British Bucket-List

After having travelled through London for the Olympics in 2012, including a few other occasions and having lived here for 2 years… I still have only scratched the surface.

The UK has an endless list of activities to suit any budget or preference. They say if you’re bored with London, you’re bored with life… So in no particular order, here are my top picks.

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1. Silent Disco at the Top of the Shard

2. Traditional High Tea at a fancy hotel (my pick was Claridge’s)

3. Explore the Egyptian section at the British Museum (free)

4. Experience the view from the top of St. Paul’s Catherdal and explore the interior

5. Visit the Dinosaur Exhibition at The Natural History Museum (free)

6. Eat delicious sushi at the outside section of Sushi Samba (preferably at sunset)

7. Experience the Jack Ripper Tour

8. Eat breakfast at Duck & Waffle (preferably at sunrise)

9. Sip cocktails at Cahoot’s (my personal favourite bar in the world)

10. Eat a burger at at Five Guys

11. See a show on the West End

  • Matilda
  • Book of Morman
  • Miss Saigon
  • The Lion King
  • Les Miserable
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Kinky Boots

12. Eat pasta at Jamie’s Italian

13. Try the cheapest and most delicious steak in London at Flat Iron

14. Watch the sunset by the Thames overlooking Big Ben and Westminster Abbey

15. Ride Barclay Bicycles in the park (free)

16. See a show at Shakespeare’s Globe (book in advance)

17. Have a picnic in Richmond Park and look out for the deers (free)

18. Visit the Science Museum for adults only the last Wednesday of every month (free)

19. Have a picnic with ciders at the top of Primrose Hill (free)

20. Have a boogie at the Ministry of Sound Club

21. Watch ‘The Nutcracker’ during Christmas time at the Royal Albert Hall

22. Eat a burger at Hache in Shoreditch

23. Eat a brownie at Borough Markets

24. Enjoy a meal at Blue’s Kitchen in Brixton, Shoreditch or Camden

25. Explore Spitafield Markets and maybe vintage shop

26. Have a drink and admire the view from the Shard

27. Enjoy a drink at Happiness Forgets in Hoxton (speakeasy)

28. Try a slice at Pizza Pilgrims

29. Get some friends together and crazy golf in Central London

30. Take a ride on the London Eye

31. Experience Notting Hill Carnival in all its glory

32. Climb the O2

33. Embark on a Monopoly Pub Crawl (great way to see some classic British pubs)

34. Cocktails overlooking St. Paul’s and London’s skyline at Madison’s Rooftop Bar

35. Wander around the beautiful Christmas Lights on Oxford, Regent and Carnaby Street

36. Sunday roast at The Jugged Hare near Barbican

37. Brunch at M!lk in Balham

38. Enjoy some cheap and delicious Indian food on Brick Lane

39. Day trip to Oxford to explore the university grounds and cosy pubs

40. Book in advance and experience Harry Potter World in Watford (just outside London)

41. Day trip to Brighton to get some time by the sea with some fish & chips

42. See a show at Shakespeare’s Globe (I splurged bought seating tickets… it’s a long performance)

43. Day trip to Cambridge to explore the university grounds and go punting

44. Have a boogie at Koko Nightclub in Camden

45. Explore Portobello Markets and spot where Notting Hill was filmed

46. Go hiking around Hampstead Heath and see where some famous faces lived

47. Visit Platform 9 and 3/4

48. During the winter season, go ice skating at Somerset House

49.During the winter season, embrace the atmosphere at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

50. Enjoy a reasonably priced High Tea at London Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square (overlooking the stunning skyline)

51. Enjoy a delicious cocktail at Mr Fogg’s (witness everything encountered in Mr Fogg’s 80 day journey around the world)

52. Visit Piccadilly Circus at night

53. Enjoy a quirky drink at Bart’s hidden cocktail bar (if you can figure out the password)

54. Walk through a fridge door to discover The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

55. Treat yourself to a cookie of your choice at Ben’s Cookies

many more to come as I tick more-off my list. Stay tuned.

Happy exploring! 

30 by 30

As I am fast approaching a quarter century I thought it was fit to create a list of 30 adventures I want to accomplish before I am 30 years old.

In my short time on this wonderful earth, I am lucky enough to have travelled to 34 countries. Each city and person I have met along the way, enriching and humbling me.

Whilst I do not travel to boast about the number of countries I have been to, when I downloaded ‘The Been App‘, it excited me how much of the world I have seen… but also how much more there is to see!

Over my few years of solo travel, I truly recognise how connected we all are in this seemly big world. We all want to be loved, feel a sense of purpose and evidently belong. This is what travel brings to my life and why I think it is important to reflect on what you truly value and set yourself achievable goals. This is why today as I was sitting on a train back to London, I wrote a list of 30 experiences I want to achieve before I turn thirty years old.

In no particular order, this is my 30 by 30 list:

1. Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

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2. Diving between two continents in Iceland

3. Witness the Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights

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Personally photographed in Abisko National Park, Sweden

4. Swim in the Great Barrier Reef

5. Hot Air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey

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6. Walk the entire Great Wall of China

 

7. Live abroad

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Personally photographer June 2015 at London Southbank

8. Visit the Taj Mahal, India

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9. See the sunrise over Ankor Wat, Cambodia

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Photo taken New Years Eve 2013/14 in Siem Riep, Cambodia


10.
Skydive somewhere in the world

11. Attend Tomorrowland Festival, Belgium ✔

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12.
Attend Oktoberfest Festival in Munich, Germany

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Photograph taken Oktoberfest Closing Weekend 2015


13. Full-moon party in Thailand

14. Dogsledding in Scandinavia

15. Run a marathon

16. View NYC from the top of Rockafeller Tower ✔

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17. Witness the sunset in Oia, Santorini

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18. Eat sushi in Japan

19. Climb to the top of Adams Peak, Sri Lanka

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Christmas Day 2013 at sunrise on the peak of Siri Pada, Sri Lanka


20. Climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

21. Teaching abroad for a year

22. Hike through the Himalayas

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23. Embark on an African Safari

24. Backpack through Central and/or South America for a few months

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An absolute dream to explore the Galapagos Islands
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Christ of Redeemer atop a hill in Brazil


25. Swim in the Ik Kil Cenote of Yacatan, Mexico

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26. Ski on Whistler Mountain, Canada

27. Visit Russia via the Trans-Siberian Railway

28. Drive the classic American road-trip: Route 66

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29. Float on the Dead Set and visit Petra in Jordan

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30. Move to Melbourne for at least 12 months

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Rated one of the most liveable cities in the world, why not test the stats?

As a twenty-someone, I have recognised that as we get older things get a little more complicated and it becomes more difficult to make plans. May it be commitment to your career, schedule or family.

So whilst I have this freedom, I am going to enjoy every ounce of fun and challenge this decade has to offer me. 30 by 30, bring it on.

A magical orphans Christmas

The end of 2015 was fast approaching and I didn’t have any solid plans for Christmas. I knew I couldn’t fly back to Australia and I also knew I wanted to travel. So I decided to end the year where I started it, in Amsterdam. 

 

I often forget that there are so many fellow travelers that are in the same boat as me, away from family this Christmas. So I travelled on an Orphans Christmas tour from London to Amsterdam. Never could I have imagined that it would be my best Christmas to date. 

 

I arrived at Wombats Hostel in London at 5.30am and by 6.00am I had met a group of people that I would now call family. We sat on the back seat (bandits) of the coach and within hours we were officially the Amsterdam Squad. 

 

Why will Amsterdam always be one of my favourite cities in the world? 

  • Coffee shops are always a good idea. Especially when the chocolate brownies taste so good.
  • The red light district is unique experience 
  • The abundance of incredible museums from the Anne Frank House to Van Gogh. 
  • Dutch people are so friendly and beautiful 
  • There are more bicycles than people, I will always support less cars on roads 
  • The nightlife is great, especially so because of the carefree nature of the city 
  • Heineken tastes better in Amsterdam, especially when you try it at the factory
  • The canals are absolutely stunning and there are plenty of them 
  • The Dutch love fries and mayonnaise – brilliant, right?

  

Christmas in particular was very special as I started the day riding my bicycle around the beautiful streets of Amsterdam past canals and stunning architecture. I then had a Christmas boat cruise on the canal. It was pretty spectacular. 

  
After copious amounts of Heineken and lots of laughs, I realized that 2015 was my best Christmas spent with people that have a carefree and loving spirit. No matter where you are in the world, you never know who you may cross paths with. Family comes in many shapes and forms.
  

Living abroad for at least one year of your life, should be mandatory.

As I am fast approaching the end of my first year in London, I am beginning to reflect on what has been the greatest but most challenging experience of my life.

Having lived abroad for a year now, I can not imagine a life without exploring all this magnificent world has to offer. As cliched as this sounds, my life will certainly never be the same. Since moving abroad alone, I have quickly become a self-reliant, independent and stronger person.Travel isn’t all about beautiful views and ‪#‎hashtags‬, there is a lot left off social media to create a more positive perspective. Since I have started travelling the world, I have seen my fair share of poverty, crime and pollution. This has made me incredibly grateful to be born in a wealthy country. We have access to free education, public health, clean water and streets. We have opportunities that some people could only dream of, which is why I ceased the opportunity and moved half way across the world…. all alone.Solo travel and living abroad alone can both be very challenging. Flights get delayed, you get incredibly homesick at times and when things don’t go the way you plan, you only have yourself to rely on. Ultimately it’s your resilience and state of mind that determines your happiness. There are times when I have thought that life was easier back in Australia, but then I realised there is a huge difference between being alone and feeling lonely.

I have been lucky enough to move half way across the world and combine my two greatest passions, travel and teaching. The reason I became a teacher is because I believe education is the fundamental tool to changing the world. Nothing could have ever prepared me for the British education system. Having to learn a new curriculum and dealing with behaviour management, whilst settling into a new country has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, I am the strongest teacher I have ever been and hopefully I have empowered a few students along the way.Funnily enough, throughout all my travels, I feel as if the world has been my teacher. I have gained a new perspective and all your problems feel much smaller in the grand scheme of things. The world is a big and beautiful place and I can not urge you enough to go and see it for yourself.  London in particular feels like its own little world, it is a city that has so much to offer. This glorious city has an unrivalled mix of diversity, history, culture, culinary gems and world-class views. London is a city that allows you to unleash your creative spirit and there is never a dull moment.Almost a year ago, I left Sydney and between that time I have travelled through 3 continents, been to 17 countries, seen glorious World Heritage Sites and tried copious amounts of delicious food. Most importantly, I met some incredible people along that way that have completely transformed my life. For those people that that visited me or I have befriended along the way, I would like to thank you… because you have had an impact on me.

I can not begin to describe in words how incredibly grateful I am to have had this experience. It feels like a surreal dream that I never want to wake up from.

Birthday revolution: I made it around the sun, yet again.

This week I had my first birthday abroad and it has dawned on me that it has almost been a year since I stepped foot off Australian soil.

When I woke up on Thursday, 19th November 2015 to many unexpected messages, I became overwhelmed with happiness and also a slight feeling of homesickness. This was my first birthday away from my family and friends back home… plus my first birthday wearing a coat. Life could be a lot worse, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling. I missed the sun almost as much as I missed my loved ones.

But nothing could have ever prepared me for how my birthday actually turned out. This is how I spent my birthday weekend:

  • I stood in my classroom smiling at 8.45am as my students beautifully sang me happy birthday
  • Then by 9.00am I received an e-mail from my Year 12 Business Studies class as follows:

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… kids these days.

  • Ate my body weight in cake, given to me by students, staff and friends.
  • Sipped too much red wine and ate delicious Indian food on Brick Lane in Central London
  • Sunk some steins in the Bavarian Village at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and then danced the night away in an underground bar in London.

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  • Woke up bright and early to snowflakes falling down in London and then chased the sun by travelling to Brighton, United Kingdom.
  • Spent the day in Brighton enjoying the sunshine and strolling through the Pier… nothing compares to the vibe in this magnificent city.

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… I can’t recommend Brighton enough. You must go.

  • Spending £5 on a vintage black leather jacket, not a bad first vintage purchase at Brighton’s Flee Markets.
  • Eating delicious tapas in Brighton and learning some Spanish along the way with my favourite Peruvian friend, whilst sipping sangria.

… Arriving back in London, I quickly went home and laced up my hiking boots.

  • I went on a 12km hike around Hampstead and Heath to discover yet another beautiful unseen part of London. I miraculously through the winter breeze and muddy tracks, reached the highest point in Central London.

Highest point in central London

When I arrived home sore and exhausted to my great surprise, my housemates had bought me a beautiful chocolate cake (my favourite) and presents. We then had authentic Thai food and I was quickly reminded that even though I may be homesick at times, I am so blessed to have my own little London family.

Now then, what could possibly make my first birthday abroad even better?

Last time mum and I spoke, I mentioned to her that I wanted to go to America next year during school holidays as it was my dream to reach 5 continents whilst living abroad. So my mum called me and said as a birthday gift she would come and meet me in New York City! ..After 18 months being apart.

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So it was decided instantly and dates confirmed. I AM GOING TO NEW YORK CITY, baby!!! I couldn’t believe it, my wildest birthday dream had come true.

Another birthday weekend has passed and based on the events that occurred, I am absolutely certain that this year coming will be my best yet. As I look back on the last 12 months, I have even surprised myself how much I have learnt and experienced.

I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to be so far away from home for so long. But I am incredibly humbled by the love I have received from around the world. I am excited to continue this solo adventure with the reassurance that there is always support out there. May it be your family, friends or even fellow travellers you have not even met yet.

Starting the new year off with a bang!

Once I booked my one-way ticket to London, I decided that I wanted to spend New Years Eve in two places over my two years abroad – Amsterdam and Edinburgh. So I started with Amsterdam.

Amsterdam 2014
I hopped on a train from London and arrived in Amsterdam Central within a few hours via Brussels. It was the first realisation that this is what my life will be like for the next two years… it made me very excited.

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Having been to Amsterdam before, I knew I was in for a treat. However, it was even better the second time.

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Amsterdam is another world. The vibe is incomparable. Good vibes and free spirits roamed the city and I couldn’t help but constantly smile.

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I would just like to note, The Flying Pig is the best hostel I have ever stayed in. I made some incredible friends and gazed outside my window to see the snow falling down every morning. It was perfect.

As New Year’s Eve was fast approaching, I looked back on 2014 and smiled. Then I took a big deep breath. This was it, I had moved abroad alone. The journey had already begun and I don’t know if I will ever be completely ready for what the next two years has to offer. But I am dived straight into 2015 and have not looked back since.

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3….2….1….. it was 2015. Did I mention fireworks? Nothing quite compares to fireworks being shot directly at you. As I stood in the middle of Dame Square with old and new friends, I was filled with adrenaline and also a little fear for my life. It reminded me why I was so in love with this unique and beautiful city. Needless to say, it was an unforgettable start to the year.

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Amsterdam, I will be back. Flying Pig, you will be seeing me again. A New Year’s Eve I will never forget, in one of the greatest cities in the world.

That time I went to Indonesia and didn’t have a Bintang.

I decided before I embark on a very cold and dark winter in Europe that I should soak up some sun in probably the most visited destination by Australians…. Indonesia. I had no expectations when I embarked on what I now realise was one of the best trips of my life.

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What did I learn in Indonesia?

  • Humidity is real.
  • Want to learn a bit about Indonesian culture? Do not go to Seminyak.
  • Want to meet some Australians without travelling Down Under? Definitely, go to Bali.
  • Trekking up a volcano is dangerous.
  • You can never see too many sunrises.
  • Waterfalls are much colder than they seem.
  • Monkey’s like to urinate on me.
  • I do not like riding motorcycles.
  • A real reminder that Asia is the greatest continent in the world. 

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I can’t ever say I have travelled through Asia and come home the same person. I remember standing on the beach in the Gili Islands and watching small Indonesian men carry large boxes on their shoulder through the water onto shore, just to have simple essentials.

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That moment reminded me of how we take the simple things for granted, like access to technology, which creates convenience. However, despite all we have in the developed world, why does it always seem that we are never content? Is it greed? As I met locals and saw how grateful they were for the little things, it always puts things into perspective for me. That is why Asia is exceptional and incomparable.

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Ubud was amazing, from temples, eating traditional Indonesian food, the beautiful rice terraces and being completely surrounded by nature. Ubud, really is magnificent.

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I can even say a monkey urinated on me… monkeys really are cheeky.

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I woke up bright and early and trekked up Mt. Batur in time to witness a breathtaking sunset. There were many moments where I almost slipped and face planted on volcanic rocks, but it was so worth it. It was surreal walking up the mountain with my torch and not knowing what was ahead. But it’s always the dangerous things in life that end up being the most fun.

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Trekking through the jungle through Lombok was an experience I will never forget. As I held my GoPro in one hand and carefully tried not to slip on rocks, I realised this is what adventure is all about. As I dived into the beautiful water, I felt so lucky to be able to discover such beautiful hidden gems throughout the world. For those few hours, it was just me and nature.

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Who knew I could do such a vast array of activities within only 14 days. Needless to say… Indonesia, I will be back.

Everyday I choose happiness. A passionate teacher, full-time adventurer, part-time traveller.