travel is good for the soul

Whether you travel for work, pleasure or are a nomad ticking off one country at a time, you’ll be able to relate when I say travel is one of the best remedies for personal growth. It really opens our eyes and changes how we see the world! When I think back to my first solo trip around four years ago, I can’t help but notice how much I’ve changed and how my mind has absorbed dubious amounts of culture, knowledge, opinions, languages and the all important friendships. It would also be fair to say that my liver has taken quite a beating too…

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Feeling pensive

 

One of my favourite things about travelling is definitely the people that I have met. It is the biggest cliche but also one of the truest. It’s crazy how you can spend three days with someone you’ve just met in hostel and feel closer to them than people you spent years with in high school. I’ve shared things with strangers whilst travelling that I’d never imagine sharing with close friends from home. It’s crazy. And I know for sure that when or if I see these people again, we’ll pick up right where we left off (which was most likely at a bar..).

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Cheese and Wine night with a great friend I made this year

 

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Some of the best humans I’ve ever met. When I worked in a hostel in Bratislava, 2016.

 

Travelling is one of the greatest tools for not just understanding other cultures but appreciating them too. I love seeing how locals live, their traditions and how they go about their daily lives. Fascinating stuff. I think of when I was in Serbia and how whenever you enter someones home or sit and chat with a local, they would always offer a shot of Rakia. A traditional homemade alcoholic drink. Super strong but amazing. I sat for hours on the balcony of my hostel in Belgrade with the owner chatting about life whilst sipping away. Those kinds of moments are why I travel.

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The French Basque Country. 

 

People ask me often if I miss home. The honest answer is not really. Of course, I miss my family and friends but I feel that the world has too much to offer for me to be at home right now. I’ll go home in September to finish my degree, but I already know my free weekends will be spent somewhere other than my hometown. I love Glasgow and the people and it will ALWAYS be my favourite city in the world but it’s definitely not the place that I can see my settling down in.

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Home

 

Travel has different meaning for people and that’s okay. For some it’s two weeks at an all inclusive resort once a year, for others it’s city breaks throughout the year and then there are those who can’t get enough and hop on a plane at a moments notice. There is nothing worse than people who judge other styles of travel. Just because you’re comfortable solo travelling around South East Asia for two months doesn’t mean everyone else should be. Let people take as many or as few photos as they’d like. Just enjoy the travelling that suits you!!

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Surfs Up in Biarritz, France

 

I’m not quite sure what the point of this post is but I had some thoughts that I wanted to share and I hadn’t posted for a looongggg time. Below you can find some of my favourite photos from over the past few months and years:

 

Let me know what travel means to you in the comments!

10/10 would Rennes again!

When I think of northen France (and northern to me is anywhere above Tours), I can’t help but imagine depressing, gloomy towns filled with people with funny accents. This was why I’d never gone north before (besides Paris, which isn’t really the north). I tended to stick to the warmer climate down south, but I recently spent four days over the New Year in the amazing city of Rennes and was pleasantly surprised.

After spending a couple of days back home in Scotland for Christmas, I jumped on a flight to Paris and then caught the TGV with a friend and we headed on-wards to Rennes. The next few days were filled with many whiskys and cokes, a bar with a pet parrot and a quick day trip to Le Mont St-Michel.

I hadn’t know much about Rennes before I’d went but it’s safe to say I’m keen on spending a lot more time there (possibly will head there when I’m finished with studies to teach again..) The town is bustling with young students who are ready to hop into a bar at a moments notice. There is a belief that people in the north of France are unfriendly, which I found to be completely untrue (at least in Rennes). We met so many new people just by chatting over a few (way too many) drinks. It’s crazy how your confidence and language skills improve when you’re un peu bourré. Below are some places I think you should visit if you’re in the area, you can probably tell from my recommendations that I’m prone to a good drink..

 

  1.  Le P’tit Vélo 

This is a great wee pub with friendly staff and decent prices. There’s plenty of seating outside too if you’re keen to smoke a cheeky clope. You’ll find it in the dead centre of town on Place St-Michel. We returned to this bar a few times over the weekend as the atmosphere was perfect for some pre-drinking!

 

2. Rue de la Soif

Rue de la Soif  or ‘Street of thirst’ in English is a stones throw form Le P’tit Vélo and boasts a fine number of bars for you to spend a whole night here. The street is packed with like-minded youngsters looking for a good time. There’s bound to at least one bar to suit your taste and who and who can complain when ‘happy hour’ prices can get you a pint for as little as 3 €. Whether you’re looking for a quick drink or a place to drink into the wee hours of the morning, this is the street for you 😉

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Eric – a testament to the friendliness of Rennes 

 

3. Poutinebros

After all that drinking I’m suggesting, Poutinebros is the perfect spot to meet all your hungry needs. As the name suggests, this place serves poutine but they also do some very decent burgers too! Super friendly staff and laid-back atmosphere make this a great place to grab a quick bite before exploring the city again.

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Poutine, version crise cardiaque

 

4. Le Mont St-Michel

Rennes is situated only a short bus ride from one of the most famous monuments in France and the indeed the world. It would be rude not to check out this little village/ island/ abbey / whatever you would like to call it when you’re so close.. The bus was fairly cheap and entrance to the abbey was free for those under 26 and with EU residency.

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The great northern weather

 

Other than what I’ve already mentioned, take the time to walk around the town and take in the incredible architecture!! Also, bring an umbrella as although the unfriendly stereotype of the north may be untrue, the bad weather certainly is not 😉

 

 

Hollywood’s favourite couple spotted in the Basque country…

So, a lot has happened since my last post. From trips to Spain, hungover train journeys and my very first Thanksgiving, there has never been a dull moment!!

I recently had 2 weeks off, so I decided to make the 2 hour trip south to Spain and spend a few days in  San Sebastian with some friends. The city is one of Spain’s most expensive but compared to France, everything was a steal – including the alcohol 😉 It was even warm enough to take a swim in the sea which was weird considering it was almost Novemeber… We spent most of our time either drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol, eating pintxos (tapas) or down at the beach. We were lucky enough to experience pintxos pote on a Thursday night – a drink and a small tapas for a mere 2euros!! It’s safe to say we ended up more than intoxicated that night. Our drunken states allowed us (or should I say my two friends who were looking for a pull) to fall vicitim to some pick-pockets. However, thanks to the Basque police all ended with laughs and we got everything back except our dignity.. San Sebastian is a must visit town with greats bars, nightlife and surf!

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Playa de la Concha

 

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Surfs Up!

 

Back in Pau, things have been in full swing. Work is going well and I genuinely enjoy teaching. Even if some kids couldn’t care less, most of them are keen and motivated. I don’t spend much time at home, every night I’m usually found at the Galway bar with mates or wine-ing and dining like a true Frenchman. I also spent a weekend in Bordeaux which consisted of more wine and good food. Pau might be small but its not lacking in things to do and I’ve met some of the best people!

 

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Hiking in the Pyrenees.

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When the paparazzi just can’t leave you alone… #Leo&KateWho?

 

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Giving the fans the photo they want #attractive

 

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Jersey Shore got nothing on us

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My first Thanksgiving – basically Christmas minus the presents

 

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What beauties!!

 

 

As you can see, life here is top notch! I’m heading to Grenoble next weekend which should turn out some crazy stories so keep and eye out for my next post 😉

 

La vie en France

So, if you haven’t already heard, I moved to France!! For the rest of the academic year I’ll be working as a language assistant in two high schools. Me teaching children, who would have thought? I’m living in Pau which sits in the foothills of the Pyrenees, it’s also wine central so it can only be described as a 100% win-win.

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The funiculaire with the mountains in the distance!

 

I’ve already managed to find my own flat in a residence which is specifically for young workers, so meeting people has been very easy. Although, I’m kind of tired of people asking if Scotsmen really go commando under their kilt… I also had some luck at the bank and managed to open an account. I’d heard a lot of horror stories about how difficult it was to open one but it couldn’t have been more straightforward. I even managed to bag some free home insurance so I felt obliged to go back the next day with some shortbread to say thanks. I’m 110% their new favourite customer. I have to go back again next week to give the manager my French phone number, I think it might be for admin purposes but I’ll assume that it’s because she fancies me…

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View of the mountains at sunset from my flat window….

 

You’ll all be happy to know that I’ve made some new pals but don’t worry I’m not replacing you! I’ve been out almost every night since I got here, mostly with other assistants and some Erasmus students. But, we managed to make some new French pals who are keen to go for a drink (or two) this weekend. I’ve also had to take the art of pre-drinking to a new level. A pint here costs at least 5€ whereas 10 beers from le supermarché will set you back a mere 2,80€. I’ve found a new local (sorry Ark) called Le Galway and even though it’s and “Irish” bar, the staff are all French which means I can practise the lingo.

I went for a coffee at a cafe last week to find out the guy who served me plays for the local rugby team (Section Paloise) and was on the winning NZ squad for the 2015 world cup. He also has 80,000 followers on insta (#famous). His wife runs the place but I think he just stepped in to lend a helping hand. Pau is a small town but it is definitely full of characters! There’s also been a few funny nights out but I’ll spare you all the details for another time.

I don’t start work until Monday but I’m going into one of my schools tomorrow to meet the other teachers and find out my timetable – praying for a 3 day weekend. I’m only an hour from Biarritz, so hopefully can try some surfing there and then when winter comes head to the mountains for le ski. 

I think that’s all to update for now so I’ll leave you with some pictures:

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Winners of Tour de France (Pau stage) painted on the road

 

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Pink Umbrellas in the main square for breast cancer awareness month

 

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Cool little side street

 

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Panoramic view from the Boulevard des Pyrenees

Shoestring Paris

So, it turns out keeping up with a blog is harder than I thought – especially with all the Uni work I’ve being doing (or should have been doing). Anyway, I’m finally getting round to writing about my few days in Paris as part of my Eurotrip last Summer!

The first thing I always get asked about Paris is how did I ever afford 4 nights in one of Europe’s most expensive cities – especially for backpackers. Well, the truth is that Paris can be expensive, however there are bargains to be sought!

Accommodation

As with most places, accommodation will yet again be your biggest expense but that doesn’t mean spending hundreds of Euros on a room with a view of the Tour Eiffel. Paris is crawling with hostels and with airbnb now at our fingertips, finding affordable accommodation is easier than ever. Now, I won’t lie and say that hostels in Paris are cheap as chips because they’re not but if you’re travelling solo and want to meet like minded traveler’s then staying at a hostel may be your best bet! I traveled solo and stayed at St Christopher’s Inn Canal. For 4 nights I paid around 98€ which doesn’t seem that cheap but remember that Paris is one of the most famous cities in the world and I arrived in peak summer season! The hostel itself was good, nothing spectacular. But the staff were friendly and it was easy enough to meet other backpackers!

Another great option could be to couchsurf which is totally free and you get local knowledge of the place you are visiting!

Also, if there are a group of you airbnb could be your cheapest option – however if you’re looking for a great atmosphere and new friends it might be worth it to pay the extra money to stay in a hostel.

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Chill by the Canal with a beer or 2 at St Christopher’s Inn. 

Food and Drink

It’s no secret that the French capital is home to some of the world’s finest eateries, however I was on a very tight budget seeing as Paris was at the tail end of my trip and so fine dining was not an option!!

The hostel I stayed at offered food starting at around 5/6 euros – there was unfortunately no kitchen in my hostel but many other Parisian hostels do offer a kitchen to keep spending to a minimum. Using airbnb is also a great way to save money on eating out.

It is very possible to eat out and still have money left over for a beer to wash it down. A great place I found was Creperie Genia  – a stone’s throw from the famous Notre Dame. Here you can you get a crepe, a panini and a drink all for 4€!! Paris is filled with cheap Pizzerias and there are street food stands in many places – it won’t be hard to find some form of cheap food.

Bars and Clubs

My absolute favourite place in Paris was Rue de Lappe located in the heart of the trendy Bastille area. This place is the perfect spot for bar hopping and for those wanting a few quiet drinks – the street is packed with loads of great places. Many of the places do “happy hour” specials from around 6.pm until around 10.pm (some places even 11.pm) and you’ll be sure to grab a good few deals during these hours! However, even outside of happy hours the prices are kind to your wallet.

My favourite bar on this street was called Bar des Ferrailleurs mainly due to the rustic feel of the place and the real mix of locals, students and travelers like myself. The staff here are so friendly and very happy to help.

Another cool place on Rue de Lappe is Yellow Mad Monkey. This bar is decorated like a jungle and there’s a really buzzing atmosphere. A pint here cost around 5 euros which is pretty reasonable for Paris.

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The Yellow Mad Monkey – the place is as mad as its name suggests…

If you’re looking for more than a few chilled drinks then head to concrete, a nightclub situated on a barge! This place was pretty casual and was a lot fun. For full details on prices on specific nights and deals then check out their website.

Things to do

Paris has heaps of attractions that will keep you busy for a good while. The obvious places such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and L’Arc de Triomphe are easily accessible by metro. There’s loads and loads of information out there on these places so I’d rather not go into too much detail!

A great way to get a local’s perspective of the city is to take a free (tip-based) walking tour with Discover Walks. All tour guides are from Paris themselves and therefore know the city inside out. There are a number of walks ranging from Montmarte to Notre Dame. These tours are often much better than the over-priced bus tours.

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Notre Dame Free Walking Tour – a great way to see the city 

Another very cool place in Paris that’s likely to get you a ton of “insta likes” is Rue Crémieux – the most colourful street in Paris. This place is not very well known and is a hidden gem not far from Gare de Lyon sation.

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Take a stroll down Paris’ most colourful street 

One last activity is to visit Parc de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement. The park is great for everything from quiet walks to picnics to outdoor cinemas. There are heaps of events here throughout the year and you can check them out on the park’s website.

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An outdoor cinema in Parc de la Villette I went to with some friends I made at my hostel. This is seasonal but there are plenty of other events throughout the year.

There you have it  – Paris on a shoestring!! If you liked this post then please like this post and give my blog a follow for more travel tips and stories!!

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