Photo Diary – Paris in Spring

“I never knew the charm of spring,¬†I never met it face to face,¬†I never knew my heart could sing,¬†I never missed a warm embrace,¬†Till April in Paris” – Ella Fitzgerald

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Travel is the Best Form of Education

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Deciding what to do as a career has been a mind boggling frustration for me since before I can remember. There is so much pressure from those around us, trying to force us at the meer age of 17 or 18 to make life changing decisions. In our final year of high school, we are told to choose a university, choose a degree, and head off to study the following year. However for me, I was unsure, and still am, as to what i’d like to pursue. The only thing I knew is that I wanted to gain some life experience to help me figure out what path I wanted to take.

It has now been 4 years since I finished high school – and I still have yet to have attended a university. Some people may think that i’m avoiding it. Others might see it¬†as an escape from reality.
But you know what? It’s not made for everyone.
Why should I have to choose something, pay a lot of money to study it, then come out of my degree in debt and unhappy,¬†just because humanity¬†has made me feel like I must follow that certain path? I don’t.

It was only last week when I had a¬†thought – why does it matter if¬†I don’t attend a university. I’m young. I’m only 21 years old and I have my whole life ahead of me. This doesn’t mean that I will indefinitely cross out university as an option for¬†the future, but for now, I want to live my life how I want. I shouldn’t be worrying about the future, I should be focusing on the now and enjoying every day as it comes.
It has taken a while¬†for me to get to this point,¬†because I used to think it was immoral to not attend university, but i’m here.

Travel has given me so much more than expected. What people don’t realise, is that you will¬†gain so much experience and learn so much more than you could ever have imagined by travelling the world, instead of sitting in a classroom for hours a day. Yes, you do learn a lot by achieving a degree, but all you’re doing is learning. You’re not experiencing it first hand. You’re not getting out there and exploring the vast opportunities that the world has to offer.

For those of you whose decision is unclear, I advise you to educate yourself and travel the world! Stop worrying about what others will think, live your life for you, to make yourself happy, not others.
Don’t say it’s not possible, anything is possible. There are plenty of ways to be able to afford to travel overseas. At the top of my list is to work abroad – loads of countries offer working holiday visas for people aged under 30!

So get out there, see the world, gain life experience, grow, and enjoy every minute!

Meandering Morocco

This post is going to be a bit different than usual¬†– it’s turned more into a “journal” entry¬†about my experience in Morocco, and what we did each day.¬†I am so grateful to have had time off work, to be able to visit here¬†the past week. It was by far one of the best experiences of my life, and I will never forget it.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect coming to Marrakech. I had heard a lot of speculation as to whether it was safe to visit or not. I do believe it is a safe city to visit – in saying that, all normal precautions must still be made (such as locking away valuable belongings in hotel, paying attention to items you have on you, not to carry too much cash on hand).

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Marrakech is such a colourful, vibrant city, and the weather was absolutely stunning our whole trip, although a bit chilly at night.
The first day we were there, we wandered the souks (local markets) and explored the Ben Yousef Madrasa Рan old Islamic college that was founded in the 14th Century. I straight away fell in love with the architecture and tiling of this building. We then found ourselves perched at Terrasse des Epices Рwhich overlooked the rooftops of Marrakech. We all (accept Rachel) decided to try our first Tagine, a traditional North African dish, which was delicious! Faye and I then ventured off to visit the Marrakech Museum together.
As dinner time came around – we headed to a restaurant recommended by the owners of our Riad (a large traditional house built around a central courtyard, often converted into a hotel). I ordered a three course meal; a salad as a starter, chicken tagine as the main, and orange and cinnamon as the dessert, for a whopping 6 euros total! Still to this day I find it hard to fathom the prices of things in Morocco!

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The next morning began with breakfast at 6:30am, as we left on our Sahara adventure at 7am. The journey to the desert was long, but was broken into pieces, as we had a few stops along the way. First stop being the Atlas Mountains. We then continued on to our next destination – Ait Benhaddou. An old town, which was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Films and TV series have also been filmed here, such as The Gladiator, The Mummy and Game of Thrones. Faye and I used most of our time here sneaking off the beaten track and lagging behind our tour group. The remainder of the day was spent in the van until we arrived at the edge of the desert by nightfall.
We were greeted by some locals and were taken to our next ride – a Camel! Despite the fact the sun had set, the moon was bright enough to light our way. The locals guided our camels in the direction of the campsite, and I wondrously gazed at the thousands of stars above me and took in the moment. It was nice to see the stars, since i’m sure they have been hiding from us in Paris. At our campsite, hot tea was brought to our “rooms” as a welcome offering. Soon after, Dinner was served; delicious Berber soup (Harira) and…wait for it….tagine! We filled our belly’s and moved to the bonfire outside, where we spent our night dancing to music with the Locals.

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I barely slept that night, because of the pure fact that I was too cold! For those of you who plan to sleep overnight in the desert, make sure you bring some warm pj’s, cause I surely didn’t. I am unsure as to whether it would still remain cold during the summer nights however!
Eventually the sun began to rise, and that was our que to get up, once again around 6:30am. I don’t think any of us expected to be getting up this early in the mornings on our trip, as we were on holiday of corse. I guess not all holidays mean sleep ins! We grabbed our blankets and headed out, seeing the desert for the first time in daylight. This sight definitely woke us all up! We hung around the Camels, acting like silly school girls laughing at the funny noises and faces they were making, trying to capture as many as we could on our cameras.

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At 7am it was time for us to depart on our camels once again for a 30 minute ride to our vans. The trip back to Marrakech wasn’t hugely exciting, as we only stopped once for lunch. We were all extremely happy to get out of the van when we arrived home.
The owner of our Riad then suggested a place that we could go get a Hammam which we thought meant a Moroccan massage. All of us were a bit stiff and sore from riding the camels, so we thought this was a great idea! We all had no idea what we were in for and it ended up being the complete opposite to what we expected! A Hammam (In Arabic translates to¬†“Hot Water”) is traditionally known as a Turkish/Roman style Bath. This is a place where locals go to cleanse or purify themselves.
When we arrived at the Hammam, we were instructed to take all our clothing off and put on a robe. Little did we know that they would then tell us we did not need our robes and throw the 5 of us into a sauna together, practically naked! Suddenly hot water was thrown¬†all over us and we sat there laughing our heads off at how uncomfortable we felt! They then scrubbed us down and covered us in mud and¬†clay. I can say this was a very different experience and if I had known what it was going to be like – I probably would have said no way! But now that i’ve done it, despite how out of my comfort zone I felt, I’m glad that we had the chance to partake in something so traditional in¬†the Moroccan lifestyle.

The next morning¬†exploring more of Marrakech, buying spices, teas, and some remedies to help our skin. We then visited Bahia Palace from the 19th Century. Bahia means “brilliance”, and this Palace was intended¬†to be the best of its time.

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Lunch was spent at Nomad Рwhich had to be my favourite restaurant the whole entire trip! The view was perfect and food was absolutely delicious, so good that we went back the next day! Nomad is definitely a must do for those of you whom plan to visit Marrakech.
Next stop was the main square, also known as the ‘Jemaa el-Fnaa’. Here we aimlessly wandered the markets and somehow ended up with snakes around our necks! Having never touched a snake in my life, I was quite nervous! and of all people, the ‘snake man’ decided to grab a handful of baby snakes, and casually place them on top of my head, mid photo. You can see from a¬†photo below that I was not too happy about that.
Sadly afterwards it was time for Faye to head back to England Рas she had to leave a day before us. We said our goodbyes and then headed up to the rooftop of our Riad to watch the sunset over Marrakech.

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And then it finally became our last day. We decided to make a quick tour around the Majorelle Garden, the Saadian tombs, and the New Town of Marrakech. The Majorelle Garden was beautiful and the colours of the buildings were such a lovely blue. It has been open to the public since 1947. In 1980 the garden had been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé, and when Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 his ashes were scattered here.
We returned to Nomad for lunch, this time managing to get a table in the sunshine. We all made the most of our last meal in Marrakech and ordered a lot! It was just as good as the first visit.
After lunch, it was time to go back to our Riad and pack our bags and head to the airport. I started getting a little sad at this point as I was having too much fun and didn’t want to go back to the cold, rainy weather in Paris.
Now i’m off to London in 6 weeks with my parents, who are visiting me during the holidays from New Zealand!! You can say i’m a tad excited!! ūüôā

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You can also watch what we got up to in Morocco in the¬†video below – Don’t forget to subscribe for more videos like this to come ūüôā I hope you enjoy it!
Kate x

Festive Brussels

Having visited Brussels just over a month before returning again for Christmas, I wouldn’t have imagined how it could have become even more beautiful than the last time I saw it. Decked out with everything Christmas, Brussels turned into a magical place. The town square almost became a “stage”, where every night on the hour, they put on a marvellous light show. I cannot describe how fantastic it was¬†– and having a¬†glistening Christmas tree in the middle of the square was just the cherry on top. Brussels also had Christmas markets galore; they are the perfect place to pick up a last minute Christmas gift!

And let’s not forget having access to Belgium Waffles at every turn you make! – they truly are as good as people¬†say. C’est la Vie!

You can watch my vlog from the trip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ubls9-SjoK4

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10 Travel Quotes Inspiring you to Travel

In your 20’s and 30’s, life can become challenging. At the age of 20, I still haven’t decided what to do with my life – whether it’s to study or work, I really don’t know. But something I do know, is that having the chance to travel and live in Paris solo has made me open my mind¬†to so much more. I am finding myself interested in things I wouldn’t have even considered a few years ago. So to any of you who are like me, I encourage you to jump out of your comfort zone, pack a bag, move to a foreign country, and eat delicious food (you can thank me later on). You wont regret it.

Here are 10 of my favourite travel quotes to help inspire your travels:

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the World” – Mary Anne Radmacher

“As you move through this life..You leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you” – Anthony Bourdain¬†

“Not all who wander are lost” – Tolkien

“Live with no excuses, and travel with no regrets” – unknown

“Be a traveller, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in” – Andrew Zimmern

“There are two worlds: the world of the tourist and the world of everyone else. Often they’re side by side. But the tourist doesn’t actually see how people live” – Paul Theroux

“As you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, its inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are” – unknown

“Travel not to find yourself but to remember who you’ve been all along” – unknown

“The travel impulse is mental and physical curiosity. It’s a passion. And I can’t understand people who don’t want to travel.” – Paul Theroux

“Travel does the heart good” – unknown

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5 Things to do in Paris for Christmas

  1. Galeries Lafayette
    An upscale shopping centre¬†on boulevard Haussmann, in which¬†every year, they put on wonderful Christmas display. The most popular being their Christmas tree. This year they have put up an upside down Christmas tree under the 100 year old dome. They also have themed window displays on the outside of the building, which become very popular with passer by’s.

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  2.  Parisian Christmas Markets
    These are a must do in my opinion. Paris is surrounded with Christmas Markets throughout the months of November and December. The market on the Avenue des Champs Elysees would have to be the largest and the busiest, selling arts and crafts, delicious specialties from different regions of France, and much more. You can grab yourself a glass of mulled wine (hot wine), frois gras, cheese, truffels, fresh waffles/churros and so on.
    Click here to find a list of all Christmas markets in Paris

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  3. Ice Skating
    Having come from New Zealand where we usually spend Christmas during Summer, the idea of ice skating during a winter Christmas in Paris sounds like a blast! There are many ice rinks situated in different locations around Paris, such as the Trocadero, Eiffel Tower, Hotel de Ville, and the Champs Elysees.
  4. Disneyland Paris
    Disneyland during Christmas is magical. Both parks are decked with spectacular decorations from the 9th November to the 7th January 2015. Disney has a Christmas parade, a giant Christmas tree, and have themed their famous light’s display to the loved movie Frozen. What a better way to celebrate this festive season!

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  5. Avante-Garde Trees
    Visit the fun annual exhibition of Christmas trees at the Centre Pompidou. The creations are funny, seductive, political, lovely and weird! Your entrance fee also gets donated to a French charity that helps orphaned children.

La Maison Rose – Montmatre, Paris

Hidden down the quaint cobblestoned streets of Montmatre, lies La Maison Rose.
A perfect spot to sit, have a coffee and people watch before or after visiting the Basilica Sacre Coeur.

Believe it or not, Picasso used to frequent this “pink house”. It was owned by Germaine Gargallo (also known as Germaine Pichot) for around 40 years. Germaine was the woman whom Picasso’s best friend, Carlos Casagemas, killed himself over. Germaine was also a model for a few of Picasso’s paintings.

Metro Line 12: Lamarck РCaulaincourt
2 Rue de l’Abreuvoir, 75018 Paris, France
+33 1 42 57 66 75

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Atop the Arc de Triomphe

Since sunshine is becoming a rare sight in Paris this past week, we jumped at the chance to spend a stunning Sunday outdoors.

We thought, What better to do than climb the stairs to the terrace atop the Arc de Triomphe?
No matter how many times I go up there, I’ll always have my breath taken away by the beauty of Paris.

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Paris, Mon Amour

I don’t know if its just me, but when I travel somewhere, I want to make the most of my time there and see as much as I can in the short period of time. But sometimes that travel book you spend ‚ā¨15 on can take up your time flicking through trying to find that one page you saw¬†a few days ago.

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After recently moving back to Paris for another year abroad, I have come to realise there is so much more to this city than what is on these pages.¬†The best way to see Paris is to get lost in it’s magical streets (but always have your map with you of course!), explore new areas and find the hidden gem’s that¬†Paris has to offer.
However, spending the afternoon under the Eiffel Tower with a book, baguette, cheese, wine, and lovely company will never become old to me.

I am feeling so content with my life and the choices I have made. I cannot see myself living anywhere else in the world right now, than where I am currently.
Paris has this “charm”. It used to be a love/hate relationship between Paris and I. But I have officially fallen head over heals for the city of lights, love, hope, and dreams, and can’t wait to find out more about myself that I never knew.

At present, I am drawn towards the quote:
“Take every chance, Drop every fear”

I feel like if I try incorporate this into my daily life, I’ll have not a care in the world. I’d take each day as it comes and not look back and say ‘what if’ (even if its ‘what if i’d have had that croissant).

Sunsets in California

A lazy, rainy Sunday afternoon in Paris has brought me to reminisce through my old photos from my trip to California this past July. If there’s something I learned in my month living in California, it’s that every evening, my breath was taken away by an exquisite sunset. Sadly one month was most definitely not enough time in this wonderful place. California is known for its dreamy weather and beaches, and definitely exceeded my expectations when I was lucky enough to go there. Who knows, maybe my future will bring me back? Only time will tell.

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