Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We’ve Moved!

Olivia Leaves is now at http://www.olivialeaves.com.

It's been a great few years on Blogspot. Onward and upward!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Walking London

I did it! I wasn't sure if I'd get around to it, but I did. I walked from Wandsworth Bridge to Tower Bridge along the Thames Path in London.

The best view of St. Paul's Cathedral in town

It took about 6 hours, longer than planned, but Charlie and I stopped for coffee. And drinks. It's a lot of walking! We were lucky that I brought the sun with me from Spain (obviously) and we had great warm weather for most of the day. I even got a Frappuccino!

I tried to take photos of all the bridges along the way, but I missed Vauxhall and Blackfriars Bridges. That being said, I think most of the exterior of the latter is under construction!

If you ever get a sunny day and feel like wandering the city, do it. It's amazing how close everything is. Nothing like getting out from the underground.

The day started with brunch at our favourite spot in Battersea, The River Quarter Kitchen. I had to stop outside after to take a photo on the Thames with my old flat in the background. Ah, memories.

And then it began..

The view!

Best Eggs Benedict in Battersea

Wandsworth Bridge

Battersea Bridge

Albert Bridge

Chelsea Bridge

Lambeth Bridge

Westminster Bridge

Waterloo Bridge

Millennium Bridge

Southwark Bridge

London Bridge

Tower Bridge

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Big Trip: Seville

After a weekend in Malaga, Spain, I took a train to my last stop: Seville. I'd booked myself in a shared apartment with other students at the Clic school to take a one-week Spanish refresher course.

The week was.. interesting. 

I met some great people, ate lots of tapas, and soaked up the sunshine. The school part was another story. I think if you were there for a few months or more, you would get a better sense of accomplishment. But because I was only doing one week, it took me a few days to get back into the swing of things, and then I only had a few days left. 

So, yeah.. I think I'd rather work. But it was a nice, relaxing week. It was also a great time to be there because the orange trees were starting to blossom, and the whole city smelled amazing.

On my last night I went to a football match. I had a terrible cold so I only stayed for the first half, but it was an amazing experience. The crowd was so intense!


Seville from the 'big mushroom'

Off the bucket list!

Football stadium

There was a bit of space between us and the players..

The fans throw toilet paper!

Toilet paper? Check.

Orange trees are everywhere!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Big Trip: Amsterdam

Jetzen and I flew to Amsterdam on Easter Monday. It’s so close to London, I can’t believe it took me a full two years to get there.

Like Stockholm, it was cold. In fact, it was warmer than Stockholm until we arrived. Then it was colder. I know incessant comments on the weather conditions don’t usually give a good picture of a visit to a city, until you know that being cold makes me miserable. It’s a fine line between wandering a city in amazement, and coffee shop hopping through the downtown core to avoid freezing.

Anyway, this city is something else. Usually as a tourist you spend most of your time in a tiny centre of the city you visit, surrounded by other tourists, McDonald’s restaurants, and pickpockets. If you were to venture much beyond this centre, you would find something much more…plain and boring. You know, the boxy apartment buildings where the locals live.

I expected Amsterdam to have a handful of cute houses on the canals, and the rest to be much the same as other cities. But we walked, and walked, and walked, and took the ‘longest canal cruise in Amsterdam,’ only to find that all the houses looked the same! It was fantastic. The image is never ruined with an accidental wrong turn. 

I would highly recommend a canal tour, preferably at the beginning of your stay, because you learn so much about the little things that you’ll see around town. I even got to see the smallest house in the city – it’s one meter wide (but five stories high!).

We found the ‘I Amsterdam’ signs before my camera card started to corrupt images. Unfortunately, my favorite shot of these was one of the ones that had to be deleted.

Jetzen made me visit the Heineken Experience tour with him. We spent several hours walking around the company’s first brewery. Surprisingly informative! 

I’d definitely go back. In the summer.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Big Trip: Stockholm

I left from Beauvais airport, an hour outside of Paris, to fly to Stockholm. Or rather, to Skavsta airport, 100km from Stockholm. The trip took the entire day.

By the time the bus got into Stockholm it was dark. I had a short metro journey to the flat that Belinda had booked. You know how this story goes. I got lost.

I went to a stop further than I should have, and ended up on some back road trek through an ice-covered residential area. I went down a massive flight of cement steps to avoid drunken kids, and through an underpass on a four-lane road. I was terrified! I texted Belinda who was going to meet me back at the station. But I hadn’t come to the right station!

Potential disaster averted when I heard someone coming down the street towards me. It was her, and I was standing at the end of our street. Hooray!

Stockholm is beautiful, but I suggest you visit in the summer. One of the nights it got down to -6, an unpleasant temperature when you’re meant to be on vacation. The city’s architecture, especially in the old town area, Gamla Stan, was as pretty as any European city. We did tons and tons of walking through different parts of town and got a good feel for it. It was a lot quieter than we’d expected it to be!

We also took a three-hour boat cruise through the city’s archipelago, which is made up of many islands, some of them only big enough to fit one house!

This trip was also my first Airbnb experience, which went off without a hitch. I might be less nervous to try it myself in the future.

Oh, Jetzen showed up in Stockholm too. Fancy that. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Big Trip: Tours

I arrived in Tours, a small town west of Paris, on a Tuesday evening, two days into my trip. I had a hotel booked for my two night stay, and was happy to find it was part of a chain, and so had all the amenities you'd expect in a hotel: clean sheets, a shower that drains before it spills over the edge, unstained towels, a TV with remote that works, etc. I finally felt like I was on a bit of a vacation.

Long story short (hey hey look at me go!):  I went to Tours to visit the castles in the Loire Valley. There are tons and tons, so I picked a day tour that took me to four pretty looking ones. No need to sound scholarly, it's all about the pretty factor. 

It was a cool but sunny day, and I had a lovely time. 

Here's how things went down: