| My City Break to Rome | Part Two |

In December, I went on a little city break to the beautiful city of Rome and I’ve decided to tell you the best bits, funny stories and little memories from that trip. You’ll find Part One right here, and if you’ve ever been to Rome, tell me what was your favourite memory.

IMG_8898.JPG(The architecture was beautiful.)

I felt like I might die in a taxi.

This does not just apply to Italy, it also happened in Finland and Russia. I only used transport twice in Rome; once to get to my hotel and once to get the airport. Both times it was taxis and the taxi to airport was very fancy! It was the hotel taxi so it was more expensive but the car itself was just very swoosh! The taxi from the airport were obviously guys who make their money off picking up people from the airport because it was so expensive. Anyway, in my experience, it seems like if you drive outside the UK, the driving is crazy. I’m not talking breaking the speed limit a little; I’m talking breaking the speed limit by about 40mph, zooming in and out of cars constantly and flying around corners for no reason. If I had have been religious, I would have prayed for my own life, and I’m not joking.

20161213_122216(The little Italian streets had so much character about them. I truly fell in love with the city.)

I walked a lot.

I have a FitBit Blaze so naturally, this made me want to walk everywhere and see those steps go up! It’s one of the ways I was able to justify having not the greatest diet because I was genuinely walking everywhere. You see more when you walk too. I lost my way a few times and you end up seeing more of the city that you thought so it was always a surprise if you found something you didn’t expect to.

20161213_155019(Just before heading back to the hotel to meet my taxi on the last day, I sat here for about half an hour watching the water. It was so peaceful.)

I went back to the hotel early at night.

Maybe that sounds boring and I wouldn’t have done it if someone else had have been with me but I thought it was the safer option to go back early in a country I didn’t know. I wrote blog posts, scheduled tweets (for my blog posts) and caught up with some YouTube that I had missed. It was quite nice just being on my own in a room catching up on the blog when I had the chance.

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(What a view!)

I visited the Colosseum.

I was so excited to visit one of Rome’s most iconic landmarks. Despite not being a history buff nor had my marks ever been great in history class but when you get up close to the such an iconic building like that, it’s very hard not to be taken back by something so beautiful. That sounds very clique and very “from the movies” but it truly was breath taking. I went on an English tour around the whole building which was fantastic; the only downside to the tour was that there was an Irish woman on it too and every ten seconds she would butt into the tour guide and either comment on something very loudly or ask an additional question.  It was very very distracting to the point where it was very irritating. He ended up telling her that she had to stop asking questions or he’d never finish the tour.

20161213_141159(The Trevi Fountain was too stunning not to get a photograph at.)

The Trevi Fountain was beautiful.

I paid a visit to the Trevi Fountain quite a few times during my trip. The first time it was far too busy to even attempt to get a photograph but to be fair, it was early morning on a Saturday but I went back early on a Monday morning and it wasn’t as busy. Being so up close to it is remarkable; it was like a surreal experience, I was visiting this monumental piece of art essentially and I couldn’t believe I was there. It was gorgeous!

20161212_124315(If I don’t say so myself, probably one of my best and favourite selfies.)

 

I didn’t get to visit everything that I wanted to, and that’s okay.

This trip for me was a relaxing one so I didn’t want to plan it out to an absolute tee, so missing out some sight seeing wasn’t the end of the world. I would have loved to see The Vatican but I missed out this time, but the way I look at it is if I ever go back, I can go next time. That’s the fun of going on holiday, you don’t have to see everything at once; if it’s within your budget and you genuinely want to go back (which I do!) then you can see it next time, it’s not the end of the world.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post. As I mentioned before, I really fell in love with Rome and I already know I’m planning on making another trip back. I hope you have a lovely day! ☀️

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| My City Break to Rome | Part One |

Towards the very end of the year last year I decided to take myself on holiday to Italy. I wasn’t in the greatest head space at the time and I just needed to get away from my own life for a few days, so I booked myself a city break to Rome. I’d never been to Italy nor had I ever been on holiday on my own before, so I was getting two experiences for the price of one.

I’m not going to write a “What I Did In A Day” but I’m just going to tell you some of the places I visited, some tips for travelling on our own and about some of the things I done while I was there. I’m splitting this into a few parts because there’s quite a lot I want to share, so welcome to Part One!

20161210_153026(One of my favourite photographs I took close to the Ponte Sant’Angelo)

Always made sure my phone was charged.

It’s so important now that we live in quite a dependent world of technology to make sure your phone is always charged. It was important for me, I can’t dance around that fact, but it’s important when you’re anywhere on your own especially if you don’t know the place, to make sure you have something so you can keep in contact with people, if needs be.

20161212_114811(Some of the postcards I sent!)

I sent postcards!

I have always loved the idea of postcards; mainly because it shows your friends and family a sense of where you are and what you’re up to. It’s also more personal than a text message and you can’t write a lot so you really want to talk about the best bits. Seeing as I went around the mid-December period, my friends and family didn’t receive their postcards until midway through January. I assumed they had just been lost in the post but they eventually turned up, the Christmas post must have slowed them down.

IMG_20161215_073624_938(The camera I borrowed from my Dad for the trip.)

I took lots of photographs.

I’m aware that you should live in the moment and there are still people who would give you a look at a restaurant or when you’re out on a walk if you think about taking your phone out to take a picture. There’s a time and a place for certain things, right? However, on holiday, while having the mental memory of it is great, there’s nothing I love more than looking back through photographs and that’s why it was really important to me to take photographs. My Dad kindly let me borrow his digital SLR to take with me and I also had my mobile phone so I wasn’t going to run out of photography options. As this was a solo trip, there were quite the number of selfies, and while that makes me seem like I was just taking pictures of myself all day, I was far from it. However, I did love taking a few photographs of iconic landmarks with myself in the photograph as well, because why the hell not?

20161211_152240.jpg(The only photograph of myself that isn’t a selfie; this was at the Fontana Del Tritone in the City Centre. The story behind this is below.)

Get someone to take your photograph for you.

This is a funny story actually, probably one of the stories I’ll tell for years to come. So one morning I was walking into the centre of town for some ice-cream and there was a really beautiful fountain called the Fontana del Tritone that I had walked past once or twice before. I had got a few photographs of it before but I decided to go out of my comfort zone and ask someone to take a photograph of me. I was in a foreign country, I knew no-one so I just had to walk up to someone and ask them but I listened about for a few minutes to see if I could hear anyone speak English. This isn’t me being racist or against anyone from another country, I just can’t speak any other language apart from English so it just made sense to do this. As I go to do this, a fairly older couple come up to me and ask me to take their photograph so I’m like “This is perfect!”. I take their photograph and they seem happy enough with it so they walk away and find a few more angles of the fountain. I got back over to them and say “Would you mind taking my photograph?”, the woman nodded and I showed her how to use the camera and she seemed fine with it all. So I stand and smile, as you do, and I see her hit the screen a little too aggressively then she hands me the phone back and asks me if that’s okay. I look through the photographs; she’s taken six and my shoulder is in one of them. That’s it! Quite literally just my shoulder. So I tell her, “Oh you didn’t actually get me in the photograph, I want to be in it with the fountain behind me.” She asked me how to take a photograph again which I found really strange considering I took their picture with a smart phone, and they’re pretty much all the same now. So the same thing happens, she barely gets me in the photographs so I stand and explain to her for a second time how to do it and how I want it to look. Just as I’m about to go back to my spot and pose, an Australian guy comes over and taps me on the shoulder to tell me that his niece might be able to take a photo for me instead. I said to him “If this doesn’t work out again, I’ll be right over.” Yes, I was right over. Her photographs were terrible, so I really hope she wasn’t trying to make any lasting memories with the photographs she was taking for herself. I go over to this man’s niece and ask her, she must have been about fourteen and I said “I’m assuming you know how to work this yeah?” so she laughed and said yes, so I handed her the camera, and she took a really lovely photo. This is the only time I asked someone else to take my photo because I didn’t want the hassle of the first woman to happen anytime I asked someone.

20161210_140439(The ice-cream never disappointed.)

 

Pizza and ice-cream were consumed the most.

When in Rome, right? I wasn’t plant based back in December so my typical day was ice-cream and a cup of tea for lunch and a pizza for dinner. If I had have been there for a month, yes I probably would have got sick of it but I was only there for a few days so it wasn’t all bad. It’s not the greatest diet in the world I’ll admit but I was walking a lot so I was walking some of it off at least!

20161212_160158(I got this particular pizza in the cutest little Italian quite close to the Colosseum.)

Gluten Free was easier than I thought.

In the country of bread and pasta I was worried I wouldn’t find a lot of places to eat but I was pleasantly surprised, they catered very well to gluten free and the majority of places had it on their menus without having to ask them. There was one pizza places I went to, I got lost trying to find somewhere else and I stumbled across it so I went and had a look. All their seating was outside and there were a few men in their mid-forties standing about so I sat down anyway and ordered, made sure I said gluten free quite a few times and the guy said that was fine. Another guy came and sat some bread down beside me and said “Free bread with your dinner” so I asked him if it was gluten free but after saying it a few times, he called over the guy who had served me and I asked him if it was gluten free. “Yes, yes, it’s free!” This was when I started to get worried. “No, no, is it gluten free?” He seemed confused and proceeded to tell me that it was free. I tried again and the same thing happened so I said “Okay great, thank you!” I moved the bread across the table and about two minutes later, my pizza arrived. I never had a bad pizza in Italy, I’ll give them that but here I was still concerned if it was gluten free. Thankfully afterwards, I had no symptoms or signs that it had gluten in it so I was very pleased. The guy who served me came back and pointed to the bread and said “Do you not want the free bread? Eat it, it’s free!” I politely declined and said that I was full from the pizza. Apart from that one experience, everywhere else I got served were fantastic.

IMG_8922.JPG(One of my favourite midshots of the Fontana del Tritone.)

 

I went on a social media break.

This was a very conscious decision and I’m glad I did it. Only my close friends and family knew I was going away, I didn’t post about it on my social media and I didn’t mention it on my blog. I still took photographs of places, myself and food to use later on (and more importantly, to keep for myself) but I didn’t want to be living on social media when I was there. I wanted to take in the sights, I didn’t want to have to worry about hashtags or updating everyone on the exact location I was. I know you never have to do that but this was such a new experience to me that I wanted to embrace it for all it was worth.

Thank you so much for reading Part One of my Rome trip! Part Two will be up next Friday so when it’s up, I’ll link it right here ❤

(Blogmas Day Eight) Life Update…

What I haven’t shared on social media… (yet)

So it’s Blogmas Day Eight, it’s Wednesday morning and at 2am, I arrived back in Belfast via the Dublin bus because I was in Rome!

Yes, I went to Rome and I went completely on my own. Maybe not such a huge deal to some, but I only went on my first adult holiday this year to Finland and Russia so going from my first adult holiday to my first holiday on my own, is quite a big step.

I booked it about a month and a half ago, I just needed something to keep my mind off what was going on in my own life. I wasn’t happy and I wanted something to distract me. Thankfully a month and a half later, my life is genuinely a lot better, I’m a lot happier and I couldn’t be more different to the person I was a few months ago. I still get my really down days and I even had one when I was in Rome which hit me really hard, but I made the most of my trip, and I had a lovely time.

Once Blogmas is over, I’m planning on posting my Rome Diaries because it would be really nice to reflect back on my trip. You know, places I went and food I ate; the two most important things in a trip!

One more thing…

About two days before my trip, I found out that I had secured a house I had been looking at to rent! So I’ll be moving out on my own for the first time in the New Year! Probably not the greatest time to move out, straight after Christmas when everyone feels the pinch but I would have been silly not to grab at this opportunity when it’s been something I have been wanting to do for the last few years.

I’m really excited, obviously I’m worried about the money aspect (because booking a holiday before Christmas, then having Christmas, then moving out seemed like such a great idea at the time right?! I didn’t know about the house when I booked the holiday!) but I have a great support network around me and I can’t wait to live on my own and have my own little house.

Why I didn’t post on social media about my holiday…

I know I don’t need to give an explanation but I want to. As much as I love posting on Instagram, checking in on Facebook and tweeting about everything I do; I didn’t want to do it at all and I have found myself over the past few months doing it a lot less. Sure, I was still on social media during the trip; I was still writing blog posts, I was still scheduling tweets in my hotel room and I was taking photographs for myself (but also for the blog) but I had no desire to share with the world at that very moment that I was away on holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I done the exact opposite on my last holiday. I checked in everywhere, there were loads of photographs on Instagram and I LOVED tweeting about it. I just didn’t want to do it this time. This trip was meant to be for me, and just me. I wanted to create memories for myself and have experiences for myself because I needed to get away from my ‘normal’ life for a while. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be Instagramming photographs and I’ll probably tweet about it, but I just didn’t want to when I was there.

I loved coming back to my hotel and writing another blog post though. That was something that filled my nights because I didn’t want to stay out late in a country I wasn’t too familar with, in the dark, on my own; so writing blog posts for Blogmas was a nice routine to get into each night.

This might have been a boring post for you to read, I don’t know but I’m really happy that I’ve had a few positive life updates recently and I can’t wait to see what the next few months brings. Oh, and remember to look out for my Rome Diaries in the New Year too!

Travel Tips: Part Two

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Welcome to Part Two of my Travel Tips! If you haven’t seen Part One, you can find them right here. And as always, I’d love some feedback on these tips, so if you have any that I missed out on or if you think mine are totally out of wack, tell me!

6. Don’t over pack!

This is something that EVERYONE does, and it’s natural. Totally natural. I feel like I surprised myself with this trip; I packed two pairs of jeans, two jumpers, two t-shirts and I bought one t-shirt when I was there. For a two week holiday, that’s not a lot and it really paid off. Our bag was still full to the brim, but that wasn’t due to my clothes. It doesn’t just include clothes; I took minimal make-up, I tried minimise my skin care as much as possible, but I still learned that I didn’t need that pair of Converse shoes, I was going to be walking every day, all I needed were my walking boots.

7. Bring back non-souvenir memories.

I’ll get onto souvenirs in a minute but if you get a business card from a cafe you really like, or you took a bus tour and it shows you a little map of where you went, those are probably even more important than buying a postcard of the city that you can frame when you come home. My boyfriend and I had loads of little memories like that (that we put in our memory box), so even though I did post a lot on Instagram, I can still look at that receipt from a little place we went to, even though I didn’t give it an on-line presence as such.

8. And yes, bring back souvenirs.

We brought our parents back some Russian dolls, and we brought ourselves back a little teddy bear that says “I heart Finland”, I think souvenirs are something that you can keep forever, so we have our little teddy bear over in the corner of our bedroom and it still gives me that warm fuzzy feeling seeing it. Yes, you went on the trip and you seen these amazing places and experienced another part of the world (Whether that be ten miles down the road from your house or ten thousand miles away, it’s still a different part of the world) but I’m a memory girl, who likes memories like teddy bears for me to make pass on in the future. It’s just a really nice idea.

9. Be patient.

Especially if you’re going to a foreign country where English isn’t their first language; even if they have limited English, they are still trying their best to communicate with you. I even found this difficult myself when someone didn’t understand me the first, second or the third time, but you have to remember they are trying their best and they don’t mean any harm when there is that miscommunication.

10. Try new things!

You might be one of those people who likes to have their fish and chips when they’re on holiday, and seeing food on the menu that they aren’t too sure about can be quite intimidating. But look at it this way, you’re on holiday either to a place you’ve been before or a place that you’re exploring for the first time. Try out that vegetarian salad bar with all the vegetables in the world or try out that dessert that you haven’t seen on a menu back home.

I don’t just mean food though. Okay, so maybe you don’t go to museums when you’re at home or you walk past a park every day back home but it’s “just a park”, go into it when you’re away. Go to that history museum, go to that park, because I’ve found about going to these places when I was away, that it made me want to explore more when I got home. I want to go to more of the parks in Belfast, I want to try out the Belfast Bikes sometime, I want to be more adventurous in restaurants (as long as I can with my intolerances of course!), those experiences don’t just last on holiday, they can be a real foundation for you when you jump back into reality when you come home too.

Thanks for reading my Travel Tips! And remember, if you think I’ve missed any out, let me know, I’m always on the look out for new travel tips.

Travel Tips: Part One

Travel Plane1

So, as you may know (if you’ve seen my constant tweets, Instagram mania or blog posts mentioning I was on holiday), I went on holiday and it was my first adult holiday. When I say ‘adult holiday’, I don’t mean that in a risqué way (of course!), I mean it as in this is the first holiday I went on as an adult without being accompanied by school teachers. I went on a weekend trip down to Dublin in September but I don’t really count that as a holiday.

As you can see by the title, this is Part One of the travel tips I thought I could share for someone else maybe going on holiday for the first time or maybe travelling somewhere new.

1. Going online isn’t always your best option.

They always say that you should research where to eat, where to eat, where all the cool places are but I don’t think you should stick to that completely. We found a majority of the nice places on our own when we just wondered round the city. And even when we did research and tried to get Google to help us get to those places, we always seen somewhere on our adventures and went in there for a nosey. (If we didn’t stay there, we noted it down and went back later!)

2. Bring snacks with you!

I’m gluten free, have several other intolerances and vegetarian, while my boyfriend is vegan so truth be told, I was certainly worried about not being able to find a lot of places to eat. The day before we left for our holiday, we bought ourselves some snacks just to put in our suitcase, in case we ran into trouble and really couldn’t find anything.

3. Take lots of pictures.

I say this for two reasons:
1. We all love memories. We all love looking back and thinking “That was such a good meal, where was that again?” or “That museum was so interesting, where was that again?” I’m all for “living in the moment” but when you’re somewhere new and exciting, it’s nice to get your camera out all the time if you find something that you really like or you want to show friends and family back home. There’s no harm in it.

2. Be aware of your surroundings. Do you think you’re going to get lost getting back to your hotel (or wherever you’re staying). Take pictures of places, shops, sculptures, art, street names; anything that’s near your hotel so it’s almost like a picture version of a map. Just in case you really can’t remember how to get back.

4. Post some postcards!

If you’re away from your family for a while, being able to text them or Facebook is nice but to receive a little momento from you while you’re on holiday is something that they will really appreciate and probably keep forever. Depending on where you are going if you have access to postcards and being able to post letters etc. but if you’re in a country where you can do that, then I think it’s a really nice idea. When I wrote mine, I just told them something that happened that day or what we were planning on doing that night. You don’t have to tell your life story, just a moment or a memory of being away.

5. Write reviews.

Whether it’s on their Facebook page or TripAdvisor, it’s not only helpful to the business to find out what you thought of them, but it’s also amazingly helpful to someone who is thinking of going there. For example, if I want to go to a restaurant and they advertise as gluten free but I read a review that says “Says they have gluten free menu but it’s very limited and wasn’t great quality” More than likely, I’m not going to go there. So for me, reviews are very important, good or bad experience, write about it! You’ll be helping out more than you think.

Come back and check for Part Two (I’ll link it here when it’s posted!) for more travel tips!