A Guide to Taking Great Travel Photos

For me, travel photography has always been about creating personal memories to look back on, capturing not only the breath-taking views and stunning landmarks but also the spontaneous and personal moments. My travel albums are filled with a mixture of both, and what I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t need a professional camera or hundreds of different pieces of equipment to take good photos. Whether you’re using a bog standard digital camera or even your smartphone, there are a few little techniques you can use to take great travel snaps.

Here are the most useful tricks I’ve picked up along the way.

Composition

The secret to professional-looking photos lies in the composition – but don’t worry, this isn’t anywhere near as technical as it sounds. One particular technique that I like to use is framing, using objects or features around you to frame, and draw attention to, the subject of the photo. Some good examples of “frames” might be trees, windows or the arch of a bridge, but you can also get fairly creative with this one.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 11.49.29

Colour

I also like to focus on colours, especially when it comes to photographing places; bold colours in particular make for really striking images, or concentrating on areas where one colour or hue is found in many varieties. I love the colour blue, and often find photos look stunning when you can explore the colour blue in all it’s various shades and textures.

541119_10151383121415967_1826407901_n (1)

Lighting

Sometimes, all you need for a breath-taking photo is good lighting, and while you can’t control the weather (let’s face it, nothing looks good on a grey, rainy morning), there are certain times of day when you’re more likely to get a magical shot. My favourite times of day to snap landscapes, skylines and panoramic views are sunrise, sunset and very late at night. Whilst this may require earlier mornings (or later nights) than you’re used to, the results are definitely worth it.

The photo below was taken at sunset as the sun was shining through the clouds across The Remarkables in Queenstown. It’s one of my absolutely favourite images that I’ve ever captured – and whilst part of it might be done to skill, a lot of it was the perfect lighting.

574996_10151336435935967_2059830561_n

People

It’s all well and good taking stunning pictures of views and landmarks, but don’t forget to include people too. Travelling is as much about the people you go with – or meet along the way – as it is about the places you visit, and in my opinion you can never take too many personal photos. Some of my best travel memories are stirred up by the sillier pictures, like these goofy outtakes of Pad and I. Even when taking serious photos, including people in the shot is a good way to provide scale and perspective – reminding you just how tall the Eiffel tower was in real life, for example.

941207_10151465165830967_893537811_n

Editing

Even if you’re not the most gifted photographer, a few tweaks here and there can dramatically improve the finished product. My photography tutor in university told me “an image always needs cropping” so I always try and remember this in the editing suite. Sometimes, you might not originally think so, but chipping a tiny bit off here or there could change the image completely. You can also cut out any distracting components too. You can also apply filters to remove shadows and enhance the colour, and whilst I try not to drastically alter the colours of an image (or the saturation) I do like to get the highlights and shadows and contract just right. With these alterations, you can make huge changes visually even with tiny changes actually.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 12.03.05

Uniqueness

Looking for something out of the ordinary, or something unique. Choose a strange angle, or look at your subject through a barrier. Sometimes injecting something unexpected into the frame can make it so much more interesting. I love the photo below of the Manhattan Skyline – it would be a lovely photo without the bridge suspension in the foreground – but I think the barrier between my camera and the subject, actually gives the image way more context. And it makes you look closer.

10402816_10152765228805967_7055686005410929997_n (1)

Presenting

Finally – and I can’t stress this enough – it’s important to actually do something with your photos. Don’t just let them sit in a folder on your computer; print them out and display them, either in an album or in frames around the house. If you’ve got some more professional photos to share, you might also consider putting them online. Social media is great for this, as is using a site like this one to get a domain to set up your own site. You could even get one of the top level domains, like “.photography”!

However you choose to present your snaps, it’s important to cherish not only the postcard-worthy ones, but also the less successful shots – they are all part of creating and preserving great travel memories.

When the zombie apocalypse happens, you’ll want to be able to grab your actually photos, not your laptop! 😉

Top things to do in Las Vegas for couples

I know Vegas isn’t everyones cup of tea, and even those who love it may file the city into the ‘stag-do and 21st birthday only’ category. It’s a city I love though, and as someone who’s only ever been as part of a couple, I think it’s the perfect location for a romantic couple getaway.

I thought I’d put together a list of my top things to do in Las Vegas for couples, as I know there are probably a lot of couples out there trying to decide whether or not a holiday to Las Vegas is right for them. Hopefully this list will convince you it’s awesome (because that’s pretty much my own opinion!) and that there are plenty of things to do in Las Vegas for couples!

1) Shopping

I know you might be shaking your head reading this first suggestion, but trust me! Las Vegas is the only place in the world my boyfriend will actually agree to shop, and enjoy it. The malls are huge, and usually themed (which makes it fun!) and there are shops to suit just about every taste and budget. My favourite has to be the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Hotel. It’s unlike any mall you’ve ever been in, just see the photos below.

top things to do in las vegas for couples

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.15.08

2) Go on a hotel-crawl

Las Vegas has no shortage of hotels, and just making your rounds and seeing them all is a whole day of fun. They’re all themed, and usually have their own special lobby area of attraction. My top picks for couples would be The Paris Hotel (of course!), Bellagio, The Wynn (it’s like stepping into a Disney movie), New York New York, The Cosmopolitan (new, sophisticated) and The Venetian. Once you’ve found the hotels you enjoy, you can head back all dressed up in the evening and try out their nightlife, cocktail bars and casino!

top things to do in las vegas for couples

top things to do in las vegas for couples

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.57.26

3) Go for cocktails at The Foundation Room, Mandalay Bay

Looking for somewhere glamorous, exclusive and romantic? The Foundation Room is all of those things. It was the highlight of my last trip to Vegas, and my boyfriend and I drank for hours, just talking and enjoying the epic view. You literally won’t find a view to rival the view from Mandalay Bay, there is no other place quite as romantic, and it’s simply magical. The nice thing about The Foundation Room is the vibe it has too – it’s mostly couples and small groups – so you don’t need to worry about a huge stag-do or hen-party coming in and ruining the music / atmosphere or standing in the way of your view over the city.

DSC00477-001.JPG_effected

top things to do in las vegas for couples

top things to do in las vegas for couples

4) Watch The Bellagio Fountains

The Bellagio Fountains are just stunning, and definitely something to make time for. Head there around 8pm, and find yourself a good spot under the trees and towards the centre of the fountains – and you’ll find it’s easy to waste away a couple of hours just watching the fountains come and go every 15 minutes.

top things to do in las vegas for couples

For a slightly different outlook, walk up towards the Bellagio Hotel and watch the fountains from the back instead. You’ll get the view that you see in the photo below. You’ll find a bit more space watching the fountains from over there too which is nice, and the view is just as good!

top things to do in las vegas for couples

5) Visit The Neon Museum

For something a little different, venture out of the main strip and explore The Neon Museum in downtown Vegas. The tour takes about an hour to walk around (it’s guided) and it’s so fun to see all the old neon signs that once stood pride of place in the city. I’m going to do a full review of the tour sometime soon – so stay tuned for more photos and information! In short though, we loved it and it was such a fun way to spend the afternoon. Especially nice because we got to venture out of the normal Vegas tourist areas!

top things to do in las vegas for couples

top things to do in las vegas for couples

 6) Experience some fine dining

On our most recent trip to Vegas we were lucky enough to visit the restaurant Alize, found at the top of Palms Hotels and Casino. The view from up there is pretty incredible (you can see right along the strip) and it’s very romantic, if that’s the vibe you’re after. We had the tasting menu which worked out to be about 10 course each and let me tell you, it was epic. The courses are all small portions (so no need to worry about unbuckling your trousers at the table…) and all beautifully presented. I tried caviar for the first time too, and (unexpectedly) loved it.

top things to do in las vegas for couples

DSC00803

top things to do in las vegas for couples

7) Visit a burlesque show 

As a couple, you may not be keen on visiting a strip club, but visiting a burlesque show is a happy medium. We went to 1923 Bourbon and Burlesque in The Mandalay Bay and it was so much fun. It was mainly couples in the bar anyway, so you’ll feel right at home. If you’re a little shy, I’d recommend sitting a bit further away from the bar area (as the performers do occasionally come into the audience) but if you’re happy with the idea of being danced with, then the closer the better. The girls are beautiful and amazing dancers – and have so much personality and skill.

top things to do in las vegas for couples

top things to do in las vegas for couples

8) Hit up a buffet

YOU CAN’T VISIT VEGAS AND NOT VISIT A BUFFET. SO FIND ONE AND GO.

I’ve reviewed The Wynn buffet and The Aria Hotel buffet. Both were awesome!

DSC00919

top things to do in las vegas for couples

9) Hire a private pool cabana for the day 

You can visit any hotel and use their pool facilities, as long as you pay the resort fee. A great idea (for something a little more special) is to hire a private cabana for the day. At The Aria Hotel (pictured below) that’ll cost you about $500 depending on the time of year. I love the pool area at The Aria and it’s one of the best in Las Vegas – as the hotel is modern and relatively new, they’ve really built the pool area to feel like a retreat. Another I’d recommend is The Venetian.

In Las Vegas, where you’ll find beyond plenty of things to do in the evening and during the night, sometimes it can be nice just to relax and pamper yourself during the day. Relaxing poolside is the perfect way to do that.

DSC00975-001.JPG_effected

10) Get greeted at the airport by a limo

When you arrive in Las Vegas, there is only one way to be greeted – and that’s by a limo. It’s the perfect start to your holiday and it’s the perfect surprise too (if you’re the kind of person who likes to plan romantic gestures). We’ve always booked ours through Presidential Limousines  and it’s always great, they even keep track of the flight numbers incase you’ve been delayed or held up. Your limo driver will be waiting for you at baggage claim to help carry the bags out, and then once you get into the car there is a bottle of champagne (maybe beer too!) waiting for you.

Can you think of any better welcome after a long haul flight? 😉 

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.14.53

11) Book tickets to one of Las Vegas’s many shows

If you want to treat yourself and see a show whilst in Vegas, you couldn’t have picked a better city to do it in. Las Vegas has more shows than you’d ever be able to watch! For something truly ‘Las Vegas’ I’d personally recommend anything by Cirque Du Soliel (anything they do is mind blowing), or one of the iconic headliners such as Shania Twain or Penn and Teller. I’ve seen both of those, and they were amazing. The picture below is the theatre from the Shania Twain show (she comes out into the audience… so aisle seats are extra special!) and the photo below that is of the Penn and Teller magic show we saw.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.15.20

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.15.55

12) Gamble! 

You’re in Vegas, so why not do a bit of gambling? My boyfriend and I took to making it a bit of a competition, to see who could come out on top after a night on the roulette table. He won the first night, I won the second night. Maybe we’ll do the tiebreaker next time we visit…

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.15.31

13) Do a Grand Canyon day trip 

It’s a long day as tours usually leave vegas around 7am, and return about 8pm – but it’s so worth it (especially if you’ve never been before). We went with Pink Jeep Tours and it was amazing. The tour group is relatively small compared to most, and the jeep that you travel in is comfortable and spacious, which makes the journey time so much more bearable.

top things to do in las vegas for couples

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.56.50

14) And lastly… Upgrade your room! 

You’re there as a couple – so chances are you’ll be spending some time in the bedroom. In Vegas you can upgrade your room when you check in for like half the price you’d usually pay. So don’t forget to ask about whether or not they have upgrades available! In 2013 we upgraded our standard room in the Venetian to a huge suite, with a dining room, office, spa bathroom, massive bedroom and living area… and we only paid an extra $25 a night for it.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 22.15.43

For more suggestions and advice about visiting Las Vegas – check out my other blog posts below – they’ll probably be really helpful! Have fun!

Every reason I absolutely adore Las Vegas

The best way to explore The Grand Canyon when staying in Las Vegas

Review and photos: 1923 Bourbon and Burlesque Bar in Las Vegas

Review and photos: The Aria Hotel, Las Vegas

Review and photos: The Foundation Room Bar in Las Vegas

Review and photos: The Wynn Buffet in Las Vegas

Review and photos: The Aria Buffet in Las Vegas

 

The best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

As someone who is positively obsessed with photography – when we decided to visit San Francisco, one of the thing I was most excited for was getting some great shots of The Golden Gate Bridge.

But, as someone who is neither a local to San Fran, or a Lonely Planet geek, I had absolutely no idea where I was going to get the best view of Golden Gate Bridge.

So after my own trip to the city and tracking down some incredible views, I decided to make a list! I’m guessing that if I spent hour googling the best spots to take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, that there are other people out there doing it too – so here are all the places I found that offered up amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I made the little map below to help explain it a bit more. Each number on the map corresponds to a place in the list below. Hope this helps!

image (68)

1) Battery Spencer 

If you don’t mind the wind, and the hike, Battery Spencer offers some of the most incredible up-close views you could ask for. You’re basically eye-level with the bridge and it’s right there in front of you with no obstructions, and there’s an awesome viewing platform with lots of space (no need to elbow in for the best view). It’s a great place to watch the sunset too – as you’ll get the sun setting over the ocean right next to the bridge.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 17.37.26.png_effected

2) Fort Point

Fort Point was really popular with bikers when we were up there, and it’s a little bit of a walk up, but not a difficult one. Our friends Matt and Nic pushed a pram up and didn’t struggle – so it’s no big deal.

Once you’ve walked up and taken your first bunch of photos, you can then follow a path down and round to Chrissy Fields, which offers a few more picture perfect opportunities along the way. I recommend this view for those people who want to do a bit of walking – but don’t fancy arriving at the top sweaty and out of breath! The view of Golden Gate Bridge from this spot is beautiful… of course!

view of golden gate bridge

view of golden gate bridge

view of golden gate bridge

view of golden gate bridge

view of golden gate bridge

A bridge selfie… where I managed to cut out the bridge. Oops!

3) Marshall Beach

Now, we didn’t actually go to Marshall Beach as we didn’t have time – but it’s one of the reasons I’d give myself to visit San Francisco again. I wish we’d had the chance to visit and enjoy the view of Golden Gate Bridge from this spot! It offers something a bit different to the other views, as it’s from the other side of the bay.

Here’s a gorgeous photo I found from blogger Gaizattheworld who did have time to visit the beach and take some incredible photos!

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 17.48.59

4) Take a boat tour around the bay

On our second night in the city we took a boat tour around the bay (we booked the Red and White Fleet Cruise through Attraction Tickets Direct). The boat tour lasted a few hours (there was food too!) and left from Fisherman’s Wharf – which is quite a touristy area and pretty easy to get to. Because you’re moving around on the boat tour, you get loads of shots of the bridge from a millions different angles, so it’s perfect for people who want to get a massive variety of photos.

Our cruise was the sunset cruise too – so the colours were just perfection. It was one of our highlights of the whole trip, incredibly romantic and just beautiful. Even Pad got his phone out and took some photos – and when that happens I know the view must be amazing.

DSC00003-001

DSC09994-001.JPG_effected

view of golden gate bridge

view of golden gate bridge

 Just remember to take a coat or a jacket – because holy crap did it get cold once the sun went down!

DSC00044-001.JPG_effected

5) Chrissy Fields

You could do Chrissy Fields and Fort Point in a couple of hours – so it’s a nice idea to do both of these spots together. If you walk down from Fort point, you’ll end up in Chrissy Fields, so it makes for a nice route to take. That’s what we did anyway :)

Chrissy Fields is a beach and public park (don’t worry – you don’t need to pay!) that stretches along the bit of coastline after the bridge, and before you get to the city. It’s beautiful, and there are some lovely lifeboat houses to see, and even a little cafe you can stop at and grab lunch or a drink.

The views might not be as epic as some of the other higher-up vistas, but they’re equally as beautiful. At Chrissy Fields you’ll get photos of the bridge in the context of people and life. Whether it being a couple of dogs playing on the beach, or a few wind-surfers catching waves.

view of golden gate bridge
view of golden gate bridge

view of golden gate bridge

view of golden gate bridge

6) Alcatraz Island

The one thing I could believe when we visited Alcatraz was how AMAZING the views were across the city and over to the bridge. It was one of the most stunning views of the bridge we found, and it must’ve been torture for the prisoners, to live captive in the prison, having incredible outlooks like that. The phrase ‘so close yet so far’ never rang more true.

When you do the prison tour you get taken out into the outdoor recreational area that the prisoners used. From this area you literally have the most stunning view of the bridge imaginable. Funny how the lowest society in San Francisco once had the best view – money couldn’t even buy.

DSC00337-001.JPG_effected

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 18.15.22.png_effected

view of golden gate bridge

Check out these other blog posts from San Francisco, which might be useful!

Photos of Beautiful San Francisco Streets

Behind bars: My trip to Alcatraz Prison

For more travel photos, you can follow me on Instagram by clicking here. Or search for @ellerosephotos in the app :) If you do follow me, please say hello, I love meeting you guys!

 

Photos of Santa Monica Beach: My favourite place to get sun burnt.

The photo below was the first glimpse I got of Santa Monica Beach as the bus I was on pulled into the beach front road. It was just perfect.

Since the moment that I’d arrived in LA (or even begun planning the holiday to be honest) I’d been dreaming of the beach. Living in London you don’t get that big expanse of open space – and I was just dying to be on the beach and see miles and miles of open water ahead of me.
IMG_8358.JPG_effected

When we lived in New Zealand we woke up every morning to the most stunning view of The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu, and it was so relaxing being surrounded by water all the time. It was the same when we were travelling, we always had a lake or beach within 10 minutes by foot or taxi.

On moving back to London last year – that’s been the thing I’ve missed the most. Water, ocean, sea.

So my first day in LA I basically ran to the beach. In slow motion.

IMG_8370.JPG_effected

IMG_8404.JPG_effected

And who can blame me? It’s a GORGEOUS beach.

Right next to the lively pie – the beach feels peaceful and family friendly and just lovely. I made camp right next to the tide line with my massive bottle of Gatorade and just spent a few hours people watching and soaking it all in. At that moment there was literally nowhere else in the world I would rather have been, it’s so beautiful.

DSC09492-001.JPG_effected

DSC09522.JPG_effected

The beach is huge too – you could walk for miles and it would still be going on, stretching ahead of you. And don’t under-estimate the walk back to the high-street beach front road either. I set off in my bare feet (on the hot sand) to walk back to the road and realised it wasn’t a quick 10 minute stroll, it was a good 20 minutes! After about 5 minutes my feet started to burn on the sand and I had to pick up the pace! I must’ve looked ridiculous.

DSC09529.JPG_effected

DSC09542-001.JPG_effected

DSC09560.JPG_effected

 

On the quieter end of the beach there are some traditional lifeguard huts, which I loved just because they reminded me of all the old LA TV shows I used to watch like The OC. I love the photo below :)

DSC09577.JPG_effected

DSC09582.JPG_effected

DSC09584.JPG_effected

 

The below photo is the little park overlooking the beach that stretches along the main road. Beautiful, wish I would’ve had time to spend a few hours sat there too.

DSC09597.JPG_effected

Hope you enjoyed these gorgeous photos of Santa Monica Beach. If you like them, you might also want to follow me on Instagram :)

 

Photo post: Beautiful Santa Monica Pier

During my time in Los Angeles I ventured down to Santa Monica for the day and spent a couple of hours walking around the pier and sitting on the beautiful beach.

And holy crap is it a beautiful beach! It goes on for miles and miles and is full of tourist, families and locals just enjoying the beach and the sunshine. If you’re in the area, this is a beach you don’t want to miss out on.

But anyway – this post is about the pier. It’s kind of like the typical touristy pier (a bit like the UK’s own Brighton Pier, but with way more sunshine, and way less fish and chips haha).

Yes, it’s busy and packed – but it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment. Grab yourself a portion of chips, go on a fairground ride, and play in the arcades.

DSC09551.JPG_effected

 

The pier has the best views of the beach, so make sure you have your camera ready :) it’s pretty special.

DSC09560.JPG_effected

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

DSC09542-001.JPG_effected

Oh and one last thing – make sure you wear suncream! I got SO burnt this day – I had the most awkward tan lines for the entire rest of the holiday. It might feel breezy being by the sea – but trust me – the sun will get you!

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

 

First impressions of Los Angeles from a California newbie.

Growing up I always imagined that Los Angeles was where I belonged. Like my long lost home. The beaches, the walk of fame, the sunshine, the shopping – all of it seemed like this perfect place I was destined to end up. And I’ve been toying with the idea ever since it was first conceived.

Maybe it was all those teen TV shows growing up that kept the idea alive, like if I moved there I too could be BFF’s with Mary Kate and Ashley.

This summer, Pad and I booked a our big annual holiday in the States, with 5 days in San Francisco and 5 in Las Vegas (we just got home yesterday and I am writing this in my hazy jetlagged state of tiredness). But I wanted a little extra, so decided to do 3 days in Los Angeles before meeting him in San Francisco. Pad had been before a couple of times, and was pretty honest about the fact that it just wasn’t his cup of tea.

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 19.39.57

I’d never been to Los Angeles before though and I was so excited to finally see the city, and even more so to see it on my own, and explore somewhere by myself. As someone who has done most of her travelling with someone else in tow (boyfriend, friends, family) the prospect of seeing somewhere all by myself was kind of exciting.

I was staying at The Redbury Hotel, Hollywood (read my review here) – so I was literally going to be right in the middle of everything.

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 20.07.37.png_effected

So what did I make of Los Angeles?

Well first of all, it’s really massive. There is downtown LA, Hollywood, Beverley Hills, Santa Monica and it goes on and on. So just because you don’t like one bit of LA doesn’t mean you won’t love another part of the city.

For me, the downtown area and the Hollywood area felt a bit faded.

Los Angeles city centre

Like a place that was once something really special – somewhere really important, but it had all faded with age. I heard all the stories of magnificence, glamour and excitement on the various tours I did whilst there, and the various books I had read: from the beginning of the movie industry to the bustling 50s, 60s and 70s where the city was the pinnacle of parties, celebrity and everything in the industry revolved around the centre of the city.

You can still see shadows of what the city once was – whether it be an old vintage advertisement painted on a random wall, or a beautiful art-deco cinema that was once used to premiere classic Hollywood movies. The evidence is all there that this place was once magical. It just didn’t feel that way anymore.

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 19.41.31

Other observations about downtown and Hollywood…

The city is a bit scruffy. I guess that comes with being so huge and spacious – but there were many areas that simply weren’t cared for, weren’t looked after and seemed a bit forgotten about.

Another thing I noticed about the city, which made feel a bit uneasy as a solo female traveller – was the sheer amount of homeless people. One day I planned to go to the local park (the weather was gorgeous) and on sunny days in London the park is usually filled with locals and families looking for some fun in the sun. So I figured it’d be the same here.

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 19.42.11.png_effected

I thought a few hours with my kindle and a coffee would be perfect. When I arrived the park was already filled to the brim. Not with families, locals or even tourists and holiday makers though. With homeless people.

Now I know that just because someone is homeless, it doesn’t mean that they’re dangerous. I’m not that stupid. But what I do know, is that as a female, travelling solo, I need to make sure I’m putting myself in safe situations. And this one wasn’t as safe as it could’ve been. It also made me kind of sad too to see all these people in a situation like that, with their entire life possessions in a shopping trolley, or a rucksack or a shopping basket. I found myself asking how the city had let it come to this, and why there wasn’t more options for these people on the streets.

I’ve never before been to a city with so many homeless people.

The areas I did like in the city…

Beverley Hills was beautiful. But that was hardly surprising! After all, it’s where the elite live, and it’s groomed and looked after because of that. If people have the money – somewhere will always look polished and perfect.

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 20.07.27.png_effected

The residential streets I explored were ‘storybook’ prefect. Exactly what you’d expect from LA I guess. Apparently Beverley Hills residential streets paint their fire hydrants silver because the normal colours don’t look nice enough for the houses and don’t match the ‘decor’. That made me laugh. But in a funny way, it kind of summed up the area.

I explored the shopping area too, the famous Rodeo Drive and surrounding streets – and as you’d expect – it was all gorgeous. Lots of beautiful people buying beautiful things. Don’t expect to be able to afford anything unless you make a habit of shopping in Gucci and friends normally!

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 20.07.50.png_effected

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 19.41.14

I also spent a day in Santa Monica (I’ll blog on more about that in time) which I enjoyed. The pier (although jam packed with tourists) is super fun and makes a lovely day away from the bustling city streets. The beach is HUGE and is truly beautiful. I found myself wasting away a few hours sat on the sand just people watching, and it was perfect.

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 19.39.13

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 19.39.21

So overall? 

I don’t know. I’m still a bit confused about what I thought. 

I loved some parts of the city, Santa Monica sticking out the most as my most enjoyable day. Would I go back to LA? Probably not in a hurry. Maybe in 10 years or something, or perhaps if I’m after a big theme-park fix – then yes. It’s not a bad city – I just found it very difficult to love it. It’s big – so hard to get around, the public transport leaves a lot to be desired, the city is very scruffy in parts and there were times when I felt very unsafe. But at the same time, I did enjoy learning about the history and seeing the stories behind the buildings and street and neighbourhoods.

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 19.40.42

I have a feeling, that to love LA, you have to venture further out to the suburbs and explore the beautiful coastline and beach towns. Which is something I definitely plan on doing.

What do you think of LA?

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

The beautiful windows of Venice, Italy

When I was in Venice recently, I found myself taking more photos of windows than anything else. The windows were just so gorgeous, I couldn’t not. Here are some of my favourites :) Enjoy!

Beautiful windows in Venice

Beautiful windows in Venice

Beautiful windows in Venice

Beautiful windows in Venice

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 22.05.15

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 22.05.35

Beautiful windows in Venice

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 22.05.50

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 22.05.58

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 22.06.09

Beautiful windows in Venice

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 22.06.16

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 22.06.24

Beautiful windows in Venice

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 22.06.47

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

20 travel GIFs that will give you itchy feet.

I like GIFs.

I also like travelling.

So I thought I would combine these loves to make an awesome (and semi-depressing) list of gorgeous travelling GIFs, bound to give anyone itchy feet. Warning: If you are sat at an office desk right now staring out at a bleak rainy day – this blog post might encourage a glass of wine after work. Or five. It may also encourage spontaneous air ticket purchases.

central park

driving

diving gif

giphy (2)dfdg

giphy (1)

jumping gif

giphy (3)

giphy

london

giphy (2)dfvdfv

hammock GIF

giphy (2)efve

new york landscape gif

giphy (2)adcdac

giphy (2)fvevrer

giphy 10

giphy (2)76rfviu

giphy (2)cvxs

giphy (2)scsc

giphy (23

And here’s what I look like when I realise my next holiday isn’t for two months…

giphy (2)ddddsss

Image Source: Giphy.Com

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

A Photo For Everywhere I Went in 2013.

2013 has without a doubt been the best year of my life. We’ve been to more places than I can count, so here they all are and I’m hoping I haven’t missed anywhere out… Also, these aren’t in any particular order!

One photo for each place we visited :) I’ve tried to choose the photo that summed the place up for me, or the photo or moment I remembered most.

paris slow motion night time

Paris

Queenstown view gondola blue

Queenstown, NZ

London shard sunshine clouds

London, UK

NYC blue building greenwich

New York City, USA

Girl in grand canyon sunshine

The Grand Canyon, USA

Bellagio fountains las vegas blogger

Las Vegas, USA

Hong Kong slow shutter speed skyline

Hong Kong

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 20.46.58

Phuket, Thailand

grand palace bangkok summer sunshine

Bangkok, Thailand

wild elephant koh samui thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand

marina bay sands sparkle singapore

Singapore

thailand beach sunshine aqua longboat

Angthong National Park, Thailand

kuala lumpur traders hotel view sunset

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

byron bay beach sunset surfers australia

Byron Bay, Oz

gold coast surfers paradise ocean beach

Surfers Paradise, Oz

brisbane evening night time reflection

Brisbane, Oz

noosa australia beach wave surfing

Noosa, Oz

fraser island australia sunset beach

Fraser Island, Oz

hamilton island parrots birds view reef hotel

Hamilton Island, Oz

great ocean road view mist storm

The Great Ocean Road, Oz

woman wetsuit great barrier reef ocean

The Great Barrier Reef, Oz

view from plane cairns clouds

Cairns, Oz

melbourne in the evening with slow shutter speed

Melbourne, Oz

surfers on the beach in New Zealand

Christchurch, NZ

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 20.56.41

The Blue Mountains, Oz

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 20.57.27

Bondi, Oz
Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 20.57.59

Sydney, Oz

 For more memories, and my other travel highlights from 2013, take a read of this blog post, about my favourite moments from the year.

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

What has your 2013 highlight been?

The Beautiful Padlock Bridge in Paris

One of my favourite places in Paris, the Padlock Bridge, is one of those spots you should really try and get down to during your time in the city. Especially if you’re visiting for a romantic getaway with your girlfriend or boyfriend. Yes it is super mushy – but sometimes you have to embrace the romance. You are in Paris….!

You can buy your own padlock to hook onto the bridge from home and bring it with you (might be cheaper!) or you can buy them from the little stalls along the riverbank. It’ll cost you about 4 Euros (I think that’s how much we paid for ours) and they all have markers pens too – for you to write your names on them before locking them onto the bridge.

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 16.58.53

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 16.59.10

Tradition goes, that you buy your padlock, then once it’s locked onto the bridge you throw the keys into the river.

I loved the bridge, and all the lovely couples who were all throwing their keys in the river. This is the kind of thing I love when I’m travelling, it’s a place that really means something – and I loved reading all the padlocks and thinking of all the stories that go alongside them.

I took some pictures of my favourite padlocks I found – but there were so many! I could’ve stayed there all afternoon reading them all. I’d love to make a book of all the padlocks, and have photos of all the couples that match up with them… but can you imagine how difficult it would be to put that together?!

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 16.59.29

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 16.59.44

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 16.59.59

Here’s our padlock! Maybe in ten years we’ll go back and try and find it again. A good idea (to help out your future self!), is to try and find a padlock that really stands out – and put yours somewhere near there. Then at least you’ll know what to look out for!

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.00.12

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.00.36

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.00.52

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.01.06

The view form the bridge isn’t bad either so you may as well go take a look (even if you’re not the mushy sort). It’s right next to The Notre Dame as The Padlock Bridge is one of the bridges that connects the cathedral to the riverbanks of Paris, so it’s super easy to find. You could just follow the crowds of loved up couples – and you’re bound to find it that way too…!

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.01.21

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.01.36

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.01.50

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.02.07

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.02.25

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.02.41

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 17.03.17

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

The Best Hotel Views From Our Round The World Trip.

We stayed in some beautiful hotels during our round the world adventure – but the ones that made the biggest impression on us were definitely the ones that had incredible views.

There’s something special about waking up to a beautiful view (I don’t think anyone would disagree!) and when I go somewhere, I’m always scouring the internet for the hotels with the best views. So, I figured I’d put together a list of the places we stopped and the kind of views you can expect.

Enjoy!

New York City – An Air BnB hidden gem

This gorgeous little studio was a 5 minute walk from Times Square, and literally look right out onto The Empire State Building. It might actually have been the biggest bargain of our trip too – especially for how central we were. We knew the view would be great – but I hardly expected it to be as amazing as it was. One night we watched a huge thunderstorm over the city from our window, and it was priceless. I don’t think there are 5* hotels with views as good as this in NYC!

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.11.48

Hong Kong – Langham Place Hotel

Pad and I both agree this was one of our absolute favourite hotels of the entire trip. We really treated ourselves and it was beautiful! The hotel was located just outside the centre of the city – but that didn’t really matter as we were right by an MRT station. The view was beautiful and looked out over the whole city – which was especially awesome during some big thunderstorms and during the light-show in the evening (which is what you can see below). The hotel even had a rooftop pool too – so you could enjoy this view from pool-side too.

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.11.58

Bangkok – The Golden Tulip on Mandison

This hotel was another one of our favourites and our bedroom had a huge floor to ceiling window overlooking the entire local neighbourhood. In cities like Bangkok it’s just gorgeous to look out on the busy streets and the hustle and bustle outside, people watching is definitely one of our favourite things to do! They also had rooftop pool with a great views too which I think we used wayyyy to much!

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.12.08

Kuala Lumpur – The Traders Hotel

We stayed in this hotel for two amazing nights and loved every second. The rooftop pool and rooftop bar were fabulous, and the view from the bedroom (which is what you can see below) was just breathtaking. I’m not going to lie – we literally booked this hotel for the view and the view alone, but the service, location and just about everything else about it was beautiful too.

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.12.18

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.12.29

Koh Samui (Thailand) – Le Fenix Resort

We weren’t hugely wowed by this hotel, as it lacked a bit on the service side of things. But, saying that, the views were just stunning and really made-up for it’s shortfalls in other areas. I think this is the stereotypical view we all want when booking a beach holiday – so it definitely delivered!

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.12.40

Gold Coast (Australia) – Mantra Circle on Cavill

We decided to go with serviced apartment when we were in Surfers Paradise and opted for the Mantra Circle on Cavill because of the amazing views it promised. It definitely didn’t disappoint. We loved working from our little balcony overlooking the lakes and I think we sat out there with ciders and beer and watched the sunset, at least 3 nights we were there. But who can blame us?

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.12.57

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.13.15

Hamilton Island (Australia) – The Reef View Hotel

I don’t need to say much about this gorgeous view. The hotel is famous for attracting lots of birds – so we had at least 10 of these little fellas on our balcony daily. We didn’t get the best weather during our time here – but the views made up for that!

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.13.30

Melbourne (Australia) – The Space Hotel

This hotel was the biggest bargain of the trip as it was a mix between hostel and hotel, and came with some amazing city views of Melbourne. We were lucky to be given a corner room so got to look out of double the normal views, and the place even had a jacuzzi on the roof terrace!

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.13.43

Seeing NYC from the air: Helicopter-Style.

For my 21st birthday a couple of years ago, my amazing boyfriend (soppy bit over, I promise!) gave me one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever had. We woke up on the morning of my birthday, and he whisked me off for a helicopter ride above the city I love. It was pretty incredible – so I wanted to share a few of the photos.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.26.11

Pad booked it with Liberty Helicopters who are located in Downtown Manhattan at their own Heliport (6 East River Piers, NY NY 10004) who were just great and really made the whole thing really special. In a city where you end up queuing for big activities and day trips – we were pleasantly surprised by how short the waiting time actually was for our helicopter trip.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.26.22

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.26.33

I think you can book different lengths of flights, ranging from about 10 minutes to around 30 (booking is something you do have to do though – I remember the lady behind reception telling a couple behind us that they didn’t take walk-ins). Our flight lasted about 20 minutes, so we were right in the middle of the packages they offer.The prices vary hugely – depending on the length of the flight and whether you chose to go private too. We were in a shared helicopter with two other couples – but to be honest I barely noticed them there. When I think back to it – I just remember it being Pad and I.

The views were stunning – I literally cannot emphasise this enough. If you’re someone who loves New York, and you’re looking for something a bit special to do whilst you visit – then I can’t think of anything more perfect than this.

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.26.46

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.26.59

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.27.45

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.29.04

On your flight you don’t actually fly over the city, but around it instead. You’ll notice that since 9/11 no helicopters are allowed to fly over the city – unless they’re news reporters or television crews. This doesn’t mean you don’t get the amazing views though – quite the opposite in fact. The views are much more epic when you’re seeing the city above from afar – as you really take much more of it in. Just make sure you’ve got your camera and you bagsy the window seat!

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.28.11

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.28.28

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 22.28.40

Would I recommend it? Of course I would. It is a short but sweet kind of treat – but oh my gosh – you’ll remember it for the rest of your life. It’s not just the romance of it all and seeing such an incredible landscape from the sky…. it’s also something pretty special to be in a helicopter (because, let’s face it, that’s not exactly a daily occurrence for most of us)!

What would you recommend for people visiting NYC?

 

We Can’t Much Get Higher Than This: Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Dubai is (and probably always will be) one of my favourite vacation destinations. There are few reasons for this; It’s like the perfect distance from UK (only 7 hours on a plane), it feels miles away from anything British, the weather is amazing and finally, it’s where my wonderful Mum lives.

One of my favourite things to do when I’m in Dubai is visit the Burj Khalifa. We don’t go up to the top every time (that would get expensive) but it’s such a beautiful building, and the area around it is so much fun – with the fountains, restaurants and shopping malls – that it’s always the place I want to go first. As with some ‘sky-high’ viewing platforms (where it’s not really worth the money) I still totally think, even after being up there 3 times, the Burj Khalifa is.

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.56.07

Why?

First of all – Tom Cruise went there once (is that not reason enough?!) and secondly, it’s the tallest building in THE WORLD. It is the highest you will ever stand on solid ground, without being in an airplane. That always makes me feel a bit awesome, like…

“Holy Cow. I am so high up right now”

The views up there are pretty phenomenal and it’s hard not to stop your jaw dropping when you look over the side of the observation deck. It really puts things into perspective too – suddenly all those sky scrapers that looked so big on the ground, now seem tiny – and miles away from where you currently stand.

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.55.05

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.54.53

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.53.23

The observation deck itself is very modern too – which means you actually get to enjoy the view and take it all in, the windows are floor to ceiling – which as a photographer I’m always grateful for.  There is an outdoor section (which is open air) and an indoor section, which is kind of nice, because being out in the heat can get a bit full on (especially when you’re that high up) so it’s nice to pop back indoors and cool down under the air-conditioning occasionally.

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.53.45

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.53.33

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.53.09

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.54.27

When is the best time to visit?

Definitely in early evening / late afternoon – if you time it right (and trust me – it’s worth the extra effort to make sure you do) you’ll be able to see the view in the daytime and then through sunset and into the evening. Each different time of day and each kind of light gives something completely different and magical so, please, if you’re going up there try and time your visit so you can witness all three.

During the night-time you also have the adding bonus of being able to watch the fountains below – something you can’t really see during the daytime light.

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.56.59

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.57.26

 

From experience – if you’re wanting to book during this time it’s much better (and WAY cheaper) to book in advance on their website. I think you save around 30% (don’t quote me on that though!) by booking online.

I just wanted this to be a quick informative post – as I think if you’re considering going up yourself – it’s best to just go and experience it all first hand. There is only so much the photographs can do – because when you see the views in person they are that bit more overwhelming. It really is a beautiful view and the sunsets in Dubai (being as stunning as they are) make it even more memorable. For any men reading – this would be a great place to pop the question… in case you were wondering.

As far as attractions in Dubai go, this is one of the best there is and definitely one of my favourites. It’s the world’s tallest building! How is that not impressive?

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.54.11

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 13.53.56

Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? If so I’d love if you could spare a second to vote for me in The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014. Just click here to get to the voting site. Thanks a million!

My Entry: Capture The Colour Competition

Last year I never got a chance to enter the Capture The Colour competition – because we were way to busy with preparations for our move to New Zealand. But now we’re back in the UK – I can finally enter some of my own photos – so here goes….

YELLOW.

A photo that I’ve always loved, taken at sunset in Dubai with one of my closest friends (yay for self timer!). This part of the world means an awful lot to me as it’s where I was born, and it’s where my Mum has recently moved back to. It’s one thing being British, but I’m also very proud of my roots in this beautiful part of the world too.

417028_10150609412845967_1150941086_n-001

GREEN

This was the view taken from my balcony in Queenstown, New Zealand. I lived there for 6 months – and you can’t possibly imagine how incredible it was waking up to this view every morning. Whilst I think many people would look at this photo and assume it’s meant for the colour Blue – for me it’s the green that makes this image pop. I love all the little green trees and their delicate reflections in the lake below, and of course the huge tree in the foreground. I honestly don’t think you could find a more perfect outlook than this.

574996_10151336435935967_2059830561_n-001

WHITE.

I had a few photos I wanted to use to represent the White category, but in the end this is the one I opted for. This is the Dubai fountains, and every time I visit Dubai I make sure we go watch them at least once. The first time I ever saw them (coincidently – when I took this photo) I cried like a baby, because I was just so overwhelmed by how beautiful it was. I loved watching people’s reactions to them, the absolute awe and magic everyone feels when the water start dancing.

47888_424508575966_3734271_n-001

BLUE. 

For me Blue is the ocean and the sky – and there is no need to be subtle about this colour at all. This photo is one of my favourites that I’ve ever taken, so I had to use it for this competition. I think it sums up the colour Blue for me, the freedom of the ocean and the neverending-ness of the sky. I like that.

541119_10151383121415967_1826407901_n-001

RED.

When we visited one of the floating markets in the Bangkok area, this lady (in the red coat below) took my breath away. She must have been about 85 (+) years old, and there she was, working in a tiny boat, selling fruit and even flashing us a cheeky smile. I was just bowled over by her, and for me she captures the colour Red brilliantly.

943484_10151457332535967_210266275_n (1)-001

As part of the competition, we also have to nominate 5 other travel bloggers to participate, so here are my nominations:

Samuel from Nomadic Samuel

Monica from The Travel hack

Lauren from Only Chasing The Sun 

Rusja from Roo Around The World

Giulia from Travel Reportage

Getting back to the real-world. With a thump.

I’ve been back in London for about a month now – which is partly why the blog hasn’t been updated in so long (sorry about that!). I still need to blog about our time in the USA and the last part of Hong Kong – put for now I want to talk about being back home.

After 9 months of travelling, we were thrown back into London life, myself with a new job and with a new flat to find on top of that. The flat thing we got sorted pretty quickly luckily. After an intensive morning flat hunting in Balham (and feeling kind of deflating… because everywhere was out of our budget) we took a quick bus ride over to quirky Brixton. The first flat we saw we took, straight away. Right there on the spot.

It’s a cute one-bed place, right opposite the underground station (yay for a short commute!) and it has everything we’d ever need within a 2 minute walk (literally). And yes, that totally includes a McDonalds. And an M&S food.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.41.31

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.41.12

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.41.00

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.40.23

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.38.01

The print above I ordered via Printstagram, and honestly it’s the best money I have ever spent. The print is about half the size of me, and now sits in a huge wooden frame in our living room. It has all my favourite travel photos in it – and every time I look at it I can’t help but smile. I needed a reminder of our time travelling (I’m scared I’ll forget all those incredible memories we made!) so this is the perfect thing to have hanging on our wall. Every time I walk past it a different photo will catch my eye – and I’ll get a smile remembering when it was taken.

A bit about Brixton…. 

Brixton is my new neighbourhood.. and so far we’re just loving it. Sure Brixton might not be the classiest London neighbourhood – and quite often it has a bad reputation with people who have never been there. But honestly – right now, there is no where I’d rather be living.

Brixton has a fantastic independent market (with some incredible restaurants and coffee shops), lots of bars, pubs and restaurants, good shopping on the high street, awesome public transport – and an amazing independent cinema, The Ritzy (which I’ve already become a member of). Sure, it’s no Fulham (where I lived before leaving for travelling) but it’s exactly what we want right now, and we love it already.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.38.52

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.39.05

Pizza at Frano Manca’s in Brixton market. Best pizza ever? Yeah that’s right.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.40.39

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.42.24

Clapham Common (a 5 minute bus ride from our front door). A lovely place to spend those sunny Sunday afternoons. We sat here all Sunday in 25 degree heat drinking cider and reading, and I swear I almost thought I was back in Oz.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.42.07

The most lovely part of being home though? 

Being in a city I love, with all the people I love! I think I must have taken it for granted before, but when travelling I really realised how much I missed having friends and family around me regularly. The funnest part of these past few weeks has been catching up with everyone. Late nights with lots of wine. Catching up over drinks after work. Slobbing out with my baby sister (because let’s face it, that’s what siblings are good for). It’s been amazing to see all these wonderful people again! The only problem being – I want to fit everyone in at once, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough days in the week. Or more precisely – the weekend.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.38.37

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.40.01

Travel blues?

A little. So yeah, Pad and I have settled back into London life pretty well. It’s amazing to be back. And there is no where I’d rather be right now. But sometimes I do catch myself reminiscing a little too long about the freedom and adventure of travelling. I miss waking up in the morning and having no idea what would happen or what we’d see. And mainly, I miss the ocean and the water. After 9 months of being constantly near beautiful lakes or beautiful beaches – I find myself craving the ocean more than anything else.

I want to feel the sand in my toes. Or the adrenaline rush as you jump into cool water. I miss the beautiful overwhelming feeling you get whenever you look at a horizon that falls over the ocean.

I miss Queenstown too. I miss Queenstown a lot. I miss waking up to our stunning view and seeing those incredible blue waters of the lake outside. But I’m also learning to accept that (for now anyway) it isn’t somewhere we can live longterm, and my romance with Queenstown had to be an amazing but brief one. Because, in all honesty, New Zealand is an awfully long way away. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be going back for holidays. We definitely will.

So for now at least London life is what we’re after, and what we’re loving. 

London is a pretty stunning city to live in anyway – and it still feels like a bit of a novelty being here every day again (proven by how many photos of London I’m currently instagramming…. oopsie). There is nothing quite like the embankment on a sunny day (which luckily, we’re having in abundance at the moment)!

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.39.47

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.38.24

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.39.23

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 20.38.14So life is good. 

Boats and Bargains – Bangkok Floating Markets

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.27.22

Although many people will warn you off the floating markets in Bangkok – it was one of our highlights from the whole of Asia – so I’d definitely recommend going and seeing it for yourself before crossing it off your list.

Yes, it is touristy. But behind the tourist glaze, there are real Thai people living their everyday lives, and the culture and essence of the original floating markets from way back when is still there. In short, we enjoyed every second. Sure it was a bit busy and a bit chaotic but that all added to the experience, and trust me, you won’t experience anything like this anywhere else.

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.27.45

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.28.13

However before I start raving on about how good it was, I should cover a few points which you’ll probably want to know before visiting. We booked a day tour with our hotel, The Golden Tulip (who we really trusted) and who equally warned us about the various scams that happen around the area – and how to avoid them, etc, once we arrived.

I’ll run through some of them below:

– If you’re getting a taxi to the markets (there are a few to choose from, we went with Damnoen Saduak as it’s one of the biggest, and closer to the city than others) then make sure you agree on a certain market and on a certain all-day / return fare. Make sure this is for the entire trip and not per person. Be clear and firm, and drivers may disagree with you once you arrive if you haven’t sorted this beforehand.

– Be firm with the driver, and make sure he drives you straight there. Many taxi drivers will often take you via shops and tailors where they earn commission is you buy anything, so be clear to him that you want to go direct.

– Many drivers will refuse to take you straight to the market, instead taking you to various piers nearby the market instead. Here, people will try to sell you boat rides to the market, claiming it’s the “only way” to get there. THIS IS NOT TRUE. So never opt for these boats. They are often 5x (if not more) the price of the paddle boats you get when you finally do arrive. This is a tourist trap you want to avoid.

– Paddle boats are available really cheap once you finally arrive, so this is really the best option and the nicest one too as it’s much more fun and feels a bit more authentic than an engined speed boat!

– Once you’re finally at the market (all of the major ones are accessible by road, as mentioned above) you’ll notice there are shops on the water (boat sellers) and there are shops in market stalls around the water. Market stalls are always cheaper than boat stalls, so if you really want something for a good price, wait until you’re off the boat to buy it.

– Try not to point at things as you go around the floating market (unless you really want to buy it), as the store owners will take that as an almost-sale and pull you into their shop. Also – never take anything from the shop owners unless you seriously want to buy it. Once it’s in your hands you essentially signed a contract of sale and they’re unlikely to take it back.

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.28.32

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.28.53

But as long as you’re careful and a bit wary of these scams – you’ll have the best time. The four of us piled into a little row boat and got a mini tour of the market that lasted about 30 minutes. It was great. Sure, it’s a little crowded, and a bit jam packed but seriously – if you take this place for what it is then you’re bound to enjoy it. It’s such a unique experience.

Personally, I just loved seeing all the characters. These women who paddle their boats all day in the heat, are incredible. Some were like 90 years old…. and I just couldn’t help but have absolute admiration for them. The women sell all kinds of thing, from souvenirs and craft items, to clothing and food. Lots of the food is actually cooked right there on the boat.

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.29.08

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.29.29

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.30.05

You don’t have to be on the boat to buy stuff!

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.30.35

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.30.53

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.31.11

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.31.30

Another tip? Take light clothing, as being outside for this long can get pretty hot. Obviously, the floating markets are air-conditioned so you’ll want to stay as cool as possible. We took to bringing a little flannel out with us to dab our foreheads when the heat got a bit too hot! Oh, and water! Bring water. Lots of it!

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.31.46

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.32.04

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.32.24

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 22.33.00

Have you been to the floating markets in Bangkok? Would you recommend any other tips for people visiting?

Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? If so I’d love if you could spare a second to vote for me in The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014. Just click here to get to the voting site. Thanks a million!

Photos and Observations, The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Whilst our day out to The Grand Palace was undoubtedly the most hot and bothered I’ve ever been (seriously…. just look at the clothing regulations, and then consider wearing that in 38 degree heat and humidity) it’s also one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

I love temples, and as a photographer it’s a dream walking around places like this, because there is just so much to see. For me it’s the colour and the patterns, and I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that offers so many colours, shapes and beautiful buildings all within such a small space.

So here are a few of my photos….

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 21.40.27

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.32.34

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.33.04

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.33.24

It’s funny – because in the photos it doesn’t look all too hot at all. In fact, from this distance we all look pretty comfortable in our jeans, cardigans and long dresses and proper shoes. The truth? We had to stop every 10 minutes or so just to take a breather. When we finally discovered a free water station top-up, we sat there for 20 minutes in the shade just refilling our bottles again and again and downing all the water we could manage.

We joked that you could ever come here with close friends or family. Because trying to make a good first impression here, would be near impossible. What with the whole “drenched in sweat – desperate for water and shade” thing going on. Not really what you’re after on, say, a first date!

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.33.46

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.34.09

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.34.30

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.34.49

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.35.17

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.35.44

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.36.40

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.37.56

The shot above is one of my favourites of the day – as is the one at the very top of this post too.

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.38.14

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 22.38.59

A few more things to note about this place, is how busy it gets and to be careful when entering. We were warned by our hotel (luckily) about the various scams and cons people try to pull around the Grand Palace, so thought we were pretty prepared. A few things they highlighted were; people trying to sell you overly expensive tours inside the palace grounds (a ticket should only cost 500BHT – no more), people sending you off to different entrances, so they can sell you higher priced tickets, taxi drivers telling you the palace is closed (which it never is) – so they can drive you to another one further away…. the list goes on.

It’s something to look out for and just be wary of, because you don’t want your day ruined because you had your gullible hat on. 

Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? If so I’d love if you could spare a second to vote for me in The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014. Just click here to get to the voting site. Thanks a million!

Australia Is Over – Here Are My Favourite Photographs

I took just over 3000 photos in Australia… But here are a few of my absolute favourites from the month we spent there. Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.20.30

Melbourne Street Art: For me the photo above just sums up the colours and vibrancy of the street-art scene in Melbourne. It’s probably the most colour photo I’ve ever taken and would look incredible printed on a canvas when I get home! 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.21.17

Caught Out Selfie: When we headed down the Great Ocean Road we had a kind of windy day weather-wise. This photo was meant to be a standard smiley-shot but the wind caught us out. I love it. It makes me smile every time I look at it. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.21.39

The Great Ocean Road: The 12 Apostles was one of the most awesome and powerful views we saw during Oz, and this was my favourite shot I took that day. It looks magical and almost like the very edge of the earth. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.22.31

Paddy: Because it wouldn’t have been half as awesome without him there beside me. And I like his smile.  

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.23.02

Sydney Opera House: Our favourite spot in Sydney – and what a stunning place to spend an evening. I love this shot and I’m already counting down the days until we get to return to where it was taken. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.23.23

Jon Quinton: I’m afraid you really had to be there to appreciate this one. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.24.32

Sea Turtle: Because moments after I took this it swum right up infront of us and I got to touch it’s shell. It’s was a magic moment – and this photo sums it up perfectly. Plus, this whole day I was pleasantly surprised my cheapy $30 underwater camera actually worked. Bonus. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.24.58

Stinger Suits and Snorkels: For me this photo is my favourite from our day snorkelling the great barrier reef. It was an incredible day and this photo is the one that’ll being back all the amazing memories. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.25.37

Birds on the balcony: I loved these little birds on our balcony (at one point we had about 15!) and it really helped brighten up what could’ve been a miserable few days as we had tropical storms. So perfect timing from these little guys!

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.26.09

Bird selfie: Because it’s so cute!

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.26.32

Whitsundays Rain: It basically rained non-stop on us our entire time on Hamilton Island – but we got on with it and actually had a really fun time. We broke 2 umbrellas in total. Oops. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.27.08

Noosa Sunshine Beach: I love the sea in Noosa and it was the first bit of proper Australian sunshine we had! Pad also got taken out by a massive wave shortly after this which we both found funny, and this photo reminds me of that. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.27.29

Noosa waves: Again this just sums up Australian beaches for me. Golden, sandy perfectness. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.28.04

Tanned at last: I only chose this one because LOOK HOW TANNED WE ARE FINALLY. It might have taken a month to get there – but we finally look like we’re travellers. Yes sun tan!

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.28.25

Hammock Success: After our epic failure trying to hang our own hammock in Queenstown, we finally found a hammock to call our own! And it worked! 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.28.46

Rocks on Byron Bay: This just sums up the peacefulness and beauty of Australian beaches for me. This is another shot I’d love to get blown up on canvas when we get home. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.29.22

Surfers on Byron Bay: Another lovely shot of surf life in Australia. We’ve really embrace the lifestyle and Pad has a new found love for the surf – and this photo sums it up perfectly. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.30.02

Surfers Paradise Beach: One of our favourite beaches of the whole trip. Gorgeous to sit on, swim in – you name it. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.30.39

SkyPoint View: The view at the top of the SkyPoint tower was incredible, so this shot just brings back that moment of awe when we first saw it. Just beautiful.

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.31.08

Balcony Sunset: Our lovely apartment in Surfers Paradise had a beautiful view and a balcony to enjoy it from – which we definitely took advantage of! I love this photo I took at sunset – it’s just magical. 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 21.31.47

Brisbane: The unexpectedness of Brisbane was lovely – and this photo reminds me of how nice it was and how much of a surprise it was too. Also I’m a sucker for city-scape photography, especially night shots.  

 

I Heart Brisbane

 

Before travelling Australia I’d read up on the various places we were headed – asked around… all the usual. There were a few places that kept being highly recommended…. Noosa, Byron Bay being two of the most popular choices in Oz. Brisbane however, people kept just looking at me and saying “meh”. From the people I asked, and most people I’ve talked to, nobody seemed overly excited by Brisbane – so to be honest I wasn’t expecting much from this little city – and I was kind of glad we’d only scheduled 2 nights there.

But I loved it.

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.47.40

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.48.07

Sure, it’s no Sydney – and there isn’t anything iconic or instantly memorable about this place – but it has a great vibe and a lovely lifestyle and I really enjoyed spending time there. I much preferred it to Melbourne  – and Melbourne was somewhere people recommended to me loads. But with Melbourne I just didn’t feel safe, and I didn’t really click with the city because of that reason.

But Brisbane I liked.

It doesn’t have a beach (which is weird for a big Australian city) but in their defence they have the Southbank area – which is a man-made beach and a swimming area that is always open to the public and free too. It was clean, friendly, safe and had a great atmosphere – and in all honesty I enjoyed it more than some of the overcrowded but average “real beaches” we’d seen elsewhere. Because , hey, you don’t have to worry about getting salt in your eyes, and there are city views right across the water. Which is pretty awesome. We both loved it.

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.50.39

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.53.10

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.53.33

 

We spent a fair bit of our time on the Southbank, found some lovely restaurants (one of them serving nothing but chocolate related meals – amazing) and had a wander round, just enjoying the views. The views didn’t really remind me of anywhere else, they were just kind of a stock-image for a nice cityscape (if that makes sense?) – nothing recognisable or striking but still very beautiful and gorgeous to look at and get lost in.

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.51.03

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.51.29

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.51.48

 

So yeah. It was the shortest stop on our Australian road-trip – but undeservedly. Maybe Brisbane deserved a few more nights from us – as it was a lovely city and somewhere we both really liked exploring and experiencing. But it just goes to show you never really know what to expect until you’re actually there seeing it for yourself.

We’re heading to Byron Bay next which has been highly recommended by literally everyone we’ve talked to before and during our month in Australia. I’m pretty much expecting it to be the nicest place on earth (based on the things people have told me) so let’s hope it can live up to expectations! But for now… a few more photos of beautiful Brisbane….

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.52.10

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.52.30

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.52.48

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.53.54

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 09.54.15I don’t know who these people are – but they spent like half an hour talking photos like this and Pad and I spent half and hour watching them (and suppressing laughter) as they did so. So I thought I would share the love. Still makes me smile just looking at it!

 

Bumps and Bruises on Fraser Island

Fraser Island was one of the typical “backpacker” things we wanted to do whilst we were exploring the East coast, so when Hostel Bookers offered to put us up in The Friendly Hostel for free, we took the opportunity to see Fraser Island from Hervey Bay on one of the day tours that head out there.

Our day started with a coach and a ferry out to the Island, which takes about an hour in total. We got so lucky with weather – because up until this point in our trip, we’d pretty much only had rain and storms. Australia wasn’t playing fair with the weather it had been offering us – but it decided to be nice for us on our Fraser Island day trip – thank goodness!

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

Fraser Island is basically the biggest the sand island in the world – that’s why it’s a big attraction and that’s why you go. There is a huge beach you can drive down at 80 miles an hour in 4×4 vehicles, and there are some fresh water lakes int he middle of the island too – which are great for swimming. Our day tour showed us around Central Station (where they used to do logging), Eli Creek, The Pinnacles, Moheno Shipwreck (above) Lake Mackenzie, and (of course) the 75 mile beach.

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

The day was a fun day – but being honest we were both left a little under-whelmed. Maybe it’s because we’ve just come from New Zealand where the natural beauty is just breath-taking everywhere you turn? I just felt like Fraser Island was a bit average looking. Sure, the beaches are nice and very expansive – but you can’t really relax on them because you have coaches and 4×4’s zooming up and down them at high speed every few minutes. Before the trip I’d been hugely excited for Lake Mackenzie too – and yet I was a bit disappointed with it. I could fully see that it was a great lake, but it didn’t compare to the lake in Queenstown (or any in NZ for that matter) and it certainly wasn’t the “paradise” the tour brochures had advertised it as. So much so – I didn’t even take a photo of it – that’s how uninspired I was.

But maybe we’d just visited at the wrong time? I keep hearing tales of people who had an awesome time on Fraser – so maybe we just came on the wrong day and the island wasn’t looking it’s best. Would I go again? Probably not. But I’d still recommend people to go and make up their own minds.

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

There were a few parts of the day we loved though. We loved hearing about the history of the island for one – it has such an interesting back story and there are so many little tales that make up everything you see. The other highlight for me was actually being thrown around in the back of the 4×4 vehicle we saw the island in. On our drive back (especially) our driver really put his foot down and the eight of us that were sat above the back wheels could really feel every bump and jolt. We were being thrown around so much, it was actually like being on a roller coaster – and everyone in the back of the vehicle was wetting themselves with laughter every time we hit another bump of dip in the road. So that was definitely an experience we won’t forget!

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

 

There’s also a lot of wildlife on the island – most of which you’re encouraged not to interact with. It’s nice spotting them from a distance though! I loved seeing this Dingo stroll around near us!

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

When you head back to the mainland, you head back on the ferry you came in on, and (if you timed it well) you get to watch the sunset. Perfect way to end the day :)

Fraser Island reveiw blogger photos

 

 

 

5 Reasons I Love Sydney

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.19.28

When we first visited Sydney over New Year, whilst we both loved Sydney neither of us fell in love with it, not as much as we have with other cities like NYC. This time however, when we stopped in Sydney for a few days – we both realised just how much we adore it here.

Sydney is fantastic. 

I’ve heard people say that Sydney doesn’t have soul, and that it’s quite a plastic city – simply putting on a show for tourists and the like. And yes – whilst there are some places that the travellers and tourists seem to flock towards – for me this doesn’t detract from the magic and the the beauty of this city. I’m now looking at Sydney as somewhere I would seriously consider living, I love the atmosphere, the people and just everything really. I’m sold on Sydney!

So why do I love it?

1. It feels safe

As a female, it’s nice to be able to walk around a city during daytime and night-time and feel safe and relaxed. In Sydney I’ve never felt unsafe. First we were in Kings Cross (which is notoriously a bit of a dodgy area) and yet I never felt threatened or uneasy. Our second time we stayed in the centre of town (near Chinatown) and I felt exactly the same. Whilst I’m sure there are probably some areas of Sydney I would want to avoid, as it’s usually the case with all cities, so far I haven’t felt unsafe in Sydney and that’s a big plus point for me. In Melbourne (where we were before Sydney) I didn’t feel this safety at all, in fact several times in Melbourne I found myself clutching on Pad’s hand a bit tighter because there were some questionable characters nearby. I mean, I’ve lived in London for 3 years – so it’s not like I’m not used to a few odd people on the street either, it’s just in Melbourne I felt a little more uncomfortable with it than I have in other cities. I just didn’t feel as safe or protected there.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.00.24

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.00.45

 

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.07.13

2. The people

People in Sydney are friendly and nice. Sure, they’re not “New Zealand” or “Canadian” friendly (seriously, two of the nicest, friendliest nationalities I’ve come across) but for city folk they sure are welcoming and lovely. In London you feel a bit shunned and shoved a lot of the time, and whilst Sydney is busy and it’s a big city full of people living a city life – it’s not a push and shove culture. People are busy but they’re still nice. I like that.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.05.18

3. The culture

We found some lovely bars and restaurants whilst in Sydney – and unfortunately left with a few we hand’t managed to get too. Mamak – we are coming for you next time. I love the bars in the Harbours (Darling Harbour was a lovely place to sit with a glass of wine as the sunset) and I love the quirky nightlife and pubs in the outer suburbs too. Another great plus point? Even though the prices can be ridiculously high in Sydney, if you can catch Happy Hour you can grab a major bargain usually. Also – the city is just gorgeous to walk around – if that’s all you feel like doing. Some of my favourite moments were just sitting around on a bench near the Harbour Bridge people watching.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.01.05

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 14.59.35

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.01.28

4. The Beaches

There are loads nearby, and I love the idea that you can live in a big cosmopolitan city – but escape to the beaches at the weekends. And it’s not like in London when you’re escaping to Brighton Beach (a pebble beach, which is usually rainy) – you’re escaping to gorgeous big sandy beaches with surfers and shops and trendy bars. All within 15-30 minutes of the city on public transport. My favourite was Bondi Beach as I love the grassy slope and how absolutely huge it is. But Manly and Shelly Beach are always a safe bet too.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.04.28

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.02.13

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.02.38

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.02.58

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.03.25

5. It’s FUN!

There is so much to do here and it’s a fun place to be! We loved Luna Park, we loved the iMax (we saw Jurassic Park there!) we loved bar hopping, we loved beach hopping – we loved the food and everything else. Sydney is in no way a dull city – it’s the kind of place that always has some event going on and something to take part in. Plus, if you ever did get bored there is a huge domestic and international airport (with hundreds of destinations) waiting to take you somewhere for the weekend.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.06.19

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 15.05.43

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 14.59.58

Exploring The Great Barrier Reef With Tusa Dive

Tusa Dive Great Barrier Reef

We knew that one of the main things we wanted to do whilst in Australia was go and explore The Great Barrier Reef. It’s one of those bucket-list items that pretty much everyone has, and we are no different. The company we chose were Tusa Dive, and we couldn’t have been more happy with the day we had. Granted, the weather wasn’t perfect, and we had to tackle some pretty strong waves and currents when we got out the the reef – but the crew on board literally made it as enjoyable and as easygoing as they could – which made everything so much more memorable for us.

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Great Barrier Reef

“Happy Pills” are crucial if you’re prone to motion sickness, because that’s basically what they prevent. Tusa gave these out for free when everyone got onboard – which was very nice of them and something we were very thankful for later on in the day! Not all boats do that though – so make sure you have some with you and you take some before setting off, especially if you’re sailing on a rough day like we were. Even if you’re not prone to sea sickness – take one anyway. 

For those photographers reading this (or photography enthusiasts) you can actually hire digital cameras that are waterproof onboard the Tusa boat – which is totally awesome, and I wish I’d known. The photos in this post were taken with a super cheap waterproof camera I found in NZ for like $40 – and whilst the quality isn’t terrible, it certainly isn’t the standard of imagery I usually work with! But I love all the photos I took, and I kind of like the fact they’re a bit blurry – we were under the sea after all!

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

We opted for snorkelling on our Tusa Dive, although they do have diving options too – if you want to dive. We’ve never dived before though – and the sea was quite rough, so we thought snorkelling would be a good way to see the reef – and it totally was. The reef is pretty shallow in most places – between about 5 ft and 15 ft in deeper parts, so for those who are nervous about swimming in the vast deep ocean – dont let any fear like that put you off doing something like this. I have always had an irrational fear of sharks (sometimes I even get it in the deep end of a swimming pool… wait, did I just admit to that?) and not once did any kind of fear or doubt cross my mind whilst we were snorkelling the reef. Sure, there are little sharks out there, but the crew are pretty vigilant in spotting them and also pretty convincing when they tell you not to be worried. Apparently the sharks are actually really shy, and if you spot one, you’re very lucky. 
Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

The highlight for me was spotting a turtle. There were two things I wanted to see whilst we were out there; a turtle and a Nemo fish. We saw both! The Nemo fish we found pretty early on (yes, we found Nemo…. haha) and the turtle we spotted a little later in the day. It was just incredible, and had been gliding around the bottom of the reef for a while as we eagerly watched it at a distance, but then without warning it came up for air about half a foot away from my face. It was just breath-taking to be that close to a wild animal – I even got to stroke it’s shell!

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Stinger suits (you can see how fetching we looked in them above) were provided for all, and fitted well and were actually pretty comfortable. They had all sorts of sizes for everyone on board and the whole “handing out” process was easy and fuss free. You even get little booties to wear too. Your snorkel and suit are then yours for the whole day – so there is no mixing and matching which is handy as it makes the whole process miles easier when you’re getting in and out of the sea.

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

I think the conditions we were snorkelling in were quite rough at times, as there was some powerful wind and waves coming at us (especially in the beginning). I’ll have to be honest here, it did frighten me a little when I first got in the sea and I panicked slightly because I just didn’t have the physical strength to be wading through the waves with my flippers on, fighting the current which was pulling me in the opposite direction I wanted to be going. I think I was a bit surprised at this – because I’ve always been a really strong swimmer (my Mum taught me to swim when I was about 2 years old) so it’s always come naturally. But I gather that the wind like we had would be an exception in the summertime – and during peak season the water would be much calmer.

Saying that – the crew were fantastic though – and within minutes one of the lovely snorkelling blonde girls from the crew had swam over and offered to tour us around (I wish I had grabbed her name, because she was brilliant and really made the experience), meaning there were three of us all swimming together against the current and the waves. This made it so much easier to navigate, and it meant she could point out some of the interesting fish and coral for us to see – she is the one who found us our Nemo fishy!

Tusa Dive Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Overall, we just had the best day. We’ve been building it up in our minds and it didn’t disappoint at all. The reef is beautiful and it’s something that will stick with me forever. It’s such a funny feeling being somewhere you’ve always imagined – and seeing all these incredibly coloured fish and coral right there inches away from you. Pad and I said once were were back on dry land, that it’s already one of our highlights – and we still have 2 months to go.

A few words about this beautiful place. Queenstown.

When Pad and I first started talking about New Zealand – we were also talking about moving to New York. New York is my ultimate destination – the city I’m probably most in love with – and Queenstown was Pad’s equivalent of that.

Moving to New York seemed a stretch for us at the time (all I need to say is Green Cards and you’ll get the picture) but New Zealand seemed much more in reach – so that’s the destination where our plans settled.

And I’m so glad they did. 

Queenstown has completely won me over, and I didn’t think I’d be this sad leaving it behind. 

Queenstown is this phenomenally beautiful (devastatingly so – someone tweeted me yesterday) town.

It has these incredible sweeping vistas that surprise you at every corner you turn. I’ve never woken up and not been amazed at our view. There has never been a day when I haven’t been stopped or taken aback by it’s beauty, even on foggy days when all I can see is whiteness – I can feel the mountain air on my face and that’s enough. When somewhere is this overwhelming it demands your attention and you give it willingly, in whatever way you can.

I love the way the clouds cling to mountains and cut off the pinnacles on stormy days, tricking you into thinking there are no mountains there at all. I love it when the sun is so bright you have to shade your eyes and the sunset casts such long deep shows on even the smallest pebbles. I love the colour of the lake and how it’s the bluest water and cleanest water I’ve ever seen. I love it in the distance on windy days, when it looks like dolphins are jumping from the waves. I loved the snow and waking up to a white mountain top, that was green and brown only hours before. And falling asleep on the balcony with thunder and lightening happening right around me.

I cannot count the times when Pad has caught me just staring out of our living room windows. Sometimes if a TV show is boring – I’ll just stare out of the window instead – because the view is forever changing and much more interesting. There is a spot on the window with my hand prints where I just stand and look. No where has ever quietened me like Queenstown before.

Queenstown has this purity about it, and there is this peacefulness and beauty that swallows you up just being here. 

But saying that – the adventure and adrenaline that Queenstown serves up is something special too. Whilst it’s views and landscapes may stun you into silences – it doesn’t require you stay that way. Scream, and do it loudly. You’ll have no other option as you throw yourself from a plane, or down a zipline, or across a canyon. You’re spoilt for choice here and everyone knows it. There is no other place in the world that so magnificently caters to everyone.

Hopefully a few of these photos and this video can do it justice….

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.17.20

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.17.36

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.17.51

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.18.08

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.18.23

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.18.38

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.18.50

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.19.03

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.19.17

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.19.31

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.19.44

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.19.57

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.20.13

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.20.27

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.20.52

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.21.05

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.21.18

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.21.36

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.21.49

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.22.40

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.22.56

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 16.23.11

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 21.01.23

 

Night-Time City-Scape Photography

My favourite time to take photos is during the evening when the sun goes down – because for most cities this is when they look the prettiest and the definitely the most photogenic! This will only be a short post – just a few of my own favourite snapshots from previous trips taken during my favourite time of day.

One of the things I’m most excited for when we set off on our RTW trip is taking even more of these night time photos. So expect another blog post very similar to this in a few months, with some very different locations though!

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Darling Harbour

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Darling Harbour

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Darling Harbour

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Taken from The Botanical Gardens

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Taken from The Botanical Gardens

Wellington harbour night time landscape

Wellington Harbour

Wellington harbour night time landscape

Wellington Harbour

Dubai Marina night time landscape

Dubai Marina

New York City night time sky scrapers

Times Square, NYC

New York City night time sky scrapers

Manhattan, NYC (taken from the Pulaski Bridge)

Dubai Marina night time landscape

Dubai – Burj al Arab Hotel

London City night time sky scrapers

London Embankment

The Oman UAE Night time

The Oman

London night time landscape

Trafalgar Square, London

I Freaking Love Photo Booths. Part 1.

I love photos. But more than that, I love instant photos. Photo Booths are my favourite thing. In the whole world.

There is this one little photo booth in Queenstown Cinema (now, the first thing you have to understand about Queenstown Cinema is it’s like a 1980’s throwback). It has these little curtains around it, and it’s only $4 to get 6 photos. I make Paddy go in it with me every time we see a film.

It has actually inspired me though – and when we set off travelling in 6 weeks, I’m going to try and find a photo booth in every city we visit. Then at the end of the trip I’m going to cut them all up and fram them in a big frame. I love my photos, but there’s something a bit special about a photo booth picture. Then we’ll have this awesome souvenir showing how we’ve changed (etc) whilst travelling (I’m guessing the main change will be our tan).

Here are a few so far….

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.02.38Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.02.28 Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.02.49 Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.03.13

The stories behind the photographs.

I love taking photos – and growing up I think I used to annoy people at times with my incessant need to take photos all the time. As a traveller though – this is something which definitely pays off – as months (even years) after your trip, you can look through and have all these incredible memories flood back to you.

Sometimes though, there is a much more interesting story behind a photograph, than what you’d initially think. I was browsing through a couple of photos from Sydney today, and it was funny thinking of all the stories behind some of the photos I took – even though at first glance they look like just your average holiday snap. Anyway, this got me thinking – so I decided to trawl through some much older photos too (some from travelling, some not) to see what I could find. So here they are… photos and stories.

On first glance this photo looks a bit rubbish. It’s all blurred and it’s not really in focus at all. But this was taken exactly at midnight NYE as we watched the Sydney fireworks display infront of us. We’d been planning it for so long, and it was such an awesome night, that it doesn’t even matter if the photo is rubbish.

This photo was taken during our trip to NYC in 2011. We’d been walking around somewhere central and came across this random group of girls all waiting around this door. In NYC you’re always expecting to run into someone famous – so I asked who these kids were waiting for and they told me they were expecting Robert Pattinson to arrive soon. Now, I don’t even like him that much, and I frown upon the Twilight movies – but still, it’d be cool to see him, right? So we waiting in-line for like 30 minutes seeing if he’d show up. He didn’t.

Before I lived in London, day trips to London were like the best thing ever. Emily, Lizzie and myself arranged a day trip to the big city one summer and it was awesome. However. Please note the colour of my hair. BLONDE. Except the blonde was awful and didn’t sut me at all. So for the whole day I took all my photos in black and white. I know that’s ridiculous but it’s true. The next day I dyed my hair back brown. Lesson learnt.

This is probably the most hilarious photos I’ve ever taken. Not really because it’s even that funny – but because I remember how much we laughed when we noticed it. I think it still remains one of our family’s in-jokes. Grace and Megan I’m talking to you.

This photo isn’t really anything special when you first look at it. Just a couple of shadows. It’s actually the first photo I ever took of Pad and I though, so pretty special to me. I remember how annoying my bag was too (it was fringed and the little fringes would fall out in random places, like a breadcrumb trail). It was taken in Trafalgar Sq, one of our favourite places even now.

This photo was taken one NYE, when myself and lovely girlies decided we’d stop in instead of go out. We decided to do some kind of “ready steady cook” kind of thing and each of us brought ingredients and different parts of the meal. It was all going very well, but both Philippa and Marcelle spent the night with food poisoning. I thought I’d got away with it though and escaped the food poisoning (which was lucky – as I had a flight the next day) but I had no such luck. My food poisoning kicked in the next day and I spent a night throwing up in the airport. But look at us here, all happy and blissfully unaware of what would come.

Taken in the Oman in the middle east, this was taken after hours of being thrown around the back of a 4×4 jeep. I think Bekah and I just need some fresh air, and also to feel solid ground for 5 minutes.

About 5 minutes before this photo was taken I had been sobbing to myself. Not that you’d be able to tell! This was taken at the top of a big hill in Bay of Islands, NZ – a hill which we’d had to (practically) climb and hike up barefoot. It took about 20 minutes, but was probably the steepest thing I’ve ever walked up. For the duration of said climb, I had been certain we were nearly at the top – but the top never came. So I cried. I cried for the top to come. It did eventually, and when I got up there it dawned on me how much of a loser I was. The view was worth it, promise. And I’ll try never to be so pathetic again when faced with a steep incline.

This was taken in the Vatican, Rome. The holiday itself, was one of my favourite holidays ever but I think Philippa would agree this day was our low-point. I had made a bad footwear choice (this get’s icky, so stop reading if you’re not feeling it) as Rome is covered in cobble stones – and flimsy footwear just doesn’t cut it there. My shoes were super flimsy and the blisters I got spoke for themselves. They had personalities, names and professions and lives of their own. Anyway – it all got too much – so I popped my blister in the Vatican courtyard. Even typing that feels wrong. But I did. I’m sorry Mr Pope. This photo was taken just afterwards.

This is the best travel game ever. And I think during our skiing holiday we were all on the brink of addiction with this game. Literally, I think I enjoyed the game more than the skiing. It’s called Bananagrams incase anyone was interested. Buy it.

I still get teased for this photo and it’s one of the biggest running jokes between Pad and I. The night we took it was at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, and was one of my favourite dates we’ve ever had. And, I don’t mind that I look stupid, because I know how much (on many occasions) it’s made him laugh. I wish I’d bought that hat though.

 

If Carlsberg did boats…. Rock The Boat, NZ.

The second half of our trip to Bay of Islands was to be spent on the Rock Cruise. I’d been looking forward to this since we first booked our flight to New Zealand like 7 months ago. Pad went three years ago when he first visited the country and I’d already heard loads about it (all good) so the expectations were definitely high.

I can well and truly say, every expectation was met. This tour is absolutely one of the must-do things in New Zealand, without a doubt. Bay of Islands is about a 3.5 hours drive from Auckland, which can seem a bit heavy – but in all honesty – it’s worth every second of that drive to go on this tour.

Anyway, I took so many photos during the 2 days on board – I’ll let them do most of the talking.

We were booked into the double cabin on board – which was a super cute little wooden room with a little double bed. It had a gorgeous sliding door window which looked out onto the water (kind of obvious – because it’s a boat) but waterviews always make me swoon. This was a view that would take some beating, especially as it changed every time we set sail and cruised somewhere else in the area.

There’s plenty of room in the cabin, not that you spend much time in there – you’re too busy doing all the awesome activities they have planned for you! I think we had the only double cabin on board- and I’m pretty sure the other rooms are quads and dorm-style. Still – they all looked roomy and pretty similar to ours in design. You’re only on there for one night anyway – so whichever room you have would be fine.

The best bit?

One of the biggest selling points for this boat-tour (and probably what sets it miles apart from others in NZ) is the incredible staff and how informal they make the whole experience. In the past I’ve felt a bit like sheep being loaded onto a boat – being told to do this and look here, etc. The Rock Cruise is nothing like this though – there are scheduled activities and a clear itinerary – but actually, if you’re not feeling any of it, or you’d rather just chill out at the cute little bar on board, that’s fine. There’s no pressure.

The staff are awesome too – friendly and helpful and hilarious from the moment you step on board. They’re all young (which we loved, being a young couple, as they were all a similar age) but I’m guessing if you’re in an older crowd the staff inject a bit of youthfulness and excitement into the whole experience too.  Big kudos to Dan who was on his first cruise, and was made to drink some weird concoction of fish grossness (which you can see above). Also to Ryan and James who definitely deserve some kind of medal for continued enthusiasm and all-round lovelyness. And also Johnny, Steph, Chelsea, Ben and Jake! Keep up the good work guys, I think you’ve built the best team of staff this side of the hemisphere!

Evening activities?

As the evening rolled in, we’d cruised over to a gorgeous little bay, to set up anchor for the night. The bay we were in was pretty stunning (the amount of photos I took testaments to that). Within a few minutes of settling in the bay, the crew had the fishing rods out – and I was so eager. I’ve never fished properly before – and had a funny feeling I’d be awesome at it.

I wasn’t as good as I might have hoped (not a single fish was caught by myself) but it was still extremely fun! I had a few nibbles, and my bait kept going missing but alas I didn’t catch anything. Except some coral. Which was exciting for about 3 minutes whilst I reeled it in thinking it was a fish. Error!

Catch of the day. Obviously.

It’s hard to concentrate on fishing though, when this is the view. That’s my excuse.

After fishing, it was tea-time (yay!) and the crew got the BBQ going. Tea consisted of Steak and Sausage and a variety of salad, bread and other yummy stuff. I was pretty impressed by the food actually, there was a big choice of stuff and it filled us both up for the kayaking later on. Tea is a great time to get chatting to the other guests onboard too, as you all sit on a huge long table. We were lucky to sit near the guy who caught a big Snapper fish – so got a sneaky taste!

Night Kayaking anyone? 

This was my highlight of the entire trip. There are a few things that made this little part of the trip so good though; not only was it a first for me (I’ve never kayaked at night time before!) but the surroundings were just beautiful. The stars in the sky were so clear and stunning – probably the most clear sky I’ve ever seen in my life, only being topped by Abersoch in Wales. This night sky topped that 100% though, with so little light pollution, you really can see every tiny star. The other thing that makes this kind of magic is the plancton in the water (did I spell that right?) which glows whenever you move it. It means that whenever you move through the water it glows around you. It’s something incredibly beautiful and something I’ve never seen before – which made it that bit special.

Day 2

Next morning, we were up to the following views – which was definitely enough to wake us up! We slept pretty well actually – although there was a phantom snorer on board – who was never named and shamed. His (Well, I’m guessing it was a he) snoring was literally shaking the boat at one point!

Breakfast was at 8am, which surprisingly we made in time and consisted of porridge (yum) and fruits and cereal. The morning then consisted of some diving in the nearby reef, and a trip over to a little bay / beach which was just stunning.

The island we headed over to was probably the most lovely, remote beach I’ve yet to visit. Part of the trip over there though, did consist of a (very hardcore) walk up a hill, so you could really take in the views from up top. Whilst the views were definitely worth it…. I have never been one for hills (especially walking up them) – so I was a bit of a wimp here. OK a lot of a wimp, I swore several times while trying to keep my cool getting up the “mountain”.

Those views I was telling you about.

I could’ve happily just stayed on this beach all week.

So yeah. That’s about it! After we headed back to the boat, we had some lovely lunch (beef sandwiches) and then cruised back over to Paihia in the sunshine. I don’t know what else I can do to convince you to do the Rock Cruise, if you’re not convinced by now there is no hope. For you. Ever. Because you’ll be really missing out.

Oh, here is the blog post from the first half of our Bay of Islands trip. In case you want more reading!