6 Awesome New Travel Blogs

Exactly six months ago today I published my very first blog post. Six months! I cannot believe it has been that long already. Time flies when you're having fun!

I am not the only one that has been having an amazing six months though, and to celebrate my anniversary (if you can really call it that), I'd like to share six awesome new travel blogs with you - all of which started in the last six months!

1. One World One Year

Britnee and Mark, a couple from Utah, recently quit their jobs to travel the world for a year. They might have only started their travels four months ago, but they've already got some great stories to tell! So far they have been to Japan, China and Mongolia, but I'm looking forward to reading about their upcoming travels in Europe, South East Asia and South America too.

Charlie is a fellow Brit who has recently started her 'indefinite travel adventure' in South America. While most of the blogs listed here I discovered while searching specifically for new travel blogs, I have been following Charlie's blog for a while and was actually stunned to discover how new it is. The blog looks so professional and the writing is impeccable, with a great mix of stories and plenty of advice for fellow travellers. 

3. Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains

They say first impressions count, and this blog has certainly got that covered - I just love the name and the cute logo you can see there above. The writing lives up to expectations too! As well as more personal posts, this blog is great for really in-depth destination guides, covering all the the attractions in a given area and everything you might need to know to prepare for a visit.

4. Olivia Explores

Olivia always wanted to be an explorer, and she is making that dream a reality by squeezing in as much travel as she can between university assignments. I love her insider's tip on London as well as the posts on places further afield. Olivia has managed to fit in a good amount of Western and Eastern Europe as well as a bit of India so far, which is very impressive considering she hasn't started travelling full time yet.

5. Kristina Meets World

Kristina started her blog the day she arrived in Melbourne five months ago, and has been sharing the stories from her day to day adventures in Australia ever since. Here you can see the world through her eyes as she explores national parks, visits local attractions and discovers native animals and plants. 

6. Hannah On The Map

Hannah has been teaching English in Brazil for the past year and sharing her experiences with the world via Hannah On The Map. As well as advice on things to do in Brazil and tips for teaching English as a foreign language, here you can find stories from Hannah's adventures in other countries, including Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay.

What are your favourite new travel blogs?

Why I Love Family Holidays

Every time we go on holiday with the family, we always end up doing the same things.

Let's take Ireland for example.

We always end up going to a famine museum or folk village.

We always stop for a pint at Biddy O'Barnes and admire the surrounding countryside.

We always throw rocks into the river and laugh at the dog as he tries to 'rescue' them.

We always make some attempt at building a sandcastle and flying a kite.

We always stop at every viewpoint we pass, only to get battered by the wind and end up freezing cold.

But while it might get a little repetitive, I still love our family holidays!

Like many teenage girls, I went through a phrase where I wasn't the greatest fan of my family. But times have changed.

I now think I have one of the greatest families in the world. So it goes without saying that the family holiday is always one of my favourite times of the year.

Going to the same places and doing the same things is just part of the fun.

We always plan to get up early and seize the day. Ready to leave at 9am! Shoes and coats on, by the door! 

If I have a penny for every time I've heard this phrase, I'd be a millionaire. On the other hand, if I had a penny for every time we'd actually been ready for that time, well, I wouldn't have any pennies at all!

It's normally more like midday. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

There's always squablles about who'll sit where in the car and whether we should go to a museum or a beach, but we almost always have fun anyway.

I say almost, because we've never quite forgotten about the seashell museum that mum dragged us to when we were younger - but that's a different story.

After a (half) day of exploring local attractions or lazing on the beach comes the best part. The drinking.

Out comes a pack of playing cards and a stack of board games. After a few too many we sometimes move on to the kind of games that are normally reserved exclusively for fresher's parties.

I'll never forget the look on my mum's face when my sister, who couldn't have been older than fourteen at the time, had to down the 'dirty pint' in a game of Ring Of Fire.

I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that we never make it out of the door for 9am.

We might have a lot of fun, but let's be honest, the main reason that I love family holidays is because the parents are always there to pick up the bill!

What are your favourite things about family holidays?

Ireland's Hidden Gems (Or Should That Be Emeralds?)

What do you picture when you think of Ireland?

Guiness? Leprechauns? Shamrock? Green meadows full of knee high grass? Rolling hills dotted with sheep? Winding country roads leading to nowhere?

What about beaches?

Ireland is not well known for it's beaches, but that does not mean it hasn't got them.

Every photo you can see here was genuinely taken in Ireland.

Soft, deep sand, as far as the eye can see, like a golden blanket hugging the shore. This is what you'll find on Ireland's West Coast.

While you're enjoying a dip or catching some rays, you can enjoy the views too, with picturesque cliffs jutting out into the sea.

The problem is it doesn't have the weather to match. It would be a lie if I told you that Ireland's beaches were glorious all year round; the truth is that most of the time you will be greeted by drizzly skies.

But when you do find a sunny day, it's just perfect.

The moral of the story? If you're going to Ireland, don't forget your swimwear.

Have you ever discovered amazing beaches in an unexpected destination?

Coffee: A Random Story

Welcome to the latest post in the A Random Story feature, where I ask readers to share some of their favourite and most random memories.

Karyn is from Melbourne, Australia, and blogs about travel with a strong focus on environmentalism. She is in the process of setting up a location-independent lifestyle, so that she and her fiancé can travel indefinitely. You can follow her journey at Not Done Travelling.

I asked Karyn to tell me about her favourite memory involving coffee and her story can be found below.

I am from Melbourne, Australia, a city reported to have the best coffee in the world. This is certainly arguable, as everyone’s tastes are different, and there may be a lot of cities that wish to challenge Melbourne for this title. But, nevertheless, the coffee in Melbourne is pretty darn good. In fact, it is so good that Starbucks recently announced it is closing its stores here as it just cannot compete with our baristas.
Because of this, I tend to think that I’ve been spoiled when it comes to good coffee. It’s easy to take for granted just how available it is here.

With this in mind, you can imagine how Melburnians, and Australians in general, struggle to find our idea of a good cuppa when overseas. Sometimes we find it; sometimes we don’t. However, in general, any place that thinks that tourists like their coffee strong will present quite a challenge.

Not that there’s anything wrong with strong coffee. Strong coffee can be a complete work of art. Melbourne has the highest population of Greeks outside of Athens and Thessaloniki, so super-strong Greek and Turkish coffee is everywhere. Served in tiny cups, it is like a punch in the face and keeps you up until next Tuesday. Delicious.

But you know what good strong coffee is not? That horrible, acidic, burnt-tasting, three-times-too-many-beans excuse for a beverage that is found in so many hotels and resorts throughout Southeast Asia. 

My fianc√©, Michael, and I spent 3 months in Asia at the end of 2012, and we could not find any good coffee anywhere. There was always plenty of coffee around, but none of it was good. Now, don’t get me wrong – we were in Asia to experience the local culture, not to try to recreate our own (we’re not those travellers). But occasionally you do want a little respite, am I right? Occasionally, it’s nice to treat yourself with a reminder of home. 

From time to time, we would pop into chains such as Black Canyon, and found some joy there, but we never really explored their hot coffee range. We tended to duck into their air-conditioned comfort to get out of the sun, so being hot and sweaty, we would usually go for a frappe or something chilled.

Our other alternative when looking for hot coffee was to drink from the pots in our hotel restaurants. These tasted like they had been on the burners all night, and frankly, they could well have been. Memo to catering managers: It is not my idea of pleasure to start my day with a cup of some reheated black stuff that tastes as if it has been filtered through a dirty sock. Come on, guys. I mean, who is drinking this horrible stuff? Who told them this is what Westerners want? Are my tastebuds all alone in their objections?

Had it been local coffee on offer, I would have jumped on it. Throughout Asia a lot of regional coffee styles have sprung up and they are great. For example, Vietnamese coffee, made with condensed milk using a drip method is reportedly delicious. But hotels rarely offer their own regional brew. Instead, they give you with what they think you are used to.

I am sure that it is all related to preparation methods, as well as logistics and budgeting. If it is cheaper to serve a certain kind of bean in a certain kind of way, then it is understandable that the hotel management would choose that option. It’s just that it’d be nice if the quality was a little...improved.
I can heartily say, however, that when we finally did find a good cup of coffee, it was most unexpected. We were in Bali, on our way to Taman Ayun Temple, when we stopped at a coffee and tea plantation. We were not expecting anything special, but they offered us some kopi luwak – for those not in the know, that is the famous “cat poo coffee” that is so expensive in Western countries. Michael is a try-anything-once kind of guy, so he ordered a cup, and I had a sip. It was delicious! 

Luwaks are not actually cats; “luwak” is the local name for the palm civet. The civets eat coffee beans and somehow an enzyme in their digestive system just does something to the beans. I don’t understand how it works, but that coffee tastes good. It is still incredibly strong, but there is a smoothness to the flavour that I didn’t find anywhere else in Asia.

Unfortunately, I won’t be drinking kopi luwak again. Since leaving Bali, I learned that the process of making the coffee is quite cruel. Originally, beans were collected from the droppings of wild civets, but now most kopi luwak is produced using animals that are confined to relatively small cages for their entire lives. So even though it tastes nice, as a blogger who focuses greatly on conservation, I can’t recommend it.  

Despite all of that, it has certainly put our previous search for a good cuppa into perspective. I mean…think about it. 

We spent 3 months agonizing over our inability to find good coffee in South East Asia. In the end, it came out of a palm civet’s backside.

Thank you so much to Karyn from Not Done Travelling for sharing her story with us. Be sure to check out her blog for more great stories!

If you want to get involved and share your random story on Ever Changing Scenery, please get in touch and I will send you a topic.

What is your favourite memory involving coffee?

In Photos: Killybegs, An Irish Fishing Port

Killybegs is a small town on the south coast of Donegal, which has grown over time into an industrial fishing port. While it still holds its charm as a scenic harbour, it is actually the largest fishing port in the whole country.

It might not feature high on the list of Donegal's top tourist destinations, but that doesn't stop it from being top of the list of places that we head to every time we are in Ireland.

At first glance it might not look too exciting - a few rusty old boats, bobbing up and down on the water, and that's pretty much it - but if you look a little closer and pay attention to the details, there is an unexpected beauty about the place.

The patterns in the rust and the peeling paint make each boat completely unique. The fishermen in overalls work away and I can't help but imagine each of them has so many stories to tell from their time out at sea. Then there are thick, twisting ropes and sprawled out fishing nets, frayed and knotted after years of use. It cannot be denied that this place is full of character and intrigue.



Have you ever discovered beauty in an unexpected place?

Reading List #5

While May was dampened by the never ending rain, June has been a lovely month - it's starting to really feel like summer! As well as enjoying the weather at home, I've just got back from a lovely week spent in Ireland with my family - there'll be more on that to follow very soon.

It's been a busy month and I'm surprised I still had the time to fit in reading my favourite travel blogs and scouring the web for new ones, but I did. You can find some of my favourite travel related posts of the month below.

Indonesian Food - Yes, Please! - A really informative post about some of Indonesia's most popular dishes, complete with photos that will leave your mouth watering!

Tiananmen Square, I Will Not Forget You - A very interesting insight into life in China and how such a major event can be kept out of the public eye.

50 Expert Travel Tips - A great compilation of one-liner travel tips from fifty of the best bloggers, including yours truly.

Travel To Ethiopia: First Impressions - You might have a certain perspective of Ethiopia based on the media coverage of the country in the 1980s, but this post is sure to show you how far the country has come since then.

Travel Writer Visits Sri Lanka, Discovers Paradise – With A Catch - A lovely insight into the best and worst sides of Sri Lanka.

10 Of The Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Norway - Norway has never been top of my bucket list, but this post has certainly pushed it up a place or two.

Bali's Temple Hopping On The Cheap In 6 Simple Steps - Bali might not be on my first list of destinations, but this article has got me very excited for temple hopping in Southeast Asia.

Gateway Countries - Sri Lanka - I love the idea behind this new series looking at the best countries to visit when exploring a new region of the world, kicking off with Sri Lanka.

The Photos Might Be Gone, But The Memories Are Still Here - It might be a little cheeky including one of my own posts on this list, but I had so much fun writing about my memories of Blackpool that I can't resist.

What have you been reading this month?

The Photos Might Be Gone, But The Memories Are Still Here

I have the worst luck when it comes to cameras. When I was in India, I nearly broke my camera on three separate occasions. The first time I dropped it off a balcony, the second time I spilt a bottle of gin over it and the third I am not really sure what happened, but it certainly stopped working. All three times it initially seemed to have given up for good, but it always came back fighting within a couple of days. Then within a week of arriving back in the UK, I had lost it at a music festival.

Then there was the time we were crabbing in Ireland. I was leaning over the shallow pier, dangling some sausage on a string to lure the crabs in. Whoosh, all of a sudden the camera was in the water! At the speed of light Ian leaned over and grabbed the camera before it managed to sink to the bottom. The memory card was miraculously still functioning, but the camera itself never quite recovered.

There have been countless occasions where I have been prevented from taking photos due to a lack of working camera, but there has actually only been one time when I lost photos that had already been captured.

It was February 2011. Ian and I had been through a tough couple of weeks in Liverpool and made a last minute decision to get out of the city for a short break. We booked a little B&B in Blackpool for the night and headed off to the nearby seaside town on the train. We had such a great time and snapped so many photos, but unfortunately they were never to be seen again.

When I discovered that I had once again lost my camera, I was devastated as I realised that the photos had never been backed up. But I soon came to realise that while the photos might be gone, I've still got the memories.

I remember arriving at the train station in Blackpool, full of excitement for what the day might hold. I remember nearly turning the wrong way five or six ways on the way to the B&B, but getting there in the end. I remember quickly checking in and rushing out to explore a new town that I hadn't visited before.

I remember walking hand-in-hand up all three piers, battling the cold winter wind just to say that we'd seen it all. I remember the stalls lining each pier, full of carnival style games, and being sucked into one on the promise that everyone is a winner. I remember ending up with a prize that was worth less that the amount we spent on the game, but feeling like a winner nonetheless.

I remember exploring Blackpool Tower and admiring the street art outside. I remember walking on the tramlines and feeling like daredevils, even though we both knew the tram wouldn't be running until the weather warmed up. I remember heading into the amusement arcades and going on a monorail, armed with laser guns to shoot the pirates. I remember not having a clue how the guns actually worked but having lots of fun trying anyway.

I remember going for a few drinks in the evening, absolutely shattered from the long day but determined to make the most of our one night in Blackpool. I remember quickly admitting defeat and heading back to the B&B for an early night, snuggling up to one another and watching cartoons.

I remember waking up early the next day excited to get out and explore some more. I remember playing mini golf and visiting the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. I remember buying a giraffe teddy in the gift shop and naming him Raffee. I remember letting him have his own seat in Pizza Hut when we stopped for lunch.

I remember the bittersweet journey home, disappointed that such a wonderful time was over, but grateful that we'd had such a wonderful time.

I have so many great memories from our two days in Blackpool, but most of all I remember being happy. Grinning from ear-to-ear, over the moon happy. And no camera could ever have captured that.

Have you ever lost any photos from your travels?

5 TED Talks That Will Make You Want To Travel

If you haven't heard of TED Talks before, then you're seriously missing out. TED is a global, not for profit organisation, devoted to 'sharing ideas that matter'. They organise conferences across the world where some of the most inspiring people the world has got give talks on the things that matter to them, then share the videos with the rest of the world via YouTube.

I've been a little obsessed with TED Talks for a couple of years now, but only lately thought to combine this obsession with the one I have for travel. After watching what feels likes hundreds of TED Talks based on travelling, I am pleased to present you with my top five.

Ben Saunders: Why Bother Leaving The House?

Robin Esrock: Learn To Travel, Travel To Learn

Adam Baker: Sell Your Crap, Pay Your Debt, Do What You Love

Jonathon Fields: Turning Fear Into Fuel

Rick Steves - The Value Of Travel

What inspires you to travel?

Giraffes: A Random Story

Welcome to the latest post in the A Random Story feature, where I ask readers to share some of their favourite and most random memories.

Katrina is a young twenty-something who wants to see the world without breaking the bank. Through frugal living, careful planning and the blessing of having friends and family scattered across the globe, she has been visiting and experiencing international sites and cultures across the world and sharing her story on The Thrifty Gypsy's Travels.

I asked Katrina to tell me about her favourite memory involving giraffes and her story can be found below.

The summer of 2007 is one for my personal history book.  It's one of those times that I'll always look back on with rose colored glasses and wish for a repeat!  I was due to transfer to my dream college, the University of Virginia, to study English and Classics; I'd acquired a "new" car replete with sunroof and decent speakers; and I was looking forward to spending my 20th birthday cruising the Nile while on a 10-day trip to Uganda with my church.  Life couldn't have been better!

Where giraffes figure into my summer is, of course, my trip to Uganda (because honestly, I don't think I could write an entire post about the Toys 'R' Us Giraffe, which is the only other giraffe that comes to mind!).  Our first few days in the country were spent working with our host church in Kampala to run youth education camps in an effort to combat rising teen pregnancy and AIDs infection. It was absolutely thrilling to be working side-by-side with Ugandans, who are some of the most hospitable, generous and friendly people I've ever encountered.  By the end of the week, though, we slipped away from running the camps and traveled north to Murchison Falls National Park to cruise the Nile and go on a safari through the park.  On our first evening, we took a small boat up the Nile to get a down-river view of where the Nile rushes through a 23-foot wide gap to plunge an impressive 141 feet!  I'll never forget how the foam looked like fluffy dough-balls floating down the river, skimming by hippos and crocodiles along the way.

The next morning our group woke up early to better our chances of seeing lions on the safari before the heat of the day kicked in.  Despite our best efforts, the big cats proved to be elusive, but we were rewarded with close-ups of many other animals: elephant families, antelope, warthogs, various deer, monkeys and, of course, giraffes!  We first saw a lone ranger of a giraffe in the general vicinity of some antelope.  She posed for a picture or two and then walked away.  But not too long after, we caught sight of a pair beneath some tamarind trees.  Pictures could not possibly do my memory justice.  The giraffes were completely unperturbed by our presence as they grazed on the pods and leaves of the trees.

Our guide elicited some laughs when he told us that various animals, especially monkeys but also giraffes, enjoyed eating the tamarind pods in order to get a natural tipsy-like euphoria.  Fact or fiction, I don't know for sure, but it brings a smile to my face when I remember those beautiful giraffes munching solemnly on the tamarind pods and leaves.  And I can't help but imagine what a drunk giraffe might do to keep itself amused on the African plains!

Thank you so much to Katrina from The Thrifty Gypsy's Travels for sharing her story with us. Be sure to check out her blog for more great stories!

If you want to get involved and share your random story on Ever Changing Scenery, please get in a touch and I will send you a topic.

What is your favourite memory involving giraffes?

Palais Het Loo: Home of The Dutch Royalty

While in the Netherlands, one of the places we visited was Het Loo Palace. This magnificent building was built in the 1680s for the Orange family, the monarchy in Holland. Up until the 1970s it remained in the hands of the royals, but in 1984 it was turned into a state museum and is now open to the public.

I'll be completely honest; I did not find the inside of the palace that amazing. It was interesting to know you were walking down corridors that royalty had walked down before, but it felt a bit too much like you were, well, in a museum.

Each room was set up like a specific period of time and visitors were forced to follow the path through each in turn, cordoned off from anything interesting by a rope that would sound an alarm if you so much as brushed against it.

Everything felt a little stiff and contrived. While the furniture was the same as various people that lived in the building would have used, the fact that different rooms showed different time periods made it all feel a little fake. I think I would have preferred it left just like it was when the last residents moved out.

The gardens, however, were a completely different story. As you stepped out of the stuffy building, you were greeted with the sight of beautiful gardens as far as the eye could see. Everything was perfectly symmetrical, with an array of perfectly maintained flowers beds and beautifully ornate water fountains vying for your attention. 

The beauty of the gardens certainly made up for the disappointment of the actual palace. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours, walking up and down the paths in the sunshine, occasionally stopping to admire the view from one of the benches dotted around.

Have you ever visited a palace?