Oxfordshire

Europe, Travel

Ahh Oxfordshire. Back in my old stomping ground. For those of you who don’t know, I was born in Oxfordshire, England and lived there until I was 12 before moving to New Zealand. I loved my time in Oxfordshire – the little villages, going to school here and being able to travel around Europe easily. I hold England fondly in my heart and always dreamt of coming back. It has been 11 years since I left and it’s better than I imagined to be back. To see my old friends, my old house and most of all my older brother and his family again after 7 years. It has been amazing staying with them. Will and I have had a great time hanging out with (being exhausted by) my nieces. For the first time in a while I am excited for Christmas, it’s gon’ be fuuuun.

With my childhood friends after 11 years

With my childhood friends after 11 years

Outside my childhood house with my childhood best friend

Outside my childhood house with my childhood best friend

A morning with Lisa and Amelie

A morning with Lisa and Amelie

Oxfordshire is somewhere that if I was to live permanently I would absolutely need a car because public transport is timely and expensive. However have you seen the price of car insurance in England?!?! Ludicrous. Oxford is the big city in Oxfordshire (obviously) and you will probably be familiar with it because of the University. Will and I have spent a lot of time exploring Oxford and surrounding areas. Oxford is a beautiful city with a gorgeous canal running right through it and filled with old buildings. My favourite part of Oxford is that Alice in Wonderland was written here which is my favourite childhood book. In Oxford they have an Alice in Wonderland shop and the pub that Lewis Carroll used to frequent is still standing and open for business.

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Oxfordshire is filled with gorgeous countryside, which is something I missed greatly while living in New York. I craved greenery and envisioned trudging through muddy fields.

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I’m loving being back in England and being around the culture. I am no longer the one with ‘weird’ music taste or a hoarder of the 90’s. I am among my people.

Until next time friends..
x

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Italy

Europe, Travel

Italy is somewhere I never really expected to travel to, but wow I am so glad I got to. Each town and city surprised me more than the last. By the end of our 10 days in Italy, I was head over heels. The little alley ways, the food and the people are all part of Italy’s charm. Genoa was our first little taste of Italy, a gorgeous coastal town up the top of Italy with a population of close to 600,000. It set a high standard for the rest of the trip. Old buildings, passionate people, phenomenal architecture and Fiat Bambina’s everywhere.

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Our accommodation throughout Italy was through Air BNB which I have raved about before and cannot recommend highly enough. Willem’s Mum booked each apartment for the cities we visited and she NAILED it. Our apartment in Genoa was up in the hills, with a balcony overlooking the city. It was perfect for drinking wine and eating all the Italian food you can possibly think of – olives, cheese, prosciutto, salami and bread.

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2 nights later it was arrivederci Genoa and hello Florence. We caught the train to Florence and on our way popped in to Monterosso al Mare planning to do the Cinque Terre coastal walk but unfortunately the weather decided it didn’t want to cooperate. Instead we found shelter in the form of a beach side cafe and ate our weight in Lasagne.

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Time to emerge ourselves in Florence! Our apartment was right in the city centre so everything was within walking distance. It wasn’t love at first sight with Florence. Because it was a bigger city it didn’t have the same charm that Genoa and Monterosso had. It wasn’t until we got to the Florence Cathedral that my breath was taken away. The outside of the cathedral is insane. Such intricate detailing on every inch – inside and out. Willem, Brendan and Julie climbed to the top of the dome where they got incredible views over the city.

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After 2 nights in Florence it was time to say goodbye and make our way to Rome! We spent 4 nights in Rome and we definitely didn’t run out of things to do. Vatican City and The Colosseum were my favourites, obvious I know. Standing inside The Colosseum was such a strange feeling. The history of that place is so bizarre so to be where it all took place gave me goosebumps as soon as I walked in.

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Again, our apartment was in an amazing location, less than 100m away from The Spanish Steps. So each night we would stand at the top of the steps looking out to the city and each night people would hassle us, trying to sell us stuff. People had approached us in every city to try and sell us stuff but Rome was the worst. At the top of the steps guys would come up to girls and force bunches of fake roses in their hands and then follow them asking for money. It got so bad I just had to yell NO to get them to go away. I have very little patience with people trying to sell me crap. Our last day was spent walking across the Bridge of Angels and exploring Castel Sant’Angelo. We had lunch at the castle with a view straight across to Vatican City. A perfect way to end our time there.

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Our time in Italy was drawing to a close and we finished in style – Venice! Julie outdid herself booking our apartment in Venice. It was located down the cutest wee alleyway overlooking a canal – bellissimo! Venice was the perfect way to end our time in Italy and it was my favourite place by far. Each day we would get lost, turning down different alleyways. Venice was far more shopping orientated than I had expected but it didn’t feel too touristy. Our last night was fantastic. We got dinner and decided to eat it by the water. Willem was leading us and it seemed like we were getting lost and further away from the water but ended up in a perfect spot by ourselves on the waters edge watching boats and gondolas go past.

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Well Italy, well done. I wasn’t sure what to expect but you blew me away and I can’t wait to get back.