Friday, 29 December 2017

How to Travel on a Budget

Following my most recent series of travel posts, I received a couple of requests for a post about how I manage to travel as much as I do. I've got to be honest, I wasn't sure whether I was going to write the post, because I really don't want anything to come off the wrong way. But it is a good question, and any wisdom I have on the topic, I'll relate to you now!

I don't actually travel all that much
So the main reason I was hesitant about writing this post is because I don't want to come across as an imposter. I usually go abroad once a year, sometimes twice, sometimes not at all. This year I went to Italy, and explored a few places in Ireland easily reached by bus and train. I wrote some posts about Madeira from the year previous, and Germany from 2015. Basically the time had moved on by the time I got to write the posts, so perhaps it seems like I travel more frequently than I do. However, I do still have some tips!

Visiting friends and family
When you have friends and family who live in different cities, towns or countries to you, travel becomes a lot cheaper. My visit to Cambridge cost very little because I was able to stay with my sister, and flights from Ireland to London plus a train journey can be quite inexpensive if you go at off-peak times. My visit to Madeira was similarly not too expensive. The flights were definitely above what I'd normally spend, but seeing as I had around 10 days staying with a friend, I had to pay for very little else. Certain explorations of Ireland were made possible by mere bus/train journeys and staying with relatives.

Make the most of your time
When I went to Milan over the summer, we decided we'd spend a day in the nearby Vigevano, again, only a train journey away. Adding in extra towns or cities, even just for a day trip, can really help you to see more of the country you're visiting.

Speaking of day trips...
These are genuinely the best thing ever. I went to London a couple of years ago for a day, getting up for an early flight and returning home the same night. It was tiring, but totally worth it! Obviously when you only go somewhere for a day, you probably won't get to see everything you'd like to, but for a simple breath of fresh air, it's a very good option.

Really want to travel?
If your parents ask you what you want for your birthday, or your boyfriend is completely stuck for ideas as to what to get you, you can always ask them to contribute towards a travel fund. Hotels in particular can be really expensive, but if you get some help in terms of flights being bought for you, then saving up for a hotel room (or braving a hostel) seems a less daunting task.

Another way to travel inexpensively is to do an exchange. Depending on your age range, this might not be possible as it's definitely a rather teenage thing to do, but language exchanges are very cost-effective as usually all you'll need to pay for is transport and host your exchange partner in return.

I hope this post was of some interest/help to you! Please don't hesitate to ask me any more questions in the comments, I'll do my best to answer them!

With love, Anna

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Happy Holidays

This post is temporary, and here to say:
I'm not gone, I haven't gone away
I have some plans of things to write
And hopes to write some more
But as always things come up,
But I'm not here to bore,
So Merry Christmas one and all
And to those who celebrate not
Happy Holidays, have a ball!
And I'll see you soon, next year.

anna x

Friday, 27 October 2017

Vigevano, Lombardia

We'd spent a number of days in Milan, comprising of shopping, sight-seeing and an awful lot of walking. It seemed like there wasn't much left to do, except maybe find some good restaurants. So instead of doing more of the same, we booked train tickets to the nearby town of Vigevano. I'd certainly never heard of it, and didn't expect much, but boy- was it pretty.

We found it to be a lot quieter than Milan. The shops closed and opened at unusual hours, and many of the paths had few people on them. It was peaceful, and the food we had in the main piazza was really delicious. Having found Milanese food a little underwhelming, eating in Vivegano was such a treat.

From the top of the Bramante Tower, we got a good view of the small town. All of the orange-y roofs in the heat gave a beautiful picture of Italy. It was special to see it really, the sun beating down on us.

The cathedral was magnificent, again, a quiet spot. It was a perfect demonstration of devotion; it was so clear to me how much the people who built it wished to glorify their god, and the mood of the place was very sacred and peaceful.

I really enjoyed our day-trip to Vigevano. It was calming and pleasing to the eye.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Fjällräven Kånken Laptop 13" Review

So, in September I began my first month in university. I needed a new backpack badly, and didn't know where to look. So many of the ones I could find that had a laptop compartment were bulky, ugly and expensive. I'd heard of Kankens (I mean, at this stage, who hasn't?) but I didn't know you could get ones with laptop sections and I also didn't want to jump on the bandwagon just for the sake of it.

But upon further research, I decided I'd just go ahead and order one. They weren't as expensive as other laptop bags I'd seen, nor as huge, and my friend had one and really liked it. So in the end, I bought one from Amazon UK and chose to go with the green colour.

When it arrived, I was suitably impressed. It's pretty! I like it a lot more than I thought I would. It's lightweight yet sturdy, has padded shoulder straps (unlike the usual model) and a very discreet laptop compartment. It's small looking, and doesn't look like it's just another schoolbag. Even though it was originally designed for school children, it's stylish.

So what do I like about it?
-The shoulder straps are comfortable
-The bag claims to be good for posture and the back. How true this is I'm not sure, but it does feel well supported.
-The handle clasp. I didn't realise how useful this would be, but when you're in crowd, shops or public transport situations, it's great to be able to comfortably hold your backpack in your hand.
-The padded laptop compartment (I'll stop saying that phrase, don't worry). I trust my laptop in it, and when you're wearing it, you wouldn't even notice there's a big computer in it.
-The way the main compartment zips all the way down- no more rooting around for stuff!

Things I don't like:
-The side pockets are extremely tight. It is cool to be able to be armed with an umbrella at all times, but it's impossible to fit a standard water bottle in, which I had hoped I could.
-The front pocket is pretty tiny. I don't mind this so much because my wallet is small, but you couldn't fit a longer wallet in there.
-The size. Ish. I'm glad it's so neat, and I can fit almost everything in it, but the dimensions are too small for a narrow A4 binder, which would be useful for class.

So, would I recommend this bag to you?
Absolutely. It's so stylish, and adorable and simple. You're probably not going to lose stuff in the bottom of your bag because it's easy to access every pocket. There's a seating pad with it which I don't keep in there all the time, but it's comfy and would be good if you're looking to sit down on grass and don't want to get dirty. My recommendation for college students would probably be to get the 15" model because it's just that little bit bigger. However I'm happy with mine, as I know my 13" laptop is nicely protected, and smaller is nice when you're not that tall!

What bag do you use for class?

Anna x

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Milano // the art scene

My second day in Milan was focused on culture, and involved a step just outside the centre. As soon as we had decided we'd be going to Milan in the first place, I got incredibly excited at the prospect of seeing Leonardo Da Vinci's great work, The Last Supper. It was, however, really difficult to secure tickets, as the website only released bundles of them at seemingly the most random of times. At last, we had our tickets, and I could not wait.

On the way to see it, we walked past a beautiful café with the most glorious looking cakes in the window. Naturally, I had to stop to photograph them.

Seeing The Last Supper was truly incredible. We only had 15 minutes there, in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. They thankfully allowed photography (provided flash was not used) and I am so glad to be able to have photos to look back on. I'd studied this particular work in Art History in secondary school, so seeing it in person was such a treat. I was able to tell my parents beforehand about some features to look out there, but ended up being educated further myself by some of the tour guide's information. Even seeing it revealed more detail than I'd ever gathered from looking at other people's photographs and reproductions.

In the same day, we visited the Brera Art Gallery. We followed the guidebook to see the top 20 or so pieces of art they held there, spotting some other fascinating works along the way. I was incredibly exhausted after a long day of walking, but delighted in seeing 'Super at Emmanus' by Caravaggio amongst others.

Overall, my second day in Milan was wonderful, and one which I'll treasure for a long time to come. I saw some classic Italian beauty in the architecture of buildings, in art and in food. I miss it already!

Please let me know how you're feeling in the comments. I apologise for my absence- the start of college has been crazy, but I'm eager to start posting again!

Love, Anna

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