How To Take a Good Photograph

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Photography Safari Travel

Over the last few months my photography has started to improve, so I decided to share the things that helped me.  Since posting my safari pictures,  my account: Rapunzel’s Passport Instagram has massively increase in followers within the last week.  I’ve been enjoying this social media site, being able to retell my African adventure by photos and sharing my story.

Here’s some of the basics for getting a good photo.

1. Practice

Like with any skill, the only way to improve is to practice.  Get out there with your camera whenever you can, and try lots of different things.  Why not find something interesting locally and go out with your camera.  Don’t delete any of your pictures, and upload all of your pictures when you are back home, analysing the photos to decide what works and what doesn’t.  There’s no hard or fast rule, and I’d suggest always opting for what you like, instead of what may be fashionable or technically correct.  I think if you primarily take photos in the way you enjoy and things you like, that passion will shine through.  Trying to just copy what others do, will actually become boring in the long run.  Take pictures for yourself first, as you’re the one who is important.

2. Research

Invest in a good photography book or do a photography course.  I did a day course a few months ago, and now I never use the auto setting.  I feel so much more in control of my pictures, and I feel much more creative.  It’s easier to get the picture you envision when you know how to change the settings.  There are still moments, when I think I don’t know what setting is best here, for example when I was taking sunset pictures.  I just played around with my settings and tried to find out what worked for me.  That reminds me I need to go and read that section in my book, so I’ll know what to do for next time.

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 3. Look With Your Eyes

You’ll hear it time and time again from the professionals, to stop looking at the subjects through your viewfinder.  Set the camera down and look andsee what it is you are looking at.  Enjoy the moment, seek the parts of the scene that you find interesting and think how you’re going to feature them in your photo.

Don’t despair if you can’t capture the beauty of what you see with your eyes, after you’ve pressed the shutter.  The beauty of the place is more than what you see, it’s what you smell, hear and feel.  I’m often surprised after being disappointed with a shot, as I’m feeling unable to capture how I see it, that some time later I’ll look at the picture and be able to see the beauty I first saw.

I also think it’s important to have a no-camera day, especially when travelling.  Take a break from it and enjoy your trip, make “mental photographs”.

4. Look from different angles

When I was in Amalfi, I struggled to get an interesting picture of the Amalfi church, I didn’t feel I could get close enough, and there was too much noise around.  I later saw another photographer’s shot and they had included all the surrounding cafes and it looked amazing.  Sometimes taking a few steps back makes for a completely different picture, it’s not all about isolating what you want, but sometimes about adding extra.  Also try standing at top of steps, or crouch down to take your shot, so as to experiment with different things.

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5. Lighting

Depending where the sun is, will give you a different effect.  The rule is normally to get the sun behind you for the picture, however having the sun in front of you can give a nice dark effect on some buildings.  Experiment and see what you like.  Sometimes we have no choice about the time of day we are visiting something, and it’s just a case of making the best of it.

6. The Camera

I don’t think you need the latest, greatest, most expensive camera to get the best picture.  It’s much more to do with your skills.  It probably goes without saying that a professional photographer will take a better shot with a point and shoot than a beginner with the most expensive DSLR.   The most important thing is finding a camera you are comfortable with and that you enjoy using.

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7. Have Fun

If it becomes a chore then I don’t think you’ll get the best pictures.  It’s OK to put your camera away and just have fun.  You don’t need to take a picture of everything to remember it.  It’s also not a competition.  Photography is subjective, and what one person likes is not necessarily what others do.  I’m frequently surprised that some of my favourite pictures don’t get as many likes, as other pictures that I think are just average.

Conclusion

As I’ve been learning, there is no magic formula to take a perfect picture and even when you think you have, others may not.  That’s OK, as in the most part the person who will always enjoy your photography the most is yourself.

For more tips on photography take a look at the excellent article Tips To Improve Photography from The Middle Age Wanderer.

 

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Camping at Okavango Delta

Everyone is always shocked when I say I like camping.  Most people who know me don’t think I’d last two minutes.  Most people don’t believe me, especially after my glamping experience in the Masai Mara, which barely counts as camping.

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It was an early morning in July in Maun, Botswana, the temperature was 5 C and we were handed duffle bags to fill with two days worth of clothes.  We filled them and then threw them on the truck and climbed up into the safari vehicle.  It was still cold and I was wearing many layers as we drove towards the “buffalo gate” of the Okavango Delta, with the wind blowing at us.  The sun might have been shining but we didn’t feel it.

It was clearly the dry season and the drought probably exaggerated the lack of water, as we saw bridges that we didn’t need to cross, as there was no water present.  We ended the cold truck journey at the edge of the water and watched our hosts unload the truck of bags mattresses, tents,  cooking equipment and everything else we needed for the two night stay.

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Two of us were led to a mokoro, that had the mattresses positioned as comfy chairs for us.  Our poler introduced herself as Kenny, and soon we were floating around on the delta being steered across the water, with the rest of our group and belongings in convoy.  I could hear Kenny talking softly, it was surely too quiet for the poler in the next mokoro canoe to hear her, but as she wasn’t speaking English and I could hear a soft voice barely audible from the poler in front speaking, when she was silent, I deduced that they have sharp hearing and were indeed talking amongst themselves.

The journey was amazing and so peaceful, I was almost disappointed when we arrived at our destination.  The team put the campsite together in no time, whilst we sat around in camp chairs in the shade.

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Over the course of two days we went on bush walks, the wildlife we saw included antelope, giraffes, hippos and elephants.  We went out on a mokoro boat ride to see the sunset.  We even had poler lessons to see if we could steer the canoes.  On our last evening our hosts sang for us and put on an amazing show.  There was plenty of free time to sit around and chat.

The best part for me, was sleeping under canvas hearing the animals in the distance, or maybe they were right next to our tents.  Who knew, but I wasn’t about to go out and check.  This worried some of the rest of the group who had trouble sleeping nervous what was outside their tent.  For me this was all part of the experience and I slept amazingly peacefully both nights.

I even coped surprisingly well with the bush toilet.  They had dug a hole and put a metal frame over the top, that a real toilet seat sat on top of.  As it was set away from the camp, once darkness hit we’d go in groups to keep a lookout.

It was a little dusty, but this is camping and it didn’t seem to bother me, as much as others.  Maybe camping at muddy festivals had prepared me well.  We had a bush shower, that I can wholeheartedly recommend, whilst the water was limited, it was hot enough and to be honest it was more about the feeling of showering in the bush than actually getting clean.

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On the last day, we went for an early morning bush walk, whilst the team packed the campsite up.  When we returned, it looked like we’d never been there.  We reluctantly sat in the mokoros for the last time, and we were steered back to the starting point.  I almost couldn’t relax on this boat journey, as every time we turned a corner I feared we’d be at the end of the journey.

When the mokoro did wash up against the bank, I thought about acting like a five year old and stomping my feet and refusing to leave.

Whilst others in the group were looking forward to hotel shower, I wished I could stay longer and perhaps I realise now I’m not quite the diva I always thought I was. This magical place I visited will always stay with me and will remain a highlight of my life experiences.

 

Why I Love Snapchat Travel Bloggers

What’s with all the ghost icons on Twitter?

When I started following travel bloggers on Twitter, I noticed something interesting. A few had this funny icon that had a yellow outline of a ghost with a picture inside. I wasn’t sure what that meant. Maybe they were affiliated with each other, or maybe it was a sign they were a digital nomad. I was almost right, I discovered it was a “snapcode”.

I had been thinking about vlogging when I started my new blog, so I was curious how snapchat worked. Being over a certain age, I had to install the app first.  I, of course knew about it, but had never really seen the point of it.

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I scanned in a couple of snapcodes and headed to the story part of the app.  I watched my first one, and loved it!  I had a quick burst of a behind the scenes look at someone’s travel experience. Due to the nature of snapchat it is only a quick video.  Each video shot is a maximum of 10 seconds, keeping the story moving fast and all the good bloggers don’t add too many to their stories.  For those bloggers that add more, you can tap the screen when you are bored to move to the next shot – or snap. And if they really are going on you can swipe to move to the next person’s story.

Snapchat is to Youtube, as Twitter is to Blogs.

Whenever I see a travel bloggers snapcode I tend to add it, because even if I’m not interested in what they say I can just swipe it away, and as the stories are only available for 24 hours I might find what they are doing tomorrow more interesting.

Many bloggers add stories daily, always keeping the content fresh and new.  You know it’s happening right now and there.  You can even send replies to their snaps, asking them questions or just telling them how much you love their stories.

From watching bloggers, I’ve seen the beauty of Philippines, discovered that you can find budget options to Maldives, saw an insight into what it’s like to live in Beijing, and generally how much fun it can be to travel full time.

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Some tips about doing your own snapchatting stories

Please add your own in the comments section

1. Talk to your audience often, this helps engage the follower.

2. Limit how many snaps you do. Keep your audience wanting more.

3. You don’t have to show everything. Think how interesting you’d find it if you saw it on someone else’s snapchat.

4. Be natural, this is a behind the scenes look, it doesn’t have to look like a polished travel show.

5. You don’t have to snap every day. Your followers are more likely to unfollow you if you post something boring than miss a day or 2.

6. More videos please, less stills.  A few stills are nice, sometimes better than a shaky camera, but my followers tell me they prefer videos to stills.

7. A second or two before pressing record, smile brightly at the camera.

8. After a long journey we are all a little grumpy, try and avoid lots of snaps of you moaning. If you are tired, snap that and leave the rest for after a good night’s sleep. People like happy snaps. Put your moans where they belong: on your personal Facebook page.

9. Don’t add unnecessary selfies to your story.  They are a little boring.  That is unless you want to show something specific such as a new haircut or sunburn.  Especially don’t just take a selfie with a geofilter. We have snapchat, we can see them, and they are funnier on ourselves!   (Although watching someone’s first ever reaction to seeing a filter put on them, is very funny.)  I like using a geofilter if I’ve not put on make-up, and I want to do a quick video, pointing out I’m doing something the next day (as I don’t snap for days at a time).

10. Keep watching snapchatters for what you like about how they create their story and don’t give up!

My Favourites

I couldn’t complete this article without showing you a couple of my favourite snapchatters.  There are so many to good snapchatters out there, and my favourites  actually change often!

Alice Teacake Travels

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You can’t help but immediately like Alice.  She’s down to earth, tells you how it is, and finds interesting things where you think there would be none.  I recently watched her travelling around Ireland, and saw some amazing coastlines.  She’s currently doing the Mongol Rally, which looks super fun.

snapchat_traveltomtomTravelTomTom

I’ve been watching Tom travel around Philippines with his travel buddy TravelFred, and his blog has that je ne sais quoi.  He manages to keep it real and entertaining.  He’s now moved on to India.

will_snapchatWill The Broke Backpacker

I always look forward to seeing Will’s story appear.  He doesn’t seem to snap as often as others, but then it’s quality over quantity sometimes.  He’s charismatic and good in front of the camera.  Watch out for super-lucky-happy-fun-day-Monday’s competition.

EvoSnapEvo Terra – Bangkok is Funny

Evo is entertaining, witty and seems a lovely down to earth kind of guy.  His snapchats make me smile and they are always entertaining.

Rapunzel’s Passport

IMG_0233I couldn’t not add myself to the list.  I’m still new, so I’d really appreciate any feedback.  I’ll be in Africa soon, and you can follow me as I go on Safari through Botswana and Zimbabwe.  I’ve been snapping when I can and I loved being able to show my experiences, in some of the best wildlife parks in the country.

 

 

 

What Are You Waiting For?

Install snapchat, get watching and get creating your own!  Don’t forget to add your snapchat username or snapcode in the comments, so I can follow you.

How to Discover What Your Dream Holiday Is And Making It Happen

Maybe you know exactly what it is you want from a holiday, and exactly how you can find it.

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Maybe you are like me, and you look at the globe and want to go everywhere.  You would be happy in a hostel or 5* hotel.  Maybe you even have the budget to do most of it, yet the options are so vast that you don’t know where to start.

Here are some things to think about:

Budget

This is always going to be the main consideration for most people.  Make sure you set your budget first, know how much you are prepared to spend and don’t get carried away.  Also be realistic with how much you can afford.  Write it down on a piece of paper, before you even begin.

Type of Holiday

Think about the type of holiday you want.  Do you want to lie on the beaches the whole time, on your feet sightseeing, exploring, hiking, learning a new skill, understand the local culture, combination of all or maybe even something else.  Write this list of wants down.

When Can You Travel?

We all have restrictions on time of year we can or want to travel.  Yes, you’ve guess it, write that down next.

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How Long is the Plane Journey Plus Transit

Think about the maximum time you can bare travelling for, remembering that there may still be a long transfer time once at your destination airport.

Weather

If you’re going somewhere hot, is there a maximum temperature you can stand?  Don’t forget to think about a minimum temperature too.

Countries to Rule Out

You may have ruled out countries if maybe you don’t believe in going to the same place twice, it’s not safe to go to (check Foreign Travel Advice) or you know you don’t want to go.  Never rule out a country just because “you don’t fancy going”.  I never would have gone to Istanbul, if that were the case, and see this blog for what I thought: My Favouite City: Istanbul

Putting it All Together

Based on the kinds of things you want to do, the time of year and if it matches the weather you would prefer, this should help you put together a list of countries.   Let’s look at some examples:

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Example One

You can only go away in July and you want to go to Vegas to do a combination of things, of which one of those is to sunbathe but you don’t like it too hot.  We have a mismatch here!  When I was in Vegas a few years back in the month of July, they were having a heatwave.  Yes, that’s a heatwave for Vegas.  It was 47 degrees.  I would suggest you add this to a list of things you want to do and do it in a year when you can go away slightly earlier or later, either that or split the holiday.  For example do a week in Vegas, for vegas things then head to Santa Monica for a week of sunbathing, where the temperatures are perfect that time of year.

Compromise sometimes surprises you into a better holiday!

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Example Two

You have a budget of £300 and you want to do an African Safari.  You can imagine the face I’m pulling right now, can’t you?  I’m unsure if you can even get a flight to Africa for £300, never mind anything else.  All’s not lost.  If you have your heart set on it, then you’re just going to have to save and wait a little longer.  In the meantime you can plan your holiday around a safari park in the UK (or your local area), places like West Midlands Safari Park even do a VIP Tour Experience, and there are some cute little villages you can stay near Kidderminster.  Travel doesn’t have to be far.

Example Three

You want to go to the Maldives but you don’t think you have the big budget.  I too have always thought you need to spend thousands.  It’s only been recently, from watching a travel blogger on snapchat that I learnt otherwise.  There are some budget options.  I’ve just had a quick look – yes right this second I just looked – in the ususal places (booking.com and skyscanner.net), and you can stay in a 4 star hotel with international flights for less around £680 each based on 2 adults sharing.  With a bit more work: changing dates, shopping around you could probably even shave more money off than that.

Example Four

You don’t like travelling alone, and you want to go to somewhere that might not be safe to travel alone.  This is an easy one, there are lots of companies that deal in small group travel.  The three main ones are Exodus, G Adventures and Intrepid.

Example Five

You haven’t managed to narrow anything down and you still want to see everywhere.  This is me!  Look at your list and try and put it in some kind of order of preference, also bearing in mind places that might be disappearing like the antarctica and Maldives, so put them towards the top of your list.  (I quite fancy Maldives next now I know how cheaply I can go).  Then based on when you want to go, see which matches by googling best time to go for each country.  I managed to narrow down my last list to Botswana or Mozambique as all other places I want to go are better seen at a different time of the year.  It then seemed better to go to Botswana in August and Mozambique in September.  I decided August was sooner.  Choice made!

Example Six

Promise this is the last one!

You want to go away in February to somewhere hot.  Google is your friend here and should help you build up a list of countries, then narrow down again based on the list above.

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Compromise

I’ve said it few time already, but there will always be compromise in some way or another.  A few years ago, when I was in California I wanted to stay in Santa Monica by the beach.  All of these hotels were well out of my budget.  I worked out what I wasn’t going to compromise on, and that was location.  I found a hostel in prime location.

Research

Because everyone’s dream holiday is unique, there is no set menu anyone can give you.  It is a case of research, research and more research.  Check every possibility, from group tours, to booking hotels and airplanes separately to package holidays.  Yes I said it: “package holidays” – sometimes a package holiday works out cheaper for the same hotels and flights booked separately.  Importantly remember “Travel doesn’t have to be far”, and don’t rule out having a holiday just a couple of hours away from home.  Just as travelling further than you’d planned and going out of your comfort zone gives you great rewards.

Have you worked out your dream holiday?  What’s stopping you from doing it?

 

 

Sint Maarten: Low Flying Planes, Imaginary Husbands and Fashion Faux Pas

“Yes I’m married”, I lied to the taxi driver.  “He didn’t want to come to Marigot, he just wanted to stay by the pool.”  Gosh!  My made-up-husband is dull!  My imaginary husband has spent more time staying in the hotel room than anywhere else.  As a solo female traveller it’s always easier to say I’m married, not only from a safety point of view but from a cultural one.  Imagine a country where everyone is married, and only the outcasts or the weird are unmarried; this is most countries outside of the western world. This little white lie just makes me look more normal in stranger’s eyes.

I changed the subject, as I wanted to try and understand the dutch and french sides of Saint Martin.  This taxi driver, who had picked me up from the french side capital: Marigot, was from the dutch side, and he seemed more interested in trying to flirt with me than having a conversation.  I stayed polite, I knew he was harmless, but all the same my guard was up.  I’m sure my outfit wasn’t helping matters.  I was wearing short shorts and a cream top, with the disastrous faux pas of a black bra underneath.  I’m sure it wasn’t showing (much).

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Whilst in the adorable capital of the french side, one of the older women had told me that I was a sexy lady.  The older women on the island  certainly knew how to laugh.  They had so much warmth and they glowed with happiness and kindness.  This was a stark contrast to the younger ladies, who may have been happy but certainly hadn’t informed their face about it and would limit how much they spoke to me.  I’m sure this was nothing to do with my outfit, as the island was plagued with plenty of tourists.

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There was a good reason for my outfit mishap.  I’d learnt many years ago, from a random TV show that it was always good to put a pair of shorts and t-shirt into your hand luggage in case your luggage got lost.  I do it out of habit. I threw in the things that will take up the least amount of space, without really thinking it through because luggage never goes missing these days.

Famous last words.  The afternoon before I had been stood at baggage reclaim watching all the suitcases go around the carousel.  Gradually as people collected their baggage and left the airport and there were less and less items going around, and less and less people.  It suddenly felt like I was in a bad comedy.  I should have realised my luggage wasn’t going to make an appearance that day, as I’d needed to rush across Charles de Gaulle airport to catch my connecting flight.

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For my only full day on the island, I had two choices: stay by the beach, or go and explore in my random outfit.  There was another option, but I refused to spend $100 on a god ugly dress, from the only clothes shop I could find near the hotel.

So there I was happy having visited the very pretty french side, returning to the more touristy dutch side to see the famous low flying airplanes over the beach.  This island wasn’t like the other Caribbean islands I had visited; it felt like their more touristy poorer sister and rough around the edges.  I wanted to visit as it is the smallest inhabited island divided between two nations, and that sounded interesting.

I don’t think my two night stay was enough to understand the island dynamics, although I wonder if as a visitor to the island you would ever understand.  This island, the south dutch part at least, seemed to be about sunbathing and drinking for the middle aged tourists.

I sat in the bar, had a drink, watched a few planes fly in and jumped in another taxi back to the hotel, in the hope that my case was on the Paris flight that I’d seen arrive.  When the hotel receptionist took me around to the storage area, it was like seeing an old friend I’d not seen for years, when I set eyes on my bright pink holdall.

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The next morning I headed back to the airport, for my flight to the British Virgin Islands.  Whilst I was checking my luggage in, I pleaded “please don’t lose my luggage, I’ve only just got it back”.

The airport was quiet as it was all the small, local flights in the morning and the international flights didn’t seem to arrive until later in the day.  I headed to the right gate and sat and started to read my book.  To my surprise one of the airline assistants came over and asked which flight I was on, I told her and she went back behind her desk.  A short time later she brought over to me all the documents I needed to complete.

When we were ready to board the plane, we were called to the gate and then I was asked to wait at the bottom of the stairs.  I was starting to wonder where all the other passengers were, as I got on the bus to transfer to the plane, with another airline assistant, I asked “am I the only one, on this flight?”  Expecting him to tell me they were already on the plane or something.  Turns out not.

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I boarded the very small propeller plane, with about 12 seats in total.  The pilot and co-pilot joined, and with just me as the passenger we started to taxi to the runway.  I’m scared of heights, and whilst I’m fine on a jet plane, I’m nervous on these little planes.  It was a novelty being the only passenger, like having my own private plane but it was also nerve racking.  Especially as the plane got to the end of the runway without taking off and headed back to the terminal.  Was something wrong with the plane?

As we got closer I saw there was a luggage truck, and on it was my bright pink holdall.  Looks like they’d forgotten it the first time, but at least I didn’t leave the island without it!  Then we headed off on a flight I will never forget.

So What if I’m no Writer or Photographer?

You’ve stumbled upon my travel blog.  Thank you!  There are so many of these out there and you’ve probably been spoilt for choice.  There’s an abundance of amazing, entertaining, inspiring blogs out there.  Oh I missed out money making!

English was never my strongest subject at school.  I was never good at art.  My stick men don’t even look like stickmen!  Maths and science are my subjects.  I enjoy writing and I enjoy telling a good tale and luckily I have a few of those from this amazing and captivating world I’ve seen.

If I’m honest, well I am a honest type of gal, I thought that starting a travel blog might lead to some discounts when travelling.  There I’ve said it out loud.  I’m fully aware I could never hit the dizzy heights of being paid to travel the world, but there’s no harm in daydreaming.

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From following some amazing travel blogs, they declare themselves as writers and photographers.  I can write; well I can string a sentence together. Yet I strive to tell a mesmerizing story, and whilst my photography is improving, I’m clearly no professional.

I’ve been meaning to write up my travel memories in a blog for some time.  It was never intended to be a money making aim but to act as memory bank of my tales.  Just the latest rumors of those making cash gave me a bit of a shove to get it going.

I feel I’ve done well with my twitter account, garnering 2.5k followers.  I’m gaining some momentum on instagram and my blog is getting some likes and views.  All sounds promising for a project that started less than a month ago.

Yet, it almost feels artificial.  Mass following on twitter to get followed back, liking others pictures to get likes back.  I’m starting to wonder if the few subscribers I have to this blog, are just to gain more attention to their own blog.   This was highlighted the other day, when I had 4 likes on a new post in the first hour.  Nice you may think.  Yes, but I’d only had one view!!  One view.  How can that be?  There are many ways to like an article and they include not viewing the post.  Again just trying to gain attention to their own blog.

Am I going to stop?  Hell no!  I’ve been enjoying this journey of learning from others.

Am I going to give up?  Give up on making it a professional endeavour.  Yes, wholeheartedly!

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Successful Bloggers

We’ll take the broke backpacker as a case study here.  I came across his youtube video to start with.  He is a very charismatic, happy, passionate, camera friendly kind of chap.  His blog looks very professionally done, and the content is great.  Then you see just how much of a following he has.  To give you an idea he has 60,000 unique visitors a month.  Wow!

Why is it working so well for him?  Because he’s good at it.  His snapchat stories are the most dynamic and interesting to watch.  Because he’s on a very intense full time journey.  On pretty much no money.  He’s on a journey and he’s taking us along for the ride.  He has a brand and he’s selling it very well, whilst clearly working hard to keep it working for him.

What am I going to do?

Keep calm and carry on.

Carry on as part time traveller.  I’ll continue to backfill this blog with some of my previous travel stories, and add new ones as I go.  Keep posting some of my favourite pictures.  Keep liking good pictures on instagram.  Keep retweeting the best tweets.  I’ll also give snapchat blogging a go.

Mostly, I’ll be daydreaming about quitting my job and floating around the earth like a free spirit and smiling as I watch those brave enough to already have done it.

 

 

 

 

My Favourite City: Istanbul

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It was 2012, a year where I didn’t have a big holiday but did many city breaks.  I visited Vienna, Barcelona, Rome and Istanbul.  If you’d asked me at the start of the year to put them in order of favourites it would have been Rome, Barcelona, Vienna then Istanbul.  What actually happened after I’d visited is the list is exactly the other way around!

My sister and I, had decided to go away together with no real destination in mind.  We checked what direct flights went from our local airport, and it actually worked out best based on the dates we could go  Yes that’s how we decided to go to Istanbul – convenience!

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We picked an amazing boutique hotel, ideal for a diva like me, in Sultanahmet part of the historic old city.  The little cobbled street that our hotel was on was quaint.  We loved all the restaurants on the roads.  One of the things I loved about the city, was how much everyone spoke to you, for example one night the waiter barely left our table, and we had some great conversations.

Being in Sultanahmet we felt in the middle of everything – we could even see the blue mosque from our hotel balcony.

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We were able to see all the main sights that were close to our hotel in one day.  At one point we were stood looking at the map, and a local came over and said “you don’t need a map, I can show you the way.”  And he did!  Everyone was so friendly, and I think the city certainly knows how to treat it’s tourists.  We did a lovely boat ride one day, and it’s always great to see a city from the water.

I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this, I’m now going to share a secret.  To be fair we had an ultra light tour guide book, and it was in there.  What was interesting is that not many of the locals had even heard of it.   Milka – a rooftop bar.  The taxi dropped us off and we still weren’t even sure where we were going and was told that it was in the Marmara Pera hotel.  I don’t know what I was expecting from a rooftop bar, maybe 5 or 6 stories up?  We got in the lift and I noticed that the lift went up to the 17th floor.  Once at the top we had to walk up a couple of flights of stairs.  But at the top of the stairs, oh my, my breath was taken away.  The view was amazing!

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We could see Europe and Asia from the same spot.  It’s an awesome bar and I’d recommend it time and time again.

I will always think of this city fondly.  The hospitality was what made the trip, along with the beauty of Sultanahmet.  It was so sad to hear of all the troubles that have happened since our visit.  I’d recommend to experience the city, but please check https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice before travelling.

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