Well, what a difference a year makes! A year ago today I had just landed in New Zealand and was scrambling around trying to find away to find my phone, ID, and credit card, having left them behind in the car of the people who had driven me from the airport to my hostel – it was made all the harder by the fact that I had only met these people on the flight itself!
It is strange to think that it has been 12months since I last stepped out on English soil. So much has happened since then, however it is safe to say that (more…)
I was in New Zealand and met this girl. Her sister dared me to bungee jump, so I did!
It was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
I wanted to impress the girl, and it worked! – Theo James
Queenstown: 07.12.16 – 08.12.16
Queenstown, adventure capital of the world. Home of endless activities, mountains of food and hours of drink. Queenstown should come with a warning really, something like ‘beware, once you arrive you may never want to leave’.
My time in Queenstown was split by a day trip to Milford Sound, so I’ll split up my writing about it in a similar fashion.
‘There are parts of New Zealand that I absolutely fell in love with
that I will miss going back to,
but I kind of think that is the part that can continue and will continue on.
I don’t imagine I’ll stop going back to New Zealand,
because I feel part of the fabric there, really’ – Andy Serkis
Kaiteriteri is a common destination due to its close proximity to the Abel Tasman National Park. In fact, it’s probably the main/only reason people would go there.
After leaving Wellington and North Island behind via a ferry, we were driven directly to Kaiteriteri, with a brief stop in Nelson. To then get to the Abel Tasman National Park, you usually have to take a water taxi – this is the case whether you are just going to walk around the park or if you are going to kayak.
‘There’s a real purity in New Zealand that doesn’t exist in the states.
It’s actually not an easy thing to find in our world anymore.
It’s a unique place because it is so far away from the rest of the world.
There is a sense of isolation and also being protected’ – Elijah Wood
Without doubt, the Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tour is a must see for any LotR and Hobbit fans. Not only do you learn some amazing behind-the-scenes information, you also discover the insane attention and care that was put into ensuring every detail of this set was absolutely perfect. If that isn’t enough, then there is also a pint of ale or cider at The Green Dragon thrown in for good measure!
‘New Zealand is a country of thirty thousand million sheep,
three million of whom think they are human’ – Barry Humphries
The back end of 2016 saw me begin the biggest adventure of my life thus far; moving abroad. The destination? Australia. My flights were booked, my visa paid for and granted. I was all set to go. But first there was somewhere else I needed to be. New Zealand.
Beginning in Auckland, I had given myself just shy of 6 weeks to travel through both the North and South Island’s, finishing down in Christchurch. It was a lot to fit in in such a small space of time and help was definitely required.
After my success with Oz Experience whilst travelling up Australia’s East Coast the previous year, I made the decision to book myself onto a Kiwi Experience bus pass. Fortunately – due to some fantastic discounts on offer at the time – I was able to purchase the ‘Whole Kit & Caboodle’ pass, which included the additional passes for the Bay of Islands, Milford Sound, and the Deep South.
Christmas 2016 is one I won’t be forgetting any time soon. Not because it was the first Christmas I had featuring the Australian half of my family, and not because it was my first Christmas outside of the UK, but because it was Christmas that took place in the middle of summer.
Rather than piling on the layers and filling myself with Bailey’s & Hot Chocolate, I was jumping in a swimming pool and watching the sunset whilst on the beach. It was odd. It was surreal. It was different.
‘Paris is the only city in the world
where starving to death is still considered an art’ – Carlos Ruiz Zafón
If you haven’t done so already, I would really encourage you to take the Eurostar. Not only does it visit plenty of destinations, if you pick the right trains it can be very inexpensive. For example, my return trip to Paris cost a grand total of £61 – and that includes a £3 booking fee.
The purpose of my visit to Paris was to see a friend of mine – Heather – who I had met in my hostel in Edinburgh. As I had mentioned in that earlier post, I had just clicked with everyone I met in that hostel and – with my upcoming trip to the other side of the world – it felt like an opportunity to good to turn down.
Rather than stay in Paris, I booked an Air BnB in Fourqueux, which can be reached via Saint Germain-En-Laye. I’d 110% recommend staying here as not only is it affordable, but the host is just one of the loveliest people you will meet.
‘Salzburg is storybook Austria. Standing beside the fast-flowing Salzach River, your gaze is raised inch by inch to the Altstadt’s mosaic of graceful domes and spires, the formidable cliff-top fortress and the mountains beyond.’ – Unknown
Day 25: Salzburg 09.09.15
Plan of Action:
The Glacier Hike
Watch the Sound of Music in the evening at the Hostel
The great thing about Yoho Hostel is that it has a pre-organised service allowing you to book day trips with them – and they have quite a heft catalogue to choose from. Amongst the options (which are available all year round) are a Glacier Hike, a Bavarian Mountains and Salt Mines tour and – of course – the effervescent Sound of Music tour. Unfortunately when we turned up at reception in the morning, we learnt that the Glacier Hike was fully booked. Inexplicably, we opted against the Sound of Music tour (I will go back to do this though) and instead decided to take part in the afternoon Bavarian Mountain and Salt Mine tour. As we had risen quite early to book something via reception, the fact that the tour as taking place in the afternoon meant that we had the whole morning in which to explore.
‘While the lake is a fairytale spot for walking, swimming or just relaxing,
it is no sleeping beauty’ – Natalie Paris
Day 24: Ljubljana – Lake Bled – Salzburg 08.09.15
Plan of Action:
Arrive at Lake Bled
Explore the Lake and Bled Castle
Arrive in Salzburg
Lake Bled is, without doubt, one of the closest things to paradise here on Earth. Whilst it’s only a 30 minute train journey from Ljubljana, when the lake first comes into sight it feels like you have been transported to another world entirely.
‘Go at least once a year to a place you’ve never been before’ – Dalai Lama
Note: If there is one place you visit this year, even if only for a weekend, let it be Ljubljana – it’s beautiful.
Day 22: Zagreb – Ljubljana 06.09.15
Plan of Action
Travel from Zagreb to Ljubljana
Find a hostel
Explore Old Town
Visit the Triple Bridge
Travelling from Zagreb to Ljubljana was pretty straightforward actually and we made it in plenty of time. The only downside was that – for the first time – we hadn’t booked a hostel in advance. We had looked into some, but hadn’t come to a decision. We also weren’t sure where the train station was in relation to the town centre. Fortunately, that wasn’t too much of an issue as it is literally a 15-20min walk to the heart of Ljubljana from the station. The station also has some awesome maps that not only lists points of interest, it also lists all hotels and hostels. We ended up settling on a recently re-opened hostel called Dragondoss that was not only inexpensive, but extremely central too.
This is where we hit a slight bump in the road though. Once we got onto the hostels wifi I received an e-mail from a gentleman informing me that I had lost my interrail pass on the walk from the station to the hostel (you write your e-mail in the pass in case of emergency). Fortunately, he and his girlfriend were a lovely and honest couple and he happily provided me with details about where they were – so we set off to find them.