Category Archives: Travel

My travels across the UK and abroad, plus everything that comes with my adventures.

Tasmania | Exploring the East Coast and Wineglass Bay | Australia

IMG_2304The Great Eastern Drive is one of the absolute highlights of travelling Tasmania – travellers come from far and wide to witness the incredible natural beauty of the East Coast. While you may have already read about how I planned my Tasmanian road trip and the highlights here – I thought it would be good to show you in more detail some of the amazing sights and experiences you’ll find along the way. This beautiful drive is one of the best road trips I have ever done, taking you through sleepy little towns, rolling countryside and pristine empty beaches with no-one but the kangaroos and wallabies to disturb you. If you’re looking to get lost in Australia’s best kept secret, you’re in the right place.IMG_2357

Hobart

Starting in Hobart, there is around 200km of spectacular scenery lying ahead of you so once you’ve seen the sights and experienced the cute little port town, you’ll be keen to get on the road. Check out my guide to the sights of Hobart here. I planned my trip according to the booklet available from the tourist information centre – 60 Great Short Walks – which is also available as an app and contains all the information in terms of locations, difficulty of the walks, national parks information and even what to take with you.IMG_2359

Tasman National Park

Not far out of Hobart, the first of many incredible national parks will take you round the Tasman coastline through Waterfall and Bivouac Bays. With opportunities to spot dolphins and seals in the glittering waters, and bright white sands lining the plummeting cliffs, this makes for dramatic scenery. You can walk for anything from one hour to five along this route by hugging the coastline and making your way around the bays, in the sunshine it’s well worth a walk.IMG_2380

Freycinet National Park

Wineglass Bay

The highlight of the East Coast – the sparkling gem in the crown of Tasmania – Freycinet National Park is famous as the home of Wineglass Bay and Friendly Beaches. One not to be missed in your East Coast trip, this is where you’ll find the iconic view over what has been voted Tasmania’s best beach. One good tip – if you’re not too scared of heights and fancy a challenge try climbing Mount Amos instead of going to the Wineglass Bay Lookout. It stands about 200ft higher and is perfect for adventurous bushwalkers – just be aware that this route involves slippery rock scrambling and shouldn’t be attempted in wet weather.IMG_2310

Friendly Beaches

One of my favourite campsites in the whole world – this one is perfect for any nature lovers out there. While the campsites may have very basic amenities with just toilets there, they have a whole lot more to offer travellers. This most eastern point of the island is perfect for witnessing an incredible sunrise out on the beach as you camp just a few metres back. Spend an afternoon wandering the shores of the beaches and spot countless whales migrating over November/December – we watched for hours as they jumped and dived through the waves. Around the campsite, you’ll be sheltered by the bushes from the wind and can look forward to spending a night with some of Australia’s finest – wombats and wallabies fill the campsite so be sure to take a flashlight for after dark. Don’t feed the animals and make sure to store any rubbish inside the car, but enjoy the moments when the tame creatures will walk right up to you with baby wallabies in their pouch. Absolutely incredible.IMG_2382

Douglas-Apsley National Park

Fancy another stop off? Check out Apsley River Waterhole and Gorge for a nice three hour walk that will take you through forest and along the rivers to the gorge. A good place to spot an endangered native fish called the Australian Grayling.

Mount William National Park & Bay of Fires

Don’t forget to stop at the Bay of Fires to marvel at the contrast between the crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches and orange lichen-covered granite boulders. Stretching from Binalong Bay up to Eddystone Point and the beginnings of the national park, there are countless beaches, inlets and gullies to explore at your own pace. Perfect for surfing, snorkelling, swimming and just relaxing between locations.IMG_2306


After this, head inland across the North of Tasmania to explore the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail to experience the finest food and wine the island has to offer. The North-West is crammed full of local producers of wine, cheese, chocolate, beer, meat and much more.  With over 40 businesses included in the Tasting Trail, there are plenty of  tours, tastings and much more available along the way. Follow the signs and pick up a brochure along the way for a guide, there are also various itineraries available for those who prefer to focus on wineries or food producers.

Planning a trip across Tasmania? Check out my road trip planning guide here and keep an eye out for my upcoming post on highlights of Tasmania’s West Coast.

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Travel | Planning my ultimate West Coast road trip adventure | Australia

imageI’m standing on the cusp of my next big adventure. Currently sitting in a cafe in the tiny port town of Fremantle, Perth, I’m making plans for the trip I’ve been looking forward to for the whole 18 months I’ve spent in Australia. For a long time I’ve dreamt of living that traveller dream of picking up and taking off into the sunset in a van with nothing but weeks of sandy toes and star-filled skies ahead of you. Tasmania was just a teaser for what lay ahead, read all about my road trip in the Tasmanian wilderness here. Now I’m waiting for the real thing – the camp fires on the beach, the endless sunsets and sunrises, the surfing and snorkelling, the ciders and the smiles.

East Coast has so much to offer in terms of exciting trips, parties and fun, but if you ask me, travelling is about getting lost and discovering something you never expected. That’s what I want right now, I’ve spent so long working away and biding my time until I saved enough money, I’ve spent so long stuck in the same place and dreaming of everywhere else. But now I’m well and truly ready to get lost, to spend my days on the beach watching the salt of the ocean dry on my skin. Yesterday was an unusually warm day for Fremantle and I spent the whole of it on the beach drinking ciders in the sunshine and playing in the waves. It was a taste of what my life could be for the next few weeks and it got me more excited than ever to be on the road again.image

How to plan a West Coast road trip:

Distance/Time

It can seem a little daunting to plan a trip for such a huge distance – don’t forget Australia’s West Coast covers 3-4,000km depending on where you start and stop. My plan is to start from Fremantle in Perth and work my way up to Broome or even possible heading back to Darwin to work. Now I’m pretty flexible thanks to the money I have saved and the time it takes me to do this trip – it could take 2-3 weeks or 2 months for all I care – if I’m enjoying myself I’m happy to take longer to finish the trip. But if you’re not as lucky, you’ll want to work out exactly how much time you have and the driving distances to work out what is realistic in terms of driving and stopping off for sights/hikes/experiences.

Mode of transport

Are you buying a car/hiring a car or jumping in with road trip buddies? Have you plumped for a van, a 4WD or a big car? Are you and your buddies sharing the driving or is one person driving the whole way? Has the vehicle been serviced and checked to ensure it is roadworthy enough for the journey? There are so many questions when it comes to the vehicle – I personally have chosen not to buy a vehicle or hire, instead I’m hunting for road trip buddies who already have everything sorted – less stress and hassle for me in terms of buying/selling or limiting my travel time through hiring. Another option would be checking out camper van conversion kits if you’re hiring a vehicle as these mean the van is fully decked out with everything you could need on arrival – perfect for road tripping all over the globe.image

Equipment

You’ll want to think of everything before you leave otherwise you could be stranded in the outback without a key item. Make sure you have good camping gear if you don’t have a vehicle you can sleep in – a tent and camping stove will come in handy. Things like snorkels, surfboards and anything for fun activities would be great as they’ll be cheaper to buy in a city than they will be to buy/hire along the road. Use your common sense and make sure you have extra containers or water/fuel for when you are in the middle of nowhere.

Trips

Even though it can be hard to plan ahead on a road trip, certain trips and activities you will need to to avoid them behind totally booked up. In this case I’m thinking particularly about swimming with whale sharks up near Exmouth – it’s prime season to see them and I can’t stand the thought of missing out because it’s too busy so this is an important one to book ahead.image

Road trip necessities

Most importantly – make sure you have good road trip buddies to have fun with, a great soundtrack for the road trip and a big smile on your face.imageIf you ask me, road tripping is the perfect way to really see a country. The changing landscapes and the freedom to explore at your own pace are so different to any other form of travel. It’s the company you take with you, the tastes and smells, the music you play along the way – everyone has to admit a road trip stays with you longer than other trips. So if you’re planning a road trip abroad – check out these camper van conversion kits to plan ahead and make your trip the best it can be!

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Melbourne | Getting lost in Wilson’s Promontory National Park | Australia

IMG_2691Spoiler alert: Prepare for stunning images and a serious case of wanderlust!

Ever since the first time I lived in Melbourne, visiting Wilson’s Promontory National Park has been high on my to-do list, sadly working too much got in the way and I had to wait a while year before I would actually get to see this masterpiece of nature. I’ve travelled all over the world and explored countless national parks now, but this one will remain one of my absolute favourites and I can’t wait to share it with you. A perfect city escape for a weekend, you’ll find Wilson’s Prom down on Mornington Peninsula, one of the most beautiful areas of Victoria where you will also find Phillip Island. You’ll need a car to reach it, so if you don’t already have one then hire one with friends – it’s cheap as chips compared to the UK (try Budget, they’re my favourite company to hire with over here). With a small group, the weekend can cost almost nothing once you’ve shared out hire care, fuel and food costs, I think in total I spent about $60-70 for a whole weekend of activities, food and drinks.IMG_2606The drive there takes around three hours so set off early to make the most of the day, you’ll be camping at Tidal River which is a great campsite with bathrooms/showers, barbecues, plenty of spots for your camp (although book before to ensure space during peak season) and all kinds of wildlife wandering around including huge wombats that come right up to you in the evenings. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from a stunning river, marshland and even a beach which is beyond perfection at sunset. Take my advice – head down there at sunset with your gang and a few beers – it’s breathtaking. Once you arrive, best to head straight for the office at the campsite to get your permit and then find a spot to camp – always best to get this done quickly in daylight so you can secure a good spot. If you’re anything like us, we were aiming to be close to the barbecues/toilets but far from families with young children so we wouldn’t disturb anyone later on.IMG_2593

GET HIGH

Once you’ve set up camp, it’s time to start exploring so hopefully the weather is on your side! Wrap up warm and head for Mount Oberon – the summit is the perfect place to get your first impressions of the park and the hike isn’t too tough. It’s around 3.4km on a gravel road at an easy-medium grade uphill – we saw plenty of elderly people and children manage it fine so don’t be put off just be sure to take plenty of water. The climb took us around 40 minutes, for others it took an hour depending on ability, and when you reach the top the view is more than worth it. Prepare for spectacular 360 degree views across three beautiful beaches including the famous Squeaky Beach, and in the other direction the sand dunes. It’s windy at the top so be prepared with layers and make sure you take your camera!IMG_2628

GET LOST

Next up is my favourite part of the trip – the Big Drift sand dunes! Almost at the entrance to the park, you drive along a treelined road almost into the middle of nowhere. Then after parking up, head a bit further on foot before you discover the trail becomes sandier. Climb the steep, sandy hill and you’ll find a little piece of heaven in the rolling, endless sand dunes. Stretching as far as the eye can see, and completely untouched, they warp your sense of distance and perspective in the most magical way. It’s easy to forget the beaches and mountain are just a few kilometres away. Fantastic for photos and exploring, but don’t forget to keep an eye on where you are – it’s easy to get lost and forget the way out of these dunes.IMG_2622

GET BEACHY

Of course you can’t visit Wilson’s Prom without getting up close and personal with some of it’s beautiful beaches. The most well known – Squeaky Beach is beautiful no matter what the weather and the sand really does squeak! Other ones worth visiting are Picnic Bay, Little Oberon Bay and Leonard Bay. If you’re in the mood for beach walks – pick up a great leaflet from the Tidal River campsite offices with a list of the best walks/hikes to do in the national park. They list the gradients/distances/difficulty and what you need to take with you so you can be totally prepared. We would have loved to have done the three bay walk but sadly the weather went crazy and we had bad storms on our second day that prevented us.IMG_2612

GET EXPLORING

Around the campsite alone there are several small walks and beautiful spots to explore before you set up the barbecue. Make sure you take a walk early evening to experience Tidal River campsite in all it’s natural beauty. Stroll along the boardwalk in the shadow of mountains set against the glassy, still waters, walk alongside fields of gold in the setting sun. It’s just beautiful and shouldn’t be missed.IMG_2627 2

And relax…

So after a long day of exploring the park, taking stunning photos, climbing mountains and running around sand dunes – it’s about time for a beer. How about taking that beer to the next level? Fill a bag with drinks and put on your warm layers, then walk through Tidal River campground to Norman Beach, just east of the campground. If you time it right for sunset, you’re in for a spectacular show as the waves roll in towards the beach tinted pink and purple against the setting sun. A perfect place to sit with your very best friends enjoying a beer and with some good music playing in the background. Moments like this are why I came travelling.IMG_2618Make the most of the barbecues and cook up a feast – you’ll all be starving after that day of adventures and then pitch up some seats to sit and enjoy the stars. Hopefully you have a drier night than we did – unfortunately the heavens opened and the campsite flooded that night so we didn’t have much fun packing up the next morning and couldn’t do much in the park the next day. But we were glad we had crammed so much into the first day so we could go home happy. Definitely one of my favourite Melbourne experiences and in my opinion, better than Great Ocean Road/Grampians.

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Lifestyle | On being a bad vegetarian and National Vegetarian Week

IMG_2880There’s probably a lot of people out there who don’t know that these days I eat mostly vegetarian. I don’t shout it from the rooftops like some vegetarians and I don’t take a fuss if meat is put in front of me by an unsuspecting host. I will fully admit now – because I know someone I’ve had burgers with is sure to comment – I am not the world’s best vegetarian. But since this week is National Vegetarian Week, I thought it was a good time to talk about why I have chosen to eat mainly vegetarian and how travel has affected my choice of diet. While many people will focus on how cruel it is to hurt animals and to kill them in order to feed our ever growing obsession with steak – that’s not my reason for choosing to live this way. I don’t dispute it being a good reason, but for me there are just many other important reasons for doing this.

Why am I vegetarian?

It all started when I first went travelling, before I left I was a big meat-eater who loved a steak, but once I discovered the delights of South-East Asian cuisine and their remarkable vegetarian selection, I was sold. A few experiences with some questionable meat and I soon decided to stick purely with the amazingly fresh veggies and tofu – what a discovery! No longer was it the soggy, tasteless meat replacement, but instead a meal all in itself – never have I had tofu as well seasoned, as flavoursome and exciting as I did when I was in Thailand. It really set my tastebuds on fire and made me realise I didn’t really even miss meat when I had such amazing veggie options on offer. The rest of my five months in Asia, I pretty much lived off a diet of veggies, rice, noodles and fruit – and to this day I have never felt healthier, happier or stronger.IMG_2273When I reached Australia I ended up travelling around so much and then working jobs with crazy hours so I never bothered to buy meat to cook in case it just went off and was a waste. Instead I would raid the amazing range of tofu and fresh veggies for healthy meals or salads. I’ve seen a real transformation in my diet over the last three years and it has been a natural transition as I’ve realised what really makes my body feel good and healthy, I don’t need meat to feel strong – I can get my protein elsewhere and I actually prefer the tastes and textures to eating flesh. I feel better for not eating meat – I actually notice the difference immediately after eating a meal with meat and eating a vegetarian meal – meat makes me feel sluggish, bloated and overly full.

But what’s a bad vegetarian?

I will admit that I’m not always religious with my vegetarianism – I do have slip ups and when you’re travelling it’s not always easy to eat as healthily or as strictly as it would be at home. In Melbourne I ate so healthily because I was able to prepare all my own meals but when you’re travelling all the time or have rubbish hostel kitchens to work with it can be more difficult. Check out my top tips for staying fit and healthy when you travel here. Plus there is the fact that I don’t actually dislike meat – I still enjoy the taste and smell of it and if my mates decide to have a barbecue or someone wants to go for a burger or a steak – if I crave it I’ll eat it. So yes, I’m a bad vegetarian and some may even consider me not a vegetarian at all, but I don’t really care. The fact is, I’ve gone from eating meat every day to often not even once a month.FullSizeRender 2

Why should you try this?

It might sound like this is just something I have done purely for my own health reasons, but actually since making this change I’ve done a lot of reading and watched a lot of documentaries about vegetarianism and the environment. I’ve steered clear of the usual “don’t hurt the baby animals” ones and instead looked more at the effect a carnivore diet has on the environment as a whole. If you haven’t watched Cowspiracy (it’s on Netflix) then you should definitely check it out – it is the documentary that has stayed with me the most. This one focuses on the effect farming cows for food has on the environment and particularly on climate change – the facts and figures it offers pretty much shows that farming meat has had much larger effect on global warming than pollution and use of fossil fuels which I find both fascinating and scary. This fact is just brushed under the carpet because of the sheer amount of money the industry makes for the economy and the governments.IMG_2058I’m not proposing any huge move to change the world, but I do think that we as individuals can do small things both to help ourselves and the planet. I personally feel that not eating meat has made me feel much healthier and better in myself, and I also like knowing that I am helping the environment at the same time. I don’t feel guilty if I slip-up and have a bacon sandwich but I do know I won’t do it all the time. Since it’s National Vegetarian Week, I challenge you all to just try it for one week. If you can’t stand the thought of full vegetarianism, why not just cut back on eating meat every day and just have it twice a week? Even that would make a huge difference – not only to your health and the environment, but also to your bank balance. Give it a try, it’s just a week and it could change your life.

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Travel | The frequent traveller’s guide to having a second passport

Frequent TravellersIf you’ve managed to clock up a lot of air mileage over the years – through backpacking or regular holidays – you’ll have come to regard your passport as one of your most treasured possessions. You’ll have had those heart-stopping moments when you misplace it just before a big trip, and you’ll have felt the annoyance when a customs officer wastes a whole page on just one entry stamp. Frequent travellers will know that when you’re traveling between countries constantly, your passport becomes the most important thing you carry, and yet what happens if you have to leave it at an embassy while waiting for visa approval? Holding a second passport could open up a whole new world of free travel unlimited by waiting for visas, to visit various countries usually out of reach and even to new careers.

What is a second British passport?

Well, if you travel the world even half as much as I do, you could easily fit the criteria to apply for a second passport without even knowing. It was only when I did a little research that I found all these amazing ways a second passport could make your travelling life so much easier. Most people don’t even know this service is available and easily accessible to travellers, but Rapid Passports are working to change this.

Available for British travellers, a traveller can now hold two current British passports at the same time to be used simultaneously alongside each other. Both will remain completely unique with no link between each other, and will hold different passport numbers.

Passport Renewal

Pic By King Huang

Why do you need one?

Planning on applying for visas at different embassies at the same time? A second passport is perfect for you and will help speed up the process instead of having to wait for a passport to be returned to apply for the second visa.

Want to travel to conflicting countries? This gives you a bit more freedom to travel without certain stamps holding you back – for example, anyone with an Israeli entry stamp cannot enter Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia.

Plan to work as a pilot, flight attendant or even on an oil rig? You’d be amazed but all of these jobs could require two passports, as could others.

Emigrated or living long term in another country? It might be worth having a back-up passport to leave at home while you are away, or even to carry with you.

And of course, if you travel as much as I do, there is always the chance your passport will get filled up pretty quickly with stamps and you’ll simply need a spare with a bit more space.

Second British Passport

Pic by John Barker

How can it be done?

The best thing about this service is that it’s super easy to organise in a very short space of time. Same day service is available and all that is needed to create the second passport is a photocopy of the original – not even the passport itself!

Considering most people don’t know this service is available – it’s pretty good right? Want to apply for your second British passport – click to apply for Second British Passport.

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Travel | A sharp reminder that not everyone out there is a good person

imageI’ve just arrived in Perth after an amazing week in Adelaide, and although I will be posting all about my time there at a later date, I first wanted to talk about the worst part of my trip. It’s been praying on my mind ever since Saturday night and the more I tell people about what happened, the less I understand how it could possibly have happened. To put it in context, I have travelled all over the world solo to countries considered dangerous and unsafe for a girl to travel by herself. I’ve been stranded at the side of the road in Vietnam and Laos, I’ve been in seemingly dodgy tuk-tuk rides in Thailand and Cambodia, I’ve been lost in Hungary. But not once have I ever felt so unsafe in the middle of a city in a Westernised country, surrounded by people and with police patrolling the streets.

So what happened?

I was visiting a good friend of mine, who I met when I was in Asia, but sadly he had to work all week. Our one time to really hang out was Saturday night when we went out for dinner and drinks with his friends, and the Sunday when we had planned to go on a tour of the wineries. We went out for dinner as planned and then had drinks and found a place we could have a dance, eventually we all decided to call it a night. We didn’t want to be too wrecked for the next day so we decided to get a taxi home, on the way my friend wanted to show me Adelaide Oval so we took a detour to the taxi rank. As soon as we wandered down the side street, three lads looked over and shouted “slut” at me, naturally my friend told them to leave me alone.

You would have thought that would be the end of it since they were just teenagers, but if anything it spurred them on. Suddenly, all three of them launched themselves at us. My friend pushed me out of the way and I hit the deck, but all of them, plus another five lads who appeared out of nowhere went for him. Now my friend is probably around twice or three times my bodyweight, he’s a wall of pure muscle and soon to be a personal trainer. He’s not someone you pick a fight with, but when you’re drunk and eight guys attack you out of nowhere, there’s little you can do to stop them. After they all threw their punches and ran off, he was left with a huge lump on his head, a busted nose with blood pouring all over his clothes and the street, swollen lips and cuts and scratches. It was horrible.image

But the worst thing?

I can appreciate that it all happened so quickly that perhaps people didn’t have time to react, but not one single person tried to jump in and help. Not one except me, I’m sure I would have just ended up hurt too so it’s probably a good thing a guy dragged me back, but at least my basic instinct was to help someone who was in danger. Afterwards, I took my friend across the street to get help, I walked into a shop to ask if the guy in there had any tissues or could help at all. He just looked at me like I was crazy and told me I could buy a packet of tissues. If this is the reaction a girl covered in blood gets on a Saturday night, it’s disgusting. I managed to steal tissues from a takeaway in the end and then on our way to jump into a taxi, I saw the police.

I headed across the road to tell them what had happened and they proceeded to interview my friend, despite the fact that he had no idea what had happened. They wouldn’t listen to what I had seen as a witness, we had to force them to listen when I could identify one of the lads who attacked my friend. It was terrible to see firsthand how little the police really care in Australia when it comes to a brutal attack like that on a busy street with witnesses everywhere, compared to traffic policing. It didn’t even seem to matter that much to the police that several other people were attacked immediately after, the lads went on a rampage up the street beating up three guys in suits, and several other small groups further along. It was clear they were just out to hurt people that night, it didn’t matter about race, gender or sexuality for once, but it did matter if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.image

So why am I writing about this?

Therapy mainly, this is my way of making peace with the incident even though I’m still really upset that this could happen in the middle of a well-policed Australian city. It was the most brutal, vicious, nasty attack I have seen firsthand, done in cold blood and for the stupidest reason. My friend was beaten to a pulp for trying to protect me from being verbally abused, he poured blood on the street because he was a gentleman and a good person. He is the kind of person who wouldn’t hurt a fly despite being more than capable, and it makes me incredible sad to think there are people out there who would take advantage of that simply for kicks.

I’m not naive enough to think this doesn’t happen anywhere in the world, but I do think that things like this shouldn’t be happening to innocent people just trying to make their way home in Adelaide. Perhaps nothing could have been done to stop this from happening, but the complete lack of support and help we were shown after the incident was an embarrassment to the police service in South Australia and the local people who refused to help us. Bad things happen, there’s nothing we can do about that, but we can do something about the way we react and support those who are victims. The same thing happened in the Bourke Street incident in Melbourne – so many preferred to stand and watch, or record on their phones than actually help those in need. It really is heartbreaking to think that human instinct for so many has become a spectator’s sport instead of a desperation to help preserve human life.16683867_10154214948757617_1195632386496349610_n

Wow, this ended up being quite a long post. Apologies if you’re bored reading this but well done for making it to the end, I know it’s very different to my normal posts. But the important thing for me is to show both sides of travelling – the fun, exciting side and the scary side as well. Don’t take this as a warning not to travel to Adelaide – my friend said himself it’s the first time in his whole life that he has seen an incident like this there. As far as I’m concerned this could have happened anywhere in the world and it sounds much like what happened every Saturday night at home. But what really got to me was the way people just didn’t seem to care – don’t be that person.

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Italy | Museums you don’t want to miss when visiting Florence

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Pic by Toni Rodrigo

Italy is high on everyone’s travelling list – whether it’s for the food, the rich culture and history, or the stunning Amalfi coast. There’s something so irresistible about the combination of pizza, gelato, Roman history and beautiful beaches and countryside. I went to Rome as a teenager and toured all the famous sights – the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Sistine Chapel and many more before eating my way through the city then moving on to tour the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. It was an amazing trip and one I’ve never forgotten, and although sadly I haven’t yet had the chance to return to this beautiful country it is definitely on the list. Ever since reading Under The Tuscan Sun, I’ve always loved the idea of summering in Tuscany and experiencing all the tastes, sights and sounds described in the narrative. While I may not be getting the opportunity to experience all Tuscany and the wonderful city of Florence has to offer, if you are planning a trip look no further than this post for tips on visiting the best museums and galleries on offer – and where to book your tickets.

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Pic by Gareth Williams

Uffizi Gallery

An absolute must-see when you visit Florence, the Uffizi Gallery is a highlight of this historical city. The unique museum, which was originally constructed in 1560 as a palace for Florentine magistrates, now hosts a huge range of masterpieces. Creating an area to home the art collections of the Medici family, the areas later grew to host masterpieces commissioned by Medici which became what visitors will see today. As one of the world’s most prominent art museums, it provides a home for some of the most important art pieces of the Renaissance including works by Leonardo da Vinci. Other famous works you can spot among the displays include Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus, and works by the likes of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Michelangelo.

As visitors plan to make their way through the labyrinth of rooms, they should be aware that this is one of the most-visited museums in the whole of Italy, welcoming over 1.5million visitors each year. This many people does create lines with weekends, Tuesdays and mornings being the busiest times – buy your tickets ahead of time to skip the queues.

Accademia Gallery

Traveler’s simply cannot visit Florence without taking the opportunity to view one of the most famous statues in the world – Michelangelo’s David. The Academia Gallery, an 18th century museum founded by Grand Duke Peter Leopold, was chosen as the new home for the statue in 1873 after it was moved from its original location on the Signoria square. Expressing the genius of the young artist, the statue is known as a symbol of the free Florentine republic of the beginning of the Cinquecento. Later more statues by Michelangelo have been displayed in the same room, transforming in this way the Gallery into a Michelangelo museum: the four unfinished Prisoners, destined to the tomb of Pope Julius II, and never sent to Rome, the unfinished Saint Matthew and the Pietà of Palestrina, attributed to mature Michelangelo. Book skip the line tickets here.30303775721_cf2343537f_z

Palitine and Modern Art Gallery

This extraordinary collection is housed in the winter apartments of the Medici, on the first floor of the Pitti Palace, and features masterpieces of famous artists of the Baroque and Renaissance period. Visitors can see works by the likes of Raffaello, Tiziano, Rubens, Van Dijk, hanging from the walls creating an overwhelming and magnificent effect completed by the luxurious furnishing. In the Modern Art Gallery, a collection founded after the First World War displays the development of Italian art between 1745 and 1945. The heart of the Gallery displays the collection of small pictures, masterpieces by the Macchiaioli, Fattori, Lega, Borrani the revolutionary young artists who used to gather in Florence around the mid 19th century. Book skip the line tickets here.

Bargello Museum

The medieval palace was once where the chief of the military police resided, but it was restored in the second half of the 19th century and became a museum of Renaissance statuary and of minor arts. The museum holds a collection of statues, starting from Quattrocento artworks by Donatello, Ghiberti Luca della Robbia, includes masterpieces by Michelangelo, as the Bacchus and the Brutus, and reaches the end of the 16th century, with Cellini and Giambologna. Also on display are a range of precious items including the outstanding collection of ivories, the Renaissance maiolica from Urbino, jewellery and objects decorated in enamel. Book skip the line tickets here.

Pic by Erik Drost

Pic by Erik Drost


All of the museums offer a range of tours, talks, joint tickets and bookings for larger parties hoping to visit during their stay in Florence. With each of the museums welcoming such a large volume of visitors each year, it is best to book tickets in advance to avoid wasting your trip in queues. All tickets for tours, talks, entrance and more can be found here – book skip the line tickets for museums in Florence.

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Melbourne | It’s not goodbye, it’s just see you later | Australia

18156885_10154403565411587_6853557680687942111_nLeaving Melbourne is always much harder than leaving any other place I’ve been to. I’m lucky enough to have the most amazing group of friends there that have become more like family over the last few years, and they make it very hard to move on. Right now I’m sat in the airport waiting to board my flight to Adelaide where I’ll be spending a week catching up with an old friend, but as excited as I am to see him, there is part of me that is really sad to be leaving this city. It just holds so many amazing memories, so many incredible people that have meant the world to me. In my two six-month stints living here I’ve had some of my biggest travelling highs and lows – I’ve had great loves, found some crazy new careers to be successful in and made some new friends for life. 18119482_10154397889157617_3489637678049166533_n18157647_10154403565656587_3157155389815643964_nSo it seemed only right to leave with a bang and how better to finish my time here than with a weekend spent with some of the best people I’ve met here, and my closest friends, celebrating a joint birthday? Around 16 of us rented a house for the weekend in Ocean Grove, just past Geelong on Great Ocean Road, for a weekend of fun, partying and luxury. The house was amazing – more than we could have hoped for – with a heated outdoor swimming pool, a huge barbecue area, surfboards, a man cave with a pool table, karaoke and much more. Best of all? It overlooked the ocean with some amazing views of passing ships including the Spirit of Tasmania. At just $100 each for the weekend, it was a bargain with plenty of money left over for barbecue food and drinks.18157282_10154400283947617_3670206234147849524_n18194087_10154400283967617_4324587580327674885_nDriving up on the Friday evening, we were overwhelmed by the incredible home that awaited us for the weekend. Celebrating with birthday cakes, pizzas, a LOT of drinks and a LOT of crazy dancing ending with a pool party. It was so much fun and just what we all needed. The following day we headed down to check out the beach, some of the gang grabbing scooters and skateboards from the man cave. A blustery beach walk awaited us, and a lot of hilarity as one of the boys stripped off and dived into the freezing water. Afterwards we headed into the town for a pint and to buy more food for dinner, before heading back to the house for more pool time and a lot of girls vs guys games. It was so nice to have so much chill time together as a group, while getting drunk was fun, I will treasure the downtime we had just as much. Our last night was filled with barbecue, chilled drinks, games of pool and some bad karaoke. A perfect end to a perfect last weekend.18157369_10154400283792617_4180433971508699855_n18157433_10154400320187617_3408158262536299086_n18198707_10154400283582617_7522112489273918499_nWhile I’m sad to be leaving, it has definitely reminded me how lucky I am – not only to have such amazing friends but also to have the freedom to live this traveller life. What is it Winnie-The-Pooh said?

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – A.A.Milne

What makes me luckiest of all is knowing I have this to come back to – if it doesn’t work out on the West Coast, I have a family waiting here for me to return. That’s what makes it easy to leave – knowing it doesn’t have to be the end of this life or these friendships. Melbourne, you’ve been great to me these past few months, but it’s definitely time to move on and see something new, something different that takes my breath away.18199563_10154400283447617_7623693828758081317_n18193782_10154400283442617_4659430114986560562_n18157478_10154400283487617_7396288866987745520_n

But for now, Melbourne, over and out.

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Leaving Melbourne – back to life and back to blogging | Australia

imageToday marks the start of a brand new adventure. Yesterday, I sat in my apartment attempting to squeeze my life into my backpack and felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice about to jump. Oh god how I’ve missed that feeling. I’ve missed the feeling of freedom and excitement at picking up and starting again somewhere new and different. I’ve been back in Melbourne for five months after living here for five months last year – don’t get me wrong, Melbourne has turned into a home from home for me and remains one of my absolute favourite places in the world. But when you know it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

Living in the city, both times, has been a real challenge with surreal highs and some crazy lows that have left me questioning everything. Every time I come here, I seem to end up in jobs that push me to the very end of my tether and while I’ve loved my cocktail waitress gig and have had an amazing time working on a rooftop bar all summer – I am more than ready to move on and get back to traveller life. This last few months have been both amazing and exhausting – I’ve worked too much in my goal to save as much money as possible and I’ve had to sacrifice my writing due to lack of time and routine. But at the same time, I’ve made some amazing new friends and I’ve had some pretty special adventures in this city and beyond. I don’t regret a single second of it, but I know that out there a healthier and happier life is waiting for me, so I think it’s about time I went and found it.

This past week has been a flurry of goodbyes and leaving drinks, after living here for a total of ten months I’ve picked up a pretty special crowd along the way. I want to say a huge thank you to every single person, who no matter how short a time we spent together, really made my Melbourne experience. Now I plan to finish my time here with a bang, tonight I’m heading to a pretty incredible house I’ve rented with my friends for a joint-birthday celebration along Great Ocean Road. We’ll be spending the weekend there and, just as it should be, I’ll be finishing my time in Melbourne with the people who mean the most to me. Follow me on Instagram and check out my InstaStories for all the live updates.image

So what’s next for Absolutely Lucy?

On Monday I’ll be flying to Adelaide, where I’ll be catching up with an old friend and checking out the city for a week. I’m definitely going to need a chilled week after this hectic last few weeks in Melbourne! Then I’m heading to Perth, where I’m hoping to find some road trip buddies to start heading up the West Coast with – it’s been a dream trip for a long time and I’m so excited to be on the road again. I can’t wait for the sunshine and beaches after this last week of rain in Melbourne, get me tanned, fit and healthy again. I’ve slipped into so many bad habits lately, not sleeping enough, barely eating and drinking way too much – hospo life has definitely got the better of me – so now I’m looking forward to taking care of myself for a while.

I’m excited to get back to blogging and to be able to focus on my passion for a while instead of working the same repetitive job and having the same conversations over and over again. Being a waitress in the bar was fun but I’m so much more than that and I can’t wait to pursue the things I really love, to have the time and the energy to be creative again. I’ll miss my big city life, my cute little apartment all to myself with a gym downstairs, my local coffee shop and bars where the staff remember my orders, my work crew and how much they cared about each other. I’ll miss the families I found in my neighbours, my work crew and my besties I’ve met all over Australia. Melbourne is an incredible city but it is always the people who make the place and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing characters who I already can’t wait to see again. Next week I’ll have lots more to share with you all – trust me I have a lot of adventures to catch you all up on! But for now Melbourne, over and out.16683867_10154214948757617_1195632386496349610_n

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My top 5 places to escape into nature around Melbourne

IMG_2025As a backpacker who has now lived in Melbourne twice, I’ve loved getting out and exploring the city and far beyond. Not being much of a city girl, I’ve noticed Melbourne really has a fantastic balance of modern built up areas interweaved with beautiful sprawling parks that really help to make the skyscrapers feel less claustrophobic and imposing than they do in English cities. It’s easy to wander around the city and quickly find yourself leaving the busy streets behind to get lost in lush, green woodland. Having lived in both South Melbourne and Southbank, I’ve been lucky enough to live with Albert Park right on my doorstep – a perfect place to run around the lake of an evening, or to gather with friends for barbecues or to watch the Grand Prix. Just behind sits the Royal Botanic Gardens, huge endless parks that stretch across the city with all kinds of treasures tucked just out of sight of the city.IMG_2059Fancy getting a bit further out of the city? There are so many amazing places right on your doorstop in Victoria that it would be a shame not to! Here are my top 5 places to escape into nature around Melbourne:

Wilson’s Promontory National Park

Just a couple of hours drive down to Mornington Peninsula and you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world. Wilson’s Prom has everything from forest and mountain, to marshland, river, beaches and even sand dunes! You’ll want a weekend to explore at your own pace so pack up the camping gear, the beers and bring your best mates for a weekend you won’t forget. Definitely don’t miss seeing the view from Mount Oberon Summit, sunset from the beach at Tidal River campsite and The Big Drift sand dunes.IMG_2627

Great Ocean Road

The absolute must-do when you go to Melbourne – Great Ocean Road is a perfect road trip to take with your buddies and is perfect whether you’re on a budget or fancy a big blow out. There are plenty of luxury escapes to take your breath away, or do like my gang and just pack a tent, hire a car and take advantage of the many free things to see and do. There are so many hikes, beaches, viewpoints and more to explore – don’t miss Bells Beach during the surfing competitions, Twelve Apostles at sunrise, the Round the Twist lighthouse if you’re a 90’s kid. Camp in Cape Otway National Park for an amazing experience and take a break from driving at Loch Ard Gorge for spectacular views. On your way home, take a detour through the Grampians National Park!IMG_2024

The Grampians National Park

A perfect trip to do on your way home from Great Ocean Road, you can see the highlights in 1/2 days. Taking you up into the mountains, don’t forget a jumper for that fresh mountain air. Stay in the Hall’s Gap campsites, they’re perfect for a campfire and nice and sheltered from the wind. Don’t miss the Pinnacle viewpoint – take the walk through the canyon – the Balconies, and Mackenzie Falls for those perfect photographs.12809706_10153417103997617_2184495225173723966_n

Dandenong Ranges National Park – 1,000 Steps

One I only ticked off my list last week, this national park is easily within reach for those without a car as you can get the train from Flinders to Upper Ferntree Gully and then walk from there. It takes just a few hours to get out there and complete the walk so perfect if you just fancy spending an afternoon in nature. The 1,000 Steps are the big attraction and although they’ll definitely have you huffing and puffing, they’re not as daunting as they sound. You’ll see runners of all shapes and sizes taking them on over and over again as they sprint up and down. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the top then take a different path down to enjoy a different pace of walk.IMG_2103

Phillip Island

The last one I had to tick off my list, I was so excited to finally be visiting Phillip Island to overdose on nature, especially seeing wild penguins down by the shore. One that can be done in a day either by organised day trip or by just hiring a car with your mates and heading off independently. Home to some seriously beautiful beaches and even a Grand Prix circuit, there is plenty to explore and it is a perfect day escape from city life. 17634702_10154322029987617_6507020851842610414_n

This post previously featured on Wild Melbourne – see the original post here.

What are you favourite places to escape into nature around Victoria? Can you recommend any other places across Australia or the world?

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