Tag Archives: Travel

Travelling Alone: the Highs and the Lows

Standard

14199711_10154438075094030_742309232285708366_n

When I planned my post-camp travels I originally had a travel buddy, however things changed, and I wound up doing the week and a half trip from Texas to Miami on my lonesome. I’ve travelled alone before in Australia, but this was very different in lots of ways. Australia is designed for backpackers, they are everywhere you go, there are organised ways to meet people and travel with people and everything feels very safe. The US doesn’t have so much of a backpacker culture. I found this out pretty early on during camp when my American colleagues said they didn’t know what a hostel was. Hostels do exist in the US, but they are few and far between, only accessible if properly sought out. They’re also used differently, I met Americans who had just moved and were househunting, I met a few Europeans and a few other post-camp travellers but not many. So not exactly the same carefree traveller lifestyle as Oz.

My first stop after leaving LA was Austin, Texas but I had a night stopover in Houston as I booked my flight at a silly time. Not exactly a great first impression of Texas or a good start to being alone… the hostel literally looked like a crackden, it was falling apart and was eerily empty which was so creepy especially because I had to leave the door open for air con. Naaat a good night. Early morning I was up for my megabus and had to wait an hour in a parking lot filled with druggies and homeless people. Safe to say Houston was not on my list of places to return. I finally made it to Austin, in an actual nice hostel called Firehouse, and took a day trip to Barton Springs. Planned myself a nice day of sunbathing, thought I’d get a selfie in the springs and plop I slipped and fell on my ass, bringing my phone down with me. Down down into that water. When will Joy ever learn to keep hold of phones. That is the million dollar question. So that kind of ruined my day a bit, had to find some rice and go phoneless whilst I prayed to the phone gods to save my trusty Samsung.

Being alone with no phone is not a fun time. Whilst my phone was ricing I walked down the famous 6th street where lots of live music was happening which made me happy. This is something London lacks, you would never walk down a street and see loads of bars with free entry and great live music. I watched a bit of blues in Friends with a Guinness but there’s only so long you can make one $8 Guinness last, so I was in bed by 10. The next day I went in search of something to entertain me and fill the phone void, and I found a cat colouring in book. That’s right. I ate tinned lasagne for dinner, but I splashed $20 on colouring in. Priorities. Trust, it came in useful during later mishaps…

That evening was my overnight bus to New Orleans, still with phone in rice so feeling fairly vulnerable. The first leg was fine but then we stopped off at – guess, only my favourite place – Houston. Midnight in a dodgy bus station in Houston, for reals not my idea of a fun time. I was on edge constantly, hyper aware that I stood out like a sore thumb as probably the only white young woman there, obviously foreign. Back on the bus some man decided it was a great idea to talk to me and warn me about New Orleans nightlife. I lied and said I was meeting friends and he was all ‘oh good, just stick with them and you’ll be fine’. Great. As the sun came up I began to feel vaguely sane again (what is it about the dark that makes everything more scary and daunting), and arrived at my New Orleans India House hostel so early that all my roommates were still asleep.

14232044_10154421593189030_3731002242161635458_o

Too wired to sleep, I jumped on a streetcar and explored the French Quarter. I got a nice coffee, found an amazing jazz band playing on the street (living up to expectations) and lay in the park doing some colouring in. I then decided the time had come to buy a phone. Jack was bringing me one to New York but I could not wait that long. For safety reasons, obvs. Being reunited with communication was a beautiful moment ❤ I may have spent $50 on a phone but I was still such a cheapskate that I hung around outside Starbucks to steal their wifi rather than buy something. Wifi life, serious.

14202643_10154421593694030_8028670811087962284_n

New Orleans ended up being one of my favourite places in the US. At night I went in search of Jazz and I found many many jazz bars playing beautiful music. I watched a nice lady sing smooth songs at The Spotted Cat and I drank a smooth budweiser. Get me all American and shiz. New Orleans is also famous for seafood so I sampled a shrimp gumbo and it was fantabulous. One of my best moments was at the famous Cafe du Monde where I was served a mountain of beignets (French doughnuts) with a mountain of icing sugar on top, and I ate them all in my tummy. That plus superb coffee = best breakfast. In general New Orleans just had a really good vibe, cool but not hipster, southern but welcoming, creative and colourful with character. But still I didn’t feel that I could experience it properly on my own. I saw great restaurants and fun bars and pretty lookouts but I just wished someone was there to see it with me!

I had a similar feeling in Miami, once I got there. The night of my flight was also the aftermath of the hurricane so I got cancelled on, and not wanting to part with more money, I decided to wait out the 14 hours in the airport. This was where the cat colouring in book came in really useful… I sat outside Dunkin Donuts and coloured my life away until some woman was like ‘wow, you’re really working hard on that, keep up the good work’. I was like do you think colouring in is my job..? I spent a hilarious hour on the phone to Jack and Ryan drunk in Ireland trying to translate their mess into actual language which passed the time. Finally I got my butt on a plane and made it to Miami, the last stop before the big NYC.

14232500_10154430968994030_6488913411574080662_n

I stayed in South Beach at a fairly nice hostel called Beds ‘n’ Drinks. I guess pretty much everyone goes to Miami for the nightlife but with me being friendless and penniless (okay not penniless but saving for adventures to come), I decided to stay in my little area rather than brave the big bad city alone. The heat in Miami was unreal, two hours on the beach and I felt like the sun had lobstered me already. I alternated between sunbathing, exploring botanical gardens, writing in cafes (yeah I’m one of those), and window shopping. And when I ran out of things to do I went back to my hostel and ate some super noodles in bed. Oh that high life.

I did come across one of my favourite quotes of all time on the side of a Miami hotel: “Everything in the universe has rhythm, everything dances.” I settled into a bit of a groove being alone in Miami, it wasn’t exactly fun but I made the best of it and went for long walks on the beach and dinners in the square (with my trusty colouring in book, of course). Miami was cool, but I still had the feeling that I wasn’t doing it properly. It was like I was looking at all these places through a looking glass, thinking, this would be a really cool place to come. And then thinking BUT I’M HERE. I just couldn’t really experience or enjoy the places in the way I wanted to. It just goes to show (cheesy line coming up) that a place is just a place, and it’s the people you’re with that make it a destination. Good job next up on my list was NEW YORK BABY and being reunited with Jack..!

Advertisements

Californ-I-A Road Trippin’

Standard

14100378_10154400338579030_7966147713928788566_n

Camp was over and done with, and the moment we had been waiting for had finally come. Our all-american road trip to some of the greatest cities and natural wonders the US has to offer. As there were 5 of us, a Mustang was off the cards, but a 4×4 was next preference and did the job nicely.

First stop was San Francisco, with a 7 hour drive up the coast from LA. We had been told that the California coastal road was so slow it would take us 6 extra hours so we sacked that off, but still got some lovely coastal views! We made one stop at the lovely little town of Danish-inspired Solvang. It looked just like you would expect an American interpretation of a European town to look. Pancakes and omelettes on the patio of an Olde-styley restaurant, a few snaps of some pretty buildings, and we were off.

14068237_10154384682454030_6410622467938424377_n

San Francisco reminded me of Bristol on our drive into the city, colourful wonky houses and lovely views. We had found some cheap central accommodation which obviously turned out to be dodgy as hell, but it did the job. Starving, we explored Chinatown and found a nice restaurant with extra large portions of sweet and sour. My friends from home were in San Fran for a one night crossover so we headed out to a local sports bar for a few bevvies of very strong measure. We were tempted to go out but they had a 5am flight and the drive had tired us out so we decided to save it for the next day!

14102265_10154387079999030_6790929916199351748_n

The most important activity on our agenda was planned for the following day: cycling the Golden Gate Bridge. After coffee and a pastry we wandered the harbour taking in the views of Alcatraz and the seals, and then made our way to a bike rental shop. I was the only loser who wanted a helmet. Soz guys for not wanting to die, I look cool alright. Now I hadn’t cycled in a while but I thought I would be alright… turns out San Francisco has many many hills of deathly nature. By the time we made it to the bridge my legs were already dead! However the views from the bridge made everything worth it, the breeze as we cycled across felt amazing, it was beautiful! I obviously almost crashed many times because I was too focused on staring at the views instead of at the people in front of me. I never realised how long the bridge is, we needed a long break at the other end before we made our way back!

With jelly legs we dropped the bikes off and stopped at the famous Boudin Bakery for a sourdough bread bowl. Omgz so much breads and yummy soups. None of us wanted to move for a while after that day, but we got our predrink on because we had to experience the San Fran nightlife! Turns out that was one we maybe could have passed on… Don’t get me wrong we had a hilarious night, but Mondays in San Francisco are like Christmas holidays in student towns. Even our taxi driver couldn’t recommend anywhere that might be busy. We tried a few bars, attempted to request songs that made DJs hate us, and actually got very drunk ending with me trying to feed Dan dollar dollar bills and eating tin foil. “Don’t listen to the plate, listen to the burrito” – Joy’s drunk mantra to live by.

14079557_10154393717254030_7832607687810753977_n

Our trip took a turn for nature next; we had booked a yurt on the outskirts of Yosemite (which actually turned out to be far less rustic than we thought, plugs and wifi and everything) for one night only to explore the beautiful national park. It was a disgustingly hot day, even hotter in the yurt, so we drove straight out to Yosemite and found a short hike to the falls. In case you hadn’t heard, California is in a long drought, so the falls actually turned out to be a formation of rocks. However the plus side of this meant we could climb up the non-water-falls to the top and get amazing views! (Plus some very instagrammable shots, obvy).

14063962_10154393734994030_864376144923403146_n

The best part of this day was when we found a little pool at the top of the rocks, and decided to strip to our underwear and have a swim. It was such fresh cool water, a welcome respite! Of course I then had the whole dungarees with no knickers fiasco to deal with (how does this always happen to me?) but definitely worth it. One mightily annoying thing about Yosemite is the sincere lack of directions on how to get out of the place. Everything is one way so unfortunately we ended up on the complete opposite side of the park to our yurt. This might not seem like such a big deal except that the park is 4 hours across, so we had a veryyyy long drive back. We made the best of it and bought ciders and four locos for the road, blasting out our fantastic road trip playlists and looking forward to leftover sandwiches at the yurt. Oh the luxury traveller life…

14079841_10154396816394030_4468235437600751309_n

With an 11 hour drive on the cards for the next day, we decided an early morning start would be best. The route to Grand Canyon took us through Yosemite again, and once we had gone past the falls, we came into some of the most amazing surroundings I’ve ever driven through in my life. It was actually surreal, so peaceful driving at 6am with vast mountain faces on either side and openings into beautiful lakes, trees all around, emotional tunes in the background. I felt like I was in one of those car adverts. For reals. The beauty was short lived as we emerged into the neverending desert. This drive was actually fun because it felt like literally driving into nothingness, no cars, no buildings for miles. Some roads were so bumpy it felt like a rollercoaster and we almost did a little poo but then we were back to straight desert plains. Finally we saw the lights of vegas, but sadly this was not our final point, just a Denny’s pitstop and 4 more hours driving to Arizona in stormy rains!

14068314_10154400338769030_5645176761544656202_n

The only thing that could have made that day more tiring was our hotel having no record of our booking. Oh wait, that happened. We actually found it hilarious because we were so delirious, oh life. Finally they sorted us out and we had the best sleeps. Sadly the weather wasn’t in our favour for the big Grand Canyon trip, which we should have expected after the thunderstorms. No rain thank goodness, but no sun either which meant that the famous red glow the rocks have was not so glowy. However this in no way made the Grand Canyon less epic, it is literally the most vast hole you can ever imagine. Much scary teetering over edges and pretending to fall down. Didn’t die, yay us. With a tight schedule we only had a morning to take in the Canyon but that satisfied us, and then we were off to Vegas!

14067687_10154584752595572_9029365047261421611_n

Vegas was the pinnacle of our trip as we were reuniting with all our camp buddies. We arrived at the Golden Nugget hotel and prepared for ‘shit shirt’ night. Actually GREAT shirt night. We explored the old strip, where we were staying, before dinner at a fabulous Irish bar (standard). Irish nachos, you da best. We had many car bombs, cocktails by the hotel pool, and then moved on to a club with dutty tunes where we danced out the remainder of our night. The next morning we returned to the scene of the Irish crimes and actually went for more booze and a shepherds pie at 11am. It’s vegas baby. One thing about vegas: it is HOT. Pool all day all day was all our hangovers could deal with, and it was a great day.

14064140_10154405768554030_2437158683020145192_n

That evening some of us had tickets to see Zedd which was muchly exciting. We took our bottles of vodka to the main strip (travellers on tour in Vegas, what you saying) where we got to see the Bellagio fountain show and I decided my calling in life was to be a fountain show coordinator. Seriously, so cool. Aoife was almost kidnapped by Superman but we rescued her and found some street music that required much booty dancing and creating hilarious videos. On to Zedd which was in a fancy hotel open air pool and bar, so we switched between dancing like maniacs at the front of the crowd and sitting by the pool with our feet dipped. Still raving, of course. We are feet in the water.

14102310_10154406232634030_765856219751763462_n

Our final day in Vegas was a lot more chilled as we realised how poor we were (except for one of us who decided to blow $300 in the casinos). Destiny and I had our final Denny’s lava cake date, a very sad time. We went souvenir shopping and observed many crazy naked performers on the strip. One thing we didn’t do was get a Fat Tuesday.. next time! I actually enjoyed Vegas far more than I thought I would, I mean sure it was tacky and crazy but I kind of loved that. We made it an absolutely great time.

14183772_10154406238169030_8288338425297015335_n

All of that in one week – mental, and probably far more road tripping than normally recommended, but I wouldn’t change a thing! Driving across the vastness of the USA was intense but so much fun, with great company and fantastic tunes. Dan may not have agreed during the times we decided Britney Spears was the way to go, but I’m pretty sure he secretly loved it. We saw some amazing national parks and had crazy fun times and I would do it all again!

Escaping London for a Weekend: Bristol

Standard

IMG_4825.JPG

I often ramble on about hating London, the commute, the stress, the busy busy unfriendly people and the lack of chill time. I think one of the reasons I feel like that is because I’ve been stuck in the London bubble for a long time with no escape. I had allowed the negative aspects of London to annoy me on a daily basis because I hadn’t taken a break away from the busy city life.

This weekend I took the opportunity to go back to the city that holds my heart, Bristol. I always have this feeling when I’m driving into Bristol, like, a breath of relief. Like I’ve been holding my breath in some way the whole time I’ve been going about my London life, and then I arrive in Bristol and it’s welcoming and it’s happiness and quirkiness and me.

I think there are two sides to my happiness at a weekend away from London; on the one hand I’m just happy to have a change and I think any other city would give me that. It’s refreshing to leave your bubble of life and routine, get away from the standard places you go to and experience something different.

On the other hand, it’s being in Bristol specifically that makes me happy. I hadn’t been back in over six months – the longest since starting university! Bad Bristol lover. So returning to the city for a weekend of fun, rediscovering great Bristol hangouts, and catching up with friends, was always going to be pretty exciting.

The main purpose of my visit was to go to the Oxjam Bristol Takeover, which I was involved in organising last year. Oxjam is an annual music festival organised by volunteers in aid of Oxfam, raising money to fight poverty whilst discovering many great unsigned bands. Oxjam Bristol takes place in Stokes Croft, home to some of the most fabulous venues in the city.

My all-time fave new discovery of the weekend was the Chilli & Ginger Cider served at The Crofters Rights. I don’t usually love drinking cider on a night out because it’s fizzy and bloating, but Bristol just does cider so damn well that it’s not an issue. Plus the ginger in this bad boy has a settling effect on the belly (much needed after too many crisps and dips) which makes it even more ingenious.

We also had the good old favourite Lazy Jacks, and a lot of gin. A lot a lot. The Crofters Rights also provided my favourite dancing moment of the night, whilst watching The Rin Tins, a fabulous folky jazzy jive band (a music combination that you can’t NOT dance to). We had a hilarious time getting fully involved and I ended up being flung around the room by a randomly amazing swing dancer man. All the great feels.

Apparently when I go back to Bristol I take on a student state of mind and so thought it absolutely acceptable to purchase a large cheesy chips with lashings of garlic mayo and BBQ. It must have seemed scrumptious because the man next to me took one look and said ‘I’ll have that, please.’

Sunday gave me the opportunity for some Autumn walking around Bristol time with one of my faves. We had some Italian ‘al dente’ pasta foods from Aquila (not the best meal of my life, bad choices, always stick to what you know) and a wonderful afternoon tea experience at The Tea Birds.

Sitting outside drinking tea and eating cake in Autumn is actually a fabulous thing to do. The tea warms you, and there is much people watching to be done which is a favourite activity of ours. People also kept looking at our cake with jealousy so I’m pretty sure we created business for the cafe. They should hire us as permanent example-cake-eater-advertisers. OMG what a great job.

Having a weekend of rediscovering Bristol and my love for the city really made me realise that London isn’t me, I can’t find my place here. I’m living my life in London but it feels like I’m experiencing a city that I’m not really part of. I don’t belong in central London, I’m just a visitor who happens to work here, and as much as I LOVE my home town on the outskirts I don’t fully belong there either. In Bristol I feel a part of the city, part of the buildings and the people and the events and it’s just me. I made Bristol my home, it was the first place I lived independently and I embraced it in every way possible.

Everyone is different. Obviously, many many people love London, and enjoy it in a different way to me, and that’s great. I can see the appeal and there are so many fantastic things to do and opportunities here. But unfortunately for me personally there are too many bugbears and pet hates that I have about London that influence the way I see my life here, and that won’t change.

I don’t plan on leaving London any time soon, my life and my friends are here, but I won’t stay forever, and I need little trips away to remind me of that. London can suck you into a stress-inducing unhealthy way of living, and that’s what I don’t need. Bristol has given me a little taster of lushness, and I want more of that please.

Is too much career choice a bad thing?

Standard

IMG_4711.JPG
I love the fact that at our age there are so many options open to us. It’s not seen as weird or flakey to change career direction, it’s seen as building your portfolio of experience. We have so many transferable skills that we can pretty much try our hand at anything, bar things like medicine or architecture that take a million years of study. And I truly believe that we need to try lots of different options, to see what fits. How do you know if a career is the right one for you until you try it? Your dream job could be completely different to how you imagined it, and yet you could end up loving something you might never have considered. But when does this career trial period of life come to an end? Is there so much choice that we never feel fully satisfied in a job because we know there are always other options for us to explore?

I’m the kind of person who lives way too much in the future, constantly thinking about exciting trips and events and future life plans. I know I need to live more in the moment and enjoy the now, but I think it’s just embedded in my personality. And it’s for this reason that no matter what I’m doing or how much I enjoy it, part of my mind is always considering other opportunities. I imagine myself in so many other situations just to distract myself from the minutiae of everyday routine. I’ll actually walk past builders and think to myself, what if that was my life. I’ll look at everyone on the tube and try and guess what they do, and then imagine myself in their shoes. Obviously I don’t want to be a builder and I definitely couldn’t be even if I tried, but the idea of a totally new different life excites me, whatever it is.

What I’m really trying to escape is routine and repetition. As soon as I’m settled in a job and a way of life, my brain has become used to that routine and is no longer whirring with the newness of it. So it needs something else to focus on. And the thing is, whatever else I did, I would go through exactly the same process. Any change in job or life is exciting for the first few months, but eventually you always settle into a routine.

So what can we do as eternal ‘flitters’, the butterflies of the career world? How do we satisfy our need for change and excitement and novelty in our job choices? I do believe that eventually we will find a life routine that makes our souls happy. It’s probably not about routine being a bad thing, it’s about the routine that you are in. Or maybe it’s about finding a job that doesn’t limit you to a specific routine, that changes daily.

Routine isn’t all about the job or career you’ve chosen, either. Your life choices that take place outside of your career play a massive part too. I think we all need to realise that finding a job and a life you really enjoy takes time, and we shouldn’t just rush from job to job without allowing ourselves to actually settle into anything. Satisfaction comes from getting really good at something, learning new things everyday, and becoming comfortable and familiar with your role and your organisation. Too quickly our mind travels to the idea of a complete life change, as soon as we get slightly bored of what we have now. Change is exhausting as well as exciting, and constantly looking for new and different things to do with our lives can’t be healthy for our minds. Allowing ourselves to enjoy the here and now will have a massive impact on our happiness and energy.

Of course, there is a definite possibility that the job you do is completely unsuited to you, and in that case you’re allowed to consider other options. But I also believe that when the time is right, opportunities will come to you. You might love the place you work but hate your role, in which case instead of flying to the other side of the world you could explore options and experiences within that organisation. You might have a hobby or skill which you never realised could actually be turned into a career. You might need to go back to studying in order to get your dream job, and that’s okay. Or you might need to take some time out of the career world to travel or volunteer in order to realise what your life calling is, and that’s okay too.

This might be a bit of a tangent and is probably a whole separate discussion, but I think the strain of living and working in London has a big influence on our wellbeing. We probably blame our jobs for our frustration with life and daily routine, but the truth is, London life is draining. We see all the opportunities for fun that London offers but we never have time to make the most of them because we’re not on holiday, we’re living a life. We feel a constant need to keep up with the hustle and bustle of London busybodies, so we’ll attempt to rent a fun flat and do fun things because YOLO but then AHH how am I ever going to buy a house and be a grown up. And then even when we find a place, no one in their twenties can afford to live as central as they would like, so we add 1-2 hours to our working day just travelling on hot sweaty tubes. Naaada fun.

This was not meant to be a rant about London, because I love it and it’s great and all. But I think we too often search for a new career because something about life isn’t satisfying us, and we don’t consider other factors. We could move from job to job within London, or any city, without finding something that sticks. Maybe we should be looking outside the box of life that we sit in and the circles we move in. Maybe we shouldn’t be afraid to take a leap and step out of our comfort zone.

Only you know what makes you happy, whether that’s the career you’re in, or the career you want, or something else entirely. All I know is constantly searching for something when you’re not sure of what probably isn’t going to lead you anywhere. We need to learn to enjoy where we are in our lives at the moment, but not be scared to embrace opportunities. Because before you know it everything will be changing and we’ll be oldies settling down, and that is scary as HELL.

Europe Travelling Vibes: Budapest

Standard
11951770_10153562559314804_3381636730824103137_n
Budapest was one of the cities I instantly fell in love with. It probably wasn’t as traditionally pretty as Prague, but it just had such a great vibe of fun and life, and felt simultaneously busy and chilled. It was the kind of city I could see myself living in, as opposed to just visiting. The streets are all so wide and the buildings have an old school feel to them, not in a crumbling dead way but in a hip and happening way. Yes I just said hip and happening. But one of the main reasons I loved it and need to go back, is that after 3 days I felt like I’d barely scraped the surface. We saw and did so much but I have the feeling Budapest has a lot more to offer…
.
Our arrival in Budapest felt like the hottest day yet, if that’s possible. Having checked in to our hippie hostel (we love them hippie places), we decided a trip to the spa was the most obvious choice of activity. The supposedly amazing Szechenyi baths were ridiculously busy with mile long queues, so we sacked that off and went to the Gellert baths. This turned out to be an indoor spa but we were so boiling that it was a blessing in disguise. We spent a luxurious amount of time going from heated pool to heated pool to OMG THIS IS COLDER THAN THE NORTH POLE plunge pool. It was very refreshing. Especially when Laura decided to throw ice at us. Such children. The whole experience of chilling in the spas was so nice and relaxing, that at one point I actually fell asleep. In the water. Napping in all of the places just went to a new level…
11896087_10153562559324804_4068577661003462829_n
One of the great things about Budapest was the nightlife. However we made an initial error. Having had amazing bar crawl experiences in Prague and Vienna, we thought the same should apply here. So we tagged on to a bar crawl just off the main square, only to experience the worst vibes of all bar crawl vibes. No fun was being had, no music was being played, and when I asked where the night would be taking us not one of the places we had heard of was included. Lesson learnt: Budapest doesn’t need bar crawls. The bars are good enough themselves. We ran away from those boring people and went to find Szimpla Kert, which had been described as a Glastonbury bar. It did not disappoint. Lots of the great bars in Budapest are called ‘ruins bars’ because they are in old ruined buildings that have open skies. Szimpla was one of these, but also had a million different rooms and alcoves with quirky decor and great R&B music.
.
We didn’t even get to explore the upstairs sections because we got stuck showing our party tricks in the main courtyard and then wandered off for, guess what, tequila. Tequila was definitely the drink of choice this whole holiday. You just can’t beat it, plus the measures in Budapest are veryy over generous. Szimpla was not the be all and end all though, oh no. After the ruins bars was the ruins club, instant. This was like an actual maze, made all the more confusing by additional tequilas. We eventually found our way into a dance room with a heat that hits you like a ton of bricks as soon as you enter. I’m talking sauna heat. The music was so good we decided to tie up our hair and get over it. All of the sweats, hi attractive. We are life.
11900043_10153562559354804_3850910734720732282_n
Our second day in Budapest we spent out of the city, on the island of Sziget. Isn’t that a festival I hear you say? Damn right it is. Everyone in Budapest and Prague and Europe had been talking about Sziget festival, so we decided we couldn’t not go. As if we weren’t squeezing enough into this interrailing trip, now we had a festival to add to our list. Of course we went full out glitter tattoos and flowery accessories, because all the yes. We were there by 2 and so had the whole day to wander and eat festival food and drink cheap wine (thank you Italian Sziget bar). Music-wise there wasn’t much going on before the main acts but we found a DJ area with sprinklers which was our idea of heaven so spent a good hour dancing and making fools of ourselves there.
11949367_10153562559319804_2786758660747639808_n
They had a cool art zone with nifty crafty things and gorillas (why not), a ‘Sziget beach’ which sounded exciting but looked skanky, and a cultural folk stage with flower and mushroom statues that played wonderful Hungarian music. One thing we learnt from walking around the camp was, we could not have camped. Imagine the heat and sweat magnified a million times plus no sleep. No no no. But it’s so near the city you could definitely get a hostel/apartment for the whole festival, best of both worlds. Once the music properly started we decided it was tequila time (always). We then discovered that we do know songs by Awolnation, and Kasabian are great men to jump and dance to. The next couple of hours were a bit of a stressful blur, we met people (‘these girls are everywhere’.. Not stalkers promise), we lost people, we saw Avicii and sat on tall men’s shoulders (best) and we generally loved festival life.
11904705_10153562559844804_878359580620533226_n
But the best part of Sziget and my most happy discovery was the after hours DJ in the woods. Now I don’t expect any words I can give will do him justice, but I’m going to try. Imagine all your old school gangsta R&B dreams come true, so much getting low your legs hurt, every song teasing and surprising and better than the last, and The. Most. Addictive. Wiggle. Remix. You have ever heard. I want to wiggle right now just thinking about it. It was that kind of random situation where we stumbled across a good song and dancing in the woods and it ended up being better than all our expectations. Every song he played was a STOP IT moment. I sat on the floor it was too good. I was overwhelmed and drunk don’t judge me.
.
The weird thing was this area wasn’t even busy, and the people who were there seemed mainly weirdos.. One man tried to stroke Laura’s face, another guy had ripped shorts and a glittery hat and had the nerve to judge our bumbags (shh), and one man tried to feed us dodgy Mojitos. I was like DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THIS IS THE BEST DJ EVER LEAVE ME ALONE I JUST WANT TO DANCE. Such a dancing diva. We took a short interlude to have a shot of Palinka, a lethal Hungarian alcohol, and make a video record of this momentous moment. Camera says yes (video montage will be made soon, don’t worry.. Embarrassingly great things to come). At 5am we said a sad farewell to our DJ love and lost grace (again) so thought we would give the dance tent a try. By this time only the proper hardcore scary people were left and the boomboomboom-no-melody stuff just wasn’t cutting it for us. So we laid our knackered bodies to rest on the grass and waited until we could gather together at 7am to return to our hostel. Great, great day.
.
On the night of the infamous Sparty (spa-party in case you were wondering) I unfortunately got ill due to too much partying. Slash fortunately depending on if you believe the STI stories. So whilst I ran home from the station to be sick and die in bed, Grace and Laura went on an adventure. From what I gathered, the general vibe of the pool party was a slash between sausage fest / malia style party / amazing fun drinking and let’s get wet time. They gave you a card that you put money onto, and then the baths were your oyster. The main learning that was taken from this experience, was that all important proverb ‘Boys look good with wet hair’. This does not necessarily mean that they look good with dry hair. Having spent all evening with some supposedly ‘hot’ boys, wingmanning and having all the funs in the baths, they arranged to meet said boys outside afterwards. At first sight of the boys and their blow-dried hair, Laura and Grace could do nothing except collapse on the floor in fits of laughter for an unacceptable amount of time. One boy had curtains. CURTAINS. It is not 1990 and you are not in A1. The other boy didn’t have the most terrible of hairs, but he was wearing a button down beige T-shirt, three quarter length trousers and green converse. Yes green. All there was left to do was pretend father Julian was calling (at 3am, obvs) and run out of there…
11224230_10153107553418457_7050075917147274050_n
Most of our days we just spent wandering. We stumbled across a few lovely squares and green areas and a water feature that we sat and dangled our legs in. Let me tell you, that is exactly what you need on a hungover day. None of this dominos in a dark room watching films, out in the sun with your legs in a cool pool and you’re dandy. We even managed to lay down and do a little sunbathing. Until it got too hot so we tried wading further into the pool, only to have scary Hungarian policemen shout at us. The sights and buildings that you would want to see are quite spread out over both sides of the river (Buda and Pest) so we decided the only way was to bike it. Bear in mind that I hadn’t cycled for about ten years, so I was basically bambi on a bike. I was almost run over multiple times. Grace took it upon herself to be the bike leader and ding the bell whenever people got in our way. Which was unfortunately on the pavements most of the time, when it was actually our fault, but hey ho.
.
We took our bikes along the river to see the Royal Palace and the old beautiful buildings, and then across to parliament. I loved the fact that you can see the sights up close and also have amazing views of the other sights from either side of the river. We stumbled across the Jewish shoe memorial which was pretty humbling. And then we had a tyre-defeating journey across many cobbled stones. That’s right, I got a flat tyre. Because why shouldn’t more challenges be added to my first-bike-ride-in-ten-years? At first I just tried to ride it anyway, but that resulted in squelchy bumbly unhealthy noises that scared me. Which meant I had to partake in the ‘I promise I can ride a bike I just like to walk alongside it in this awkward way’ look.
11745844_10153562560364804_2306510134984514130_n
The day went from unlucky to unluckier, as we attempted to book our sleeper beds for the 15 hour journey to Croatia only to be told by the train lady that not only were there no beds left, there were no seats left. We had two options: stay another night in Budapest and risk missing our ferry the next day, or stand. For 15 hours. Of course we went for the sensible option. We chose to stand. We presumed that there would be something vaguely resembling a floor where we might be able to rest our bodies and use our backpacks for pillows, classy. Rough and ready… From there, we took the metro to the main train station only to be stopped by train officers who discovered that our 3 day passes were expired by one hour.
.
They had no mercy, they fined us 8000 HUF on the spot. The evil woman even followed Grace the whole way to the cashpoint to make sure she didn’t run away… I mean, seriously. And then the evil man had the cheek to give us back our train pass and say “you can keep the ticket as a souvenir.” PISS OFF TRAIN MAN. It was like they wanted to antagonise us because we are stupid British tourists. So yeah, you could say that wasn’t the best day of our entire trip. Entering Keleti station was nothing like it’s been in the news recently, but it was still a bit of a shock to the system to see so many refugees basically living there, playing football and hanging out. We weren’t expecting it at all, and it took us by surprise to be faced with real world problems having lived in our interrail bubble for so long.
11249307_10153562565714804_1989143993179615872_n
We were actually massively lucky once we got on the train (and sneaky), we fought our way on first and took the only unreserved seats left so we wouldn’t die from 15 hours upright. Laura ended up having to pay for hers but some Italian men charmed the train operator for us so we got away with it, score. As much as we had been dreading the overnight train it ended up being quite fun. We played Italian card games called ‘shit’ where you collect shit and clean up the shit. Italian humour? Italians were replaced by blond Swedish men. We attempted to sleep for a few hours which ended in awkward shoulder leaning moments and legs entwined everywhere. Naughty. The only negative/hilarious part of the journey was when we reached the border and passport control came stomping onto the train in a very aggressive manner. Grace just so happened to be in the toilet at this time (of course), but they would not accept this. They banged her door down and shone a light in her face, demanding she get her passport out immediately. A crime to go to the toilet? Whoever knows. All of the eventfulness. And then the scenery changed and we saw hills and coasts and THE SEA. We have arrived. Croatia you beauty, oh how ready we are.

A Month Of Sevens

Standard

1560551_10153322577214804_291400234273021532_n I’ve never been a particularly sporty person. In fact, I’m probably what you would call distinctly bad at sport. Worst hand-eye coordination in the school, I would be the most failing person even in simple throw-and-catch. Don’t get me started on actual sports. Myself and my equally unsporty friend would pair off so we didn’t have to cripple others with our pitiful serves and flailing attempts at hitting anything. A low point came when we played Quaser laser. Not a sport, right? Still defeated us. We came like a thousand points behind everyone else. But hey, everyone else had fun destroying us so great birthday obvs. Despite this aversion to all things sport, I decided to devote two of my weekends this month to sporting events. What’s the attraction if I don’t like sport? Fancy dress and alcohol mainly. But also the great festival atmosphere – sports teams are a crazy bunch in general and to be honest I just love joining in with the antics. That’s not to say we completely ignored the actual watching of sport involved in these events, we spectated many a rugby game and many a dodgeball match. But cheer as we may have done, I still have virtually no clue what the rules are. Here’s how it went… 11181923_10153305396154804_5740782064364700179_n Our first sporting event was the Twickenham 7s. Having never attended before, I had heard a few stories but for the most part had no idea what to expect. We put on our ‘out of this world’ get-up involving galaxy leggings, far too much silver spray (old lady hair) and armbands, arriving around 1pm (only 4 hours after the games had started). I was still drunk from the night before so of course the only way was onwards and upwards with the beers. Ladsladslads. I have to say I was slightly disappointed with a few of the outfits we observed. As soon as we arrived we noticed many groups of lifeguards. I’m sorry, but how are lifeguards out of this world?! I know you might want to look like a sexy baywatch character but you don’t, you’re just a twat who didn’t understand the theme. Well done you. Rant over – besides the offending lifeguards the fancy dress effort was pretty strong, although loads of people had copied our leggings. Way to be original guys. 10408568_10153305396474804_772150164610592041_n   11236428_10153305396904804_6977475632897524385_n

The fact that it was a beautifully sunny day definitely contributed to my enjoyment of the rugby, plus the fact that games are only 14 minutes – why can’t all sport be that short? My favourite part of the games was the tuneage everytime a try was scored, we cracked out many a dance move. Having missed the England game we took it upon ourselves to support a variety of nationalities, most of whom lost. Underdog what you saying. After we got bored of sitting in the stands (and considerably drunker) we ventured outside to discover a festival-like DJ stage which was definitely one of the high points, all the tunes. 11150468_10153305396809804_9039014153943563027_n Speaking of high points, this day had many. It also had many low points. Mainly to do with travel. Trying to get that many people onto a train at Twickenham at the same time is just never going to work. The poor people who just wanted to get an innocent train to clapham would have had an explosion of space people forced on them. Luckily I wasn’t too aware of these struggles as I had reached my drunkest and was a slightly half asleep walking zombie. The one saving grace of this journey was our transformation into the song-starters. Oh yes that’s right. We got the entire train singing Whitney and R. Kelly. There’s not anyone who can’t join in when they hear ‘my minds telling me nooooo…’ After a cheeky KFC in clapham, travel disaster followed travel disaster – I directed my friends to a bus going in the wrong direction (standard joy behaviour) and by the time we realised, no ubers would come and get us so we had to trek it to another bus. Suffice it to say my friend was less than pleased with me and sat at the front of the bus ignoring me for the entire ride. Stubborn drunks that we are. 11010504_10153286689434030_4538813055353027617_n You could say that once we arrived at clapham high street we had been defeated by the highs and lows of the day and should have gone home. We certainly felt like it. But instead we decided to check out the queue for infernos. We made the right choice, obviously. We had the best night three ridiculous dancers dressed like space mermaids can have. There was interpretive, there were routines, there were fistpumps out of respect for our bumbags, there were random props being found on the floor and presented to us, there was the cheesiest music in the land, and there was the fact that we were all perfect drunk. Always. We ended a beautiful day of beautiful rugby and fabulous outfits with a second takeaway. You can’t go to infernos without getting maccies, right?! So that was Twickenham. Bournemouth was a slightly different experience given that we attended a whole weekend of sport and camping amongst sporty sportspeople. You could say we were immersed into sports culture and that’s why we have this new found love for all kinds of sevens. I’m ashamed to say that we reused fancy dress outfits for this occasion. This was not out of laziness, but simply because our fancy dress efforts have been so great we wanted to experience them again. We slightly changed our space costumes to become ‘tight and bright’, and for ‘superheroes’ we chose our old New Years Eve favourite. That’s right, I was Ron Weasley. Don’t even think about suggesting that Ron is not a superhero. Did you not see his chess game? So much sass. 11261582_10152912877273457_3396595336378410903_n The weather was beautiful again (the sun has been loving all of the sevens this month) so we pretty much just loved life for the whole of the first day watching rugby men and drinking beer. One of the most entertaining parts of the rugby game (in my opinion) is watching their warm ups on the side beforehand. It’s like they try to emit as much manliness as possible to macho themselves up but in actual fact they are just doing yoga. I’m not complaining, in fact the yoga-rugby collaboration gave me a higher appreciation for the game. Being camped near a Scotland rugby team and having embraced Scottish rugby on our trip to Edinburgh, we ended up taking it upon ourselves to support them through the cup. We may have unwittingly become Scotland groupies. I promise we’re not stalkers we just love Scotland and rugby. And they did win the cup so our choice of stalkering was rightly made. Of course the sport watching was fabulous and the main reason for the festival, but after the games had finished was when the fun really started. The alcohols we sneaked past security came out and the campsite became a place of dancing, banterous conversations, rope skipping, cartwheels, selfie sticks, and colouring in. That’s right, a man came up to me with a drawing and some crayolas and asked me to help him colour it in. Not gonna lie, my colouring was on point and we made ourselves a great giraffe picture (which I was allowed to keep as a token, thank you strange man). Once we were suitably liquored up we ventured off to discover the tents where our dance moves would be most appreciated (after some mash and the best ride of our lives, obvs). Turns out many. The music was so great that we found ourselves hopping between the 80s tent and German tent in equal measures. The 80s brought us great opportunities for wand dancing, getting low, congaing, and being all round ridiculous. The German tent brought us dancing on tables which let’s face it can’t often be beaten. If that wasn’t great enough we had the music man, the superman song, the Macarena, and at the end of the night especially for us ‘I will always love you’ to which we performed the best interpretive dance you could ever have seen. You wish you were there.

11168950_10153351096404804_1704801996824316603_n        22507_10153351096319804_8038266482438338034_n

We trialled the other hipster tents but other than a brief moshing session to Sandstorm surrounded by mental people we returned to our faves. When you’ve got all the cheesy music on offer why would you ever leave. I’ll admit the whole experience may have made us a bit too excited and crazy and one of us may have become a bit of a naughty girl. You know who you are. All the guys and all the arms. Even a few cuddles. And a rather scary experience of being lifted up and over the railings of the stage.. Smart decisions are always made in the 80s tent. If I have one complaint it’s that the music stopped at 1am. Like seriously what is this, we just found our grooves. No one seemed willing to let the night end so a chant of ‘Yaya Kolo Toure’ was started and went on for half an hour. We loved it. Didn’t you know we’re football louts now too.

11233090_10153322731889804_4690362851231221415_n   1907540_10153351095974804_1880614135228387768_n

Eating all the foods is a standard part of any festival, but this time we really excelled in our food traditions. Burgers, chips and then hog roasts were all had in an ashamedly short time period. We were so committed to our food moment that we decided to take our foods into the tent to allow ourselves the freedom of ugly eating. Always a necessity to full enjoyment of foods. One of us took it upon herself to become wingman for the night, and apparently the way to wingman is to parade around saying to everyone ‘I. Am. A wingman. Guys. I’m a wingman. HELLO I’VE SET IT UP I’VE WINGMANNED YOU COME ON NOW’. If nothing else at least she wingmanned herself. All the cuddles. IMG_3370 If there is one thing to be said of spending an entire weekend surrounded by rugby lads, it’s that they like to get naked a lot. We saw far too many willies and sights that should not be repeated ever. Let’s just say there was a lot of pissing, some group stage performances, and some initiation activities involving licking. I’m not sure if they were traditions or just lads being lads, and actually I’m not sure which would be more worrying. One rugby team near us who had recently been getting naked and making twats of themselves sent someone over to pick me up and carry me into the middle of their circle. I’ll be honest, I was scared for my life. However I ended up having a beautiful moment whereby the whole team got on their knees and serenaded me. And then drew a scar on my head. Seriously such a lack of appreciation for Ron. HARRY HAS A SCAR NOT RON OKAY. 11262991_10153326131554804_1661886916005252984_n Reminiscing on the best of our sports related fun makes me feel that we need to seek out another sevens activity soon. We may be the least coordinated and clumsiest people ever but this shouldn’t mean sporting events are off limits for us. So what if we end up making fools of ourselves in various ways (when do we not), we get to unashamedly act like lads for the day or the weekend and always end up the drunkest. No regrets.

11295634_10153287105544030_7095097865416285548_n        11392956_10153287104654030_7213358230149768671_n

…. who knows. Vlog to come, be ready.

25 Things About 18-year-old Me

Standard

1930801_27881949029_5213_n

Anyone remember facebook notes? I forgot they existed until recently when I discovered I actually had some, written in 2009. Apparently it was one of those ‘share 25 things about yourself and get all your friends to do the same’. I doubt any of my friends wanted to partake in this tradition after reading my ridiculously cringe attempt to describe my weird self. I could say that these only apply to 18-year-old me, I’ve changed, matured; but that would most certainly be a lie. As we all know, I just am slightly strange and I apologise in advance for this insight into the brain of me.

1. When I was younger, I used to sing Happy Birthday to the clean floor.

2. I was nearly killed by a psycho man with my TV.

3. I wish I was Harry Potter.

4. I like to think I can cook. I probably can’t.

5. I have a tendency to lose things.

6. I love my sister so much and am going to miss her unbelievably when I leave.

7. I believe in fate, everything is a sign or everything happens for a reason.

8. I am extremely scared to go to Australia by myself but amazingly excited.

9. I secretly love really nerdy songs/artists. Such as Aqua. And the Vengaboys.

10. I miss the days when we used to dress up and run around London taking pictures of ourselves and didn’t care what people thought.

11. My aim in life is to go to every country in the world.

12. I am amazed I haven’t crashed yet.

13. Sometimes I prefer being with my family (plus Maya and Valerie). They are one of the only times I feel like I can completely be myself. And I love them lots.

14. I think I have a little bit of OCD.

15. I have a phobia of drowning and when I think about it I kind of choke.

16. Jazz is my favourite kind of music because it makes me happy.

17. I love laughing so much you can’t breathe and you don’t even know what you’re laughing about anymore.

18. I find really weird things funny (the beautiful gay boy who dances to Hairspray on youtube; Michael Taplin’s laugh; many times with my sister and Maya…Italy…Girls on Time)

19. The best feeling ever is dancing in the rain when completely drunk.

20. I love Grace Shellard, Alex Sessions and Harry Kalavazides. I want Julian to dance for me. Harry I love you really no matter how much I make fun of your coat. Alex buy me lunch please.

21. I should be fat.

22. I miss having sleepovers and sitting around the campfire which is really a torch.

23. I wish I could have more parties but I really don’t have enough money to pay for any more broken doors.

24. I tend to tell people to get over it a lot.

25. I want to stay this age forever.

So I obviously didn’t stay 18 forever (this thing called time happened), but I still wholeheartedly agree with every one of these points (minus the going to Australia thing). One of the most hilarious things about discovering this old gem was the comments underneath, and I quote:

‘DANCING IN THE RAIN IN GREENBELT DURNK AND HALF NAKED WITH HOT PEOPLE IS BETTER. AND NO POUR ALMOND INTO HOLEY EGG CUP! LUSM XXXXXXXXXX’

The scary thing about that is it makes total and complete sense to me. In the New Year I might try and compose a 25 things about 24-year-old me and see how they differ. Likelihood is they will actually be even more bizarre. By my experience ridiculousness only increases with age as we care less about what people think of us and more about enjoying every moment, laughing so much you can’t breathe. 18-year-old me got it right.