London Leopard ♥

Sunday, 28 October 2018

2 Day Itinerary For Riga Latvia ♥

I recently got back from my trip to Riga, Latvia. I was there for 2 days which is more than enough for a trip to Riga. The city is small and very walkable, which meant that I did not really use public transport when I was there. The only time that I used public transport was to get to and from the airport. Take a look at my itinerary below: 

Day 1 



























1.Airport to the city centre (30 minutes by bus)
Take the line 22 bus from the airport to the city centre. You can buy a ticket from the machine at the bus stop and it costs 1.15. Don't forget to validate your ticket on the bus by pressing it on the machine. 

2.Naughty Squirrel Backpacker Hostel
I stayed at this hostel which is within walking distance of the old town. The staff are very friendly and gave me 2 welcome shots of Black Balsam. I paid €15 for one night and the beds have privacy curtains. 

3.The Cat House (5 minute walk)

A building with statues of cats on top. 

4.The Three Brothers (5 minutes walk)

Three buildings which were the oldest houses in Riga. 

5.The museum of the occupation of Latvia (5 minute walk) 

Museum that tells the history of Russian and German occupation in Latvia. 

6.House of Blackheads (1 minute walk)

A beautiful building

7.Riga Cathedral (5 minute walk) 


8.Dinner: Zviedru Vārti (5 minute walk)

This is a cheap traditional restaurant. I tried "Pelēkie zirņi ar speķīti"  which is grey peas with bacon. I also had "Kartupeļu pankūkas" which are like potato pancakes. As a beverage I drank "Kvass" which is like a sweet juice made from rye bread. 



Day 2



























1.Riga Central Market (10 minute walk from hostel) 
A market that is full of local food and products. The food is cheap (a coffee costs 0.50).  

2.Riga Ghetto & Latvian Holocaust Museum (10 minute walk)

An outdoor museum that tells the history of Jewish people in Latvia during the holocaust. 

3.Amber queen (15 minute walk)

This is not the cheapest place to buy Amber, but it is still a beautiful shop/museum to look at. 

4.Province restaurant (5 minute walk) 

This is a little cosy traditional restaurant and the food is very cheap. I had beetroot soup with a local beer for lunch. 


                    llondon leopard
                          xoxo



















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Sunday, 14 October 2018

Live Your Life However You Want ♥


I feel like a lot of people fail to realise that life is what you make it. You can create whatever you want and there is no right or wrong way to live. Yes society has norms but it does not mean that you have to follow them if that is not what you want.

Okay...so I started this post sounding like it is going to be an angry rant. Well I guess it's half a rant...but it's something that I feel strongly about. Like I said before there is no wrong way to live life. Generally the norm in most countries is that you need to get a degree, get a good job, get married, buy a car, buy a house, and then die. Sorry but I personally believe there is more to life than all of that. Yes I do agree with studying and working towards having a stable future. But I do sometimes feel like the fancy car and fancy house can sometimes be about competing with people and showing off your wealth. If that is what makes you happy then fair enough okay...but I do not think it is something that should be a norm.

Now you are probably wondering where is this all coming from? what is her problem? My problem is that I don't think it should be frowned upon if you are not keen on following this norm. Take me for example, having a fancy car and house are not high on my priorities. This seems to be a problem for many people in London when I tell them that. They look at me as if I am strange when I tell them that I don't see the point in buying a car unless I get married and have kids. I tell them that I would rather use the money towards travelling and gaining life experiences than paying car insurance every month. The response is usually "but don't you think it would be easier to get around?" like come on! we live in London where there is transport left right and centre. In reality I probably could afford to save for a car if I wanted to...but I don't. That would mean that I don't get to travel abroad. 

It is the same with travelling. I feel like as a woman there seems to be some kind of stigma against travelling. I would be rich if I had a penny for every time somebody said "calm down with the travelling" or "don't you get tired of travelling". The answer is no I don't get tired of travelling. I have chosen to spend my 20's travelling and learning because that is what I like to do. I am not harming anybody so I don't see what the problem is. I've been told that I should start looking for a boyfriend/husband. Lets be honest, I am a free spirit and need to be a with someone who is the same. Becoming a housewife is not an option for me (haha!). It has got to be someone who wants to take our kids on an African safari during the summer holidays. Or spend our honeymoon watching fire dancers on the beach in Hawaii. 

I am literally going off topic and managed to turn this post in to a full on rant. But you understand what I am trying to say right? It is okay to live your life however you want. You do not have to live a certain way and should do whatever makes you happy. It's okay if you would rather work abroad for 6 months and not go to university. It's okay if you would rather set up your own charity than buy a 5 bedroom house. It's okay if you don't want to be married by the age of 25. Whatever you want to do...it's okay. You only live once and you should do whatever makes you happy. 


                        llondon leopard

                              xoxo


                                                             
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Sunday, 9 September 2018

Things I Have Gained From Solo Travel ♥



Solo travel is something that is frowned upon among many people. There is a concept that it is strange that you would want to travel without a group. But I think that everybody should travel solo at least once in their life, just to experience it. I personally thought it was weird until I gave it a go a few years ago, and I actually don't mind it. I feel that it has actually made me develop as a person, and I view the world a lot differently to how I did before. 

1. Independence 
This is something you develop a lot when travelling alone. You are responsible for every aspect of the trip and you have no choice. The biggest thing that I have developed is my research skills. When travelling alone you need to do more research than you would if you were with other people. I've learnt how to map my routes beforehand. I have also gradually become comfortable with sitting on a "table for one" in restaurants. Luckily in Europe it is not seen to be a big deal, and you will see local people chilling out alone in coffee shops, bars, and restaurants.


2. Adventure

This is what I have enjoyed the most about solo travel. You end up walking around and exploring new places randomly. When travelling with other people it is sometimes difficult to compromise on where you want to go because different people have different interests. Christina wants to go clubbing, Natalie wants to check out a few museums, Lisa wants to chill out on the beach, and Emily wants to decay in the hotel room all day. You get the picture?. But with solo travel the world is your oyster and you can do whatever you want whenever you want. 


3. Awareness 
The downside to solo travel is that you don't have anyone to banter or conversate with. But it does mean that you pay more attention to everything and anything. I end up examining peoples behaviour, and learning about cultural customs. You are also more cautious and aware of your surroundings, making you less likely to behave reckless. When I went to Barcelona with my friend, we got piss drunk on a bottle of red wine and ended up on the balcony screaming like raccoons. It was fun at the time and I don't regret it. But it was also not the wisest thing to do (we could have been thrown out of the hotel). I don't think that I would ever do something like that if I was travelling solo. 



                    llondon leopard
                         xoxo
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Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Why I started blogging ♥


I started blogging during university. At the time, I didn't think that I was trying to achieve anything by starting a blog. But now when I look back on 2015, I realise that I definitely started this blog for a reason. It was a time in my life when I was starting to understand myself. I finally understood what I wanted to do with my life. I became more aware of who I really was as a person. So I wanted to document every moment of my life. It didn't matter how many people read my posts (and it still doesn't), I just wanted them to be out there in public. I wanted to document my hobbies, my travels, my likes, and dislikes. There was never really a clear focus and I just saw this blog as my own creative space. 

I still feel the same way about this blog three years later. It seems to have taken a primarily travel focus over the last couple of years. Sometimes I wonder if I post way too much travel content, and forget to share other areas of my life. But then I have to remind myself that it doesn't really matter. Travel is my passion and this blog is my little space to share whatever I want. I am hoping to get more personal and share some other areas of my life in the future. 


Blogging is not something that I do full time (as you can see). It is more of a little hobby that I have chosen to do alongside working full time. I don't put much of an effort into making this blog look "professional and polished" and that is by choice. It is not a business and I prefer it to look informal, because that is who I am as a person. It's supposed to represent me after all isn't it? 


                             xxx


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Sunday, 19 August 2018

Messages From Malta ♥

Wednesday 1st August 2018
 I just arrived in Malta a few hours ago. It's burning hot (35 degrees Celsius). I took the bus from the airport to my hotel which was like an hour long journey. What I find interesting is that Malta is a former British colony. This means that a lot of things are the same here. Like for example, the bus company is the same and the interior of the bus looks the same as the ones in London. They also have all the British shops in Malta. Anyway, so I checked into my hostel at 3pm (yes i'm in a hostel this time). I don't know who I am sharing with yet but the shoes are all men's shoes which makes me nervous. Not sure if I would feel comfortable sleeping in a room that is full of men. I put my luggage away and then went to try some traditional Maltese snacks.

Pastizzi is a popular Maltese pastry so I bought a chicken one for  0.50. I also tried some Cisk beer which tasted very bitter. After that I took a short walk to the beach, which is exactly where I am writing this from. The internet tricked me into thinking that this was a sandy beach but it's not...it's all rocky. But I guess it's okay because I am planning to visit a sandy beach on Friday. This area that I am staying in seems to be crowded with wild drunk tourists. I am getting the impression that i'm staying in an area that is like "the Ibiza" for Italian tourists. I need to explore some other cities/towns in Malta before I can make any proper judgements. Tomorrow morning I have a tour to Gozo Island which should be cool. Now I'm going to head back to the hotel to shower and get an early night. 
                           xxx

                                   Thursday 2nd August 2018
Today I went on a tour of Gozo Island. I think that I might prefer it to Malta island. It seems to be very quiet and peaceful in comparison. I feel like Gozo was less concentrated with tourists as well, which allowed me to get a real feel for Maltese culture. I also noticed that it seems to be a lot cheaper in the shops here. During the tour today I got to see the Ggantija temples which reminded me of Greece. We also saw a lot of amazing views of the ocean. The tour included lunch and wine which was nice. It was a very long day and I don't have much to say (because I can't remember everything). 

I have planned for tomorrow to be a relaxing day at the beach. But I guess that I will have to get up very early if I want to get some nice pictures and a good spot. Here are a few things that I have noticed so far about Malta...

- The Maltese language is like a mix of Italian and Arabic. 
- The traffic is horrendous.
- They don't have enough toilet cubicles anywhere. There is always a long queue. 
- Maltese people are very friendly.
                                       
                                xxx


            Friday 3rd August 2018
I just got back to the hostel and I am waiting to have a shower. Today I got up really early and went to the beach. It was in the North of Malta and took 1 hour to get there by bus. The bus was full of tourists going to the beach but only a few of them went to the same beach as me. So I arrived at the beach at 9.00am and it was almost empty (thank god). This meant that I got to pick a sunbed right at the front of the beach next to the water. I stripped off into my bikini and relaxed there for the next few hours. After this I went to eat a chicken salad and drink some local beers. I tried two different flavours of Cisk beer this time. One was ginger/lemon and the other one was mixed berry. flavoured beer is so tasty!. The beach that I visited was in an area called "mellieha" which was very nice. Everywhere that I have been so far seems nice apart from the area that I am staying in. I am literally in the sleaze area of Malta. There are lots of strip clubs and drunk people parading around everywhere outside the hostel. Oh well!. 

So anyway, I came back to the hostel in the afternoon and decided to relax for the rest of the day. I went back out in the evening around 5pm to find the "cat village" which is supposed to be full of cats. It wasn't actually there...either that or it's some kind of scam. There were toy cats and a sign asking for donations. So I continued to wander around and found Portomaso Marina. It was full of locals eating at restaurants next to a dock of boats/yachts. It definitely looks like an area for the rich and famous. I kind of just went back to the hostel and here I am. I'm going to have a quick shower and continue my mission of finding some local Maltese food. I am also contemplating whether to visit the Blue Lagoon on Comino Island. I hear that it's a "must see" but it's also horribly crowded to the point where it is unpleasant. I will check the reviews online and decide tomorrow. 

                              xxx


          Saturday 4th August 2018
I am back at the hostel but my day is not over yet. I am just relaxing until the restaurants open. So today I got up early again and visited the capital city of Valletta. It's such as beautiful city! everything is like very yellow in colour. I absolutely loved it despite not going into any attractions. I chose not to because some of the entry fees were unreasonable. Like they were charging  €10 to get in to a cathedral. I just think that is ridiculous considering that it's a place of worship. Plus I have seen more than 20 cathedrals in Europe so there wasn't really a need for me to go in. 

So I went to see some free attractions and wandered around the city instead. I also got to eat some more Maltese food which was nice. I had a dish called "ftira ta kalu" which was like the Maltese version of a pizza. It is a flatbread topped with sheeps cheese, tomato, olives, and some other things too. I am hopping to eat some Maltese food again for dinner if I can get a table. I'm thinking about trying rabbit spaghetti because rabbit is their national dish. Well...I tried reindeer in Sweden so whats the difference? Can it really be that bad?. After dinner I think that I will relax on the local rock beach with a mini bottle of wine. The forecast for tomorrow mentions thunderstorms and rain. I wanted to do a day trip to Comino so hopefully this is not true. I guess that we will see. 

                               xxx


                                             
                       Sunday 5th August 2018
So I drank too much wine last night on the beach. I woke up with a slight hangover today but it's okay. I woke up at 9am which meant that it was too late to visit the Blue Lagoon. They say that you need to be on the first ferry at 9am if you want to enjoy it for a while without the crowds. I have been going on about the Blue Lagoon for days but still haven't made it there yet. Maybe that is a sign that it's not worth it.

 So today I decided to do some beach hopping instead. I took the bus up North again but to a different area. This time I went to Golden Bay which was beautiful. Some thunderstorms started after a couple of hours, so I took my ass back on the bus to San Giljan. This time I tried some different pastizzi for lunch (one pea and one ricotta). They were both tastier than the chicken one that I ate on the first night. After that I went to the local stone beach because it wasn't raining here. I actually sat in the water this time...until some 40 something year old perverts started creeping towards me. They were staring at me for a good 10 minutes and gradually floating towards me. It was very uncomfortable so I just left. 
                                             
                               xxx

            Monday 6th August 2018
 So today was my day to visit Mdina and Rabat. It was very quick and you don't need more than a few hours to see the cities. It took ages to get there though because I had to get a bus to Valletta (45 minutes), and then change and get another bus to Rabat (40 minutes). This is the Mediterranean so buses come whenever they want. Most services are scheduled to run once an hour so if you miss a bus then you're screwed. Anyway...Mdina is a beautiful area that is picturesque. The buildings are yellowy with colourful windows and doors. It reminds me of a village kind of area. 

Rabat is more "city style" with squares and restaurants. I went to St Paul's Catacombs in Rabat. It was interesting how they told the story of St Paul. He came to Malta on a boat and the people were friendly....until a viper snake wrapped itself around his hand. So then the Maltese started to believe that he must be evil, until St. Paul got the snake off himself without any harm. So then they started worshiping him as a god. He stopped them from worshiping him and started spreading the word of Christianity. Interesting right?

 After this I made my way back to the hotel but stopped off halfway in Valletta for some Lunch. I visited a Maltese restaurant and ate "brungiel mimli" which is aubergine stuffed with mince beef, cheese, and tomato. I didn't eat dinner today because that meal was literally enough to fill me up until the next day. I'm not sure what I want to do tomorrow but it will be my last day.                                                                                     xxx

           Tuesday 7th August 2018
It was my last day in Malta today. I have just showered and finished packing my luggage. Today was a VERY relaxed day and I did not do much to be honest. I went to a fish spa in the morning to sort out my awful feet. It didn't do much to be honest...the one that I visited in Greece actually left my feet soft. Or maybe my feet are just beyond repair haha. The worker was a very nice girl from Poland. She gave me an extra 40 minutes for free and we spent ages talking about travelling. After the fish spa I relaxed on the beach for about an hour...but the weather was not great today. It was cloudy and rainy so I decided to head to a bar instead for a cocktail. I don't usually go to bars when I travel alone (because I don't want men to assume that i'm looking for "fun"). But it was like 3pm and the bar wasn't full of men. So I thought why not? and got my favourite type of drink...a beloved cocktail. For dinner I had fried octopus with salad. This is another traditional Maltese dish and it tasted very nice. It was a very lazy day today...I didn't really do anything else.                                    xxx
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Thursday, 9 August 2018

Food To Try In Malta ♥

I have just returned from a week long trip to the island of Malta. I was on a mission to try as much traditional food as possible. Take a look at the food I discovered below...














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Sunday, 29 July 2018

How I Spend Less Money On Travel ♥


I am forever being asked how I travel all the time. The way I view travel is that there are two options. You can splurge on a 5* trip once a year, or you can travel on a budget and do multiple trips in a year. There are many ways in which I spend less money on travel and I want to share my tips with those who are new to travelling.

Spending less money on flights
Browse for flights in "incognito mode" which prevents your internet movements from being tracked. This means that the price of the flight will stay the same.

Travel during low season because flights will be cheaper as the demand is lower. Every destination has a different low season. It's cheaper to travel to Europe during the winter (apart from December) and cheaper to travel to South East Asia during the summer (because it is the monsoon season).

Fly with low cost airlines. Yes I know they fly out of regional airports but sometimes a coach journey to the airport can be as little as £5. The key players in Europe are Ryan air, Easy jet, and Wizz air.

Spending less money on accommodation 
Consider using airbnb because it is cheaper to rent a room from a local than stay in a hotel. I booked my first airbnb stay for my trip to Rome in May. It cost me £65 for 3 nights, and the cheapest hotel I could find was £170. See the difference?.

If you are staying in a hotel try not to book something that is in the middle of the city centre. My trick is to book something that is a 15 minute walk away from the central area. You will see the price drop significantly, and you can also burn some calories with that daily walk.

Book a private room in a hostel if you are travelling in pairs or as a group, it tends to work out cheaper than a hotel room. When I went with my friend to Slovenia we booked a private room in a hostel for 2 nights and ended up paying £40 a night (£20 each).

Spending less money on food 

Try to book a hotel that includes breakfast. That is one meal out of the way, and one less cost to be concerned about. It also allows your day to go much smoother because you won't have to scramble around to find a cafe every morning.

Consider having a "supermarket packed lunch". Go to the supermarket before you start your day and buy a sandwich, some snacks, and a drink. This will cost you half the amount you would spend in a restaurant.

Try the street food. Have a bratwurst in Germany, have some pad thai in Thailand, have some frites in Belgium. Street food is often a lot cheaper and tastier than restaurant food. This can be helpful particularly in pricey destinations such as Spain, where there are many markets selling tapas.

Spending less money on attractions 
In most big European cities, all museums are free on the last Sunday of each month. This is something to consider when planning dates. Another way in which you can save money is by visiting the small "less famous" museums. They are usually more authentic and have a cheaper entry fee.

Consider spending time at natural attractions and religious buildings. They are relaxing and most do not cost a penny. I don't remember paying a penny to enter some of the beautiful temples in Northern Thailand. The ones in Bangkok cost money of course, but the further away from the capital city you go, the cheaper the attractions are.

                      llondon leopard
                           xoxo

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Sunday, 8 July 2018

Things that I Love/Hate Spending Money On ♥


Love
Good quality food
When it comes to food I don't mind blowing cash, if I feel that it can be beneficial for my health. I wish that I could afford to eat organic food but I can't. So I pop in to the organic shop once a month (usually on pay day) to get some organic food. I generally get nut milk, snacks, and sodium free soup. I have started to care more about my health over the past couple of years. 

Travel
As you all know...I am mad about travel. the majority of my disposable income goes towards travel. I don't mind spending money on flights, because I would rather spend my money on life experiences than materialistic objects. Does that even make sense? haha. 

Organic health/beauty products
I also try to go organic when it comes to my skin/makeup. For example I use a sulfate free face wash, sulfate free shampoo, and rayon free sanitary towels. During the winter I even use a block of raw Shea butter to moisturise my skin. 


Hate
Clothes
I must be the least girly girl in the world. I don't see the point in spending money on clothes unless you need them. I have actually started selling off some of my wardrobe, because there are so many things that I don't wear.

Toilet roll
This is such a strange one! but...why the hell do I have to spend money to wipe my ass? actually let me rephrase that. Why does it cost so much to wipe my ass?. Toilet paper should not be £2.50. The prices are going up all the time just for a thin piece of recycled paper. 

London underground
Don't get me started on this over priced service. The metro in Spain is better. The metro in Italy is better. The metro in Germany is better. London Underground is just not worth the price at all. The trains are hot (no air conditioning) and very small. But the price goes up drastically every year for what reason? If you are going to keep increasing the price then at least increase the quality of the service. 

                          llondon leopard
                                xoxo
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Skopje, Macedonia ♥

It's nice when a friend finally sticks to travel plans and you don't have to go alone. So I had a buddy on my recent trip to Skopje Macedonia. It's also no secret that I LOVE the Balkan countries. They are cheap, barely touched by tourists, the food is good, and the people are friendly. Macedonia was no different to this. 

There are so many fountains all over this city...


This dish is called turli tawa...it's a vegetable and meat stew. 



Mother Theresa Memorial House...



Millennium Cross at the top of Vodno Mountain...
Balkan countries always do amazing salads. I feel like these countries have the freshest vegetables in Europe...

A church in the middle of a village...


Matka Canyon...

Cocktail time...

Macedonia Square...

Drinking Rakija...never again. I could handle it in Turkey. I could handle it in Bulgaria. But not in this country.

A squat toilet in Europe!

                                                         llondon leopard 
                              xoxo
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Thursday, 28 June 2018

Images of Istanbul ♥

I am back from Istanbul Turkey....well it's been like 5 weeks since I have returned to be honest. It has been a busy 5 weeks and I literally forgot to even publish this. But it's ready now...so take a look at some of my snaps from Istanbul. 

Browsing around the Arasta Bazaar near the blue mosque. If you're looking for quiet and peaceful shopping then this is the place to go. 

Ayasofya is like an old church that has been turned in to a museum. I found it really interesting because you can see paintings of Jesus and Islamic art right next to it. So you can see two different religions displayed in this building. 

What is the number one food to try in Istanbul? Kebab of course! no not the doner kebab that you can find all over Europe. Try the other types of local kebab dishes (the one in this picture was called adana kofte) 


The infamous blue mosque. They will give you a headscarf and an appropriate "cover up" to wear for free. The outside was beautiful but the inside was disappointing because tourists only get to see one small empty area. 


Eminou pier is so beautiful, and I would definitely recommend it as a place to get some fresh air. Don't forget to try the fresh fish sandwich. You can see local old men fishing in front of you, and the stall will cook the fish in front of you. I heard some tourists speaking English and pounced on them with the "hey could you please take a photo for me?". 

So Turkish people are known for their hospitality. This restaurant gave me some free baklava after my meal. 

Posing outside Ayasofya. The colour of the building matches my dress!

A random photo of a shop selling Turkish delight. I brought back a box that tasted like a mix of coffee, nuts, and vanilla. 

                       llondon leopard
                            xoxo
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