When I decided to finally make the move I had SO MANY QUESTIONS!! Many that a simple google could answer, but since moving here I have learned so much that I wish I knew before......
I have officially been living in Australia for 4 months now! Does that make me a local now? Any Australians want to adopt me please? Anyway's lets rewind back to when I was still in rainy England and my head was filled to the brim with questions regarding the big move to the other side of the world. After much research in getting myself prepared for the move, I still had this unsettling feeling that I didn't have all the information I needed, and just like most things in life you learn though trail and error, in other words I knew I could any answer some of these questions once I had moved. Everything I talk about in this post is based on my personal experience, so a little background on why I'm out here, I'm here on a working holiday Visa and so far have only lived in Sydney, I saved up roughly $6,000 AUD and am working about 40 hours a week whilst planning on travelling around Australia and other countries close by. Okay! Let the answering of questions begin........
If your planning to stay in Australia for a long time then you should be getting yourself a bank account as transfer fee's can rack up to be a lot! I found it super easy to set it all up and I was able to do it all whilst still living in the UK. I signed up with the bank CommonWealth, it took me no longer than 15 minutes to enter my details, they also have an app so online banking is accessible, and since I'm in the generation off having everything on my phone this suited me perfectly! Upon arrival to Australia I was able to pick up my card straight away from the store I had previously selected, it was very comforting for me to know that I had easy access to my money straight form the get go. Onto your TFN (Tax File Number) Now if your wanting to work whilst travelling, you won't be able to get employed without a TFN which again is very easy to get, but you have to be in Australia to apply, and you can apply on the Australian government website. Your TFN will take roughly 2 weeks to arrive, however you can still apply for jobs whilst waiting, just simply let your employer know that your currently waiting for your TFN and as soon as you get it let them know.
Coming from a small countryside town and growing up with London public transport, I've found Australian transport so much better! I love how the train's on Sunday cost no more than $3 ALL DAY, no matter where you go, this makes exploring so much more affordable. I strongly advise getting an Opal card (a Australian version of an Oyster card) the second in you land in Sydney, they are super easy to get from any train station/corner store, plus fares get cheaper the more times you use your Opal card. And there's air-con on the underground train's, AMAZING! This is something the UK are really far behind on. Buses and trains run fairly regularly throughout the day and night and even on the weekends, which means your not having to constantly worry about what time you have to leave places, it makes spontaneous exploring a lot more fun.
Finding a job
If you have/or have had a job that is part of a well known trade like: Chef, Hospitality, Hairdresser, Banker, Construction worker, Retail, etc. Then it is super easy to find work, I found the best results on website's like Gumtree and Indeed. However I do also recommend having a couple CV's printed off for when you arrive. most job's 'backpackers' tend to lean towards are bar/barista work or traffic patrol work, both jobs are good pay but require selected courses to be completed before starting the work, so if that's something you want to do defiantly research what courses you need to apply for. Another job that I found myself doing for a while along with many other 'backpackers' was street fundraising/door to door sales, a job that was very easy to find, the pay was good enough but the work could be stressful along with being on your feet for long hours, it's a very 50/50 job, some people love it and others hate it.
Balancing work with Travel
Once you've found your job and have a bit more of a routine I recommend creating a list of places you want to visit in that area. Start figuring out which activities are furthest away, which one's you'd want to spend all day at, and places you can go for a quick visit, this way you can start prioritising your time wisely. For example places that you'd spend all day at are best saved for your day's off, whereas places that are close by can be visited before or after a work shift. There is so much exploring you can do in a day, something I use to find myself doing was sitting around waiting for my shift to start or going straight to sleep after a shift, and dedicating whole day's to simply working, when in reality places tend to open early and depending on the day can close quite late. By doing this you can very easily explore and city whilst working a full-time job. Please don't think just because your working your exploring has to suffer, 24 hours is a lot of time! Use it wisely!!
Meeting new people
I came out to Australia by myself and had always planned to travel alone whilst meeting people along the way. Making friends is something you can't plan, but let me tell you EVERYONE IS DOING THE SAME THING!! It is extremely common these days for people to travel solo, looking for people to socialise with. Facebook groups are a really good people to get in connect with people that may be in the same area as you, it's super easy to join groups and there's always really friendly people that are looking for a good time, that's actually how I made my friends that I went on my Byron Bay road trip with. But do be safe with who your talking to online, even though most of these groups don't let just anyone join you can sometimes come across the wrong people. Another great way to meet people is staying at hostels and just by going out! Hanging out at 'backpacker bars', going to events, joining the gym or a class, the best advice is to just put yourself out there and know that everyone's in the same boat as yourself. I've also found people out here to be very friendly so just go for it!
Getting a Visa
There are many different Visa's you can get, so once you've found the one that best fits you this should be the first thing you apply for, even before booking your flight. Like most 'backpacker's' I went for a Working Holiday Visa which allows me to stay in Australia for 1 year with a chance of extending my stay, it also allows me to work and the Visa doesn't actually start until you land in Australia. I got my Visa through 'Visabureau' I paid roughly £300 and the process took no longer than 20 minutes, around 2 weeks later my visa arrived in the post along with a travel booklet about Australia and all the information I needed to know about my Visa. I found the process very quick and easy, however every process does vary depending on the person's answer. But if your a youngish person, with no kids, no property and zero criminal record then you should also find the process very quick and easy.
The money side
Most of my questions about moving where related to money, how much do I need to save? What's my daily budget? How much is accommodation? it's something that can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if your leaving a well paid job back home like myself. Being completely honest Sydney is a very expensive! If your planning on just travelling without work I'd recommend saving about $10,000 AUD, I've spoken to many other solo travellers who plan on staying in Sydney for a good amount of time without work and know that's roughly the amount they saved up. But if your like me and are happy to experience some work out here then saving up $6,000 AUD is the recommended amount and will allow you to live stress free about money, which is the most comforting thing to me! It is also a good idea to keep some back up money in your home bank account, just in case. Accommodation it something what varies spending on the location and amount of people you live with, but a fairy cheap accommodation matched with work does make it possible for you to save up a nice amount of money for more adventures. Living in a big city like Sydney does mean the jobs pay a very nice wage. And something you'll learn once moving out here is that there are many cheap solutions to have fun, it's just about making the right decision, like living anywhere there are always cheaper options to certain things.
I really hope this has helped for of you feel more prepared for the big move! Just remember to have fun and try not to get too stressed out about certain things. When I was 19 I wanted to travel to Australia, with little money and not a lot of experience in the real world, I felt like I had to quickly do everything, like it was a race, my Mum then told me there was no rush and Australia wasn't going to suddenly disappear. I'm so grateful I waited until I was 21, with a decent income and SOOOO much more experience, so please don't rush, if it doesn't feel like the right time now then don't force it, and when it is the right time for you, you'll end up having the best time and the most unforgettable experience! I'm happy to answer any more questions or go into more detail about something I've touched on, feel free to DM me on Twitter @IzzyDriscoll or comment down below. Thank you for reading and remember to never stop exploring!
WINTER HAS ARRIVED!!!! Well for some of us anyways.
With temperature's here in Australia hitting 40C for a month straight, this fair skinned English girl has be STRUGGLING!! At first it was all fun and beaches everyday. However it defiantly gets old, but I can't complain! Even though it's crazy hot, I get to feel like I'm on holiday every day, and I think of my family back home being wrapped up in blankets, scraping ice of their cars and the sun going down at 4pm, it reminds me I've got it pretty good!! So let's discuss what a 'hot winter' is really like, and let me know in the comments what do you prefer? A real winter wonderland or a summer slumberland?
I want to say mid January was when it all started and I knew this was no ordinary winter (dramatic music). No but really it wasn't that big a deal, if anything I left the UK around the end of summer so it just feels like the longest summer EVER! My daily outfit recently has been a dad cap and sunglasses paired with as little clothing as possible. Compared to my usual winter outfit would feature some kind of beanie, matched with a fur coat and my Timberlands, which I have missed dearly! One of the main bonuses to me about having a hot winter is reliving my favourite summer music: Beyonce (still can't get over the partition phase), SZA, Drake, Post Malone and some new Julia Michaels, I also think summer is such a great time to find new music and discover new artists, here's two artists that I found out about over this 2nd summer: FLETCHER and Alec Benjamin (defiantly worth checking out).
Now let's talk about what kinda sucks about having a hot winter. I permanently smell like sun cream and am having to re apply every 30 minutes. For some reason Mosquitoes LOVE ME!! Which means I'm also re applying mosquito spray anytime my skin starts to itch just a little bit, my record for Mosquito bites in one days so far is 23. Not even kidding I actually researched what attracts mosquitos, apparently its your blood type and if you wear bright colours, I also found out the word 'Mosquito' actually means 'little Fly' in Spanish, crazy stuff!
I now understand the struggle of when the AC stops working! When I was living in the UK I would always see people, mainly in the US, complaining about not having AC or when it was broken, and thinking just enjoy being outside in the sun, and having that warm weather just waiting outside for you, whilst I can was staying inside because of the treacherous rain. But now I fully get it! AC is a genius invention and there is nothing better than being out in the sun all day then coming home and lying down with the AC on full!! It's like taking a cold shower but without the hassle of actually showering, GENUIS!!
As I'm creating this blog post February has now come to an end and March has truly begun (this year has gone so fast already) And the heatwave had come to a finish. So here's the plot twist, I'm not sure the science behind this, I'm sure it has something to do with climate change, but after a solid month of extreme heat, blue skies and warm nights was a week of extreme rain, and not only rain but thunder, lightning and hail stones the size of ice cubes, genuinely surprised I haven't been knocked out by one yet! It was an interesting change and defiantly reminded me of being home (minus the crazy hail stones). So as a true British kid I can usually entrain myself when it rains, growing up me and my siblings would always make up games to play inside the house and where able to find lots of activities that don't include being outside, HOWEVER Sydney is not designed for the rain! Everything including activities, restaurants, events and even nightclubs are created to be in hot weather, so when it rains Sydney kind of pauses, I even over heard some construction workers refusing to work because of the rain, no-one knows what to do when theres no sun! But it only lasted a week or so, and was a good excuse to catch up on Netflix shows and use the gym membership I promised to use at the beginning of the year. And now we are back to blue skies and t-shirt weather, which is my fave!
To finish this post off I started making a list of the names of cocktails that were consumed over this month of heat, yes I'm a basic cocktail loving girl, soz. But cocktails are so refreshing and light to have when being in the sun. So straight off my notes section on my phone these are the names, let me know what you favourite one is in the comment section:
Paddling Pina Colada
Mmm it's hot Mojito
Bloody hell Bellini
Sleeping on the beach (instead of sex, actual reality)
Drunk Dolphin Daiquiri
Camel toe Cosmo
First off I hope you all had a great Christmas! (or whatever you celebrate) and Happy New Year!! 2019 is fully here and ready to go. This year I really want to get into my blogging a lot more and really focus on the content I'm going to be creating, so I hope you stick around to see my future posts!
Let's get into it! Byron Bay is a well-known beach town surrounded by hipster, surfer guys with a relaxed, laid back atmosphere. It was the perfect place to spend the holidays. BUT that's not where our adventure begins, we had to make a few pit stops along the way as we were travelling from Sydney, which means ROADTRIP BLOG POST!!!
24th December, 2018
We begin our adventure by picking up our vehicle of chose being a 4X4 Mitsubishi which was going to get us through this road trip. 2 of my friends were the main drivers, making my job official aux cable master and occasional napper :). Now we had location's we had to meet for hotels/motels but we decided if we saw something cool we would pull over and check it out. I'll also be listing the places we visited so you can check them out if you ever visit the area. It was an amazing road trip with so many fun activities along the way.
First stop was a beautiful beach called 'caves beach' which surprisingly had a lot of caves, who knew! It was also fun getting to explore the rock pools, which I feel is a very English thing to get excited about rock pools as our beaches aren't the best. As we explored the beach the sun started to set, creating a canvas over the sea of yellow's, orange and a hint of pink. The perfect end to day one! Until we last minute decided to attend a karaoke nightclub 10 minutes before it hit midnight and was officially Christmas, not going to lie I don't remember much of that evening, but I think there was a lot of singing old school Avril and numberous amounts of baileys were consumed, but when on Christmas Day!
25th December, 2018
Now we had quite a slow start on Christmas Day (as you can imagine) but when we finally woke up we had a very BIG breakfast, then went on to our next activity! So as we had no snow we decided to switch it out for sand, and that is how we ended up sand boarding (yes its a real thing!) such a fun experience and sand is 100% softer to fall on than snow.
After boarding we noticed a beach on the other side of the dune's, were we relaxed and washed off all the sand that had managed to get EVERYWHERE on our bodies. Again replacing snow with sand we decided to build a 'sandman' Elsa style! Christmas Day was a lazy one, and it was crazy to be sunbathing in the middle of December but also such a refreshing change for us all, breaking traditions and making so many new memories, I feel like everyone should experience a hot Christmas at least once. When we finished topping up our tan's we drove back to our hotel for an early night and were thrilled to notice the hotel had Netflix, so our early night turned into staying up to watch Ellen's stand up show, which was hilarious, defiantly worth investing your attention too.
26th December, 2018
For Boxing Day we headed to Port Macquarie home of more beautiful beaches and beautiful food! We had booked a table at 'The Stunned Mullet' a magnificent restaurant serving local seafood and very eye pleasing dessert's. Just across the road from the restaurant was a coastal walk surrounded by hand painted rocks and an all rounded skate park. As we took on the 2 hour coastal walk, trying to burn off all the delicious food we had just consumed, the view's of the walk continued to amaze us, the further and higher we walked the more perfect the town was looking, strolling back to the car we were yet again treated to another beach sunset. Port Macquarie is a very cute little town which we had a lot of fun exploring, all the little independent stores and food markets (MORE FOOD). Most of the beaches in Australia have these metal built in BBQ's set up around the beaches, so of course we had too take advantage of all the seafood on sale at the food markets, and in true Aussie spirit, we threw some 'Shrimps on the barbie' which we also learnt having a BBQ on Boxing Day is a bit of a tradition in Australia.
27th December, 2018
The day had finally arrived! Since being in Australia none of us had tried surfing, until this day. We set off to the gorgeous Coffs Harbour in the early hours, but again being the back seat passenger meant I was able to squeeze in a pre 'surf nap'. When my friends finally got me to wake up we were surrounded by your stereotypical super dudes/dudettes, everyone had sun kissed blonde wavy hair, travel tattoo's and had the bodies of greek god's, so we fit right in! (not). But everyone was very welcoming and super chilled. Before jumping in the water we had a quick talk about the rules of the waves, turns out the waves in Australia take NO PRISONERS and can be pretty savage, which one of my friend's learnt the hard way, lol, soz mate. Surfing was so much fun! And takes a lot of technique and skill to master, I was able to stand up but only for a couple of seconds before face palming the water. I have made it a challenge for me to be able to surf before I head back home to the UK. I'll keep you guys updated!
As we were talking to the local's at the surf school they were telling us about the 'Smokey Lighthouse', so we set off to find this lighthouse, and the views where amazing. We headed up the whiniest road IN THE WORLD!! It defiantly took us more time than we thought but it was all worth it, being able to look out the window and see miles upon miles of greenery with a blue fog floating around, then we'd take a turn and see the beach matched with pure white sand. As we reached the top to the lighthouse the sun was just setting and with the contrast of the innocent white lighthouse against the delicate pink's that filled the sky, it was something no camera would ever do justice (but hopefully I did a semi good job of capturing it).
28th December, 2018
We made it to Byron Bay! All of us fell in love with Byron Bay the minute we dropped our bags off at the Airbnb, the people, the town and the beach! Luckily the weather was perfect toughout our stay making everything look even more perfect with blue skies and the slight breeze. Since we were staying in Byron Bay for a couple of day's we decided to spend the first day just exploring the town, snooping the beautiful jewellery stores and of course eating our way around. Then in the afternoon we took an atheltic turn and tried kayaking. In the Byron Bay you can come across wild sea turtles and dolphins, which we were very lucky to see when we weren't sunbathing on the kayak's.
Then we ventured out to see what the nightlife was all about, and ended up dancing to a lot of early 00's music in flip-flops and beach wear. Once again I don't remember too much about that night, that's how you know it was a good one!
29th December, 2018
Time for the weed capital of Australia! Also known as Nimbin. We travelled just under an hour out of Byron Bay to the middle of no where, and ended up in the most authentic hippie towns in Oz. Welcomed by vegan food stools, handmade artwork, a huge rainbow house and an elder lady offering us questionable cookies! None of us wanted to leave Nimbin, I strongly recommend visiting, it was so different to any other town in Australia and filled with truly lovely people. As soon as we got back it was straight to the beach for us! And we all got a bit too competitive in game of volleyball which my team did win, just thought I'd mention it.
30th December, 2018
Another amazing morning in Byron Bay, the sun was out and 2018 was getting closer and closer to ending, we decided to visit 'Crystal Castle' which is a spiritual retreat based way up in the tree's. We learnt about Buddhism and were able to participate in our first medicating session, which I may or may not have fallen asleep in. I have never visited a retreat like this but it was so much fun learning about Crystals and all the different meanings, seeing the history behind Buddhism was a really refreshing was to get ready for the new year, forgiving the past and taking a moment to be grateful for all the good things in our lives.
Surprise surprise we ended up at the beach again! And hired some surfboards to work on our 'skills', since I'm now reinventing myself as a surfer girl (takes one lesson now thinks she's the next Stephanie Gilmore). Then we realised it was getting later and later until it hit 10pm and we hadn't eaten dinner, so BBQ it was! We must have been feeling pretty adventurous as we bought Kangaroo steaks, which none of us had ever tired let alone attempt to cook, it tasted 'interesting' to say the least. The food was followed by a chilled night in of more drinking and competitive card games, which I wasn't too successful in, I guess I had to let them win something, lol.
31st December, 2018
HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE!!!
The last day of 2018 and probably the laziest day of 2018, we woke up in the afternoon and just chilled out the entire time at the beach (saving our energy for the evening). Doing some gentle rock pooling and swimming out to say hi to the dolphins again. Most of the daytime was spent waiting for the party to get started!
The clubbing strip of Byron Bay was completely closed off and we had a massive street party with live music, drink stands and everyone was dressed straight from the beach! The people of Byron Bay are the most fun, free spirited, care free, relaxed people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, my friends and I had never felt more at home whilst being so far away from home.
After the countdown we started 2019 strong! And hit up every club on the strip, we also decided to find out which bar did the best cocktails, turn's out 'The Sticky Wicket' was the winner! It was an amazing night all round, but a bittersweet moment knowing that it was our last night to listening to these street artists, eating locally sourced seafood and watching the sunsets on the beautiful beach.
1st January, 2019
We drove back to Sydney and cried the whole way back :( The end.
Have an amazing 2019 guy's! I hope it bring's you happiness, health success and all the other good things. I'm super excited for this new chapter in my life (sorry for how cheesy that sounds) But very true! Be sure to follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/IzzyDriscoll and over on Instagram were I post all my travel photo's: https://www.instagram.com/moretoexplore.co/ Let me know what you thought of this post by commenting below! And remember to never stop exploring, especially going into the New Year!!
The blue mountains are one of the biggest tourist spots in Sydney, literally its the BIGGEST its roughly: 11,400 km², so exploring this area can take some time, 5 hours in our case. Let’s start from the beginning!
Myself and 4 friends woke up at the lovely time of 7am, a time I’m not use to ever seeing, but lucky for me the train form central Sydney to the mountains takes just over 2 hours so I was able to have a pre hike nap! Going into this hike I had no idea what to expect and was very much out of shape for what was ahead. 3 of the friends I went with were like me: didn’t have much experience with hiking, not morning people and out of shape, however their was 1 that knew exactly what he was doing and was big on hiking, its always good to have a leader!
When we arrived it was around 9:30am as we stood at the ‘Edge Cinema’ you get a panoramic view of the mountains, at first glance we could see the ‘Three sisters’, the ‘Giant Stairway’, ‘Lennox bridge’ and of course mountains upon mountains upon mountains, in fact no matter how long we stared at this view we could never see the ending of these beautiful blue mountains, which actually are blue! Especially as it gets cooler in the evening a blue haze covers the tops of the mountains. We headed to the ‘Giant Stairway’ made up of 900 steps, as we head down the steps we could feel ourselves getting deeper and deeper into this forrest of greenery, caves and natural waterfalls, matched perfectly with the heat coming through the tree’s. Passing many people heavy breathing as they ventured up the 900 steps, it was in that moment I knew I was NOT coming out of these mountains without achy bones and a red face. When we got to about halfway down the stairs we were faced with a wooden bridge heading to the ‘Three Sisters’ which is made up of an unusual rock formation, legend has it their were two tribes many years ago that lived in the village outside of the mountains, one tribe had three sisters that fell in love with three men of the other tribe, the men wanted to marry the sisters, but tribal law stated that it was forbidden, so the tribe leader turned the sisters to stone to stop them marrying the men, unfortunately the tribe leader died in war and therefore couldn’t turn the sisters back to human. I like to think of this as the Australian version of Romeo and Juliet.
Once we reached the bottom of the stairs we were able to walk many different paths and do a bit of off road exploring! We passed many beautiful waterfalls, one’s that you possibly can’t see anywhere else in the world, the rocks had a marble effect on them, as the sun reflected off of the water that was running down, making them the best location for an impromptu photoshoot. We continued diving deeper into the mountains, and found ourselves seeing less and less people, and hearing more sounds of insects and running water, making for a peaceful and relaxing environment, and even though we could hear insects we didn’t spot any, however it is known that far into the mountains lives many kangaroo’s, snakes and a variety of lizards. As we reached the main soil of the mountains we all sat at a picnic table and began to munch on all kinds of fruits and nuts, and remember that 1 friend I said was a true hiker? He shocked me by opening a can of baked beans and began eating them COLD! Am I the only one who thinks this is strange? After eating and rehydrating ourselves we spotted so many tree’s that were perfect for climbing, so we all become 7 year olds again and spent way to long climbing these tree’s, and seeing the incredible views from what I can only imagine a Koala bear would see.
Now we started trekking back out of the mountains, but we decided to take the more scenic route, so we gradually started making our way up. Passing many more waterfalls, we also saw many naturally formed caves, with what looked like tribal signs inside, it was crazy to see something straight from the history of the mountains. The view was forever changing as we got closer to the top, sometimes when your so focused on were your stepping you forget to look up and see whats around, so it was important to us to stop now and then and appreciate the amazing scenery, one that no words or pictures will ever do justice. As we stopped at one of the waterfalls we noticed what looked like a white parrot with a yellow mane, which after a quick google search we learnt was indeed called ‘Yellow-created cockatoo’ their was about 5 of these just chilling up in the tree’s and drinking from the waterfall, they were very friendly and absolutely loved the camera!
Gradually we got to the top YAY!! It was pretty incredible to look down at the mountains knowing what beauty it holds, and how intentionally lost you can get. Three thoughts came into my head at this moment:
If you’ve ever visited the blue mountains leave a comment what your favourite part was! Or if not would you be down to visit? Thank you for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it! I defiantly enjoyed creating it. And to find out more and myself and my travels you can follow me on twitter @IzzyDriscoll and on Instagram @moretoexplore.co were I post lots of my photography from all over were I’ve been. I also have another segment on my blog ‘Magic Eight’ were I interview very cool people with even cooler stories that more people need to hear, its something a bit different and only 8 questions so its a quick read! Thank you again for reading and remember to never stop exploring!
Welcome to the OPERA!!!!
26 hours, 4 G&T’s and 5 seasons of Brooklyn 99 later and we’ve made down under! Crazy to think right now I’am on the other side of the world to my friends and family, this is my first time being outside of Europe and the furthest I have ever (and possibily will travel) away from home. So join me and my blog as its about to get all things Aussie on here! G’day!
I’ve never had an issue with flying as I can sleep anywhere though any sounds, that being said I have never been on a flight longer than 4 hours so it was defiantly a new experience for me. I started this ‘experience’ in Heathrow London where I waved my family goodbye whilst having the cheesiest grin on my face as it was finally happening I WAS ACTUALLY GOING TO AUSTRALIA!! It didn’t feel real until that moment. 7 hours later and I landed in Doha, what the heck is Doha? I had the same reaction! Doha is the capital of Quatar, from the airport I could see a couple of tall buildings and that was pretty much it, thrilling stuff! Anyways on to the ‘fun’ part, I now had a 14 hour flight to board. The only thing that kept me sane through that flight was the fact that Sydney was on the other end, oh and gin of course :)
Arriving in Sydney was amazing! I had been dreaming of being here and planning it for so long that is felt so good to smell the Aussie air and feel the Sydney sun on my face, although I then quickly got my sunscreen out, no one wants to get burnt on the first day! After making my way through customs I headed to the trains, my hostel was in central Sydney so it was pretty easy to find. I arrived in Sydney very early in the morning, and as much as I wanted to pass out on my bed I knew I had to get through this first day! I’ve never had jet lag before but I know the first day is usually the hardest, with this in mind I dropped on my bags, had a quick shower, and went on a mission to keep myself busy until the night. Let’s be real what better city to ‘keep me busy’ than Sydney, so I started off how every young teen does trying to stay awake, COFFEE!! Once I got my caffeine fix I started exploring.
Like I mentioned my hostel was central Sydney, meaning I wasn’t too far away from any of the main tourist attractions, including the famous Sydney Harbour bridge & Sydney Opera house. Now believe it or not I actually found these attractions on accident, one minute I’m just walking down a high street selling cute clothes and lots of sushi, the next I look up and right in front off me in the Sydney Harbour bridge, naturally I start to walk closer to the bridge and then the Sydney Opera house comes into my focus, just like that I stumbled across two of the most famous Australian attractions, it was very cool! However my jet lag started to kick in as my eyes we’re struggling to keep open, what better place to take a break than on the bank of the Sydney Harbour. I honestly felt so much happiness in the moment lying of the grass using my backpack as a pillow, listening to the sound of the boats approaching the harbour and knowing that when I open my eyes the view of a beautiful Sydney skyline will be waiting. This adventure is truly so eye opening to me already, I’m realising a new sense of purpose and finally feeling back to my old self (which is a VERY good thing). There’s something truly relaxing and calming about the Australian air, everyone seems happy going about their day, no one is rushing, people actually make eye contact and smile at each-other, its very refreshing! So I recommend us all to take a leaf out of the Aussie’s book; hug a koala, throw that boomerang, put another shrimp on the barbie and choose living over everything!
Thank you for reading my day one of Sydney! As you can tell I’am very excited to be here and explore more of the city. All photo’s you see are my own using a Canon 1300D camera, I have many more Australian related posts lined up so make sure your following me on twitter @IzzyDirscoll to see when I next post! And remember to never stop exploring!
Okay I assume we all know that game would you rather? I'm pretty sure it was a popular trend back in 2016 but I thought I'd try bringing it back and putting my own twist! So instead of having those predictable and kind of dumb would you rather's, like would you rather talk to aliens or have a pet robot? (by the way pet robot is defiantly the right answer) I thought I would switch it up to more travel and experiences versus materialistic items. This is all fun and games so no judging will be made on your answers, and all these 'would you rather' questions are completely my own. Have FUN!
Would You Rather...???
Yep you see that title, its real! No more dreaming or wishing about it and then backing out last minute, now is the right time for me to finally put myself first and do something new and exciting!! So I should probs explain a little bit as to why I'm doing this and why sometimes there is NEVER a perfect time for everything. Lets begin!
Ever since I was at the tender age of 16 I've wanted to explore the world and everything in between, I've wanted to explore everything that came with travelling. And as soon as I was done with college I was hopping on a plane to start by new adventure. So there I was at 18 getting a flight on my own for the first time, sharing a room with 3 complete strangers (who are now my dearest friends), in a new country, eating new food, learning new skills. I felt like I was in my element, like this is what I was meant to do and wanted to do forever. I spent a year travelling in 3 different countries and honestly speaking (or typing,lol) Its the happeist I've ever felt, and I never wanted that feeling of magic to leave. However my little explorer bubble did burst and it was time to come back home and start living in the 'real world again', which wasn't all that bad, I love my family and friends and love coming back to them, BUT travelling the world is my real passion, and when you find something that makes you feel so alive and so happy to be alive, you should hold on to that right? When you love something so much you will literally drop everything (like your full time job) to go pursue your passion.
Okay so why there is NEVER a perfect time for anything! Sine coming back from travelling at 19 I've been wanting to go to Australia, I actually planned on going later that year right before my 20th birthday, but I somehow convinced myself the timing wasn't right. Now I'm not saying there's no such thing as perfect timing, but it is very rare to find, so sometimes we have to make our own 'perfect time'. For me it was never the perfect time because I wanted to start building on my career! WOOP WOOP being an adult it SOOOOO much fun! But being serouis I wanted to extend my experience in my craft and learn more about it and work my way up the hierarchy, mainly because having a good job is what we have all been told is what we need, I mean we literally dedicated 11 years of our lives to education just to get a good job, MENTAL! And being honest to make better money so I can actually eat food that isn't in the reduced section (which I still do because I'm cheap, but that irrelevant) So I worked my BUTT off, and put all my focus and energy into my job, and after a while of working like an absolute savage I didn't see any progression, so I thought maybe then I should just go ahead with my travel plans, but then I got promoted YAY ME! I couldn't possibly leave after just getting a new role and feeling like I was actually doing something with purpose. Naturally I stayed with my job, and continued working crazy hours, non stop, spending my days off catching up on sleep, and becoming the shell of a human, like all the life had just been sucked out of me, still doing well in my job and progressing, but extremely unhappy. Now still isn't the 'perfect time' with my job but sometimes you have to create your own perfect time, and for me I feel like now is perfect timing.
I'm now about to get incredibly real, but I feel like its something that is talked about a lot but no one ever believes it, including myself. But MONEY and having a CAREER won't make you happy in the long run, thats just a straight fact! Now of course its great to have and does make life easier but I've never been more miserable in myself than I'am right now, with my bank account looking better than ever (humble brag) and my career really taking off (another humble brag). The magic isn't there, the lust for life has vanished, and I know things come to an end, what goes up must come down, but what if you just float and live among the magic instead of just borrowing it. I strongly remember watching an interview of Kylie Jenner saying that the thrill of having everything you could ever want lasts about 10 seconds then your over it. With me thinking 'yeah right she's never lived without money her entire life, she has no idea what she's talking about', but I hate to admit it, she was kinda right. If you have found something that makes you truly happy, no matter how strange or unstable it may be, you should do it! Do something that creates amazing memories, whats the point in having great success and money without people to share it with? Forget the money, forget working so hard you can't even enjoy your life, and just run and jump into something that makes you unapologetically happy.
Well now your up to speed with everything, and I hope it gave you a good idea of where my heads been recently, and maybe you could relate to parts of it? I'd love to hear your thoughts and if you've ever done something like this! Drop a comment below or tweet me @IzzyDirscoll :) I will be doing another blog post about travelling to Australia and getting myself ready for that, so be on the lookout for that one!! Thank you for taking the time to read my post, and obviously remember to always keep exploring!
I was lucky enough this year to spend my 21st birthday in now one of my most favourite cities! Allow me to make you fall in love with Amsterdam as much as I did and if you've already visited then lets reminisce together. Enjoy!!
Amsterdam, A.K.A 'The Dam' was pretty septacular and exceeded all my expectations! Me and one of my best friends visited a couple months back for both our 21st birthdays and I couldn't think of a more cute, cool, charming and creative city to have spent this special day :).
Let me run you though the trip and share with you some pic's and stories straight from 'The Dam'. Hope you enjoy reading and comment below if you've ever visited, or if you were to visit where would be your first place to go? Also tweet me @IzzyDriscoll your opinion was of this post, okay Enjoy :)!
House of Bols
I've talked a bit about this insanely cool place in my last post, but I'm going to burn your ears a little more about this place. It is known as the 'ultimate cocktail experience' and it defiantly lived up to this title. Not only is this experience pretty cheap you can also just walk in and start straight away, as soon as you walk in your given a set of earphones talking you through the cocktail museum, I know that may sound boring learning about the history and all that, however it is highly interactive and there are different voices for each character making it actually intresting. Now one of my FAVOURITE parts was the colourful hallway (perfect for the gram) with bottles along the side containing different scents, if you go make sure you smell the banana scent, it was by far the best! Moving on you visit a mini theatre room, you watch a quick video and then a big red button is revealed, and you need to choose weather to press this shiny button or not (no spoilers to what happens, soz) Then at the end of the tour you come to one of the most beautiful bars I have ever seen!! Decorated with beautiful art work, and sculptures. You are shown a computer monitor and get to create your own cocktail, you get to choose the fruit, the style, and the spirit, then one of the friendly bar tenders will make it for you, AND its completely FREE!! We English do love free stuff :) But if you don't enjoy the cocktail, you can simply tell the bartender and they will whip you up something else, with NO ADDED COST! 1000% recommend hitting up this place!
I'm sure you have all seen the pictures of people climbing all over the big IAmsterdam letters, and besides that there isn't much else, HOWEVER! As we went in the winter there was a huge ice rink in front of the letters, which I did not go on as I have the same balance as Bambi on ice. But there was a cool ice bar next to the rink and drinking is more my thing than ice skating so it was all good :) It was such a beautiful spot especially because the previous day it had snowed and it looked super pretty and delicate.
If you like street art, then this is the place to visit! With artwork from Dali and Banksy. Now being honest I mainly visited because I am a HUGE fan of Banksy, he's by far my favourite artist and this museum is filled with original pieces, inspiring quotes and their is a room for each artist that replicates one of their most famous pieces. There is also an outside part with very detailed scupltures on your way out. Again this wasn't very expensive, however we did book tickets ahead of time.
This is more an independent activity, however I'm sure you could find a tour to join, we managed to find our own way around the beautiful canal walk paths. Basically as it gets later in the evening, some canals have lights that go along the bridge or along the actual canal, you can also see some very cool artwork if you look close enough! I really loved doing this walk after dinner, for me it was so surreal seeing so many canals running through this busy city, being from quite a concrete city it was a lovely change, and at times I felt like I was in Venice as some of the canals rises above the houses windows. Defiantly worth seeing as many canals bridges as possible, its not a long walk and you get some great photos! However do look out for bikes, they are everywhere!
Red light District
Now I understand some people aren't okay with prostitution and this is something the city is trying to lower, however I don't see a problem with it, as long as they are being safe, and it all seems very legit. Still with this mindset I was pretty shocked when I first saw the lights, obviously your not allowed to take photos so I had no idea what to expect. After a while is kind of becomes the norm, and the shock factor starts to fade. But no matter what your opinion this is defiantly a tourist part of Amsterdam and something people usually want to check out just to see what its all about. And even if you don't want to see it, you probably will end up walking down a street with some red lights without even realising, their is a main strip but they are also very spread out.
Yes. We had to visit! Fun fact this was actually our first stop, but only because it was the first place we came across as we got of the train, promise :). I must say this museum is EXTREMELY graphic and does not hold back on anything, my inner 13 year old couldn't help but laugh at some of the crazy things that where going on. After a while everything became normal, which was really interesting to me. Being brought up in the UK and going to a UK school sex education was always seen as awkward and a very taboo topic, that everyone tried to avoid talking about for as long as possible. But walking into this museum it was very popular and had people of all ages going in, just showing how different countries deal and act with certain topic's, it was very eye opening for sure. Again I feel like visiting the sex museum is something you just have to do when you go there, just to see what its all about, and trust me even if you think you know what its going to be like, you really don't, its one big surprise for sure.
Of course when in Amsterdam its almost a rule that you have to ride a bike! We actually left this to the last day and I wish we didn't, it was so much fun and easier to get around. I personally am not the biggest fan of cycling but because Amsterdam is very flat and really piorities cyclists it becomes a lot more fun. This being said it can also be scary cycling on the roads as their are both cars, trams and pedestrians so if your not use to cycling in the city then it can become confusing, thats why we mainly cycled around the gorgeous Vondelpark. On a clear blue sky you can really admire the amazing scenes that the park has to offer, it also includes a number of cafe's you can stop by and lots of people all on bikes, or rollerblading, skateboarding, literally anything! We actually saw a group of people on unicycles?!! Even if you don't rent bikes I do recommend just walking though the park as it truly is beautiful.
We all have a Typical 'travel bucket list' of places we would love to visit, and most of these places are your stereotypical locations that everyone wants to visit! For example I bet I can name 3 places that are on your travel bucket list, don't believe me? Okay:
No this is not a pool filled with little red devils swimming around, this is in fact probably the coolest infinity pool in the WOLRD! Found on the Zambezi river or better known as Victoria falls, is a miniature pool right on the edge of the waterfall, scary huh? Now this pool is defiantly very risky if you go during the wrong season, the best time to visit is between August and January, when the current isn't as strong and you can fully enjoy the amazing view the pool has to offer, and you forget all about the sheer drop in-front of you! So you might be thinking how has this pool been formed? Well from years and years of erosion it has naturally created many rock pools at the top, which is pretty cool, and I for one would really love to visit the 'Devil's pool' and just have the best pool party EVER! Just imagine bringing a unicorn float to a pool on top of Victoria falls, bets Instagram photo ever right?
Finland (Saariselkä Lapland)
Last year I visited Lapland and stayed there for the whole of December and it was the most magical and amazing trip! To me Finland was never a place I was to fussed to visit but now I can't wait to be back. The fresh, crisp air is so clean and pure, along with its lakes and roads, they is no rubbish to be seen anywhere, which is a nice change to the UK. The log cabins are also the cutest! Very spacious and cosy at the same time, with the majority of cabins having sauna's which is great for jumping into after a full day of skiing. Also sledging is basically and olympic sport in Finland, in the fact the area I visited had the longest sledging run in Europe! I believe it was 2 miles long and the most fun I have ever had in the snow, and you don't even have to bring your own sledge as they can be found all around the resort and hotels offer them out for free. I don't even know where to start with the scenery, it is like no other, and I don't even know how to put it into words so I'm going to post some pictures instead, have you booked your flight to Lapland yet?
Amsterdam (House of Bols)
I have recently just got back from Amsterdam! And I can now say it definalty puts the DAM in Amsterdam. I think I'm going to do a whole separate blog post about my trip to Amsterdam as a whole so if thats something you would be interested in reading comment below! However this place was soooo cool and I had never heard of it before, it defiantly gets overlooked but all the other cool things to do in Amsterdam. So the House of Bols is the ultimate cocktail experience, so if you love a cocktail like myself then this is perfect for you, and if you don't like cocktails then I still recommend you going as you can get some really cool photo's form it! I don't want to give to much away, but its very interactive, colourful and there is a free cocktail that you design at the end so its very much worth the visit! Enjoy these photos :)
Now New York is defiantly not an underrated place but I feel like Brooklyn certainly is, I have never visited but it comes across very cool, urban and a good amount of edginess. The pictures remind me of Soho in London, filled with live music and vintage shops. However it also has the beautiful Brooklyn bridge which is actually my laptop screen saver (fun fact). If your big on photography then you might also be interested in the pretty parks to explore, it really does seem like a dream day out, if you have ever visited please feel free to make me incrediably jealous by commenting your experience!
You might be confused by what this might be, let me explain 4DX is a 4D luxury cinema found in Seoul, Japan. I never even knew 4D movies where a thing?! I checkout out there website and it looks like the most luxurious cinema experience possible, it beautifully mimic's first class seating in planes, with lounger independent chairs and space for your popcorn and drink, when can I move in? Besides all that the special effects are what really make it 4D, it makes you feel like your actually in the movie with water effects, feeling blows of wind, smelling certain scents and vibrations coming from the floor, imagine watching the Hunger games in that cinema? Pretty insane!!
Patagonia (Marble Caves)
Again Patagonia is not a underrated place at all, and is for sure top of my 'travel bucket list'. But to you know about the secret marble caves that are hidden there? Well let me tell you a bit about them. Most commonly found on 'Carrera lake' you can take a small boat out to these caves, floating on top of the most eye pleasing turquoise water inside these Marble caves, with colours of white, grey, blue and even pink surrounding the cave. Which has all been naturally formed by water and weather erosion over a span of thousands of years! These insane caves are most commonly viewed between December and February. So are you sold yet?
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post, if you did or you learned smelting different please let me know in the comment section, and if I have left any of your favourite most underrated places then let me know!!! And remember to never stop exploring :)
Travel tattoo's wow! Something that that I feel can either be very instructing or very basic, like some have a cool story or message behind it or like a basic gal/guy with a tattoo about that time they travelled round Thailand and 'found themselves' which if you do have that kind of travel tattoo please don't feel like I'm attacking you, I have one too but we shall get into that in a bit (ooh the anticipation haha). So travel tattoo's can have lots or different meanings and stories behind them, which is what I think a tattoo is all about, I believe tattoo's are an expression of something that you want yourself to remember forever, like having a journal but on your body, if that makes sense. But just because that's my interputation of what a tattoo can mean doesn't mean its RIGHT! I have friends that have tattoo's for all different reasons, some are because they look pretty, some are little reminders, and some are a lot more personal. Leave a comment what you think about tattoo's and why do you think 40% of the worlds population have tattoo's.
Why are you choosing to write about travel tattoo's? Excellent question! So out of all the types of tattoo's I am most intrigued by the travel ones, I think the best tattoo's I have seen are travel ones, mainly because the message behind them are usually very cool or a dope memory that is very close to someone's heart, also the designs and colours used in travel tattoo's are so diverse and bright, that you can't help but admire them, weather your a fan of tattoo's or not. STORYTIME: I met this guy that was literally COVERED in tattoo's, but I one's I loved the most where the tattoo's he had on his knuckles on his left hand, so he had 5 tattoo's (incase you didn't know how many knuckles you have on my hand haha) So these tattoo's weren't overly big but they defiantly stood out: 1) A Turtle; so he just came back from Australia were he found a turtle egg on the beach and at night time he watched the egg hatched and saw all the baby turtles crawl towards the sea, he described it as one of the most innocent and purest moments, something that he always wanted to remember, that the most beautiful moments are innocent and pure. 2) A camera; a very simple old school style camera, he loved photography but also understood how important it was to put the camera down from time to time and really be in the moment, so that tattoo symbolised being in the moment not just capturing it. 3) Airplane; again very simple and one that I thought was SOOOO basic but he explained it was more of a reminder to never stop travelling, and to explore more, I guess you could say it was a tattoo that there is MORETOEXPLORE! Lol sorry but I had too!! 4) A palm tree; fun fact about palm tree's which I defiantly didn't know is that they are mentioned many times in the Bible and are a symbol of peace, which I guess makes sense, I can say that I have never felt stressed out whilst looking at a palm tree, so thats one of the reasons he has it and because the natural beauty they give out, like coconuts and palm tree oil. 5) A compass; this was to remind him to always have a sense of direction, not just in travelling but in every day life situations, most teens these days are always rushing into things without taking a moment to really think about where they going it reminds me of a quote I saw somewhere 'Direction is much more important than speed. Many are going nowhere fast.' Which I think is very true.
My Travel Tattoo
In total I only have 2 tattoo's, however I'm defiantly open to getting more, but I'm not the type to just a go and get a tattoo randomly, it has to be planned and well thought out,, after all it is on your body FOREVER! Unless you want to go through the pain of laser removal which I don't plan on ever going though. Both my tattoo's are sort of travel related, however in this post I'am only going to be talking about one of them, the first tattoo I got. From this photo you can see that the tattoo is on my left ankle on the inside (already a really basic position), now I should start by saying that I NEVER planned on ever getting a tattoo, mainly because my parents don't really like them, but I was 18 so I was old enough to decide weather I wanted one or not. Back to the tattoo! At first glance it looks like a diamond or a badly drawn out square, but is actually a rhombus. So why a rhombus? As you probably know a rhombus has 4 sides and each side represents me and my 3 very close that I met on my winter ski season (btw I had a blog post all about my ski season, including stories about these 3 friends, which you should definately read after this ;) And yes my other friends also have the same rhombus tattoo. But why a not a square? Great question! One night we had all come back from the local bar, and we were all just a tiny bit tipsy, we were lying in our beds, and as drunk girls do we just started talking complete CRAP! Until one of my friends said that if we were a shape we would be a square, another friend then said 'NO! A square can also mean like a nerd, we're like an edgy square' and what shape is an edgy square? That's right a RHOMBUS! Sp we also call our tattoo's an 'edgy square' and a little private joke but in reality its a rhombus that 4 best friends got because of a comment made on a drunk night during our ski season. Now if that isn't the most BASIC travel tattoo then I don't know what is :))).
Thank you for reading this post! I'm starting to post a new blog every week so keep an eye out for the next one! And if you have any suggestions for something I should talk about in my next post do leave a comment :) BYEE!