Book review: The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

Well hello to you my reader chums! One of the types of books I absolutely adore is when they're set in significant periods of history or based on a true story - and that's what The Librarian of Auschwitz is. After finishing the Tattooist of Auschwitz and loving every word, I was intrigued to see how this book would differ and the insight it would give.

Book review: The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

Plotline

Based on the true story of Dita Kraus, the plotline follows Dita's life as she enters the horrors which are Auschwitz. Dita is only 14 when she gets sent with her parents to the camp and soon becomes the camp's secret librarian, taking charge of the small collection of precious books the prisoners managed to sneak past the guards. Books are a dangerous thing in Auschwitz where the slightest hint that the prisoners have them could lead to any horrific punishment. Dita was in Block 31 which was also known as the family block and where lots of the younger children were housed - and had lessons from teachers who were also other prisoners. In camp 31, the adult prisoners did everything they could to make things normal for the children ad Dita's library was one of the most heartwarming things in there - the children could learn and imagine other things whilst the horrors were going on around them.

The plot follows Dita's life over the few years she's imprisoned in the Auschwitz camp and gives a raw perspective of what life is like, the relationships she makes and how she pulls of the mission off, being the librarian. It's that task which inspires so many - and inspired the book itself.

Characters and relationships

I always say the characters are the best part of a novel as they really bring the entire plot to life. As this book is set in such a time of sheer horror and inhumane activities, the characters really are everything and the emotion that pours out is intense. Dita is like any other teenager in this book, and that's how she comes across - she's honest, pushes the boundaries and wants to have fun - even though she's stuck in the camp. Her bond with everyone is a huge part of the book and expresses how she is as a person.

Her relationship with her mother is incredibly powerful and it seems like the pair of them are two of the strongest beings you'll ever come across and they've always got each other back. I particularly love the relationship between Dita and her best friend Margit as it shows what every teenage friendship is about - and reminds me of what I would do for my best friends. Dita is friends with so many people in the camp from her bunkmates to those who look after her block and it's really insightful to read about as you get a feel of what their life was like. The people in the camp only had each other and that's why relationships are so powerful - and make the retelling of the story so real and important.

Book review: The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

Thoughts on the book

This book left me feeling inspired, heartbroken, educated and sad; a whole mixture of emotions - I absolutely loved it. It's one of those books which takes you on a complete journey and is packed with plenty of knowledge that I was left with so much insight into the horrors of Auschwitz. The way it was written was completely honest and gave that first-hand experience to help the reader understand the truth that went on. It also shared so much about humanity - and how people in the camp helped each other. Overall, I'd recommend it to literally everyone, whether you're a reader or not - as it will leave you feeling so moved.

Ending

Considering the book is set in such a tragic time, I didn't know what I'd expect the ending to be, however, it was somewhat of an inspiring and bittersweet ending which left the story the way it should.

I hope you enjoyed this review! Have you read this book?

Thank you for reading <3

6 ways to feel less anxious at the airport

Well hello to you my reader chums! Travelling and going to the airport may come naturally to some people, however, a lot of people struggle with that sort of thing, whether that's due to the crowds, the stress of the planning or as it's out of your routine. It's normal to feel anxious in situations that aren't in your regular pattern and if you're going travelling soon and nervous about it, here are 6 tips to help you out.

6 ways to feel less anxious at the airport

Map out what's going to happen

When it comes to anxiety, often or not, it can be to do with control and that's why having a plan in place for the day can really help. It doesn't have to be step by step and timings, but it can be a list of things and the order you're going to do them. For instance, say once you get to the airport, you'll head straight to check-in, then to security and then to the food court to get a bite to eat. It may sound like a small thing, but if you have a plan to focus on, you'll be concentrating on that instead of thinking about what's going on around you.

Wear something comfy or 'homely' 

Travelling can be uncomfortable, especially if it's a long-haul journey. To feel a bit more at home and at ease, wear something that you're comfortable in. Airports used to make me really anxious and every time I went to one, I always wore the same jumper and it soon became my 'safety blanket'. I then learned to be more comfortable in that environment as I had a physical thing to hold onto - and it really helped.

Check-in and pay for your seats online

When travelling with a friend or partner, with some airlines you're not always guaranteed to sit next to each other and if you're an anxious flyer, it's not the ideal situation. That's why I would always recommend to pay the extra few pounds there and back to pick your seats as it'll be one less thing to worry about on your travels- as you have someone by your side. Alternatively, on a lot of flights, you can also ask to swap seats with other people so you can sit next to each other.

Get there with plenty of time

There's no point rushing around when you get to the airport; it's meant to be a place of excitement as you jet off to a new location and new adventure. This is why I'd always recommend to give yourself extra time to get there as you never know what traffic delays you'll come across on route. Although there's nothing worse than having time to kill, it's better than having to rush to try and catch your flight! Arrive with plenty of time and find a place where you can zone out before your flight.

Fill yourself with good food

Food is one of the best things in life and something that will give you a massive energy boost at the airport. If you fuel your body with good food then, in theory, it should make you feel a lot better and that could take the edge off your nerves - and how you're feeling. Food is one of the things that makes me really happy, especially when I've eaten a good meal, so scoping out a restaurant can give you a big distraction, and something to look forward to in the airport process.

Keep your mind busy

I always say this but distraction is key when you're feeling anxious - and that's why keeping your mind busy is so important. Whether that's reading a book, listening to a podcast or practicing meditation, there are loads of different things you can be doing to keep busy and zoning out from the airport surroundings.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What travel tips do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

How I afford to travel so often

Well hello to you my reader chums! I'm a bit of a travel addict, to say the least, and that girl which will snap up any cheap flight I can find. Travel is something that fills my heart with so much joy that I try and do it as much as physically possible - and financially possible.

As I go away quite a lot, I often find people asking 'how do you afford it' and so I thought I would share all my budget-saving tips to help you guys travel more often.

How I afford to travel so often


The cheaper the flight, the better

I'm that person who is literally searching flights most days and seeing what cheap deals I can find. If you opt for a very cheap flight, then you've got more money available for the rest of the trip. Flights are half the battle in the grand scheme of how much a trip costs so if you save on that then you're winning. My best tip would be with flights is be flexible on dates and play around with the calendar as you can find good deals as you search throughout the month. And, be flexible on times too - it's usually always cheaper to fly early morning and although it can be hard to wake up, the money you save will pay off.

Keep your eye on every travel sale 

I'm literally signed up to every travel website that does good deals, including airlines. Whether it's by email or following them on social channels, if you stay in the loop, you'll be the first to know about sales- and can get first dips on cheap flights, accommodation and holidays. Think of all the pounds you'll save!

Opt for cheaper accommodation options

Accommodation isn't everything and what I mean by this is you don't need to stay somewhere fancy when you go away - and can save money easily by taking the cheaper options. Hostels, shared accommodation or budget hotels are widely available wherever you are in the world, and by choosing it, you can have more spend on excursions, food or transport - or to book another trip.

Shorter vs longer trips

Something to consider and something that I do often is shorter rather than longer trips as then I'm able to go to more places with the same amount of budget - if that makes sense. I like to take a few city breaks in Europe for a couple of days at a time rather than spend a week-long holiday somewhere relaxing, as one, I get to explore new places and also, I'm able to do more with my money.

Use your holiday days wisely

Not necessarily a money tip, but using your allocated holiday days a year more wisely is half the journey of a budget trip. If you do long weekends then you'll have more days to use for other trips - and won't have to take unpaid days off to go on your travels.

Make savvy decisions as you travel

Getting there cheap is one thing, but keeping things cheap whilst you're there is another. Set a budget for every day, take public transport to avoid taxi costs, dine away from tourist hotspots and splurge in the right places.

Put a bit of money away each month

Obviously, money doesn't grow on trees and travelling does cost money but how you save for it is as important as how you spent your money on travel. Whether you have a lot of disposable income or a little, it is possible to save up for travelling. Allocate a certain amount each month and ensure you stick to that, make wiser decisions for when you go shopping and cut down on unnecessary items - as you'll have a holiday at the end of it. You can always find more money but you can never find more time - travel whilst you're young, broke and have all the freedom in the world.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What are your budget travel tips?

Thank you for reading <3

6 lessons to take into 2020

Well hello to you my reader chums! It's a brand new year and a new decade. And although I'm not here to preach the 'new year, new me' mantra, it's a good time to reflect on the past 12 months and set new goals for another year.

6 lessons to take into 2020


I won't lie but the second half of 2019 was hard for me, for many different reasons but one was my mental health. It's been a hard few months but considering it's a new year, I want to take everything I learned from 2019 and turn it into something positive for 2020.

Here are a few lessons I'm going to take into the new decade - and you should too.

Knowing your self worth

Something I came to realise lately - and a lot of people need to, is your self-worth. With the world we live in, we often spend a lot of our time comparing ourselves to others with the 'perfect life', think we're not good enough and often settle for things that don't make us happy - or that we deserve. This shouldn't be the case in the slightest. Never settle for second best or any less than you deserve. Get rid of toxic friendships, quit the job that doesn't make you happy and don't act on things unless you think they are right for you. Rate yourself highly, work hard, play hard and enjoy everything about you.

Saying no

I've always very much been a 'yes' person, saying yes to helping people, to plans and doing whatever I can do to make people happy. However, I've come to learn that sometimes I want to quit plans, spend time for me or not be friends with a person - but I always say yes and go along with it anyway. I've realised that I don't have to do things I don't need to do. If you're not happy or not feeling it, you can say no. People will understand if you need time for yourself. You do you, and live your life for yourself.

You can only rely on yourself

The past six months, amongst the heartbreak and bad mental health, I felt so lucky with the amount of kindness I've received. However, saying that - the only person you can rely on is yourself. If you don't love you or love your own company, then you'll find it really to overcome things. I'm trying to walk into this year knowing I can ask for help when I need it but also to know that myself is enough - I don't always need to be in someone else's company and should be able to cope with that.

You'll learn who your real friends are in hard times

True friends come out when you really need them and it's something I've definitely learned lately. Whether you're going through heartbreak, grief, losing your job or having a bad time with your mental health, your true friends will be there to help you through it. It may not be them physically being with you, but they can support you in other ways - and you'll understand who the right people are in your life.

Kindness is everything

I always say the phrase 'spread kindness around like confetti' as it's something I believe to be incredibly true. You never know if people are having a good or bad day and your kindness can really help make it that extra bit better. I received so much kindness the past few months and I want to try and spread that love even more so as I walk into this decade. Being kind and caring is what life is all about.

Everything happens for a reason

The good, the bad or the ugly, everything that happens in your life is there for a reason. Even though it may seem awful and you don't understand why that will put you on the right path - it's there for a reason, to teach you something along your journey.

Stay humble, be kind, appreciate good friends, love yourself and live your best life - here's to 2020!

I hope you enjoyed this post. What are your goals for 2020?

Thank you for reading <3

19 tips to know for backpacking Southeast Asia

Well hello to you my reader chums! Backpacking around Southeast Asia was one of the best decisions I've ever made and the greatest experience in my life so far. I loved every minute of soaking up the culture, eating the best food, seeing the sights and lapping up the sunshine. It's something I'll never forget and forever wish to go back.

19 tips to know before backpacking in South East Asia

As it's nearly a year (where has the time gone?) that I was prepping to go, I thought I'd put together a guide of everything to know before you go backpacking.

Pack lightly

This is probably my number one tip for any wannabe backpackers - and something I wish I listened to more when I was packing for the trip. I'd always advise you to pack less rather than more - as you don't want to make your backpack unnecessarily to heavy for you to carry around.

My advice would be to pack what you think you need and then half it. Something I had trouble with was thinking about how many clothes or underwear I'll need for a 2 month period. But, looking back, I certainly brought too many clothing items with me and could easily have halved the load. When backpacking, you can easily buy more clothes on market stalls and wash your clothes along the way.

Try and avoid packing heavy items, bring versatile pieces and sort in packing cubes, to keep organised. For more tips, check out my 2-month packing guide to Asia.

Be wary

Backpacking around Asia will give you a complete culture shock, especially if you haven't been to the continent before. It took me a while to fully immerse and appreciate their way of life - and then fall in love with it. It's so incredibly humble and heartwarming that you'll feel the same.

However, in the same breath, you need to be wary of your surroundings a lot more. Southeast Asia, for instance, is generally a poor area so things like thieving and scams are more likely to occur to tourists. With that in mind, it's important to be street smart as you're roaming around. Keep your eyes peeled on any valuables you may have, look at your surroundings and try and avoid scams. A few ways to do this would be having a travel money card (save you losing any cash), don't carry around anything expensive items and don't walk off the beaten path after dark.

It's all common sense really when you think about it but as long as your safe and looking out for yourself and whoever else is with you, then you'll have a great time travelling.

http://www.dellalovesnutella.co.uk/2019/12/how-to-prepare-for-backpacking-trip.html

Learn common phrases

Wherever you go in the world, it's important to have a brief knowledge of the lingo. Whether it's to greet someone or find directions, it's very helpful. You should try and learn a few phrases like greetings, how to get somewhere, how to order food, etc. It's quite lucky that most places around the globe, there is a common correlation where people speak English, but it doesn't mean you should rely on that.  If you pick up a few phrases, it'll help you out when you're venturing around the non-tourist areas - and also means you can understand the locals, and even have a chat with them.

Have the correct gear

When it comes to backpacking, you need to be prepped in the things you're bringing with you, and that all depends on what you're planning to do whilst you're travelling. Whether it's a lot of hiking, heading off the beaten path or island hopping, you need to be prepped with the handy items. For instance a waterproof phone case, a torch, hiking boots, or a reusable water bottle will come to good use.

Research is key

Even though backpacking and travelling the globe is all about being spontaneous, I would recommend doing a lot of research beforehand. From researching where you want to go, mapping out a route, to ensuring you get the right visas, injections, and currencies. Also by reading up, you'll learn tips on how to stay safe, food recommendations and the off-the-beaten-path locations to visit.

Don't be scared

Before I went travelling, lots of people filled my head with danger stories of Asia and it did worry me a lot, however, once I arrived, there was really nothing to be scared of. I found my bearings, fell in love with wherever I went and felt incredibly safe. Don't be scared to see new places, try the crazy foods they offer or speak to locals - they'll be some of the kindest you'll ever meet. Fill your heart with the culture, the memories and embrace any fears you may have.

Cash is everything in South East Asia

Travelling around South East Asia, you'll find that cash really is everything. You can use your card to pay in more of the tourist hubs in restaurants, bars and for attractions, but predominately for more local areas, transport, and market stalls, you need cash. I would recommend bringing cash with you and then put the rest on a travel card - and take out the money when you need it.

19 tips to know before backpacking in Southeast Asia

Download Grab

Grab is Asia's version of Uber and a blessing in disguise when you're lost and need a lift back. The Grab vehicles can either be tuk-tuks or actual taxis, it really depends on the location. Unlike the tuk-tuks you pin down on the street where you can haggle a price, a Grab will give you the price before you book it. It's pretty much available across Asia but off-the-beaten-path areas, you may not be able to access it.

Be prepared for the public toilet situation

If you're a bit of a germaphobe then you won't like peeing in public places. A lot of Asia has squat toilets (literal holes in the ground) so you'll need to train yourself up with squats. As they are literally holes in the ground, a lot of public toilets don't have loo roll or hand wash - so bring your own to keep clean.

Public buses aren't reliable

I didn't get public buses a lot when travelling but when I did, I found they aren't the most reliable things nor do they stick to the schedule. A lot of the time, the buses will leave when it's completely full - so give yourself time to get to where you want to be.

Use 12Go Asia to book transfers 

For longer journeys, however, the company 12Go Asia was a lifesaver. I managed to book all my overnight buses and other transfers on here to get me from place to place. You can also book trains, ferries, and flights on here too.

South East Asia is very humid

I knew it would be hot, but I didn't realise the level of humidity that South East Asia would bring. It was incredibly hot, especially when venturing around the cities. Aircon and ice-cold water was literally a blessing - and suncream. Always remember suncream, and buy a lot before you arrive as it's really pricey in Asia. Because of the heat, bring protective gear (a hat will do) and try to avoid the sun when it's in its prime if you can (or just find a pool - you won't regret it.)

http://www.dellalovesnutella.co.uk/2019/12/how-to-prepare-for-backpacking-trip.html

Beware of the seasons

Even though South East Asia is pretty much hot all year round, it does have its seasons - wet and dry. I visited in the dry season so I only saw a handful of rain (it was kind of a blessing) when travelling. However, if you go during the wet season, ensure to bring rain gear as the downpours can be very heavy. Dry season tends to be from November to February and that's usually prime backpacker season time - and the wet season is from June to October. Depending on what time of year you're going will determine what to pack - but try and be prepped for both extremes!

Street food - enjoy but be careful

Asia is renowned for its street food scene and it's honestly incredible. You cannot beat the aroma of when you walk through a food market in Asia - your mouth will literally water! Although street food is one of the best things about travelling (it's cheap and yummy), it can give you food poisoning. As there are a lot more germs out there than the street food you get at home, sometimes, you'll find yourself with a case of the Dehli belly. To prepare for this, take probiotics a couple of weeks before you go and whilst you're there, as it'll build up your immune system for any additional germs.

Locals will ask to have photos

In the lesser-known places, a lot of the locals wouldn't have seen western people before and would, therefore, ask to take a photo with you - as to them, you're like a celebrity. In Vietnam, I had so many schoolchildren come up to me and ask for a photo - it was the cutest thing!

Traffic is mental 

One thing that I'll still never fully take in was how crazy the traffic really was in southeast Asia! There are literally motorbikes everywhere and they don't pay attention to any traffic lights in sight. Be wary if you're a pedestrian but also if you're a driver as you need to be alert at all times. You'll also realise that seeing a family of five on one motorbike will become the absolute norm.

19 tips to know before backpacking in Southeast Asia

Stay respectful

In southeast Asia, Buddhism is the main religion and there are a lot of beautiful temples you'll see as you venture through. I'm still blown away by all the incredible temples I was able to visit and the history I was able to learn. However, as you go and visit the temples, you need to be respectful. That means covering up when needed and following all the rules the temples require. The same goes for the culture in general - be mindful wherever you go.

Always set a price before you go in a taxi

Taxi drivers and tuk tuk drivers can scam you, especially if you look like a lost tourist. Before you get into a taxi, try and haggle a price - otherwise, they can charge more and really con you out of money, especially if they have a meter.

Enjoy the experience

Southeast Asia is an experience like no other and will leave your heart full, your spirit humble and a tummy full of the best ever food. Enjoy it, embrace it and allow yourself to fall in love with the world.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What are your best backpacking tips?

Thank you for reading <3