Getting Perspective

So it has been almost a month now since I returned home from my European adventure. And as I sit here looking at my many photos, I wish I had the money to go back. Unfortunately, it may be at least a year until I could possible travel again, so instead I am blogging to you.

My trip covered London, parts of Scotland, Paris, Nice, Monaco, Venice, Florence and Rome. And of all those places [and my Mum said I would] I fell in love with London. Now, I have always talked about moving overseas one day, but to Los Angeles or New York. However, I have made up my mind, and now want to live in London. I think it is because I felt at home there. So let’s start there [never mind about saving the best to last].

What is there to do in London… A lot! London is an amazing city. There is just so much for you to do and see [very different to ye ol’ Brisvegas]. The one thing that draws me to this city is the public transport. Nothing like what we have here at home. Firstly, the underground. One word. Awesome. It makes it so easy to travel around the city. All you need is an Oyster card [like a Brisbane GoCard] and your good to go. I have a terrible sense of direction but when it came to using the underground, I rocked! The map is so easy to follow, I felt I could take on the city [HaHa].

Now in London the one thing I was most excited about was the shopping. So with my Oyster card [and map] in hand my sister and I traveled to Oxford St. This is heaven for all shopaholics. In Brisbane we don’t have TopShop or Zara [yet] so this was a dream come true. My sister and I spent two full hours just in TopShop [four levels of fashion bliss] where I managed to leave a small dint in my holiday savings. We even went back for more a couple of days later. Oxford St has a lot more than just TopShop and Zara there is a wide array of fantastic fashion outlets to indulge your addition.

Of course there is a lot of site seeing also to be done in London. Places that I recommend you visit are; Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard, Westminster Abbey [where Will and Kate got married], Madame Tussauds [the most fun ever], Big Ben, the London Eye, West End [see a play or a musical, we saw Wicked], Soho [for some trendy drinks], London Bridge, the Tower of London [to see the Queens jewels], Hyde Park, Trafaglar Square, the Royal Mews, Abbey Road, and Windsor Castle. We also visited Bath which is just outside London, to see the Roman Baths and we visited Stonehenge, something I was really looking forward to seeing and well worth it.

London also has a great night life. No matter what day of the week it  is people are always crowding pubs and having a drink.

While there is a lot of fun stuff to do in London, Edinburgh [Scotland] is also an exciting city to visit. Edinburgh is full of history [just like most places in Europe and the UK]. One thing thing I recommend doing is walking the Royal Mile. At one end of the Royal Mile sits Holyrood Palace [where the Queen was currently staying during our visit to Scotland] and at the other end sits Edinburgh Castle, where you can do a tour. You can also visit the Scottish Parliament on the Royal Mile. There are many great souvenir shops, pubs and shops.  The scenery is also quiet spectacular.

While in Edinburgh we visited the Royal Britannia [the Queens old boat]. Although you may think this sounds boring, the audio tour was great. In fact, of all the tours we did, it was one of my favourites.

While is Scotland we hired a car and drove all the way up to the Sutherland highlands [to visit the family castle] Dunrobin Castle in Golspie, Sutherland. We also visited Loch Ness in search of the Loch Ness monster and Balmoral Castle.  

I thoroughly enjoyed Scotland. It is a beautiful place to visit and like London the night life is quite good.

Off to Europe now, first stop Paris. We traveled from London to Paris via the Eurostar [the train which goes under water]. Probably the easiest way to travel. From memory I think it took about two hours. France is the first place I have ever visited where English is not the first language, so I had been brushing up on some of my high-school French. I had heard some nasty stories about the French people and how they treated foreigners who couldn’t speak the language. However, this is all hearsay [or someone’s one-off bad experience]. I found the French lovely and helpful. If you greeted them with a Bonjour and a smile [they always knew you weren’t French] they would happily help or serve you.

So while in France we visited the city of love… Paris, where there is much to see and eat. While I didn’t actually try any frogs legs or snails, I did enjoy the most amazing chocolate eclair and some macaroons [to die for]. In Paris you must visit The Louvre [to see the Mona Lisa], the Arch de Triumph, Nortre Dame, Chans de Lise, the Moulin Rouge and there is somewhere else too… oh yeah, the Eiffel Tower. We also visited the site of Princess Diana’s car crash and did a cruise of the Seine river.

In Paris there are lots of vintage stores and high end shopping, so make sure you have your credit card on you. While in Paris it was Bastille Day so a few friends and I enjoyed a picnic under the Eiffel Tower to celebrate. It is one of the highlights of my trip. A memory I will cherish forever.

Nice is nice. It really is. Living in Australia you have seen your fair share of amazing beaches but Nice definitely has some good ones. While they don’t really have sand [they say pebbles, I would say rocks] the water is clear and beautiful. 

While in Nice we visited Monaco [where the wealthy live]. Now that is a place to see. Monaco is where the famous Monte Carlo Casino is and where the rich turn up in their expensive cars to play. There are some amazing views of the water and city to be seen here.

From Nice we headed by train to Italy. One thing about the train. The French and English are organised, the Italians are not. Expect delays when travel via train, to or around Italy.

Venice is a magical place, it is nothing like any other place in the world. There are no cars or buses. Everyone travels by boat from island to island. In Venice we had a gondola ride [with champagne, very romantic] and visited the surrounding islands. We visited many of the churches and museums. Venice is a great place to relax and get lost in.

After two nights in Venice we traveled by bus to Florence. The one thing I enjoyed most about Florence was the markets. I managed to find an amazing leather handbag [of the Hermes Birkin persuasion] for only $60 AUD. I also found some lovely jewellery and some great souvenirs. In Florence they worship Michelangelo [the artist] so it is very important to go see the Statue of David at the Galleria dell’ Accademia. You will see a lot of fake David statues around the city, but nothing compares to the real thing. If you love art, this is a must see.

While in Florence we also visited Pisa and Tuscany where we enjoyed a Tuscan dinner at a winery. Of course Pisa was great to see. You don’t really realise how leaning the tower is until you see it in person. Also another great photo opportunity.

 From Florence we traveled by bus to Rome [it was supposed to be by train but there was a strike. Apparently not unusual in Italy]. And in Rome you do what the Romans do. Eat pizza, pasta and drink wine. Rome is a city so full of history [something I love]. Every building has a story and everything is so old, it is astonishing.

When in Rome you must visit the Colosseum, Vatican City, St Paul’s Basilica, the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain. Rome is a beautiful place to walk around and get lost in. Have lunch by a fountain and take in the city.

As you can tell now there is a lot to see and do in Europe and the UK, even more than what I have shared with you here. From my experience I feel like I have learned so much and gained a whole new perspective.

So if you haven’t been already, I suggest you start planning now. It will be an experience of a life time. And one thing is for sure, when you get home, you will only want to turn around a go back. So save your pennies and have your own European adventure.

-J

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