WHEN MUM CAME TO VISIT

WHEN MUM CAME TO VISIT

I’m a little behind on blog post plans due to my 21st birthday (belated, celebratory post coming soon), attempts at studying and working towards my TEFL (also to be discussed soon), and general laziness in all honesty. So let’s throw it back to the beginning of the month . . .

After a lovely and much needed break at home, mum flew back with me to Paris. I had been desperate to visit Versailles, so used this as the perfect opportunity to drag somebody along with me (she was more than compliant really). However, Versailles is more of a full-day / Saturday outing so on the afternoon and evening of our arrival we had a wander, and some food and wine . . . naturally. When in Rome and whatnot.

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VACAY IN VALENCIA

VACAY IN VALENCIA

Another Spanish city break. Another girly getaway. This time Valencia was calling . . .

We’re going back a while now but in celebration of the end of exams and thus, the end of my second year at Cardiff university / reaching the half way point in my degree etc. (who needs excuses anyway yada yada), two of my housemates and I booked an urban girly retreat to Valencia, Spain. Having all acclimatised to the matte skies of Cardiff, the Spanish sun was most definitely calling. Be warned, this is a photo heavy post! 

Day one was for exploring (and papping each other it seems)

9/6/2017

Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències / Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias / The City of Arts and Sciences

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YEAR ABROAD : UPON ARRIVAL À PARIS

YEAR ABROAD : UPON ARRIVAL À PARIS

As a Modern Foreign Languages student, my degree involves an Erasmus year abroad study or work placement in this, my third year. I have just arrived in Paris and quite frankly, that’s both so very exciting and absolutely terrifying all at the same time. Until very recently my year abroad has seemed like a distant, abstract idea. It has done for years.

But now it’s here and let’s face it, shit got real.

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BREAK IN BARÇA

BREAK IN BARÇA

I’m a sucker for a city break so when mumma suggested a girly Easter getaway, I was so down. We decided on Barcelona, having both wanted to visit for some time, and what a fabulous decision it was. Arriving on morning of the Tuesday 11th and flying home on the afternoon of Friday 14th April, we had 3 nights and plenty of daytime to wander around and explore the city. Let’s take a look at our mini adventure through photos!

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FORTNIGHT in NORMANDY

FORTNIGHT in NORMANDY

Having just arrived home from a wonderful fortnight in Normandy, I thought it about time I return to the blog having not posted since before my first set of university exams. So, before getting into talk about my travels, I should say that all went well. I finished my first year studying French at Cardiff University with 69%,  one frustrating percent from a 1st but delighted nevertheless.

After months of lazing around at university and taking my first year pretty easy, I was so ready for a break having done some real work again for a few weeks. Normandy was the absolute ticket and oh so relaxing.

Having been kindly invited along by Tom’s dad, we had been so looking forward to this trip for weeks! After my new passport finally arrived, we decided that I would drive to Portsmouth, we would catch the ferry to Cherbourg, (I would be brave) and drive to the château on the other side.

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ATHENS TRILOGY | SITES

ATHENS TRILOGY | SITES

Here it is, the ultimate post in the trilogy recounting my recent trip to Athens. I thought of no better way to build the anticipation than to leave the historical sites of ancient Athens until last. After all they are all quite something, in both feat and appearance.

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The Parthenon is quite simply the most amazing thing I have ever seen and I can only hope that these photographs of mine do it some justice. The sheer size of it was unbelievable and to see such a thing in real life was completely mind-blowing. I haven’t seen a photo yet that captures its enormity, but these are the best I’ve got.

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As intended, the Acropolis stands, still today, above Athens and reigns over the city. This results in fabulous views from each and every one of the central ancient sites as well as from the Acropolis Museum. I love how much of a focus the Acropolis is, and just how majestic it looks in the following shot. The moody tone of the composition only enhances all of that and it’s definitely one of my favourite shots of the trip.

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IMG_5342View of the Acropolis from the Ancient Greek Agora.

I really enjoyed wondering around the Agora as it brings everything back down to Earth. Yes, the temples and the artefacts and grandeur of all of that is incredible but for me there was something really human about the Agora. As a central meeting point, market and square full of taverns etc. the Agora was the centre of the city’s life and it therefore offered a sense of the everyday that I found really interesting.

IMG_5347 This is the Temple of Hephaestus which is incredibly well preserved and well worth a visit.

I’ve reached the end of the ‘Athens Trilogy’ now and all there is left to say is what a fantastic time I had on this trip and that I would most definitely return. Athens offers all you could ask for in a city break in my opinion and I have tried my best to capture what I find the most important aspects, in these three posts. The food was delicious and astonishingly cheap, the museums were modern and well designed and the ancient sites really were the most incredible things I have ever laid eyes on.

Thank you for sticking around until the end and reading about my holiday – hopefully there are many more adventures to come!

 

ATHENS TRILOGY | MUSEUMS

ATHENS TRILOGY | MUSEUMS

For me, no city break is complete without several visits to its greatest museums. They are central to any city and are the epicentre of identity for each and every one of them. The entire point of such trips is to gain from the culture of another country and learn from its history. There are very few other places that can open your eyes to and teach you these things in such a way as Athens.

IMG_5187National Archeological Museum

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The National Archeological Museum of Athens is a literal trove of the most amazing things you could ever lay eyes on. The mere idea that some of the objects in the vast collection are thousands of years old is mind-blowing and completely mesmerising. Gold, marble and bronze galore.

IMG_4931The Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum is so beautifully laid out and designed in such a modern and minimalistic way that the exhibits really stand out as they rightly should. They all stand alone and are uninterrupted in expansive, spacious and flowing rooms that are easy to direct.  The huge glass panels allow for glorious views of the Parthenon as seen in the photograph below.

IMG_4936I absolutely love this shot of the Parthenon from the Acropolis Museum. Visiting the museum first and witnessing this view just makes you 10 times more excited to get up there in the following days.

Two other museums that we visited were the Epigraphic Museum (situated next to the National Archeological Museum) and the Museum of the Ancient Agora, both also worth a visit.

As students from an EU country, all of our museum tickets were free of charge which was absolutely amazing as it allowed opportunity for multiple visits and meant no rushing.

http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en

http://www.namuseum.gr/wellcome-en.html

 

ATHENS TRILOGY | FOOD & DRINK

ATHENS TRILOGY | FOOD & DRINK

Just a quick disclaimer before I begin; the plan was to eat as authentically Greek as possible and we did in fact stick to this plan as much as the limited selection of photos may beg to differ. However, unfortunately some of the local delicacies are not the most photogenic of dishes, despite being delicious and therefore will not be making an appearance.

IMG_4944A Greek coffee and Greek yogurt with honey and walnut topping at Fresko after the first trip to the Acropolis Museum.

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One pork and one vegetarian souvlaki from the highly recommended Kalyvas (http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g189400-d9458162-Reviews-Kalyvas-Athens_Attica.htmlwhich lived up to its recommendations.

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It would be impossible to talk about the food we ate in Athens without mentioning the unbelievable price. For under €30 we had three courses and wine/beer on two occasions. By sticking to our Air B&B host’s recommendations we economically ate like royalty for the entirety of our trip, constantly considering what the price may have been on a city break in other European capital cities.

IMG_5314One of many delights purchased from the ‘local’ bakery, a spinach and feta pastry.

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IMG_5152Accidentally oversized snack-stop at Fish Café

The following links are to the recommended eateries we were particularly impressed by:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g189400-d6721199-Reviews-Dio_Dekares_I_Oka-Athens_Attica.html

The service here was second to none, the waitress’ English was flawless and she took time to speak to us at great length. We ordered bread and tzatsiki, two traditional hot Greek mains, four crispy chocolate wafery things filled with chocolate creme and a bottle of white wine and the bill came to less than €30! The food was undoubtedly really yummy, but it was blown out of the water by the last meal of our trip.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g189400-d4106733-Reviews-Olympiou_Amalthia-Athens_Attica.html

Again, the service here was superb and the waitress was super lovely! This time however, the food was just sublime. The dishes came out individually making them perfect for sharing and we were even given a starter (‘Greek Ratatouille’) and a little pudding (Greek yogurt and honey) that we hadn’t ordered, on the house! What we did order was bread, octopus and pickled veg, battered zucchini balls and tzatsiki, sausages and mustard (for Tom), sardines (for me), a litre of beer and a lemonade – a real feast, again for under €30.

IMG_5475Delicious homemade (not by me) Greek salad and tzatziki … and some chocolate milk.

The link to the Air B&B apartment which was also really great: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/6515130