Ah Europe. I miss the days I could book a flgiht/buy a train ticket just a couple of days in advance, hop on a plane (or train) on the Friday of that same week, and in 2-3 hours be in a COMPLETELY different city. As I study and scramble to keep head above the water with all the commitments and insane projects, tests, and deadlines I have in school, I find myself constantly reminiscing about the year that just passed. The time I was on my year abroad in London (read my tips on that here). It has only been only 3 and a half months since i've been back in Singapore, and already the memories from my exchange feel so distant.
Europe in a year. What a wonderful year it was.
From my internship in Paris to living for a whole year in London. I thought being away from home for a year would be too long, and that living in Europe for a year would give me sufficient time to explore the continent or learn more about the region, BUT I WAS WRONG. I could live here my whole life and still be fascinated - just like how after 21 years in Asia, I'm still as excited to go out and explore a different part of the region, and there is still SO MUCH I have yet to see!
Anyway, i thought i'd pay homage to my travels in Europe and come up with a list of 5 cities i'd love to revisit again.
I have been asked countless of times which are my favourite cities in Europe, and I never say just 1 city (the list goes on until I'm sort of telling my life story). So, are the 5 cities below, my favourite European cities (that i've travelled to/toured)? Maybe? But I can't say for sure. There were so many beautiful places I visited in Europe (Italy, Barcelona, Scandinavia - see what I mean about going on and on), and so many OTHER places I want to visit.
These 5 cities could be here because
a) I didn't spend enough time when in the city when I was there and had "unfinished business" or
b) I want to experience everything all over again, or probably both. All I know is, I enjoyed myself in these 5 cities, and would steal ANY chance to go back!
O N E: C O R N W A L L
With places like Cornwall, the pictures itself would make anyone want to go there. Seriously though. That gorgeous skies, the beautiful beaches and, cliffs and bluest of water. Everytime I read a cornish blogger's blog, I ask myself "why am I not living in Cornwall?!" Cornwall is so huge it doesnt really classify as one city. I've only been to west Cornwall, and even then I wouldn't mind going back. But i'd love to visit South Cornwall someday, heck maybe i'd jump on a plane, spend a couple of days in London, go to Cornwall and spend 2 weeks there. Someone please buy me an air ticket!
Cornwall is a place I will not hesitate to revisit if I get the chance to be back in the UK.
T W O: B U D A P E S T
If you saw my post titled Not Enough Time in Budapest, you would have guessed this. Budapest is a city I want to revisit just because there is so much to do, and I didnt get to do all that I wanted to. Also, the Daunbe River is but the most gorgeous thing ever. Walking around the river and looking on to the Buda (or Pest) side of it is something I could do over and over and over again.
T H R E E: I N T E R L A K E N
One of my biggest regret after my trip to Interlaken was that I did not get to go up the Swiss Alps.
Touristic or not, everyone has done it, and it has always been my dream to visit a mountain, experience what its like to see the snow caps of the alps. Learning about the mountains and rivers during geography lessons have only fuelled my appreciation and love for all things nature. Sadly, I didn't have that much time in Interlaken and it was rather pricy, somehow the situation led to me not being able to visit the Swiss alps.
I'll definitely have to visit Switzerland again someday - and Interlaken would be a stop in that itinerary!
To be honest though, one can never get enough of Switzerland. Its just incredibly beautiful! The landscapes are PHENOMENAL. Mountains, Greenery, rivers, the blue skies, it doesn't get any better than that!
F O U R: B E R G EN
I don't know why but despite spending the most time in Bergen during my Scandinavian solo trip, but I still want to go back! Visit the neighbouring fjords - another spectacle that one can see over and over again - climb another mountain, I don't have specific reasons why I want to go back, except... I just do? It's a really lovely, chill, city, if it wasn't that cold (and expensive haha!), i'd totally live here!
I must say though, I wouldn't want to go back alone. I'd love it if I had company so that I can try out the different cafés and food options in Bergen!
F I V E: A M S T E R D A M
Amsterdam...The first city I visited with Jerald, the first city I visited as a tourist, the city that made me fall in love with traveling in Europe! Amsterdam was so much fun, windmills, canals, autumn flowers, burgers, cheese markets, I would relive this experience again and again - I actually do, every time I see an image of Amsterdam's canals.
+ The people in Amsterdam are so nice and friendly, and they are EXTREMELY FLUENT in English - Yay to no language barrier.
Rotterdam is another Dutch city I'd love to visit someday, if I ever do, I'd not hesitate to stop by Amsterdam again!
One other country I loved that i'd want to visit again include CROATIA. Croatia is my ULTIMATE FAVOURITE European country. But I couldn't identify ONE city to revisit, plus, if I ever do go back, I would definitely want to see other parts of Croatia that i've never been to! The nature, clear blue waters, food and PRICE POINT is AMAZING in Croatia.
P.S. If you've never been to Croatia - just forget about the cities listen above and just go. Save up and go to Croatia! You wouldn't be disappointed!
Sadly, a return flight ticket to Europe would cost $1000 and my limited university student budget isn't going to cut it, so for now, it's more of exploring the neighbouring cities, seeing more of Asia learning the different cultures, visiting exotic places in South East Asia, and exploring the place I call home. Hopefully soon enough, I can make such a list for Asia!
Ah, selecting pictures for this post got me all nostalgic about my year abroad.
Explore, dream, discover indeed!
29 October 2015 Europe
Cornwall... Oh Cornwall. From my past few posts, you can probably tell how much I enjoyed my time in this corner of England.
Even though I spent a short 4 days in West Cornwall, I managed to see most of the region. Who knew England has such beautiful sights :)
Also, huge thank you to Sarah from The Salty Sea Blog for giving me so many recommendations! I adore Sarah's blog posts, not to mention, her photos are stunning! The way she writes about her Cornish life is so appealing. Head on over to check her out!
Anyway, here are 5 facts I discovered during my short time in Cornwall. Some totally unexpected!!
1. They have the quirkiest names for places.
Remember Mousehole? Or Woodlane? It's not just names of cool places but they also have houses with their own names!
Corner house, The Seaside House, Sally's House. Oh, how adorable! Imagine if I had a house called Carina's house at the end of the street. Haha that'd be cool, wouldn't it? Or if I painted my house purple and named it "That Purple House". I guess I could do that to be honest. It's probably seen as some kind of a decoration instead of an actual address.
2. Things along the coast (individual towns) are lively and bustling. But in between its just farms and large plots of grass.
By plots of grass I don't mean like weird patchy sad green plots. More like massive amount of green land/open fields with cows and horses etc.
When we were on the bus driving around from town to town, we passed by so many winding roads, large fields of grass, farms, animals, and probably 2 houses.
I think the region of west cornwall is such that most of the people stay within the town centres and the farmers would live slightly outside of the main town area.
It must be so hard to get to the actual town centre though. But I guess driving isn't a problem in Cornwall since its not as densely populated.
3. Buses don't stop at all bus stops
Oh, and sometimes they stop in the middle of the route to pick passengers up - we were one of them passengers.
See! The bus drivers in Cornwall are nice and kind. Road rage? What road rage? London and singaporean drivers can learn! Maybe it's because both london and singapore have pretty extensive bus services, the bus stops are so equipped, I've never experienced such a situation where there is a bus stop, but no busses ever stop there.
My friend and I were waiting at a bus stop right outside our hostel, but turns out, even though the signboard said there was the specific bus service we wanted, that bus didn't stop there!
Fortunately, the bus driver realised that we were 2 confused asian tourists, and stopped midway of the street and allowed up to board the bus. Apparently, we weren't the only confused ones.
In order to know which stops the buses stop at, we had to check another timetable. Not all bus stops are in service, some of them don't have ANY buses going to it. Glad we found out early!
4. The coastal paths, however, are AWESOME. You'll never get lost or confused following it.
This was probably the most surprising discovery for me. I was so impressed by how EASY it was to just follow the route. Firstly, there are sign boards everywhere along the coastal path, and if there aren't, you just gotta walk along the marked out path way/sandy route and you'll arrive it's great! Plus the scenery is always AMAZING. What's not to love? Walking has officially trumped taking the bus.
5. Smell of something everytime the wind blows
From horse/cow manor, to flowers, to the smell of the sea. I love that the winds in Cornwall are so strong that they carry all kinds of scent with them. Distinct ones might I add.
Remember how I talked about smelling the scent of real roses for the first time in my previous post?
When we were walking along the SW Coastal Path, we could smell all the wild flowers that were growing along the path way. It was so cool! I've never experienced anything like this; y'know, smelling flowers. I know how sea breeze smells like so that was a familiar scent, but i've always thought people were bullshitting when they wrote about how the wild flowers smelled like in books.
NO, Carina, THEY WERE NOT. It is indeed very very real. Lucky people of Cornwall! Especially in the spring/summer time when the flowers are all in full bloom! This experience will probably be etched in my memory for a long time.
(Yes, you can tell how much I love flowers. Don't judge.)
It could probably be because my friend and I went to Cornwall early in the summer before the crowds arrived? Or that Cornwall is just too far for most tourists coming into England. I think Cornwall is a pretty brilliant place to visit, and more people should know about it.
I could have easily spent another week or 2 exploring the other regions (south, north/east) of Cornwall. Guess i'll have to go back again some day!
6 August 2015 Cornwall, UK
For the most part of my Cornwall Trip, I spent a lot of time along the coast, admiring the English landscape, visiting beaches, bays, and basically enjoying the wonders of nature. So, on the last full day we had in Cornwall, we decided to have a change in scenery and visit another town a few hours from Penzance called Falmouth.
Falmouth was a 2 hour bus ride from Penzance, and we headed off bright and early in the morning so as to make the most of our day.
After arriving at Falmouth, we realised that shops weren't fully opened. The people at the tourist information were extremely helpful and they suggested we take a walk towards the castle and perhaps visit a garden.
Having only 1 day in Falmouth meant that we weren't able to explore too far out of the main town area, so we walked through the main market streets, popped in to a couple of cute local boutique stalls, and then headed along the perimeter of the town by the coast once again.
Remember when I said we walked along the South West Coastal path whenever we could in my previous post? Yeap, this was yet one of the other times we did. It's incredible how the coastal path just links up all the major towns in Cornwall!
We walked through the moat of the castle, but decided not to go into it because we were more distracted by the scenery, yet again. Instead, we climbed across some rocks, and went out to take more pictures of the lovely blue skies and waters.
The view from the castle drive was awesome. It was surprisingly quiet, although we weren't the only ones there for the view. A few cars were parked around the viewpoint with people sitting inside and staring out into the sea!
What I Wore
Sweater: Cotton On
Jacket: Pull and Bear
One of the reasons why we chose to go to Falmouth was because it was known for it's parks. Sadly, with only 1 day, we didn't have sufficient time to go out to one of the bigger gardens/parks, and had to settle for visiting the smaller gardens such as the Gyllyngdune Garden and the Princess Pavilion within the main area of Falmouth.
The gardens were unlike many others that i've visited. The Gyllyngdune Garden was much smaller, more organic, had interesting stained glassed huts, and a Stonehenge like structure (oh and a wonderful view too since it was on elevated ground!)
What I found the most fascinating was that the roses in the park appeared to be grown au natural instead of being specially planted. Walking through the gardens, the smell of flowers was so strong, and distinct, I kept wondering if my nose was playing tricks on me. This was probably the first time I've ever smelt the scent of rose naturally (you know NOT from a perfume bottle)!
We arrived at the Princess Pavilion and decided to grab some lunch after walking around for a whole morning. The pavilion was so well decorated and the interior, well furnished. It was sort of like a community centre where people could go over and take classes or watch a small play. The food served at the Café was surprisingly great (I always expect crappy food in awkward out of the way places... Oops!)
After a good lunch, and some rest, we headed off towards Kimberly Park, another small park nearby to further satisfy our park visitation needs.
Kimberly Park was more of a neighbourhood park with lots of green grass; a place where people living in the area can have open air concerts or gatherings, nothing too fancy. We did however stumble upon an obstacle course made of wood and a log maze - which my rock climber friend, Clarice went on and conquered it easily!
Eventually, we headed back to the main streets of Falmouth for a nice cornish tea break. Of course, not before passing by some lovely victorian looking english houses and quirky streets. Woodlane. Isn't that just such an interesting street name? Cornwall is the best when it comes to naming things. I even saw a house that was called the Number 5 house or something!
Although we wanted some traditional Cornish clotted cream tea and scones, the café ran out as it was late afternoon and there were just so many people! Having Tea is THE THING to do in Cornwall.
Anyway, the friendly lady server suggested I try something called the Knickerbocker Glory.
That was the first time i've ever heard of such a dessert. It's filed with jelly, berries, and topped with some ice-cream and biscuits sticks. Typically, I can never finish a dessert that size in one seating because of how sweet it usually is. But, the Knickerbocker glory was light and refreshing. The use of jelly made it less dense, and to be honest, who really cares about anything else when the dessert looks so pretty, right?
Needless to say, I gobbled down every last bit of it!
I honestly wish we had more time in Cornwall to explore the different other towns and have more scones, cream teas, and cornish pasties.
Cornwall is definitely a place i'll recommend others to visit. It is so unlike any other place I've been to around Europe. People are friendly, incredibly nice, the pace of life is much slower, and everyone just seems happier and more relaxed (compared to London, it's a world of difference!! I still love London since I'm more of a city girl). There is something calming about the people and vibe of Cornwall, even in the main town area with all the shops, and cafés, it doesn't get too crowded of touristy. Basically, if I lived in Cornwall, I'd feel as though I'm perpetually on a summer break!
3 August 2015 Falmouth, Cornwall, UK
Most people drive in Cornwall, but what I loved most about my time there was how easy and scenic it was walking along the coast line!
I know. Walking?! Yes. For real. Walking.
I arrived late afternoon on my first day in West Cornwall, with pretty much no concrete plans for the day. After a 6 hour train ride, my friend and I both wanted to do something relaxing for that evening.
The thing with arriving in the afternoon to a new place is that it is always a weird time for anything. If it was in the winter, I would have just gone for some food, chilled out at a nice scenic place, and watch the sunset. But, since the sun sets later in the summer, arriving to cornwall around late afternoon becomes one of those awkward timings where you do not have a lot of time, but sufficient to do something instead of just sitting around waiting for the sun to set.
Since we had a couple of hours before the sky got dark, and my friend and I had a late lunch and weren't hungry, we decided to walk along the South-West Coastal Path on one of their planned routes to another nearby town.
We started off at Penzance - where we were staying - and headed for a supposedly 3-4 hours long walk. We happened to pass by the tourist information centre, and saw a signboard indicating the various paths to take along the SW Coastal Path, and we just chose to head towards the town of Mousehole.
To be honest, when I hear "walk" I tend to get a bit... jaded. Somehow walking just has this tiring, and BORING connotation in my head. Sure there are nice sights along the way... but it does get boring after a few hours!
When I'm traveling, i'll walk to save $ on transport or when there is no other way to get to the destination point. I'm the kind of person that would want to get to a destination as quickly as possible. Efficiency is key.
Still, I knew wanted to visit Mousehole, and walking along the coastal path is one of the key things to do in Cornwall (plus, reviews online are always saying how beautiful and scenic it is). So I figured, we might as well do it on our first day there.
A 3-4 hours walk was just the right amount of time and fitted in perfectly with our schedule for the day.
Once again, CORNWALL DID NOT DISAPPOINT.
My initial idea of a coastal walk, was literally, by the coast, near the beach and sand. But the SW Coastal Path was way more interesting that I had expected. There were a variety of sights from sandy beaches, rocky beaches, harbours, to abandon shacks and grassy flowery paths. As you walk along the coastal path, you pass by other towns where you can walk through, take a few pictures, explore the area and then continue on to the next.
Mid-way of our walk, Clarice suggsted getting some home made vanilla icecream from a place recommended by her friend in a town called Newlyn, which so happens to be on the way to Mousehole.
Nobody passes up homemade ice-cream, and so we went and got ourselves some!
As we were walking, the clouds got thicker and we considered heading back as it looked like it was going to rain (sigh, british weather...) at one point of time, I felt as though we were walking into the thick clouds/fog. We probably did because it felt as if it was drizzling/water droplets in the air, except it wasn't. Thankfully, we stuck it out, and only had to deal with a light drizzle instead of a full on rain.
Even though we walked for a couple of hours, it completely didn't feel like it. We were so surprised when we saw the sign saying "Mousehole" I was like "What?! We're here already?!"
Walking for a few hours isn't tiring or boring after all - oh and the trail took less than 3-4 hours.
When you have the South West Coastal Path to walk along, walking becomes a MUST!
As you can tell from the chirpy vibes of this post (despite the drizzle!), Mousehole was a beautiful destination point - I still can't get over its name though! How did they ever come up with it?
My favourite part of Mousehole is its harbour. Big boats, small boats, some with a sail, others without, all just floating calmly on the waters. The whole landscape with the boats docked at the harbour looked amazing in real life. I think most of the pictures I saw online prior to visiting Cornwall didn't do it justice. Or maybe it was just the nice the breeze, cool weather, great ice-cream and company that made the experience a whole lot better than expected :)
Instead of taking the bus back, we decided to walk back, and for the next few days, we CHOSE to walk along the South West Coastal Path whenever we could. (Like from Land's End to Sennen Cove - check them out in my previous blog posts!)
Walking on a nice breezy day does turn out to be pretty fantastic, especially when your end destination is worth it, and your journey is filled with fun conversations and wonderful sights.