New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA)

Where do I even start?! As with Nashville, New Orleans was always on my bucket list and for good reason – it’s unlike anywhere else. It has a very French/fairytale/jazz infused feel it’s impossible not to love. There’s a big interest in the supernatural; graveyards, ghosts (you can even have dinner with one at Muriel’s in Jackson Square) and clairvoyants and it’s had a reputation as a “refuge for lost souls” for many many years. If you’ve ever read A Streetcar Named Desire it’ll feel like you’re in that book as you walk round, theres an actual ‘Desire Street’ and you can go to ‘Elysian Fields Avenue’, just a casual literature reference.

When we first arrived it was the hottest it had been for a few days, hitting the early 30’s as we wandered a Lafayette graveyard filled with beautiful historic above ground tombs which was interesting to see if not a little haunting. From there we obviously headed to a bar, where we had drinks in the sunshine and threw coins into a fountain as we made wishes. After a unanimous decision, we headed to a thrift store where we picked outfits for our first night in N’Awlins. We headed to the hotel to freshen up and get ready and we were blown away by the luxury that awaited us. After many nights in hostels and motels (all of which were really good) we were in a proper hotel with walk in showers and luxurious double beds. Heaven. There was also an incredible rooftop bar with live jazz music and a view of the city which was stunning at sunset. The link to the hotel is here if you’re in need of a recommendation.

So, let the first night begin. Apart from Nashville, this was the first city that we were really able to party in and let me tell you, we were ready for it. We met at the rooftop bar with sequins, fake moustaches, pleather caps, snake hats, Mardi Gras beads and moustache suits in tow. The crazy thing? We didn’t look out of place.

We wandered the French quarter and got hurricanes on the way to dinner. A hurricane for anyone that’s wondering is a strooooong cocktail made with various rums and we got them by the litre, literally. Jazz music filled the streets as we waited for a table at the best restaurant for gumbo and other Louisiana favourites. We were waiting a while, well, long enough for the hurricanes to take effect and for a group of us to pop to the bar next door to get some more rather strong but expertly and individuality made cocktails. Delish. The alcohol laws in New Orleans are such that you can walk from bar to bar with your drinks and it’s legal. Amazing.

After dinner we wandered, dipping in and out of bars to listen to jazz performers which were amazing. Street music, dancing, spoon playing and cartwheels were happening left right and centre – and that was just from our group. I’ll insert some videos below – even they may not give the whole atmosphere but they sure make me smile thinking back to them. The rest of the night was filled with dancing and drinks and laughter and it was one of my favourite nights on the trip.

On the left is Jess cartwheeling, the top right video is me and Jack – pretty sure I blacked out for the whole thing, I had no idea what I was doing (clearly!) it was like a crazy trust exercise, “just run!”, and bottom right is Jess and Jack playing the spoons. What can I say, we’re a talented bunch…

Feeling surprisingly fresh the following morning, we headed out in the blistering heat to get breakfast. We walked a fair way and I think it nearly killed a few of us off but we made it. I ordered the bananas foster which is bananas, cinnamon, sugar, cream and ice cream and it’s way too heavy for breakfast after a night out but it’s a New Orleans classic so I couldn’t miss it. And of course we had mimosas which kind of goes without saying.

Later in the day, Ana and I went to Mardi Gras World where we learnt why and how all the floats are made as well as getting to walk round the warehouse where they’re all made. Instead of a ticket to enter the ‘museum’ you get Mardi Gras beads which both Ana and I thought was such a novelty. Before looking round the actual floats and learning about the process they go through when they’re made you get to watch a video about the history of Mardi Gras. We also got to eat cake – if your piece had a tiny plastic baby in it then you were king/queen for the day. It was called King Cake. I know, New Orleans right?

I think we went out the second night as well but in all honesty I can’t remember much about it, I think it was more chilled than the first night but no doubt drinks and jazz still featured highly. Before we left we had to stop by the market and grab some beignets, deep fried choux pastry covered with powdered sugar, which were incredible.

“Laissez le bon temps rouler” translated as “let the good times roll”, the unofficial catchphrase of New Orleans. Add it to your bucket lists now.

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Heading South…

I think I’ve been waiting a while to write all these posts because once I’ve done it and they’re out there, what more is there to say? Who else is there to tell about my adventures? Reliving each city as I’ve written about it has been such a joy, I guess it’s the closest thing I’ll get to actually re-doing the trip – as much as joke about it to Ana. I’ve been especially reluctant to write about Nashville and New Orleans because I’m afraid my love for them won’t come across. It’s quite hard to write about a place where nothing major happened, there were no grand canyons or star filled skies it was much more about the people and the music and the atmosphere. And that’s something very hard to describe.

Nashville was always on my list of places to go. Country music and the whole romanticism of country life have always been of interest so actually being there was really special. The visit to the Ryman auditorium was incredible – learning about its history and the Grand Ole Opry and being only a few footsteps from the stage that so many incredible performers have sung on was so surreal. Walking up and down Broadway, the main street, popping into boot stores, hat stores and the array of different bars and honky tonks listening to all the next big thing’s. People singing and dancing everywhere with a real love for the music they’re listening to. It’s just such a special place.

It’s the place of karaoke – and I mean karaoke. These people can SING! Like, ready to get their big break kind of singing. So naturally our tour leader added my name to the list. I politely but rather forcefully declined and let another member of our group take my place, and it was just as well because she smashed it.

It’s also the place where you can get pizza delivered to the bar. I’m here for it.

It’s the place of $54 hats, 3 pairs of boots for the price of 1 (which is actually a really good deal and a few of us nearly grouped together but the reality of carrying boots round the world put a slight downer on the idea), it’s the place where everyone can wear pretty much the same thing and it’s not weird – think denim, flannel shirts, hats, boot, etc etc. It’s magical. I think the phrase of the night was “I love it, can I stay here? Let’s stay here. Can we stay here?”.

We also got to visit the Bluebird Cafe, which may not mean anything to many of you but it’s the place people go to perform at open mic nights where they may or may not get spotted and they become the next Garth Brooks or Taylor Swift. Both were discovered there, and it’s also had visits from Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley before they were country superstars. It’s a country music holy grail and I got to stand outside.

Nashville, I’ll be back.

From Nashville we went to Memphis, land of Elvis and Blues. Compared to Nashville, Memphis was a little bit of a let down. Don’t get me wrong, it was still amazing and the live blues singers were unlike anything I’ve ever heard before but nothing was going to beat that Monday night. Tuesday night in Memphis wasn’t quite as buzzing and the rain may have dampened the mood a little, thanks Irma.

We spent the day at the National Civil Rights Museum which is adjoined to the Lorraine Hotel, the place where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The museum was incredibly interesting and interactive but the most hard hitting part for me was definitely seeing the room where the assassination happened. Everything was left as it was and the quotes from his family and friends bought a tear to everyone’s eye, it was very moving. If you’re ever in Memphis I’d definitely recommend taking the time to visit.

We also took a trip to the Gibson factory which was $11 rather than $60 like Graceland was, sorry Elvis – maybe next time. The Gibson factory was fascinating though, even for someone who’s not got the biggest passion for how guitars are made. It was very hands on, lots to see and touch and questions were encouraged, well worth $11.

I have to say though, highlight of the day had to be the Peabody Ducks. If you haven’t heard of them, stop whatever you’re doing and listen up. There are a group of ducks that live in the Peabody hotel in the centre of Memphis and every night there’s a ceremony for them. They walk (waddle?) from the fountain in the hotel foyer down a set of tiny red stairs, down a red carpet to the elevator lead by the Duck Master. They proceed to get in the lift which takes them to the roof where they spend the night and then in the morning the ceremony is reversed. They do this every day. Hundreds of people (us included) waited for 45 minutes to get a good view of them. There was music and the Duck Master had proper attire and it was quite the event. Half our group thought it was ridiculous and the other half (myself included) thought it was maybe the highlight of the trip (or definitely the highlight of Memphis). Here’s a video Ana took of them – she sat on the floor with the children to get the best view, obviously, but I still don’t think you can get the full experience. Add it to your list of things to do in this crazy city.

We also visited Beale Street which is the equivalent of Broadway in Nashville. It’s a street full of bars that have blues music flooding the street it’s impossible not to be impacted by such soulful voices; blues isn’t my favourite genre of music but even I was swept up in it. It was a great place but the tiredness from Nashville and the rain from Hurricane Irma had caught up with us and so it wasn’t a late night but a fun one all the same.

East Coast Highlights

City: New York, New York

Technically the tour started in New Jersey so we got a bus from New York to New Jersey with no idea when to get off, when we did eventually guess (surprisingly correctly), we were dumped on the side of a road like in a movie. It was bizarre. Luckily a man gave us directions along the gravelled main road where we came to a Motel and finally called an uber to rescue us. The morning of the tour we nearly went off on the wrong tour altogether, down to Miami whilst Hurricane Irma was happening. Not the best start. But before all those misadventures we went to New York which quite frankly started out as a nightmare trip.

You know how you always have the thought in the back of your mind that the hotel won’t have you booking or the Airbnb won’t exist? Well, that actually happens. 11pm in the middle of The Bronx, two young women are wandering the streets trying to contact the owner of the accommodation they’re meant to be staying in and they get no reply. I don’t know whether it was the tiredness or just because everything was completely overwhelming but we both stayed relatively calm considering the situation. Thank god for smart phones and google is all I can say. We booked one night at a place nearer the centre which from the outside (and the inside come to think of it) looked like a prison but our room was decent. It had walls and a bed and that’s really all we cared about. We sorted accommodation for the rest of our stay which was in the theatre district and 2 minutes from Times Square so it actually worked out in our favour, despite the stress and money.

So, my highlights of New York are as follows:

The Rockefeller Center, or the top of the rock as it’s more casually known. Tickets have set times on them so if you know you want a particular time I would either book online or get there early, we tried to just saunter in and it doesn’t really work like that. Tickets are about $34 which is a bit steep but there’s a video of the history of the family and the building as you wait and once you’re up there the price becomes irrelevant because the view is indescribable. As with everything on this trip, I’ll never forget it.

Secondly, Broadway. It was on my bucket list to see a Broadway show and I had to persuade Ana, my travel companion, but as soon as we were there she was on board. We queued in Times Square to get the reduced tickets which worked out pretty well. We bagged seats in the stalls for Kinky Boots for about $75 each which when some seats go for $$$ it was a steal! I can’t rate a Kinky Boots highly enough, if it’s not on your list of shows to see, add it on now because you will be blown away. It has everything you need from a musical – a heartfelt storyline, fantastic musical numbers and costumes to match as well as plenty of laughs. The only thing that bothered us was the accent, being set in Northern England the American twang was a little hard to get used to but it was amusing rather than irritating. Ana loved the show so much she found a souvenir cup in the trash on the way out and took it back to the hotel with us and let me tell you, other souvenirs were sacrificed because this cup took up so much space in her bag.

My third highlight of New York is Times Square. The glitz and glamour of the lights, the amount of people and the atmosphere is exactly as you’d imagine and it was so surreal to be there.

Other highlights include: Grand Central Station, Central Library and of course, Central Park

City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Now Philadelphia wasn’t my favourite city it has to be said but if you’re into American history it’s definitely the place for you. We weren’t there long but we saw the Liberty Bell, ran up the “Rocky Steps” and saw many other historical landmarks. We also went to Reading Market where you can purchase the infamous Philly Cheesesteak.

City: Washington DC (apparently not part of any state but in between Maryland and Virginia)

Washington DC also wasn’t one of my favourites but it again, full of history and very interesting if you’re into presidents and parliament etc. We saw the Liberty Bell, which is so much smaller than you’d expect it to be it was almost disappointing, we also saw The White House which is also a lot smaller than you’d think. We went to the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed, saw the World War Two memorial, the Martin Luther King statue. The Lincoln statue was very surreal to see and its as imposing as you’d imagine. We visited the Air and Space museum which was really cool, and I’d highly recommend going because not only is it free but it’s actually really interesting. There are two “best things” about Washington though. First of all, the bars. I’ve never had drinks so strong and neither had Ana – as the pavement soon found out (no judgement Ana, my time would soon come too!). Secondly, we got the chance to go to a baseball game. A proper all-American baseball game with pizza and beer and the whole shebang. It was so cool, a definite movie-moment.

State: Virginia

We passed through Virginia on our way from Washington DC to Nashville so we stopped off at Shenandoah National Park where the first of our group photos was taken. Virginia was our first time staying in a motel which was another movie moment, despite the murder vibes, but it was so nice being in a double bed rather than a single bunk bed. It’s the little things.

Fiji: Tips and Tricks

1. Starting off with the thing you can’t go without, the Bula Pass. This is pretty much the only way to go from island to island unless you want to catch a private speedboat or helicopter. Purchased in advance, it allows you to go from island to island as many times as you want and in any direction you want (I mean up and down the islands, not like, forwards/backwards or side to side just to be clear). It costs $442 Australian dollars (roughly £253) and is available from Awesome Adventures, the company that primarily deal with island hopping transport and accommodation as well as day trips and activities.

2. Bulk buy water ($6 for 6 litre bottles) from the mainland before you head to the islands because a lot of the islands don’t provide drinking water (some don’t even provide it at meal times) and if you buy it on the islands you could pay up to $8 a bottle. It’s a pain to carry around but Fijians are super helpful and will always take it from you when getting on and off boats and usually carry it to the room too (island dependant). Just a quick word about the mainland – don’t let it put you off, the islands couldn’t be more different so don’t stay there more than one night either side of your trip (or get a flight the same night you arrive back if you can).

3. Speaking of boats, don’t go to Fiji if you don’t like water travel and/or get seasick as the ferry can take up to 4.5 hours to reach some of the resorts that are in the north islands. The ferry also doesn’t take you to the door, you have to climb from the ferry to a speed boat/smaller passenger boat that then takes you to the islands. Even then you get out of the boat into the shallow of the water to walk up the beach to your resort so wear flip flops and clothes you don’t mind getting damp because you will have water splashed up your legs to get the sand off. Hey, I never said it wasn’t an adventure.

4. If you’re doing island hopping (backpacker style rather than a fancy resort vacation) try and visit a combination of “one coconut” and “two coconut” resorts. The coconuts replace a star rating system so one coconut is the basic level with resorts run by villages and families, often with limited electricity and water whereas two coconuts is more luxurious often with wifi (possibly at a cost) and hairdryers. One coconut resorts are great for getting a feel for the Fijian culture and really getting back to basics and I’d highly recommend staying in one but start your trip there and work your way up to a two coconut place – degrading the standards as you go will only be a bad thing. Ending on a high and finishing somewhere that has a few more amenities will be exactly what you need after 10 days running from place to place (it really is more taxing than it sounds). I’d highly recommend Blue Lagoon and Octopus and for the extra $50(ish) they’re more than worth it.

5. I doubt this would happen but if you’re island hopping try not to piss anyone off because nine times out of ten you’ll see them again on another island or meet someone that’s met them. In the same way, friends are everywhere and reunions are the best.

6. Take a bed liner and the strongest insect repellent you can find. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Top Five Travel Must Haves 

With the non-stop place to place schedule I’ve had the past couple of months I found the easiest way to write down blog ideas was to create lists of different things I’ve noticed/learnt/experienced. I feel these type of posts are easy and fun to read as well as being a good ‘on the go’ format for me. With that in mind I have a couple of upcoming posts in a similar style to this one on various topics so hopefully you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. 

Kicking off the first one I thought I’d give you my top five travel must haves since I’ve just passed the ten week travel mark. A couple of these are aimed at hotter climates but hopefully it’ll provide some inspiration for any upcoming trips you may have. 

1. Sun cream and after sun

These come hand in hand and you can’t have one without the other. Especially for Australia, New Zealand and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere suncream is a no brainier because of the strength of UV rays. Don’t forget the after sun as well because no one wants pealing skin especially after the hard work of getting a good tan, you’ll want it to last as long as possible. 

2. Antiseptic cream 

Don’t laugh at this one. The sun cream/after sun and antiseptic cream combo has become a daily (and nightly) routine now due to the amount of bites received. It’s also great for any cuts, grazes, popped blisters, and any other ailments. It’s basically saving my life at the moment, there’s not much it can’t fix. I’d even go as far as to recommend a brand but that might be a bit much… who am I kidding, it’s Bepanthen. 

3. Clothes for all weather 

Even if it’s just one item for each weather type (e.g. one raincoat, one pair of fluffy socks, one sun hat) because yes, you will need a raincoat in Fiji despite what you might think. Fluffy socks are great for colder cities (Melbourne I’m looking at you) as well as being useful for flights. 

4. A microfibre travel towel 

I can’t stress this one enough, I’d be lost without mine. Bodhi is a great brand and the towels come in a variety of sizes and colours and have a hook which is great, providing the door actually has hooks. They also come in small travel bags meaning you can keep it separate from your other things in the event that you have to pack it whilst it’s still damp (although they dry incredibly quickly) but they fold so small you can squeeze them in anywhere. I got mine from Amazon here

5. The lowest standards 

When you think they’re low, lower them again. I’m serious. Think bed bugs, mice, unwashed sheets and geckos under the mattress to name just a few scenarios. I should add in a sixth one on this note; hand sanitiser. I know they become less effective the more you use them but I think you’ll agree it’s better than nothing. 

So there you have it, my five travel must haves. I’m sure with time I’ll add a few more to the list but until then these are my holy grail. If you have any you’d add to the list feel free to leave them in the comments! 

Just an update…

Throughout the past two months (58 days) I’ve travelled over 22,000 miles. I tried to look for an equivalent distance but google wouldn’t give me one; I know it’s a crazy long way though. I’ve currently been to 16 US states, 4 out of 6 Australian states and a two week stint island hopping in Fiji, all in the space of 8 weeks so it’s safe to say I’m more than a little exhausted (island hopping is actually more tiring than it sounds…). 

Throughout the multiple trips I’ve done there was barely time to sleep, let alone keep up a blog which is why this post is as late as it is. This may or may not be a get out clause; I will write something at some point but it might not be until I have some sort of routine because although it may look like constant cocktails and sunsets, travelling is super stressful at times. 

Thank you for all the interest in what I’m up to, it’s definitely appreciated -messages of support don’t go unnoticed and I’ll always reply so drop me a line if you want to! 

With love from across the (very big!) pond,

Sophie 

95 days and counting…

Welcome to another post that’s been a long time coming! It’s only a short one as some of you may already know about what I’m about to write but since I got to properly tell my best friends about it this past weekend I thought I’d make more of an ‘official’ post. 

Come September I will officially unemployed and ready to take on a whole new adventure! Something I’ve been planning and working towards for a couple of years, although not without its setbacks, is finally in motion. Travel. Perhaps indefinitely, but we’ll see how things pan out…

First on the list is New York – The Big Apple, The City of Dreams… spending a few days exploring and taking in the bright lights before joining an organised group tour from the East coast to the West coast. After much deliberation about which company to go with, Trek America was chosen due to the better selection of tour types and price ranges. Here is their website if you’re interested: Trek America

From New York the tour continues to:

Philadelphia

Washington D.C

Virginia

Nashville – might need an extra case for my hat and boots! 

Memphis 

New Orleans 

Louisiana 

Austin 

San Angelo 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park  

Santa Fe

Monument Valley

Grand Canyon National Park

Route 66

Las Vegas

San Diego

Los Angeles, where the tour ends after 21 days

From Los Angeles a trip to San Francisco is a must, as is a day-trip to Disneyland!! But after that I catch a flight to Melbourne where I have a weeks worth of accommodation before my plans end and (I’m hoping) spontaneity begins. Any tips and tricks for working and travelling around Australia would be much appreciated as I’ve exhausted every possible YouTube video on the subject! 

I’m hoping to blog about what I get up to as much as I can whilst I’m away, hopefully filling your timelines with wanderlust inducing posts and photos but wifi may dictate how often that happens, we’ll see. 

So there we go! Just need to pack my bag and dust off my passport and I’m good to go… well, almost… 

Southern BLT from New York

July favourites…

Well what do you know? It’s that time again already… July favourites! Crazy how fast these come round! Let’s just jump right in this month with my all time favourite purchase (maybe of the whole year??) a dress from online store, Boohoo. It’s super simple, plain black fabric with a slight A-line shape to it towards the bottom (one of those that fans out when you spin) and it’s a really soft, comfortable fabric. It has a bardot, off the shoulder neckline which stays in place if you don’t move your arms much, although if it rides up onto your shoulders it looks nice like that too. But I really can’t shout about this dress enough, I love it. It’s flattering and comfy and a decent length – not too short for those of us that aren’t fans of the super short dresses, it’s also a steal at £12 and delivery was quick and easy. As I said I bought it in black but it seems that isn’t available anymore however there are a variety of other colours. Compliments all round for the dress and well, for you too when you wear it! Link to the dress is below:
http://www.boohoo.com/day-dresses/freya-frill-off-shoulder-skater-dress/invt/azz07121

Styling the dress – it comes just above my knees


Nextup is an ‘accessory’ I actually wore with the dress mentioned above. They’re the Benefit “Prima Donna” false lashes, a Boots online exclusive. At £12 they’re more expensive than lashes I would normally buy but I’m 100% sold. I’ll be wearing them time and time again until they’re falling apart because they look so good, they’re easy to apply and they fit nicely once they’re on. They don’t look fake, more like your own lashes but with a bit of oomph which was exactly the look I was after.I wore them for a party but I could easily wear these in the daytime too. The only downside is that they don’t come with glue so I used some I had previously but they do come in a sturdy plastic container so it’s easier to keep them looking nice between uses. I’ll definitely be repurchasing once mine are done! 

Continuing with eye makeup I have two favourite mascaras this month. First is the Charlotte Tilbury ‘Full Fat Lash’ mascara which I wasn’t struck on at the beginning but after a few uses it grew on me. It cost £22 which I was pleasantly surprised about considering the brand and was only a little more than my previous mascara Too Faced ‘Better than Sex’ – one I had to stop using as it ended up under my eyes instead of on them by the end of the day. The Charlotte Tilbury mascara has had no such problems so far so I’m happy! It also came so beautifully packaged I had to take a photo – like receiving a present! 

So pretty!!


Second is the Clinique ‘bottom lash mascara’which has the tiniest wand you’ve ever seen like it’s made for delicate fairy eyes or something. Besides the size of the wand it does the job perfectly, catching all the little lashes in the corners as well as making them look long and luscious. This one also doesn’t drop under the eyes throughout the day which was something I scoured reviews for before purchasing. The formula is more liquid than a usual mascara so use with caution the first couple of times. At £13 (ish) I’d recommend this to anyone. I have two songs of the month for July, ‘Carry You Home’ by Ward Thomas and ‘I Love You Always Forever’ covered by Betty Who. ‘Carry You Home’ is the first single from Ward Thomas’ upcoming album ‘Cartwheels’, being released September 9th and is the perfect summer country song, full of heart, soul, storytelling lyrics and a catchy beat – what more could you want?! I have tickets to see these girls in October and I’m very excited to see what else they release. Their newest single ‘Guilty Flowers’ has just come out and that’s also worth a listen. 

Betty Who’s cover of ‘I Love You Always Forever’, the well known 90’s song (you’ll know it when you hear it) is such a great upbeat cover I’ve had it on repeat. Like her own songs, this cover is injected with her unique sound which just makes me feel like it sunny even when it’s not…maybe it’s her subtle Australian twang that does it. Anyway, I love this cover and if you like the original version and Betty’s style of music I’m sure you’ll like it too. 

My final favourite this month is the city of Portsmouth. It’s where I spent my 3 years at uni and where I spent four days last week when I was back visiting friends. There’s something special about the city you went to university in, like it’ll always be home even if you no longer live there. Portsmouth is a lovely city regardless, it has the mix of the old vs the new, the hustle and bustle vs the serene, the city and the sea – everything you could want. It was so lovely to catch up (and party with) old friends as well as making new ones. I don’t know, I just love it. 

Beautiful Portsmouth


Okay that’s the end of this months favourites! Leave a comment about any of the things I’ve mentioned above if you’ve also loved them or even if you just fancy saying hello! Thanks for reading, until next time! 

Don’t let anyone tell you that Germans don’t know how to party…

It’s not everyday that you fly over 400 miles for the pre-wedding party of your best friend but long distance friendship sometimes takes a little more effort…

I’d just come home from work on New Year’s Eve, about to get ready for a party when I noticed an envelope on my bed. I knew immediately who it was from, her writing is unmistakable (and her address is always written on the back) and rushed to open it. I thought it was an invitation to her upcoming wedding and the dress on the front of the card also aided my suspicions but the point of the card was even more exciting. I read it slowly, taking in every word and smiling at the well wishes to my family (“greetings” as she always says). I reached the bottom of the first side and there was the question in silver swirly writing; “will you be one of my bridesmaids?”. I read it a couple more times before running down the stairs ecstatically to tell my family. An invite to the wedding was one thing considering I’m in a different country but asking me to be such a special part to the occasion was something else. I was thrilled. It was probably the best start to a new year I’d ever had. 

The card she sent me and the one I replied with

Since January I’ve been to visit her twice. First for the very important and extremely fun task of finding a wedding dress. It was like real life Say Yes to the Dress! Her sister Inga and her best friend Pia had made little gift bags for all the bridesmaids, six of us in total, each with snacks and tissues, and flash cards for rating each dress – theirs were in German, mine were in English and they were all adorable. There were individual little milk bottles filled with champagne and beautiful pink edible flowers resting at the bottom, decorated with a mint green ribbon round the top – they were so sweet I kept mine to display in my bedroom. The wedding dress store was about two and a half hours away so the car journey was more of a car picnic party – German pastries, sausage bites, sweets, and of course champagne were circulated round the car as we all chatted away and sang to Justin Bieber. I have to say, if you’ve never been wedding dress shopping before its 100% as much fun as it sounds. I loved it. The bride tried on a few dresses and she looked stunning in all of them but when she put on ‘the one’ we all knew it. There were hugs and tears and it was a really special moment – one I’m really glad I was a part of. 

The cute little gift bags


The second time I visited was more recently for a pre-wedding tradition called Polterabend which directly translates as “noisy night”. We definitely don’t have this idea in Britain and its a little odd if you’ve never heard of it but the mentality behind it is very heartwarming. Basically, the couple throw a party for all their friends and family – people coming to the wedding, people that can’t (or couldn’t be invited due to numbers) and there’s food and music and games and then there’s the traditional aspect. To show their well wishes, friends and family of the couple smash china- plates, mugs, vases (even a toilet was thrown!) and the couple then has to sweep the mess up, proving that they can work together. The noise of the smashing objects is also to ward off evil spirits from the engaged pair. Like I said, we definitely don’t have an equivalent and it was crazy to witness but also really cool to be a part of such a valued tradition. At the party there was also a huuuge buffet, a kind of “bring and share” system – I helped to make more Currywurst, because you can never have enough; it’s delicious. There were all kinds of pasta salads, noodles, bread rolls, cakes, desserts, cupcakes – even a candy floss machine or ‘Zuckerwatte’. There were gazebos and fairy lights and one of those mobile do it yourself bars with beer. So much beer.  

The bride and groom and the very pretty snack table!!


Don’t let anyone tell you that Germans don’t know how to party because I’ve partied the hardest when I’ve been there. This party started at 7pm and we didn’t get to bed until 6.30am. It was a lot to take in since I was the only person who wasn’t German but everyone’s English was incredibly impressive (and their English accents reciting Harry Potter were the cutest) and they’re also incredibly kind and understanding. It was the day Brexit had been announced and everyone was asking what I thought of it and how I felt and what was happening back home and they all agreed how sad and scary it was and they nearly all jokingly offered for me to stay with them, although considering what’s happening I might have to hold them to it. Also, don’t let anyone tell you that Germans are hard, non humorous people because they’re not. They’re some of the most loving, most appreciative and most funny people and my best friends family are my family and vice versa. 

My next trip over is in September for her hen party and the wedding taking place the week after and I’m so excited! It’s always lovely to be reunited with her and it’ll be great to celebrate ‘German style’ again with the other bridesmaids too, and of course share in the wonderment of her big day. I know I’ve said it a thousand times before but thank you for making me part of your special day, it really does mean the world. 

The two of us

Just a quick final update…

Just a quick final update following on from yesterday… Whilst sat in Plaza de Oriente (just outside the palace) I found some wifi and Googled one of the other museum/galleries to see if it would be of any interest as I needed something to fill my time. One of them, the Thyssen-Bornemisza was another gallery, and personally I found it a little better than the Prado as it had impressionist paintings by the likes of Monet and Renoir who I actually really like. It had an exhibition on (until the 12th October) called ‘Vogue: like a painting’ which, if you love vogue like I do, you’ll find this interesting. One of my favourite photographers, Nick Knight was featured heavily as you’d expect in a fashion photography exhibition and this probably made my visit. His photos are gorgeous.

A couple of my favourites, Renior and Lichtenstein as well as the Vogue: like a painting exhibition entrance

A couple of my favourites, Renior and Lichtenstein as well as the Vogue: like a painting exhibition entrance

Towards the end of the gallery I sat down opposite a painting of Venice, I think it looked like I was in deep thought about it (which I partly was) but really I just needed to sit down. My feet are so tired.

I slowly made my way back towards my hotel and ate tapas at a nearby restaurant; the same place I had paella on my first night. This was mostly to use up some time before heading to the airport but honestly when is tapas ever a bad idea.

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And so my solo Spanish adventure had come to an end and I’d recommend it to anyone – both Spain and travelling alone. It might not be until you speak to someone else about what you saw/did that they realise your interests before you do – this happened to me on the plane home whilst sat next to two lovely people travelling with their Spanish club (hello to you if you’re reading, thank you for keeping me company!).

Now I’m back home and my brain is scheming for my next destination. Any thoughts, questions or queries are more than welcome and hopefully this can push you in the right direction if you’re on the fence about going at it alone.

Hasta lluego!