Nine Things To Do In: Vienna

1.  Attend a Recital/Ballet/Opera. We were lucky enough to attend a Mozart and Strauss concert in a beautiful old building.

2. Visit the art galleries, such as the Leopold Museum. I was lucky enough to see a great Van Gogh exhibition. I also got to visit the The Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum).

3. Visit the  ‘Prater’ Amusement park, called “Wurstelprater” is the oldest amusement park in the world. We never made it as we kept running out of time and it closed in the evening. Now apparently it’s open 24 hours!

4. See the Royal Palace, aka the Hopfburg Palace. An easy walking tour can take in the Statue of Maria Theresa, the palaces, the famous balconies, an array of statues and sculptures and the Spanish Riding School.

5. Shop downtown, along ‘The Graben’ and ‘Kärntner Straße’–  Vienna’s main shopping streets. I think I had my first experience at European H&M along this route!

6. Sightsee at the Old Church located on the main pedestrian mall and square ‘Stephansplatz’. The beautiful church is called St Stephen’s Cathedral.

7. Pay tribute to Mozart by visiting his statue and Treble Clef garden in Burggarten – the Imperial Palace Gardens. An easy walk from downtown and the other major attractions

8. Visit the Natural History Museum. Vienna has some amazing museums, and the Natural History Museum is a great place to explore for an hour or two. Don’t miss the famous ‘Venus of Willendorf’, one of the world’s oldest statues.

9. Explore the Viennese nightlife. Vienna has some great bars, restaurants and clubs. Make sure you have a local schnitzel, visit a schnapps museum (with free tasting), try a local beer called a ‘Zwickel’ and even find a Irish pub or two. We found a funky night club and ended up being photographed for the club’s website!

Travel Momento… Prague Jewellery

When backpacking in Eastern Europe for 5 weeks, souvenir shopping was limited. Besides some practical goodies (a new towel to replace the one I had lost), some new summer dresses to wear in the 40 degree heat, the rest of my souvenirs were jewellery.

On the Charles Bridge in Prague we checked out the various stalls selling gifts and homemade wares. I love picking up pieces of jewellery that I haven’t seen anywhere else. This handmade set of earrings and necklace were perfect, in slate colours and olive green stones, with a hint of bronze. I think the set was about 40 euros (which was quite a bit on my backpacker budget at the time!)

The young fellow selling the jewellery was selling the items on behalf of his father who creates the pieces. A strong whiff of weed drifted down the bridge, despite being a Sunday full of tourists and policemen. We asked the young guy about the weed smell, which he proudly admitted was his and showed us his joint. Enough said.

Spotted! Sleeping Giant Island in Ireland

On my seven day road trip around Ireland we drove around the Dingle peninsula. After stopping for lunch and a stop of shopping (scarves and deep fried mars bars) we cruised around the cliffs through the green rolling hills and misty fog. Our guide pointed out sleeping giant island, which is an island that looks like a giant laying down. So literally, sleeping giant island.

Also spotted:

Three rock shapes jutting out from the cliff, Ireland’s answer to the three sisters

A shark fin, swimming ominously around the bay.

Rolling mist, literally rolling down the hills and over the landscape

The home of Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries

Photo of the Day – Croatia

Flashback to my Croatian cruise – Split to Dubrovnik and back in August 2007. Glorious weather, with plenty of sunbaking, swimming and sailing, interspersed with wandering around gorgeous little towns and eating all sorts of Mediterranean / Greek / Adriatic inspired food.

096 Zlatni Rat - one of croatia's most famous beaches

Croatia has to be one of my favourite countries, I had very little knowledge of the country or the specific places I was going to visit before landing in Split on a balmy Tuesday night, around 35 degrees Celsius at 9pm. Sometimes its best when you know little, you then usually have a fantastic experience.

Especially one that starts with climbing 5 storeys to stay in some old lady’s attic with UK Michael and American ‘Reckless Maggie’ who then take you on a 2 km bar hopping adventure, wading in the ocean at 10pm and having drinks with random Croatian strangers…

But that night is a tale for another day!

Photo of the Day – Istanbul

This month’s edition of SHOP TILL YOU DROP featured 2 photo shoots set in Turkey, one in Istanbul and one in Bodrum. I love when fashion and travel combine!

 

4.Kath's mosque at Ortakoy, fishing village

When I visited Istanbul in 2007, my friend was living and teaching there (she still does actually!). This was her favourite mosque, in the fishing town of Ortaköy. A place you probably wouldn’t see as a regular tourist, with great views out over the Bosphorus and the bridge.

 

London Days

For someone who has visited London twice and lived there for 9 months, I have hardly any travel photos. It seems I have lots of photos of me and other people (including some random strangers) and many are from some crazy night out in the West End or (god forbid) the Shebu Walkie.

It wasn’t till after my 9 month living-working-in-London-travel-round-Europe phase that I really started to get into photography and take photos for a different purpose than simply catching me standing dorkily or derangedly in front of the famous monuments of the world.

So this is a selection of my very limited photo collection of (selfie-free) shots of England’s capital and one of my favourite cities in the world – London. It was hard not to like it when you live in Notting Hill around the corner from Portobello Markets and Sienna Miller (true story). The food scene in London is amazing, with heaps of cusines on offer, so many neighbourhoods to explore (eg: shops to seek!)

I have some great memories of my time in London, seeing as I was fortunate to live there at a time with 10 other friends. Oh the good old days.

Places I love in London: Notting Hill (obviously!), Brick Lane  (had my first real Indian food experience and have never looked back), Spitafields Markets, Greenwich, Kensington Palace, Oxford St for High Street shopping, West End and the many many theatres, Camden for the funky markets, Hyde Park for serious green time, Pall Mall and the Palace to say hi to Liz, Knightsbridge and Harrods, Portobello Rd Markets, The amazing museums on the river, National Gallery, Picadilly Circus for people watching, The many Thames bridges, Fulham and Putney for the pub on the river scene, Marble Arch, Bakeries in Liverpool St Station, Canada Waters, Northern African Food round Bayswater… just to name a few!

Prague, Czech Republic (with some manky dorm occupants)

Prague is a beautiful city, with many sites to see including Charles Bridge with the gargoyles and market stalls, the Astronomical Clock, Prague Castle with the stained glass windows, St Vitus Cathedral, St Wenceslas Square and visiting a theatre for some classical music or ballet.  Stay classy as a backpacker and see a ballet in jeans and thongs!

But, like most European cities, Prague is not nice at 7am on a Sunday in the rain. We had travelled from Poland on an overnight train and arrived in Prague at around 6am. Weary from a night on the train and in need of a hot shower we made our way to our hostel (along with a fellow backpacker who hadn’t booked somewhere yet who shared our cabin on the overnight train). Of course we can’t check in at 7am! Especially in a less than 10 pounds hostel that looked like an office block transformed into some random dorms. So there we were, 3 dirty, hungry backpackers stomping around a dreary, sleepy wet Prague at 7am. Not fun.

Sometimes it pays to be cheap backpackers, sometimes it backfires on you. We managed to find something to eat and spent about 6 hours site seeing (getting more and more weary) before getting to check in around 2pm.

Our beds were in a dorm of ten, a room approx 4m square. I took one look at some of the clothing and expressed ‘we have some manky looking roommates’. My travel buddy didn’t seem to mind, seeing as we didn’t look too good ourselves. She was desperate for a nap, me a shower. I wandered down the office style hall to the communal showers. Afterwards I had that all too familiar task of trying to get dry and dressed in a shower cubicle where every surface is wet. Assuming we had the dorm to ourselves on a Monday at 2pm I decided to sneak back to our room in a towel to dry and get dressed there. You can imagine my surprise when I opened the door to find 4 twenty-something french lads. My travel buddy was sitting up in her bunk, awoken from her nap and looking quite annoyed. I shrieked, closed the door and ran back down to the shower to finish getting dressed. Talk about awkward.

Upon returning to the dorm, where my friend was even more annoyed, I found the French boys rolling the biggest joint I’d ever seen. They were literally about to light the thing when we asked ‘surely you’re not going to smoke that in here?’ They agreed to go and light up in the car park. After they left I did the ‘I told you we had manky roommates’ spiel, to which they then returned, high as the astronomical clock itself and decided to jump on the bunks and throw balls around.

Clearly we weren’t getting anymore nap time.

Disclaimer: I have never desired to be a cheap backpacker, give me a nice hotel any day. But seeing as I was being unpaid for 6 weeks whilst living in London I had no choice but to stretch the funds out while travelling and live on about 20 pounds a day! Oh god, the backpacker/dorm life is not for me!