BACKPACKING IN NORTH AMERICA | NIAGARA FALLS, TORONTO & MONTREAL


Finally I've found the time to write the second part of my backpacking in North America post! I've just got back from Paris and leave for uni tomorrow so have been hugely preoccupied with getting all my washing done (glamorous, I know) and gathering everything I need for Falmouth before I leave. So that's todays reason behind how useless a blogger I am. But back to the post... After New York I headed to Toronto where I spent three days. I didn't actually see much of the city because I had such a lovely couchsurfing host and such lovely fellow couchsurfers staying there that I spent all my time with them in the park playing softball and flunkyball (google it)! I really appreciate being able to meet such amazing people who I probably wouldn't have met if I'd been travelling with friends. Travelling alone definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone in that respect.



I also stopped of at the Niagara Falls with Leon, one of the fellow couchsurfers. It definitely wasn't what we were expecting! Beside the falls is a huge industrial park full of hotels and casinos and even a Starbucks... I don't understand that, why ruin such a beautiful part of the country?! However the waterfall itself was still really impressive, it's so long and so loud! We paid to go behind the falls into the huge tunnel system which was pretty cool as you get to see the falls much closer than you do from the tourist walk way. It was also only $20 from Toronto to Niagara by coach so I'd still recommend going if you're in the area!



After Toronto I headed for Montreal. Again I was staying with a couchsurfing host plus her flatmates and they were lovely. Overall I had a really positive experience using couchsurfing. I had heard some weird stories which made me nervous before going but it was completely fine. I think as long as you're staying with someone who has great reviews you can't go too wrong but definitely trust your instincts. Originally I was meant to be staying with a different host in Montreal but I felt he was sending weird vibes closer towards the time of my stay so I cancelled with him and found my new hosts where I was really happy!


Montreal was really beautiful, I was there for just under a week so had plenty of time to explore the city. I especially liked Old Port. Lot's of churches and a cathedral combined with French being the first language in Montreal gave it a really European feel. Also there is the actual port which is really pretty and there was a food festival on at the time which I enjoyed (stuffed myself)! I spent a lot of time relaxing in parks, reading and listening to podcasts (PanDolly and Guardian Long Reads are my favourite if you're interested) and of course eating crepes. Mount Royal was really lovely too. I went up once in the day and once in the night for the view of the city and also because the walk is really nice. They have a piano up there and luckily for me lots of talented tourists to play it. One evening I sat listening to different people play for hours, it was so relaxing. I was really sad to leave Montreal as it was the last stop on my trip. Travelling alone is definitely something I'd do again but I'm back at uni now so it will have to wait for next summer! Hope you enjoyed reading about my trip, let me know if you have any questions,

Jenny x

BACKPACKING IN NORTH AMERICA | NEW YORK


My phone is broken and Apple has now had it for two and a bit weeks, tinkering (hopefully fixing)... the separation is starting to physically pain me. And of course it breaks just before I go off trecking around North America... BY MYSELF. Mother was not pleased. But that explains the lack of Instagrams recently, I will of course be catching up once my phone is returned because I have so many amazing pictures from New York to share!! So this post may seem out of the blue as my social media has been completely void of hints but actually the trip has been planned since around Christmas. I backpacked from NewYork to Montreal via the Niagara Falls and Toronto by bus and couchsurfing. This post will focus on the first leg of the journey, states side.



I made sure to do all the touristy sightseeing I could. I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, went to Times Square at night, spent a day at the MET and got the Staten Island ferry past the Statue of Liberty. Each was amazing and even a bit overwhelming because it was all so big. I took my time, making sure to absorb as much as possible. A lot of the sights seemed weirdly familiar to me where I'd seen them in different films (especially NY Library- Day After Tomorrow, lacked flooding but still very cool). These were all free activities bar the MET which you make a donation of choice to visit. I also spent a lot of time walking around interesting areas of the city such as Soho, the High Line and Brooklyn, again free to do but great for experiencing and getting a true feel of the city. So by accident I ended up not spending a massive amount in NY when I was expecting it to be ridiculously expensive. My main expenditure was on food (Chloe's vegan restaurant in Soho was amazing!) and shopping.



I spent one of my mornings at ground zero. The two huge pits where the towers once stood have been made into beautiful memorials. It was very overwhelming and poignant but therefore, I think quite perfect in describing and marking what happened there. The museum is completely underground so you're walking where the sub-levels would have been. I'd definitely recommend going to the museum, I learnt a lot about the attack that I didn't know before and it's good to understand such an important point in history especially as it took place in our lifetimes. After the museum you can walk to the Staten Island Ferry to unwind from the memorial like I did. 



I spent quite a lot of time in Central Park because NY is big and it's a little dirty and sweaty and sometimes a girl needs some fresh air! My friend Agi (who interned in NY this summer) and I enjoyed an amazing picnic of fresh salsa, blue corn tortilla chips, strawberries and oranges one of the days I was there which perfectly broke up my city sightseeing. We relaxed in the sun, chatted and people watched and it was made so perfectly clear to me why New Yorkers love and need that park! I'll be posting the second half of my North America trip asap. Hope you don't mind how brief this is, I'm ever so slightly jet lagged right now having returned from Montreal today. It took me just over five hours to get back from Gatwick thanks to ridiculous passport control queues and Southern Rail strikes... oh England, why such a warm welcome?! 

Jenny x

BACK IN SALZBURG + WEEKEND IN WACHAU VALLEY


Obviously I can't get enough of Austria because for the third time this year I hopped on a plane at Gatwick to visit the beautiful country. I didn't blog about my trip in the easter break because I don't want to bore you guys with the same old stuff and most of you will have read my Salzburg post already. But this time I was whisked away for the weekend by my friend Matt to celebrate my 21st birthday and as our destination was so breathtaking I've decided to share it with you. He kept where we were going a complete surprise so I had no idea what to expect which, despite my incessant need to organise, was really exciting for me!



Observant ones of you will already know from the post title that we spent our weekend in Wachau Valley! Look how beautiful it is... and I promise the pictures don't even do the place justice!! Wachau is a UNESCO world heritage sight of natural beauty and also the most established wine region in Austria, two facts that massively pleased me! We drank our fair share.. understandably? Though we also spent lots of time cycling and exploring the area. Two pictures up you can see the Renaissance Hotel where we stayed. It was so perfectly picturesque and cute, our room was lovely and so was the town on the Danube it was in. We hired bikes from the hotel which made me exceptionally happy as since moving back to England I've really missed cycling everywhere! Especially through scenery like this! 




My favourite place in the valley we visited was Durnstein. Definitely google to see how beautiful it is as I didn't manage to get many decent pictures other than the one at the top of the post taken from the castle which overlooks the town. Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned by Leopold V in this castle during the time of the Crusades so it is very old and now a ruin, you can see part of it two pictures up. The walk up there was pretty and relaxed though so hot (potentially just for me and not Matt because I'm so unfit haha) even though the sun was setting when we went. I also really enjoyed walking round the blue church.


Wachau is know for its Smargad wines which are named after a tiny little emerald green lizard found along the sides of the Danube. They are quite uncommon according to google (researching like a good blogger!) but we saw one of the little guys! It was so cute and such a nice surprise to actually spot one after seeing lizard logos all over the place. And that really was the cherry on top of the cake for me. I had such a perfect weekend there and the rest of the week in Salzburg was equally as lovely. Can't wait until my next trip to Austria! 

Jenny x

EXPLORING CRETE


This is a little late... such a broken record, aren't I? But it's still worth posting because look how pretty. England seems so crap in comparison and two weeks on I'm still dealing with mild holiday blues because I miss real sun and swimming everyday! So three beautiful friends and myself recently spent about a week in Crete exploring and relaxing and I thought I'd share some pictures and stories with you. I've also made a vlog which you can watch here if you're interested. Just a heads up for some reason the video isn't playing on phones or tablets... only computers, no idea why. 


I love Greece... amazing food, interesting history, perfect weather. And on this holiday we did a bit of everything so I'm only going to talk about my favourite days otherwise the post will get really long! I think it was the second day (this is why I should write the post when everything is fresh in my memory) that we went on a boat trip. We spent most of the day enjoying the view from the boat and eating lot's of delicious fresh fruit on the way to and from a town called Sissi which you can see in the picture above. So beautiful. The flower tunnel was amazing, definitely google it! We also stopped off to snorkel in a really pretty bay area on the way where saw lots of fish! I love snorkelling with friends especially when the water is so clear.




I'm a little obsessed with Greek history and mythology so of course we did a culture filled activity day! We started by visiting the beautiful Monastery of Kardiotissa (which you can see three pictures up) on the top of a mountain near Heraklion. The view was really breath taking and our tour guide was so lovely and informative. We had to cover out legs and shoulders to go inside the Church so the nuns lent us some really cute skirts which I wish we could have kept... even Instagramed the outfit haha. After that we visited a pottery workshop where I got a little hands on! And then, my favourite part of the day, we hiked up to the Cave of Zeus, where the myths say he was born. The cave was really impressive and the view of Lassithi Plateau which you can see two pictures up was also amazing. We then visited the Knossos Palace which is where King Minor lived (minotaur myth). This whole day was organised by a travel company in Crete called Tourline which I 100% recommend checking out because the day was amazing and so cheap, especially for students!



Lastly I'll tell you about our day on Chrissi Island because that was another highlight for me mainly because of the water! The ferry ride there was long and horrible because of how hot it was so I'd definitely recommend making sure your ferry is air conditioned before buying tickets!! But once you get there it is completely worth it. The island is uninhabited and a nature reserve so the beauty is very well preserved and maintained. The main beach looks like sand but is actually lots of tiny shells and there is also a salt marsh which I guess is why the water is so clear. There is a church and some ruins to visit too but it was such a hot day when we went we decided to stay by the sea in the breeze under our umbrellas except for a little walk we went on over the volcanic rock bed which looked like massive slabs of pumice! 

We stayed in the little village of Piskopiano which was a perfect base for visiting all of these places. There and in the two neighbouring villages were lot's of restaurants and we especially liked one called Sergiani Restaurant where they made the best stone baked pizza ever! Piskopiano was also a short walk from the bigger town of Hersonissos which is where we booked our tours and boat trip. The beach there was also quite nice. The only downside to where we were was it was too far from Samaria Gorge which I would have loved to have hiked through. That's about it really! Hope you liked the pictures, 

Jenny x