Foodie guide to Bologna, Italy

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Bologna is the food capital of Italy and a place where everything you eat is guaranteed to be good. All food in the city is renowned for being made fresh and not for tourists like many other Italian cities, and that's why I'd advise eating as much food as possible whilst you're travelling around.

I was only in Bologna for 3 days, however, I ate at some incredible restaurants and eateries which I want to revisit again and again. If you're a massive foodie, here is my foodie guide to Bologna and everywhere to eat.

Foodie guide to Bologna, Italy

Breakfast

Breakfasts in Italy are my favorite thing. Most Italians start the day with a coffee and pastry or cake, it's always something sweet which is my love language. Bologna has more than enough coffee shops to tickle your fancy but there are a couple which I'd love to go back to.

Bottega Portici

Bar Aroma

Tucked away and renowned for some of the best coffee, Bar Aroma was the first breakfast I had in Bologna and one which I adored. The quaint little cafe had a family vibe to it and I could feel the heart about the place. The lady who ran it couldn't speak English and I loved that in a sense, as it felt like I was living like a local and embracing life in the city. The pastries were delicious in every way and the pure hot chocolate, mouth-watering and a great start to the day.

Bottega Portici

This had to be my favourite breakfast place in the city and somewhere I would happily revisit again and again. Located in the hub of the city, near the Torre Degli Asinelli, it's more than just a cafe. Bottega Portici offered the best selection of pastries and hot drinks, plus they make fresh pasta in the window for you to watch - and serve up sweet fried tortellini and it was so yummy.

Lunch

It's hard to pick a lunch place in Bologna as the cafes, eateries, and restaurants on offer all look so incredible, however, there were two favourites which stood out.

Mortadella Lab

Mortadella is famous in Bologna and the Emilia Romagna region as a whole, as home to cured meats. I heard this place raved about and as soon as I received my sandwich from the Mortadella Lab, I could see why. The sandwich wasn't just huge, it was insanely good. I had mine with mortadella obviously, mozzarella and tomatoes, and honestly, it's the best sandwich I've ever had. The mortadella was as fresh as anything and enough to serve at least 2 people.

Mortadella Lab

Mercato di Mezzo

I'm a big food market fan so when I came across the Mercato di Mezzo, I instantly fell in love at ate there a couple of times. It's like a mini indoor vendor hall with a couple of different stalls serving up fresh pasta, alcohol, sandwiches, and a variety of other foods, plus a pizza restaurant upstairs too. I ate the classic tagliatelle ragu and it was insanely good and bought a sandwich another day and you can just taste the freshness. 

Mercato di Mezzo

Dinner

Dinner is the time to really embrace the Italian cuisine with the many classic dishes you need to sink your teeth into including tagliatelle ragu, tortellini in general (and in broth), meat platters, and more.

Osteria Del Podesta

This restaurant had the old-school charm and authenticity about it which I adored and the alfresco dining won my heart over. The best thing about the meal here was the meat platter on offer where I could sample the traditional meats known in this city. And also, I tried the traditional butter and ham tagliatelle dish which was so simple but scrummy in every way.

Trattoria La Finestrella

Trattoria La Finestrella had more of a fancier vibe to it but the price tag didn't match that and the food was super delicious. I indulged in another meat platter with mozzarella and then the classic tortellini with ragu. A completely wholesome choice and I really enjoyed every mouthful of it.

Trattoria La Finestrella

Bolpetta

This place was a random find and it was known for creating balls of meat which was a weird concept I have to admit, however, they were really nice in taste, not in texture though. Bolpetta did offer all the other classic dishes too and I finally got to try the tortellini in broth which I adored. And in the chillier Italian season, the best dish I could eat.

Foodie guide to Bologna, Italy

Gelaterias

I'm obsessed with Italian gelato, you can't beat it. Ice cream isn't the same anywhere else and whilst there, I found some gorgeous gelaterias.

Cremeria Cavour

I kid you not, this was the BEST gelato I've ever eaten. The chocolate flavour I could tell was made from pure chocolate and I adored every mouthful, I desperately wanted to go back for more if it didn't fill me up too much.

Cremeria Cavour

Oggi Gelato

This gelateria was a random find but the gelato was a great surprise. I went for something different here and their apple and cinnamon gelato was certainly interesting, and its chocolate flavour, superb too! I loved how they had slightly different flavours from the norm.

Cremeria La Vecchia Stalla

My favourite thing about this gelateria was the wide variety of different flavours on offer from all the chocolate ones you can think of to biscuits, fruits, and more. The variety matched well with the taste - it was so delicious! And, located near the Piazza Santo Stefano which was one of my fave squares.

Cremeria La Vecchia Stalla

Gelateria Delle Moline

This gelateria was located near the famous Via Delle Moline, a road of restaurants from all different cuisines, so a great place if you're looking for something unique. I found this on a late-night gelato hunt on the way back to the hotel and it had a traditional vibe about the place and was probably on the cheaper end to all the other places I went to.

Cremeria Santo Stefano

I came across this place the last night and it was tucked away from the main hub and I loved that. This gelateria was a great way to bid goodbye to the city with its fresh gelato and assortment of flavours on offer.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Do you have any other recommendations?

Thank you for reading <3

24 hours in Verona: things to see and do

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Verona is a gorgeous city to explore; the home of Romeo and Juliet, a sea of pretty buildings, shopping galore and buildings oozing with Italian charm. If you're heading on a day trip or fancy getting the train down from Venice or Bologna, here is my 24 guide to Verona. 

This post contains affiliate links but all thoughts are my own.


24 hours in Verona: things to see and do

What there is to see and do

Piazza Brà and Verona Arena

One phrase I'd describe Verona as is 'picture perfect'. It was beautiful everywhere I looked and if you're in love with taking photos, it's an iconic city. Piazza Brà is stunning; the square is packed with colour, life, a selection of restaurants, cafes, and the historical Verona Arena. It's a prime spot to mooch around and grab a coffee, and people watch.

Verona Arena

The Arena can be visited and roamed around for 10 euros, and you can also attend performances there. I didn't personally go in as I preferred to mooch around the outside and that was enough for me to tick it off my list. Plus, sitting with a hot chocolate in front of it was an amazing experience. 

Piazza Delle Erbe

I adored this little piazza. It has a joyous and busy vibe with so much going on. The Piazza Delle Erbe is known for its markets and I'm a sucker for a good market, that's why I loved it so much. It's surrounded by pretty buildings and architecture to admire, shops, and restaurants, and of course the market. The market runs all week and is full of everything from souvenirs, leather handbags to freshly cooked goods, something for everyone.

24 hours in Verona: things to see and do

Basilica di Santa Anastasia

The Basilica di Santa Anastasia was a glorious church to visit and I loved looking around it. It's one of those places I would definitely say you need to visit on your trip to the city. It's a couple of euros to get in and the interior is enough to wow you as soon as you enter the building. The tall archways with the mosaic ceiling really did blow my mind with their beauty.

Basilica di Santa Anastasia

Ponte Pietra

This had to be one of the most gorgeous spots in the entire city, especially as it was a blue sky day when I was there. The Ponte Pietra is the oldest bridge in Verona and was completed in 100BC. It overlooks the entire scope of the city from both sides and is the perfect spot to admire the beauty that is Verona. My favourite thing was how under the blue sky, the water under the bridge was glistening and it made me feel so alive.

Ponte Pietra

Castel San Pietro

My favourite spot in the city had to be Castel San Pietro. It's a bit of a trek with lots of different steps to the top with many viewpoints as you make your way up, however, once you arrive at the Castel San Pietro, it makes it all worthwhile. Seeing the city from a height was incredible; I loved watching the river ebb and flow with the endless sea of buildings that make up the wonderous city of Verona. Up there, is a perfect spot for a picnic, to snap a photo, or simply sit with your thoughts.

Verona viewpoint

Juliet's House

Verona is famous for Romeo and Juliet and that's why you can't really pass by the city and not see the house. It's free to enter Juliet's courtyard where you can see the famous balcony and statue, however, if you'd like to go inside and onto the balcony, it's 6 euros. The queue to Juliet's House can be busy depending on the time of year and day, so be wary to prepare some time out of your day to line up.

Juliet's house

Mooching around the city

I loved mooching around Verona, it has an aesthetically-pleasing appeal to it all with the grand and colourful architecture, shopping scene, cute eateries, and quaint streets dotted around. The best thing to do when you've experienced all the must-see sights is to spend the rest of your day in the city exploring and discovering hidden gems, off-the-beaten-path eateries, and areas to see.

Verona

Where to stay

The selection of accommodation in Verona is endless as it has a slightly touristy vibe so you'll have no trouble finding an elegant and affordable place to stay. I stayed in the most gorgeous B&B, called B&B Accademia, which was only located about a 5-10 minute walk into the main hub of Verona, and had the loveliest host too. It was super affordable, spacious, and clean, and I had my own balcony, looking out onto the streets of Verona.

How to get around

Verona's city centre is pretty small which means you're able to get around it for the most part on foot and can walk to all of the must-see sights. The station isn't too far from the city centre so you're able to easily hop on a train and head over to nearby cities such as Venice, Bologna, and Milan for example.

24 hours in Verona: things to see and do

I hope you enjoyed this post. Have you visited Verona?

Thank you for reading <3

How to slow down: my top 5 tips

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Life can be a lot sometimes, it can be busy, full-on and things can really get you down. It's normal to experience down days or times where you feel like everything is getting on top of you, but that's a signal to know that you need to slow down.

How to slow down: my top 5 tips

If the pandemic taught us anything, it taught us the power of rest, putting yourself first, and looking after your mental health and wellbeing. We all need to take it easy at times, and ensure our wellbeing is a top priority. If you feel like things are too much lately, here are my top 5 tips on how to slow down.

Acknowledge that life is a lot

Acknowledging your struggle is key to looking after yourself. It's important to know the signs of when things are causing you too much stress, life is too busy or you're experiencing burnout. When you know the signs, you'll know that it's time to slow down and the steps you can take in order to feel relaxed and resting.

Being self-aware is so important in everyday life. It's important to be aware of changes in your physical being and your mental health as then you're able to pinpoint when there is change and know, it's time for you to take a break and call it a day. You have the power to be self-aware and once you start to become more aware and be in tune with your body, you'll begin to understand what you need a lot more in order to feel healthier and happier.

Set a day of rest each week

It's not normal to constantly be working or constantly thinking about work. Whether you work for someone else or yourself, having a work-life balance is key to feeling less stressed and maintaining good mental health. My tip of advice for slowing down in this instance and with anything that is causing this level of stress is to ensure you have a day a week that you really focus on resting. I don't just mean sleeping, I mean, being away from anything work-related, or switching off anything that causes you stress. Spend that day feeling present at the moment, going on a peaceful walk, switching off your phone, and being with people who mean the most to you.

It's about resting your mind as well as resting your body. You need to give yourself time to recharge, just like your phone so you can spring back. If you don't give yourself time to rest, then you won't be able to give full energy to any of life's commitments.

Map out downtime/alone time

This is similar to having a rest day, but downtime/alone time is incredibly important. You need to have those few hours in the day or week where you can focus on being calm, being present, and giving your body and mind what it needs. Downtime and alone time is the period in the day where you need to be with yourself and your thoughts, spending that time reflecting on the week and how you're feeling. It's a time to check in with yourself and reflect on what's bringing you joy, what's causing you stress, and how you can combat this.

Alone time also helps you with moving forward in your self-love journey and benefits you in learning to love your own company, and not relying on others to fill the gap.

Actively seek opportunities/activities which keep you calm

During your rest days and downtime, that's the time you need to seek the things that bring you a huge sense of joy and calm. This could be anything from going on a beach walk, writing, doing some arts and crafts, baking or simply, watching your favourite film. It's all about finding the thing that works for you and practicing that more when you need that sense of calm. By working on being more self-aware, your body will tell you when calm and quiet is needed.

I find beach walks, writing, reading, and ensuring I have a good sleep pattern all help with me slowing down and feeling calm.

Learn the importance of being rested

Being well-rested is important for your physical and mental wellbeing. It gives you the energy in your day to interact, work and pursue your passions. Without the right amount of rest, you can find yourself being irritable, unhappy, overly stressed and really, falling down a glum path. Rest is number one importance and having a good sleeping pattern goes hand in hand with this as your body will get used to a routine. It's important to practice rest the same way you ensure you're at work every day, or prioritising eating well and staying active. All of these healthy patterns feed together to help you be the best version of yourself.

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

Thank you for reading <3

3 day guide to Bologna: what to see and do

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Italy has my heart, it's a country that feels like home to me and I love it, even more, every time I touch base there. I'm lucky to have been to many cities and towns across Italy and it thrills my heart when I can explore new Italian cities. When I set foot in Bologna, I instantly fell in love and knew the city would be mine, and it would be a city I'd never get bored of.

Capital of the best Italian food and located in the Emilia Romagna region, Bologna is a city with more than first meets the eye. Its authenticity, way of life, and pure focus on good food were everything I could dream of in an Italian city. Bologna didn't have that tourist feel, but a welcoming atmosphere into its culture and I adored that. If you're planning a long weekend to Bologna, here is my 3-day guide to what to see and do.

This post contains affiliate links but all thoughts are my own.

Bologna Italy

Day 1: Get a feel of the city

Bologna is one of those cities where I could walk around and never get bored of its old-school charm and authentic vibe. Its medieval-looking buildings, charming locals, and wholesome ambiance were enough to make me stay forever. I adored roaming the streets, visiting the sights, and being a part of the locals' community.

The beauty of Bologna is the atmosphere and how safe, and content I felt roaming around the city. It almost felt like I'd been there before and had a sense of belonging. On your first day in Bologna, I would advise you to roam around and get a feel of the city. There's no need to have a direct plan on what to see and where to go as you'll discover what your favourite spots will be, however, these were a few of my favourite areas.

Piazza Maggiore/ Piazza Nettuno

The hub and centre of Bologna, Piazza Maggiore is a must-see for every visitor to the city. This is where the action happens and leads off to all the other unique streets and piazzas throughout the city. I loved the rush of this piazza and how it's surrounded by all the top shops and overlooked by the famous Basilica of San Petronio. Piazza Maggiore is right next to Piazza Nettuno which is slightly smaller but with the same vibe about it. They're definitely the best starting point for any Bologna newbies as you'll encapsulate the city's heart before you branch out to the quieter spots.

Piazza Maggiore Bologna

Piazza Santo Stefano

Every piazza had a unique vibe, but the general consensus is friendly with lots to see and there's always a buzz in the air that I don't know how to describe it. Piazza Santo Stefano was one of my favourite spots as it was slightly out the way and on the weekends, it hosts a vintage market. It has charming pebbly pathways, a gorgeous church, and is closeby to a hub of brilliant restaurants.

Piazza Cavour

Piazza Cavour had a sweet charm about it, which I adored. It has more of a park vibe, surrounded by the most beautiful archways which added a sense of glamour to the overall piazza. I loved sitting there in the evening with gelato as it's not as busy as the other piazzas, with many benches to perch on.

Piazza Cavour

Piazza Guiseppi Verdi

The university area of Bologna has a certain vibe that I adored and the charismatic buildings and scenery added to that overall ambiance. I really loved it and can see why students love attending their lectures there, it's definitely a place I want to study at. Piazza Guiseppi Verdi is a famous student quarter area where it has many student bars, restaurants, and cafes.

Via dell'Indipendenza

For the shopaholics, this street is where it's at. It's an endless long road packed with some of the best shops from designers to your regular high street shops, gelaterias, and boutique shops too. It's the perfect place for a mooch, especially on the cooler days in the city.

3 day guide to Bologna: things to see and do

Find your own favourite area

The beauty of Bologna is its medieval and rustic buildings and authentic charm. I wouldn't describe it as aesthetic like Florence for instance, it's old-fashioned, traditional, and truly Italian and that's why it's an incredible city to mooch around. Bologna has many hidden gems across the entire city, from quaint walkways, tucked-away restaurants to boutique shops and cafes, so that's why taking yourself on a random route will help you discover Bologna, off the beaten path. Via Clavature was one of my favourite streets because it was packed with different food markets, quaint shops, and near the hub of all fresh food to purchase from the varied delis.

Day 2: Visiting all the main sights

Once you've got your bearings around the city and what's where, it's a great time to tick off all the sights that make Bologna, the historical and cultural city that it is.

3 day guide to Bologna: things to see and do

Basilica di San Petronio

Basilicas are one of my favourite things about Italy and the Basilica di San Petronio genuinely blew my mind with its beauty. The basilica stands in the centre of Piazza Maggiore and really is the focal point of the whole piazza. It stands strong and the interior is even more stunning than the exterior. I was overwhelmed by the tall archways, sleek marble floor, and really, the sheer size of it all. The Basilica is free to enter and is open from 8.30am-1pm and 3pm-6pm every day.

Cattedrale di San Pietro

Located along the bustling street of Via dell'Indipendenza, it seems odd to have such a grand cathedral in the midst of it all. However, that adds intrigue and grandeur to the building even more so. I loved this cathedral too with detailed paintings on the ceiling and large, grand cream archways. It's gorgeous to visit and also free to enter. The cathedral is open from 7am-7pm every single day.

St Peter's Cathedral Bologna

Torre Degli Asinelli

Bologna is a gorgeous city, wherever you are but there's no other experience than seeing it from a birdseye view. The Torre Degli Asinelli was built between 1109 and 1119 and is a top landmark in the city. There are 498 steps to the top, and although, it is a pretty long trek, once you get to the top, the view is completely worth it. I would say, if you're claustrophobic, scared of heights, or aren't in a fit shape, you should be aware that the steps can be tight at times and there isn't loads of room to walk up. The entry fee is £5 and I would recommend booking in advance to secure your spot, especially in peak season. The view from the top of the tower blew my mind, it was incredible seeing the city in all its glory; the endless medieval buildings and rolling hills in the distance. 

Torre degli asilini

3 day guide to Bologna: things to see and do

Museo Civico Medievale/Museo Cívico Arqueológico

I'm a bit of a history nerd so I love visiting a museum in a new city as it is a great way to get to terms with the history of that place. There are two museums that are worth the visit on your trip: Museo Civico Medievale and Museo Cívico Arqueológico.  Museo Civico Medievale is filled with a precious collection of medieval artifacts of the 7th-9th century and artists' work from the 15th-16th century. It's 6 euro to get in or if you're under 25, only 2 euro. Museo Cívico Arqueológico is a must-visit, especially if you're a fan of archaeology. It contains a significant archaeological collection (the most important in Italy) of local history from prehistory to Roman times. This museum has the same entry fee.

Basilica of San Giacomo Maggiore 

Sometimes the best churches aren't the most obvious and away from the main hub and that was how I felt visiting the Basilica of San Giacomo Maggiore. Located in the university district and free to enter, I love how this church wasn't overly massive but had an intricate design and grandeur look to it.

Day 3: Setting your sights further afield from the main city

Hidden canals of Bologna

Although the hidden canals have now dried up, it's still cool to have a mooch and see where they were as it gives off a similar look to Venice with how the roads are mapped out. I think the coolest one worth making the visit is along Via Piella. On this road, there's a tiny square in a wall next to a restaurant and if you peek through, you can see the remains of the canal.

University of Bologna

The university area of the city was one of my favourites because it has such an old-school charm and unique beauty to it, that I could have roamed around for hours. It's only about a 15/20-minute from the main hub and is worth it for the roam. It's a great area to walk around, appreciate the beauty and sit with a coffee. You'll definitely want to study there when you walk around!

University of Bologna

Sanctuario de San Luca

This has to be one of my favourite parts of the trip. It always pays off going a little out of the city to see what's there and the Sanctuario de San Luca should be top of your list if you have the time. You can either get the bus from the centre of Bologna or hop in a taxi to visit the sanctuary. To enter the sanctuary/the church and mooch around is free, and the grounds themselves are gorgeous and offer a glimpse of the Bolognese hills.

It costs a couple of euros to go to the viewpoint and to the tombs so it's up to you whether to pay it. I would 100% say to pay to walk up to the top of the Sanctuary as the view of the Bolognese hills is one of the best things I've ever seen. I couldn't get over how beautiful they were. It was really a bucket list-worthy moment.

3 day guide to Bologna: things to see and do

Where to eat

Bologna is the capital of the best food in Italy and wherever you go, you're bound to find brilliant and mouth-watering food.

Breakfast in Bologna

Bottega Portici

Italian breakfasts are dream-worthy; for the coffee drinkers, it means starting the day with an expresso and for the non-coffee drinkers like me, it means pure chocolate joy. Italian hot chocolates are literally liquid chocolate and my favourite thing to drink in the morning, paired with a sweet pastry or cake. Bottega Portici, served up the best breakfast and also made from scratch sweet tortellini and it was so delicious.

Mortadella Lab

Mortadella is renowned in Bologna and I had my fair share on the trip. The Mortadella Lab was insane for sandwiches and there's a reason people queued up to get their fix. The sandwiches were massive and super delicious, it's definitely worth the visit.

Mortadella lab

Mercato di Mezzo 

I came across this indoor food market as I roamed around on the first day and loved it so much in there, I went back a couple of times. It has a couple of different food vendors serving up a range of freshly cooked foods from pasta to sandwiches and booze too. I had the classic tagliatelle ragu (famous in the Emilia Romana region) and it was insanely good, I'm still not over it.

Osteria del Podesta

I adored this little restaurant, dining alfresco. It served up a dream-worthy meat platter (as Bologna are known for their cured meats) and the classic butter and ham tagliatelle dish too. It was one of those places that had a charm to it and was very popular with locals too.

Trattoria La Finestrella

This restaurant had a slightly fancier appeal to it in the way it was presented and the food was on par. I had the mozzarella and prosciutto ham for starters followed by tortellini ragu, as Bologna is home to the tortellini. 

3 day guide to Bologna: things to see and do

Cremeria Cavour

I kid you not, the gelato in Cremeria Cavour has to be the BEST I've ever tasted. I had the chocolate and hazelnut and I could tell that it was made which incredibly rich chocolate and the flavours were second to none. I think about this gelato way too much.

Cremeria La Vecchia Stalla

This was located near Piazza Santo Stefano and has a beautiful range of gelato, that was my favourite thing about the place. I loved the ice cream in here, it was of top quality too and I can see why it gets busy with the locals.

Gelataria delle Moline

This was a random find and I'm glad I had some gelato from here because even though it didn't look too fancy, the gelato was delicious and satisfied all my taste buds. It was definitely more of a classic gelateria.

Where to stay

As Bologna is quite close-knit, you can really stay anywhere in the city to get the full experience of Bologna life. I stayed in an apartment in the northern part of the city and for me, it was the perfect location. It was only about a 10-minute walk into the main bustle of Bologna and the apartment was right next to a supermarket and close by to the train station too.

There are many different hotels, apartments, and other accommodation options throughout Bologna, it all depends on what you're looking for. The more central the better, but anywhere in the city will offer an authentic feel.

How to get around

Bologna is very easy to get around by foot (if you have the means to do so) as the main hub to the outskirts is all in easy reach to each other and very easy to navigate yourself around. There are buses available to get you where you need to be or the option of a taxi, but in the central part of Bologna, cars aren't really used in the prime part of the day, hence the use of bicycles by many locals.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Have you visited Bologna before?

Thank you for reading <3

Safety guide to travelling: my top tips

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Travelling is my favourite thing in the world; I adore the freedom of roaming around new places and ticking countries of my list one by one. It's an exciting prospect seeing new places but like anything in life, there are always worries and precautions that need to be put in place to ensure it's safe.

Safety guide to travelling: my top tips

If you're new to travelling or looking for some reassuring advice, here is my safety guide to travelling and all the things to consider before you go.

Before you go

Staying safe when travelling comes with preparation and that means ensuring things are in place before you jet off, drive off or hop on the train.

Documentation is key

When travelling, especially in a foreign country, you want to ensure you have your ID or personal identification with you at all times, just in case of any situation that arises. And the best way to do this so you're not carrying around important documents is to make photocopies of each document. This helps in case you lose the actual documentation so you have evidence of who you are.

Also, in regards to documentation, it's vital that before you go somewhere new, you check the entry requirements, whether you need a visa or the papers in regards to Covid safety precautions too. Travel insurance documents should be included under this point, in case you need medical help.

Do your research

I'm an avid researcher so wherever I'm going, I like to have in-depth research of what there is to do, the cultural differences, and things to be aware of. I'm not saying you need to be a pro on your destination before you go as that's the whole point of exploring it, however, it's important to be aware of what the culture is like, the language and currency used, if there are any dangers to be aware of and how you're able to get around. Having some kind of scope on the destination will ensure you're prepared to go but also feel safe and secure as you set foot there.

Download relevant apps

The beauty of smartphones is the accessibility wherever we go and that includes when it comes to travel. There are so many apps that'll help you out whilst you're away so I'd always suggest to have them downloaded before you leave. The best apps to have to hand are your airlines, the accommodation company you've booked through, Omio, to book trains, a taxi app that's relevant to your destination (Uber in Europe, Grab in Asia for example), Citymapper for getting around, and if you have a travel money card, the app used to top it up. There are many others you can use like the London tube map (or relevant ones to where you're visiting).

Learn some local phrases

It's always handy to know a couple of phrases to your destination anyway, but from a safety standpoint, even more important. You never know what's going to happen, so if you get lost and only locals are around who don't speak English, it's good to have some phrases under your belt to communicate and get help.

Emergency numbers

If you get in trouble or hurt when abroad, it's important to know who to call so ensure you research numbers of local authorities or hospitals and note them down.

Whilst you're travelling

Landing in a new destination is an exciting feeling and a time for you to have your best adventure, but there are a couple of things to be aware of.

Legitimate companies

For you spontaneous travellers out there or those who like to book things along the way, it's important to be aware of who you are booking with. Scamming happens all the time with tourists, especially in destinations that are tourist hubs. The best thing before you put down your money is to do a some research on the background of the company, see if they have social media accounts, a legitimate website, or good reviews for example. It's all about making sure that you're booking through a secure source, especially the tour or experience you're paying for is expensive.

Pickpocketing

Unfortunately, pickpocketing is a common thing for tourists abroad, especially in busy cities such as Rome or Barcelona, and that's why it's important to be aware of your surroundings. Try and avoid backpacks, and use a bag that can be close to you. Always ensure it's zipped up and that you don't leave your phone or purse out at a table, as you never know when it could be scrapped.

Street scams

Scamming like pickpocketing is very common in highly dense tourist areas and you need to be aware to spot when you're being scammed. For instance, in Europe, a lot of scams involve trying to get you to sign up for a charity and donate to them, when really, it's not a real charity. In Asia, you'll find a lot of kids begging for money but the thing about that is, it's the thing keeping them out of schools as money is lining adults pockets so they send kids out to beg. There are lots of scams out there to coax tourists in to give money, especially in poorer countries so be mindful if you have a stranger come up to you asking for cash.

Food poisoning 

Food poisoning can happen anywhere in the world but in poorer destinations where food hygiene isn't a priority, it's more common, especially for tourists who aren't used to the germs entering their system. It's important to be aware of this as you can get really sick from it. By best advice is if it's a restaurant, check the hygiene rating (if available) or see how the general place is presented, or if it's street food, see how it's being prepared. Eat foods that are fully cooked and always have translation cards on you to ask for any allergies (if needed). Your best bet is to also line your stomach with probiotics before you go, so your gut is prepared.

Be aware of public WIFI

Not all internet connection available when you're travelling around is secure and you need to be mindful of that because if you're using it to enter bank details or send over personal information, your browser could be easily hacked and details can be taken. Ensure when you sign up to a free WIFI that it has secure icon on it.

Putting your money in different places

If you're using cash on your trip, rather than just a travel money card/debit card, then it's important to separate it throughout your belongings in case you lost your purse, your suitcase gets stolen or simply you misplace part of it. That way, you always have cash somewhere else.

Lock up your valuables

When on the plane, travelling around or if you leave them in the hotel/hostel, ensure your valuables are locked up at all times, even if you are staying in a fancy place.

Talk to locals

Research may be key but it's the locals who truly know which streets and areas are safe and which ones aren't. Speak to them as much as you can and ask questions on where the best places are to go and any dangers you need to be aware of.

Let your family/friends know where you are

Email your travel itinerary, send photos of your location and keep in touch in general so they know of your whereabouts at all times.

Travelling around solo

Travelling can be a little more worrisome when on your own as you don't have anyone to help you feel safe or have your back essentially, however, it can be done easily and it's just important to be a bit more mindful than if you had someone else. Always be aware of your surroundings, learn your route back to your hotel, make friends with people at your accommodation, keep in contact with your friends/family back home and don't trust people too easily. Have your phone on you at all time and be aware of the emergency services in case you feel you're in danger. You need to put yourself and your safety first before anything - try to stay in busy places as much as you can. Showing travel confidence is the most important thing you can do.

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

Thank you for reading <3

Book review: The Hush Society by Izzy Matias

 Well hello to you my reader chums! I love discovering new books and new authors, that's the beauty of the book world. When fellow blogger Izzy got in touch about reviewing her book, I couldn't have been more excited. There's something so joyous about discovering a new voice and reading The Hush Society was a great opportunity.

Whether you're a big lover of music or love a deep way of thinking, here is my full book review of The Hush Society by Izzy Matias.

AD - This is a gifted collaboration but all thoughts are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

The Hush Society by Izzy Matias

Plotline

The protagonist Cameron has longed to be a musician and it's the only thing he has always loved. After being kicked out of his fifth band, Cameron and his best pals Benji and Eric, also fellow musicians stumble across a series of underground live music shows called The Hush Society. This society was everything all of them dreamed of who all shared the pure joy of music and creating it.

The founder Cassie is a wild and artistic spirit and began The Hush Society to spread the joy of music with like minded individuals. When Cassie invites Cameron and his mates to join The Hush Society on their summer tour, it was the start of something for the band, to give Cameron one last shot at becoming a famous musician. Cameron has to sacrifice university and the respect of his father for this opportunity but he knew it's what he had to do.

Will he be able to reach success or let his self-doubts get in the way of being the musician he has always dreamed about?

Characters and relationships

I really connected with the characters in this book because they were all young and had a vision of pursuing a dream, their biggest passion which is something that reigned truth with myself. It was interesting to read the book from a male's perspective and I related a lot to Cameron as a person. I like how his character was portrayed as so honest and real, and how his thoughts and insecurities were painted through the plotline as it made him more realistic.

My favourite bond had to be between Cameron, Eric and Benji because the purity in their friendship was so real. The way they spoke to each other with the banter, the way they supported each other and how honest they are, made me smile. Their friendship was painted in a real light and I loved to see that grow as the chapters went on, through good news and bad news.

Cassie and Cameron's bond was also something I love to read as it developed refreshingly and timely, with the right amount of sentiment and reality about it. Other characters including Amber, Lily and Ella were also characters I really enjoyed reading about. They all came together so well and complimenting each other how friends do. I love how with Lily's character, it spoke about her panic attacks and how them as a collective helped her through it. The whole premise of the book had a deeper look, especially with the characters relationships.

Overall thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. As someone who isn't big on the music industry, I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel, however it exceeded my expectations in every way. I loved the characters as a whole, how their relationships developed and fed into the plot. I loved how the main premise of the book was always to follow your dreams and to never give up on your passions as that's so important and a theme which continued the whole way through. The book has an honest writing approach to it with a deeper understanding of the characters, what was going on and spoke about important issues including panic attacks and financial troubles. The way Cameron led the plot helped me connect with him and the rest of the characters as his insecurities are what a lot of us go through, and by vocalising them in the plotline, it helps readers know they're not alone.

The book had a great pace to it, I liked the length of the chapters and how the descriptions paved out of the locations. One of my favourite elements was the focus on travel and how the new locations were described as I felt like I was really there every step of the way.

Ending

As always I won't give the ending away, however, what I can say, it ended on a happy and uplifting note. It showed that no matter what, everything will always be okay in the end and that you should never give up on your dreams.

You can pick up your copy of The Hush Society here.

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

Thank you for reading <3

How to feel more travel confident

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Travelling is my favourite thing; I adore that feeling of experiencing a new place for the first time and seeing new sights, it fills my soul with pure joy.

I've spoken before about my travel anxiety and how it took me years to overcome my fears and do it and then on the flip side, fall in love with the travel way of life. Whether you're an anxious traveller or travelling at the minute is worrying you, here is how to feel more travel confident.

How to feel more travel confident

Preparation is key

Preparation really is key for anything in life but especially when it comes to travel. When you're prepared for something, you're more likely to feel confident and assured in what you're doing, and that occurs with your travels too. Prepare in any way you can; this means from before you're even considering going to when you arrive. Research the flights, map out how close your accommodation is to accommodation, plan what you want to do and the attractions you need to book. Plan out your airport route and any documentation you need to have beforehand. Basically, the idea is to be as prepped as possible, as then you don't have the additional worries about where you're going and what you need to sort.

I always love to have an agenda in place, all my documentation together, and a to-do list in my head so I have a back thought of stability and it gives me the reassurance in case anything doesn't go to plan. Prep = confidence.

Travel buddies are great 

It's never about what you're doing, it's about who you're with. If you're an anxious traveller, you want to be jetting off with someone who gets you and will offer the reassurance you need to enjoy the trip and put your mind at ease. Pick your travel buddies wisely; make sure they're a person or a group of people who will want to travel the way you do and can understand that you're not confident in travelling. If you're having to travel alone, then map out some people you know you're able to call to give you the boost or reassurance you need.

Do it as much as you can 

Practice makes perfect and that is true for anything in life, including your confidence for travel. The sooner you set foot on a plane and jet off, the more often you'll go, and it'll become easier and easier. It's getting used to the process of travelling which will help ease your worries in the long run. Once, I started to push myself and got in the process of travelling, the worries moved aside and I started to fall in love with it - and realised, the freedom and joy that comes with the travel way of life.

Bring the things that make you feel at home

Stepping out of your comfort zone is what helps grow your confidence, however, doing that is what takes courage. To make the stepping out easier, bringing things that feel like home or that are in your comfort zone can help reassure you in a lot of ways. For example, if you need more confidence with flights, wear an outfit that you feel confident in or download a playlist that fills your heart with ease. My point being is, we all have a comfort thing that makes us feel okay and safe, and to feel more travel confident, that thing can be the boost you need.

Take it at your own pace

Confidence doesn't come overnight in any way and that's the same with travel. You're not going to feel like a pro traveller after one trip, it's going to take time. You need time to get used to the way of travelling, the spontaneous feel about it, planning your trips, and the whole 'new' experience to it. If you have a trip that you're not feeling confident about, that's okay, if you take a few steps back, that's also okay. Take the steps of travel at your own pace and try and enjoy it - the confidence will come with time and experience.

Learn to appreciate the worries

The worries about travel are there for a reason, and even though, it can be annoying to have them as you want to enjoy it, it's also important to be safe and have a level-headed view towards it. A little bit of worry shows that you care about your trip and are working towards improving your travel confidence. Put the precautions in place to ease those worries and I'll help put them behind you so you're able to focus on having fun.

Travelling is something we all deserve to do in our life to experience beyond our hometown and if you're lucky to live that way of life: enjoy it. Enjoy the process of jetting away to a new destination, enjoy spontaneous sunsets on the beach, enjoy the conversations you have with strangers along the way, and enjoy the moment as much as you can. I can assure you the confidence comes and soon you'll look back and realise, there wasn't anything to worry about.

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

Thank you for reading <3

5 things I've learnt living with anxiety

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and even though, at times, I hate that it's something I have to live with, without it, I don't think I would be as strong as I am today.

Anxiety is hard and tiresome but a tool I've used to help myself and others, and here are 5 things I've learnt living with anxiety.

5 things I've learnt living with anxiety

To be more empathetic and understanding

Living with anxiety isn't easy and a daily battle with my own mind to not fear the unknown, whether I'm good enough, and feeling like a burden to those around me for having these negative thoughts. However, because I live with anxious thoughts and can be triggered by different things, I've become a lot more empathetic and understanding of everyone else around me. I know the care and reassurance I need to ease my own mind so I can offer that help to others, and have more patience and understanding when people confide in me.

I'm really passionate about mental health and this empathetic mindset has helped me learn a lot more about other mental illnesses, how I can do my bit to help them, become more aware as a whole, and be more mindful when I speak to people. It's so important to be kind as you never know what someone is going through. The happiest people or those who seem the happiest, are usually dealing with the hardest of issues. 

To prepare for situations more

Anxiety goes hand in hand with overthinking, and that means thinking and thinking about something until it happens or if it even happens. As annoying as this thought process can be and deal with at times, it can be a great tool in terms of life. Because I overthink all the time, I prepare for situations, some situations that may happen and some that won't. But it means, I am more ready to deal with the repercussions of something, to deal with the tasks that are ahead of me, and in general, be more prepared for life as a whole. 

That I'm stronger than I think

Anxiety often makes me feel weak, it makes me feel vulnerable and like I'm worthless, but these are all emotions that I constantly have to fight with and overcome. And, because of that, it makes me strong, it makes me stronger every day to know I have to battle with my mind and rise above my anxiety and rise above the hard thoughts. 

Strength comes from within and there are many things that make us stronger. We learn from our experiences and grow stronger with each down moment. The hardest times with my anxiety have taught me the most and given me the assurance that I can overcome hurdles and keep going.

Who the important people are in my life

Having anxiety, I've constantly doubted my worth and the love people have for me, and the love I have for myself. But it's also made me learn that because of these thoughts, I know who I can rely on and confide in about my anxiety. It's allowed me to keep and invest in the people that invest in me, and cut out the toxic people or those who didn't understand my mental health. It's also made me more aware of who is good for and who isn't, and helped me read people a lot better, and what they can bring to their lives or what I can bring to theirs.

To love harder

I never want anyone feeling alone or like they aren't good enough because I know how isolating a mental illness can be and what feeling that way is like. Because of knowing how hard it is and dealing with that emotion, I like to do every in my power to make people feel loved, make people feel amazing about themselves, and realise that they're wonderfully unique. I love hard, as hard as I can for all of those around me, and spread kindness where possible, to try and make people feel better. It's so important to always be kind.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Do you have anxiety?

Thank you for reading <3