I've finally popped my Parisien cherry! After years of snubbing the French capital for fear of vomming up over loved-up couples and stuck-up locals, I decided to bite the bullet and zip over the Channel. But I needed motivation; something to get me over there that sidestepped the overly-flogged stereotypes. My love of tennis and Roland-Garros gave me exactly that. And now I'm in love with the city itself!
I got the travel bug late, very late! While all of my friends were kicking off the graduate life as globetrotters I got stuck into work.
However in 2006 I took a trip that got me hooked on travel. The trip: 10 weeks living in Florence, to learn Italian and soak up the Tuscan sun. It was the best experience that outstrips any other time in my life.
Since then I’ve spent a year living in Australia and backpacked around 9 Spanish cities for my 30th. In this blog I’ll tell you all about it as well as my latest wanderings. But I have some cool features to offer as well. So enjoy and do share your stories. Otherwise get your backpack out and go!
If you love all things Spanish, then you will have heard about the Feria de Abril. It is one of THE top events in Spain that embodies the quintessential beauty of Spanish culture. Nine years have passed since I was backpacking around Andalusia – my favourite region on the Iberian peninsula. I recall seeing vintage posters of the Feria depicting regally-poised horsemen flanked by guitarists and twirling flamenco dancers. Such scenes intoxicated my imagination not to mention intensified Seville’s charm. As time passed and with two long years in lockdown, my desire to see the Feria got stronger. So once Covid restrictions had been lifted, I set my heart on celebrating in Seville at its absolute finest.
Tourism; whether you’re the holiday maker taking some vital vacay or the local ducking and diving in between dawdling visitors, you can’t deny the benefits it brings to an area. My time in Florence certainly highlighted that. After Rome and Venice, Florence is the next most popular Italian tourist destination and why not? It houses over 60% of the world’s art heritage, boasts architectural feats such as Brunelleschi’s Duomo and is the birthplace of luminaries, Michelangelo, Dante, and Niccolo Machiavelli. Sixteen million visitors a year flock to the city to pay their dues and Florence’s economy thrives on it! Restaurants, hotels, museums and tour agencies all revolve around attracting foreigners to make big money. But it’s not the just the conventional establishments that are capitalising. There is a growing group of young and intrepid entrepreneurs riding the wave. I talk to three such locals, restauranteur Federico, Martina who manages holiday apartments and historical tour guide Andrea who have started their own businesses in tourism and are doing bloody good job at it too!
Every Easter I earmark a trip to Florence, in fact I have been there 7 times. Friends ask why I give up a chunk of my annual leave to the same place year in year out. Why?? OK I admit it; I’m obsessed. But it’s criminal to shrink this wonderful city down to the obvious highlights. Without playing down the rich Renaissance art, food, and history, there’s so much more to unpack that has niente to do with following the tourist trail. Each time I come to Florence I go off piste and it’s showed me a vibrant way of life, an envious way of living. But after a day or two, I want to explore and what you may not realise is that being in Florence puts you in an ideal place to spend what little time you have to open out and experience Italy as a whole.
Hold up, she said what? Yep you read right. After all for a region that is called the playground of the rich, you can expect Amalfi Coast to be over priced, poncy and a bit pretentious. But let’s face it, when you’re on the doorstep to some of the biggest stars, Sofia Loren, Armani to name a few, it’s no surprise! Yet look passed the glamour, glitz, 5-star restaurants and cliff-top views, there’s a more down-to-earth beauty about the Amalfi Coast.
This I came to learn after a 5-day visit in July ( high season) to celebrate my dad’s 69th birthday. As my sisters and I were paying for everything, budget was relatively tight so we could not indulge in too much. But it meant we had to be more creative and as a result we got a more authentic insight into this gorgeous part of Italy and the not so obvious beauty of Amalfi.
So here they are, my 5 reasons not to go Amalfi teemed up with 5 reasons you really should:
Welcome to Part 2 of my Working Holiday survival guide. Hopefully Part 1 did not put you off – it’s really not that bad – so here comes the really fun bit. Where to go and some travel tips. This is what really puts Australian living on the map, so listen up!
Ever fancied an adventure? To experience a new culture, or just a time out from hectic work? A Working Holiday visa in Australia is just the ticket.
In 2012 I had a crack at it; I packed my bags and boarded a plane to Melbourne. What was I thinking? Well for four years, I was making little career progress in the UK. I was stuck in a rut, not to mention tired of London’s madness. Australia had been on my radar for a while. My cousins migrated there as well as a few friends- all of whom loved it. The economy was strong, wages were high and lifestyle ideal- everything the UK was not. It took quite a bit of research and prep beforehand, but it made the transition that little bit easier.
In the end it didn’t quite pan out the way I thought it would, but that doesn’t mean it was a waste of time. I’ve made some lifelong new friends, explored a beautiful continent and broadened my horizons.
Tempted? Before you take the plunge, my two-part nifty guide has everything you need to know before you go Down Under.
Do you know where Puglia is? I was astounded at how many of my friends didn’t! I could not help but hear it everywhere because most of my Italian friends are originally from there. The word Puglia kept beating like a drum inside my head: Puglia. Puglia. Puglia. So much so it went on my to-go list. However it was only when I met Puglian local Simona, that I decided it was time to explore.