Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon Iceland


One of Iceland's most famous attractions is the relaxing, steamy waters of the Blue Lagoon and I sure as heck wasn't planning to miss an opportunity to get some pamper time during my trip! The Read more

Iceland's Golden Circle


One of the things I knew I just had to do whilst in Iceland was to tour the Golden Circle.  Why I hear you ask? Well, because I've been dreaming of Iceland for years now Read more

Discovering Dumfries and Galloway


Dumfries and Galloway is a region located in Scotland's western southern uplands and one I had the pleasure of discovering recently. Despite living less than two hours away from Galloway and Dumfries it is Read more

Quad Biking on the Hills Above Reykjavic, Iceland


I LOVE a little taste of adventure when I'm travelling and Iceland is certainly a destination where you can get adventurous with all those hills to climb, volcanic caves to explore (I'll be sharing Read more

Spring Has Sprung in Scotland


Spring is FINALLY here! Yay! I hate the dark nights, the biting wind and the never-ending rain, sleet and snow showers that go hand in hand with winter. I've been dreaming of the long days, Read more

What to Pack For A Trip To Iceland


The northerly position of Iceland means that it is cool all year round and temperatures peak at 13 degrees celsius in summer and drop to an average of -3 in winter (although the lowest Read more

Australia

Bondi or Manly?

Posted on by Emma Gray in Australia | 4 Comments

Before I left for Australia I spoke to loads of people who’d been before. I asked for advice on where to go and what to see in Sydney, and was recommended both Bondi beach and Manly beach by numerous people. I had time to visit both, but if you’re on a quick visit to the area and only have time to check out one beach location, which one should you go for?

Manly

I took the ferry there from Darling Harbour and it was one of the prettiest ferry rides I’ve been on. I got a perfect view of the city skyline as we left the harbour and enjoyed watching sea planes fly overhead (I’ve always wanted to go on a sea plane!) and different suburbs of the city on the way.

Sydney Skyline

Stunning Sydney Skyline

Strolling through the streets I came across a great outdoor market, selling everything from fresh food to handmade jewellery, art, clothes and everything in between. I love rummaging through markets when I’m in different countries so I was in my element.

There’s also some nice cafes and restaurants with beautiful views over the beach. I chose to stop for lunch and watch the world go by- it was delightfully peaceful.

Manly Beach, Australia

Manly’s beautiful beach

The actual beach itself in Manly is lovely. Clean, golden sands and turquoise waters with plenty of surfers waiting for that all important wave. It was the beginning of winter when I visited Australia so the beach was pretty quiet, just the way I like my beaches!

Bondi

Bondi is surely one of the most well-known beaches in Australia – the scene of many different TV programmes and popular with surfers. Arriving in Bondi I was immediately struck by the gorgeous white sand that stretches for 1 kilometre.

Bondi Beach, Australia

Bondi Beach

The town itself was full of surfers who were either heading towards the water to catch some waves, or walking away looking refreshed and energised after a surf session. There was no market on in Bondi like there had been in Manly, and the shops, cafes and restaurants didn’t appeal to me as much. Manly had the perfect mix of surfer shops and hang outs and unique little cafes and shops for the non-surfers. I’m just not cool enough to hang out with surfers!

Overall, Manly was definitely my favourite of the two. Bondi has a stunning beach and would be perfect for people who do surf, but as I don’t, the beach at Manly and the quirky shops and open air market appealed to me far more.

Have you been to Bondi or Manly? Been to both? Which is your favourite?

Friday Photo – Sydney Harbour Sunset

Posted on by Emma Gray in Australia | 2 Comments

It’s almost the weekend folks, so that means it’s time for my Friday Photo!

This weeks photo is of Sydney‘s famous Bridge and Opera House. I captured this photo at sunset from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair near the beautiful Botanic Gardens. This was a great spot in the city for amazing views over the Harbour and beyond. I adore sunsets and I sat there for ages watching the sun slowly disappear behind the Opera House. I love the way the Opera House and Bridge are nothing more than silhouettes in the picture, but because of how recognisable they are, it’s clear just exactly where the pictures were taken!

Stunning sunset

Aussie Rules Football

Posted on by Emma Gray in Australia | 4 Comments

While I was in Australia I was determined to go and see an Aussie rules football match. I absolutely adore normal football (or soccer as some of you may know it!) and support both a Scottish team and a Spanish team so I was interested to see how AFL could compare.

View from our seats

My brother booked us tickets to see the West Coast Eagles versus St. Kilda at the Subiaco Oval. I was really surprised to learn that the seating is mixed seating, and the fans aren’t placed in particular sections. This would never happen at home, especially in Glasgow, as it would quickly descent into a complete farce, and in some cases, into violence. Clearly us Scottish people are just far too violent and caught up in our footy!

I was also even more surprised to learn that it’s totally cool for you to drink during AFL games. That definitely wouldn’t happen at home, because if everyone had a drink in them, there would be even more likely to be crowd trouble. Sad, but true. Everyone was getting stuck into a few drinks during the game, and there was nothing but light hearted banter.

Another big thing which surprised me, was the number of girls who were at the game. They were everywhere! When I go to football matches at home I’m normally one of very few girls in the crowd, which can be quite intimidating. The atmosphere at the game I attended was friendly and light, and I felt very at home as a girl in the crowd.

So, the game- I loved it! Watching 18 burly men in each team run around for a few hours wasn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon in the sun! The rules aren’t as difficult to follow as I thought they would be, and I only struggled to understand why free kicks had been awarded sometimes for incidents that didn’t look much to me. I liked the physicality of the game as I dislike the tendency to fall to ground in mock agony that happens all to often in European football.

Eagles win!

Even if you’ve never seen an AFL match before, if you’re in Australia it’s a great event to experience. The atmosphere is exciting and the friendly banter between the different sets of fans was fun and exciting. I still don’t think it’s as good as real football, but I did thoroughly enjoy it!

Girls Travelling Solo

Posted on by Emma Gray in Australia | Leave a comment

When I booked my trip to Australia and told people my itinerary I would by flying to Melbourne and spending time there alone- I was met with a similar reaction each time. People were shocked, and told me I was brave for travelling solo. One friend even began asking what would happen if something went wrong on my trip. ‘What if you get ill?’ he said, ‘what if there’s a problem with your hotel?’, he continued. He went on like this for a few minutes. I answered simply that, if I got ill, I would get to hospital, and if there was a problem with my hotel then there are plenty of others in the city that I could stay in.

GIRLS TRAVELLING SOLO

Federation Square, Melbourne

It left me wondering just why everyone thought that this was such a big deal. Why shouldn’t I, as a 22 year old soon-to-be-graduate, be able to travel alone without people thinking I’m a bit crazy? Just why do some people automatically think that a girl who is alone means they’re going to get mugged/ raped/ murdered/ all of the above?

I was travelling alone in Australia- a first world country where everyone speaks English. It’s not as if I was travelling in a war-torn, poverty-stricken country where communication would be non-existent, and life would be dangerous. I’d be at the end of a phone if anything went wrong, I could ask for help from the hotel, plus I even knew a few friends of friends who lived in Melbourne.

GIRLS TRAVELLING SOLO

Exploring The Great Ocean Road alone, and loving it

When I returned from Australia (unscathed and having had a fabulous time!), a friend asked me how my trip was. I told her I had an amazing time and loved every minute. She remarked that she would never be able to travel alone. This time, my answer was simple- ‘you can do anything you put your mind to.’

Girls; travel alone, don’t be afraid. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you won’t survive alone, because you will. Travelling solo as a girl just requires a little common sense. Don’t get yourself into dangerous situations. Be careful who you trust. And always follow your instincts. Travelling alone forces you to be independent, and with that comes confidence. There’s no better feeling than realising that you can be self-sufficient, and survive alone in an utterly alien environment.

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself”

Danny Kaye.

 

Why I Didn’t Fall in Love with Australia

Posted on by Emma Gray in Australia | 11 Comments

When I booked my trip to Australia and started to tell people that I was going, I was constantly met with ‘oh, you’re not going to want to come back!’ and I started to think maybe I wouldn’t. I know so many people who have recently moved to the land down under, or have spent an extended period of time there travelling and working. I began thinking that if it was so popular and everyone loved it, then I probably would too. I even wondered what the logistics of moving there with my adorable dog, Ben, would be for a moment.

But little Ben needn’t have worried. I didn’t fall in love with Australia and leave a piece of my heart there when I flew home. Don’t for one second think that I didn’t have a great time, because I did. I saw wild kangaroos koalas and dolphins, drove The Great Ocean Road, had some delicious meals, enjoyed the nightlife and saw some of the most stunning sunsets of my life. There were a few things that I didn’t like about Australia though…

The Great Ocean Road

It’s too isolated. Australia is such a vast country and it’s really pretty isolated. For example, you could get in a car in Perth, drive for 24 hours and still be in Western Australia! The country does change though, in different areas and as such it is an exciting place to explore. However, I think I’m too used to living in Scotland and having the whole of Europe so nearby. I love being able to jump on a plane and be in France, Italy, Spain, or many other countries within a couple of hours. Perhaps I’ve been too spoiled living here, but that’s what I’m used to now and I’d be loath to leave that behind.

It gets dark too early. This probably sounds a little silly, right?! I found it got dark around 5:30 every night, and locals said that it only extends to about 7pm in summer. I’m used to having long summer nights in Scotland, where it’s often only properly dark around midnight. It’s just a little thing, but definitely enough to put me off permanent life down under.

Everything is so expensive. Australia is expensive. Everything is expensive. I know if you lived and worked there you would be paid an equivalent wage but I still don’t think I could get used to paying $15 dollars for a cocktail on a night out. Glasgow prices are way cheaper!

It has no impressive history. The main history of Australia is that of the Aboriginals. Whilst their story is an interesting and eclectic one, it’s not as rich and varied as many other countries that I’ve visited. Italy’s history, for example, simply fascinates me, and being able to visit buildings and ruins from hundreds, even thousands, of years ago is absolutely amazing. Continental Europe has history in abundance, and I feel this is where Australia lacks. Hey, it’s not their fault that it’s a relatively new country in the grand scheme of things, but I like countries with a full, exciting history and plenty of tales to tell.

Despite these things, I actually loved being in Australia, and would love to go back and spend a little more time exploring. Whilst Australia might be the perfect place for some people to live, it just isn’t for me, and that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to different opinions, that’s what makes life interesting, right?! And, so it doesn’t look like this is an entirely negative post about Oz, because that’s not my intention at all, here’s some photos of things I absolutely loved whilst I was there…

Vintage Car show in Perth…who wants to buy me this one…?! Anyone…?!

My first AFL game

Sunset over Sydney's most famous icons

Loch Ard Gorge. So beautiful

 What do you think about my view of life in Australia? Do you agree or disagree with my opinions? I’d love to hear what you think!

 

The Great Ocean Road

Posted on by Emma Gray in Australia | 5 Comments

Almost everyone who knew I was going to Melbourne vehemently insisted I visit The Great Ocean Road, and by the time the 20th person had recommended it to me I knew it had to be something special.

I wasn’t disappointed.

I booked my tour with Wildlife Tours, simply because a friend had been with them before and recommended them. Our tour was on a small bus which held 24 people, and we only had 19 in our group. This was definitely better than being on a large coach full of 50 something people. Smaller groups are always easier and more fun.

Our first stop of the day was the world-famous surf beach, Bells Beach. Home of the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach attracts surfers from all around the world and, despite it being autumn, there were a bunch of surfers enjoying the waves when  visited.

Bells Beach

From there we stopped at another few lovely places along the coast to enjoy the views and stretch our legs. We then headed to the town of Geelong, where the Great Ocean Road begins. The road was built after the war by ex- soldiers, and many lost their lives due to the dangers of attempting to construct on the steep and undulating terrain.

One highlight of the day, for me, was getting to see wild koalas! I’ve loved koalas ever since I had a stuffed cuddly one when I was little, so seeing them for real was pretty awesome. Considering that they sleep for around 20 hours of the day, because the eucalyptus leaves that they eat give them a natural high (stoners!), we were lucky enough to see some eating and moving around.

Koala just chillin’

Another of my favourite parts of the day was being able to explore part of the Ottaway’s Rainforest, which was full of some fascinating floras and faunas. It actually rained a bit while we were in the rainforest, but the tree canopy was so thick that we didn’t feel a drop!

The fertility tree, suposedly…any guesses why it’s called that?!

The absolute highlight of the day was seeing the eroding rock formations that are known as the Twelve Apostles. Of the twelve, only eight remain visible, as constant erosion by the waves means they are always being worn down. As a bit closet geography nerd, I found this all pretty fascinating.

Two of The Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles

After visiting the Twelve Apostles, our awesome tour guide took us to check out an absolutely stunning beach. Myself and the girls from Brisbane that I befriended headed straight for the sand, took our shoes off and wandered around taking in the unmistakable beauty of the scenery. The erosion of the rocks was clear to see all around us and some interesting patterns had been created in the rocks.

So pretty

Paradise

My day exploring The Great Ocean Road was definitely one of the highlights of my whole trip to Australia. If I’m ever back there then I’d love to hire a car (convertible, obviously!) and spend a few days, driving the roads and stopping in different little towns along the way. If you find yourself nearby, then you definitely should do the same. It’s not called The Great Ocean Road for nothing!

Loving the beach