Something a little different from me today. I’m not particularly well travelled – Tenerife is as far as I have gone – but to see more of the world is one of my dreams.
My brother’s girlfriend, Charli, has been lucky enough to see so many beautiful areas of the world. I asked her if she would write a little about some of the places she has been to, what she has learned from visiting them, and her top tips for making the most of the trips….
Hi readers! My name is Charli, and Rachel has asked me to post a guest blog about my love of travelling, which I have done quite a lot of recently. My favourite thing about travelling to new places is that as well as having a lot of fun, I also learn about myself and the world around me.
These are the recent places that I have been, and the lessons I learnt along the way;
Sunshine Coast: Follow your Dreams
In 2014 a dream came true; I was given the opportunity to work for six months in Australia. Not only that, but I was based in an absolutely stunning part of the country called The Sunshine Coast. This is an area approximately one hour north of Brisbane (Queensland). It encompasses a number of small coastal towns, such as Mooloolaba, Noosa and Coolum. I was blown away by the natural beauty of the Sunshine Coast, which as well as having numerous pristine beaches also had mountain ranges, rainforests and hinterland. Noosa is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to, and it well deserves its reputation as one of the best places to visit in Australia. I lived my best life whilst in the Sunshine Coast. I felt at peace, happy and motivated to be the best possible version of myself. For example, I started going to the gym six times a week (from zero times a week in the UK!) and I became much more laid back at work and home. This experience taught me how important it is to follow your dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.
Top Tips for Sunshine Coast:
1.Browse the Peregian Beach independent boutiques before relaxing on the idyllic beach
2.Have dinner in one of the many amazing restaurants in Mooloolaba, such as Spice Bar and Thai Lotus
3.Walk through Noosa National Park and admire the stunning views
4.Admire the Blackall Mountain Range from the peaceful Maleny Botanical Gardens
Sydney: See as much as you can
The first trip I took within Australia was a weekend in Sydney. I will never forget getting off the train at the harbour and seeing the Opera House only a few feet away. It took my breath away, and it hit me; this is real. My dream has come true; everything is how it should be. I felt so overwhelmingly happy. I had a fantastic weekend exploring Sydney, it was a great city for tourist sites and shopping, but nothing will beat that first moment. I spent a lot of money travelling around Australia, but when I think back to moments like that, I know that the debt is worth it. I would hate to die or reach old age regretting that I didn’t travel and follow my passions just to save money.
Top Tips for Sydney:
1.Get up early to walk around the Opera House in the early morning sun, before it becomes clogged with (other) tourists!
2.Visit the Sydney Sky Tower to great 360 degrees over the city.
3.Enjoy lunch at one of the cafes in the Harbour overlooking the Harbour Bridge/Opera House.
4.Visit “The Rocks” for great artisan markets, bars and views across the water.
Melbourne: Find Peace in the Chaos
The second city trip I took was to Melbourne. I adored Melbourne, the city had a great vibe about it that is hard to explain. And although it was a very busy city I found that it was very easy to find peace amid the chaos in one of the many cafes, riverside benches, or museums. There is a strong sense of history in Melbourne, with beautiful architecture, but also there are also a plethora of modern buildings and modern art galleries to explore. There are less traditional tourist traps in Melbourne than Sydney but I preferred the atmosphere here, and now I find that in any city (even London) I am able to find a little slice of peace away from the manic city life.
Top Tips for Melbourne:
1.Take the Eureka Edge experience – you are suspended almost 300 metres from a skyscraper in a glass cube and get great views of Melbourne with an added twist!
2. Enjoy a glass of Australian wine at one of the many fashionable riverside bars as the sun goes down.
3. Check out the exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria (I visited the Jean Paul Gautier exhibit which was stunning!).
Auckland: Feel the fear and do it anyway
At the end of my secondment I spent four days visiting a friend that had just moved to Auckland. A highlight of the trip was a new experience for both of us; we bungee jumped off the Auckland Harbour Bridge! We were both very nervous on the morning of the jump, and the anticipation builds as you are strapped into your harness and have to walk half the length of the harbour bridge, to reach the jump site. As I stepped on to the jump platform I was told to stand so that the front half of my feet hung over the edge. I could feel the wind and see nothing but a lot of drop space and deep water below. I was pretty terrified! He started counting; “Three” oh my god, I can’t do this… “Two” No, I have to do this… “One”… I don’t think I thought anything I just jumped! As soon as my feet had left the bridge I was hit with a massive wave of endorphins and adrenaline. It was the biggest rush I have felt, I didn’t scream but instead you could not wipe the giant smile from my face! At the bottom you pull yourself into a seated position and look across the beautiful Auckland skyline as you are raised back up to the bridge. This made the experience even more magical.I want to do more bungee jumps now, although I know that I will still be terrified I also know that it will be worth it!
Top Tips for Auckland:
1.Take the ferry to Waiheke Island for the day and explore the beautiful beaches and vineyards.
2.Visit the Auckland Sky Tower, the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere
3.Bungee off the Harbour Bridge of course!
Mount Coolum: Your mind will quit before your body
One of the mountains that most Sunshine Coast locals have climbed is Mount Coolum. The summit is 208m and it is a relatively steep climb.Being overweight my entire life and only having recently started going to the gym I felt that this would be beyond me, and though I wanted to do it for months I was too afraid to try it. In my final week of being in Australia I decided that I needed to face my fear and overcome my self-doubt. I set out on New Years Day at 6am to try to avoid the summer heat – but it was still over 25 degrees! The climb was tough in the heat, and I stopped a few times on the way up to “take photos” (a.k.a. try to breathe again). Numerous times I told myself “I can’t do this”, “I’m not going to make it”, “I am not good enough”. Then I told myself “shut up” and kept climbing. When I reached the summit I was euphoric! I had done it; I had pushed through and climbed a mountain! I sat and watched the sunrise over the Sunshine Coast and reflected on my time in Australia. I had done so much and had become a much better person than when I arrived. On my final day in the country I had learned one final lesson; your mind will quit before your body so keep going!
Amsterdam: It is who you see the world with
After arriving home from Australia within a week I was already off on the next adventure; a few days in Amsterdam with my partner Cooper (aka Rachel’s brother!). I loved the architecture of the city, and Anne Frank’s house was an incredibly moving experience. This was the first time in six months that I was exploring a new city with someone else, and not only that but the man I loved and who I hadn’t seen in six months. My favourite part of the weekend was just spending quality time together, enjoying each other’s company and sharing new experiences. It is great to travel alone in terms of confidence and personal development, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone to share the adventures and memories with.
Top Tips for Amsterdam:
1.Enjoy a pastry at the Nutella Café.
2.Wander along the many canals and admire the architecture – don’t forget to check out the tall rooftops which often have interesting statues atop them.
3.Visit the Heineken Experience – even as a non beer drinker I had great fun! And it includes a free canal tour across the city.
Copenhagen: See the magic in the world around you
Shortly after my trip to Amsterdam I booked a last minute weekend away with my Mum to Copenhagen. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as I had never really been to Scandinavia or looked into Denmark too much. In the end it turned out to be one my favourite cities! The architecture is incredibly beautiful and there are so many designs, landmarks and statues that have a fairy tale theme. Hans Christian Anderson is one of the city’s most famous residents, the author of one my favourite fairy tales; The Princess and the Pea. My Mum’s favourite landmark was the statue of the Little Mermaid. I loved the spires of the cities that were sculpted as dragon tails. Copenhagen is stunning, especially in the early morning sunshine when there aren’t too many people around. It felt like stepping into a magical world – every little girl’s dream! We also visited the royal palace which truly topped off my feeling of being a fairy tale princess for the weekend!
Top Tips for Copenhagen
1. Take a boat tour to see the main sites from a new angle, and get a feel for the whole city.
2. Enjoy a traditional Danish breakfast along the river in picturesque Nyhavn.
3. Visit the Royal Palace and admire the beautiful reception rooms. The Beauty and the Beast library was my favourite room. You can also enter the tower for free; one of the tallest viewing points to see the whole city and admire the fairy tale rooftops and spires.
Falklands: Get back to nature
Over the past four years I have been lucky enough to visit the Falkland Islands five times with my work. In fact, I am writing this post from the Falklands! There is no wifi or mobile data in the Falklands, unless you are at home, and we spend a lot of time driving around the country, walking on beaches, watching the local wildlife etc.Some of my happiest memories from these trips are watching wild dolphins, seals, sea lions and penguins, or sitting on the picturesque beach whilst the sun sets over a huge clear sky. Every trip I am reminded how peaceful and freeing it can be to step away from technology and reconnect with this amazing world we live in. The struggle is remembering that back in the UK…
Top Tips for the Falklands
1. Fly over to Sea Lion Island to see wild seals, sea lions and penguins in their thousands
2. Spend a night partying at the local “disco” Deanos (beware it shuts at 11pm!)
3. Enjoy the local squid rings and the Malvina Hotel
I hope this post will inspire you to take a trip, maybe just within your own country, maybe some exotic adventure you have wanted to take for years. Whatever it is just get out there and explore a new part of the world, and just maybe you will also find a new part of yourself out there.
A massive thankyou to Charli for writing this for me, and for letting me use her photos. Big thanks to my brother Simon – I nicked one of his as well!!