I’m sat in Bristol Airport Costa Coffee as I write this, drinking a Pepsi and feeling like an absolute fraud for doing so. For some reason, whenever I go to a coffee shop and don’t order a hot drink, I always feel like I have to explain myself to the barista, cashier, cleaner, person on the table next to me and whoever else happens to glance my way.
Every. Single. Time.
I get way too defensive about my orange juice, Panini, Pepsi, or lemon tart, whichever it may be. So much so that I don’t think there’s a single Costa or Starbucks employee left in the whole of South Wales and Southwest England who hasn’t heard all about my sensitive teeth and tendency to get the opposite of brain freeze.
But let’s be real, who even goes to a coffee shop for a coffee these days? It’s all about the free WiFi, comfy chairs and plug sockets baby! My seat right now is like a giant chocolate marshmallow. It’s soft and squishy and is kind of maybe slowly swallowing me whole, but to be honest it’s so comfortable I don’t even care. Munch away, marshmallow chair – I’m all yours!
If it wasn’t for the fact that my National Express arrives in about an hour and I have work tonight, I could totally just curl up into a ball and live here. Forget getting one foot on the housing ladder; I want in on the marshmallow chair ladder.
I’ve been sat here for well over an hour now and in that space of time have had a cheese and slow-roasted tomato toastie which sort of tasted like pizza (very strange but oh so very good!), the best lemon tart of my life so far and the aforementioned Pepsi. The lady keeps looking over the sofa thing opposite me, peeking at my table to see if the coast is clear to clean up and then slinking away when she realises that yep, I’m still here. Sorry Costa lady!
If sitting here in Costa tapping away at my computer has confirmed one thing about myself, it’s that I just can’t write when people are ‘watching’. Even though, like, they’re not even watching. There’s only two other tables occupied – on one there’s an Easyjet employee trying to sort out some kind of leak (on the phone – Costa aren’t that into cost-cutting) and the other is a couple of Italian ladies playing cards.
None of them are within ear (or eye!) shot but nevertheless I find myself hurriedly minimising the screen and trying to ‘act natural’ if they so much as look in my direction. Because God forbid these total strangers find out what I’m doing.
I’m such a twit.
I’ve just gotten back from a few days in Krakow, so it’s not like I don’t have anything to write. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I have content ideas and post titles and witty little phrases coming out of my ears. I’ve got more photos of pierogi than a Polish food encyclopedia. I probably have enough ideas to keep this blog going for months, but the fact that there are other people here, in the same room, breathing the same air as me has put all that on hold.
Working freelance, sometimes I think that I do really want to be one of those mysterious and alluring gals who stroll down to their nearest Starbucks, Macbook in one arm, Filofax in the other and sit for hours tapping away, doing whatever it is they doand ordering Frappuccinos on repeat.
Alas, I don’t have a Macbook, a Filofax or a Starbucks within easy walking/bus-ing distance. Also, I don’t even know what a Frappuccino is. Plus apparently I can only string a sentence together when I’m holed up in my parents’ front room all lonely and alone.
So yeah, despite having plenty of opportunities to write when I was in Poland (read as: every single evening sat in the rented apartment because I don’t do night-time socialising) I just didn’t.
Instead I went through and read every single new post available from every single one of my favourite online people, and some of my not favourite ones too! I also went way, way, way into the archives of some blogs, because I’m creepy like that.
There’s this odd “What’s in it for me?” mentality in the blogosphere sometimes, and I really don’t think I like it at all. On various different Facebook groups I’m a part of, where I’ve noticed somebody has asked for a guest post, contribution, link etc. from others, more often than not the first question in response is “What’s your DA?” or “Will you link back?”
It makes me a bit sad to be honest.
What’s wrong with selflessly giving others a boost? Giving them a link, or a share, for no reason other than you just like what they’ve written. Isn’t that the whole purpose of having a ‘community’? It shouldn’t matter if their DA is any lower or higher than your own. It shouldn’t matter if they don’t really have anything to offer you in terms of remuneration or page views.
And so I thought, in the absence of having anything remotely interesting about my own life and travels to share right now (the man who was trying to fix the leak is definitely looking over at me now – does he have X-ray vision?! Does he know I’m writing about him?! Aaaah, what to do!), I’d share a small handful of my favourite recent blog reads instead.
So for anyone reading this, I implore you to have a little click around, read a few of these posts and maybe find some new faves for yourself.
Lucy’s post is enough to make any Game of Thrones fan green with envy! Through a tour arranged with a company specialising in Movie/TV focused tours, she got around to visiting quite a decent handful of GOT filming locations in Northern Ireland, including what are arguably the most recognisable of the bunch – Giant’s Causeway and the Dark Hedges. I actually have my own plans to follow in Lucy’s footsteps this year, and visit as many GOT filming locations as possible, starting with Dubrovnik and Split next month, and reading her post was a great way to get the excitement bubbling! Even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan it’s worth a read anyway because Northern Ireland is just be-a-uuuutiful.
Although she wouldn’t necessarily fall under the “travel blog” umbrella, if it wasn’t for Amy’s love of all things and places Scandinavian/Nordic, that section of the world wouldn’t even have been a blip on my radar! Her Iceland wedding photos are enough to make me want to buy myself a husband and hop on the next Easyjet flight heading to Reykavik, and her home decor posts make me want to buy a dolls house and replicate her entire existence (sounded less creepy in my head). One of Amy’s more recent posts outlining her visit to Finnish Lapland is refreshingly honest and a stark reminder that bucket list destinations sometimes just ain’t all that.
If humans could be spirit animals, Alice might just be mine. She likes creepy places and serial killers and basically that’s me in a sentence. The Paris Catacombs are somewhere I didn’t really know existed, despite them apparently being a pretty popular tourist destination. I’ll be honest, I would have wanted to visit even if I hadn’t read Alice’s post, BUT her introduction paragraph is one of the best I’ve ever read, and simultaneously manages to give you nightmares and make you want to go where she’s talking about.
Chiara’s series focusing on solo female travel has the aim to not only enable solo ladies to tell their travel stories, but also to provide encouragement to those who may be umm-ing and aah-ing about going off on their own. The concept was actually something I was contemplating doing myself for a while now, but I’m so glad Chiara got ahead of me because I just love the route she’s taken with it. And in all honesty, it’s probably 100% better than anything I would have come up with.
The post linked above is the second in the series, in which she interviews a different female traveller every so often, and shares their story with her own readers, this one being a little talk about how you don’t have to be single to travel solo. Whereas right now I am, by definition of the phrase, a single traveller for the first time in, like, ever, the interview does resonate with me as in previous years I have been travelling solo but not single. The whole series is worth a follow.
The Middle East fascinates me, the approach different cultures have towards women fascinates me, the media and general public’s perception of the Middle East fascinates me, and expat life fascinates me. This post is kind of a mish-mash of all of the above, written in a personal yet educative way. LC lived in Doha for 3 months and so has a somewhat unique insight into how life as a Western woman in the Middle East can be. A lot of people have serious misconceptions when it comes to the Middle East, and this post puts any untruths you may or may not have heard on the grapevine to bed, e.g. the whole dresscode situation.
A complete contradiction to my recent post detailing Why I’ll Always Go Back to places I’ve visited, You Could Travel’s post is a collection of fellow bloggers’ stories on places they’d never go back to. From being robbed to finding it difficult to navigate to being dumped and as such associating the place with an emotionally difficult time, the locations listed vary as much as the reasons do. Whereas I don’t understand people who say they’ll never visit somewhere again ‘because they’ve already been there‘, I have utmost appreciation and respect for people who have a damn good reason for not wanting to return, and this post showcases a great selection of those. I love collaborative posts, I think they’re bloody marvellous! And I also love anything written by Cory, so this is a double win in my eyes!
Michaela was one of my main references for my trip, and I will unashamedly admit that I basically just retraced her every step. I ate at some of the same places and I visited a lot of the same sights, the only difference being that the whole city was covered in a blanket of frozen snow for my turn! Honestly, every single one of her suggestions and recommendations were absolutely spot on! And I’ll forever be indebted to her for mentioning pierogi which is basically a European momo and now my new favourite food. After reading her post on Krakow, I moved onto Warsaw and then basically fell into a black hole, re-emerging about 40 minutes and 10213924 blog posts later.
And that’s it. Done. Finito. I might make this a pretty regular (bi-monthly/monthly) thing, simply because I like giving people figurative and literal pats on the back, so if anyone has any recommendations on posts I may like, or if you’re particularly proud of something you’ve written, please do link in the comments!
To anyone I’ve mentioned above, my blog is still relatively baby-sized, so whereas I probably won’t be much of a traffic-driver to your site, just know that I take great pleasure in cyber-stalking each and every one of you, and reading your posts honestly brightens my day. Unless they’re sad posts, then it’d just be weird, right?