Last year my family and I went to Italy for the first time. In the good ole days we used to go to Spain a lot, so Italy was somewhere new and exciting. We flew into Milan Bergamo airport and stayed in a lovely hotel called Hotel Mediolanum for three nights. It was an enjoyable trip and we plan on visiting Rome on our next holiday.
Places of interest we visited were Duomo dil Milano, Teatro alla Scala, Sforza Castle, Corso Buenos Aires, Porta Venezia, Piazza della Repubblica, Piazza Gae Aulenti. One of the days we visited Lake Como, Bellagio and Varenna. It was well worth the hour journey by train to see such spectacular scenes. It was January, so a quite time of year to visit for tourists. It would be great to go again in the summertime. Decathalon was one of my favourite shops in this city. This is a big sports shop with good quality clothes for a low price that is popular in many European countries. I also loved the Swatch shop. Foodwise, a large quantity and variety of pizza and pastas were consumed throughout the four days. This city has wonderful architecture, galleries and theatres. 🍕🍝
I have been to Belgium twice and I would recommend travelling there if you have never been before. One of my best friends is currently doing a Masters in Digital Media and Society at KU Leuven. She did her Erasmus in Belgium in third year of her B.Sc Commerce at Leuven. The first time I went to visit her in Belgium was in summer 2018. I stayed for three nights and we had a busy weekend with lots of walking and things to see and do. I was also in Belgium last Christmas and I would highly recommend seeing Brussels at Christmas time.
Brussels attractions include Grand Place, the Atomium and Manneken Pis. Belgian beer, frites and chocolat are a must! 🍺🍟🍫One of the days, we went to both Bruges and Ghent. (+20,000 steps walked😪). I personally prefer Bruges to Brussels city as it is prettier and more picturesque. In Ghent, we did a river cruise and did some sightseeing. Belgium has lovely architecture and has lots of nice cafés and restaurants. A lot of people speak English there and the people there are very good-looking, I must say.
Last Christmas, Niamh and I went to visit Alanna in Belgium. It was a wholesome weekend filled with yummy food and Christmas spirit. The Christmas markets at Brussels and Leuven were amazing. Everywhere was covered in colourful lights and the smell of sugar and Gluwhein whafted through the air. We went on a big ferris wheel and ice-skating and did some shopping. One of the days we got the train to Maastricht in the Netherlands. A return ticket was only 18 euros and it was definitely worth it! There were more Christmas markets in Maastricht, shopping and food🥨 Winter time is a great time of year to visit Belgium and the Netherlands. My flight to Belgium was after my last Christmas exam for my Masters so it was very exciting. The winter lights in Brussels are amazing at Christmas time. One evening we went to Leuven, where there were choral singers and a candle-lit ceremony. It was truly magical🥰💫
As the quarantine restrictions are easing, we can look forward to hopping on a plane in the not too distant future (hopefully). I have listed tips below for packing a suitcase and preparing for your next trip.
Write a list of things you want to bring- you can start this weeks in advance. You may have to buy some items for the trip and having a list will prevent you from forgetting anything important.
Roll your clothes to prevent them from creasing. Clothes can be placed in vacuum compression bags which are sealed, maximising space in your suitcase.
Pack heavier items such as shoes towards the bottom of the suitcase
Pour liquids into 100ml clear containers. Containers can be bought at a discount store, pharmacy or some clothing stores. Avoid bringing too many liquids if you are only going for a few days. Don’t forget suncream!
Fit oddly shaped items such as accessories or hairbrushes last.
Bring a totebag for foodshopping or souvenirs and another small bag for laundry. Ziplock bags are great for snacks, chargers or small items such as makeup and it is always a good idea to have two or three of these handy.
Check if you require a travel adapter for the country you are travelling to.
Luggage tags can be bought at a low cost and can be useful in preventing luggage from getting lost. Limit the amount of information on your lugagge tag, you do not need to write your home address or nationality. A name, phone number and email address should do as well as the address of where you are travelling to.
Bring a scarf for the plane journey. Whether it is an early morning flight or late at night, the plane can often be chilly.
Bring a reusable water bottle that can be brought through security empty.
Passport and boarding pass!
Comment below if you have any other suggestions or tips 💭✨ Subscribe if you know the song reference🎵
Friends from my M.Sc course and I were lucky enough to go to London before the lockdown. We stayed in London for three nights. We were really excited the weeks leading up to it and would not stop talking about it and planning what we were going to do. A month beforehand, we went for brunch in Java’s Creperie, Galway and made an itinerary. We booked a hostel for a good price and found some good deals on Ryanair too.
Friday 6th March
We arrived at Shannon airport bright and early. After going through security, we did not have long before boarding the plane. I was sitting at a window seat and bought a coffee on the plane. When we arrived, we got Stansted express to the city which we had booked before arriving. Firstly, we headed for our hostel and left our bags in the luggage room. My first impression of Rest Up hostel was that it seemed close to the city and had a good student atmosphere. It was a bright, sunny day which was good. After leaving our bags in the lockers, we walked towards the London Eye. We didn’t have to queue for long as we already had tickets booked. There were stunning views of the city from the top. I had been on it before with my family when I was younger, but it was worth going on again. After the London Eye, we went for food. I had a nice grilled chicken and rice salad. Then, we did a river cruise. We boarded the boat with the London Eye river cruise company. The boat trip was approximately an hour long. I enjoy river cruises in new cities as you learn a lot of history and facts. I recommend doing a river cruise on the first or second day in a new city, so you have an idea of your surroundings. In the afternoon, we headed back to the hostel and checked in. The 5 of us had our own room, which was quite small. We did not mind though as we were only there to sleep. The bathroom was down the hall and not very clean, but we were playing a small price so could not complain.
Saturday, 7th March
We got up and went downstairs for breakfast. Unfortunately, there was no kettle, fridge or sink facilities. There was a café in the hostel however and a breakfast if you wanted to pay. There was a large seating area which we could use so we went to Tesco express across the road and bought some breakfast supplies. I bought porridge oats, peanut butter, bananas and a Costa coffee (good choice Jo). We enjoyed our breakfast, went back to the room for a couple of minutes and were on our way. First, we went to the Tower of London and Historic Royal palaces. We got a guided tour which was very good. The tour took about an hour and the tourguide was dressed as a beefeater. The crown jewels were amazing but we could not take pictures. It was nice to walk around the grounds and learn about the history. In the afternoon we got a light lunch at a nearby café. I had tomato soup. Then, we did the Tower bridge expedition. We didn’t have to queue for long. We were able to walk across the tower and look down at the river and cars underneath. I had never been there before. There were great views of the whole city from the top. Afterwards, we went to a small food market located nearby that was full of foods from all over the world. In the evening, Christina and I had a lovely salad at a Covent Garden cafe. It was a cute, dainty and aesthetically pleasing. The others had eaten earlier so went wandering about. Afterwards, we went to see the spectacular Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. We bought tickets earlier in the day at a ticket booth in Leicester square. The show was 10/10. The location was a huge, stunning, fancy theatre. It was an unforgettable night. Christina and I bought sharing packs of Cadburys chocolate buttons beforehand, snacks are key. The show was definitely a highlight of the weekend. Afterwards we walked to Piccadilly Circus. It would almost remind you of Times Square, lots of bright lights, advertisements and stores. At around 11pm we went back to the hostel.
Sunday, 8th March.
In the morning, we went to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards which was due to start at 11am. We were a little early so walked to St James’ Park, saw 10 Downing street and Parliament Square beforehand. The changing of the guards was worth seeing and it was a lovely sunny day. The marching band was fantastic and well-rehearsed. After that, we walked through Green Park and Buckingham Palace Garden to EL&N Café where we had yummy croissants and coffee. When we left the café, it had started to rain so we decided to get the bus to One New Change Shopping Centre. This is located near St. Pauls Cathedral and there are good views from the top of the shopping centre. We got snacks and lunch in M&S and sat down for a while. In the evening, we had dinner in an Indian restaurant called Saravanaa Bhavan, located near Trafalgar Square. We all ordered a dish called Dosa, which was served with coconut chutney, mint and sambar. It was the first time I had this Indian dish and it was very spicy, but tasty. We walked along the River Thames at night and the views of the city lit up at night were amazing.
Monday, 9th March
After our breakfast we got the bus to Camden Market. This was around 20 minutes away from the hostel and was worth going to. It was a marked packed of wonderful food stalls, jewellery and homeware items. Everywhere was so colourful and the town was very busy. We had lunch here in the afternoon, I got a falafel wrap. We went to Covent Garden on the same day. I preferred the ambience of Covent Garden although it was also mainly food stalls and people selling jewellery and bits and bobs. Covent Garden is a lovely part of London city that I would recommend seeing. At around 4pm we began to make our way to the airport. We had our bags with us so did not have to go back to the hostel. Several undergrounds and trains later, we got the Bus Eireann bus departing Shannon airport at 10pm to Galway.