36 Before 36 ~ Leave the country for a holiday

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This serves as a round-up post for one of my 36 Before 36 items, despite me now being well into my 37 Before 37 list. 

Last year, I put ‘Leave the country for a holiday or mini-break’ on my 36 Before 36 list, as a way of trying to make sure I saw at least a little bit of the world. I’m not one of these people who has to have a foreign holiday every year, but travelling on a budget is easier than ever, and there are lots of countries I’d like to visit.

As it turned out, I was offered the chance to go on a press trip to a hotel in the Austrian Alps. This was organised through my day job, not through my blog (I can’t imagine that will ever happen!), as I work for a consumer magazine, and luckily enough, my friend Hannah was offered the chance to go as well (Hannah’s my travel buddy anyway, so it was great to do it together!).

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The hotel was Holzhotel Forsthofalm, located in Leogang in Austria. A short flight from Stansted to Salzburg (my inner Sound of Music fan was very happy to be there, even if we didn’t see any of the landmarks!), and then a transfer to the hotel, and we had arrived. It’s a really beautiful hotel, built up from humble beginnings when it was just a family restaurant, to what it is now – all the rooms are made from the forest wood of the mountains, and it’s set at a height of 1050m, so as you can imagine, the views are amazing.

As it was a press trip, the itinerary was all choreographed to really show off how great all the activities at the hotel are. We did lots of yoga, a couple of fitness classes, and also a couple of walks. The yoga classes were great; I don’t really do yoga, though given my job I know all the benefits, and every month when I read the magazine, I make a mental note to either book into a class or do some at home, and then never actually get around to it.

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The fitness classes were a bit more energetic than what I’m used to doing, given that I don’t do an awful lot of exercise at all. I quite enjoyed the bouncing fitness class, as it allowed me to channel my inner Busy Phillips.

My favourite bit of the whole hotel was the rooftop pool, gloriously heated so that despite the chillier temperatures (even in June, you’re still in the mountains), you can spend time in there and only your face is exposed to the cool air. And given that it’s right on the roof, the views are right there to be enjoyed.

It really is a very beautiful hotel, and I’d go back in a heartbeat if my budget ever allows it.

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Photo an Hour #30 ~ January 2016

I have to start this post with an apology; it’s taken me far too long to get this post written! I’ve had a few people ask when February’s Photo an Hour will be, so I’ll tell you up front that it will be Saturday 20th February.

January’s Photo an Hour was quite some time back, and it fell on the day I flew to Iceland (that blog post is also somewhat delayed), which meant that I faltered somewhat as the day went on! Not all of them ended up being uploaded to Instagram, and I stopped taking photos at four o’clock.

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9am ~ Starting the day with some breakfast for a change.

10am ~ Packing my winter warmers.

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11am ~ En route to the airport. Ludicrously early, of course, but Hannah and I are naturally early for everything, and then Hannah’s granddad, our lift to the airport, also turned up early!

12pm ~ Almost there!

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1pm ~ With time to kill, a spot of lunch in Garfunkels was just the thing, complete with strawberry milkshake.

2pm ~ Still waiting!

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3pm ~ Almost ready to board.

4pm ~ Up in the air.

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5pm ~ Still on the plane, and entertaining myself the best way I know how. With Wittertainment.

As you can see, poor planning means that I took an odd number of photos, which is just hideous! Deplaning and the like then took priority, and I didn’t take any more photos that were actually part of Photo an Hour, though of course I did take lots of photos in general, that I will share at some point!

It’s been a while, but of course, there were plenty of joiners-in as ever.

♥ Annie from Halfway Here joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Susie from Second Hand Susie joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Janet from Words That Can Only Be Your Own joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Elise from Elise and Life joined in on her blog
♥ Laura joined in on Instagram
♥ Rachael from MI Avenues joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Liz from Distract Me Now Please joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Rebecca from Halfway Home joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Louisa from Duck in a Dress joined in on Instagram
♥ Amy from Fluffy Owl’s Adventures joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Rebecca from Sullen Hearts joined in on Instagram
♥ Lizzie from Home Make Be joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Sharon from Sunshines and Celandines joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Kerri from Life as Unusuals joined in on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Rachel from Things That Make Me Go Aagghh joined in on her blog
♥ Emma from Oh Gosh Em joined in on Instagram
♥ Sarah from Sarah Rooftops joined in on Instagram

Thanks to everyone for joining in; it’s always a lot of fun to see other people’s days! If I have missed anyone out, please let me know, and I’ll add you in!

If you’ve seen #PhotoAnHour doing the rounds and wondered what it’s about, it’s simple! Simply join in on the chosen day (Saturday 20th February this month), by taking a photo each and every hour, and either uploading it to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag, or gathering all the photos together and popping them in a blog post (or do both!). Of course, you don’t have to join in on the day we choose; we didn’t invent, and we don’t own Photo an Hour. But it’s fun to do it as a group! If you’d like a reminder each month a day or two before the chosen date, just sign up here, and I’ll send a regular reminder.

BEDN ~ Leaving on a Jet Plane

I’ve written about travelling on the blog before, but I’ve always written about the places that I want to go, rather than the places I have been. That’s because I’m not particularly well travelled; I’ve only been to Germany, Spain, Greece, Canada and the USA. I’ve travelled through France and stopped off in Luxembourg, but I don’t think they really count.

I was going to do the same thing this time and write about some places that I want to visit, but as I’ve done that before, I thought it would be better to write about a trip I have taken. In 2008 (a ridiculous five years ago), I went with my friends Hannah and Samm to visit our Canadian friend Daniela. She lives in Toronto, and somehow, we just decided one day that we were going to go. No real talking about it, we just hopped online, booked flights, and that was that. I’m so glad we did though. It was truly one of my best ever holidays and I fell in love with Toronto (and a boy, but that’s neither here nor there). So I thought today I would share some photos. Most of them are mine, but some are Hannah’s, Daniela’s and Samm’s. And I know they won’t mind me sharing them.

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It’s the law that you have to go to Niagara Falls when you visit Canada. You can maybe get away with not doing it if you are visiting the west coast, but if you’re heading to Toronto, you have to make time for the Falls.

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Once you’re at the Falls, you have to go on a Maid of the Mist tour. You simply have to. Even if it’s just because Jim Carrey does it in Bruce Almighty. And you have to wear the ponchos, because they make you look awesome (and make Hannah pose like a monk). At this point in my life, I had never been to the US, and was rather obsessed with the fact that it was just over the river while we were there. This is why I’m posing with the bridge. (The Rainbow Bridge, trivia fans.)

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Taking a photo of yourself and one of the tallest buildings in the world is hard y’all. It’s much better to get someone else to do it!

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We were really lucky because Daniela’s mum treated us to a fabulous meal at the top of the CN tower, in the 360 Restaurant, which completes a full rotation every 72 minutes. The best views of Toronto while you eat!

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We also went to Canada’s Wonderland, which is a fantastic theme park in Toronto. That photo is of the scariest ride I have ever been on, called Behemoth. I had genuine fears that I was going to die on that thing, and I never, ever, feel that way on a rollercoaster.

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Seriously, I think Toronto is a beautiful city. All the advantages of being in North America, with a hint of British, and a great big dollop of fabulous Canadian-ness. I’d go back in a heartbeat (and not just because the men are funny and like a British accent).

Travel Dreams ~ BEDM

A long time ago, I used to think that I was the type of person who would enjoy travelling, given half the chance. I never wanted to do the whole Australia/South East Asia thing, but I wanted to see more of the world, and travelling for an extended period was definitely something I could see myself doing.

Then I went and lived in the States for four months, and I was spectacularly homesick. I just didn’t realise how much being away from home would affect me. I’d already ‘left’ home to go to university, and although I stayed in the same county, I moved out, and I was fine. But being in a different country changed everything. Sometimes I look back on the photos of my time at UConn, or have a particular memory, and nostalgia takes over, and I have to actively remind myself that I was really unhappy.

So, my travel plans these days involve me wanting to visit places on holiday, with the definite knowledge that I will be returning home within a couple of weeks. With that in mind, here are three places that I want to visit.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum – Boston, USA

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Presidential libraries combine my two favourite things; libraries and presidents (obviously). I want to visit them all eventually, in my fantasy world where I have endless amounts of money, but the JFK library is the top of my list. OK, so architecturally it’s not really my cup of tea, but it’s packed full of papers from Kennedy’s short-lived administration. I’m pretty desperate to visit.

The Hermitage Museum – St Petersburg, Russia

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There’s something about Russia that just appeals to me. I think maybe it’s the cold weather, but there’s also the history and the culture to recommend it too. And if I’m going to Russia, I want to visit the Hermitage. Look at the size of it! I would probably take about 450 photographs of this building if I was lucky enough to visit. Never mind that the fact that it houses some of the most famous and important works of art in the world.

Shakespeare and Company Bookshop – Paris, France

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I know lots of people who have visited the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop in Paris. It’s not exactly inaccessible, being as it’s in France. I would have visited this place had I ever been to Paris, that much is for sure, but I have never stepped foot inside France (I’ve only travelled through it). Not much to say about this place, except that it’s the most famous bookshop in the world, I love books, ergo I want to visit. The photos of the inside are just my idea of heaven. You can even stay there overnight.

 

I think it’s quite clear where my travel fantasies lay; in buildings. I love the wonder of nature, but I’m much more into architecture and museums and galleries and books and papers and art and all that stuff. I’m much more a city-break type of a girl than an off-the-beaten track watching sunsets kind.