Good Morning Vietnam

If I only had one word to describe Vietnam, I would use the word Motorcycles. They are everywhere, swarming the streets like bee’s! When waiting at cross roads or junctions the bikes and scooters all collect in a big group at the edge of the street. Cars and all other vehicles are definitely a minority. You find all types of people riding them; young old and even children. The streets are crazy and loud. The noise of the scooters zooming around ad everyone beeping each other drowns out any other noise you could possibly hear. It makes you feel as if everyone is late all of the time. One of the things I was most amazed about was the fact that they have scooter uber!

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In Ho Chi Min city also known as Saigon has a pretty grey sky most of the time. Although it is always hot and humid it poured down while we were there. However as you head north to the coast in the city of Hoi An it is sunny pretty much all of the time. Personally I thought it was much hotter than Ho Chi Min city.

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While in Ho Chi Min city, we went on a trip to the Chu Chi Tunnels. It’s a network of tunnels that run through this forest. Vietnamese soldiers would use them to hide and live in during the Vietnam war. They run for miles and its crazy how narrow and small they are. There was an option to walk through a section of the tunnels but I didn’t fancy the risk of it collapsing on top of me.

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Our trip in Hoi An was considerably different. We took a speed boat to visit two of the eight Cham Islands just off the coast. Lao Island was the first island we visited and the biggest out of the eight. It is inhabited with around 3000 people. As we walked around the island we saw how the locals lived. Apart from a local ship that brings some supplies everyday, most of the island is self sufficient. There is an immense amount of wildlife and plants around the whole of the Island not to mention the sea life. There were narrow paths that we followedaround the island but the plants and trees were so overgrown. One of the species of trees on the island is used by the locals to build and mend hammocks and is also believed to hold healing powers for back pain.

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The second island seemed a lot more touristy compared to the first. We didn’t wonder around much but instead went snorkelling in crystal clear waters. There were big schools of fishes that would swim right underneath you. The sand was a bright white and when looking out to sea you could see a few of the other islands. We spent some time here and had a Vietnamese lunch.

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A famous location in Hoi An is the Hoi An night market. There is a river that flows through middle where you can have boat rides up and down and a bridge that crosses over. On around the bridge gets very busy in the evening. The market is full of stalls selling gifts and trinkets much like Camden Market really only Vietnamese style. There are also lots of places to eat and oddly enough a few Irish pubs. The atmosphere is pretty incredible and sweaty to be honest. In the evening you can watch the sunset over the river and its so beautiful!

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If it isn’t already, Vietnam should be a must on your Bucket List! There is so much to do and see and so many different places within Vietnam that you can go!

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24 Hours in York

On Saturday I headed from Leeds to York to see my parents who were spending the weekend there.  It’s about 20 minutes on the train. Once I arrived I met my parents at the station we wondered into the city.

The main part of the city is full of narrow cobbled streets much like you’d see somewhere like Greece, although it’s not as warm. The city it’s self looks old with lots of old buildings however, there are a lot of modern shops.

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We went for brunch in this quaint cafe and cake shop called Betty’s. There was a fairly long queue to get inside but i’d say it was worth the wait. The cafes main speciality is afternoon tea but we all ordered brunch.

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After brunch we wondered around the city and down all the narrow streets. It was freezing cold and windy and a little bit rainy but it was still lovely to walk around the city. We walked to the York Minster which is this grand building. The central tower is tall enough to fit the tower of pizza inside. part of it was being renovated but it doesn’t make it any less beautiful.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon in this small wine bar down one of the cobbled streets. It had a conservatory space upstairs that would be lovely in the summer but a bit too cold for the winter.

I headed back to Leeds around 9pm. I would definitely go back to York, there are so many unique places to eat and drink and the shops are pretty decent too.

That was the Greatest Show Man

Happy February everyone!

On Wednesday this week my friends and I went to see the Greatest Showman at the cinema. I hadn’t watched the trailer and didn’t have a clue what it was about apart from the fact it was a musical and that everybody else was saying it was amazing! And it was!

I don’t usually get that into films. I enjoy watching them but my attention is else where most of the time. However, with this film I was so focused on what was going on right from the start. I felt overly emotional from the beginning and thats not like me honesty. I also like how its not too long. It hasn’t be dragged out it’s very to the point and i feel like thats important because sometimes films are so long and it just get boring.

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I felt like the start of the film happened very quickly and at the time I felt like it was a bit ridiculous. However, I didn’t know what the film was about going in so I think that played a big part as to why I thought that. My opinions on musicals haven’t always been positive. I couldn’t even get past the beginning of La La Land. However, the music in the film was so great! There isn’t one song in it that was boring or too long. They were all great! I think my favourite would have to be ‘A million dreams’.

It wasn’t just the story line that I loved though. The characters and their actors were amazing too. When I heard Zack Efron was in it, I was quite surprised because I imagined it it be different to the other films he’s been in. And it is, except he plays the role so well. They all do! Especially Hugh Jackman. But then when does he ever let you down. Zendaya looks beautiful throughout the film with her glitteryoutfits I love them so much and it makes me want to be a trapeze artist. I was also so impressed with the two little girls that played Hugh Jackman’s children. Their singing and dancing was so good especially for how young they looked.

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But anyway, if you haven’t seen the film you should go. Now. Because its so amazing i’m actually obsessed. I don’t think anything I can say would justify how good it actually is! So just go watch it…

 

Birthday Celebrations

January 24th is my birthday and this year I turned 19. Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to it that much because (almost) everyone I usually spend my birthday with was busy or at university. However, I actually had a really lovely birthday.

I woke up on the 24th fairly early, around 7 am so I could open my presents with my family before everyone went off to school and work. I had a very chilled day because I am technically still on break from university. So once everyone had left I just sat around lazily and watched Friends on Netflix.

My mum had organised a dinner out for us all in Convent Garden. It was the coolest restaurant! We walked through Convent Garden down one of the cobbled back streets and there was this restaurant; Inamo. It’s a Japanese restaurant that works in a similar way to Tapas. You order the food on a tablet and it is served as soon as it is cooked. You can make as many orders as you like to share among the table. Although this is still cleaver, it’s not what made it so unique. Once seated we noticed a projector fitted above the table. On the table were these small clickers. All of this made the entire table like one of those interactive whiteboards you get at school! You could play games, set different table cloths and even draw on the table all with the use of the clicker.

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The food was also amazing! We ordered the wasabi fries which are ordinary fries with wasabi powder on the side, to be honest i just ate the fries; the Korean BBQ ribs; some vegetable spring rolls; Salmon tataki sushi, where my brother argued the fact that it was sushi because it was not in a roll; Spicy salmon maki sushi; half a crispy duck for duck pancakes and Singapore noodles which were my favourite! For desert we ordered this platter that had chocolate covered strawberries, marshmallows and brownie chunks that you could dip in popping candy! Just writing about it makes me hungry!

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I loved this restaurant not only for the interactive table, or the amazing food. But because the chilled environment! I am definitely gong to be going back here again and i would recommend it to everyone!!

After dinner we came back home and did birthday cake!I had told my mum i wanted a Collin the caterpillar cake so she bought one. However she also made one. It was a rocky road caterpillar, although it kind of looked like roadkill… It tasted amazing and thats all that really counts anyway!

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Interrailing Through Europe

In the summer of 2017 Angel (my boyfriend) and I travelled through Europe with nothing but a backpack, some money of course and an Interrail pass. Before we left we had done most of the planning such as the route and where we were going to stay. However, there are somethings you just cant plan for. Im going to share some of my top tips that I learnt from this trip to help anyone thinking about it doing something similar.

The Route

We planned to visit 6 main cities in Europe in just under 30 days. The route would take us through Paris, Barcelona, Venice, Budapest, Bielefeld and Amsterdam. However, our actual route looked more like this:

Paris – Barcelona – Dijon – Paris – Venice – Budapest – Bielefeld – Amsterdam

Our main issue was missing the Othello sleeper train to Venice because of a delayed train to Dijon. This meant we had to spend an extra night in Dijon and in Paris in order to get another train to Venice. So here are my top tips if you want to have a marginally more successful trip than we did…

Top Tips

  1. Account for Delays

As I said before, we had a sleeper train booked from Dijon to Venice which meant we had to get to Dijon from Barcelona. This took two trains; one from Barcelona to Lyon and one from Lyon to Dijon. We got to Lyon with enough time to catch our train to Dijon which would get us to the sleeper train on time. However, when we arrived to Lyon our train to Dijon was delayed 30 minutes which was making it tight. We sat on the stairs (in everyones way of course) and that 30 minutes just went up… and up… and up… Of course my stress head was not coping well at with the fact that we were going to miss the sleeper train. In the end, the train to Lyon was delayed 2 hours and we needed up getting on a regional train which took hours rather than the high speed train we had originally planned to get. The cost of that one delayed train was an extra night in a hotel in both Dijon and Paris and another train ticket to Venice two days later than planned. Although we made it to Venice we only saw the inside of the McDonald’s and the hotel room before we had to leave for Budapest.

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2. Book Accommodation Before you Leave

If it wasn’t for my parents describing the horrors of trying to book on the go, we would have left it later than we did. However last minute booking was not absent from our trip. We were waiting for the train to Barcelona from Paris and I thought it would be a good idea to double heck the hostel that I had booked. I open the email to find that it was booked for August. We went travelling in July. As I realised the ‘8’ in the date meant August not July I smiled. This was followed by a panic and when I told Angel he was not happy. The next hour was spent frantically trying to find a hotel, hostel or Air B&B to stay in. Fortunately we found something that was probably nicer than the hostel for the same price. However, I’m not sure it was completely worth the stress.

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3. Scout out Local Transport

Both Angel and I knew we were going to be doing a lot of walking in order to save money. However we didn’t expect how much. In most of the places we stayed we were further out of the city so had to travel in. Most of the time it wasn’t too bad.The walk into Paris wasn’t too long and there was a train into Amsterdam. However Barcelona was horrendous. We decided one day that we wanted to go into the city centre so we did. We got up google maps and followed its route to the city centre.Until it wanted us to walk along the freeway at which point we wondered aimlessly in order to find a walk friendly route.  We walked for around 2 hours just to get there and bearing in mind I was wearing sandals… I could have thought of better things to do. On the way back, Angel to us to the wrong address which meant we had another 40 minutes of walking to do. Although all of those factors knocked us down, it wasn’t what killed us. It was the demoralising fact that once we had waked there and back we realised there was a tram. A cheap tram. A tram that stopped right outside our hotel and took us all the way into the city…

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4. Carry Food with you at all Times

Honestly. Whether the train journey is 2 hours or 6 hours, you’re going to want food. Even if you think you won’t. You will. Because as everyone knows food curbs boredom. Now, unfortunately i don’t have any entertaining anecdotes for this. There were just numerous times when we got on a train without food and we both sat there regretting every decision we had made that morning that led to us not brining food. It usually also resulted us spending ten euros on two chocolate bars. Which leads me onto my last tip…

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5. Shop for Food in Local Supermarkets

This is mainly to save money. Overtime we went to a new place our first stop would be the local supermarket to stock up on supplies. A lot of the time, the Air B&B’s we stayed in would have some foods such as pasta and potatoes which was helpful. However having food to take out with us was very helpful. When we were in Paris we made sandwiches and sat at the fountain by the Eiffel tower and had a picnic. It’s not as glamorous as all the cute cafes through Europe but when you’re on a budget it works well. My favourite day, honestly was when we decided to go back to the apartment early in Paris and get McDonalds instead of going for a cute dinner.

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So, although we had a fair few set backs, it was honestly the trip of a lifetime and i would 100% recommend to anyone thinking of doing it. I’d love to do it again but even bigger and maybe visit more of Italy and Greece too the next time. But we shall see. I hope anyone who is thinking about interrailing found this somewhat helpful and if not at least found our struggles amusing! Until next time!

If you want see more of our adventures through Europe check out our youtube video

The Start

Hey guys, My name is Sophie, I’m 18 and from London, England. I am currently studying Sports and Exercise Science at university and started this blog to share my travel experiences. While I am studying there will also be other lifestyle-type posts included as, unfortunately, I am not able to travel regularly. For example my favourite restaurants, my workouts and just general life chit chat.

I am a complete beginner at this blogging business so bear with me while I learn the ropes. I’m very excited to begin so without further ado, here is my blog! I hope you enjoy!