My Travels to: Rye

At the start of December 2017, I visited the English town of Rye. It’s around 2 hours outside of London, towards the south-east of England.

Fun fact about me, I love old buildings. I’ve never studied architecture so I don’t know much about the different styles of buildings that are out there. But I did a quick Google search and here are three that I like: Victorian, Gothic and Romanesque architecture. I can’t really explain why I like them. I just love how they look.

Rye has beautiful cobbled streets and timbered, historic housing (another old style I like). It’s a really homely place, there are loads of quirky shops, and all the people were really friendly. Another fun fact, I love sweets. And Rye has a few lovely, classic old sweet shops where you have the walls lined with tubs of different sweets. I went there with my boyfriend and we went to a great restaurant for dinner. If you ever go to Rye, I highly recommend the restaurant “Hoof.” The staff were lovely, the food was delicious and it had a lovely wood fireplace in it to keep us warm as we ate. Have a look below:

20171202_155951

What can you do there?

So other than going into quirky shops and buying sweets there are other things that you can get up to. For example, the Rye Heritage centre has loads of information leaflets and advice on what to see and do. It also has Rye – specific souvenirs like locally made honey, rock, shortbread etc. It also has a lovely mini version of Rye (photographed below) that I thought was great. There’s a large church there that has big traditional church bells and you can pay to go up the top to see the bell tower and you can climb up to the roof to almost see all of Rye. I’d definitely recommend doing that. Also, close by there is Rye Castle, Camber Castle, Camber Sands (a really pretty beach), and a bit further out to Rye harbour there is also a nature reserve there that you can visit.

Overall, if you’d like a mini- break somewhere, Rye is a really nice place to go, and I’d definitely recommend going there if you can.

 

My travels to: Brussels

In December 2016 I was treated to a trip to Brussels, in Belgium by my boyfriend for my Christmas present. We stayed there for 3 nights.

I live in England and so, the journey to Brussels is not super far. We took the Eurostar for my first ever time and that was really cool. I don’t often travel via train but, it’s a known thing that they travel quite fast. Well, I had no idea exactly how fast the Eurostar was when I was on it (I now know it ranges from 100 – 186 miles per hour), but I was blown away by how quick it took us to get from England to Brussels. It was like, 2 hours? Crazy. We were tracking our journey on Google Maps and it made us laugh to see how quick the little blue circle was moving. You really don’t notice it, the train barely moves or shakes, it’s incredible.

In Brussels, they speak French. I’ve never really studied French in my life, being Spanish I’ve just focused on that, trying to increase my Spanish skills. I knew some words, ‘bonjour’, ‘au revoir’, ‘merci’, a few other words like ‘pain’, ‘fromage’, you know, a few basics. At the time of going, I had started using an app to learn Italian as my closest friend at university is Italian and to be honest I’d love to know more than 2 languages. (Not that my Spanish is perfect, kinda getting ahead of myself there.) I’d only ever been on holiday to Spanish speaking countries, so I found it really weird to be away from home and not understand what people around me were saying. I really didn’t like it. But then I thought, you know, this is what most people feel like when on holiday. Not everyone is lucky enough to even know one other language apart from their mother tongue. So I tried to get on with it.

One thing I laughed at myself for, was the fact that locals would talk to me, just in a restaurant or something, and I’d reply in Spanish cause I’d worked out what they’d said. And then I made an active effort to not talk in Spanish and try and use some of the French words that I’d google’d and ended up saying Italian words. I was a mess. It’s laughable though. It’s like, my brain was like, I hear words, they’re not English so must require a reply in Spanish! Then I told my brain no, not Spanish. So it was like ah! Must be Italian. No brain, French, s’il vous plaît! (Please in French, but let’s be honest if I’d have said that out loud I would’ve come out with por favor.) 

A bit of a jumble of four different languages there, though I did try!

Let’s talk about Brussels. Locals were nice, loved the scenery and all the stuff that was around. I love cobbled streets, and old-ish buildings which Brussels has, so I enjoyed that. We arrived there during those few days between Christmas and New Year so we were lucky that there were Christmas lights up (which I love) and there were a few Christmas markets around. Obviously, I haven’t been to Brussels at another time of year so I’m biased, but I had a great time and it wasn’t unbearably cold. So, if you like Christmas lights and markets like me, I would definitely recommend going around December time.

Quick fact about me; I LOVE waffles. Like, sweet waffles you have with chocolate and cream (and strawberries- yummy). Potato waffles are okay, but you know the ones I’m talking about. I love them muchly. I don’t know if you know, but Belgium is kind of known for its chocolates and waffles. Beer too, apparently, but I’m sure this has helped you understand where my interests lay. Belgian waffles are sold in most places, for dessert in restaurants, out of special waffle shops and, out of waffle vans. Waffle vans? Yes. Waffle VANS. On the go waffles, what else could you want, right? I really enjoyed all of the waffles that I ate whilst in Brussels. If you’re looking for a waffle recommendation, I’d have to say, visit the famous statue “Mannekin Pis”, a major tourist spot. I had the best waffle ever from one of the stores there, I’ll try and attach a picture of it.

A few tourist places to visit if you decide to go to Brussels

  • Grand Place
    It’s just beautiful. I love that style of the buildings, at night, lights and colours are projected on to the buildings and it’s really nice.
  • Mannekin Pis
    The famous statue I previously mentioned earlier, funny statue and located near the best waffles.
  • Atomium
    This was awesome. Looked super cool and you can go inside and learn all about how it was built and get to benefit from the view from the top.
  • Little Europe
    We didn’t actually “visit” Little Europe, but we saw it whilst at the top of Atomium.

There’s also loads of museums and other cool stuff to do. We didn’t see EVERYTHING Brussels had to offer because we were not there for a large amount of time. However, I would still really recommend going if/ when you can.

Thanks for reading, check back in with me weekly for new posts!

Maria

❤️

 

My travels to: Chile

In July 2016 I travelled to Chile, South America with my university as part of a Scholarship. The purpose of this was to have an ‘intensive Spanish course’, where the other selected students and I had to attend one of the university’s there during the day to learn and then we had the weekends and evenings to ourselves to explore. I was only there for 2 and a half weeks but it really was such an amazing experience, and I wish I could have had more time out there.

I lived in a place called Viña Del Mar with my host family and 2 other girls from uni- we soon became good friends. Being the only one who could speak a fair amount of Spanish, I usually translated from Spanish to English and vice versa at home and when out and about because our host family couldn’t speak English and a lot of the locals couldn’t either. I went to a university in Valparaíso, the next town over (kind of) that was only about 15 minutes away on the ‘micro’ (bus).

Having Spanish family from mainland Spain, coming to Chile threw me off a bit because there’s a lot of ‘Chilenismos’ which are Chilean ‘slang’ type words as well as just different words for the same things in Spain. For example, juice in Spain is ‘Zumo’ but in Chile its ‘Jugo’. Not a major thing but there were still lots of opportunities to learn different words. My favourite Chilean words actually were ‘pololo’ and ‘polola’ which mean boyfriend and girlfriend; whereas in Spain they are ‘novio’ and ‘novia’. There’s no real reason why these words were my favourite, I just love the way they sound.

Some things I learned about in Chile:
In Chile, they have a very bad stray dog (‘kiltros’ in Chilean) problem, where a massive amount of dogs live on the streets. One night my friends and I were walking and we had probably a pack of about 8 dogs walking with us. It’s a crazy amount. They weren’t nasty20160706_183540 at all, which made it worse for me really as they were just normal dogs that wanted love and attention. The problem is, a lot of people don’t want responsibility for the dogs so they leave them to the streets, and where people don’t neuter them (even though it’s free, unlike in England), the problem keeps getting worse. (One of my Chilean teachers told me this, she is one of the few who care for the stray dogs. She takes them in her house and cares for them when they are hurt and feeds them.) As a dog lover, it was really heartbreaking to see so many dogs on the streets. Sleeping/ eating wherever they could- even cardboard boxes (which I do have a photo of, but haven’t attached in this post)
I’m glad I travelled there because it opened my eyes to many things about the lives of Chilean people. Money is a struggle. I mean, money is a struggle for many people in many places, but I spoke to people who had multiple jobs in order to get enough money to live off of, and that was the norm.
They don’t have dinner there. That threw me and took a little while to get used to. Basically, we had a breakfast and a big-ish lunch and that was it. It might seem strange, especially because where I’m from we always have breakfast, lunch and dinner (and I pretty much always look forward to my dinner) but it was enough. That’s the thing, we don’t need to eat loads to sustain our bodies, we’re just used to eating that amount.
Chile opened my eyes to a different way of living and I will keep that close to me forever. I learned a lot (not just Spanish language) but about people and life, and not only did it inspire me to travel and learn more but it also inspired me to try my best to make a change in the world. Now, I might not ever be able to inspire/change a lot of people for the better. But, as Ghandi said:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

So I’m trying to change for the better and maybe, in the future, I can help the change spread further than just me.

Is Chile worth visiting?
Yes, I think so. If I had had more time there, I would’ve loved to travel around Chile a bit more. What’s amazing about it is, there are all sorts of things to experience. It has beaches, sand dunes (would totally recommend sandboarding if you haven’t done it), mountains and forest- something for everyone! Just be careful, we were advised to always stay in groups especially after dark. But, there are a lot of hidden gems there, you go up a hill and find a collection of shops/ restaurants/ art and it really was more than just what you see on the surface and this is just something I am glad I experienced.

Why I loved Chile:
Part of the reason was the people. My host mother, in particular, I loved. She was a very kind woman who had a lot of love in her heart and a lot of struggles, but she was still so welcoming and friendly. A few locals I met were really nice, the teachers we had were awesome and one of my teachers and my host mother both said to me that if I were ever to go back to Chile, their doors would be open for me. And that really touched my heart.
The sites. Having lived in England my whole life, it was amazing to see the different sites that Viña and Valpo had to offer- they were really beautiful and very different to what I’m used to seeing in England.
The colour. There was colour everywhere! Street art is a bit of a thing in Chile, it was on the houses, on the walls just along regular streets, on the sides of shops- it was lovely. There are clearly a lot of really talented people out there and seeing art everywhere really was one of my favourite things.
The language. Not going to lie, I just love speaking Spanish. I’m not super good at it but I do love it, and especially as I was emersed in Spanish every day it really did increase my confidence and there is just something special about speaking to locals in their own language. As Nelson Mandela said,

If you speak to a man in a language that he understands, it goes to his head. If you speak to a man in his own language, it goes to his heart.

The friends. I went out to Chile not knowing anyone. I’m quite a shy person and I’ve never really found it super easy to make friends. But I met some really great people, we formed our own friendship group and they really did make the trip the best.

Please check out some of my other posts, and if you like my blog so far, please click the follow button!

Thanks for reading,

Maria

❤️