Spontaneous Short Breaks

It’s that time of year when people are rushing to book their August summer holidays, frowning over brochures and having heated discussions with friends about how many days to go for and whether it should be all-inclusive. People talk of the stress of it all, trying to find the best place at the best price, with a group of people that all get along on dates that everyone can do. I have to say, I find it a rather odd phenomenon. After all, the point of a holiday is to relax, is it not? So why create more stress around it? I have never planned a holiday like that and I can’t imagine ever doing so – I currently have no idea what I will be doing in August or where I will be going – and that’s just fine by me. Whether the trip is long or short, spontaneity is the name of the game and th0ugh I love poring over maps, guidebooks and travel photos with a glass of wine in hand, dreaming about possible trips, firm plans don’t happen until the last minute – if at all! I think the power of spontaneous travel is actually strongest for short breaks. If you’ve planned a weekend away in serious detail for months on end, those two or three days are likely to fly by or worse – be full of disappointment because the reality cannot hope to live up to your imaginings. Compare that to the tantalizing feeling that makes your fingers and toes tingle with anticipation if you decide, on a whim,  just to take off...

Photo Friday: Sunday in La Paz

It’s Photo Friday, but we’re looking ahead to the weekend! Sticking with our theme of Cities & Culture, but in complete contrast to last week’s image, we’re heading to the heart of South America… Cities may be thought of in terms of things – buildings, museums, restaurants, shops – but the most exhilirating thing about cities are their people. Whether you’re joining locals at a big event, mingling with Saturday shopping crowds, haggling with stall-holders at markets, or simply people-watching from a cafe, it is the people that will make  it a vibrant and exciting place to be. And on those stakes, La Paz, Bolivia, certainly does well. This was just an average Sunday, the streets taken over by a parade – no reasons, no rules, no regulations, just a mass of people coming together to celebrate life. Which city would you reccomend for a...

The Story of Starry-Eyed Travels

It’s just a few days to Christmas; the presents are wrapped, the preparations are almost done. It’s time to take a breath, calm the already fraying nerves and reflect on the year gone by. So I thought I’d take a moment to write a Christmas message to you. Considering where I was this time last year, it’s hard to believe everything that’s happened in the intervening months. Starry-Eyed Travels didn’t exist – it was not even a twinkle. But last Christmas, I was, in a roundabout way, given the gift of a year. One year, to do absolutely anything I wanted with my life. More than anything, I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to travel. The logical step seemed to be travel-writing, so in January, I ventured a couple of articles to Kash at Europe Budget Guide and Margo at the Travel Belles. I fired off those emails in a tentative, nervous tone and waited for a response. I was hoping that my pieces might be published; what I got was far more than that. Both Kash and Margo turned out to be incredible mentors and dear friends – two entirely different people, but with equal measures of boundless energy, unsurpassed knowledge and a desire to help others succeed. I don’t know if it was luck or fate that practically the first pieces of travel-writing I ever did landed in their inboxes, but I can’t express how glad I am that they did. So I refined my craft, developed my knowledge around my new field of work and found my voice. Starry-Eyed Travels launched in April...

Starry-Eyed Readers at Christmas

Yesterday you heard from the Starry-Eyed Writers; today it’s the turn of a few of the readers. Since you’re reading this, you’re also one of the gang, so add your comments below! The Starry-Eyed Travellers: Iain:Iain Mallory: The legend that is Mallory On Travel. Kate O’Grady: The Accidental Pilgrim falling in love with South Korea Kate Turner: The Brit who’s taking a break from being abroad and currently eating Oxford. Krista Bjorn: The Rambling Tart building a beautiful life. Nerea Prieto de Apraiz: The Spanish chocolate connoisseur supreme.   The Questions: 1. What was your best travel moment this year? Krista: Being adopted by the owners of a bed and breakfast I stayed at on the island of Gozo. Kate T: Going to Switzerland for lunch with the lovely Travel Belles ladies was a definite highlight – it was my first time in Switzerland, and I never thought I’d be able to say I’d popped over to another country just for lunch! The best part was the journey though: a slow climb through the mountains by train, and a leisurely journey back to Italy by boat  – with the bonus of great company. Iain: Visiting Meteora was very special for me, as I have always wanted to visit, but my first-ever press trip which was to the French Midi-Pyrenees probably tops the lot. Nerea: There were beautiful moments during my trip to Perú. One of the most moving was talking to Andrés, a 12 year old orphan kid, in the lodging we stayed in the Valle del Colca. He was living with the owner´s family and had plans to study to...

Joie de Vivre: Finding happiness on a windowsill

The theme I’ve asked guest-bloggers to write about is a travel moment or experience when they felt starry-eyed, to capture the spirit of the site. So I thought I’d kick off proceedings with a starry-eyed moment of my own. “Have you finished with the straighteners yet?” I went through to Fiona’s room, straighteners in hand, still hot. As she plugged them in and moved in front of the mirror, I sat on the bed and scrolled through her itunes, looking for some appropriate going-out music. I forget the exact song now, but knowing Fiona’s playlist, it was probably some 80s rock. David Bowie, maybe. Fiona finished doing her hair and left the room. She returned a few minutes later with two wine glasses and a bottle of a local red. “Wine?” she asked, with a mischevious glint in her eye. “As if I’d say no!” She filled the glasses and passed one to me. We sat on the broad windowsill and pushed the windows open further, leaning out. It was October, but here the temperatures were still balmy and the evening air was pleasantly refreshing on my skin. I looked out across the rooftops, staggered sets of terracotta tiles. Some had the green tendrils of some climbing plant or other clinging to chimney pots, reaching towards the sky. The shoe which had inexplicably been on one roof for several days was still there. The sky was turning a velvelty blue, still tinged with the pinks and yellows of the setting sun. We sipped the wine, looking at each other and giggling as we swirled it around the glass and...
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