Monday, January 27, 2014

The TMI Tag

My very first tag! It's good to change my blog up a bit every now and again, I hope you enjoy.

1// What are you wearing? 
Comfy PJ's, best clothes for blogging in. 

2// Ever been in love? 


3// Ever had a terrible breakup?

No, I've been lucky, they have all been relatively amicable. 

4// How tall are you? 


5// How much do you weigh? 
Avoiding the scales at the moment but somewhere around 65kg I think. 

6// Any tattoos? 

No and not planning on any. 

7// Any piercings? 

5 lobe and two cartilage. 

8// OTP? 
How can it not be Allie & Noah?

9// Favorite show? 
Made in Chelsea and Eastenders (I do realize that I should not be admitting to either of these...)

10// Favorite bands? 
I like so many different things and it changes constantly but at the moment I am listening to a lot of: Stromae, The 1975, Bastille, Avicii, Asaf Avidan, Manu Chao, Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran.

11// Something you miss? 

British TV!

12// Favorite song? 
Clandestino- Manu Chao

13// How old are you? 

24 years of age

14// Zodiac sign? 


15// Quality you look for in a partner? 
Tall and hilarious

16// Favorite quote?
"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost."

-- J.R.R.Tolkien

17// Favorite actor? 
Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence

18// Favorite color?
Light grey. 

19// Loud music or soft? 
Depends on my mood but usually loud.

20// Where do you go when you’re sad? 
The cinema.

21// How long does it take you to shower?

About 10 minutes but I much prefer a bath. 

22// How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
I like to have an hour but I can get ready in five minutes flat if need be.

23// Ever been in a physical fight? 
Only with my siblings when I was under the age of 10.

24// Turn on?

Cultured, clever people with something to say for themselves. Charismatic but not cocky!

25// Turn off?
Narrow minded people.

26// The reason you started blogging?
I love to travel and it is a great way to document it.

27// Fears?
Spiders and heights. 

28// Last thing that made you cry?

29// Last time you said you loved someone? 
To my friend's cat the other day.

30// Meaning behind your blog name?

31// Last book you read? 

Manon des sources- Marcel Pagnol

32// The book you’re currently reading? 
Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte

33// Last show you watched?
Orange is the New Black- three episodes in and I'm hooked!

34// Last person you talked to? 
My mum

35// The relationship between you and the person you last texted? 
Best friend in Belgium

36// Favorite food?
OH MY, so many.... Nutella, blueberries, caramelized onion humous, salty popcorn, smoked salmon... This list could go on.

37// Place you want to visit?
Quebec City!

38// Last place you were? 
Iowa a few weeks ago

39// Do you have a crush?

I wish...

40// Last time you kissed someone? 
About a week ago (this is called TMI tag after all)

41// Last time you were insulted? 
A toddler said my accent was funny (it's ok, she was cute, I could handle it)

42// Favourite flavour of sweet? 


43// What instruments do you play? 
I used to play the flute.

44// Favourite piece of jewellery?

I love gold delicate jewelry. 
45// Last sport you played?

Not sure.

46// Last song you sang?
Is it wrong that I am in love with "Let it go" from the film Frozen? Wrong or not, I sing it a lot around the house. 

47// Favourite chat up line?

Hi, how are you?

48// Have you ever used it?


49// Last time you hung out with anyone?
Friends on Saturday. 

50// Who should answer these questions next? 

Everyone please! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Years in Minnesota- The Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes

During my time in Iowa, we decided to spend New Years in Minneapolis with some friends. And so we set off on a road trip north to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. 

Our friend lived in Minneapolis, in an apartment with beautiful views overlooking the city. Famous for it's theaters, museums and art galleries, Minneapolis is a real cultural hub in North America. It was also once the flour milling capital of the world and this heritage is still evident in the city today with many old mills and warehouses along the waterfront. 

We spent the first day at the Mall of America. This shopping mall is the largest in the United States and is like nothing I had ever seen before. Complete with a wedding chapel, in door amusement park (and I don't just mean a couple of fair ground rides) and Minnesota's largest aquarium. Somewhat overwhelming in size, the Mall of America does make for a fantastic day out as it is so much more than just a mall. We spent the day on the rides at the Nickelodeon Universe, perusing the shops and eating in the restaurants. In the winter months this place is the perfect way to spend the day shielded from the arctic snows and winds.   

The Mall has everything to keep literally everyone entertained. With shows for the kids and regular concerts, the mall is where people come to spend their free time.

One of Minnesota's 11,842 lakes. In the winter months they are a hive of activity with children playing, ice skaters and hockey players. The word Minnesota derives from a Dakota (Native American) word meaning "sky tinted water".

The Sculpture Garden- 11 acres of contemporary art with 40 permanent art installations including the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry Fountain (above).

New Years in Minneapolis was so much fun, in a city so completely adapted to the harsh winters (the temperature fell as low as -33 Celsius when I was there!) nights out are well thought through affairs with taxis, skyways and well heated bars making the night enjoyable despite the freezing conditions outside. 

The morning after the night before, I was assured a Bloody Mary to kick start the day at brunch was local tradition. I'm not sure how true that was but I was happy to go along with it!  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hello 2014, where are you taking me?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 
- Mark Twain

New Year, New Years Resolutions. I'm not always very sure I buy into that. What I do buy into however is planning where I would like to go next!

My top ten choices this year would be:

1. Tanzania
2. South Africa
3. Canada (especially Quebec City)
4. Argentina
5. Chile
6. Namibia
7. Kenya
8. Peru
9. Norwegian Lapland
10. Croatia

As you can see, I have a bit of a thing for Africa and South America this year. 

Where would you most like 2014 to take you?

Exploring The American Heartland

"Is this heaven? It's - it's Iowa"
- Field of Dreams

I headed over to Des Moines, Iowa after Christmas to visit some friends and celebrate New Years with them in Minnesota.

I knew that Iowa was famous for its agriculture and financial institutions but having only ever lived on the coasts (California and New York) the Midwest was completely uncharted territory for me. I was warned that it would be cold but I don't think I was quite prepared for what was about to hit me! Granted, I did get unlucky and travel during unseasonably cold weather even for Iowa. Which would later go on to disrupt my travel plans somewhat (flight cancellations - 4 days stranded).

One of the first things that struck me about Iowa is how very adapted it is to the extreme weather. Skywalks were not something I had come across before but allow for locals to go about their daily lives even during the coldest of months. Connecting seemingly every building, apartment and store, the skywalks provide heat and easy access to various parts of town. 

I stayed with my friends in a stunning apartment in downtown Des Moines, a built up part of the city that resembles a tiny NYC, faus for its agriculture and financial institutions. There was an eery silence to the empty winter roads that contrasted my experience of any big bustling city.

Meet Chuck- the most amazing stray cat my friends took in who loves to lick windows and thinks he is a dog. 

What I most loved about my time in Iowa was the people and their hospitality. They were extremely warm and welcoming people keen to show me their part of the country and way of life. 

The local cuisine can only be called hearty, feel-good food. It may not always be the most extravagant or refined but on a cold winters day it is definitely what you crave! The rich farm heritage is reflected in the rural landscape and the great produce on offer. 

There was something magical about the peaceful, frozen countryside. Silent and captivating. And perfect for sledding!

Wild geese

We visited the Capitol Building, set high up on a hill overlooking the city. This government building houses the Iowa Senate, Iowa House of representatives and Office of the Governor among other things.  

Not long after being declared a state, Iowa chose to move its capital from Iowa City to the more central location of Des Moines. The 23 carat gold dome and Renaissance influence makes for an extremely grand and impressive building in stark contrast with modern Des Moines city. This extravagant building is filled with local history and artifacts. 

My first Smore!

Open fires, long country walks and sledding, Iowa was the perfect winter break away from the city. 

As I mentioned before, I did end up spending an extra four days in Iowa due to snow storms and flight cancellations... however this was a pleasant change of plans as far as I was concerned as I was not yet ready to leave!