HOW TO TRAVEL ALONE – NICE, FRANCE

Hello to anyone reading! I wanted to write today about something that can often seem very daunting – travelling alone. The idea of travelling alone has always attracted me and it was often something that I talked about doing, however the fears surrounding it really put me off for a while. Obviously as a lone female traveller there seems to be many more warnings and things to avoid, and of course these warnings should be taken into consideration, but I realised that this shouldn’t get in the way of going on a great travel adventure! So about a month ago it seemed the right time to take the plunge and book a trip alone – I travelled to the South of France, so not too far from home but still a big step that I’m glad I took!

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WHERE SHOULD I STAY?


Staying in a hostel is my number one tip for travelling alone. I stayed at the wonderful La Maioun Guesthouse, in a mixed gender dorm on this trip, which I was so nervous about at first! However this place was lovely, I felt welcomed and at home and it gave me the opportunity to meet so many new people, many of whom were also travelling alone. I met people from South Korea, Australia, the Netherlands, France and the USA, and made a new close friend called Rebekah, who took some of the photos in this post! Its incredible to meet people from across the globe, and explore a new place alongside them, which is something that is harder to find when staying alone in a hotel. To find the best hostel for me I used reviews from booking.com, Kayak and TripAdvisor and eventually booked with booking.com. I’d avoid booking on ‘hostelworld’ as this can often be overpriced.

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THINGS TO DO


Finding things to do alone when travelling is super easy, and can often be more enjoyable as you can do exactly what you want when you want! I stayed in Nice on my trip to the South of France but also visited Monaco and Cannes as they are a short train/bus ride away. My hostel provided a list of recommended restaurants and attractions which was very useful, but of course the internet is your best friend here and TripAdvisor is especially good for finding the best places to go as a lone traveler. Eating out is a great way to explore the local cuisine and I did this both on my own and with new friends from my accommodation. I would highly recommend visiting La Rossettisserie when in Nice – situated in the old town, this restaurant has a simple menu of roasted meats and a selection of sides (choose the mash potato its amazing!) and everything is local and super tasty. Another recommendation for the low budget traveller is Chez Pipo which serves local food and wine, with the ‘best Socca in Nice’, at very low prices. In Nice you can also explore the local markets in the morning which have great food as well as flowers, gifts and other local specialities.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE TOURS! 

In many European cities, companies offer free city tours in which you tip the tour guide an amount of your choice at the end. These can help you to learn a lot about a city in a few hours, especially if you have limited time on your trip. I only had one full day in Nice therefore this was super useful for me to learn lots of fun history about the city which I otherwise wouldn’t have found out! Make sure to sign up online before your tour so they are aware of the numbers attending.

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EXPLORE OUTSIDE OF THE CITY


Traveling in Europe gives the opportunity to see many different cities and countries in a short space of time, especially when there is good train links available. If you are travelling to Nice, or any of the main cities in the South of France, I would recommend using their train service to explore outside of where you are staying. I went to both Monaco and Cannes and both were in easy reach at a reasonable price. To get to Monaco from Nice, simply take the 500 train from the port at only €1.50! The bus journey provides amazing views as well, so sit on the right hand side when travelling to Monaco for the best sights. If you stay on the bus it will take you right up to the Monte Carlo Casino, which is open for tours during the morning and then for general access in the late afternoon. Monte Carlo and Monaco are both gorgeous and definitely worth visiting – just be aware that these two places seem to be a bit more expensive, so avoid eating out here to save money. Cannes is another beautiful city, famous for it’s world renowned film festival. I’d recommend visiting here on a sunny day as there is a great selection of public and private sand beaches here. There is also a beautiful old monastery from which you can get an incredible view over Cannes.

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STAYING SAFE


Travelling alone is something that everyone should experience at some point, however it’s always good to know the risks too! Make sure you are very aware of your surroundings when travelling to a new city alone, for example knowing exactly where your hostel is and large public spaces such as railway stations, shopping centres etc. Know your emergency numbers and have an ICE number saved on your phone for people to contact, as well as your medical ID saved on your phone (option on iPhones) if you are comfortable with this – this is really useful if you have health conditions or allergies and get yourself into an emergency situation. Know your areas, where is safe to be walking alone and where is not, and use your hostel/hotel staff for local information! It’s all pretty simple and common sense knowledge, however it is important to have that extra awareness when you are alone.

But overall, after doing it myself, travelling alone is an opportunity you should definitely take, even if it is a small trip close to home! You can meet new people, have some valuable thinking time to yourself and explore a new place on your own terms. Thank you to La Maioun Guesthouse for making my trip so wonderful, and to Rebekah and everyone else I met for making some special memories!

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Thank you to anyone who’s still reading! The support for this blog has been incredible, with my viewer number reaching nearly 1,300 which I never expected! I hope you all continue to enjoy my posts, and feel free to email me at elena@elenaswanderland.com, comment down below or follow my Instagram: elenaredmond. 

ELENA 

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SUMMER IN THE CITY – GLASGOW

 

City breaks are a great affordable way to see new places in a short amount of time, especially if you work full time but still want to fit in some travel! I spent one night in Glasgow recently, and wanted to share with you how I had a great couple of days on a budget!

 


BOOKING FLIGHTS AND A HOTEL

 

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My first place to go for booking any trip is kayak.com, which allows me to compare sites and prices and find the best deal! You can also compare hotels on the site however I tend to head to booking.com for the best deals, especially as they have a rewards system in place if you create an account. You can use my code: D7375EE1 to get £15 back after your stay.

I chose to stay at The Argyll Hotel in Glasgow, which is near the Exhibition centre. It’s a great location as it’s not too central so you can escape the busy city at night. It’s also near the West End which is a buzzing student area with lots of coffee shops, pubs and restaurants. I was so impressed with my stay at The Argyll Hotel, in a beautiful traditional tartan bedroom. The room cost me around £30 for one night with breakfast included which is one of the best bargains I’ve found, and for this price the service, room and breakfast were all brilliant and I had no problems during my stay. The rooms are fairly small, but for a short stay I think they are perfectly equipped with a nice bathroom, television, information guides and a selection of teas, coffee and biscuits. I would definitely return for another stay here in Glasgow. For travel, the hotel is around a 10min walk to the Exhibition Centre station and then only two stops to Central Station.

 

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EXPLORING THE WEST END

 

My flight got in around 2pm, so I had plenty of time to get back to the hotel and head out and explore! There’s a quick shuttle service from Glasgow airport that takes you into the centre, costing £12 for an open return. As I mentioned, The Argyll Hotel is not too far from Glasgow’s West End, also home to Glasgow University and therefore super lively and fun. It was really sunny the day I went so I decided to visit the Botanical Gardens as these are free. I always like to find some good coffee when I’m in new places, so I stopped off at the ‘Papercup Coffee Company’, a really cool independent cafe serving great drinks and food. Then onto the beautiful Botanical Gardens! As you will see below the array of plants and flowers was so gorgeous, I couldn’t believe it was all free to see. My favourite part was the palm room which has bird and rainfall noises, making you feel like you are in the Amazon. On a sunny day like this it’s also great to relax in Kelingrove park or take a look around the lanes around Byres Road for the best independent stores and cafes.

 

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In the evening I headed to the Hillhead Bookclub Bar, which also does amazing food. This place has a really cool vibe,  it’s in an old cinema building, and it is retro and super fun. This would be the perfect place to hang out with friends, and I can imagine it gets a lot of buisness with the students of Glasgow. The food is reasonably priced, there is a bar and ping pong tables, and most importantly you can get strawberry mojitos for as little as £3!! As I was travelling alone, I found this a great place where I could relax, eat good food and read a book! (It would also be a destination for meeting new people if travelling alone!)

 

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Obviously there is so much more to discover in Glasgow, however I wanted to share what I managed to do in a short amount of time. I think that travelling locally, for example within the UK & Ireland, is something that is often passed up for trips further afield. However I have realised how much there is to see closer to home, and small, cheap trips like this can really open your eyes to a new world around you. By keeping an eye on flights and train prices, you can often find really good deals for a quick trip away – something that I’m going to do more of this summer.

 

 


 

 

Let me know if you enjoyed this post in the comments down below or by emailing elena@elenaswanderland.com. My next trip will be somewhere in Europe, and the first time I’ll be travelling alone outside of the UK & Ireland, so I’m super excited and nervous too. Keep up to date by hitting the subscribe button in the sidebar or down below.

A WEEK IN TOKYO

 

Tokyo is an incredible, crazy and vibrant city that has been at the top of my destination list for so many years! I couldn’t believe that I finally got to visit Tokyo this year, and it lived up to my expectations and more. I wanted to share with you all my favourite parts of our week, and of course some photos. Make sure to also check out my previous posts on this trip which can be found below!

 


EXPLORING CENTRAL TOKYO

 

Most of our time was spent in the city centre exploring and finding the little gems of Tokyo. Shibuya is of course the hub of activity here, with its famous crossing. I’d recommend going up to the Starbucks at Shibuya crossing – it is super busy but gives you the most incredible view! You will notice in the pictures below the amount of brightly coloured signs and posters on each building – Tokyo is completely filled with colour and sound everywhere you go. One of my favourite things I saw was the Mario Kart road race where you get to dress up as the characters and race in real go karts throughout the city centre, something that I can only imagine taking place in Japan! In Shibuya there is a statue dedicated to ‘Hachiko the Faithful Dog’ who is remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, and here sits two beautiful cats who seem to keep the dog company all day long! No one is quite sure who they belong to or where they have come from, but they are so cute as you can see below. As I said there are so many brilliant places to be discovered in Tokyo, just by spending your time walking around, using the public transport and discovering.

 

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Make sure to check out Tokyo’s famous ‘Purikura’ photo booth shops! Here you can do your hair and makeup and head into a photo-booth where you are told how to pose. Then onto an editing room where you can change your eyes and add stickers and effects! This was so fun and seems to be a huge part of teen culture in Japan, with lots of girls coming specially dressed up to take pictures.

 

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POKÉMON CENTER

 

The newly opened Pokémon Center is a must see! We only went to the store, but you can also pre-book to go to the Pokémon themed cafe, which given more time would have been great to visit (click the link for more details). Be prepared to enter one of the craziest rooms in the world. The store is filled with everything Pokémon from face masks to toys. It’s an incredible store with great service, as always in Japan, and brilliant products on sale. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is anxious in crowds as It’s extremely busy and loud.

 

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TEMPLES AND SAKURA IN THE CITY

 

We were lucky to see the first few days of Sakura season when we were in Tokyo. The best of these were at the Meiji Jingu Shrine, located in the beautiful Oyogi Park. Seeing shrines and temples in the middle of the city was something I didn’t think was possible – somehow these places seem to retain peace within the madness of Tokyo. We also found some beautiful Sakura at the Imperial Palace, also pictured below. At night I would highly recommend visiting the Sensoji Temple which is one of Tokyo’s oldest temples, founded in 628! This temple is breathtaking day and night, but the night lighting seems to make it even grander.

 

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GREAT BUDDHA

 

We went to see The Great Buddha of Kamakura at Kotokuin Temple, about an hour out of Central Tokyo. Being located on the coast, this bronze statue has been destroyed multiple times by typhoons and a tidal wave and therefore since 1495 it has been standing in the open air. The Great Buddha is truly breathtaking, whether you are religious or not this is an unbelievable sight. There is lots to explore at the temple as well for example there are lots of blessings and gifts for sale and you can also go inside the Buddha to see its construction, which is pretty amazing and also very scary! I would definitely recommend taking the train to Hase Station and seeing the area around it, there are beaches and great views as you can see below. It is important to remember that this area is on the coast and therefore prone to natural disasters so check news and weather updates before going!

 

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I just wanted to mention a few final things that I loved! One was a small gig in Tokyo where we met the most wonderful band called Jebiotto. They were such brilliant performers and it’s always great to see the music scene in different countries. The Japanese arcades are also brilliant and crazy places, perfect for evening times, alongside the Karaoke buildings where you can get your own private Karaoke room and drinks for such good prices! In Tokyo we also visited the Mocha Cat Cafe which was so fun, the cats here are really playful so definitely check it out if you’re an animal lover.

 


 

I want to go back right now! Visiting Tokyo was such an incredible experience that I wish I could  relive. Tokyo is often seen as a very expensive city, however we found that it was still cheaper than London when trying to find food, drink and activities. Also be open to exploring areas that are on the train routes out of the city, for example the Great Buddha and snow monkeys were both out of the city centre. Make sure to check out my other posts on Tokyo, and the rest of my Japan trip, they are all be listed below and in my sidebar! Keep up to date by subscribing on WordPress or via email. You can contact me at elena@elenaswanderland.com

 

ELÉNA.