Ahh the life of a student; HECS debt, casual jobs, unlimited bucket list, zero time. Absolutely blissful!
If you are like me, you would have travelled at some point in your life and are very, very keen to do so again. Travelling can sometimes be a complicated and daunting task – too many destinations, not really enough time and a budget tighter than Turnitin’s plagiarism checker.
This little guide here aims to declutter your plans and provide an idea to destinations and routes you may want to try. Now, I understand entirely that it’s almost impossible to visit all of these places within a single trip, so I have grouped them for you. Enjoy!
Keeping It Local
It’s easy when organising a fantastic trip to forget about our homeland, the Great Down Under. With Australia being, quoting Wikipedia, “the oldest, flattest and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils” it’s no wonder Australia tends to be left out! Here are some true blue destinations to prove this nonsense wrong.
Bizarrely enough, if you were to hop on a plane and fly 5 entire hours west(ish), you would STILL be in Australia. In fact, you would end up in the bustling capital city of Western Australia – Perth. With Australia’s 4th largest population for a city, Perth lies along the west coast, producing some of the purest waters and beaches in Australia. A city known for its extended list of attractions and hot-spots, Perth provides a little treat for all kinds, whether you enjoy dining, relaxation, adventure, site-seeing or all of the above. Another bonus of visiting Perth is the short day-trip (or overnight trip if wanted) to Rottnest Island, home of the curious and ever so happy Quokka.
Australia has an extended and rich Indigenous history, dating back thousands of years. Located in the Northern Territory, Uluru is an enormous 3.6km long, 348m high rock, and an extremely sacred site of the Indigenous Australians; hence the strict no climbing rule. While Uluru itself is the main attraction, most people take time to stay in the surrounding desert and areas, such as Alice Springs and visit Uluru during their trip, as accomodation nearby can be booked out frequently. Prepare to be amazed by the rich and earthy colours of the area, which are magnified during sunrise and sunset which produce a vivid array of pinks, purples and deep reds. It is important to consider the rich history and tradition of the Aboriginal people, and the respect and tolerance that should be shown when travelling in these parts of Australia.
Believe it or not, you can actually visit Europe without participating in a Contiki or Topdeck booze bus (still highly recommended). With so many unbelievably diverse cities and icons crammed into one continent, here are my picks of the draw.
There isn’t a city in the world that you’ll find better Tea (gossip or beverage) than London, the capital city of the United Kingdom. Despite the irritatingly persistent rain, London can be a magical city both throughout the day and into the night. Discover the home of the Royal family with a stop at Buckingham Palace as a must, or try out the hidden Camden markets, filled with every possible quirk and cuisine you could think of!
For the theatrical kids, catch one of the thousands (it seems like) of dazzling shows, like the hilarious “Book of Mormon” or the upcoming childhood favourite “Matilda”. Foodie’s will never go hungry in London, as there are so many eateries, bars, cafes and markets to choose from. Try the Carnaby area for a solid burger. London seems to have their transport down-packed, especially in the city where you can catch the tube with ease almost anywhere- keep a look out for some humorous names like “Cockfosters”. Don’t forget your Oyster!
This Portuguese city is situated at the mouth of the almighty Tagus river, and is one you do not want to skip. Situated on a steep and mountainous area, this city pushes will push your fitness ability but what a perfect reason to try out the original (and I mean since 1837 original) Portuguese Tart from famous bakery Pastéis de Belém, a small tram ride from the main city.
You could call Lisbon a sleepy town during the day, with local fishermen going about their business and tourists checking out the historic sites, however as soon as dawn hits the atmosphere flips entirely. If you end up going out in Lisbon (which you almost have to) expect to have pre drinks until 11, dinner at a bar with friends till 3am, and then heading to the many elaborate clubs until breakfast time. No wonder the days are quiet!
Not to be mistaken for Venice, Amsterdam and its maze of canals are well known for a great number things. This diverse hub in Holland comes complete with museums, art galleries, sculptures and the breathtaking water views, as well as a few interestingly spelt street names and suburbs. With a main city that is easily accessible by foot or bike (a highly popular method of travel), Amsterdam’s culturally different sights are just a step away!
Some great highlights include touring the risqué Red Light District, the mammoth Heineken brewery and Dam Square. Unfortunately, the opportunity to pose by the iconic “IAMSTERDAM” sign is no longer, as the sign was controversially removed in an attempt to minimise mass tourism; if you are respectful in your travels, there shouldn’t be any issues. Finally, be sure to visit one of the many quirky and thriving coffee shops to enjoy some delicious baked goods, an opportunity that is highly popular amongst visitors.
I’m Feeling Lucky
Here are some other iconic cities that provide plenty of entertainment, sites, food and playtime. Don’t worry, despite geography not being my forte I still understand that these cities are not at all close to each other, however if the opportunity presents itself I recommend you consider them.
An enticing labyrinth of lifelike holographs, flashing neon signs, crossdressing characters, and bizarrely astounding sights, Tokyo provides travellers with a mind-blowing experience. While the language is largely difficult to understand, English is not forgotten, with most signs and advertisements providing a potentially humorous translation for foreigners. Politeness and respect is priority in Japan. However, don’t take this as an opportunity to be evasive of rules, as the Japanese expect all to follow protocol; for example right of way on to public transport, and taking shoes off in certain locations (and using the provided slippers).
This said, they are very welcoming of tourists, and will most likely ask permission for pictures with you (blonde hair is a bonus). Tokyo is the kind of city you want to spend longer than a weekend in, as there is so much variety in attractions and experiences. For breathtaking views, try the Tokyo Tower or the Skytree, both of which have observation decks that tower over the city. For an immersive experience into the anime and technical world of Tokyo, ensure you visit Takashita street (pronounced “tah – keh – sheet – ah”). An all round interesting and unforgettable experience!
It would be almost impossible to exclude America, let alone San Fran from my list, as it is one of my favourite destinations overseas! San Francisco is a coastal gem, far less glam than the bustling Los Angeles or Las Vegas, yet still a fabulous city to explore and enjoy. San Francisco comes with its own sites and experiences, like a bike tour of the city to see the famous houses and across the Golden Gate Bridge!
Flying into this city is a breeze, as most airlines fly direct from Aus to San Fran, avoiding the ridiculous queues at LAX, yet still the same flying time! San Francisco is also largely well-known for it’s shopping and food scene, allowing one to have a peak instagram grid that will make foodies drool and fashionistas envious beyond belief. Pack your serious walking shoes, and don’t forget your Fitbit, as it is a serious marathon to track yourself around the giant malls filled with all the iconic brands. Another great experience is to visit the grand San Francisco Ferry Wharf and sail across to one of the most infamous prisons in the world, Alcatraz, and take yourself on a very insightful and detailed audio tour!