What Travelling Has Taught Me

Dear Sam,

Hi my name is Isabel and I am a travel junkie. (This is the part where everyone in the hypothetical room goes, “Hi Isabel.”)

It is so easy to get hooked though, isn’t it? It’s like getting a tattoo; it is almost impossible to only have one. After you get the first one, you start getting this itch of having another one.. and another one.

And with over 40 cities to date, I still want more.

I find there are two downsides to travelling: money and time. You have to save up for a trip and take time off work. But at the same time, you get so much out of it that it makes it all worthwhile.

The two best upsides of travelling are the stories you get from the trips and the lessons you learn. Both very priceless things that no one can ever take away from you, they become engrained in you and become part of who you are.

I have learned a lot from my travels and I will share with you some of my favourite ones.

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Slow down

I was travelling in Barcelona with three of my friends who have all been in the city. Being the only true tourist, I decided to leave them and go on a bike ride around the city. Cycling in a city you are unaware of, you tend to slow down and take in the moment more. And this is true for everything, I walk slower, eat slower- basically become a turtle version of myself. Lol. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Living in hustling city, we sometimes forget to slow down and just enjoy the moment.

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Appreciation and Inspiration

I have learned to appreciate everything I have a lot more. At the same time, seeing all the different cultures and lifestyles, it made me realize the way that I want to live my life. I can’t even begin to explain the sense of inspiration I always get when I meet new people or when my perspective develops. Travelling has also inspired me to work harder to, well, get more money and travel more.

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Open Mindedness

It has been said so many times by so many people, “Travel broadens the mind.” And I think this is so true because you learn so many things on a trip that you would never if you were just stuck in your own little bubble. We missed a ferry ride to Estonia–no problem, we explored more of Helsinki. We missed a plane ride back to Wellington–that’s fine, we can still gawk at Queenstown. Travel changes you: makes you more tolerable, flexible and understanding.

I follow so many travel bloggers and Instagrammers because if I’m not out and about, I want to be inspired by these jetsetters conquering the world (while I am wearing my PJs lying in bed.) Social media has certainly paved the way for a lot of my inspirations. It has given them the voice to reach out to people and show them what the world has to offer.

So it made me wonder what travelling has taught them– what lessons have they learned?

Mad appreciation to each and every one of these guys and extremely thankful that they took the time to reply to me and sending me a picture.

(Please note that all pictures following the names belong to them and I do not take credit for it.)

Lauren Bath

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“For me traveling has definitely taught me to be more accepting of others. Being in different countries and learning about other cultures has shown me that people are often the way they are because they are different, not because they are better or worse than what I’m used to. Like you I have become more open minded due to this. Travel has also taught me patience and flexibility as it’s so hard to control circumstances when you’re in a strange place.”

Follow Lauren!

Olga Chagunava

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“Probably the fact that, regardless of ethnic, cultural and religious differences in this world, we are all the same. All we need is love. As cliche as it might sound. Travel broadens your mind and opens up your heart.”

Follow Olga!

Chris Burkard

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“In life there are no shortcuts to joy. Anything worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer just a little bit”

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Travis Burke

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“The lessons I’ve learned while traveling are endless, but the one that has made the most impact on my life is that it’s always key to be as flexible as possible. Try not to have a minute to minute itinerary—the more open you can keep your schedule the more you’ll be able to adapt to life as it unfolds. Unexpected adventures can sometimes be the most worthwhile.”

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James Asquith

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“Only use your guidebook as just that, a guide. Be open minded and say yes to exciting sounding adventures. There were times where I followed the guidebook too closely when I first started travelling, but feel confident to listen to new ideas. “

Follow James!

Hoping to see more and learn more,

Isabel

The One Down Under

Dear Sam,

However short, I loved our Sydney trip. If it were my first time going, I think I would have been stomping my feet, telling you off, why you made me agree to only five days.

My first time in Sydney was five years ago and that was my first ever trip outside Asia. And overall, my second trip outside the Philippines. (Boy, much has changed since then!)

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Arriving on my nephew’s birthday was the best treat ever. But seeing my sister and her family altogether was priceless.

Apart from my sister living there, here are my reasons why Sydney is awesome:

1.) You get the best of both worlds. You have a mix of the great city life.

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..and the great chilled out life.

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2.) A lot of beaches

Everyone’s always looking for some sun.

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(I’ve been told it’s not always this crowded.)

3.) It’s diverse.

It is a big city after all, so you would expect nothing less. And this is the thing that I love most about big cities–so cultured, so open minded and so vibrant.

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4.) It’s Fun.

There’s a lot to see and do.

(I think the five year old kids in us especially loved Luna Park)

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There’s also a lot of loud Australians that fill me with so much joy. And alcohol. (lol)

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5.) This view.

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Enough said.

Hoping we get to go back soon,

Isabel

It takes about four minutes to make coffee but it takes less to watch this video. Hope you like it x

The One In Queenstown

Dear Sam,

Everyone hyped Queenstown way too much before we left for New Zealand that I was so scared that it wouldn’t really live up to it. God, I was so wrong.

If anyone asked me what the highlight of our whole NZ trip would be, I immediately answer meeting your family. (Duh.) and then a millisecond later say “and Queenstown.”

But if they did a follow up question of which part of Queenstown, I then immediately answer, “I can’t decide.”

Seriously though, how can I?

So I’ve made a list (because you know how much I love my lists) of Queenstown faves. (Or top things to do)

Up the Gondola/ Luge

Best view of the city is nowhere else but here.

Also, next time we come here, I am no longer wearing a dress because it makes it so hard to go on the luge!

 Arrowtown

This historic gold mining town is real easy to get to from Queenstown. (1 semi short bus ride) I love cute and quaint little towns and this one is a perfect example of it. Little independent shops, lots of nature and a couple of walks you can do. Which we didn’t do.

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Pie and Coffee

I asked you which food you missed the most and now I understand why you said pie. Sadly, you don’t share my love for coffee but you guys sure know how to make some darn good coffee.

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Milford Sound

Another great day trip from Queenstown. (And an awesome Christmas gift, thanks Sammyb). The tour was organized by Jucy tours. Highly recommend them!They did a couple of stops along the way and you see hundreds of #instagrammable pictures. (And thousands of sheep.)

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When we got on the cruise, it started to rain which made it even better as it created a couple of mini waterfalls along the way.

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ALSO, how cute are these seals chilling on the rock?

Ferg Burger

I’ll have to give some credit to my colleague for this. But even if he didn’t recommend this to me, I would have easily spotted the place as the queue outside is massive. For the first couple of days, we tried to line up but the wait was too long. Best time to go is before lunch where you will only have to wait for 30 minutes before you actually get in front of cash register.

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I’m no food photographer so this picture doesn’t really portray how awesome the burger was. Have your order in a takeaway bag and bring it by the lake!

 

Weekend Market 

Who doesn’t love a good market? Live music, great views and some local handmade goodness. No explanation needed.

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Queenstown Gardens

Beautiful park with multiple options for activities:

  • Play tennis
  • Play lawn bowls
  • Play frisbee
  • Skim rocks at the lake (I won)
  • Chase ducks
  • Take pictures of ducks

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Mini Golf

Easily the best set up for mini golf I have ever seen. Although, mind you, I haven’t been to much. If it’s starting to rain or you just want a break from the sun (because you can get too much of it), Caddy Shack is located in town and would make for a great indoor activity.

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Extreme Sports

Bungee jumping, skydiving, paragliding, jet boating, white water rafting–just some of the extreme sports that you and I did not do. (Because I am a wuss) But if you’re an adrenaline junkie, you will LOVE Queenstown. So much to do. Just make sure your pocket’s alright because they can be a little pricey.

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(I don’t own this picture and I’m not sure who does but just stole it off the internet so you can see what it would look like if we did skydive at Queenstown.)

 

Thanks for showing me around this beaut!

Isabel

 

Click on my video below to see 3 days of Queenstown in 4 minutes!

Cookieception: You’re Welcome.

Dear Sam,

As you may have already figured out by now, I love baking.

Back home, I had this dream of building my own bake shop and making everyone fat. I created Oh Dough! (Inspired by Homer Simpson’s Doh! moment) and baked to my heart’s content. My most famous piece, the ever sinful, Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookie–or the cookieception.

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This was my sad attempt for a collage of some of my customers’ Instagram posts.

And because you love it so much, thought I’d write you the recipe. (So that maybe, for a change, you can bake for me.)

Disclaimer: This takes a lot of patience. And love.

First thing you’ll need to do is gather up all the ingredients. All you will find in the cupboard and fridge.

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  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • large eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • Oreo Cookies

Begin preparing the cookie dough. Dry bowl: Flour, salt, baking soda. Wet bowl: butter in room temperature with the sugars, vanilla extract and whisked eggs. I usually mix all the wet stuff in a bigger bowl and then when both bowls ready–slowly mix the dry stuff with the wet stuff. (I’ve said stuff three times in a sentence, sarry.)

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And then mix in all the chocolate chips. (This is my favourite.)

IMG_3134.JPGPlease try not to eat the cookie dough at this point. It will call you out but resist temptation. (Raw eggs and all.)

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I have also made sure Oliver keeps an eye on you while you’re doing this.

Before I move on, I turn on the oven at 190 C / 375 F

Next, the most teeeeedious part of all.

Get a decent amount of cookie dough on your (clean) hands. Flatten it out. Put an Oreo cookie on it then try covering the Oreo with the dough. Make sure its fully covered. You can get more dough from the bowl if needed. But it doesn’t have to be a lot because when you bake them, they rise and fatten up anyway. As long as it’s covered with a thin layer, that should do.

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I line up about nine on a baking tray.

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This is enough to give them space to grow into–well, tiny spaceships. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

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Let them stay in the baking tray for two minutes before you transfer them to cool down in the racks.

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And Voila!

I wish you well in your baking endeavours and except a nice fresh batch from you tomorrow.

Hoping you don’t make a mess in the kitchen,

Isabel

The One Where I Explore The World For Free (Ish)

Dear Sam,

They say that the best things in life are free. Unfortunately, travelling, although considered to be one of the best things in life, is not. However, exploring your destination can be. Snapping picturesque views, people watching and my (our) favorite–walking with a local.

Continue reading “The One Where I Explore The World For Free (Ish)”

Your Ultimate Guide to Disneyland Paris

 

Dear Friend,

At some point in your life, you will want to go to Disneyland.

And maybe when you turn 26, you will. With the other half who took the risk of going with you with a visa expiring in a month. (Maybe.)

Continue reading “Your Ultimate Guide to Disneyland Paris”