Slippery Stones and Wet iPhones

 

So…as the title and my absence online may have led you to believe- my phone had an unfortunate surprise meeting with the Aegean not too long ago and – unsurprisingly -they did not hit it off.

While I was away however, the world did not stop turning and I was featured on Young and Undecided in their *awesome* Women Who Wander Series!
http://youngandundecided.com/2017/06/07/women-who-wander-just-go-with-it/

The Instagram gods also blessed me with two features!

Well hello, from the city of Athens! Shot by @carryonorbust #ThisisAthens #Cats

A post shared by This is Athens (@this_is_athens) on

Fear not, posts are on their way – over the next few weeks you can look forward to:

  • The Best Pizza in Greece
  • How to Scuba Dive Santorini
  • Anny’s Studio Review
  • City Circus Athens Review
  • It’s a Small World in The Circus (a rooftop surprise and true love)
  • Sisha Bars: what is this and why do I do it?
  • aaaand a couple more I haven’t figured out the titles for!

I will be updating my World Nomads review with my experience with this new claim, and writing a go to list for waterproof phone cases!!

 

Travel Happy – and Travel Waterproof!!

Greece – Why Even Bother?

Seriously, I can’t think of even ONE good reason to go to Greece. 

I mean – so many of the buildings are old and not at all beautiful…

 

And even the newer ones are boring to look at…

 

It isn’t like you can find amazing man-made accomplishments entwined with incredibly unique nature

Feel small #rgphotobook #greece #santorini #sky #blue #aegean #winedarksea #adventure #ocean

A post shared by Carry On, Or Bust (@carryonorbust) on

 

The seaside villages aren’t even picturesque

And the big cities aren’t attractive at all

 

The vistas are just blah

 

The colour of the water is just  so dull! Who would want to photograph this??

 

Nothing to see at all ;-P there are many types of writing I love  and satire is one of them. Greece gets a lot of press coverage and it certainly isn’t all favourable. No matter what issues the country may have in the eyes of Western media it is a beautiful, wonderful, unique place – and this post only covers the physical country! Just wait until I get started on the food and wonderful people!

So happy to have collaborated with Eager Journeys for this post, check out their amazing Instagram feed!

 

Feel free to pin, flip, tweet and share!

CarryOnOrBust asks (2)

Great (Wanderlust) Expectations

A few weeks ago I was reading a lovely blog post at kaveyeats.com and it really struck a nerve in me.

The quote being discussed was by Vladimir Nabokov in in Mary, 1926.

Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land, grew especially strong in spring.

The author talks about that odd sensation you get when you know about a place from films, books, or traveller tales yet you don’t actually know the place at all. The ideas that build up around a destination are often inaccurate or out dated. This started me thinking.

Egypt.

In 1999 a movie came out called The Mummy. I was 8 years old and I fell in love. Absolutely everything about this film, I wanted. I wanted to be Evey, wanted her intelligence, her skills, wanted to be able to read hieroglyphs, wanted to go on an adventure with a rugged outsider. This film developed 90% of my attitude towards history and travel – it doesn’t matter if you’re a quiet bespectacled woman you can go to Egypt and be a kick arse scholar!  It’s also set in 1926 (my favourite era) and she ends up happy, wealthy, and respected by her peers.

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Thus, my idea of Egypt was formed. I want it to be romantic, and grand, and picturesque. I want sweeping sands, and star filled skies, enigmatic old Arabic men with sparkling eyes and draped women swishing past me in the bazaars.

I know that Cairo is modern, I know that it wont be like in the movies. I know that you can sit in a Pizza Hut and look at the Pyramids of Giza. If I could travel back in time to the late 1880’s and live out the next fifty years through the wars and development of the Egyptian state I would go through with it in an instant. But it isn’t Egypt’s purpose to be what I want it to be, I’m a world traveller not some kind of culture dictator. It’s my purpose to experience everything I can.

Well, I started thinking about this on KaveyEats, and that night I got really upset with myself. I say I’m an historian, I say I’m a traveller. But I have all these preconceived notions about what a country is or isn’t – and I haven’t even been there! I then got even more upset – what if I never get to visit Egypt? What if something happens and it becomes unsafe, or an earthquake swallows up Abu Simbel and it is just gone? What if I just keep saying ‘one day’ and never actually get off my fat, lazy, arse and go?

I was almost in tears.

So I made a decision. I am going to Egypt – this year. Within 48 hours I had booked myself on to a 22 day journey though Jordan and Egypt. I am going to my dream destination, a place I have been thinking about for nearly 20 years. So, I guess I’ll find out how the Egypt in my head matches up against the Egypt that is out there – and I cannot wait!

Check out the wonderful blog post that has sent me to Egypt! ❤ https://www.kaveyeats.com/2017/04/travel-quote-tuesday-vladimir-nabokov.html#comment-556772

Please Feel Free To Pin, Flip, or Tweet This Article!

Great (Wanderlust) Expectations.jpg

3 Things You Must See in Athens

 

So it took me a while to narrow this down – I absolutely love Athens and think everything is essential! However, these are my three absolute MUST see things in Athens, Greece ❤

  1. New Acropolis Museum

This is a wonderful place – it is an air-conditioned, beautifully planned, and exceptional example of Greek history on show. Yes there are other museums which cover more, but the sheer extent of the collection in the NAM and the knowledge you can gain from a visit there is worth a visit.

The statue gallery and the view from the top floor are worth the visit all on their own.

It is 5 Euro for general admission (3 Euros reduced and free for a range of people including students from EU Countries. Details http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/content/reduced-free-admission-acropolis-museum)

  1. The Athenian Agora

A sprawling gorgeousness in the centre of ancient Athens, this was the spot for all of the important things – politics, markets, worship. It sits under the acropolis, you can look up and see the fortifications built after the Persian Wars. The Agora houses some lovely inscriptions and two gorgeous buildings. The Stoa of Attalos was built in the Second Century BC, and reconstructed in the early 1950’s by the American School in Athens as faithfully as archaeology would allow. It is a beautiful building and fronts the Agora Museum. Also in the Agora is the Temple to Hephaestus, its amazing condition is thanks to its varied and continued use from its construction in 415 BC until 1934 when it stopped being a museum and became an archaeological site.

Open Daily 08.00-20.00 Last Admission: 19.45 (However I have heard that it closes at 3pm so CHECK LOCALLY before planning your visit! Admission is 8 Euros, Reduced: 4 Euros (details at http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh355.jsp?obj_id=2485 )

  1. Psyrri

Psyrri is my favourite neighbourhood in Athens, you can find almost anything here. Amazing local restaurants? Yes. Cool stores? Yes. Cheap but good accommodation? Yes Actual local life? Yes. Plus – markets, street art, and an amazing atmosphere. You can spend hours wandering around this little area of Athens, if you stay here you can see it and have easy access to the rest of Athens.

Notice how I haven’t mentioned the biggest, most famous attraction? You know, that big temple thing on the big hill? The acropolis is incredible, I have lost count of how many times I have been up there. The acropolis and the Parthenon are on MY OWN PERSONAL absolute must do list, but I am not everyone. If you are not in Athens for a long time, don’t like the heat, have a problem with crowds (hello anxiety friends, you are not alone) or don’t have the physical ability to climb a big hill** – then you don’t need to go up to the acropolis. Obviously you get a more vivid experience of the place if you climb the steps, face up to the sheer size of the Parthenon, and see the incredible sprawl of Athens. But I believe that if you choose not to go, and go to the New Acropolis Museum instead you won’t have done the Parthenon – or yourself – a disservice.

The museum houses all the wonderful things found on the acropolis and they are displayed beautifully, with accompanying information as well as a kid’s challenge. There is a restaurant, which is the first place I had baked feta and for that alone I am grateful, from which you can look up at the Parthenon and wonder at the sight. The floor which showcases the Parthenon frieze (controversy in a different post perhaps) is laid out so you can follow the procession as you would walking around the Parthenon itself.  For an ancient site other than the acropolis I suggest the Athenian Agora for a few reasons: it is shady – not everywhere but considerably more so than the acropolis, it is more accessible (more does not equal completely unfortunately), and it has some gorgeous ancient ruins.

This is my absolute must do in Athens, it may be different from yours – what would you say is an absolute necessity in this amazing city?

** I mean this in a sprained ankle/severe asthma kind of physically unable, there is a lift for access to wheelchair users installed a few years ago. For a much fuller treatment than I can give on disabled access to the acropolis please see http://www.sagetraveling.com/Disabled-Access-at-the-Acropolis

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World Nomads Insurance Review

I have had, to date, seven policies with World Nomads. Luckily I have only had to use my insurance twice. One claim was granted and one was not – but I’m not bitter. World Nomads have been fantastic for me – but as ALWAYS with any insurance policy have a look at everything involved and make sure it’s the right policy for you.

 

Quotes – 10/10

Getting a quote with World Nomads is incredibly easy – you go to the website fill out your details, countries you’re planning to visit and your country of residence and boom you have your options.

 

Extras – 7/10

Extras, like more extreme activities or named items, does add bit to your quote BUT this is upfront and the list of included activities is extended.

Special Note: like most insurance companies there are requirements with activities – like it has to be legal. This sounds like a duh point but you can slip int, but make SURE you’re legally allowed to drive in that country – just because someone hires you a car or a motorbike DOES NOT MEAN IT’S LEGAL, and in all likelihood no insurance company would pay out on a claim where you were participating in a technically illegal activity – no matter how common the practice.

 

Ease of Process 10/10

Go to website. Do clicks. Pay. Done. You get the certificate in your email. It can’t be simpler than this. (if it can let me know XD)

 

Customer Service 10/10

Every time I have had to be in contact with World Nomads it has been met with quick, polite, and genuine response.

 

Website 8/10

While purchasing and looking at the website it runs perfectly. The only problem I have ever found is when looking at histories and communicating during a claim, the first time you use the messaging system is a bit clunky and takes a bit of working out. Once you know you know. But the messaging system could be smoother.

 

Bonus Points

The feel good. World Nomads policies have a donation to a selection of charities, minimum of 1$ and you can increase this if you wish. You choose which of the causes you’d like your money to go to.

You can extend and initiate from anywhere in the world. A lot of insurance companies require you to return home to your country of residence before taking up another policy, not ideal for long termers!

 

My experiences:

The first claim was the denied one, it was a long shot but I went for it. I missed a flight in Rome because an airport employee told me the wrong gate. Two flights were leaving at the same time for Athens and I took the airline workers word for it that she had looked at the booking correctly. Didn’t find out otherwise until I was at the gate. 200 euros and a 4 hour wait later I was on my way back to Athens. World Nomads helped as much as they could but their stance was –understandably – that I should have checked everything myself. But you don’t get if you don’t ask.

The second claim was successful, in a way. While staying in Paris a fake gest checked into the hostel and broke into everyone’s lockers and stole what they could. I had 100GBP and 50AUD stolen, luckily they left my passports. Other people lost a lot more than I did. The French police were, interesting, to deal with, but World Nomads were excellent. I filed my reports, all from the road, and later I had my claim – minus my excess – deposited into my bank account.

 

So, this is my conclusion on World Nomads – excellent policies, excellent pricing, and great service. I recommend them often and they will always be my first port of call.

(yes I AM making a ferry/port of call pun because it’s MY blog and I can pun if I want to ❤ )



This is a review of my experiences with World Nomads, everything here is my experience and my honest opinion – I have received no recompense for this review (although I would love to work with World Nomads ❤ )

European Trip – Should I take an organised tour, or jump in independently?

Organised tours are a popular option for many people, as many people believe that it is their only option. But there is contention about the type of travel promoted by tour companies. You will find evangelists (and some aggressive ones at that) on either side of this discussion – those indie travellers who think all organised tours are useless money making schemes designed to part 18 year olds from their daddy’s money, and those who think that the whole ‘independent travel thing’ is too hard, too scary, or simply overwhelming. But ignore those guys, this is about what YOU want from YOUR holiday.

Bus Tours et al.

Are you under 30(ish)?

Are you looking to get as much as possible in to the time you have?

Do you like busses?

Pros:

  1. Organisation, you don’t have to worry about anything. I mean anything. These bus tours take you to your hotel/hostel/campsite and tell you when dinner is, where the bar is, and what time you have to be up in the morning.
  2. You get a lot in.  Seriously, a lot. If you just want to say you’ve seen Europe, this is the tour option for you. It would be difficult, and expensive, to see everything that you see on one of these bus tours while doing it yourself.
  3. You are guaranteed to meet people, usually from your own country. The companies that are easily accessible to westerners are aimed directly at westerners – you’ll get Aussies, Kiwis, Brits, Americans, and Canadians. Occasionally you will find a European or other nationality in there somewhere – we had a Swedish couple, and a girl from South Africa.

Cons:

    1. Lack of independence. I’m an adult, don’t tell me when to eat breakfast. I don’t want to go to THIS monument I want to go to THAT monument. Naturally, you can always separate from the tour and do your own thing. But not having organised anything yourself, you aren’t versed in the ways of the Italian train system, or maybe Berlin seems a bit daunting alone (especially when you’ve spent two weeks being told when to eat breakfast).
  • My tour counted a night in Vienna. We were there for maybe 15 hours. Overnight. We got in after sunset, did a bus tour in the dark, had dinner, slept, and had hostel breakfast. Then we got on the bus. I do not count myself as having gone to Vienna. With so much to see in a very short time, it can feel very rushed.
  • Because you are in a big group of westerners, you tend to stick with them. This can wind up with you sitting in a bar in Poland with nobody but your group in it. I don’t know about you but if I’m going to be flying all the way to Europe – I’d like to spend at least some of my time with Europeans.
  • The price. These tours are showing you these places through AT BEST one middle man, sometimes two middle men. Three groups of people need to make money off of you – the service (hotel, museum, etc), your guide/driver/porter, and the tour company. This means there are three profit margins to take into account instead of just the service. Tours are usually around $150/$200 a day. Sometimes you find a tour for $90-$100 a day and those are few and far between. Independently, Europe can generally be done for as little as $75 a day (in my experience, and other people I know have spent much less). Remember – you’re not paying for the places, you’re paying for the convenience.

My Experience: I came into my bus tour by accident – my plans in Turkey had fallen through and, as a first time solo traveller, I didn’t know how to get from Athens to Amsterdam over the two weeks left before my flight home. This tour was perfectly timed, and only required a short hop to Italy to start. I came off of ten days independent travel in Greece and from the get go I was not a fan of the heavily organised structure. I don’t like being told what to do at the best of times, let alone when I’m being told to get on a coach for an 8 hour drive, when actually I would rather have liked to have stayed in Venice, instead of going to Austria just then. I feel like I haven’t actually been to a lot of places my tour visited, read above comment on Vienna. On my tour there were 52 people including myself, I will admit now that I cannot remember all of their names, and I’m reasonably sure there were a few that I didn’t say in single word to in 18 days.

Conclusion:

Bus tours are ok, if you are a confident young person who is looking for the group experience – you are guaranteed to meet people, you see Europe, and you have some awesome stories to tell back home, (This one time, in the Czech Republic…).

But the idea that Europe is too hard to navigate, or that it’s scary, or that it’s unsafe – is at most flat out wrong, and at least contentious. Western Europe is very accommodating to tourism, almost everything has an English translation, there are several tourist points in big cities, and people in tourist spots are used to helping befuddled foreigners. Central Europe I would say in much the same, especially in the north. Eastern Europe you may begin to run into a few problems, language barriers, and transport systems not optimised for previously mentioned befuddled foreigners.

As for safety (I’ll be talking more about this in a post soon), you know what? The world is dangerous. THE WHOLE WORLD. Which essentially means you’re no safer out in the world than you are at home. Conversely, you’re no more at risk out there in the world than you are at home. I have felt safer walking around in developing countries, as a female, alone, at night, than I have walking around alone in the day in some parts of my home city. The same rules apply for all big cities – use your head.

The most important thing is that you choose the option that’s right for you. If you are as independent as I am, an organised tour may induce high blood pressure and rage spasms. But if you are looking for the quintessential twenty-something European holiday experience then go for your life, sign up to a Contiki, Busabout, TopDeck, etcetera etcetera! You’ll have a great time, but remember – it is not your only option. There are enough resources on line for you to jump into Europe feet first, have a whale of a time, and get to brag about how you did it all yourself

In this post I have spoken purely about tours in Europe. While these points do apply to most group tours, I will be writing a separate post on tours in developing countries, countries with more challenges, and why a tour might be the answer to your third world problems.

So, What are your opinions on group tours in Europe?

Here I am – pay attention to me!

This is the standard introduction piece – who I am, what I want, and why you should check back for my next post.

Who am I? My name is Sam, I am a 22 year old Australian girl. I am, in 2014, having a travelling/working year between my honours and masters degrees. I currently have red hair, but this is subject to change.

What do I want? I want to write about travel: my travel, your travel, travel concepts, travel photography, travel woes, travel lists… And I don’t want to just talk at you about travel, I want to use the experiences I have had to help out anyone looking for tips. In essence, I am huge travel nerd – I just want to create somewhere to talk about how awesome this planet is.

I will also be posting photographs of the amazing places I have been to, as well as the incredible food I eat – in essence, travel porn.

Exhibit A (places)

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Exhibit B (food)

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Why should you check back? Because if you’re the type of person who Googles travel writing, you’re the type of person who will want to know where I’ve been and where I’m going next!  Who knows? I may have the perfect secret to travelling with just a carry on, (I seem to do ok). Or maybe I’m independently wealthy and will give out huge prizes to loyal readers? (I’m not, but I would if I was!) Or maybe you just think I sound funny and want something new to laugh at every few days.

I have had a healthy dose of both organised tours and independent travel, I will write on both ends of the spectrum as well as all the nitty gritty in between. I will write lists, I will write reviews, I will write opinion pieces, and I will write about things that interest the readers! (That’s you)

 

Please check back, and let me know what you think!