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The Marvel of Marvão

By on May 16, 2014 in Europe, Travel | 1 comment

I pulled the car into a parking space with a jolt. Laid out before me was the most magnificent view: a patchwork of green hills, dusky mountains meeting a cheerful blue sky, the afternoon sun illuminating vineyards and whitewashed houses with a flattering golden hue. Somewhere lay the invisible border, dividing this harmonious landscape into part-Portugal, part-Spain.  It was the kind of view to be savoured, gasped over, truly and deeply appreciated. But I couldn’t really process it; not at that precise moment. My only thought was: ‘I can’t drive through that!’ ‘That’ was a set of quaintly narrow archways set into the medieval stone walls which encircled the town of Marvão. My car was on the small side, and I had just watched two cars emerge from the town, unscathed. It’s just that my nerves were a little shot after being tailgated around hairpin bends by an impatient idiot, and I knew...

The Truth of Solo Travel

By on Dec 5, 2011 in Uncategorized | 22 comments

Telling people I spent four months travelling solo in South America prompted a range of reactions and quite a few misconceptions. But what surprised and even saddened me was the number of people who said: “Oh, I could never do that. I wouldn’t be brave enough.” This genuinely seems to be holding people back from embarking on solo travel – they miss out on amazing travel opportunities because they are frightened of going alone. Now, solo travel is by no means an obligation, but neither should it be feared. So, here’s the truth of solo travel, at least the way I see it. “You must be so brave” Not really. Stubborn, yes. Determined that I wouldn’t miss out on a great experience just because it meant going solo, yes. But the truth is, I was terrified in the few days before I left the country. I wondered what the hell I was doing, whether I...

Spontaneity and dessert – my travel indulgences

By on Jun 8, 2011 in Uncategorized | 9 comments

This post is part of the TravelBelles´ Across the Cafe Table feature! Visit the TravelBelles site to see more. For me, a new place means a chance to do things I wouldn´t normally do. When I´m travelling, I feel free. Nobody knows me, I´m thousands of miles from home, and I want to make every travel experience incredible. So I do things I wouldn´t normally do, I eat things I deny myself at home, I go with my instincts, I´m spontaneous. After all, what´s stopping me? OK, so that dessert may be more calories than is really necessary, but I know that tomorrow I´ll be outside, walking the streets of a city, hiking in the mountains, maybe even paragliding or kayaking, so I´m sure to burn them off. I allow myself the time to really explore a place, to really look, to appreciate what is beautiful and wonderful, rather than just rushing around to get all the sites in the guidebook ticked off. I...

Paddington Bear goes Home

By on May 30, 2011 in Uncategorized | 8 comments

So this is it, my last day in England. Tomorrow, I’m going to Peru, and a certain little bear is coming with me.He’s been living in London for over 50 years, but apparently he’s bored of the expat life, so I made a trip to Paddington Station, picked him up and I’m taking him home. Paddington is known for getting up to all kinds of mischief, so who knows what adventures we will have together?! Our first stop, just for a night, is Lima, where we will recover from our jetlag before boarding an overnight bus to Huaraz. Here, we’re going to live the local life, I hope Paddington can teach me a bit about the customs and culture. We’ll live with a family and every day Paddington will help me teach English at a primary school. He’s pretty fluent nowadays. It’s taken all day to pack – Paddington only has a tiny suitcase so he was ok, but as...

Planning the adventure of a lifetime

By on May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

…with very little time and on a shoestring budget! You’re probably sick of me banging on about it, but in four weeks’ time, I will be starting a four-month adventure in South America. Although I have been wanting to go for a long time, I only started planning this trip last month. Compared to a week ago (Preparations of a Novice Backpacker) I am feeling remarkably Zen about it all. I understand that doing everything at the last minute might not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s not always a choice, and I can show you that it is at least possible! So here, in my view, are the things that are important to sort out in advance, and those which you don’t need to worry about. 1. Work/Volunteer Placements If you plan to combine your travel with work or volunteering, if it’s more than casual work, get this sorted first. I especially feel strongly...

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