills with plenty of sheep. We ended in Aberystwyth in the evening, which is a beautiful town at the coast with a promenade along the beach. We walked down the promenade holding hands and listening to the sea. For dinner we found a mediterranean restaurant with great food and afterwards a wine bar to celebrate love and freedom.
It was perfect! We stayed at a B&B that night and next morning we walked around in the town enjoying the beautiful view of the beach and collecting few little stones before heading back to Nottinghamshire in England. It was such a fantastic weekend, full of love and beautiful scenery.
I cannot wait for our next little weekend trip which is going to Peak District National Park in England.
Finally I was going to London to see the girls back from university. Some of them I had not seen for a year and I really missed them all.
It was a great idea to meet up in London, easy for everyone with cheap flights and just spending a little weekend together the six of us. It was really what I needed, seeing the girls again and talk about everything and falling asleep in our bunk beds while girl talking. It’s quite expensive to stay in London, so we stayed in a simple hotel downtown to keep it cheap, it was clean and worked just fine. Friday night when we arrived we wandered around a bit on Oxford street and found a small Italian restaurant on one of the smaller side streets, a tip for future would be to book table the first night out, we spent some time on finding a place because since it was Friday most places were full and it was difficult to get a table.
Our weekend turned out great. London is a fantastic city with its diversity and offering a lot of good pubs, restaurants, markets and shopping streets.
We quickly agreed to just skip all the sights – we have all seen them by now and we just wanted to spend more time being cozy in the pubs and cafés and shopping. I love the markets, you find a lot of small stalls with unique things from different unknown designers, a lot of the stuff pretty cool and if I had more money I would definitely have bought lots more! While in London I visited Covent garden market, Old Spitalfields market, and Brick Lane market. Great markets with a bit of everything! I bought few unique jewelry – ring, necklaces and ear rings, vintage dress, small gifts and a bag. There were these cool lamps as well and a girl who made some funky holders with air plants which I loved! but I resisted my temptation and tried to keep my shopping under control;)
For your inspiration I have made a little list of markets where you can get great food, vintage clothes, gifts, antiques, stuff from local designer, and accessories. Most markets have their own website now so check it out and make sure you get the chance to go to some of them next time you visit London: Old Spitalfields market , Covent Garden market, Brick Lane market, Borough market, Brixton market, Camden market, Portobello road market, and Greenwich market. I am sure there are plenty more markets, so check out what kind of market you would like to go to.
We had a lovely time in London and the time just flew. I went back to the little town I live in by bus from London – a 4 hour drive Sunday evening and God what a contrast to get back to the boring town compared to the exciting life in London and the buzz of the big city. I already miss London and the lovely girls.
See you soon again London baby!
This weekend I visited my partner’s new place, he moved together with some friends to a city an hours drive away. I was excited to go but really knackered after work Friday and when I arrived to the house one of the roomies had a party, they had a lot of fun but with the feeling of just wanting to go to bed it was a bit difficult to fit in at first. Luckily I had the whole weekend to get to know the others and they are really cool people. We went out for few drinks at a pub in the city and the dj played all the good old classics you can dance to so suddenly my post-work grumpiness was all gone and I had a good laugh.
The next day we went out for a walk in Peak District National Park
which is literally on the door step!
I absolutely love that area, there are so many great walks on public pathways that takes you through farms, along rivers and up on small peaks with great views.
I love the colours of the trees in the autumn and I couldn’t help myself collecting some chestnuts (conkers)
for making small animals later when back in the warm house after walking in the cold but sunny October weather. It’s something we always did when I was a child and I really like keeping some of the small funny traditions and maybe pass some of that on to other cultures.
Have you ever been ill when you have been out travelling or lived abroad? I still see myself as quite lucky, I have only been sick few times and never anything more serious. Today I had to call in sick at work due to fever and stomach cramps, it’s a bit shit when you live abroad and your mum is not around to come over with some soup, but it made be think of worse times when I have been sick travelling alone. It is one of the most depressing things of travelling alone, you really feel all alone, so I have decided to share these stories and give some tips if or when illness hits you.
First remind yourself that you will eventually get through it, there is an end to it and there will always be people around you to help so don’t be shy to ask for help. It still makes me laugh to think of a mild food poisoning I got on a bus on route from Vietnam to Laos in 2013 which actually was a beginning of new friendships. I had only chatted a bit with the other passengers on the bus but did not know them well at all, when I started to feel sick and it was pretty embarrassing when the bus had to stop so I could get out and vomit up the lunch we just had few hours earlier. Most of them thought it was motion sickness, but I know my body and I could tell it was not! Just 30 minutes later one of the other guys also started to vomit. Of course it was not funny, but I felt better after the lunch was out of the system and it was kind of comforting I was not the only one. It made us start talking and making jokes and we all ended up becoming friends and spending a great time together in Laos and the lovely couple who gave me a chewing gum are still really good friends of mine today;)
One of my worse experiences was in 2014 when I was in Tanzania to conduct a study and I got food poisoning with E. Coli. I was in bed for a week and hardly couldn’t stand on my feet because I got weak and my legs were shaking. When shit like that happens prepare yourself a bit and contact your travel insurance to ask for advice and where to go see a doctor in case it gets worse. I was in contact with a doctor through my insurance and they gave me advice, I got antibiotics and knew where to go for further help in case of the worse. The hotel staff knew something was wrong since they hadn’t seen much of me and they came to my room and asked how I was. I told them the truth and they were so kind to bring me plenty of bottled water (and toilet paper;)) and a bit of food every morning to my room and check up on me and after a week with their support I was back on my feet and full of will to continue my travel.
Illness can also hit you when living abroad so when you move to another country always make yourself familiar with the emergency number and the number for the out of hours doctor in case you need it.
Here comes my scariest experience of being abroad. Few weeks ago I suddenly got a chest pain and I must admit it scared the hell out of me! Here I was, all alone in another country and no one to calm me down and tell me everything was gonna be alright. Since the chest pain was still there after 15 minutes I rang the out of hours doctor who assessed me and sent me straight to the hospital. Chest pain is one of the more serious conditions and you go to the emergency. To be totally honest I started crying when I arrived the emergency room, not because of the pain but because I was terrified of what was going on. I skipped all people in the waiting room and within few minutes of arrival I had an ECG attached to me and blood pressure measured. I was so relieved to hear that it all looked normal and later the pain started to go away and the doctor explained it was likely to have been a pleuritic rub that can randomly happen for young healthy people like me. I was a bit in shock still the day after but I was so pleased to know that when you get ill there is still someone to look after you and take care of you even though you are living abroad or travelling alone.
So don’t let these stories hold you back, just be prepared that it could happen to you and make yourself familiar with insurance contacts and emergency phone numbers and write them down before you go. Also you might find imodium, pain relief and toilet paper together with few words in the local language (pain, vomit, diarrhea, blood, dizzy/fainting, difficult breathing) to describe what is wrong quite handy:)
Have a safe journey, now I will treat myself with a cup of tea.