Our Complete Europe Itinerary

So here it is. Our holy grail. Our complete itinerary from our UK & Europe adventure which lists our cities, time spent in each place, and most importantly (and let’s be honest, what I think most people really want!) .. the links to all the accommodation for the whole trip. I’ll also be listing all the websites that we used to get all the information we needed to help you in your own scheming and planning. Hooray!

Our trip included visiting 48 cities in 20 countries. Wowee I had never counted that before until just then…god I miss being in each and every one of those 20 countries. 
An important disclosure before I share allll of our info however. I am, in no way shape or form sharing this for you to take the trip and do it exactly the same. There is no way you could ever replicate a trip from doing so. Our itinerary worked perfectly for us as it was exactly what we wanted but every single person is different and you really need to find your own travel groove. Take a little or take a lot but just use this as a good inspiration and guiding light to get started. 
Are you ready?
Our Europe Itinerary for 4 & a half months

London for 4 nights & we stayed here 

Cardiff for 1 night & we stayed here
Dublin for 4 nights & we stayed here
Belfast for 2 nights & we stayed here
Inverness for 2 nights & we stayed here
Portree for 2 nights & we stayed here*
Elgin for 2 nights & we stayed here
Edinburgh for 4 nights & we stayed here
Amsterdam for 3 nights & we stayed here
Brussels for 2 nights & we stayed here
Athens for 2 nights & we stayed here
Santorini for 7 nights & we stayed here & here
Mykonos for 3 nights & we stayed here
Split for 3 nights & we stayed here
We then Sailed Croatia for 7 nights (highlight of our trip) & used this company
Budapest for 3 nights & we stayed here
Kirchburg for 5 nights & we stayed here
Vienna for 3 nights & we stayed here
Prague for 4 nights & we stayed here
Rome for 4 nights & we stayed here
Naples for 2 nights & we stayed here
Positano for 2 nights & we stayed here
Amalfi for 2 nights & we stayed here
Florence for 3 nights & we stayed here
Venice for 3 nights & we stayed here
Milan for 2 nights & we stayed here
Vernazza (Cinque Terre) for 2 nights & we stayed here
Monte Carlo for 2 nights & we stayed here
Nice for 2 nights & we stayed here
Cannes for 2 nights & we stayed here
St Tropez for 2 nights & we stayed here
Toulon for 2 nights & we stayed here
Nimes for 2 nights & we stayed here
Barcelona for 4 nights & we stayed here
Valencia for 4 nights & we stayed here
Mallorca for 2 nights & we stayed here
Madrid for 2 nights & we stayed here
San Sebastian for 3 nights & we stayed here
Paris for 4 nights & we stayed here
Luxembourg for 2 nights & we stayed here
Berlin for 3 nights & we stayed here
Frankfurt for 2 nights & we stayed here
Heidelberg for 2 nights & we stayed here
Munich for 2 nights & we stayed here
Interlaken for 5 nights & we stayed here
Dubai for 6 nights & we stayed here
Websites that we used to book all of the above – & spent a million hours researching on…
Skyscanner – to book all of our flights internally & across countries
Airbnb – an ah-ma-zing website that we adored. This is how we stayed in luxurious apartments for so cheap.
Hostelbookers – you can’t backpack through Europe without staying in hostels & this was the best website.
Hostelworld – also good for booking hostels but less variety than hostelbookers & a little more expensive.
Booking – great to find hotels & hostels when the other websites can’t find you many options.
TripAdvisor – we didn’t use this to book, but great to read honest reviews of hotels from previous guests.
Also, the only iPhone Apps that we couldn’t live without over there was the following.
AroundMe – SO helpful in any and every city we went too when we needed to find an ATM, restaurant, toilet, the list goes on! It would pick up on where you were and then point you to the closest everything. It saved our butts many times.
TripAdvisor CityGuides – TridAdvisor is obviously every travelers best friend so this app shouldn’t surprise you! Before reaching each new city we would download it to the app so once there could look up all the top attractions, tours, restaurants and activities. It would map you there from wherever your starting point was as well so if the mood called to use it we could just get the app up and map ourselves to the tourist thing we wanted to do at that moment. Fan-tastic!

[Left; Budapest      Right; Cinque Terre ] _________________________________________________________________________________

So there you go. 4 & a half months of trip of a lifetime travel condensed here, for you, with love, in just 3 paragraphs. This is the thing though, I am trying to encourage as much as humanly possible for you to just book that trip. Just go. Stop telling yourself that you never have the right timing, or money or circumstance because let me assure you, if you keep telling yourself that, then you never will. I had told myself, that no matter what, when I finished uni, I’d go to Europe. I spoke it aloud, I wrote it down, I shared the dream, and last year I did just that. I would love to see 2013, or the years to come manifest in to the year you took a trip to the place you’ve always dreamed of but never deemed possible. I truly believe, with the right belief, planning, research, saving & tools you will be able to do it. And this is exactly what I hope my 2 Europe posts will do for you.

Your turn.

If you have any cities that aren’t on there that you think people would love or should know about then I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Also share any other websites or Apps that you have found amazing when traveling, let’s help people grow their travel dreams together.

Love, light & big wishes,

Anna xx

[ Madrid ]

[ Croatia ]
[ Nimes ]
[ Kirchburg ]
[ Vernazza ] 

[ Munich – Oktoberfest ]

How to plan & travel through Europe

I have promised this post since my return home and I am excited to say it is finally here. Once I got home, I was overwhelmed – in the best way possible of course – with emails, tweets and messages across every social media platform from friends and strangers alike asking for any and all advice for their own impending Europe trips. There have been many a question like, “where should I go”, “how much money will I need”, “which were the best places in Europe you found” and I kept thinking I should just compile it all in one ‘go to’ post where you will hopefully find everything you need to plan your own trip of a lifetime. 

A disclosure before we begin this marathon post as well. This advice comes to you with the bestest of best interests at heart and with hours, and hours and hours and h.o.u.r.s of research. Planning and booking Morgs & I’s 4 and a half month adventure became my 2nd full time job. I scoured every accommodation website and read every.single.review before picking hotels/hostels/apartments and read website after website and asked fellow seasoned travelers for their own advice before picking cities and countries – plus followed our hearts & spirits every step of the way. 
I will be doing a follow up post with the itinerary I did up for Morgs & I for our whole 4 and half months – so which cities we went too, how long for, and where we stayed. It is my holy grail, and I am willing to share, along with all the best websites and app’s we used to book everything and get us around once over there. 
I hope that this advice helps and my wish for you & this post is that you bookmark it for future travel, forward it to friends and family who are planning their own travel adventure or simply use it as inspiration to finally book your own trip of a lifetime. 
Settle in, it’s long, but most of all, enjoy xx
Anna’s Ultimate guide to budgeting, booking & travelling Europe
So you have decided you want to go away! Congratulations, is there room for one more? Relaxxx, I’m joking, not really. Before you even start dreaming of distant lands though, here are my 8 things I believe are important for you to consider from the get go.
1. Choosing the places to go in Europe.
2. The most efficient route possible.
3. Your budget for the trip.
4. What to get in order before you go.
5. Do I need a visa.
6. To Eurail or not to Eurail 
7. How to best pack for a long trip.
8. Travel tips if you’re travelling with a bf/gf
So let’s begin shall we?
1. Choosing the places to go in Europe

Potentially the most important part of the trip, because what is the trip after all, without all the magic from different cities and countries unknown you are about to discover. I am about to tell you the single handed most important thing you need to remember when choosing places and pay close attention now….
Do it for yourself. 
Not because your cousins girflriends best friend said her time in Florence was the best time in the whole wide world, or because your frenemy on facebook had some jealous worthy photos in Switzerland you potentially want to out do. 
Choose places that you’ve always dreamed about going. Cities that your friends might not have been too, but you personally have always had a fascination with. Places where you aren’t just doing it to cross another country off the world list ‘just cos’. And don’t worry. You aren’t sure you’ve ever had anywhere like this? That’s beyond ok. That’s why I’m here to help. Ready? …

The next best way to choose your places to go is by working out what you want to feel and experience. 
When choosing our places to go Morgs & I sat down and worked out how we wanted to feel, what we wanted to experience and what we wanted to get out of the trip. We compiled a list, which I am now recommending you do, that had things on there like; “Sky dive in Switzerland”, “Eat a traditional pasta and drink home made red wine in Italy”, “Walk the Cinque Terre”, “Feed pigeons in a Spanish square” …. the list was long’ish, but not overwhelming nor out there, but it was OUR list and a list we loved. We knew by finding those experiences we’d find fun, excitement and adventure which is what we were looking for from the trip.
So remember. 
1. Rule out places that you only want to go to because society, family, or whatever other reason has kept on your travel list. Make sure you’re picking places PURELY for yourself.
2. Write up a couple of things you really want to experience; eating ice cream in the snow, hot air ballooning over an old city, doing a ghost tour underground are some suggestions to get you going. 
3. Write down key countries you have always dreamed of visiting and google some of their less touristy places you might want to travel to. 
4. Now get down to the nuts and bolts of it. Sit with a map of Europe and write down each country (with some possible cities you would like to go to) on a piece of paper then sit on that for a couple of days. See how the countries sit with you, after a few days you might want to scratch some off, add some on or keep it exactly the same. 
5. Write your final list, having worked out what countries you’ll get your experiences in, the ones you’ve always dreamed of going to and the ones you will come home from with the most fulfillment and put those places in big, exciting, bold letters on a page. 
Congratulations gorgeous!! You now have your list!!! Now we just need to work out….
2. The most efficient route possible whilst over there

[ A map route I did up quickly as an example in Google Maps, that you can easily do yourself ]

Do not underestimate the money and time you can save on your trip by doing a little bit, ok sometimes a lot, of homework before you start getting all excited and booking. Europe can be a funny thing, places you would never think would cost much getting from and to end up being the most expensive tricky parts of the trip, and places you’d think would be expensive are cheap as chips – it is ALL in the research. 
First thing to do here really is work out when you actually want to go and can go on said adventure of a lifetime. That is always going to be different for every single person for a multitude of reasons so of course…work that out first. You are going for the 3 months of Summer? Awesome, you will pretty much be fine in any and every country you go to with weather. You are going end of Summer start of Autumn? Well work out first which places you’d prefer to be hottest and cities you won’t mind if its not as hot. For Morgs & I, we were going end of their Summer to the start of their Winter (which was perfect for us), so we knew that at the start of the trip we’d want to hit places like Greece & Croatia first so we still had hot days and warm nights. So get prioritizing you! Like I said, if you’re going for the whole of Summer it really doesn’t matter, but if your months are going to have a climate that starts changing it’s important to work out which cities and countries you want to see when the days are hotter rather than when they start to cool. 
Got it? Good. Here are the rest of the steps laid out a little simpler for you.
1. So you now have your list of cities you’d like to see when they’re warmer,keep that in mind as the starting place of your adventure (you’re more than likely flying in to London first anyway but there are hundreds of other cities you can fly in to as the start of your main trip). 
2. Buy a clear and simple big map of Europe. 
3. Work out, in pencil, what appears to be, for you, the most logical and non ‘double back’ way around all your countries as possible (refer to my above picture I did as an example, where the line went in a big circle and there was no double back). I.e if you’re wanting to go to Portugal, Greece, France, Spain then on a map you would sensibly (saving you time and money) go Greece, France, Spain, Portugal (but you will see this for yourself when you look at your own map!)
4. Start to do dummy bookings. Will you be flying from Rome to Athens? (having felt that’s the best route on your map). Go to Skyscanner and punch in that route with similar dates you are thinking of and see what it comes up with. If it’s a high amount, you know it’s a difficult route but low means go for it! 
5. Do this for almost all of your first draft itinerary to see what kind of costs you are going to be up for and if it is the best route for you. Write down all the costs you are working out to track your budget.
6. Also start having looks for accommodation on Hostelbookers, Hostelworld and airbnb. Putting dummy dates in (i.e if you already know you roughly want to stay in Barcelona for 4 nights, then put in 4 nights for accommodation in Barcelona) and you will be able to gauge the average cost it will be from scrolling through all the options that come up. 
HOW exciting you – we now have the countries and cities you wish to go, with the best route worked out for you, now we just have to work out…
3. Your Budget for the whole trip

I’m sure this is where most of you will either zone in or zone out completely but unfortunately a budget is super important for a trip. Having always wanted to do Europe for a few months (not weeks) and in luxury (not budget) I always knew I never wanted to do it by accumulating debt so I was proud to have saved for the cost of the whole trip and I came home with $0 debt. 
The thing is though you might want to do the whole thing with a personal loan or a credit card and that’s fine too, whatever you want to do is the best way to go. 
What I CAN tell you however is that either before you go or whilst you’re there, without a budget I promise that you will stress. I can’t count on both hands (I’d need 2 or 3 sets) how many people would ask “Howww are you & Morgs doing this and not worrying about money, I’m running out!” when we were over there mingling with other travellers. 
Our secret?
We stuck to a rough daily budget that we knew we could spend comfortably!!! Did it impede our trip? Not ONCE!! In fact we had more money to do more things every step of the way. 
Do you want to know our other secret?
We had our trip of a lifetime as we didn’t plan what we could do AROUND a budget. We planned what we wanted to do then made a budget for that….key important distinction. Do NOT let money get in the way of a dream trip. Work out where you want to go, what you want to do, THEN work out exactly how much you’ll need. Because what we’ve gone over so far is the real ‘nuts & bolts’ of planning, let’s re hash what you should have done so far before this next step.
+ Written your dream destinations down and what you want to do and feel over there – worked out from that which countries & cities will go on your list!
+ Bought a big, clear map of Europe and marked out your most efficient route to save time & money. 
+ Done ‘dummy’ bookings for majority of your trip (I did it for all my trip but I know most of you won’t be thaaaat thorough) to get a really good estimate of exactly what costs you’ll be up against for your flights and accommodation. 
Now you’re here. Already with a good idea of flights/trains and accommodation costs so these should be your next steps. 
2. Put the amount you already know it will roughly cost you to travel once over there (flights, accommodation, trains etc) at the top of the page. 
3. Work out the number of days you will be over there in total. I’m going to use the common time of 6 weeks travel. So that would equate to 45 days. 
4. Think of a figure you think you would be comfortable with being able to have at your disposal daily….would it be $80 dollars? $100 dollars? This number is going to be different for everybody and so I am reallyyyy going to leave this one up to you (if you can go by Morgs and I’s trip, we had worked out $80 euro a day each (which was about $100 Australian , and some days that was beyond enough and other days we went a bit over). Remember, this is really just for food, drinks and fun though, you’ve already got the other number at the top of the page for the serious stuff like flights and accommodation. 
5. Multiply the number of days you’re there with the figure you have come up with. If that’s $100 euro per day, for 45 days, that is going to give you a grand total of $4,500. 
6. Add that to the figure you’ve come up with as the average for flights and accommodation (I’ll say it’s going to be roughly $5,000) and congratulations you have your goal figure to work towards = $9,500 and it’s time to save….
How do I save that much? 
simple really…

1. Open a savings account totally seperate to your other accounts so it’s harder to transfer between bank accounts at the flick of a button (i.e. if your normal spendings account is with Bankwest, I suggest opening up a strict savings only account with NAB. It’s MUCH harder to flick money across accounts when it will take days to go through).
2. Work out your budget for each pay (I would hope you would already have something similar in place anyway!) with what you need for your necessities – rent, bills, food, petrol. Once you have that figure work out how much you could comfortably put away that will stretch you but not send you broke. Remember….living your dreams and kicking huge goals sometimes take a little sacrifice. If you’re used to having $500 left over every pay to splurge on clothes and going out, maybe ration yourself $150 and put the other $350 away. 
3. On every pay day….pay yourself first. As in, put away your savings FIRST, then go and pay your necessities. It was the best advice I ever got from the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. If you pay yourself first, you will always have to find a way to make ends meet. It might just mean one less dinner out that week, or not being so flippant with your bank card. I swear on my life, I did this every.single.pay.day for the 18 months we saved for our trip. And guess what? I never missed out on putting exactly how much I wanted and needed to put in to my savings, I always had the money I needed for my necessities and still managed to have a bit of fun.
4. Now eat, sleep, exercise, save, repeat. The above is really just common sense but SO important in building up a really healthy savings account and hitting your goal amount for when you want to go overseas. 
High five for getting your savings account and saving money well underway, it can sometimes be the hardest part of the trip, but you are on your way so you need to pat yourself on the back! Now here we are, not only do you now have a clear control on your budget and how to save for it, you also have your itinerary. This is where we now need to look at….
4. What to get in order before you go

Oh god. If I had 3 of me before I left I still don’t think I would have found the time to have done everything I needed too with relaxed ease. Multi-tasking and midnight thought bubbles – like; ‘have I written that to do list at work for Richo, shittt I can’t remember if I ended up buying those vac sealed bags, god I hope Morgs remembers to pick up our overseas licenses’ – will become more regular the closer your departure date arrives. Having been there and done that I know having a list of things to cross off is ever so helpful so here is your go to (and by all means add or subtract off of this) as you countdown to your own adventure of a lifetime..

+ Ensure your passport is 100% useable, up to date and A-OK. You MUST have more than 6 months left till it expires in almost any and all countries overseas and your photo must not have so much as a smudge on it. Do not f*ck this one up ladies & gents.
+ Buy a backpack, a really really good one too – don’t scrimp or cut budgets on this one, you need those really fancy looking ones with the lumbar support and all that jazz.
+ Get yourself a micro fibre towel. Most hostels/hotels/apartments/b&b’s come with all linen provided but our micro fibre towels were our saving grace on more than one occasion. psst – Micro fibre towels can be wrapped up tiny AND dry reallyyyyyyyyyyy quick. Winning.
+ Go down to your local RAC office and organise your overseas drivers license. It cost Morgs & I $26 each and allowed us to drive in every country overseas (you need it to hire cars and anything motorised)
+ Buy yourself a good camera. I can’t see any good reason to not invest in a decent camera to capture all your moments when over there when it’s one of those once in a lifetime trips. Spending thousands and thousands to get there and live those moments then capturing it all on an iphone or small digi cam just doesn’t seem mondo correcto to me. If you are in a position to do so, get yourself a good camera before you leave.

A little overwhelmed yet? You shouldn’t be – it should just be list making time and excitement, oh and of course you need to know the following…

5. Do I need a visa?

The short answer is….there is no short answer.

This section is only relevant if you are an Australian citizen reading this post – if you’re planning it from another country the information isn’t hard to find out though. The BEST advice we got and followed was from the ‘smart traveler  website so the long and the short of it can be surmised like this.

+ If you are going to be in Europe Schengen Area for 90 days or less (that’s 3 months people), then you will NOT need a visa. Even ONE day over 90 days however, you will need to contact the Embassy for whichever country you’re in at that time.
+ If you are there for 4 months for example, but 1 month is spent in the UK and a week in Croatia (Croatia is not part of the Schengen area) then you still won’t need a visa as you are in the Europe zone less than 3 months.

Here is an excerpt directly from their website however with fancy wording and correct advice that will be relevant for your own trip. (This section is sooooooooooo important to not get wrong)

Generally, Australian tourists planning to spend less than a total of 90 days within a 180 day period in the ‘Schengen area’ do not require visas for countries which are parties to the Schengen Convention.

The following countries are parties to the Schengen Convention: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
It is important to get your passport stamped when entering the Schengen area. The absence of an entry stamp from the initial Schengen port of entry could result in a fine or create difficulties during subsequent encounters with local police or other authorities throughout the Schengen area.
Some countries require you to register with local authorities within three working days of your arrival.
Australians who are likely to exceed the cumulative 90 day limit, or who are visiting the Schengen area for other than tourist or business purposes, should contact the High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of the country or countries concerned to obtain an appropriate visa. Visa rules relating to work and business visits are governed by the individual countries.
Travellers who exceed the 90 days within 180 days period of legal stay in the Schengen area risk being fined or even banned from entering the whole Schengen area for a period of time.
Australians should be aware that the United Kingdom, Ireland, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine are not part of the Schengen area. Australians should consult the nearest High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of these countries for visa information.

Kapeesh? It’s really not that hard, if your trip is 3 months and under and you’re going to be in Europe then you won’t need a visa. Any longer you will need a visa, or you need to split your time up in the non Schengen states (all listed in the last paragraph above). The serious stuff is almost out of the way but there are still a few more things to consider, especially…

6. To Eurail, or not to Eurail 

Even the word Eurail still sends me in to a bit of a travel related spin, as both Morgs & I had spent copious amounts of hours (I seriously mean hoursss) on researching if it was worth getting a eurail pass or not for our own. We both came to the same conclusion that for us, it just wasn’t worth it but for you it could be completely worth it. It can just vary so widely for each individual.

I could sit here and rattle off all the facts about Eurail from a boring ‘what eurail is, how it works’ point of view so you could make your own mind up from a more educated position, but I’m not going to do that as I never found that worked for me. What I wanted to know the whole time Morgs & I were umm’ing and uhh’ing about getting one or not, was who had actually traveled and either decided to use one or not. They were the opinions I ended up going by, and by doing so, here are our own personal facts we found incredibly helpful and have since come up with our own to help you also.

+ Once you pay for the eurail and once you’re over there, it’s not as simple as then just hopping on any train you like (which is how they sell it to you essentially) and it all falling under your one time amount paid to acquire the card. Any & Every train you want to get on to travel on long distance trips within a certain country or across borders, you actually have to reserve your seat and pay €10 fee per trip. If you happen to miss that reservation (and believe you me it can happen, regularly) the original fee paid and booking made doesn’t stand and you have to make a whole new booking and pay the €10 fee all over again. So Eurail costs don’t end at the ‘one time’ fee of $xxx (it can vary) for the card, every train you get on you also have to pay another €10 and pre book. For Morgs & I, we preferred just arriving to the train station and booking that morning and that be the end of it. Another way to do it (it works out cheaper) is when you arrive in the train station from another country or city, we would then book our next train ticket then and there for wherever we were going next. If anything ever stuffed up too (like we wanted to swap the destination or time) the offices at the train station always helped as we had brought the ticket from them, in their country, we met a lot of people in lines who would get offered no assistance as eurail had nothing to do with that particular countries train company
+ We never regretted NOT getting one. We had budgeted before we left on average what the trains would cost between each city for the countries we would be needing to use the trains in and so for us it never would have been worth it.
+ Whenever we got in to conversations with other travelers at hotels or hostels and got chatting about where we’d been, where we were going and swapping advice, Eurail almost always came up and 85% of other travelers had done their own research and also decided against it too.

I have two important things to say also though that need to be seperate from the above.

+ If we could have done it differently, we would have organised a Eurail for Italy (but only Italy), and I am suggesting you look in to this yourself too. We did spend over 3 weeks in Italy and covered a lot of ground but apart from that, trains in Italy are expensive, quite expensive, especially compared to places like Germany, France & Spain (note: We easily found France to be the least expensive). Having a Eurail for Italy alone would have ended up saving us quite a bit of money, so learn that lesson from us.

And lastly,

I still hugely encourage you to do your own research on Eurail. This was just our experience but I find sharing experiences vs re hashing known facts helps more in forming your own decision. Now you have this information though, do go and look at the facts (cost for a eurail pass for one country vs 2 or 3 countries and the cost for 10 days vs 3 months etc) and make your fully informed decision then.

Right! Now we have the serious stuff out of the way, (I can almost hear the collective hooraaaay) your next thing to give serious consideration too is…

7. What to pack for a long trip

I s.t.r.e.s.s.e.d over the fact I only had a backpack with me for 4 and a half months that could comfortably carry 15kg of my clothes and things in. How the HELL was I going to fit everything in and almost more importantly how was I going to still feel good and have some variety in my clothing options to mix up my outfits? Somehow, I managed. And not only did I manage, I felt like I had a masters in packing by the time we had returned home. Packing can already be tricky enough already for short work trips away or two weeks to closer holiday destinations, so their really is so much more added pressure and stress to ‘get it right’  for a huge trip like Europe.

Having obtained my masters in packing from my own 4 and a half months away, I have learnt there are some simple things you can remember that will help you when you are about to pack your life in to a suitcase or backpack which are as follows…

+ Don’t go overboard, pack as light as you can. I adhered to this rule to a T when picking clothes that would go in the stay pile vs. back in the wardrobe pile. The lighter you pack the better…you WILL buy things over there.
+ Pack basics and nothing too patterned or ‘stand out’. Taking your fav tshirt/dress/whatever that has a really identifiable pattern on it doesn’t  do you any favours in the ‘mixing it up’ to give yourself different outfit options. I stuck with majority basics – Blacks/Whites/Plain colours .. and then mixed them many different ways to the point where I could almost not outfit repeat for just over 3 weeks (which made it great for photos!)
+ Take some accessories that will go with almost anything you packed clothes wise. My plan was to pack basics, and bring enough bold necklaces, earrings and scarfs to rock the outfit a little more sassy. It felt nice to still be able to feel comfortable but dressed like I’d be dressed if I were at home with my whole wardrobe at my dispense.
+ Plan outfits before you pack it in the suitcase/backpack so for the first few days you know exactly what to grab and not spend time pulling everything out to work out what you’re going to wear.
+ Trust me & listen to me when I say; Take sneakers & some gym type gear!!! Morgs & I didn’t plan on ‘working out’ on holiday (& didn’t once) but packing our gym gear and sneakers saved us weekly. You are going to want to do fun crazy things – like bike ride the Austrian alps, Canonyeong, Sky Diving, Trekking through old towns….having reliable shoes and gym type gear helps in a lot of situations.
+ Take lots of underwear. Lots. Seriously. I think my undies count topped out around 35 pairs….but I never ONCE ran out of undies. One thing you are always going to want when travelling is clean underwear and it’s better to be over the top than save packing space on this item.
+ Did I mention Pack light? PACK LIGHT.
+ Pack 2 pairs -minimum- of black leggings (trendy if you can, but comfort is the name of the game here). I KNOW ordinarily wearing leggings as pants is a fashion crime ordinarily, but they will save your comfortable life in Europe. Plus they are great for wearing on commute days on trains and planes, around hotels and hostels to relax in and when you really just don’t feel like wearing jeans on a day you’re going to walk 24km (yeah we did that)
+ So so so so important …. Take a first aid kit!! Buy a small travel one from any Chemist, you should not leave the country without one. Our first aid kit doubled as our first aid / life saver kit. We ran out of panadols one day and luckily found some in there, got stuck with a clothing problem and desperatley needed a safety pin which was in there and used it for numerous other occasions all of the time. Do not forget this item in your bag. It should be a priority.

I asked Morgs to contribute to this section for the guys and this is what he emailed me back. Short, to the point and what got him through 4 and a half months of travelling (whilst buying other stuff along the way).

Keep it simple,
Bare essentials, lighter the better!
2 pairs of shorts
2 pairs of trousers or jeans
8 t-shirts
1 nice dressy type shirt
1 pair of running shoes
1 pair of thongs
1 pair of nicer shoes
20 pairs of jocks
And a first aid kit.

I hope by now you’re feeling a lot more calm about what is ahead of you on such a huge trip…You can at this stage, if you’ve been doing everything correctly as you go along, pretty much relax, take some of those deep woosaaa breathes and know that you have your shit under control. Well done! The next step is just going to help you if you’re about to do said trip with your other half and help you it will…

8. Travel tips if you’re travelling with a bf or gf 

Ahhhh love. Sweet, sweet love. Love whilst you’re travelling with a boyfriend or girlfriend though can be such a fickle, crazy almost all consuming thing though (i.e. completley different to the normal love when you’re just in your routine at home). One moment you can be staring deep in to each others eyes reminiscing of your most amazing times whilst walking the Cinque Terre and the next moment you’re both yelling you can’t believe you ever thought you could do this trip together and you want the other person to go home (note; this didn’t happen to Morgs & I but we did see this happen on the Cinque Terre) … This advice was written and shared right here on the blog after travelling together for a few months but I felt it good to include it in this particular post again. Can I just say though, without a shadow of a doubt, you will undoubtedly get in fights with your loved one when you’re over there, and that’s totally ok, totally normal and probably sometimes, totally necessary. It’s how to react in the arguments and how you deal with each other afterwards that is incredibly important though. This is the same with life in general but you must always, always remember to keep a cool head, don’t say anything you can’t take back and that you really do in fact love them, they’re just the only person there you can take your frustrations out on at that moment in time….Coming from two people who love each other very much (that’s Morgs & I guys!) and who want you to have the trip of a lifetime together, here are a few key other pieces of advice we put together to remember when travelling with your special someone.

  1.  If one of the two of you is starting to get agitated, annoyed, flustered, or stressed, be sure to remain the calm, upbeat, happy one. It works. Trust us. It works. This has saved us twice on the trip so far – once in Cardiff & once in Belfast where both of us have assumed the role of staying calm or happy if the other one gets stressed. It diffuses any situation almost immediately. 
  2. If you are starting to get grumpy, be honest & call a time out. We worked out almost straight away while travelling that communication is key (when isn’t it I suppose). If either of us are needing an Anna or Morgan break we just say and go sit in the sun by ourselves, read a book – whatever! 10 minutes later it’s like you haven’t seen them in a week!
  3. When in a foreign country, where you don’t know the laws, the rules, or what the people are like, always remain with your partner, & don’t be a dickhead. We went out in Dublin for a big pub crawl and I knew, even though neither of us are jealous types (at all), if either of us gave too much attention to other gendered travelers or if I let a random guy talk to me at the bar, fights would erupt  It sounds stupid, but just be respectful & don’t do anything that could piss the other one off – the same should apply in Australia, but especially when travelling. 
  4. With everything that you carry, own, have brought over, adopt the concept that you’re both equally responsible for everything all the time. Taking a bag out for the day and the man is carrying it? Or maybe your more responsible so hold on to things like passports or itinerary’s and phones. It doesn’t matter who is holding it your both responsible to ensure it is on you & remembered at all times. This tip alone has probably saved us 10 fights. We evolved, adapted, came up with this almost day 1 when I lost tickets to the London Eye – its ok I ended up sweet talking us on – and Morgs almost lost our backpack with all the electronics in it. Neither of us got mad at the other as either of us could have checked & asked the other have we got anything, have we remembered, can we look after it for awhile. If you’re both responsible as well you are almost guaranteed to never forget anything. 
  5. No matter what the problem that is going to cause the huge argument, no matter how tired and agitated you are, or how angry you are at the other person – stop and realise exactly where you actually are, that you’re living a dream, & be grateful for the opportunity. Life is already too short for anger & arguments over nothing … especially when you’re having an extraordinary time overseas. Any harsh words or misguided anger is going to be such a waste when you should just be grateful and excited for the opportunity to live a goal of travel & be experiencing awe inspiring moments with a loved one. So drop it, walk away, leave it, cool down – do whatever you gotsta do to let it go and move on.


That’s it beautiful souls. My complete guide to getting ready for your own big Europe trip of a lifetime. Well done on getting down this far, I know she was a long one but oh SO necessary. Can I just say this now also that I’ve been waiting to say the whole post; Like anything in this big beautiful crazy life of ours, you should only just take what you need from advice. You can either take it or leave it, and that’s totally ok, but just know that it is there for you if you need with a whole lotta’ love from me.

If you guys have any personal questions or burning un answered ones that didn’t get answered from this post then flick me an email at lifesshinyprettythings@gmail.com and I’ll be more than happy to answer them in there!

My wish for you is that you’re own adventure is as big, great, shiny & wonderful as you hope and plan it to be.

Travel really does awaken the soul, spark a fire and fuel adventure and I can’t wait for my own next chapter in my ever growing travel story.

Good luck you, can’t WAIT to hear all about it.

With love, light & so much enthusiasm for your own travel,

Anna xx

p.s stand by for the post following this .. I’ll be sharing my holy grail of travel… our complete itinerary!

Bologna 101; Italian food + Tours

{ Fresh Egg Pasta freshly made }

Not being ready just yet to let go of travel inspired posts I have an extra special post for you today my gorgeous readers! Do you remember the time in Italy that Morgs & I did our very own food tour of Bologna? I had shared our take on this gorgeous Italian town and the fact that the best food Morgs & I tasted in Italy came from Bologna. There was some big non negotiable’s for us both when travelling and eating & drinking our way around Italy was high on that list. We were so lucky to end up following our noses and stomachs to Bologna as it turned in to our yummiest and one of the most random/adventure packed days from our 3 weeks in Italy. It was such a lovely surprise when Gabriele from the website Emilia Delizia contacted me after reading my post on our food tour in Bologna! I asked her to do a special post for you guys on her personal take on ‘What to eat & drink in Bologna’ which I am sharing with you today…

If we had of found this website when we were in Italy there is no doubt we would have been one happy traveler – I can’t encourage a bookmark of this website if you are ever heading to Italy as it will make tour booking so much easier. Hopefully you guys enjoy learning about traditional Italian food as much as I did from her piece.

So Gabriele take it away!

“What to eat & drink in Bologna”
This short guide provided by emiliadelizia.com about eating out in Bologna will help your readers to choose food and drink while they are in Bologna. This town is called the fat because of its opulence in the cooking department. Dishes tend to be quite elaborate, rich and decadent. In Bologna you will drink red sparkling wines and you will eat “English soup” as dessert!
Fresh Egg Pasta
Bologna has no durum semolina pasta in its tradition, all the pasta you will find here is made fresh from soft from wheat and eggs as a protein binder. The results come in many shapes from the simple Tagliatelle, to more elaborate Lasagne, Tortelloni and tortellini. Tagliatelle are served with ragu’ which is a meaty sauce resembling more to a stew than a pasta sauce. Certainly you can also find the famous pasta strips topped with porcini mushrooms or a Parmesan cream with truffles, possibly from the nearby town of Savigno. 

On the other hand Tortelloni have a more elaborate hat shape and they are stuffed with ricotta and herbs, the condiment could be just tomato sauce and basil or butter and sage. The king of the Winter months is the Tortellino. These smaller versions of the hat shape are best served in their capon broth with a rich sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. You should look for restaurants or delis which serve hand made Tortellini to really fulfill this experience.

Bread, bread and more bread.

Italy probably will make you forget about your carb free diet for awhile, as you might know it is all about eating wheat products such as bread, pasta, foccacia, pizza and so on. Bologna is no different but there are some special breads that are worth a mention (and for you to try!)

For example, Crescentine are small round breads that in the good old days were cooked between clay disks (tigelle) near an open fire. These small breads were originally the staple of the poor farmers on the Bologna hills. They are still very popular today and they are cut in 2 halves and served like a modern sandwich with cured meats like; Prosciutto di parma, Mortadella di Bologna, Coppa, Salami, Culatello and the list goes on!

{Crescentine bread}

Piadina is another example local bread and it is a street food and you can easily sample in Bologna. Originally from the Eastern part of the region namely Romagna. Piadina is a flat bread traditionally prepared with pork clarified lard and cooked on a cast iron pan. The lard will give a nice fragrance to the bread that it is going to be served with squaquerone cheese and cabbage if you follow the farmer tradition, but today you can top it with anything you like. 
Wine drinking in Bologna

Bologna when it comes to wine is very eclectic. On the Eastern hills we have Sangiovese wines which are made with homonymous grapes. Sangiovese is a full bodied red wine and when aged it has a lot of pleasant structure with hints of rustic charm. On the Western part of Bologna you will find Pignoletto, a white and sparkling wine which is served young, soon after the harvest. We also find Lambrusco, a unique red sparkling wine which is also served young and in Summer is best served chilled. All of these wines are just perfect with the local cuisine. 


No meal is complete without a dessert! In Bologna you will have plenty of choices but one stands out more than the other; Zuppa Inglese, which translates in to English Soup. It is in fact a trifle mimicking the famous English trifles but with local Bolognese ingedients. It has a base of savoiardi biscuits soaked in liqueur and topped off with egg and chocolate custards.

If your headed to Italy soon or know of any family that are send them to emiliadelizia.com – Morgs & I looked in to a lot of food and wine tours when we were over there but didn’t find any that were perfectly suited to us, but if we had of found emiliadelizia it would have been a different story.
Now…who feels like some pasta?
Yours with dreams of red wine & pasta in Italy,
Anna xx

Finding Love & Magic in Interlaken

If there were 5 words to sum up just how truly amazing, beautiful and memorable our time in Interlaken was they would be…
It can’t be summed up. 
It truly can’t. 
How can you honestly put in to words one of the most incredible, exciting times of your life? WE SAW SNOW. Cue fireworks and band music now. But not only did we see snow, we saw some remarkably heavy heavy snow that covered the whole town in white and allowed us to frolic like we were 12 year olds, do snow angels and have snow fights all whilst the snow was still falling. It was un-real. 

Here is the clincher though – Morgs & I had put Interlaken on the list (Switzerland in general) for 2 reasons … 
1. To go Skydiving over the Swiss Alps.
2. To go skiing for the first time for us both ever
And guess what? Both of these amazing events couldn’t or didn’t end up happening because it was snowing so heavily. Initially I was pretty sad that two of the big to do’s on our trip list couldn’t end up happening – in fact to say I was gutted about not being able to skydive would be an understatement. But here’s the beautiful thing, remember me first sharing how much I’d let go on this holiday? Well that came in to play hugely, but alongside that, I had Morgs who without skipping a beat shrugged the whole thing off like it wasn’t no’thang’, immediately said it was for the best as there were obviously better plans for us – have I mentioned how much I adore this man? and dragged me back out in to the snow for some more laughs & incredible awe inspiring moments.
I don’t think either of us can really explain what it was about Interlaken that was so so amazing for us – it’s just snow after all (right? wrong!), but being two snow virgins being out in falling heavy snow was one of the most magical moments of our life. 
The awesome thing that happened as well is that because we couldn’t go skiing or skydiving it opened up two whole days for us to explore the surrounding mountains which ended up being some of our favourite memories from Switzerland. Being able to train up to Lauterbrunnen and Grindewald to have big lunches, play in even more heavy snow and laugh till our cheeks hurt from the fun are moments and memories we get to now cherish forever. 
The other cool thing that happened was we declared to the universe obviously Switzerland wasn’t meant to give us all of our experiences and falling snow and being in snow was what we were to take away from Interlaken. We are now exploring the option of booking a ski holiday in Queenstown New Zealand and exploring different sky diving options at home (jumping over the ocean is high up our list as is doing it when we get over to Melbourne this year), both things we never would have gotten to experience otherwise which we are totally claiming as beautiful blessings in disguise. 
With all of this love talk about Interlaken here are just a few other incredible lessons we took away from our time in this magical white winterland…
  • To live, laugh and love with carefree abandon. I really mean it.
  • That acting like a child again was some of the most freeing and hysterical fun we had.
  • That when plans fall through, plans we had your heart set on, it was for the best and the universe has so much more in store for us.
  • To truly be in the moment and show up for ourselves. 
  • To find peace in the quiet moments. And I really mean Peace.
  • To do exactly what I felt like doing when moments called for it (like spinning till I fell over, screaming from excitement and running out in the cold with barely any clothes on to feel what its like) was some of the most fulfilling fun moments of our travel trip. 

Even sitting here quietly now, back in my beautiful sunny home town Perth writing about our Interlaken experience actually makes me tear up, it was truly just that fun and memorable. Like the whole rest of our trip though it just worked, everything that was meant to be happened for us and it couldn’t have been a more perfect town to end our huge 4 and a half month adventure in. Leaving Interlaken bound for the Zurich airport to start our trip home I felt relaxed, fulfilled and truly blessed for 5 days of pure magic. 

Can you believe this is it though? Interlaken was our final destination in Europe and although I have a post to do on Dubai – oh myyy god did we love Dubai! – our big adventure is over. I will be sharing a few more posts to do with Travel before it’s back to business around here and I have some exciting & huge plans for the blog in 2013. 

Thank you to all you gorgeous souls though for following along on Morgs & I’s crazy adventure – we felt connected through all of your comments on the blog, tweets and instagram comments….a big thank you post is on it’s way but for now, just know having you all ‘along for the ride’ made our trip that much more special and memorable.
I hope you’ve loved sharing our experiences as much as we loved living them and writing about them. 
SO much love + gratitude,
Anna (& Morgs) x x

We heart Heidelberg

It’s hard to put in to words just how beautifully surprised we were when we first arrived on Heidelberg’s doorstop. Our biggest no-no when travelling was from the very get go to never go in to a country or city with expectations from ourselves, and especially from others so Heidelberg was of course no different. We arrived with no expectations just a little knowledge of this old town full of character and our heavy backpacks. Can I just say here though, if we did have any expectations, they would have been exceeded, exceeded so much that to use metaphors, the ball of expectation would have been smashed way out of the ball park, down the road and around the corner, we were that surprised and that immediately in love.
It’s like with any new city or town or country that we went to and fell in love with though. You can’t put your finger on exactly what it is about that place you love so much. I mean, after all, it’s just a new city, with similar shops elsewhere in the world, an old castle that most other old cities had, and friendly locals willing to help out if need be. But you don’t love it any less. 
Heidelberg for us was it’s Baroque old town, its gorgeous cobblestone streets, it’s incredible Christmas markets scattered all over the city and it’s beautiful old, rich rich history. The town had originally been slapped on our travel map as when looking in to Germany we discovered it was one of the only towns that escaped bombing during WW2 which meant that the town stood originally as it did many moons ago, which was a huge attraction to us. Once there though we both fast said it was one of our favourite places visited in Germany and we loved how we could be surprised with new things to see or do each and every day. 
We walked for hours everyday getting lost in it’s old town streets, we wandered up to the medieval castle high a top the hill, we found hole in wall cafes to drink hot cups of coffee out of the snow and we went for food and fun every night in the Christmas markets alongside all the other locals and tourists searching for the same thing as us – memorable times with loved ones. 
When we spoke of going to Germany, everybody gave us fantastic recommendations on where to go like Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt and all the normal places you would expect to go….but if I can give you our own recommendation put Heidelberg high on your priority list (and make sure you stay in old town, it’s the heart of this beautiful city). 
Your turn…
Have you ever been to a city you’d never heard of before and it been one of the most magical times ever? I’d love to hear about it and get inspired for our next trip.

Berlin & Munich in snapshots

Breathe in, breathe out, release. 
Phew. So after writing my piece on Monday about how much of an emotional (but of course amazing) experience Berlin & Munich was due to the absorption of different museums & memorial sites, there of course is some joy that also needs to be shared. 
Travelling is like anything else in life and needs to be carefully balanced, because after all, what is joy without pain, love without hurt and excitement without fear. We need to experience the bad sometimes to enjoy the beautiful moments in life all the more, which is exactly how we did Berlin & Munich. 
Even though I sobbed for hours at a memorial concentration camp, I then laughed and squealed and spun like a giddy school girl that night when Morgs & I were walking through the magical Christmas markets, and even though we both left the SS headquarters museum with heavy hearts & drowsy heads, we still got out to marvel and explore the beauty that Berlin also had to offer. 
We found love and excitement and beauty all around us in both cities we visited – we had the light stuff with the heavy stuff and the joy with the sadness, we were balanced. 
So here is that balance, the joy, the fun, here is us, in Berlin & Munich telling our story through photos – because after all, a picture truly does tells a thousand words (or in my case, 2,000).
Walking with no particular plans and no desire to ‘have to’ be anywhere or see anything leads you to the best parts of a city … we stumbled upon the impressive parliament .. the man candy isn’t too bad either huh!!

Smiling even though it was about -4 and we’d been out most of the day … with Christmas markets to explore though we couldn’t go home just yet …
Morgs FULL of excitement with his first German beer on our first night in Berlin …
Cities by night are always such a beautiful sight & Berlin was no different, we stumbled upon Brandenburg Gate which is where the Berlin wall ran in front of to seperate West Germany from East Germany…
On the train, music on, WOWED & SO excited at the first sight of full on snow. One minute it was paddocks of green, then moments later, we were in snow territory. Fun train ride indeed…

Exploring the main square in Munich, on the hunt for the perfect pork knuckle (& sight seeing of course) .. p.s we found the perfect pork knuckle.
We have really, seriously, reallyyyy eaten our way around Europe..& it has certainly been no different in Munich / Germany in general. Morgs sampling the goodies from the many many market stalls
Having the time of my freezing life at the Christmas markets in Germany, this country sure does Christmas markets well, and by well I mean extraordinarily well.
Last night in Germany what else would we do but drink beer .. (& eat pork knuckle of course) 

The crazy beautiful mess & mayhem that is the Christmas markets in Munich..

Emotions in Berlin + Munich

{ Touching a piece of history – The Berlin Wall }
{ Wondering all the stories and secrets this particular piece of wall held – Berlin Wall }
It’s been a little quiet around here for a week but there’s a good reason for that… Germany needed my full and undivided attention, and, when we were done for the day of complete & utter living & being in the moments, I would curl up with Morgs at night and need to have a red wine, watch a movie, journal or read something inspirational, I couldn’t sit & write. Why? Because Germany was so immensely emotionally intense for me. Not in a bad way either, in almost a necessary, it was always going to be that way, kind of way.
This trip, I was by far most excited about my dream destination Santorini, and then my be all and end all country, Spain. However, there has been excitement and anticipation for every day and city along the way also. Every city we have visited we have adored, loved, lived it up, drank it down, belly laughed, explored till our feet hurt and just totally and utterely vibed off the different energies each city has offered – all different, unique & amazing energies at that. But Germany was always going to be a little different for me. Morgs was really, really excited for it, and I was totally as well – for me though, it was alllll about the history, the same can be said for Morgs but he was also excited about the food & beer – understandably. Even the cities we picked in Germany were to make sure we got the most out of what we wanted which was to learn about this countries rich rich history, and oh, oh my did we get just that.
The two most energy zapping, emotional days for me on this whole trip by far came from Germany. Day 1 was in Berlin visiting the Topography of Terror, which is the site where the SS during WW2 had their headquarters and gave the most terrifying orders and tortured people in holding cells. Today it is a well laid out museum that goes through the history of what exactly went on in those inexcusable years through the war (& before) and names and shames the men behind the orders, torture & terror that went on. We thought we’d only spend an hour or so but ended up there all afternoon and in to late evening and heading back to our hostel that night we talked and talked about how could any of this truly have happened.
The second and most emotional day for me however came in Munich when we visited the Dachau concentration camp. It was here that thousands and thousands of innocent men died from execution, starvation, disease and even sick medical experiments. There were moments walking around the site the energy almost felt too strong, too horrifying that it made me have to stop to catch my breathe, or focus all my might to not vomit. There was one particular spot I became so overwhelmed and nauseous and covered in goosebumps I had to leave the area. It came as no surprise moments later reading plaques and information boards around the area I discovered it was the place that 90 Soviet Union prisoner of war men were shot  dead execution style. 
The videos, photos, feelings, and buildings still standing you can walk through today made me sob like I had lost a loved one, the heartache was that bad. I couldn’t understand how man had inflicted such torture and terror upon his fellow man all in the name of … of what? 
There is some good to this story though I promise and it came in an unsurprising manner. 
This is the part where I tell you what was so remarkable to me though, which gave me goosebumps of a different kind, which made my soul soar and heart leap that good did triumph over evil after all. Amongst all that terror in the camps, all the prisoners suffering and pain and inhumane treatment, I saw solidarity amongst prisoners. I saw smiles in photos when the men would gather in what tiny free time they had. I saw brotherly love. I saw men risking their lives for fellow prisoners, picking them up when they’d fallen from exhaustion and carrying them when they had nothing left to give. I saw a fight in their eyes. I saw a determination to not give in, no matter what, even with no rights or dignity. I saw and read of hope, that it would end for them and what they went through wouldn’t be for nothing. 
I saw the human spirit in its most rawest, extraordinary form in every one of those prisoners who supported their fellow men and fought against the indignity.
So I left each of these days, feeling sad and regretful for what had been and what they suffered but inspired that against such evil and injustice there was still freedom in the mens minds to hope and support and hold on. 
With every experience comes lessons however which is the beauty of experiences themselves, no matter how emotional or amazing they are…, and this is what I learnt – I learnt that even though I couldn’t and can’t understand how it was man inflicting terror upon man, soldiers against prisoners, I also saw that it was man who supported man and got each other through. And that was a beautiful thing I got to take away from each of these days. I learnt that it’s so important to have a strong mind, to believe, to hope, to keep human spirit alive even in your darkest days and hours.
I learnt more in those days at the museums and memorial sites than I have ever absorbed from a history lesson in school or test or book or movie and as heavy and committed I got emotionally, I would do it again to further honour the lives that were taken and absorb even more. 
But that’s where I’ve been .. relaxing and recovering from an intense few weeks in Germany, learning in person about our worlds history. It’s been draining but amazing and necessary and I will take away what I felt & learnt and remember it forever. 
I am sharing such honesty and stories with you today because throughout every museum we went too, but particularly the concentration camp the message was clear and the story was the same from the men who died or survived – “we will get through this and when we do, it won’t have been for nothing”. And they did, and it wasn’t. I am sharing my experience to always look back on my opportunity to visit these sites and in my own way, honour & remember the lives lost in both the camps and for our men women who fought the war outside of the camps for freedom. 
With all of that said and done however I have this final thing to say … Even with all the sad things you can learn whilst travelling the world I still say … 
Here’s to traveling…. for the uplifting moments, the sad moments, the extraordinary moments .. and every other moment in between.
{ The gate that prisoners walked through that is said they never knew when they would exit it again … “Arbeit macht frei” – Work will set you free … It was sick but Hitler & the Natzi’s said that concentration camps were ‘protective custody camps’ & ‘re educational camps’ … }

{ The tunnel that was in between the two blocks of prisoner blocks … the pictures of prisoners chatting and hanging together in this exact path is what gave me hope. It is where the prisoners spent their tiny amount of free time keeping each others spirits high }

{ The massive courtyard area in which every prisoner had to stand for hours and hours at a time twice a day for ‘roll call’, even the dead would be dragged out to make sure their numbers were correct. The sick would be marched through here once a day, mainly naked, even in -20 degree weather to ensure their dignity stayed lost, and they stayed sick – tormenting to even think about how horrific this all was }

{ A photo of a packed prisoner block of where they all slept. It was documented that the prisoners had to keep their beds spotless – no spots of blood, sweat, nothing, for that would incur discipline such as being hung on a stake for hours on end in freezing cold. It’s said the level of cleanliness the prisoners had to upkeep in the camp was a form of torture in itself}

{ Standing in one of the rooms, overcome by emotion trying to fathom just how horrific it really was, the view from this window back in 1938 – 1945 was of a concrete wall, as the next prisoner block was just outside the window. There are only 2 blocks standing today with concrete slabs to indicate where the others had gone in a row }

{ A watch tower off in the distance that would shoot to kill any prisoner who crossed in to the escape zone. Where the snow starts and goes for about 5 metres is the zone. If prisoners couldn’t bear the terror any further its documented they’d run in to this zone to be shot deliberately. The other atrocity was that soldiers would throw prisoners hats in to the zone and make them ‘go and get them’ knowing they’d be shot dead’ }

To Paris, with love

Dear Paris,


Just wow.

What a remarkable, beautiful, magical, inconceivable, extraordinary city you are. Where do I even begin? 
We arrived by your rail system when the sun had set so got to experience exactly just why you’re called ‘city of lights’ from the minute we arrived. Coming out of the subway and having the Eiffel tower in front of us, lit up like it was is something I will remember forever. 
I can’t quite explain just how you made me feel… it was like it was Christmas eve and I was 7 years old again not able to sleep as I knew how many presents I got to open the next morning…except, I’m not 7 and it wasn’t Christmas eve. I’m 24, it’s November, and there were no presents, just pure & utter exhilaration & adoration for your parks, streets food & sights, the whole city was ours to unwrap and I literally couldn’t sleep from excitement. 
You have this romantic vibe to you that is undeniable, I connected to the energy like it was nobodies business, in fact, you probably saw Morgs & I stop to steal a kiss at one too many of your sidewalks or cafes but I’m sure you’re already used to that. 
I feel like the Champs Elysees & I had a connection, like a real connection – of all the beauty and all the sights and all the wow that you have to offer, I just couldn’t stay away from this street. The Christmas Markets were running along them, which admittedly could have only strengthened the connection. Walking the stalls and stopping every second or third to try a new piece of chocolate, marshmellow, nutella crepe, ice cream or churros really had me adoring the whole experience. 
Oh & don’t even get me started on the ice skating. I sent you such loving vibes after Morgs & I were walking home hand in hand after our night of ice skating. You probably saw me pinch myself more than once, literally, it just didn’t feel real. I adored Morgs did it with me, I think you had something to do with that however, your magic vibe is inescapable. 
I couldn’t name a highlight, no siree, all that we did and all that we saw was so so so amazing and special in it’s own right. Night one, we hadn’t even been in your city 2 hours and we were sailing the Seine River on a luxurious boat, dining on 4 courses of delicious food & too much wine. The whole experience was totally and utterly unforgettable, cruising on a glass boat seeing all the monuments lit up, live music cooing in the background with the wine flowing, it was just too perfect for words. We were also utterly flawed by the live Moulin Rouge show we took in with the champagne flowing a plenty of course. The whole show start to finish had me gasping and oh my god’ing – you really do know how to put on a good night of entertainment. 
I don’t really properly have words to describe my awe, love & fascination with your mighty structure that is the Eiffel Tower. Morgs & I made sure to visit a few times to really soak the whole experience and atmosphere in properly. One of my favourite evenings happened when we decided after a solid 8 hours of exploring your streets and museums that we’d just ‘quickly’ go across the street to visit it again. We ended up sitting there together for about an hour at the base of it just watching everyone get excited that they were there (along with us), and basking in the amazing loving energy all around. The sun set and it lit up right before our eyes. We kissed, laughed and planned future travel right there and then, so thank you from the bottom of my very heart for providing us with that experience. Lets not forget taking the elevator to the very top, my god was that another pinch me moment. There we were, up the top of your magnificent tower literally among the clouds, looking down on Paris falling more in love than ever. It’s one of those stories I will take joy in telling future grandchildren. We were so so lucky to have found an apartment quite literally across the road so took major major delight in going to sleep and waking up with the Eiffel tower right outside our window.Like I said Paris, you are Magical with a capital M.
We climbed your Arc De Triomphe, visited your Louvre, walked through your magnificent parks, ate in your dimly lit, incredibly sexy restaurants….we got exactly what we wanted in all that we did, ate, saw & felt. 
We vibed with you, loved you and just wanted to thank you…for being who you are, and giving Morgs & I some of our most unforgettable memories on what truly is our trip of a lifetime. 
With a heart full of thanks & utter joy & awe,

Anna x


Heaven in Mallorca

There are certain things in life, experiences we’ll say, that never will be forgotten – it could be the birth of your first child, marrying the love of your life, or whatever it is that makes your world spin just that little bit faster. I have discovered that the same thing applies for when you travel. Of course, every moment over here is surreal, from waking up knowing there’s a new city to explore, finding new amazing historical things to see, and hey, even not having worked for 3.5 months now. BUT..there are those extra special moments, those ‘pinch me’ / goosebump / call it whatever you will moments that go right up in the special experiences of life. I have had a few, but a huge one happened to Morgs & I the other night in Mallorca. It was extra special as it caught us so off guard and it’s one of our favourite things to see normally. 
What was it?? 
A sunset. 
This was no ordinary sunset though. No. This was the most amazing, spectacular, extraordinary  beautifulll sunset I’ve ever seen in my life. 
It had been an incredibly stormy day and Morgs & I were defiant to not sit around in the hotel so had hired a car to get around Mallorca and explore some of the coast & mountains on offer on the North side of the island. We drove wherever roads took us and stopped whenever we felt like it. Getting back to the hotel early evening, the storm had cleared & we felt compelled to take a walk in the cold before dinner and that’s when the magic occurred  Making our way along the coastline we had the pinkest of pink and redest of red clouds all around us and bursts of sunshine peeking out from the ominous clouds still threatening to give way to rain at any moment. We sat and took in what was almost too surreal to witness. 
It was a moment I’ll remember forever and was so grateful I got to witness. 
I felt like it was Mother Natures way of reminding us that of all our adventures we seek & pay for on the holiday, the best things in life really are free – & for me, that was seeing the sunset of my life with my soulmate by my side. 
Do you have a favourite travel story? Have you had any moments that you’ll never forget that happened when you least expected it? I’d love to hear them!
Love & Light,
Anna x
p.s I’m sorry the blog was so quiet last week! Our apartment in San Sebastian didn’t have any wifi but this week you’ll hear all about the end of our adventures in Spain – from Madrid to San Seb. 

Finding our groove in Valencia

There is this quiet internal struggle each time I try to write about Spain. How can you put on paper and choose words to express how we’re feeling, how much fun we’re having, and how much we truly love this country when we love it so much. Because we do. Alot. 
Spain just has this vibe about it. I couldn’t tell you what it is, or much other than every morning when I wake up, I’m smiling excited to hit the streets or country to explore, and I literally have an overflowing of joy from the inside out wherever I am in Spain. Spain & us just gel. 
Having 4 days in Valencia was heaven as not only did we get to go back to nature, but we managed to settle in to our b&b a little bit after having just spent almost two weeks in the south of france doing 2 nights, 2 nights, 2 nights..you get the picture.
The thing about sharing experiences when it comes to capital city after capital city though is this. A lot of our ‘things we want to do’ or do happen to ‘do’ are much of the muchness which when it comes to sharing said experiences, we don’t always have something ‘unique’ to share. Hitting smaller out of the way towns might throw some different adventures in the mix (which we’ve done plenty of), but our first trip overseas we really wanted to see everything we’d always read & dreamed about which all fell mainly to capital cities. 
Valencia was no different in the stakes of big ole cities. Lots of cathedrals, tours, parks, pubs & general city sight seeing. 
What I can tell you is this. Every new city we get to, it’s always mainly explored by foot, by boat if there’s a great canal, river or ocean to see, by a double decker tour bus, by train if there is something justttt a bit too far for foot and you will find us constantly being pulled without meaning to be to the highest point of a city to take in all it’s beauty. We get lost, everytime, re found, find amazing hole in the wall bars & restaurants, eat traditional food a lot of it, our growing bellys would say too much – we go out, we stay in, we people watch …. we just find our own groove
Valencia was all the above but so much more because it was all done on our terms, when we wanted and how we wanted. A highlight of course was catching a Premiership game at the Valencia stadium (they won!!) & soaking up the amazing atmosphere the game dished up. If you’re ever in Spain, even if you don’t watch soccer – you could call it football where you’re from – get to a game. The crowds are electric and seeing the players in real life truly is a remarkable experience. 
I could sit here and tell you to ride a bike around Valencia (very fun indeed), to visit the park that used to be a river, to hit the beach and eat some delicious paella, to get out to the country & see the real Spanish beauty, to get lost in their old town, spend hours wandering the markets eating all the tapas & foods on offer and to people watch to your hearts content in all the small cafes on the busy side streets. 
But I won’t. That’s what we did and it might not necessarily be for you – and you will find your own travel groove. 
That’s the important thing though. To find it. To listen to your gut, to not do something for the sake of doing it because somebody else has done it before you, or you think you should because you’re travelling. 
The best times Morgs & I have on this holiday – which is every single day of the trip so far – are the ones where we do exactly what our hearts and bodies tell us to do. If we feel like a huge sleep in at the hotel and a leisurely walk around the city vs getting up to go go go because we only have 2 days. Then we do just that. If we feel like watching a movie instead of going out drinking. We stay in, and have the best most relaxing nights in ever. If we don’t feel like going to see a museum or statue or cathedral just because its the cities top attraction. Then we don’t. Doing it this way, listening to our guts, our hearts & our bodies, has provided us with what has truly been & continues to be a trip of a lifetime.
When you let your days take you wherever your heart or instinct is telling you instead of booking things in as it’s the ‘done thing’, you will find much richer experiences & meant to be moments throughout your trip.
Travel really is about finding your own groove, dancing the beat to your own distinct drum, treading your own path & having the time of your lives…..
We did just that in Valencia, with no really crazy out there things to share necessarily – apart from the Premiership soccer game which was seriously seriously amazing .. but what was solidified for us was that trusting our gut and finding our own groove is the best way to see cities for us.
We have in a few days only 4 weeks left. FOUR WEEKS. I cannot believe, at all, that our huge trip is almost coming to an end, and can say although I don’t feel like it went fast at all, knowing when we’re home in just 4 weeks, it strangely feels like it flew by. 
With that in mind, I’m off to explore Madrid – hello more Sangria – are there anonomyous help groups for Sangria addiction? & tapas, but I hope your Monday is filled with something you love mixed with a whole lotta heart. 

Love & Light,

Anna x