Barcelona

To celebrate our friend Alex’s 30th birthday, half-a-plane-load of us went to Barcelona.

Ok, it was more like a dozen of us, but that’s still a testament to 1) Alex’s popularity and 2) Barcelona’s popularity. This seaside city is full of great architecture, beautiful views, and endless tapas bars, making it a world-class destination for merry-making.

But Barcelona doesn’t need any endorsements. In fact, the residents of Barcelona probably want people like me to stop raving about how amazing their city is. Barcelona is attempting to tamp down its tourist arrivals. Approximately 32 million visitors came to Barcelona last year, which is home to a mere 1.6 million. Continue reading

Bordeaux

Visiting Bordeaux during the off-peak season might sound controversial. After all, what does one do in the world’s wine capital if not drink wine and visit vineyards? Turns out, there’s plenty to do, see, eat and drink at any time of the year in this vibrant French city.

For starters, half the city is Unesco-listed. That makes it the world’s largest urban World Heritage Site. From stunning buildings to instagrammable cobblestone streets, Bordeaux is a sight for sore eyes. It’s charming, historic and romantic. We even stayed in a former castle right in the middle of the city centre.

Bordeaux Bordeaux Bordeaux BordeauxThen there’s obviously the wine. But more recently, a new wave of chefs is putting Bordeaux on France’s culinary map. For a city its size, Bordeaux’s gastronomic offering is impressive. Continue reading

Mykonos

You’ve probably seen photos of Mykonos before this. So you already know that it’s a stunning island with white-washed streets and dramatic windmills surrounded by impressive blue waters. It’s one of the most popular islands in Greece, simply because it’s one of the most beautiful. While Santorini is dramatic, Mykonos is dreamy.

Mykonos Little Venice Mykonos Mykonos MykonosGetting from Santorini to Mykonos was a bit of a challenge adventure because of a two-day ferry strike, which we knew nothing about until we were already in Santorini. Determined to not let union laws hinder our holiday plans, we recruited some fellow travellers and hired a private speed boat to take us to Mykonos.

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Santorini

Seems like everyone I know or follow on social media went to Greece this summer. And because I have a terrible case of travel envy, I jumped on the bandwagon too.

I’d been to Greece in my “youth” – in fact, it was one of the first places I visited when the travel bug bit me – but it was time for a re-do. So when my best friend Tav and her friends from Toronto planned a trip to the Greek islands, I invited myself along for the joy ride.

After a quick pit-stop in Athens, we found ourselves on the beautiful island of Santorini. It’s nearly impossible to take a bad picture of this place. The dramatic cliffs decked with whitewashed building compliment the turquoise water so perfectly.

Santorini Oia Santorini Imerovigli Santorini Fira Santorini ImerovigliI’ve never found myself snapping and posting so much on a holiday in recent memory. I mean LOOK at this place. Continue reading

Bristol

Autumn is here marking the end of another Great British Summer. When (and if) the clouds make way for some sunshine, England is a glorious place to be. Whether it’s dining outdoors, picnicking in the park or finding any excuse to go to the pub, Brits know how to make the most of the summer months.

And it’s not just my adopted home of London that comes alive in summer. I took a quick two-day trip to Bristol a month ago, and was impressed with its vibrant, eclectic and affordable offerings.

Bristol Bristol BristolIf I have to describe Bristol in one word, it’ll have to be cool. Bristol is just so cool. And not in the same modern, fast-paced, flashy way like London, but in a relaxed and unpretentious way. Everyone looks easy-going and acts friendly. Continue reading

Tallinn

I absolutely loved Tallinn. And I am sure so will you if you like a bit of medieval flavour coupled with an architectural culture clash of Nordic and Russian influences at affordable prices.

Tallinn skylineDuring the August long weekend, my coworker Melissa and I went to Helsinki for three days and decided to take a day trip to Tallinn, which actually ended up being the highlight of our holiday.

We got off the ferry and headed straight for World Heritage-listed Tallinn Old Town. The cobblestoned streets and the bright buildings feel a bit like a romantic film set. It’s your quintessential medieval town, but better than most that I have seen. Literally every corner we turned was stunningly picturesque, so we were shamelessly trigger happy as we set to explore the city.

TallinnTallinn Continue reading

Wah Taj!

My first memories of the Taj Mahal were TV commercials with Ustad Zakir Hussain playing the tabla in front of the monument, then sipping on tea and saying, “Wah Taj!”

Directly translated it means Wow Taj and after visiting it a few days ago, I don’t know how else to describe the Taj Mahal. So, I am shamelessly stealing the iconic phrase.

Located in Agra, the Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is unsurprisingly one of the most visited in India. Here are some of the highlights from when my friend, Cat, and I visited.

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Places I Called ‘Home’ in 2013

Places I Called Home in 2013

2013 was a great year for travel. When I look at my nerdy country count, I am surprised to see that I only visited five new countries this year (Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Australia and Singapore). But, I went back to a couple of old favourites and found myself packing and unpacking my life five times.

Truth be told: I am a little burnt out from moving around so much this year, but I wouldn’t trade my blessed 2013 for anyone else’s. (Except maybe Jennifer Lawrence’s. But how much I want her life is another story for another blogpost.)

Highlights of 2013 included snorkelling in the southern Great Barrier Reef, wearing at Dirndl at Karneval in Koln, having a picnic on top of a glacier in the French Alps, almost capsizing a boat in the canals of Amsterdam (with all my friends in it!), seeing a koala, living in the most amazing apartment on Coogee Beach in Sydney, and managing to completely fill up passport (took me less than three years).

Passports

The concept of ‘home’ changed throughout the year as I lived in five amazing cities in 2013. ‘Tis the time for the annual year-end recap of places where I received a postcard or two in the past year.  Continue reading

2013’s Favourite Travel Instagrams

I don’t get to blog as often as I would like to, but I tend to Instagram quite a bit. In 2013 I was lucky enough to visit so many stunning places that I didn’t get a chance to blog about all of them, but I was sure to capture them via my iPhone. Looking back on this amazing year of travel, here are my favourite Instagram photos that I took in 2013.

Follow along for the ride, if you don’t already: @RoopGill on Instagram