How to Cope with Homesickness

how to cope with homesickness

📷 www.glamour.com

tap your heels together three times

 

“I’m fine! Everything’s really great. I’m having THE BEST time”

How often have you spun out that similar line of utter bollocks into a message?

Whether you’re away uni, moved to a new town for work or joined the expat club somewhere completely alien to everything you’re used to, glossing over the negative spots of a new adventure and jazzing up the reality is a universal practice of humans around the globe.

So why do we do it?

Firstly, social media blah blah blah (yeah you’ve heard this one before) – even if you think you’re above the non-subtle humble-brag #soblessed posts of people living enviable lives on the internet, there’s that secret thrill of showing off where you are and what you’re doing to those who are watching you back home. Especially if those ‘likes’ start stacking up on a smattering of your pretty pictures that have been painstakingly retouched by two photo editing apps.

Another reason I think we shine only the brightest, most positive light on our lives is to ease the worry of the ones we’ve left behind. ‘Yes, I’m eating’ ‘No, I’m not hiding in my room’ ‘Of course I’m being social, I went out last night’, you want to reassure your friends and family that you are safe and well and flourishing in a foreign domain miles away from their watchful love and care.

And then there’s the final motivation as to why we plaster on a mega-watt smile and spout happy-worded rubbish – to drown out the whispering inner voice murmuring in response ‘That’s not true, you’re sad and feel lonely. You’re homesick and you have been for a while now.”

Even if you’ve amassed a good group of pals in your new territory and are able to see and do a bunch of amazing things, the sense of missing sneaks its way in and haunts the background of everyday life. Even more so once the shiny novelty of the place wears off. The lack of familiarity from your old world seems kind of jarring.

For me, it came in waves. Sometimes I was so busy, doing one thing after another to focus on, that the heavier thoughts my mind chewed over were forgotten. Other times, I’d be tip-tapping away at my computer when all of a sudden I was crushed with the weight of isolation and how much I missed home and everything / everyone my UK life came with.

 📷 www.giphy.com

I suffered from homesickness baaadddly my first winter away.

Sour feelings took over my mental driver’s seat, Mad-Max-ing me into unhappy oblivion and shooting off lightning bolts of angry resentment as I watched those around me having fun so easily. Why couldn’t I just be that confidently relaxed in these new surroundings? Why am I squirrelled away in my flat yet again???

Retreating into myself more and more, I suspect it was a way to cope with the out-of-my-depth emotions that kept swelling up and down the walls of my head. I presented a shell of a person to everyone else; calm, practised and ‘fine’ on the surface.

The worst knock was when my best friend and mum came out to visit me within two weeks of each other during the January and February of 2017.  As soothing as it was to have them there with me, these two intense links from home were placed in my hands and then had to slip away seven days later.

And it tasted bitter.

The flavour of homesickness is like the nail varnish that’s designed to stop you biting them because it’s a basically a hit of rotting acid.

I figure you have two options when battling with homesickness, either pack it in and go home. No one who’s truly got your back will think any less of you. It’s always braver to make a bold move if you think its right for you. Especially if your homesickness is so debilitating that you start showing other symptoms of being unwell.*

Or

Cope and crack on.

When the clouds parted and sunshine came through again, I’d get on with a handful of the below things to stretch out feeling better.

/ Keep connections going back home.

Yes, it requires planning and effort to arrange Skype dates, having 234 Whatsapp conversations on the go and setting phone calendar reminders to ring people. It sometimes feels like an exercise of diary snap, finding a time you’re both free to schedule a call, but ohmygod it’s so worth it. You don’t realise how much you’re holding in until you’re talking the ear off a close friend. But try not cling to communication too hard though as it could swing the other way and set you back.

/ Cook

I’m not a Nigella-esque spoon-licking effortless goddess when it comes to whipping up a meal. But I like the therapeutic ritual of cooking; assembling ingredients into something that’s comforting, warm and nourishing. Even if it’s a dollop of fluffy eggs on butter-drenched toast, I get a satisfied glowy kick out of this basic form of self-care and feeding my body to fight another day. So treat yourself as you would a loved one going through a rough time and in need of a bit of food-based love. Bowls of cheesy pasta, aromatic noodles, casseroles and soups are a good place to start in giving yourself a big old hug.cooking to cope with homesickness

📷 Buzzfeed.com

‘Like the lightest, most fluttering caress in the mouth’ – Queen Nigella 

/ Shift your attitude

Easier said than done, I know.

I come across peppy and upbeat, but my inner monologue is naturally pessimistic. I have to work hard to set my thoughts and views on the world as positive. Putting myself in a ‘victim’ mindset was something I kept slipping into; that I was the only one feeling low, I was the only one struggling. Bollocks to that. Everyone rides on crappy feelings sometimes, they just handle it differently. Put on some music and dance around your room regularly, it gets your endorphins going and brushes away the gloom.

/ Step out of that comfort zone

If your relocation has frightened the shit out of you, even the smallest challenge will be magnified in your eyes. Guess what, moving to a place where you don’t have a familiar support network around is already pretty fucking fearless, so keep that ball rolling. For me, it was small achievements like learning to comfortably drive on the other side of the road (not just any roads, snowy mountain roads), skiing a run that made me nervous and pushing back against my default introverted setting by talking to people I didn’t know that well a bit more. Each time I’d do what I was scared of doing, another little brick was added to my wall of confidence. A total cliché but I promise you’ll be surprised at how many more things you think you can do, compared to what you can actually do.

/ Tourist in your own town

tourist in your own town

📷 By me                                   Red Bull Hangar 7 Museum

Chances are, you’ve moved to wherever you are now for a reason. Whether it’s for work, to experience a new culture or because you simply wanted to be beside the sea. I’d wager there also might be a handful or more of cool sights and activities that you wouldn’t get to see or do back home. Yeah, you might be living in Barcelona but have you actually gone out and actually seen Barcelona? Make a list of every tourist attraction you can reach and like to go do. If you’ve got local friends, explain you want to go visit X, Y and Z to discover what all the fuss is about. They’d most likely fall over themselves to give you a mountain of tips on what times are best to go or look out for, and maybe even insist on accompanying you for a couple of days out. Getting to know a place really well – tourist traps and all – will reinforce why you’re there and makes you feel less like a stranger in the area.

/ Treat yourself 

In my experience, it’s easier to be mean to yourself than being nice when you’re in a fragile state. Again, approach your care as if you were your best friend. Would say to them half the things you say to yourself? I’m guessing not. You’d be supportive and think of ways to raise spirits rather than beat them over the head with nasty taunts. So spoil yourself a bit. It doesn’t have to be a big extravagance. A new £2 nail varnish, a bottle of wine, a favourite takeaway – or just some fresh bedsheets and an early night. A little self-directed TLC goes a looooonnnggg way in repairing stressed nerves and feeling looked after.

/ Deepen the connections to those around you 

A big part of homesickness is feeling lonely. Becoming friends with a bunch of new people may not come naturally to you. It certainly doesn’t to a hardcore introvert like me. I lucked out in Austria and was adopted straight away by a set of friends who were inclusive and sympathetic when I wasn’t 100%. But that doesn’t mean I sat back on my laurels and waited for them to come to me. As excruciating as it is when you’re not socially confident (hello my tribe!), you must push yourself to make an effort with people. 9 times out of 10, you’ll end up having fun rather than regretting it and becoming an awkward part of the wallpaper.

/ Home comforts 

Turn your home space into a set up that’s more comfortable for you. If that means buying pillowcases, plants and fairy lights to feather your nest then so be it. Making your new digs familiar will give back the control you’re probably missing. Plus you may be experiencing homesickness because your new city or country or isn’t feeling like home yet. Mementoes like photographs or a bed throw that you get to see every day from your previous home will help cosy up your place too and transform it into a sanctuary you enjoy relaxing in.

 

I cannot say that any of these will help your homesickness. And it’s something that won’t disappear overnight.

I was carrying it around with me even when I went back to Austria this year; I think I’m just one of those people who feel it really hard. But when the sadness seeped in this season, I was able to recognise it and try to do something about minimising the yucky despair that plunged me into mind-mist the first time around.

I still cried, but not nearly as much. I also had a total blast. So that’s sort of proof it works.

how to cope with homesickness

📷 By me                                                          😍

 

*Physical manifestations of homesickness can be constant or frequent crying, difficulty sleeping, and changes in appetite, to nausea, dizziness and headaches. If you are showing any of these signs as well please please please go see a doctor.

How to Cope with Homesickness

5 Cheap or free things to do in Salzburg

Poor & The City

cheap things to do Salzburg

📷 by Em

So you’re either in or heading to Salzburg for a cheap European city break. With the pull of the pound getting weaker and weaker, you’ll want to get enough euro-bang for your buck at every turn. I don’t blame you, with a measly bit of Apfelstrudel and an Aperol Spritz costing a combined tenner, recuperating that beer money from somewhere else during your Salzburg city escape could stretch your overall holiday budget just a smidge further.

Recently I found myself with some time to kill in Salzburg and not a lot of dolla to see me through (having been that wasteful moron spending the aforementioned €10 on a single pastry & booze). I thought I’d try and make a game of figuring out what were the cheapest or free cool things to do while in the city.

Oligarchs and billionaires can stop reading now.

 

/ Mirabell Gardens

mirabell salzburg things to do

📷 by Em – Appalling image quality courtesy of a crappy Galaxy S5 

Take a stroll round the Mirabell Gardens and if you’re with a bunch of extroverted pals re-enact the ‘Do-Re-Mi’ song sections filmed here for The Sound of Music.

mirabell gardens salzburg city

📷 by Em

The neatly groomed Baroque-style gardens are completely free to visit and naturally attracts a boat-load of camera wielding tourists. Looking past the bum-bags and selfie sticks, there’s enough space in the Mirabell Gardens that the  jostling masses are comfortably swallowed up so that the charm of the place is still intact.

mirabell gardens salzburg free to do

📷 by Em

There are scented-swirly plant beds in a rainbow of colours, a smattering of gorgeous fountains (the Pegasus fountain is the star of the show), the ‘hedge theatre’, plus a curious dwarf garden. The whole space is crowned by the Schloss Mirabell – another historical building that is essentially a love letter written in bricks*. Pop inside to see the palace’s sweeping marble staircase and the flashy Marmorsaal (wedding and concert hall).

bride mirabell gardens salzburg

📷 by Em – Brides are floating around everywhere at Mirabell

 

/ Go for a wander

Salzburg city

📷 by Em

Pottering through a city’s streets on foot is by far the best way explore. Map, no map, half-map and half-guess work, start wafting from one place to another. I’d keep a camera handy too and practice getting in some pretty snaps, simply walking around is a total feast for the eyes.

salzburg free things to do

📷 by Em

Salzburg quite compact but the Altstadt (old town) is a bit of a warren, with narrow archways and gallerias each opening out onto a different square which kind of have their own separate personalities from the main city itself. The buildings come in varying sizes, from the skinny to the bloody massive and are painted in ice cream hues with ornate mouldings and striking shop-front displays for browsing (the swankier places are on Getreidegasse).

salzburg free things to do

📷 by Em

It’s people-watching heaven in Salzburg, what with the amount of tourists milling around and people who actually live in the city going about their business. You’ll see lots of folk in traditional Austrian dress (lederhosen & dirndls), granted 98% of them might be tour guides on their lunch break but I like to think it’s because they want to be patriotic dressing up for the day. And if you get achy legs, fall back on the wonderful European café culture by buying a cheap drink, settling yourself at an outside table to continue your observations.

salzburg city free things to do

📷 by Em

 

/ Culture trip

culture things salzburg

📷 by Em

Off the back of taking a simple turnabout Salzburg, like many other cities, the place is a living museum bursting with free culture-stuff – what an eloquent series of words, ‘free culture-stuff’. Just popping out for a quick ramble and you’ll be knees deep in charming fountains and impressive statues along the way, usually complete with a shiny info plaque to explain what you’re looking at.

salzburg culture free things to do

📷 by Em – Mozart’s sunny yellow birthplace on the right

Majority of the churches cost absolutely zilch to enter too, like Franziskanerkirche cathedral, the oldest in Salzburg (it’s always nice to leave a small donation though, to keep these places well looked after and free).

modern art trail salzburg

📷 by Em – 10th art project Salzburg Walk of Modern Art – Würth Collection: Erwin Wurm, “Gurken” (or cucumbers), 2011, in Furtwänglerpark

Or you could spend an afternoon following the city’s Modern Art Trail. This project invites international artists from around the world to create outdoor installation pieces at various sites that flow with Salzburg’s vibe.

music salzburg

📷 by Em

And finally, you’re in a town that has basically been built on music. From Mozart, to the Salzburg Festival and the brilliant Sound of Music film, you’ll be treated to clusters of professional-sounding musicians tinkling out a tune on paths all over Salzburg. Again be kind, and if you can, give these guys a couple of coins for their efforts in providing you with memorable entertainment for practically nothing.

mozart salzburg

📷 by Em – The main man Mozart

 

/ Mönchsberg

monchsberg salzburg📷 by www.salzburg.info

If you want a hit of breath-taking views and can cobble together €2.90 from bits of odd change, you’ll be able to buy a return journey on the Mönchsberg lift. As one of six Salzburg mountains (measuring 508m at its highest point), the Mönchsberg serves as a beautiful panoramic terrace over the city. For crazy active people you can hike the hill for free, scrapping the lift all together.

Once at the top, even though you’re still technically in the town centre, a touch of the countryside will be felt. Meander round the fields and forests to the musical background of jangling cowbells as the animals lazily graze. There’s a handful of other things to see / do like the café-restaurant for a spot of refreshment, as well as the Hohensalzburg fortress or the Museum der Moderne (they aren’t free though).

Feeling energetic? Take the staircase on the way down to St Peter’s cemetery, morbid I know but I’ve been told it’s something definitely worth seeing. Sound of Music fans will appreciate this especially as it’s where the von Trapp family hid from the Gestapo before escaping to Switzerland (cemetery is free to view, but for the church and catacombs you’ve got to cough up).

 

/ Markets

markets salzburg

📷 by Em

Christmas, summer and those in-between months, Salzburg is a city mad on markets. And they can be as cheap or as expensive as you like when visiting. There’s the traditional Grünmarkt running from Monday to Sunday, set against the sky-touching University Church.

market salzburg city

📷 by Em

This is one of the bigger ones, with lots delicious smells, food and drink in every shade, a riot of noise, as well as a hustle and bustle mix of locals, tourists and bellowing vendors. Grünmarkt is a massive assault on the senses (but a pleasant one!). Expect to find more cheese, meat and other produce which could easily feed a small army for at least a decade. I recommend you implement a clear strategy before trawling the stalls for tasty potential samples. Then on top of all that you’ve got handfuls of smaller weekly farmers market to accompany the larger ones. A summer-y riverside market sprung up while I was there, so it pays to just keep an eye out.

salzburg christmas market

📷 by www.salzburg.info

Obviously the big hitter is Salzburg’s Christmas market to celebrate the advent season. This chocolate-box city dials up the charm factor by tenfold once it’s had a dusting of snow and been lovingly wrapped in festive decorations. Imagine chiming bells, the soft crunch of winter underfoot and tiny twinkly lights setting the scene. Maybe a hot Glϋhwein is in your hand to keep you toasty while perusing displays of local crafts, on the hunt for small Christmas gifts. Or perhaps you’re watching a melodic gathering of carollers and musicians performing to the crowds on Residenz Square …

…started looking at flights yet?

 


*As of now, all declarations of love and affection for me will only be accepted in palace form. Thank you.

 

5 Cheap or free things to do in Salzburg

Review: Amalfi Coast Drive from Sorrento

 

An edited version of this post can be found on ciao.citalia.com/blog

italy driving jeremy clarkson quote

After wolfing down a sleepy breakfast on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Capodimonte, watching the first pinky whispers of sunrise over the bay of Sorrento, the girls and I were outside of the hotel at 7.30am sharp for the Amalfi Coast drive excursion pick-up.

Grand Capodimonte Sorrento

Fuzzy 📷 by Em

But of course this is Italy.

And expecting the bus to turn up on time is ridiculously British of me, as the relaxed la dolce vita lifestyle runs through veins of most Italians. However, we didn’t have to wait for too long before a huge coach came rumbling round the corner.

Securing seats on the right hand side of the coach – opposite to the driver’s side – was a tip recommended to us by Sorrento’s Citalia Concierge Nico as the best spot for views. Our coach scooped up the remaining passengers from a point within Sorrento town and then battled its way through the morning rush hour to start the climb up to the coast lined road. The on-board mic crackled and the Italian accented voice of our chaperone, Sasa a 3rd generation tour-guide, introduced himself plus the man with nerves of steel at the helm of coach.

I was under no illusions that an Amalfi Coast drive would be void of sheer drops, narrow snaking roads and what would seem as white-knuckle near misses with local traffic (umm, please see the above Mr Clarkson quote.) Thankfully today’s drive along the Amalfi Coast was done by a chap who navigates this iconic stretch of road day in, day out as his job.

sorrento amalfi coast italy

📷 by Em – ‘cuse the dodgy pics, they were snapped on a crappy phone through a moving coach window. 

Emerging from the town, with a beautiful clear sunny day unfolding over the glittering Tyrrhenian Sea, Sasa pointed out the first point of interest. Li Galli islands (also known as La Sirenuse or Dolphin Island due to its resemblance in shape to everyone’s favourite sea mammal) sits in a prime position on the Amalfi coast and is one of the most exclusively expensive resorts in the Mediterranean.

la galli dolphin island sorrento

📷  www.wimp.com

A collection of three sumptuously luxurious villas, these islands are only accessible to the smallest niche of clientèle as its technically not available on the open rental market. Although reportedly spending a week on Dolphin Island will set you back around €130,000 in the summer months, but it’s all very hush-hush.

Veering round a corner the first houses of Positano came into view. Known as the vertical city, with buildings stacked closely to one another and cascading up the mountain in a real life game of Tetris, this picture-perfect town is a Mecca for tourists visiting the Amalfi Coast and it’s so clear to see why. From the confines of the coach, my face was smushed up against the glass, gawking at the small but jaw-droppingly beautiful hotels, restaurants and houses. Every structure was centred around giving inhabitants panoramic views of the sea and the town (a phenomenal feature in itself) to look out over.

positano italy

📷 by Em 

The coach slowed its pace right down to manoeuvre the marginally wider streets of the higher up roads, allowing for more time to nose at flower-filled patios jutting out on platforms set up for alfresco dining, infinity pools that must feel like paddling in the sky and higgildy-piggildly skinny stairs blending into the slight cracks between buildings for more pedestrian friendly routes of getting around.

The lower half of Positano in the summer months purely serves the tourist trade, with 70% of residents renting out their houses and living in the upper regions of the mountain. Everyday life in this stunning vertical city is not without challenges either, it’s easier to get from A to B on foot or a zippy Vespa, which is not always ideal if you’re loaded up with masses of shopping or have to replace a washing machine… for that you’ll need a working donkey. Yep, Sasa confirmed that in the 21st Century, the locals of Positano still use donkeys to transport large goods up and down roads that are too small for a van to get through.

Leaving the pastel pops of Positiano colour behind, we continued along the windy road that lead to our first stop off – Amalfi town. Sasa had a piece of knowledge or historical titbit to tell about every village we drove through, like pointing out tiny model nativity scenes set into the cliff sides that are lit up at night and plays Christmas music every day of the year.

positano amalfi coast

📷 by Em – Left to right: The silhouette of the Madonna in the rocks on the Amalfi coastal road; An example of the Saracen influence in the local architecture.

Or ‘Africana Famous Club’ a popular nightclub in Praiano that resides in a cave practically at sea level (complete with a dock so you can safely moor the family yacht while you party it up).  For roughly half an hour looking out the right hand side window of the bus (which I can confirm are THE best seats to be in if you’re doing this trip from Sorrento) was a parade of spectacular blue sea, beautiful buildings and scenic ravines lining the road.

Descending into the outer regions of Amalfi town, a sense of glamour was apparent already. The hotels were bigger, the natural rustic charms of quaint resorts we had passed through was discretely replaced with a more polished veneer, the Vespa’s and dusty beaten up Fiat 500s were long gone. Parking next to the marina, Sasa gave the group strict instructions on what time the coach would be leaving Amalfi town that afternoon. This was now a designated free time of the tour, so you could wander round the town at your leisure. However, Sasa had arranged a boat trip for those that wanted it (at an extra cost, around €12 which was cheaper than buying tickets direct from the harbour kiosk) and as it was a gorgeously warm sunny day, the majority of us opted to take advantage.

I cannot recommend enough seeing Amalfi by boat.

amalfi town italy

📷 by Em 

Especially if the sun is out.

Not only did the boat take us right up to the rock formation that looks like two elephants kissing.

elephants kissing rocks amalfi

📷 by Em – Mwah 😘 !

Sasa also gave a star- studded running commentary of which massive villa belonged to which celebrity and which famous person stayed where amongst the line-up of exclusive hotels that dotted the shore line. It was like gossip crack as we pressed our guide for more and more information.

amalfi coast by boat

📷 by Em – Left to right: That little yellow turret is the part of the Romeo &  Juliet honeymoon suite at the Hotel Santa Caterina. Brad and Ange stayed here after they got married (RIP Brangelina); Sophia Loren’s gaff, complete with private funicular that goes too and from her personal beach area.

amalfi hell mouth

📷 by Em – That big natural arch is fondly known by locals as ‘The Hellmouth’ .

 

roger moore villa amalfi

📷 by Em – Roger Moore’s villa (RIP 😭)

 

norman fortress amalfi coast

📷 by Em – Lots of these fortresses line the Amalfi Coast. They are either Norman or Saracen. You can tell them apart because Norman fortresses have square tops and Saracen’s have round ones. 

amalfi coast drive

📷 by Em 

After cruising the length of the waters from the edge of Amalfi where we drove in, up past Minori and back again, we disembarked to explore the town. Before parting, Sasa warned our group that eating at a table in Amalfi would be expensive, especially if you decided to stop for a gelato or cappuccino within the main square as many restaurants implement an extortionate cover charge if you sit down. He even made us learn a handy Italian phrase at the end of his lecture “quanto costa” – how much.

amalfi town

📷 by Em 

Picking our way through the cobbled lanes in search of cake and coffee that didn’t cost the earth (the main street running through Amalfi’s heart is not pedestrianised, so keeping any eye out for cars and bikes is so important) , we browsed tiny shops selling touristy knick-knacks and local crafts.

amalfi town Italy

📷 by Em 

Settling on a side street trattoria tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the centre we enjoyed our own slice of la dolce vita, watching the world go by.

amalfi town map

📷 by Em – The first laws of the sea were written in Amalfi and they like to claim that they invented the modern compass too. But this has been disproven. 

Back on the coach well in time for the scheduled departure, Sasa came back over the tinny mic again to let us know the next stop would be in Ravello, where we would be having lunch at the Hotel Giordano, just outside of the main town.

Gorging on more spectacular coastal views while eating delicious fresh pasta, washed down with cold, crisp, locally made wine, lunch was a relaxing drawn-out affair. Before we knew it we were back on the coach again after a short walk to where it was parked (narrow roads a-plenty up in Ravello) and made the short trip to the centre.

Being now thoroughly smitten with all things Amalfi Coast related, I was expecting the same pretty sights of the sea and surrounding hillsides as we approached central Ravello.

I was wrong.

It was that and much much more.

Ravello Italy

📷 by Em – My pics of Ravello are pants, best bet is to go see the beauty for yourselves. 

The views on offer in Ravello are so breath-taking that no words can possibly do it justice and I’m not even going to bother to try. Seeing this secret treasure of a town for yourself is a must to understand how stunning it is. Not only has this tiny patch of heaven- on- earth hosted a deluge of the rich and renowned (Jackie Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Richard Wagner to name but a few) it’s provided endless inspiration for artists, musicians and writers throughout the ages. Ravello has a history of capturing hearts and it can certainly add mine to the list.

ravello amalfi coast

📷 by Em – Sasa with his jolly red umbrella outside of the Villa Rufolo. 

Wandering round the piazza and passing the Villa Rufolo, we walked to a café at the edge of the square for another coffee and soak up even more of the other-worldly landscape. Clutching frothy cappuccinos the girls and I kept grinning at each other, continuously expressing our awe and amazement that a place like this could be real.

Late afternoon eventually rolled around which signalled the end of excursion. Back on the coach again and settled in our seats, a sated silence fell over our group as the most peacefully dozed for the hour and bit return drive to our starting points in Sorrento.

I plugged in my headphones, closed my eyes and mentally replayed the last eight hours.

What day.

What a tour.

And when can I go back?

 


Nearly two weeks ago I did go back on my own, nine months later from this trip, and was lucky enough to share the Amalfi Coast drive all over again with my bestest pal D. 

We love you 🇮🇹

Review: Amalfi Coast Drive from Sorrento

5 Reasons why you should work abroad

A guest post on : 25before25

 

This month I’m a guest poster on the blog 25before25, an innovative project launched by Londoner Emma Rosen. 

Emma’s aim is to sample a whopping 25 careers before turning 25 through work experience, shadowing and just giving things a go. She explores work / life fulfilment and advocates for a more diverse career education.

5 reasons why you should work abroad 25 by 25

 

5 Reasons why you should work abroad

The quick guide to visiting Bath

10 things to see & do

 

things to do in bath city

📷 by Lauren Emil 

The City of Bath is a honey-hued warren of beautiful Georgian buildings, windy cobbled streets, and in some parts a network of subterranean caverns.

Cupped between the hilly Wiltshire countryside, in the thick of Jane Austen country, Bath attracts a range of visitors from spa breakers, to romantic weekend away-ers, stag & hen do-ers (although more hen parties than stags I’d say) and fly-by day trip-ers.

Bath is one of those places which has a touch of an X-Factor quality about it that you just can’t quite put your finger on. It’s a metropolis of theatres, museums, history and more quality places to eat and drink in than you can shake a stick at.

The biggest tip for visiting Bath is as soon as you know a rough idea for dates, start booking the places where you want to go as rocking up on the day without your name on a list could leave you disappointed (there are also potential early booking benefits to snap up so do some digging). Particularly for restaurants, karaoke pods and certain bars during peak times like wedding season or Christmas.

Needless to say, any kind of trip to this city will leave you utterly charmed to pieces and fervently repeating  ‘when we come back here..’  over and over again – mentally planning your next visit before you’ve even left.

Here’s a round up of food, drink and general ‘tick-off-your-list’ things to do in Bath.

 

/ Thermae Bath Spa

thermae bath spa

📷 by www.thermaebathspa.com

Take a dip amongst the rooftops at the Thermae Spa. Private treatment rooms, a little café and indoor and outdoor pools fed with the naturally warm thermal spring waters running under the city make up this particular ‘thing to do’ in Bath.  As you can guess, the spa gets ridiculously busy, so booking a slot is essential whatever month you visit. If you’ve not made reservations though it is possible to get in relatively crowd-free if you start queueing up a good half-hour before the Thermae Spa opens. Get in and get out.

The absolute best time to go to have the place mostly to yourself would be midweek in the colder off-seasons. Try and wangle it so you’re up there for sunset, all snuggly under the toasty hug of the waters while dusk plays across the sky.

 

/ Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House

sally lunn bun bath

📷 by www.theculturetrip.com

Food, history AND a quaint little chocolate-box of a building…be still my beating heart. Drop into Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House for slice of the past in the form of this legendary treat. Here’s the birthplace of the Bath Bun – although describing this iconic baked-good as a ‘bun’ is technically misleading says the folks running the show. It’s more part bun, part cake, part bread (a.k.a one rather tasty brioche style mongrel), but calling it a ‘Bath Bun’ is an alliteration masterpiece that’s just stuck – and no reservation is needed if you’re sampling the wares throughout the day (although turning up for actual lunch /afternoon tea / dinner is advised to book in advance). The buns are an excellent vehicle for savoury or sweet toppings.

sally lunn bun bath savoury or sweet📷 by www.sallylunns.co.uk         

Think scrambled eggs, home-made lemon curd, chocolate butter or double bacon as topping options…*dribbles on screen*

Unless otherwise stated, you will be served half a bun. You might get a top or a bottom – the tops tend to get used for sweet buns and bottoms for the savoury, although there’s no hard and fast rule. Their website quite rightly suggests that If there’s two of you, why not ask for a top and a bottom so you get to try both.

 

/ Sleight Bar Bath

sleight magic bar bath

📷 by www.sleightbarbath.co.uk

Stick with this one as from the outside the Sleight Bar looks like steps down to a grotty public toilet on the side of a  not-so-pretty pub, but as always it’s what’s on the inside that counts. This is not a posy posh bar where one drink is a tenner – Bath has plenty of those – this a bar where you’ll get a side of card tricks with your cocktails …OOOOooooOOOO!!

Yep, this bar has roaming magicians. It’s cheap for drinks, attracts a down to earth crowd and is so much fun if you’re after something a little quirky. The last time I went it was as part of a hen do where we hired one of the enclaves for the whole evening (£50) and got a private magic show which blew our collective minds.

 

/ Hare & Hounds

hare and hounds bath

📷 by www.hareandhoundsbath.com

The hill-top pub is perfect for a spot of breakie with a view. Not only is the Hare & Hounds a gorgeous building flanked by neat gardens, exposed wooden beams and panoramic windows, the staff are wonderfully friendly plus the food is somewhat cheap in comparison to the actual quality of dishes being served.

Having eaten a full English here on three separate occasions because of the deliciously fluffy scrambled eggs and reasonable prices (£8 for the works before drinks), the incredible floor to ceiling vistas overlooking Bath city is what entices me back each time.

If you’re hardcore and want to earn your bacon, Hare & Hounds is perched on a rather steep incline to walk up to, so I’d advise hopping in/on some kind of motor vehicle to reach it.

hare and hounds bath

📷 by www.hareandhoundsbath.com

The views kinda turn eating toast into a special occasion.

 

/ Bath Abbey

bath abbey

📷 by www.cathedralandchurchshops.com

Ah, Bath Abbey, a limestone mammoth of imposing Gothic architecture, shooting up from the main tourist hub of Bath. If anything the Abbey is a perfect marker / meet up point for groups running around the city doing different things. It’s exceptionally photogenic and has a rich history to get stuck into. The Abbey is right next to the Roman Baths and The Pump Room. It’s also free to get into but a small donation is suggested (and is a nice thing to do). You could pay a little extra on the day and join a Tower Tour around the bell chambers.

 

/ Have a walk round The Royal Crescent

Royal Crescent Bath

📷 by The Royal Crescent Bath

The star of many period dramas both on the small and the big screens, The Royal Crescent is a sweeping Georgian terrace of Grade I listed houses overlooking Royal Victoria Park. It’s an iconic Bath landmark and an absolute must-see during your visit.

A walk and a gaze is completely free, plus there’s lots of information about the buildings dotted around the place. Feeling flush? Stay at The Royal Crescent Hotel and pamper yourself in the swanky spa (like, it’s seriously chic). There’s an afternoon tea option if you want to experience some fancy without blowing a hole in your bank account. Or you know, just have a gin at the bar.

 

/ Fashion Museum

fashion museum bath

📷 by www.fashionmuseum.co.uk

If fabrics and textiles are your thing, then the Fashion Museum will rock your socks off as a unique thing to do in Bath. Holding a world-class collection of historic and modern dress, you’ll walk through the core exhibition as well as temporary curated pieces (Lace in Fashion is on from now until January 2018. One highlight includes a navy blue lace dress worn by Léa Seydoux in the James Bond, Spectre 😍😍). The museum has a dress-up area for those wanting to see if they can pull off a Georgian bonnet and ruffles and morning sketch sessions on the first Saturday of every month.

 

/ Pulteney Bridge

pulteney bridge bath

📷 by www.bath.co.uk

The Pulteney Bridge is a site you’ll encounter pottering around the centre of the city, just a short walk from the abbey. Heralded as one of the world’s most romantic bridges, it’s part of a handful of historic connections with shops built into it. Constructed in 18th century with the purpose of joining Bath with the land on the other side of the River Avon (and making some serious cash for the bridge’s backer, William Pulteney who would charge people to cross it), the bridge now days is an insta-worthy Bath icon.

Get your snaps done in the morning as in the afternoon Pulteney Bridge is in the shadows, it’s best viewed from Parade. The bridge is also a good start / finish point for a night-time stroll with someone special too, as there are plenty of cosy places to eat and drink nearby.

 

/ The Pig near Bath

THE PIG NEAR BATH

📷 by www.rosesandrolltops.co.uk

OK so not technically in Bath but it’s near Bath (hint in the full name). The Pig is a small independent chain of upmarket yet quirky hotels who are big on utilising good local food and good (sometimes local) wine. And when I say wine, I mean this place has wine for daaaayyys.

The Pig near Bath has an air of eccentric old English gent about it. Furnished a bit ‘mock-Victorian’ with glittering stately chandeliers, printed wallpaper to die for and scatterings of designer furniture that have been made to look ‘worn’, but an inkling tells you somehow just one threadbare chintzy sofa costs more than the average car. It’s at a pricier end of the scale but there’s no pretence here though. Spend £6 or £6,000 you’ll still be treated like royalty.

(Pssst…you don’t have to stay here to experience The Pig, popping in for drink or bite to eat is totally fine.)

 

/ Roman Baths

Roman Baths

📷 by www.romanbaths.co.uk

Last but by no means least, a trip to Bath would not be complete without dropping by the Roman Baths. A complex of steaming pools framed by crumbly ruins. You’ll see the remains of the ancient temple, fascinating artefacts (although they wouldn’t look out of place if being sold from some trendy garden centre) and shells of Roman changing rooms and saunas below the modern street level. Have a sip of the mineral spring waters while here if you get a chance.

Naturally, this is one of Bath’s busiest sight’s to see so getting your timing right is pretty crucial too. It’s recommended that an early doors start is the best course of action to avoid the crowds. Going mid-week will further decrease the throngs of people.

 


Obviously being the glorious city that it is, Bath has 24679 million more restaurants, bars and stuff to see and do but I’d end up with claw-hands from incessant typing.

And I kinda need my hands.

Here are some other notable bits.

Watch hot air balloons take off at Royal Victoria Park  / Have afternoon tea at the Pump Rooms / Dinner at Clayton’s Kitchen / Drinks at Sub 13 / Walk or cycle along the canal / Visit The Dark Horse, one of the world’s best bars / Brace the crowds at Bath Christmas Market / Catch a show at the Theatre Royal / Learn a little about Jane Austen 

Finally, if driving, start or cap off your trip to Bath with a stop at Stonehenge.

The quick guide to visiting Bath