Travel

Looking back with gratitude

I enjoy writing about my travels very much and while somehow I didn’t find a moment to sit in front of my laptop and do so until now, I hope this post finds you well, healthy and safe wherever you are in this unsettled world at the present time. I promised to update you about where I had been these past few months so the simple answer is I took a gap-year from my life in Australia and found myself in Italy via Prague and Austria. If you had to put a label on it I suppose you could call it an extended holiday with the possibility to work as well, a “working holiday” – it’s a way to recharge my batteries and re-focus my energy and just find my happiest self again, which has always been when travelling. I have now called Italy my temporary home for nearly 7 months and everything was going reasonably well until the world got turned upside down over the coronavirus pandemic. Italy was devastatingly impacted by COVID-19 but now we are slowly starting to live a “new normal” type of lifestyle. One that includes wearing a face mask and gloves when interacting as a community and staying at a physical distance from one another.

Looking back on the past 8 months of travel that I have been very fortunate to do, it’s worth acknowledging that my memories of the trips I have taken and moments I experienced stand a tower above the anxieties and fears I felt during these past 2 months. What we’ve lived through and continue to live through is unprecedented and unnerving so let’s dive straight into the good moments, shall we?


Prague is a timeless, majestic city that impresses you from the first moment you step onto its streets. I had visited Prague one time before and on this occasion wanted to show my mum around the city I once fell in love with at age 19. Prague has so much charm and elegance and I could spend hours gazing up at the details in its architecture, with its intricately ornate facades and buildings straight out of a fairytale. There are so many more things I could tell you about Prague but thinking back to my visit in September feels like a lifetime ago, so let’s allow my photos to tell a better story…

Remaining in the Czech Republic, my mum and I travelled onto Cesky Krumlov by bus from Prague one afternoon for a short stay. It was love at first sight! I know I mentioned that I thought Prague was a fairytale city but this town was straight out of a classic children’s storybook! The town has a castle overlooking a river, picture-perfect squares with typically cute buildings, lots of green spaces and many spots to just stand still and admire the views of this incredible place.

We needed to make our way into Italy from the Czech Republic and Austria was the perfect place to spend a few more nights as we navigated south. The town we chose was Kufstein, “the pearl of the Tyrol”, a town so beautiful in autumn that I found myself thinking a lot about it during lockdown. Thinking about the heavenly mountain views and breathtaking vistas that opened up when we braced ourselves for dear life on the only single open-air chairlift remaining in Austria and reached an altitude of 1,256m for an experience I will never forget. Kufstein had some of the friendliest people and most amazing memories for me and from there it was a 6 hour direct train ride to Bologna, Italy.

If you allow me, I would like to devote more time to the Italian cities that I visited in future posts. I can just simply tell you that in 7 months I was fortunate enough to call 6 apartments my home in Bologna, Pistoia, Florence and now Viareggio. I have barely scratched the surface of this fascinating country when travel was halted but I have hope within myself that there’s still more discoveries just waiting to be made and I can see a few more cities before returning home around October this year. Nothing is for certain during this time but at least I have these incredible memories to look back on and be proud of. Hopefully we can make more travel memories together again very soon. Stay safe out there, dear friends!

If you enjoyed these photos, please feel free to follow me on Instagram where I post a lot more often. Cheers!

Travel

Architecture of Barcelona

PasseigBarcelona is the city that forever has my heart. I have so many stories and so many ideas for future blog posts about that special place but for today’s post we’re going on a virtual trip to this Mediterranean gem of a city to explore some of the architectural details that make it so unbelievably beautiful. Walking through the different parts of Barcelona such as El Born, Eixample and Gracia, you see a myriad of stunning doors, windows, balconies, roofs and facade details. If I had all the time in the world and I could stand and appreciate each apartment block in the city, I’d walk away very happy.

Travel

DisneySea, Tokyo

The second Disney park that I visited in Tokyo after Disneyland was DisneySea – a place with Venetian canals and gondolas, Florentine bridges, Tuscan facades and New York-style shopping streets. A place where travel-loving adults can relive their own holiday moments gone by while their children can only dream to one day visit the actual cities depicted, getting more and more inspired with each step. For me DisneySea was an experience unlike any other, as I was transported back to my own memories of once being a tourist in Italy and the US.

img_1108img_1119img_1140img_0927img_0918img_0893img_1151img_0931

I was so impressed with the attention to detail that went into each and every aspect of these replica cities. I’ve never been so blown away by a themepark before in my life! Stepping foot into Morocco with their various market streets, colourful tiles and Arabic architecture was so amazing, as I’m yet to visit Africa or the Middle East.

img_1017img_1043img_1061img_1051img_0857

I’m not much of a thrill-seeker so I didn’t go on many daredevil rides, but there were plenty of those there too, and visitors could pose with their favourite Disney characters just like in Disneyland.

img_1112img_1097img_0981img_0972img_0969

DisneySea left me wanting more. It ignited my imagination and sense of adventure in the world we live. There was absolutely nothing that I would change or do differently, I just wish I could spent one more hour there looking at the replica of the Titanic and entering more boutiques and restaurants. For now, it’ll just have to wait until my next visit.

img_0823

Leaving the wonderful world of Disney on the monorail with a lighter wallet but a much happier heart.

You can read about my trip to Disneyland here.

Travel

Wandering through Strasbourg

As an Interior Design exchange student I didn’t have a lot of time for solo travelling during the study semester. I was on campus on most days of the week, listening to class lectures in German and English, and each day I would take the bus home with all my groceries and books, cook myself a simple dinner (usually pasta!) and do my homework or prepare for tests or assessments.

Thankfully during the semester the university would organise some really great, inexpensive day trips or overnight stays in neighbouring countries to encourage networking and broadening of our minds. It was so exciting to just forget about the overflowing workload on my desk and explore a new place, clear my head, indulge in photography, and try a new cuisine and a new culture. We’d all get on a bus and go on excursions to places such as design exhibitions in small Belgian towns, or the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein near the Swiss border with Germany or for one of our assessments we’d get involved in the design of our very own exhibition stand at the International Furniture Fair in Cologne, a short train ride away from my university in Mainz. All these experiences were amazing and gave students a deeper understanding of interior design and architecture practices in the real world.

I began to eagerly plan my own solo trips once the semester ended. I had an insane amount of wanderlust and yearned to see more and more countries around me. So I bought a train ticket from the station, organised a hotel for two nights and ended up in the most picture-perfect French city known as Strasbourg.

Buildings

Much to my dismay, not everything went smoothly. For starters it was raining and it was a Saturday morning in winter and that made getting out of bed hard and getting to the train station even harder as buses were scarce. Somehow I managed though and a few train changes later I was no longer in Germany, but now in France.

Tourist Area

Strasbourg was a very empty city that February. I had seen images of its main square so alive during Christmas time and I’d also seen the flowers blooming in gorgeous half-timbered cottage windows in summer, but unfortunately that winter it was just that little bit quieter and colder! If it hadn’t been for the university program organising a tour to Strasbourg that I missed due to my study load, I probably would never have even thought of visiting this magnificently enchanting city but I was really eager to see what my classmates got to experience. Sometimes that’s all the inspiration we need to see a new place!

Strasbourg

Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region in France and lies near the border with Germany. It is home to the European Parliament with its ultra modern façade, and was once also home to Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type printing, who was ironically born in Mainz! An entire square called Place Gutenberg is dedicated to him and a statue stands there in his honour. The elaborate gothic red sandstone Strasbourg Cathedral is located at the heart of the city and is one of the main attractions for visitors. My favourite place to explore was Petite-France, where the river Ill splits up into a number of canals and stunning half-timbered medieval houses provide the most romantic of backdrops. Strasbourg was indeed the most brilliant of destinations for a weekend away and in my opinion it’s a little gem of a city that needs to be seen in all its glory, no matter the season.

Gorgeous Buildings

Half-Timbered Buildings