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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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. 

NAGASAKI

I’ve had a little break from writing but I’m back to it this evening with a post about the amazing city of Nagasaki! Nagasaki was the second destination of our trip after Kyoto, and we reached this by using both the JR services and the Shinkansen, a journey of around 4/5 hours. As I’ve said in previous posts, I would highly recommend covering Japan by train, its such a brilliant experience and also allows you to see lots of cool scenery in a small amount of time. Nagasaki was a great destination to visit, and somewhere which I really didn’t know much about before I went. Of course, Nagasaki is most well known for the awful events of the atomic bomb, dropped in 1945, however this city is also a place of such beautiful landscape, rich with history which I wanted to share with you in this post.

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NAGASAKI PEACE PARK


The Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the atomic bombing of the city on the 9th August, 1945 during WWII. This park is beautiful and peaceful, as well as devastating and emotional. The memorials, dedications and statues help us to understand the extent of the harm caused by this bomb, and the legacy of peace that is now in the centre of Nagasaki’s culture. Although very upsetting, this park is also the most beautiful place for a day out in Nagasaki, and is probably the number one must see of the city. It’s also wonderful to see the unity of people wanting peace and you can see this below with the colourful dedications to those who died, and a future of world peace.

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OURA CHURCH AND GLOVER GARDEN


The Oura Church is another historical destination, known as the Church of the 26 Japanese Martyrs. As one of the first western style buildings, this has been declared a national treasure and the oldest church in Nagasaki. Now, I am aware that visiting churches isn’t for everyone, but for a peaceful moment in your day and also an incredible view of the city, this is a lovely place to visit. Beside it is the Glover Garden with Glover Residence being the oldest Western style house surviving in Japan. It’s always good to find nature within a city, and this garden again is a peaceful retreat, and you can get the best view of Nagasaki harbour, as you’ll see in my pictures below. The walk up to the Glover garden and Oura church is also so cute and picturesque, it looks like something out of a Disney film! There’s so many little shops that you can explore here from souvenirs to cake.

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Look how cute this little toy shop was!


THE HARBOUR AND CITY CENTRE


Of course Nagaski’s beautiful harbour is unmissable and a great attraction especially if the sun is shining! The city centre also has lots to offer, and it’s easy to get around to main attractions by tram or by foot. Exploring by tram is a great way to get to places quickly whilst also having a great view of the city and immersing yourself in the culture. The locals we met were kind, welcoming and fun in Nagasaki, and made our stay even more pleasant. One of my favourite destinations within the city centre was actually Chinatown, and the former Chinese settlement. Seeing these historical buildings within a bustling city was so exciting and great to see.

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MOUNT INASA


We decided to visit Mount Inasa at night, something that I would highly recommend doing. Mount Inasa rises to a height of 1,093ft and can be reached by the Nagasaki Ropeway. Prices are affordable and well worth what you get included, for example the ropeway includes a tour guide giving lots of fun and useful information about the city below. This is such a fun evening activity, or something for the day if you would prefer, and the views you get are just incredible. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see such a great city at night, and this is actually labelled Nagasaki’s ’10 Million Dollar Night View’, which is very true. It was such a pleasure to be able to see this beautiful valley city lit up at night.

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So overall an absolutely wonderful stay in Nagasaki! We managed to do this all in two days, so it’s easy to pack things in with the transport links of the city. We stayed in the wonderful and affordable S Peria Hotel, which had a great room and amenities that I was very impressed with. For lovers of history and culture, Nagasaki is the perfect city for you and here you are also given the opportunity to experience a vibrant environment and see great landscapes!


Keep on following the blog for two more posts on Japan on Hiroshima and Tokyo and then see where my next adventure takes me! You can keep up with me on email, or by following on WordPress, or let me know what you think in the comments or by emailing elena@elenaswanderland.com