I spent this weekend in Dublin, making the Republic of Ireland the 25th country that I’ve visited. Although Ireland is in the EU and not in the UK, it reminded me a lot of England. The plug sockets were the same, the buses looked the same, they drove on the same side of the road as the UK, the only difference was that they used euros. It felt like I never left England, and that was both good and bad.
It was good because I was comfortable and felt familiar to everything there was. I felt like I knew where I was going, and how to get to where I needed to get. It was bad because I had left the UK and I wanted it to feel different. I wanted to explore and get excited about new foods and a different experience. I’m told by my Irish friends that Dublin isn’t “real Ireland” and that I should visit the Irish countryside to get a true feel of Ireland.
One thing that I did enjoy a lot about Dublin is all the Irish history, culture and folklore. As a fan of James Joyce, I was excited to see that they had a Dubliners walking tour. I was also able to visit Kilmainham Goal, and learnt all about the Irish revolutionaries that where imprisoned there.
I don’t think I’ll be visiting Dublin again, but I do plan on seeing some Irish countryside in the near future.
So one of my goals this year was to travel to 25 countries before turning 25 (next Feb), and I am happy to say that I have achieved this goal. I have seen 10% of the world! It’s not a lot but it’s a start and a very good start.
From the 25 counties, I’ve visited:
– 19 European countries
– 1 North American country ( including 7 states)
– 1 Asian country
– 4 African countries
Of the 25 countries I’ve visited, my top 3 are:
1) Sierra Leone
These were the countries were I felt at home, where I was in the sun, laughing and living my best life.
The top 3 most important things that I’ve learnt through travelling are:
1) I love comfort and luxury. I would rather be in a fancy expensive hotel than a cheap hostel any day.
2) I am braver than I think. I love being a badass and trying new things, even on my own!
3) The world is filled with amazing people and shitty people wherever you go!
Although 10% of the world is not a lot compared to the 90% that I’m yet to see, I am so excited to see the rest of the world. My new goal is to visit 40 countries before turning 30. This means I have just over 5 years to visit 15 more countries.
So I’ve just returned from my first ever sibling holiday to Porto and I am in love. I read somewhere that Porto wasn’t a city but a feeling, and boy oh boy do I feel it. I absolutely love Porto.
The city was stunning and sunny. Everything was walkable, the people were so lovely. There were no stares and strange looks that usually came along with being black in Europe. And the language was so beautiful that I have now decided to learn Portuguese. Porto is officially my second favourite city in Europe (with Brussels being number 1). Honestly I can’t wait to go back again.
My favourite part of the whole holiday was the food. As a sea food lover, I was so excited at the array of seafood served in Porto. For my first meal in Porto we found ourselves in a food court which had a sea food stand. They had a meal deal that included three different fishes, vegetable fried rice and a glass of champagne (really good champagne). All for €6. Food was cheap and so were the drinks! I have never spent so little to eat so much in Europe. And the wine and port were extraordinary! This is a city that I highly recommended.
As part of the wine tour we visited Gaia, which is a city just over the bridge from Porto. The tour guide explained that the only good thing to see in Gaia is the view of Porto from across the river (picture inserted further down).
This is the wine cellars were I learnt about making the four different types of port (ruby, rose, white, green). It was very informative.
This (and the picture below) is the view of Porto from Gaia.
This is the view from the castle. We didn’t actually go inside the castle as I was starving and needed food.
This is city hall, where the Porto sign is located. It was so civilised when we got there because everyone was queuing up patiently waiting for their turn to take pictures.
This is the view from the Brotherhood of Clerics church tower. It had over 200 steps, but thanks to two consecutive weeks at the gym, I didn’t feel the pain until the last ten steps.
Another thing I loved about Porto that reminded me of home (Sierra Leone) was the different tiles on the outside of the houses. They were so beautiful. I was especially obsessed with the blue ones that were on the side of churches.
We also visited the “most beautiful McDonalds in Europe”. As someone who has not eaten a McDonalds in six years, I honestly couldn’t care less. But I went anyways, and it was beautiful. It had stained glass windows, a mirror panelling for the walls. Honestly it was stunning, although I have no pictures to prove it.
In conclusion, Porto is amazing, beautiful, cheap, walkable, dirt cheap Uber rates, great views, great wine, and a wonderful feeling all in all.
The last few days I was able to spend some time in the beautiful city of Strasbourg. Almost 4 years ago, I moved to Strasbourg and lived there for a year. This city has a special place in my heart, despite me constantly saying that I’ll never visit again, I find myself always missing it and itching to go back.
Strasbourg is a city in the East of France, less than 5 minutes drive from Germany. With German supermarkets being cheaper, we used to take the bus to Germany to do our grocery shopping before returning to France. It was the best of both worlds.
With Strasbourg once belonging to Germany, it has a lot of Germanic architecture (as well as French) which adds to the beauty of the city.
Walking around the city is an absolute delight because you’re met with beauty wherever you look.
The best part about Strasbourg is the easy transport routes. Whether that’s bus or tram or walking, the city is very accessible and easy to navigate.
There is also the canal that runs through the city. I remember my first week in Strasbourg after I moved there, we all met up at the canal with baguettes and bottles of wine and drank through the night. It was the best way to start off in a new place and it became a habit. Every time I walk by the canal I always remember that first week.
Look how beautiful it is!!! Absolutely stunning! I already miss it.
This is Strasbourg’s very own Notre Dame Cathedral. It is over 1,000 years old and you can climb all the way to the top. It is such a beautiful site, situated in the centre of the city.
This is Place Kleber, my favourite place in Strasbourg, (mainly because it’s the only place with a Starbucks). Last weekend there was the fête de la musique (festival of musique). This meant that on every corner in the city centre there was a band with loud speakers playing. And there was a stage in Place Kleber being set up when I took this picture.
Strasbourg is a beautiful city that I would recommend to everyone. It is known as the Capital of Christmas, which makes visiting around Christmas time the most magical experience.
The final part of my 2 part Iceland blog posts is about the beautiful landscapes. All throughout the bus rides (for the parts where I was awake), I was desperately trying to take pictures of the beautiful scenery.
These were some of the sceneries that I was able to capture on the bus. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the stunning sites outside the window. I just wanted the bus to stop so I can take it all in.
This was the famous black sand beach. When we arrived, we were given 40 minutes to explore the beach, which I thought was far too much time. However, walking from one end of the beach to another took longer than expected. I couldn’t get enough of the beach and just wanted to sit their all day long, even with the cold winds blowing.
This was another view that I was able to capture whilst on the bus.
We were able to stop and view both the European and American tectonic plates. The ones pictured above are the American ones, which were so big they looked more like walls, than plates.
Again, another stunning view captured on the bus. I’m glad I was awake for part of the journeys.
This was by far my favourite stop on the whole tour.
We were able to see the geysers, which went off every 10 minutes. It was amazing. Looking up at the mountain, I remember thinking there was no way that I was going to do another hike, especially after the previous day. However I did want to go for a short walk around the mountain but not up the mountain.
We started our walk and I saw this view, and I knew I was screwed. I couldn’t help wanting to go even further up. I was so taken aback by this view I knew I needed to see what else the mountain had to offer.
Going all the way to the top we could see this across the valley. We stopped and took over multiple photos of the view and of ourselves. It was by far the best hike I’ve ever had. I barely noticed that we’d reached the top because we were so engrossed in the beauty of the mountains. We were so mesmerised that we thought we had missed our bus back to Reykjavik (luckily we didn’t).
Although I do not plan to visit Iceland again, as there are still so many countries that I am yet to set foot on, I’m very glad that I finally cross this off my list.
I’ve spent the last few days in the beautiful country of Iceland. This was my first time ever visiting a Scandinavian country and I was not disappointed. Although it was very cold, there was 24 hours of sunlight. Which meant that no matter what time it was, it always felt like 10am.
Iceland is known as the country of fire and ice due to its freezing cold weather and volcanos. I was able to go on multiple tours and learnt about the country’s rich history. One thing that the country had plenty of was waterfalls. So part 1 of my Iceland posts will focus on the beauty that is waterfalls. As I do not know how to spell or pronounce the names of the waterfalls, I’ll just label them with numbers.
This was the first stop of our tour on the first day. I was asleep throughout most of the ride from Reykjavik until we stopped, as soon as I saw this, I was wide awake. You can’t tell from the photo but it was freezing cold, and even that didn’t stop us from walking all the way to the top of the waterfall.
This is a picture from the top of the waterfall. Although the climb looked short from the ground, my thighs and butt were in a lot of pain, but it was worth it.
This was one final shot before we got back on the bus.
From afar I was not as impressed with this waterfall as it looked similar to the first one. The only reason why I got out of the coach and into the cold, was because the tour guide told us we could go behind the waterfall.
Upon closer inspection, I could see that the waterfall was different from the last. The rainbow made the waterfall feel much more special.
Walking behind the waterfall was phenomenal, especially hearing the sound of the gushing water.
This was one final photo before going back to the bus. I just couldn’t get enough of this waterfall. It was by far my favourite.
This waterfall was from a different tour. Again, when I found out that we were stopping at a waterfall, I began to roll my eyes. I didn’t think anything could beat the ones from the previous day.
There was a restaurant at this stop and I spent 50 minutes eating and browsing the gift shop before noticing this breathtaking view. I couldn’t believe that I almost missed it.
The waterfalls definitely added a bit of magic to the trip, and it made braving the cold worth it.
So today I’m going to write about one of my favourite holidays that I took in the last 6 months. It was a trip to Marrakech and it was an absolute delight.
I was stayed in an amazing hotel, called Riad Le Jardin D’Abdou. It was beautiful and the customer service was devine.
They had a beautiful roof top patio and pool area. The staff were the most thoughtful and lovely and gave great recommendations of places to go and see.
The city itself was gorgeous. The sun was the perfect escape from British rain in October.
I went to the desert and was able to relax and enjoy the desert heat.
Visiting the mountains and having lunch at the house of a Berber family was wonderful. And of course there was Moroccan mint tea, my October addiction. During our tour of the mountains we visited at least 3 other Berber households for tea, and I loved every stop.
There’s also the beautiful architecture, like the Bahia Palace, which was stunning. It was a great place to explore.
And last but not least the market. The market in Marrakech is a lot to handle if you’re inexperienced in African markets. The vendors are aggressive and will try to get the most money out of you so you have to haggle and stand your ground. There are “guides” who look for lost and vulnerable tourists and offer to give them directions/ take you where you need to go. Don’t fall for this because they’ll either take you to the right place and then ask you for money. Or they’ll take you to their friends shop and pressure you to buy something.
It was an amazing trip, and I can’t wait to go back.
For the last 4 days, I have been enjoying the beautiful land of the Scots.
My first night was spent in Edinburgh. we visited the castle, ate at grassmarket square, climbed Arthur’s seat, took a tour of parliament before finishing it all off with a city bus tour.
We didn’t go inside the castle and instead just walked around and visited the gift shop. We were all too hungry to stay in the castle for more than 10 minutes. I plan on visiting the castle when I return to Edinburgh.
The view from Arthur’s Seat was phenomenal. It was worth the climb, and the cold wind.
The city of Edinburgh was very beautiful and although I only spent 1 night there, I felt that I saw most of the things that I wanted to see.
We then went to Loch Lomond for 2 nights and stayed in a castle.
It was beautiful in the day but very very creepy at night time. Especially since there was no other properties in the area. We were completely surrounded by fields.
We then spent a day exploring and climbing the beautiful Ben Lomond. The climb was harder than Arthur’s feet and after 40 minutes I was ready to quit and return to the car.
Despite my laziness the view was worth it!
Top 3 things I enjoyed the most about my trip:
The peace and quiet at our castle in Loch Lomond. It was lovely going to bed and hearing birds in the sky instead of drunk young people.
How considerate Scottish drivers were compared to the ones in London. Everyone in Scotland seemed so polite and relaxed whilst driving, no road rage.
Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the airport! I have been craving Krispy Kreme’s for over 3 weeks and I was finally able to buy some (4) at the airport. Do I regret eating so many doughnuts? No! Would I do it again? No! (To the doughnuts not to Scotland).
I love going back to Sierra Leone because it’s a great place for me to rest and relax.
If you want to visit Sierra Leone, rest assured that all
your needs will be taken care of. Tourists are treated like kings and queens,
they don’t have to do anything but enjoy. From the moment you leave airport to
getting the boat from the airport to Freetown to the moment you enter my accommodation,
there are multiple people wanting to hold your bags, give you water, help you.
Its ridiculous. My mum calls it lazy culture, she says people get lazy if they
stay for too long because they get used to it.
Also be aware that not everyone wants to help out of kindness, some people want to be tipped, so make sure you have some leones with you. If we tip, we usually tip around 5,000 – 10,000 leones, which is 50p to £1.
For example, when I’m in the car and I want to buy roasted corn, but the corns are 10 footsteps away, people (and by people I mean locals who are about in the street) offer to go and buy it for me so I don’t have to walk. It’s the same with directions, people don’t just direct you, they take you there, they get in your car and direct you the whole way, before making their own way to where they were going. Its great.
As a tourist you would want to get around and visit different parts of the city. You could hire a car and a private driver, or you could use public transport.
We have 4 different public transportation. The first is buses, which are called poda poda in krio. Poda podas have always been in Sierra Leone as far as I can remember, and it is a very popular method of transport. Unlike the UK, these buses are not all uniform, they have different names, lights, patterns, designs, different sizes. They even have American school buses (the yellow ones with the ‘School Bus’ sign) that is used as a poda poda.
The second are taxis, which are yellow and they remind me of New York taxis but with a different design. They have no special name.
The next one is the motor cycles. These are called ocada. They are the fastest form of transport as they can wiggle through traffic. They’re fast and easy, and fun to try out.
The final one is keekee, these are recent additions to Sierra Leonian streets and are from India. The drivers are impatient as they want to wiggle through traffic like the ocadas but are not always successful as they are bigger than ocadas.
If you do visit, I suggest getting on each of these public transport just to experience them. I personally prefer the keekees (pictured above).
The beaches are absolutely stunning in Sierra Leone. We have
stretches and stretches of sand all around the coast. We have yellow and white
sand beaches. Most beaches have the ocean on one side, and the mountains as a
Tourist season is November and December, so if you visit in late
January or February, the beaches are empty and so peaceful. My uncle lives 10
minutes walk from the beach and goes jogging on the beach every day, whilst my
cousins go there to play football.
Sierra Leone is a very mountainous country. There is never a
moment when you’re not viewing the mountains or the valleys. It’s absolutely wonderful.
The views are magnificent. Below is the view from my house,
that I woke up to every day.
On one side is the river and on the other is mountains.
We also have palm trees everywhere, which makes the views all the more beautiful.
There is a market on almost every street is Freetown. Its
one of the things I love and hate. It means that the streets are always busy
and heavy with traffic. The main markets are in the centre near Victoria Park. There’s
markets on Malama Thomas street, and Goodrich Street. You can buy anything from
fresh fish, to bangles, to lace, to slippers.
Only drink bottled water, western stomach do not take well to local water.
Never pay the asking price in markets, haggle haggle haggle.
People love to beep their horns – so be prepared for excessive noise.
Try the local cuisine, especially sea food.
Make sure you eat at Crown Bakery and Lagoonda (which has an amazing view)