Tag Archives: Walking

VENICE, ITALY // TRAVEL DIARY // OCTOBER 2016

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My trip to Venice was a 21st birthday getaway from my other half, and even though we were only there five days, it was such a gorgeous experience and I am really hoping to return and visit for longer. Even in the middle of October, the weather was still sunny and beautiful, the flights to and from Venice Marco Polo Airport were easy and transport from the airport was simple.

We stayed on the island of Lido, an 11km long sandbar and home to the Venice Film Festival, in the Marea Hotel Petit Palais, right on the beach and took a little boat to the main island each morning. Lido is full of various shops and restaurants, and one we kept returning to was the Pizzeria Ai Do Mati which does amazing mozzarella balls as well as a fries and pepperoni pizza (the fries being a topping on the pizza alongside the pepperoni – trust me, its the best!).

Even though we weren’t in Venice long, we managed to see quite a lot just through walking everywhere (bringing up those steps!). We visited the Piazza San Marco, the main public square in Venice dating back to the 12th century and overlooked by Saint Mark’s Basilica which is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice and connected to Doge’s Palace, a Venetian Gothic palace which was home to the “Doge” or Duke of Venice. We also saw the San Marco Campanile which is the bell tower of Sant Mark’s Basilica at 323ft tall and is one of the most recognisable structures of Venice (pictured below).

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We also managed to see the Grand Canal (pictured below), a major water channel with public boat transport and the Bridge of Sighs, a bridge over the Rio di Palazzo (Palace Channel) and nicknamed after prisoners sighing at their final view of Venice whilst crossing the bridge from the interrogation rooms at the Doge’s Palace to the New Prison.

Finally, we checked off Santa Maria della Salute, which is a phenomenal 16th century baroque-style Roman Catholic church and the San Zaccaria, a 15th century Gothic-Renaissance church filled with beautiful artworks (pictured below).

The main tourist attractions were pretty close together which made it so easy to visit the majority of places just by walking and only needing a short boat ride to and from the various islands.

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This is one of my shortest blogs in the travel diary series as unfortunately we weren’t able to see the more further out places such as Murano, Torcello and the San Giorgio Maggiore, but that will be something to tick off next time.

ARIA

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Places Visited/Mentioned: 

Places On the List for Next Time: 

 

CALIFORNIA // TRAVEL DIARY // AUGUST 2016

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The final destination on my three month travel trip was California. I split my three weeks into Los Angeles, San Francisco and Yosemite National Park. I arrived at LAX on the 14th of August, and was kindly picked up by my Airbnb host. I was staying in East LA and mainly used yellow cabs to travel from place to place.

It was not my first time going to Los Angeles, but it had been several years since my last holiday there. Due to the fact that I didn’t have a car, I relied a lot on taxi rides and organised tours. The first tour I took was a one which covered places too difficult to reach on foot or too expensive to travel by taxi. The tour was by LA City Tours, and it included the Hollywood sign, Mulholland Drive Road, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Bel Air and the Sunset Strip. I managed to take lots of photos, and had the opportunity to see places I wouldn’t have been able to through walking.

I took part in a Warner Bros studio tour where I saw all of the sets and studios which were used for some of my favourite films and TV shows. In addition to the various tours, I also visited Burbank, Glendale and the rest of downtown LA. Unfortunately, I didn’t get so visit other places which I was looking forward to visiting such as the Griffith Observatory and other parts of Los Angeles including the various beaches. Hopefully I will be able to return to LA and be able to tick them off my list.

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During the second week of my trip to California, I left Los Angeles on the Greyhound bus to San Francisco. When I arrived, I checked into the HI Hostel San Francisco Downtown, a stunningly decorated, well-located hostel at the centre of everything. I was only in San Francisco for a few days, but I managed to cross off a lot on my list!

I visited Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, had lunch at In N Out, visited the Japanese Tea Garden and took photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the things I really wanted to do whilst in San Francisco was to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum. It was incredible, and I would really recommend it – particularly if you are a Disney fan, or someone who loves and appreciates art, film and a pioneer’s journey moving from strength to strength. The museum itself covers Walt Disney’s early life, his family and career beginnings to his first successful full-length feature film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and each film up until his death in 1966, and also includes the more modern films up to present day. One of the things I enjoyed most about the museum was the old film rolls and character doodles – particularly those of Mickey Mouse.

Everybody in San Francisco was so friendly and happy to chat, especially the taxi drivers, the people running the hostel and the staff in the Walt Disney Family Museum gift shop. I will definitely be going back.

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My third and final stop, both of my three month trip and of my time in California, was the beautiful Yosemite National Park. I travelled on the Greyhound bus from San Francisco to Merced, where I then picked up the YARTS (Yosemite’s public transport) to take me to Yosemite Valley. I got of the bus and walked up a hill through cricket sounds, dust and heat, and finally reached the place I was staying at for the next few nights, the Yosemite Bug Lodge. It was a mix of fully equipped cabins for families on holiday, as well as rooms for couples, and other rooms for people like me – hostel style rooms with various bunk beds and shared showering facilities. There was a main restaurant area where they served breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a laundry room and mini spa, which contained a hot tub, sauna and private baths which could be used alongside botanical treatments which was a definite necessity after spending the day hiking through the forests of Yosemite.

Walking through Yosemite National Park itself was just breathtaking. I have been before, but wasn’t able to appreciate its full beauty due to being quite young and tired of walking. The height of the trees amazed me, and the feeling of standing right at the edge of such high cliffs made me feel like I was on top of the world. If you ever get the chance to go, take it – you will not regret it.

So California rounded off my three month trip travelling solo around the world. But I’ve been to more places since then, which will all be recorded here, along with separate tips and tricks on what I pack in my suitcase, how I prepare for long travels as well as how I handle travelling around the world with a mental health condition.

Stick along for the ride!

ARIA 

 

Places Visited/Mentioned: 

NEW ZEALAND // TRAVEL DIARY // JULY – AUGUST 2016

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Before I begin talking about this beautiful place, I just need to say that I definitely did NOT get enough time here and I will DEFINITELY be going back in the near future!

New Zealand was the third country I visited during my three month trip around the world and it was also the first place I went where I was completely alone and not linked to a travelling group. It initially sounds quite daunting but I felt so much relief when my plane landed in Auckland and I knew that for the next two weeks I would be in a country with a notorious welcoming committee.

On the 17th July I flew into Auckland International Airport and took a taxi to my accommodation. It was quite a relief to walk out to a much milder temperature compared to how hot and humid it was in Sri Lanka. For the first of the two weeks I was staying in a beautiful cultured suburb called Ponsonby, which was full of places to shop, eat and stroll around. This was a huge advantage because the first thing I had to do when I arrived was to buy new clothes which were more suitable to the rainy, cool weather I had been greeted with in New Zealand. I ended up buying a bright red waterproof coat, a pair of jeans and a few jumpers, all from a local charity shop. I didn’t really think about the way I looked mainly because I really just needed to feel comfortable and protected against the rain. However, I must have looked like a tomato walking down the main street to go to the supermarket which was VERY LONG by the way and probably took me around 45 mins to an hour depending on how fast I walked. However, it was lovely to casually walk around picturesque Ponsonby and a lot of the shops were completely unique and were really interesting to check out. There were farm food shops, soap and body cosmetic shops as well as Maori fashion and jewellery shops.

For the second week, I stayed in the Haka Lodge hostel at the top of a long road which then led to downtown Auckland. So far, it has been one of the best places I have ever stayed in. Each member of staff was kind, helpful and supportive and I met some amazing people. The rooms were clean and tidy and they held movie nights for travellers to get to know each other. The staff also arranged excursions out to other parts of New Zealand which would’ve been difficult to access as a lonely traveller. More on that later!

One of the things I was told that I needed to do whilst I was in Auckland was to do the Sky Jump from the top of the Sky Tower. Baring in mind when I booked it I hadn’t actually SEEN how tall it was in person, just on brochures when it looked as tall as my thumb. Obviously this was not the case! The Sky Tower in Auckland is 328 metres or 1,076ft tall. I definitely noticed how tall it was putting on my jumpsuit in the changing rooms on the second floor. I also noticed how tall it was going up in the elevator to the jump point. It didn’t help that there was a glass floor in the elevator and a glass “front” so I literally could not escape going higher and higher. The people who organise the SkyJump set me up with a GoPro on my wrist so I could record myself going down, and I’m not going to lie to you, I was shouting and screaming all the way down to the ground. I’ve jumped out of a plane before at 15,000ft so this shouldn’t have been as scary and daunting as it was, but I believe it had something to do with being able to see a birds-eye-view of the buidlings I was about to jump “into”. I would still definitely go back and do it again, it was an incredible experience!

Whilst I was in Ponsonby, I booked a organised day trip for my second week in New Zealand to go to both Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves. The company who organised the trip was called Great Sights New Zealand, and they were incredible. We had an amazing tour guide who was both informative and hilarious which helped a lot during the long coach journeys between the sites. We went to Hobbiton first which even in the rainy July New Zealand weather, it was still so incredibly breathtaking and beautiful.

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It was such an immersive experience. We walked around the permanent “set” and some of the hobbit house doors were open so we were able to step inside. We learned some of the secrets about the filming of Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit as well as being able to have a drink in the Green Dragon Inn and have food in the party marquee next door, all of which were included in the price of the tour. Hobbiton is a stunning place and it should definitely be something on everybody’s bucket list – even if you aren’t a fan of Lord of The Rings, it is still worth it to see the incredible artistry put in by everybody involved in the films.

After Hobbiton we then travelled to the Waitomo Caves, a series of underground caves inhabited by glow worms. Google it. It’s gorgeous. However, due to the protection of the glow worms, I was unable to take any photos, but it’s understandable. Just please take my word for it. We walked through the caves which were lit up by lights and then went deeper and lower into the caves until we came to an underground river. We then got into a little boat and drifted on the water, looking up to see the blue glowing canopy above us. There were no words. Everybody was completely silent, just taking it all in. Another one for the bucket list, it is a beautiful experience. I went during New Zealand’s winter, but if you go during the summer, you can wade through the water in addition to going on the boat as it’s a bit warmer which I am sure would be just as amazing!

During the final days of my trip to New Zealand, I went on a Bay of Islands tour which was organised by the Haka Lodge I was staying at. There was only a small group of us with our tour guide and we visited beautiful beaches, Whangarei Falls in Tikipunga (the three photos at the beginning of this post) and saw the Tane Mahuta “The Lord of The Forest” in the Waipoua Forest, which is the largest kauri tree which exists today -and it is huge! We also visited Paihia, Kawakawa and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

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The Waitangi Treaty Grounds gave me an incredible insight into Maori culture and tradition. I also learned about the historic Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and the Maori Chiefs which was signed on the 6th February 1840 and is New Zealand’s founding document.

New Zealand is such a beautiful place, I met some lovely friends for life and I definitely didn’t get to spend enough time there! There is so much more to see and I will 100% be returning. Maybe I’ll bring my partner or friends and family so they can share the gorgeous experience with me.

ARIA

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