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

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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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Sunshine Blogger Award!

So… I am very excited to say that I have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award! By the wonderful TravelPlansForMissFancyPants!!

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The Questions that TravelPlansForMissFancyPants gave me are:

What songs/type of music do you listen to whilst travelling or that which inspires you to travel?

This is such a hard question. I listen to a lot of music, I rarely don’t have headphones in. I have a super eclectic taste in music – literally anything from classical to EDM to metal. There a a few songs though, that have always elicited the same feeling travel does – the spark of motivation to get up and do something – and these are two of them:

Si Tou Vois Ma Mere
Instrumental, and the intro to Midnight in Paris which is one of my favourite films, it always makes me want to live – in the moment but without losing the awe and wonder of beautiful things. Also it makes me want to go to Paris, obviously.

Frank Turner: Get Better
It’s a little bit angry, but determined and hopeful.

They threw me a whirlwind
And I spat back the sea
I took a battering but I’ve got thicker skin and the best people I know looking out for me
So I’m taking the high road
My engines running high and fine
May I always see the road rising up to meet me and my enemies defeated in the mirror behind

 

 

What inspired you to start blogging? What are your “blogging goals”?

Hahah – well anyone who knows me knows that I can talk. Like, a lot. There are certain topics that set me off, like travel. I was spending so much time on travel forums talking and giving advice about travel I finally thought – I should just do this myself. I want a blog filled with useful and to the point articles.  I hope to become – at least moderately – successful in the blogging world. I’d LOVE to be able to work remotely.
Have you visited some place you then didn’t like/enjoy at all?

Rome. I KNOW! Rome is amazing it has beautiful food, and architecture, and history! Im a classicist for flips sake. I just…didn’t like it. Something about the amusement park atmosphere, and the flocks of people, and how RUDE people are (people in general, not one specific group). I have given the city several chances: 3 days in 2012, 4 days and 3 days in 2015. I have travelled quite a bit in Italy and absolutely loved it, just not Rome.
Do you prefer traveling solo, with a partner or in a group? Why?

This used to be an easy answer SOLO SOLO SOLO! But, I’ve had a few experiences in the last few years – I met some amazing people and did little bits of travelling with them, travelled as a group around turkey, and through France with my best friend. It. Was. Awesome. I had so much fun and now it’s hard to choose – so I would have to be boring and say a healthy mix or hybrid!  there are pros and cons to all of them, infact ive written about it here, and here.
Have you had any life-changing experiences while travelling?

I think that’s inevitable…isn’t it? I certainly did and I got my first one in early, being forced by off season cancellations and inexperience I had to grab Greece by the horns and do it all solo. Bit of a surprise for my first trip ever.
A young girl would like to travel and see the world, but is a bit scared of doing so. How would you encourage her? What advice would you give her? 

The whole world is scary and dangerous. Including home. Including away. If everything is on sale – nothing is on sale. Be careful, of course, but still go! There are levels of support – if you’re terrified you can choose tours, if you’re nervous you can be a planaholic, if you’re a bit worried then make sure you check in with home and research before you go. Anything is possible.
Name something you CAN’T travel without

Ugh this is so millennial but my phone. Unlocked, I can have contacts within the country. Camera, without having to have a camera bag. Internet, I can stay in touch with home. Maps, self explanatory. I hate to be a stereotype, but hands down my answer is phone.
Have you ever lived abroad? Where and for how long? 

Technically twice, I lived (or just stayed) for three months on Santorini. I worked, I lived in a hostel, and made some forever friends. Also, right now. I am writing this from Exeter in the UK, my home town is Adelaide South Australia – I have been living here for nearly two years.
Have you ever had a crush on someone while travelling?

Oh my, well yes. A Greek, a gorgeous Greek. We stayed in touch and saw each other a few times, but it was never more than a crush.

 

My Nominations:

The Wandering Darlings

Michigan Gaijin

The Zeina Diary

Wondering & Wandering

Girljin In Japan

My Dot On The Map

The Iridescent Wings

 

My Questions:

  1. Why do you travel? To learn, to experience, just to get away or…?
  2. What’s the most memorable moment during your travels?
  3. Go to book/film/tv series that makes you want to jump on the next plane?
  4. Best tip for first time traveller?
  5. Does having a blog change the way you travel?
  6. What was the moment you decided you were meant to travel?
  7. Do you have a pre-travel ritual? If so what?
  8. Travelling with a romantic partner – yay or nay?
  9. Where are you going next?

 

Once nominated, if you choose to accept, write a post where you:

-Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog
-Answer the questions set by the person who nominated you
-Nominate other blogs and give them questions to answer
-Notify your nominees through social media or commenting on their blog
-List the “rules” and display a Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post

So get on it everyone! Live Happy and Travel!

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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 ❤ )

3 Reasons Why You Should Travel With Friends – At Least Once

So Part 2 of my ‘At Least Once’ series is about travelling with your mates. A lot of people in my experience only travel one way, alone/on tours/with SO. But a format which seems to be oddly neglected post-university/collage years is the friends trip.

Actually completing the friends trip that is. Every group of friends has had The Plan. It goes something like this:

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However, grab three or four of your most awesome friends and actually GO on the trip, because….

1. While I will generally travel solo to any destination heading to Turkey a few years ago I had a few concerns. However, Turkey fitted in nicely with the plans I had to go visit my Swedish friends and four of us decided on a two week Turkish adventure. Having been to Turkey I would not hesitate to go back solo, and this experience is still one of the best I have had. Travelling with a group of friends is probably the best way to explore a destination you aren’t quite confident enough to venture to on your own. It’s kinda like an organised tour but with people you already like!

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2. It’s a totally different experience. Walking around bazars on your own is awesome, you find amazing things and spend as long as you like there. With a group though you go looking for things that you wouldn’t have yourself. When it comes to food there’s no shame in eating alone, but with a group you can eat family style aka the best style– and eat a small amount of all of the things. You can travel by taxi, depending on the size of your group, for an affordable amount rather than having to take out a personal loan. And you can go out without the half-thought of ‘what if I end up the weirdo loner at the bar’ because you got your crew.

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3. Travelling with your friends can actually be REALLY fun. Everyone had heard horror stories of ‘that time a girl I know had a fight with all the people she was travelling with and ended up stranded in Thailand’ or ‘he was the only one who didn’t want to spend every night in bars popping MDMA and had a terrible time’. Lesson here is – choose the friends you go away with. When you pick right, you are in an awesome destination with some of your favourite people.

3* Bonus point – you can get photos of yourself travelling that aren’t selfies for once!

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The pros of group travel, when done right, are immense. So make the effort, make The Plan work, and go somewhere awesome with you nearest and dearest.

Wednesdays are Hard  – 3 tiny ways to make it easier 

Sitting at the desk of my day job it is all I can do not to be staring out the window at the clouds. They aren’t even nice clouds. The sky is just blotted out with monochrome grey. I work 9-5 three days a week and Wednesdays are always the hardest for me. 

So I thought I would put together a quick post, some photos and some strategies to push through this midweek “meh”. 

1. Listen, and travel vicariously. 

I am lucky enough to have an office job where I am permitted to wear my headphones as I work. More often than not I am listening to a travelogue or podcast. It’s not travel, but it elicits the ghost of that anticipation, that excitement, and all those little frustrations we secretly love  💙

This one is my favourite – look out for a review soon 💙


2. Plan plan plan 

This can be in your head or sneakily on your lunch break. You don’t have to be hopping countries or continents to travel. I recently discovered a gorgeous bit of sand about an hours ride from me, you can all guess what I will be doing next sunny day 

Sarcastic Australian will always appear somewhere


3. Have a chat 

Start a conversation with someone, a friend you travelled with or a friend you *made* while travelling. There’s something magic about travel, people with lives so different from our own are often not encountered – but travel levels you. I’ve shared dorm rooms with a chemical engineer from Ethiopia, a taxi with a multi millionaire marketing guru from Seattle, and a sunbed umbrella with a professional stoner (her description not mine). If you don’t keep in contact with your travel friends, get on a forum, join a FB group, there are so many travel nuts willing to talk night and day about that thing we all chase 

So, these things might not cure your wanderlust; but they might just make your Wednesday Wanderlust more bearable. Happy travels! 

4 Reasons to Take Off Solo – At Least Once

So, the thought of travelling on your own somewhere could easily fill you with dread. I’m here to tell you why that’s kinda the reason you should go….

1. Solo Exclusive Experiences

Travel is not just ticking off all the things to do in a place. It’s the experience of being there. And honestly there are some experiences that you just don’t get when you’re in a group. It is very easy to do all the things AS a group; you go to the bar together, dinner together, dancing together and suddenly you realise it’s been two weeks and you haven’t spoken to anyone other than your group and waiters. Travelling by yourself you sit in bars alone – for about ten minutes. I made more flash friends in the three months when I lived in a hostel in Greece than I have in my life total. I have partied on the beach with South Africans, gone dancing with groups of local girls, learnt the rudest words in Spanish, Swedish, Greek, Russian – all because I was on my own and started talking to people around me.


2.Friendships

Because I was on my own on Santorini I had to talk to people. I made friends with the barmaid. Because I made friends with the bar maid, I travelled to Naples with her. Because we went to Naples together and I met her (now) boyfriend. Because we all got along so well we travelled together through Sweden, Turkey, and Greece for over 6 weeks. I consider these two people some of my closest friends, while revisiting Greece together last year we met a solo traveller at our hostel and she became one of our best friends –there hasn’t been a day since where our group chat hasn’t been active. Honestly if an amazing friendship is the only thing (it won’t be) that you get out of travelling solo – isn’t that worth it?


3. Other people’s problems, aren’t your problems

 There are very few times in life where acting in a selfish way isn’t selfish. When you travel in a group, everyone gets a vote on what you do. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you find yourself going into the twelfth designer store and for the twelfth time – you don’t care. You put up with it – and so you should, it’s not just your trip. However, when you’re on your own, your priorities are the only priorities. If you want to go to the tenth museum in ten days – go. If you want to eat four meals a day and sit in parks drinking coffee – you can. If you find a once in a lifetime opportunity – like 20 Euro flight somewhere random – you can take it and the only person you need to convince is yourself. You’re also restricted in your choice when you have to factor in other people’s proclivities. I have a friend who won’t stay in a hostel with less than a 95% rating online, in a no more than 4-person dorm, and only within a 20-minute walk from her favourite attraction – this meant her cheapest acceptable option for Paris was over 60 Euros a night (we did not end up going to Paris together, thankfully for my bank account). Times when your decisions are yours alone are incredibly rare in life, grab them where you can.


4. Self-Reliance

So many people don’t want to start travelling solo because ‘what if… I get lost’ or ‘what if there’s a problem and they don’t speak English’. These were my concerns when I started travelling. These things happen, you do get lost you do hit language barriers, but learning to deal with these things on my own is the single most empowering thing I’ve experienced. Yes. The earthshattering realisation that I could write what I want to say in Google Translate and show my grumpy, elderly, Greek receptionist what I meant was a massive victory for me in 2012. Booking hotel rooms on the go thanks to a particularly slow off season, massive victory. Putting feet on the ground for the first time in a new country and taking the metro instead of a taxi, massive victory. These relatively tiny achievements added up over time and now equates to an unwavering self-reliance and confidence. I can manage, I may not excel in every situation, but I can manage.
That fear you feel when you think about travelling by yourself, that is the reason to give it a go. You don’t have to go somewhere extreme for your first trip; pop to a country that speaks your language, take a weekend in another province, or jump in feet first and book a trip to your dream destination. The point is – do it, go, be on your own and find your own feet. Travelling with groups is in NO way inferior to solo travel and I will talk about why you should travel with a group (at least once) next week- Happy Travels!