Sometimes there is another way…
Sometimes there is another way…
I love it when you meet a complete stranger and they say something to you…. A simple sentence that just falls from their lips like an old apple from a limp tree branch. But THAT sentence will stay with you forever. The stranger has no idea that their blaze alcohol fuelled babble with give you a piece of advice that will change your life forever.
I was sat in a bar one summers afternoon with a friend and we began chatting to a man who had flown back into the UK from Japan where he has been living for several years, teaching English. Due to our mutual love of exploring the other continents, the conversation drew in towards my favourite subject… ‘Travel’
At this point, I had never travelled alone before and was toying with the idea of booking a long haul solo trip to Asia and Australia for a few months. But! I was in a long term relationship. One that I thought was very happy at the time. I didn’t want to leave him for several months and I discussed this with the stranger.
What he said to me changed my life.
“In five years time, which will you regret more? Not going travelling or risking the relationship?”
Sure enough, five years have passed since that comment. I went travelling. The relationship didn’t last, and I can honestly look back with no regrets because I found my passion in life and I found myself.
Where is hot in April?
This is a question I asked myself whilst looking for a hot break somewhere next month.
April is right on the cusp of winter and summer for many destinations in Europe so it’s hard to know where to choose to go if you’re in search of sunshine. I have written this blog to give some inspiration for short haul winter sun from the UK. Short haul, I classify as under 5 hours flight time.
The Canary Islands are mountainous, pretty, volcanic islands off the East coast of Africa and are pretty much in line with the Sahara Desert. They are touristy and often have beaches packed with British tourists. The four main islands are Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Temperatures in April range from 18-20 degrees but often can get hotter.
Egypt offers guaranteed sunshine year round. Resorts such as Sharm El Sheikh, Luxor or Hurghada are nestled far away enough from political unrest and are in my opinion, tourist friendly and safe. Temperatures in April average at 25 degrees.
Morocco offers many cultural attractions such as the city of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, along with beautiful beach resorts. Temperatures in April average between 18-24 degrees.
Malta and Gozo are pretty much as far south you can get in the Meditteranean. They get very warm from May onwards but in April you can look at averages of around 20 degrees.
Cyprus in Europe is verging into the Middle East heat zone and it’s truly a superb country. I’d recommend hiring a car and spend your days exploring. They drive on the left also! Temperatures in April average t the slightly cooler 16 degrees but often reach 21 degrees.
Jordan. OK, this is a smidge over a 5 hour flight, but this is my favourite short haul destination. With jam packed fun in the desert, the ancient city of Petra and the Dead Sea on offer, it’s worth the extra bit of flying. Temperatures in April average 28 degrees! Don’t go in July because you will burst into flames.
Tunisia. Many people are put off travelling there are the terrorist attacks last year. One could argue that perhaps it is now one of the safest places to travel to. Temperatures in April are averaging around 16 degrees.
Often I find it difficult to know what to expect when I book a hostel. I’ve stayed in some busy grot holes where there is not even an hour of peace day or night so you’re unlikely to get any peace or privacy.
Pods are exactly the same idea as a hostel in that you pay for a ‘bed’ rather than a room, but in a very futuristic style, you can climb into your very own pod and shut the door, with your own power supply, TV, mirror etc. If you’re feeling sociable, open the door and say hi to your neighbours.
I think this is genius! It is really closing the gap between hostels and hotels, all with the benefits of a hostel which include – cheaper prices – making friends! It’s win win!
After several weeks of nothing but horrific, gut wrenching nightmares while I sleep… Last night I dreamt that I quit my job and walked the entire length of the Great Wall of China. I had no idea I even wanted to do that!
Dreams are funny things that really influence your mood and decisions. I had best start researching flights to Ulaanbataar!
How do you like the sound of going to a 513 thousand square kilometre water party? You can do just that, annually in Thailand.
Songkran is an annual festival that marks the Thai New Year. The entire country stops for a few days to throw water and clay over each other. It signifies a bathing ritual to Buddha and is a LOT of fun!
It originally dates back to rituals where people would splash water on their relatives to promote health and happiness. Today…. It is something else!
I have personally had the Priveledge of celebrating a Thai New Year several years ago, purely by accident. A friend and myself spent a couple of nights in Bangkok en route the Phuket and due to jet lag and exhaustion, decided to spend the night in our hotel room eating chocolate. We were aware of some kind of festival taking place, but didn’t know much about it or have the energy to attend. There was a 7/11 over the road so we thought we would skip through the crowds, pick up some choccies and head back to the room. That didn’t happen. Within seconds of leaving our hotel, we were grabbed by locals and literally hosed down. We were carted off into the crowds and had strangers actually rubbing clay into our faces. I wasn’t going down without a fight so I ‘sourced’ myself a water pistol and started giving some back. At one point we were standing on the roof of an SUV dancing with the Thai’s and had the most incredibly fun evening. There was something so wonderful about the whole country – locals and tourists, joining together in one giant party and touching each other faces whilst laughing and ruining your make up!
The festival lasts anything from 1 day to 1 week, depending on where you are in Thailand. I could still see the after affects all over the place when I arrived in Phuket 3 days later.
Songkran 2016 starts on 13th April and I highly recommend it! Just don’t wear see through white shorts like I did!!!
The first friend I made in any of my solo travels was a girl called Mandy. We clicked instantly. She was beautiful and fun. She was also a great help to get me out of my shell and make friends with other travellers.
We spent a lot of time together over the weeks and I realised she was everything I wanted to be. We all have an ideal ‘blueprint of ourselves’, I wish I was more active or motivated. She would wake early every morning and go running barefoot along the beach and would sit outside her room at night and paint. I really admired her. Mandy didn’t get too drunk, she was confident and goal driven.
She also gave me great advice about current relationship problems I was having as she had been in a similar long distance relationship and could share her experiences and tips.
She was unique, she didn’t have Facebook or other social media accounts. She preferred people to write to her if they wanted to contact her.
I felt that we grew very close and in another circumstance could have been life long friends.
When we came to say goodbye, true to form, she gave me her email address so I could write to her. The really strange bit was, the email address didn’t work and her phone number was a local sim so didn’t work back in her home country and I never spoke to her again. I’m fairly certain she didn’t give me a fake email. It got me wondering, did I just imagine her the whole time we travelled together?! Or, was she a secret celebrity back in her country? Perhaps, I will never know.
If you love travel, you simply love travel. It is not only your fierce obsession but it gives you a purpose to life if you don’t quite fit into the niche of parent and mortgage payer.
Sure we all dream of meeting a soul mate who feels the same way we do about travel and heading off into the sunset together with our backpacks, holding hands.
This is a very common issue. It is acceptable to society to break off a relationship if your partner doesn’t want children and you do, so why should this be any different. A desire to travel is not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle. So if you are in a relationship that prevents you from travelling because it is not your partners wish to, you are not being true to yourself.
There are solutions, however. If you really love your partner and see a future with them regardless of their lack in sharing the same life choices as you, you should still try to make it work. You could try to move abroad together and start a new lifestyle. If this is not an option, maybe you can split your own time between travelling and being at home with your partner. You will definitely need a very strong relationship for either of these to work.
Looking at it a little deeper, you may need to assess your relationship. Find out the real reasons your partner does not want to travel. It actually could be that they are not truthfully happy in the relationship with you and committing to a gap year away with you frightens them. Or, it could be other issues at home holding them back. Either way, it is a problem.
You should also look at yourself and really figure out if a life without travel is an option and if you value a loving relationship more than travel.
The love I have in a relationship is very different to the love I have for travel. For me, travel is a journey with myself. Therefore, to have to give that up to be with the person I love would mean I was no longer… myself.
2. Many types of interesting guests – there’s the sweet and excitable American girls, moody solo girl, angry hairy leather guy, no spoken English guy who sits near you and smiles, but says nothing, drunken couple in love and hooking up on the staircase and Irish guys who are on a “why not” booze up.
3. It is apparently acceptable for the neighbours to crank up the electro house music randomly at 4am (walls are made of paper).
4. They have two plug sockets and one toilet for nearly 30 people to share on each floor. Oh, and it is unlikely you will have a locker.
5. Many different varieties of smells during the night. There is very noticeable garlic breath. Much vodka / beer breath and also vomit breath creeps in occasionally. You may be extra lucky and have smelly feet or wet shoes airing out in your room.
6. Everybody is drunk. This also means if you are on the bottom bunk then you stand a pretty good chance of being hurled on by your upstairs neighbour.
7. Literally constant sirens passing by all night… All day.
8. Instead of talking in their sleep, your room mates may be singing in their sleep.
9. People are the best of friends and happy at night. Not a word is spoken, nor eye contact made during breakfast.
10. Taking a shower will probably result in being less clean than before you went in.
Despite of all of these quirky traits, there is something so bewitching about this magical city. The locals have a spring in their step that I don’t see in England. (Probably the copious amounts of alcohol in their bloodstream, but still…) Hotels are overpriced in Dublin so staying in a hostel if you are travelling solo is a total no brainier.
Personally, I stayed at the Abbey Court Hostel by O’connell bridge / temple bar. The location is fab if you want central. It is extremely ‘no frills’ and If you are going for the party scene and a bed to crash on, it’s ideal. There are only two pubs on the road which is bloody noisy, but I understand some of the other hostels are actually louder. Basically, if you want to sleep during your visit to Dublin, either find a hostel that is not central, or pay for a hotel.
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