Barcelona. From football, to music, to architecture. There’s something for everyone. There is so much culture and places to explore it’s hard to know where to start.

We started at 5am, hitting the road at 6.20am to make the most out of our two days of freedom to Barcelona. After a quick rest stop, we arrived in the city just before 11am. My goodness what a confusion. The GPS was showing a two-story roundabout and not telling us which exit to take. Helpful. After two rounds we took an exit. Of course it wasn’t the one it wanted us to take but we had no choice but to continue. The next hurdle was parking. They were all underground and with the one way systems it was so hard to find, especially with the panic of being too high and wide. By some miracle, we were parked up and in Barcelona after 45 minutes.

Fast forward the hotel logistics to midday, when we were walking up Passeig de Gracia and back down to Plaça de Catalunya where there were freedom protests occurring. A man dressed as a clown must have guessed we were tourists as he put his arm around my neck for a selfie. Thankfully, I managed to slide out and we quickly dispersed to explore the rest of the city.


La Rambla

Barcelona’s most famous street. Home of many souvenir stalls, tapas restaurants and la mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. Of course, when in Barcelona tapas is a must. It was more expensive in this area than some others but it was worth every cent!

La Merkat is a must-see too. So much food. Surprisingly it was mostly fruit and it looked too good not to try some!

El Born Barrio

Becoming a more fashionable area in Barcelona, El Born began as a settlement built on a medieval area of jousts and celebrations with a memorial to those who died defending the rights and constitutions of Catalonia in the siege of Barcelona (1713-1714).


As well as home to the Santa Maria del Mar.

Barri Gotic (Gothic quarter)

Barcelona is renowned for it’s architecture and after walking through this district, we were not disappointed. The Palau de la Música was unlike anything I’ve seen before and we were shocked at how discrete it was in the street. It was just like any other building but looked ten times more incredible.

Even the Arc del Triomf was different.

Other historic buildings in this area we saw were the Catedral Generalitat

and Santa Maria del Pi.

We spent the evening in this quarter at Harlem Jazz Club for a blues night. The band were amazing, as were the audience members they brought up to perform.

Eixemple District

Day two, we summoned all our energy to walk to La Sagrada Familia, and it was so worth it. The architecture is so detailed on the gargoyles and it was so interesting to see the difference after the restoration.

Port Olympic

Unknowingly, we walked through the Olympic village on our way down to the beach and took some time out to look at the views and soak in the Mediterranean sun and sea air.


Escaping the busy, tourist-full sea front, we walked through the back streets to gain a sense of what it would have been like to live here in the 18th century, when Barceloneta was an old village. The blocks of apartments were so close together you could easily have a conversation with someone on the balcony opposite you.


Overall, I would recommend Barcelona to anyone for a long weekend city break. Three days would be the perfect amount of time here as we would have liked to have seen Park Güell but it was just a bit too far to fit into our trip. The only drawback about Barcelona is safety. There are lots of men on La Rambla trying to sell you things and take you to get them, as well as pickpockets. I had two men try and take a selfie with me and another beckoning me into his van and blowing kisses.  However, as long as you keep your wits about you whilst on the market stalls and ignore strangers trying to grab your attention, you will be fine. There are so many great things to see and do in Barcelona, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. A must-see for any traveler!


Finding My Place and The Reason

Do you ever feel lost even if you have something going on at the same time, like a job or relationship? As if its not meant to be but you don’t feel as though it is right to leave it behind yet.

This has been me the past couple of months staying in France. I know this isn’t what I want to do or where I want to live, and getting through the days was becoming a struggle again. I could have packed it all in, and I wanted to, but I felt I had to stay the 6 months. But why? Why would I continue to let myself feel like this?

When I was offered the opportunity to be in France, I knew I had to go. I felt as though this is where I was meant to be at this particular time, despite not knowing the language or anything about where I was going. But I was unhappy and I could not understand why I was here. But finally the reason happened.

I went to a French interpretive dance class, simultaneously learning about their culture, trying something new and gaining insight into my emotions and how to express them. This is the longest (7 months) I’ve gone without going to a dance class in 18 years. Not only did this class reaffirm my love for dance, but also the importance of dance as a form of therapy.

Then I met a girl, a year younger than myself. Quite a rare occurrence in a village of retired people. After the class we got talking as she was also an “outsider”, she came from the United States. Later in the week she came round and told me “her story”. I was blown away. My mind was reopened to the world of possibilities, looking at the peripheral rather than just through the tunnel. She reminded me of my passions. That life is a journey and it takes time, hiccups and bumps to get where you are supposed to be. As hard as it is, you have to try and make the most out of every situation you are in.

That Sunday afternoon I could have stayed in. I was tired (I’ve been running everyday in January for MIND), it was cold, I could have made a thousand excuses not to go. Why bother trying to get acquainted in a town you’re not staying in? But if I was here I may as well embrace every opportunity. You only get out what you put in after all. From this hour and a half class I gained a friend, learned so much (language, movement, life lessons) and a clearer mindset.

I’m on a journey and it is definitely not plain sailing, but my experiences and the people I meet are shaping me and helping me become who and what I need to be in this world, no matter how much I doubt it.

Although I keep an open mind about beliefs, I have 3 major ones:

  1. Everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t know what the reason is at that point in time. The reason I am in France is to learn and educate myself.
  2. I am exactly where I am meant to be in my heart even if it doesn’t feel like it in my head.
  3. There are no such thing as regrets because at one point that is exactly what you wanted. This also links to other two beliefs. I do not regret coming to France, it’s what I wanted, and still want, just not forever.

You could say this event is one big coincidence. And maybe it is. No one will know either way, but what I do know is, just because I am not doing what I want to be doing, I’m not wasting my time. I am continuously learning. Not only about the World, but about myself and only by learning can I teach and help others when they feel like they’re lost and out of their depth.

Montpellier- By Day

It only took 3 months (one month with a car), but we finally visited France’s most up and coming city, Montpellier. It was clear to see what all the hype was about when we arrived. It was a Tuesday morning in January and there were still loads of people about from various cultures, ages and backgrounds. The easiest way for us to travel was to do the park and tramway which is definitely a benefit of Montpellier. For 4.90 euros we both could park all day at the Odysseum and ride the trams and buses. A unique feature of the trams is that each line has a different pattern, line 1 was blue with whit swallow, line 2 is colourful “flower-power”, line 3 was “warm and dreamy colours”, and line 4 was bright. You could see clearly which tram was the one you needed to get, making it very easy for tourists!

We spent the day in the centre Place de la Comédie which was awesome and full of history. It is one of the largest pedestrian areas in Europe and is dominated by the Comédie Opera House. It also contains Les 3 Grâces which was created by Etienne d’Antoine in 1773, and the statue is one of the emblems of Montpellier.


Unfortunately we did not have time to see all the historic monuments (an excuse/ reason to go again) like the Arc de Triomphe, towers and churches. However, we did stumble across an amazing 3D painting on the side of a building of an old French street. It was so realistic!


There are other areas of Montpellier that would be good to explore as well, such as:

The Odysseum- which is a large leisure and shopping centre with an IMAX cinema, indoor activities and shops, as well as the planetarium and aquarium.

Montpellier zoo- which I visited on New Year’s Eve with my sister and was surprisingly big considering we went out of season. It took us about 3 hours to walk around including the Amazon centre and a break for our picnic lunch, which was necessary as the only place where you could purchase food was at the entrance, which isn’t ideal if you’re on the other side of the site. The lemurs were, of course, my favourite as were the cool coloured frogs in the Amazon centre. All for 3 euros! We were buzzing!



The heritage sites such as:

  • Aqueduc de Castries- the biggest hydraulic system in France built by Pierre Paul Riquet.
  • Pignon- contains L’Abbaye de Vignogoul which is the only remaining part of a Benedictine then Cistercian monostry from the 12th century.
  • Villneuve-lès-Maguelone- situating the Cathédrale Saint- Pierre de Maguelone which is a Roman monument by the sea, marshes and vineyards.
  • Lattes- an archaeological site and museum of Henri Prodes.

Although we visited a French city, we tried Argentinean food because, why not? They were empanadas which were like little pasties with your choice from 8 fillings. I had an empanada verdura which contained vegetables of the season and cheese with a side of pesto and salad- so good!


However, you can’t not go out in France and not stop at a patisserie! So before we left we stopped to get a sugar kick before the drive home. I had a chocolate éclair- classic, and Caitlin had an apple tart- mildly healthy! It was fair to say we needed it for our hour plus drive home singing along to Camp Rock and Busted (we bought them for a euro each in an old music shop in a backstreet- don’t judge), followed by an inhuman moment of lifting a really heavy 2 metre kitchen cupboard, that nearly crushed us, out of the kitchen to be collected in the early hours of Wednesday.

Montpellier is definitely a “must visit” for anyone who is interested in French culture, heritage, shopping and leisure activities. It is more than just one day out. If I go back I would love to see it in the evening where the city apparently comes more alive! We shall see!


Remembrance Day

November 11th. The day the “War to end all wars” ended.

Over 16 million people died. 10 million of these were military personnel and nearly 7 million were civilians. Causalities were estimated at 37 million people for both civilians and military veterans.

The numbers are so large that its unimaginable.

But they’re numbers that we should not forget.

Not only did these young men risk their lives, those who survived had to deal with the memory of their time in battle for the rest of their days. Many suffered with PTSD, and the guilt of killing others and that of their friends getting killed and them surviving.

Again, its unimaginable.

99 years later, people all over the world gather to remember those who were lost. In England, they have the Remembrance poppy that symbolises remembrance and hope of all those lost in the war.

In France they have the Bleuet that is worn on the lapels of service people and politicians at remembrance events. The bleuet supports families of service people or police officers who died or were injured in service, as well as victims of terrorism and is ran on behalf of the Office National des Anciens Combattants et Victimes de Guerre.


The money being raised is increasing, however, physical support is decreasing. At a Remembrance service today in France, there were virtually no children. At 21, I was the 4th youngest there. Giving money is great and supportive, but it does not demonstrate the importance of this day. Remembrance services are where young people can be educated about the devastation of the war and gain a better insight and understanding of what occurred. It also displays care and compassion. Something that war veterans needed then and those that fight today need now. Its important to educate the youth on these events, otherwise history is going to repeated.

Unfortunately, today has passed, but you can still educate the youth every day, not just in November, to increase the attendance and acknowledgment of this important day.

These young men risked their lives for their country, and many young people continue to do this today, yet people cannot take the time out of their lives to remember even for a minute. Its sad that these young men risked their lives for this world. An uncaring, terror and independent world, where unity is decreasing rapidly. It saddens me that the attitude now is “they don’t care so why should I?”. But you should care. These people died, and others fight for you and your safety. So next time you find yourself “not caring” about life events, remember. Not just on Remembrance Day but everyday.




The Return Home

Four months. 15 planes. Two Greyhound buses. 10 states. One summer. 

I can’t believe its over. At the time it feels like forever, but on the journey home it feels like you blinked.

There are so many mixed emotions occurring in my head at the moment. In one way, I want to be back already to see my family, friends and dog. On the other hand, I want the flight to last forever so I don’t have to say goodbye to this incredible experience. 

Although I’m one of the last people to leave the US on the program, it feels as though I will be more emotionally distant from the other J-1 participants I met through the program. It doesn’t make sense, especially as I’ll be closer to them geographically

Then there’s the Americans and the interns I made friends with. Despite not having seen them in a month, at least we were in the same country and, for the most part, the same time zone. By leaving the States, I’m properly leaving them behind, and the time difference won’t make contact easy either. The goodbye a month ago suddenly feels very real.

However, being reunited with my family and friends who I haven’t seen or properly spoken to in four months is amazing. You don’t realise how much you’ve missed them and how lucky you are to have them until you can’t see them easily.

On the plus side, having all these friends across the world means more reason to travel, which means more adventures. So the flight home isn’t really the end. It’s the start of a new adventure. 

“New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”, LCD Soundsystem

​ (I included the link as this is one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands- thanks Dad!)

New York City, New York. The city that never sleeps. And its no wonder when there’s so much going on, so many bright lights and millions of people. There’s something for everyone and you cannot get bored!

When people imagine New York, they usually picture Times Square where the iconic ball drop occurs on New Years Eve. Here, you can do all your shopping, eating and get Broadway tickets. We even managed to see Ed Sheeran perform for MTV’s TRL! 

Near Times Square is the Rockefeller Plaza and the Rockefeller building which contains NBC studios as well as Top of the Rock which was so worth doing as the views were absolutely indescribable! 

On our walks around New York City, we saw many famous architectural sites, such as the Empire State Building, 

Madison Square Garden,

The City Centre,

The Flatiron Building, 

The Chrysler Building,

Grand Central Station, 

New York Public Library,

Grand Plaza Hotel,

Columbus Circle,

Blooming dale’s,

And the famous Friends apartment building.

Other places of interest that are a “must-see” in NYC include Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn. Although the most areas which felt safe were Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights along the Fruit Streets!

Another beautiful area of NYC includes Chelsea, the Meatpacking District and Greenwich Village where you are able to walk the High Line which prides themselves on being inclusive for everyone.

Not forgetting the famous Statue of Liberty of course, which you are able to see via a free ferry from Battery Park to Staten Island. 

Also in this area is the World Trade Centre which was so surreal. The atmosphere was so different to the rest of the city. It should have been sad, but it wasn’t. Its so hard to put an emotion to it and I’m sure others that have been would also agree. 

These were just ordinary civilians going about their daily life and all of a sudden it was over. On their birthdays a white rose is placed in their name which, for me anyway, restores some faith in humanity.

Moving on to the more upbeat topic of food. There are so many places to eat in the City, but during our long stay we had our favourites! If you’re a How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) fan then McGee’s is the place to go! It has HIMYM themed cocktails and on “How I Met Your Mother Monday” they serve HIMYM themed food. Its fair to say I was in my element! 

Another favourite was Brooklyn Diner on 43rd Street which served delicious classic American food in an old style diner for reasonable prices, just off Times Square!

However, if you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the City, you can escape to the mostly peaceful Central Park for a walk, a picnic or even boat racing. 

You can also see the fountain that inspired the one shown in Friends.

And an Alice in Wonderland Statue,

Or watch Shakespeare in the Park.

Its truly an amazing place because of the vibrancy and diversity, so why did I choose this song as my blog title? Due to the busy and choas atmosphere of the City, it was hard to enjoy these places. Some of the people could be so rude. You were no longer a human being, just another inconvenience in their lives. I didn’t feel as happy here as I did the other places I’d visited. 

That being said, New York City was incredible and I feel very privileged to have been able to explore this part of America, and I wish others did too, just for the cultural experience. Its so unique and is home to some unbelievable venues and events.

Jm The birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll- Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee. Home of many famous names in the history of music. Memphis is most well known is Elvis Presley, however, since coming to this vibrant city, I have learnt about a considerable number of others. 

Firstly, by having a tour around Sun Studios where the major names in blues, and later rock and roll, began. With the first being B.B.King. A great feature of this studio was that anyone could record a record for just $4, which is exactly what 18 year old Elvis did. As the years went on, Sun Studios became home to the famous Million Dollar Quartet and as part of the tour, we were able to stand in the same room and listen to the original “jamming session”. It was surreal. The studio had not changed since Sam Phillips owned it. 

As well as Sun Studios, we visited the Rock and Soul museum which went right back to the 1920s on the cotton farms. It was acknowledged that black workers tended to sing in blues style music, whilst the country style was sung more by white workers. The museum then went through famous blues and country artists through the decades until the two genres were combined in the 1950s and 60s. It was really interesting and informative. 

However, when in Memphis you cannot escape from Elvis Presley, especially as there is a whole memorial dedicated to him at his home in Graceland (at which we spent almost 6 hours at), where you are able to learn all about Elvis Presley’s life. 

It is fair to say he was a very unique individual which is evident from his own sense of design, style and range of automobiles.

As well as being famous for the history of music, Memphis also has a significant amount of present music. To experience this, all you need to do is walk down Beale Street at any point and listen to the music being blasted out from numerous venues. 

Every night is live music night, meaning that there is live entertainment for whatever it is you want to do. You can listen to a band whilst having Guinness at Silky O’Sullivan’s, or rum at the Rum and Boogie Shack, or whilst having food at BB King’s Club or Alfred’s. Wherever you decide to go you can dance, drink, eat or simply listen to these incredible bands play famous blues, jazz and rock and roll.

In addition to hosting live music, Beale Street also hosts events and parades. During our stay we were fortunate enough to experience Memphis Pride, which was great fun as well as amazing to see various communities within the city celebrate together. 

Although known for music, Memphis is also home to the Civil Rights museum where Martin Luther King Jr conducted his speech, the Lansky Brothers clothing which dressed Elvis Presley, and the Peabody Hotel which has trained ducks to parade into the fountain from the top of the hotel at 11am and go back at 5pm. 

Overall, Memphis is definitely worth a visit if you want some fun in a surprisingly safe setting whilst listening to live music and experiencing American history. 

36 hours in Chicago

Chicago was a big city in many ways. It was large in diameter, height and history.

It was also a strange city. The transit (train) ran on a bridge over the road and through the buildings, which is very different from the UK where the railway and stations tend to be situated away from the main centre.

However, it was a beautiful city. Riding the tour boat we were able to see a significant range of the buildings, from industrialism to post modernism and the famous Hartshorne Plunkard architect firm. The height of the buildings were unbelievable! And as Chicago is known as the Windy City, the Willis building is designed to sway three feet in any direction!

Besides from the buildings, Chicago is also well known for it’s pizza, therefore I was obligated to try some! And it was very good. It wasn’t chewy like a lot of American pizza, which I liked!

In the evening we wanted to see Chicago by night. It was even more breathtaking. A lot of the buildings were lit up and the atmosphere in the bar we went in was great too!

Overall, Chicago was great but unless you like architecture, there’s not much there too see. I enjoyed my 36 hours in Chicago, and maybe if I could have I would stretch this to 48 or 72. Although I would not need to spend more time than this here.

“There’s no place like home” Dorothy, the Wizard of Oz

New Orleans is such a unique place. The people are different to the rest of the states. They’re very clever in the way they make you give them money. There’s no fear here. They’ll try anything with no care for what will happen because their main priority is getting money for themselves and their family. But they’re proud of who they are despite their means of income.

This sense of pride is evident all over the city. From the homeless to the rich. From the bartenders to the drunk tourists. There’s a sense of belonging. And the reason for it? The music.

Whether you listen to jazz and blues or not, in New Orleans you love it. Music brings people from all over the world together through singing and dancing. It’s so much fun. No one cares what you look like because 1) most people are too drunk to care let alone remember, and 2) everyone goes out to party anyway.

Bourbon street is designed for the tourists with every bar, restaurant and club having great deals to entice you in to party. And it works. We had so much fun dancing and singing along.

Frenchman Street, on the other hand, is where the “locals” prefer to party. At the weekend, more well known bands play, however, the music during the week is still amazing and includes anything from upbeat jazz, to mellow blues. It’s definitely better than Justin Beiber or Drake, but that’s just my personal opinion!

The feeling of belonging and looking after yourself/ loved ones can be concluded as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of people lost their homes, belongings and loved ones and the city is still rebuilding after the devastation.

Even though they’ve got a homeless problem, are under sea level and have run down streets in the ninth ward that have not recovered from the hurricane of 2005, everyone is proud to call this their home.

From speaking to the residents of New Orleans, they’ve either never moved, or if they have they moved back because there’s no where as good to live as here, and there’s no better feeling than when you come me home.

I left my heart in San Francisco 

I’ve fallen in love. San Francisco was such a pleasant surprise. It has so much culture. As the new technology capital it has everything from Chinatown, Japantown to the Italian and Spanish areas as well as a 1960s/70s neighbourhood.

For a city it is quite small, 7 miles by 7 miles, and is very different to the rest of California for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’s a peninsula meaning it’s a lot cooler and windier than the rest of California. However, this enables it to have many beautiful views.

Secondly, it holds many records. It contains the biggest park in the US, Golden Gate Bridge Park.

As well as the crookedest street in the US, Lombard Street.

Not forgetting the most photographed bridge in the world, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

Not only does San Francisco hold many records, it also has a lot of history such as Alcatraz, the federal prison on an island inhabiting America’s most dangerous criminals.

And Fisherman’s Wharf which gained its’ name in the late 1800s when Italian fisherman came to the city to take advantage of the gold rush.

More recent history includes Haight-Ashbury which is famous for the hipster/ hippie neighbourhood, containing many vintage clothes, records and Tibetan stores.

As well as being home to Jimmi Hendrix’s house.

Last but not least, San Francisco is home to a number of sea lions, making the pier even more popular with the tourists!

Overall, San Francisco is definitely worth visiting if you are interested in a variety of cultures, historical monuments and beautiful views. The only downside is the steep hills and the hundreds of homeless people. But if you’re prepared to deal with the hills and donate the odd dollar, San Francisco is the place for you.