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Explore Rome in 12 hours

Rome makes for one of the most alluring cities in Europe boasting an enriched mix of charming side streets, hauntingly beautiful ruins and inspired alfresco dining. Read all about how to spend a day in Rome!

Dip your finger into the Dolce Vita honey pot by idling around Trastevere’s picture-perfect streets, discover priceless artistic treasures and explore Rome’s ancient heritage rivalling astonishing contenders from all over the world. 

My friend and I started our day by leaving the hotel room at around 9 am in hope of finding the Trevi Fountain to be as peaceful as it looks on famous social media photos. Nope. Instead we arrived to floods of tour bus folk sitting upon the fountain’s edge and police blowing their whistles like lifeguards at a swimming pool. The Trevi Fountain is truly a masterpiece in itself and should be, rightly so, admired for a while before moving on. 

Next on the agenda was to climb the Spanish Steps. Guarded by the likes of Prada and Valentino, the steps run steep with ever-lasting views of the narrow streets and rooftops below.

With little time comes little patience. With only having the one day for exploring, we decided not to tour the insides of the coliseum as (1) it was raining and (2) the tour would take a huge chunk out of our day. Instead, we were more than happy with the most beautiful views of the exterior bones of the Coliseum showing us that we could admire its beauty from afar [pending outfit change]. 

Girl needs to eat! Who would dare to visit Italy and not try the pizza? Surrounded by fairy lights and cobbled roads, dine alfresco at Ella’s Pizzeria for a delicious pit stop. 

Soak up the Italian culture and wander aimlessly around the most charismatic neighbourhood in Rome, Trastevere. Here you’ll come across charming storefronts, hanging ivy, fairy lights, rustic plant pots, distressed bookshops and authentic outdoor dining offering a variety of Italian dishes. We spent a good amount of time just wandering around, getting lost and talking about how pretty everything was!

As we refused public transport, time seemed to slip away from us. And that’s how I spent my day in Rome. Leaving Rome unfinished motivates a swift return, perhaps next summer…

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  • C A L P E

    August 2, 2019 by

    Calpe Day Trip Guide from Benidorm If you’re in Benidorm and looking for a day trip then Calpe is the perfect choice! Calpe is a quaint town north of Benidorm sitting on the coast of Spain where you’ll find those beautiful Spanish steps and white-washed buildings to roam around before heading to the beach so… Read more

  • B E R L I N

    July 14, 2019 by

    A recent goal of mine has been to explore more of Europe; starting with Germany, Berlin was high on my list. Here’s a post packed with those instgram-worthy spots I enjoyed over a two day visit… A German City Guide What to do with your weekend in Berlin East Side Gallery Artists from all over… Read more

  • Explore Rome in 12 hours

    December 8, 2019 by

    Rome makes for one of the most alluring cities in Europe boasting an enriched mix of charming side streets, hauntingly beautiful ruins and inspired alfresco dining. Read all about how to spend a day in Rome! Dip your finger into the Dolce Vita honey pot by idling around Trastevere’s picture-perfect streets, discover priceless artistic treasures… Read more

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B E R L I N

A recent goal of mine has been to explore more of Europe; starting with Germany, Berlin was high on my list. Here’s a post packed with those instgram-worthy spots I enjoyed over a two day visit…

A German City Guide

What to do with your weekend in Berlin

East Side Gallery

Artists from all over the world have stamped their mark on the last standing remains of the Berlin Wall, a beautiful way to make something so ugly into a place for people to visit and never to be forgotten.

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The Berlin Cathedral Church

One of my favourite spots to explore. Situated over on the east side of Berlin, the Berlin Cathedral stands proud next to a beautiful river where you can sit, admire the gorgeous view and people watch.

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We played “spot the tall pointy thing” all over the city.

House of Small Wonder

If you’re needing an escape from the tourists and to rest those tired feet of yours then this cute and planty cafe in the north of Berlin is the perfect place to refuel… AND the prices are very reasonable!

Brandenburg Gate

This huge historical landmark once signified a divide but has now become a symbol of peace and unity. Being one of the busiest tourist sites in Berlin it’s probably best to make sure you get there for sunrise in order to get the view to yourself.

Viktoriapark & Golgatha Bar

This hidden gem is a moderate 35 – 40 minute walk away from the city centre. The main reason why I wanted to find this place was because I thought it would be a chilled escape away from tourists, and the fact that there’s a nearby beer garden (Golgatha) to sunbathe in made up for the long trek!

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When in Germany…

Konzerthaus Berlin

My favourite building in Berlin is home to grand halls with beautiful ceilings towering over orchestral concerts, and of course, a red carpet fit for a QUEEEEEEEEN.

Neue Kirche

Old buildings galore! This whole area is surrounded by interesting architecture; we loved taking a slow walk around the block looking upwards. You can take beautiful photos from any angle but I liked the view from the steps of the building mentioned above – Konzerthaus Berlin!

Checkpoint Charlie

What was once a crossing point for western allies by 1962 is now a historic landmark positioned in the middle of the city between two roads. If you’re here during the summer months then keep your eyes peeled for a man-made beach nearby!

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

A place for remembrance and peace, visit during the end of the day to skip the tourists and immature people running around as if it were a maze! As you walk around, you can almost feel the significance of this horrific event.

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PHILIPPINES

Heaven on Earth? YES.

With over seven thousand islands the Philippines are layered with countless white beaches and hundreds of deliciously fresh coconuts – so what are you waiting for? Book your flights and discover Asia’s best-kept secrets…

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FAQ:

  • UK residents have a free 28-day tourist visa
  • Best time to visit: the dry season is between October and May
  • The cheapest months to fly are in March/ April from Manchester Airport
  • 1 British Pound = roughly 72 Philippine Pisos
  • Locals speak really good English
  • Good WiFi is very hard to come by
  • If you want to island-hop (I strongly recommend) then book your flights between islands as far in advance as you possibly can, it can get really expensive if not
  • Filipino cuisines are delicious

I spent 28 days island hopping and adventuring so here’s a list of 10 favourites to do in the Philippines:

1. Swim with whale sharks in Donsol

So, I have been obsessed with whale sharks for what seems like forever so I wanted to go to a place where I knew that whale sharks would swim naturally on their own terms. I did my research. Donsol is south of Manila where we first landed in the Philippines. Ready for a journey? Yes? Me too.

To get to Donsol you have to take a bus to Barlaran from the airport for 20 pesos (27p) which took around 20 minutes. Next, you have to catch a bus to Cubao (Araneta Centre) costing 35 pesos (48p) which took around 2 hours with bad traffic. The bus terminal was very efficient, a ticket to Legazpi City costs 1,100 pesos (£15.30) leaving at 9pm to then arrive 11 hours later. The last stretch of the journey would require you taking a minibus to the Donsoltourist information centre, this costs 98 pesos (£1.36) and takes around an hour.

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Accommodation:

Dancalan Beach next door to the tourist information centre – 500 pesos for a double room, 250 each (£3.47) with a shared bathroom. This place was a beautiful start to our trip because it was so quiet, the beach was right at our doorstep. Make sure you order their vegetable fried rice and mango pancakes!

Come 12 o’clock we hopped on a private boat with four men on a mission to find whale sharks. I cannot applaud these men enough as they were nothing less than professionals. The water wasn’t clear and the sun was hiding yet these guys spotted our first whale shark within 20 minutes! We had hired the boat for 3 hours so for us to be entering the water this soon was really exciting.

*Due to cloudy conditions please excuse these poor quality GoPro photographs!

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2. Cebu – Kawasan Falls

Most famous for those icy blue waters and yes, the water really is this blue!

Tip: Visit in time for sunrise in order to beat the crowds!

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3. Cebu – White Beach

We stayed in Moalboal which is about 30-minutes on a scooter from Kawasan Falls and a 5-minute scooter ride to White Beach. 

Tip: We loved hiring a scooter and going for long rides to explore the surrounding area –  it was beautiful!

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4. Cebu – Badian – Inambakan Falls

There are so many destinations in the Philippines for waterfalls. If I were you I’d research the ones you like the look of the most, rent a scooter and go from there. 

Tip: We arrived at around 11am and this place was still quite empty whereas I’ve heard Kawasan Falls can get very busy after a certain time!

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5. Siargao Island – Soul Tribe Beach Retreat

A surfers paradise. It was hard to leave this island; we enjoyed the people, food, scooter rides and water so much that we ended up staying longer than expected.

Accommodation: Soul Tribe Beach Retreat is a beautiful getaway for anyone wanting to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of travelling. 

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6. Siargao – Island Boat Tour

The boat tours from this island are beautiful and easy to book through your accommodation: we were taken to a few sand islands, snorkel spots and ended with a Filipino BBQ (where you buy all of the ingredients at the market beforehand) on the beach. This may possibly have been one of the best meals in my entire life…

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7. Bohol Island

Here, we completed our first night and deep dive with Bohol Divers Club. Diving is probably one of my favourite activities to do in Southeast Asia because it’s cheap and lets you discover what a fascinating underwater world we have!

Bohol is also home to the Chocolate Hills. Unfortunately, there is no chocolate to be found but there is, however, perfectly shaped hills dotted across the horizon… sorcery.

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8. Siquijor Island – Cambugahay Falls 

Known for its mystical witchcraft, scuba diving and adventure packed waterfalls. We stayed in a small town called San Juan at JJ packers, I recommend heading down to Monkey Business for their delicious food!

Tips: have 50 Pisos ready for entry and don’t forget to explore the surrounding waterfalls instead of staying by the main one. 

Swing through the jungle like Tarzan and I’ll be your Jane. Too cheesy? Moving on…

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9. Siquijor Island – Salagdoong Beach

Tip: From San Juan, it took around 1hr – 1hr30 to drive here on a scooter but there are lots of gorgeous views along the way to keep you occupied!

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10. Palawan – El Nido > Coron

Finally, home to crystal clear water, palmy beaches and mermaid life is Palawan.

Island hopping tours were easy to set up through front desks or travel shops along the main strips. As a big fan of the Filipino BBQ, I highly recommend taking an El Nido > Coron boat tour for the day where you can bag yourself a gorgeous beach BBQ cooked while you’re working up an appetite free diving towards abandoned shipwrecks and getting that insta-worthy shot jumping into Kayangan Lake!

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That concludes my 10 favourite things to do in the Philippines, thanks for reading!

Drop me a comment if you have any more questions.

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J A P A N

Japan.

Where the freshest sushi is created, where Mount Fuji stands tall, where snowboarders cut the finest powder and where you’ll find quirky fashion statements around every corner.

Japan has always been a dream of mine, an obsession with this intriguing country has developed quickly over the years. So when a friend got in touch and asked if I wanted to join her in Japan, how could I say no?

Good to know:

  • Japan is very expensive!
  • You will find it hard to come by good English or somebody that understands you but the Japanese are very generous and will try to help you in every way that they can
  • 1 British pound = 147.38 Japanese Yen
  • Access to WiFi is really good
  • Eat the traditional food, that’s an order!

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I stayed in ‘IRORI Hostel’ which was around an 8 minute walk from the metro station. As I breached the surface of the underground I felt a rush of ice cold air greet my face as I found myself surrounded by a wall of towering buildings. Even though Tokyo is a capital city, at 1:30am it was deadly silent that it was almost deafening. I used my maps.me app to guide myself. As I was walking a kind man saw me in my backpacking attire and immediately asked if I needed help finding my hostel. He kindly looked it up on his phone and escorted me to the door, told me to enjoy my experience in Tokyo and carried on walking home. This is just one example of how kind the Japanese people are.

With 2 hours sleep I woke up at 7am to explore the world’s biggest fish market, Tsukiji Fish Market. I bought a travel card (similar to London’s Oyster card) where I loaded around 2,000 Yen so I didn’t have to buy single tickets for every trip.

I meandered through the never ending rows of fresh fish being cut, beheaded, skinned and packed before my very eyes. Men work hard from the early hours of the morning to sell fish coming in many shapes and sizes.

Something smells a little bit fishy, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s the smell of my clothes. After exploring, me and my friend Hannah sat down in a tiny sushi restaurant where we waited for around 40 minutes to taste the freshest sushi I’ve ever eaten. I’m more of a macci girl but I still enjoyed the experience of trying the different kinds of sushi – for breakfast!

We then ventured out into Shibuya but only for a few hours until we crashed; returning back to our hostel for a well deserved nap before heading out to explore Tokyo at night.

We spent the next afternoon browsing through racks of the coolest vintage clothes until that sharp feeling in the pit of our stomachs yelled out. We tried our first Japanese ramen in a cute restaurant to which we don’t even know the name of because everything in this area was written in Japanese!

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More from the area of Shibuya and the famous Shibuya crossing…

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Girl, just call me Beyoncé.

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Do not miss the chance to sing your heart out whether you chose to go alone or with some friends. The Japanese love to sing karaoke as a social or solo activity; you can rent a room, order drinks and dress up in crazy outfits. Me and Hannah loved this experience, that’s after we figured out how to work the karaoke machine…

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Puppy love! We were obsessed with the fact that you could go to a place where you paid to sit and pay with little dogs just for fun. We went to Dog Heart in Shibuya to play with beagles and a lovely golden retriever, you could also chose an option where you took a dog for a walk but we decided to stay in the warmth for a while.

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Our next stop was to go and see the famous Mount Fuji. As we were exploring Japan at a time when it was unlikely that beginner hikers would attempt the climb, we only admired the mountain from a far. We stayed at K’s House Fuji View which I highly recommend as the interior design was a traditional Japanese style with a hot shower, fast WiFi, close to the train/bus station and the beds were that comfy that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning… much to Hannah’s dismay.

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So we took a train to Shimoyoshida Station and followed the map to the Churreito Pagoda where we were able to see a view of Mount Fuji from a distance.

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Kyoto. We stayed at Grateful Hostel in the area of Kamigyo-ku. From here we ventured into Arashiyama where we strolled through a bamboo forest and took a long walk admiring the beautiful surroundings that brought us to delicious street food and shrines embedded within autumn leaves and flowers.

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Gion, a traditional corner home to the Kyoto Traditional Musical Art Foundation ‘Ookini Zaidan‘. Here you can watch a display of traditional Japanese performances such as the Kado (Flower Arrangement), Chado (Tea Ceremony), Kyogen (Ancient Comic Play) and the Kyomai (Kyoto Style Dance).

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Feeding time at Chojiro. Eating here was sugoil (awesome)! I had never been to a train sushi restaurant before, even back in England, so experiencing it for the first time in Kyoto was a special treat. I am not the best raw fish eater so I opted for tuna rolls which were absolutely delicious. Dining with touchscreen service also added to the experience.

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Oh deer lord! Welcome to Nara, home to hundreds of deer ruling over grass and streets. Myself and Hannah really enjoyed feeding the deer, that’s until a really crazy looking one with hungry eyes chased us around. He/she just ran at people who were holding crackers looking to head-butt them, finding this hilarious we were entertained for a good hour or so in the deer parks.

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The Itsukushima Shrine is definitely worth a visit on the island of Itsukushima. I loved wandering around this charming island, it felt like I was walking through time.

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Travelling around Japan would not be complete without a visit to Hiroshima. Hiroshima is a city which was impacted hugely by an atomic bomb during World War 2 and left many ruins including the famous Genbaku Dome which shows a spine curling shell still standing. I won’t go into the facts as it’s an unbelievable experience to discover for yourself the many artefacts, true accounts and information panels you’ll find within the museum.

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Must try: Okonomiyaki – a delicious Japanese dish consisting of pork, egg, cabbage and soba cooked to perfection on a steaming hot surface in front of you. I love unique dining experiences and this was by far unique for me.

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Osaka. Starting in Fukushima we ate in a Japanese restaurant serving handmade green onion and soy sauce Takoyaki which kind of looked like a Yorkshire pudding.

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So we fancied a bit of fun, Hannah suggested Universal Studios and so the next thing we knew is that we were leaving our accommodation, Evergreen Hostel, to catch the train to Sakurajima where we waited in line to enter Universal Studios. One of the best days of my travels. Why? Harry Potter World of course!

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Thank you for reading, I hope you found this post somewhat interesting and useful.

Happy travelling

xoxo

Love Thy Traveller