Type : City Break Best Date : Year Round Expense: Expensive Things to do : Relax, Sightseeing Points of Interest: Battersea Park, Albert Bridge, Battersea Power Station
Wandsworth is a London borough located south west of the city. It is not well known to tourists nor would the average Londoner visit the borough for amusement or leisure (unless off course they reside there).
However this area of London has points of interests which some deep explorers would find interesting.
As stated in the brief there is not too much to see in Wandsworth in a touristic view but in my opinion there are four locations which is worth seeing, one of which is a huge investment for the future, an attraction I can see being one of London’s latest places for tourist to flock.
Lets start of with what I believe is at this moment the central point for anything touristic in Wandsworth. Battersea Park, is a lesser known park in London but has the attractiveness to be so much more to both locals and tourists. The park consists of attractions like a small zoo, Go Ape (an adventure climbing activity) and so much more. More importantly the iconic peace pagoda is situated in this park.
The Albert Bridge located beside Battersea park is again one of London’s lesser known and underrated bridges. I think this is the result of its location down the river where not so many tourists flock. This bridge is especially a spectacle at night.
In my opinion the landmark in Wandsworth which has the potential to be one of London’s newest iconic place to visit for both locals and tourists is the Battersea Power Station. The historic building which used to power London is currently being renovated to be one of the city’s bustling multiplex’s having bars, restaurants and many entertainment facilities. Moreover there will be ease of transport for tourists as the port will be used for river travels. The power station is currently open but is expected to fully complete by autumn 2021.
In conclusion the Wandsworth is a lesser known place for tourist but has the potential to be huge in the future. Its park and bridges are some of the most beautiful but the complexity to travel to this area makes it difficult for tourists. I put this borough as one to watch out for in the future.
It is always a good and common topic amongst us travellers as to “why do you travel?”
I have been asked a few times from certain people, friends, family and colleagues about this topic, on why I love to travel so much? Why I love hectic adventures rather than relaxing retreats? Why hostels and not hotels? Why there not here? Why not save money? and so many questions a-like. It is also a common topic when meeting other travellers, from the long duration backpackers or the shorter stint adventurers.
Well I put it down to 3 main reasons.
People: The people I travel with, the travellers I meet and the communities I become a part of.
Our World: To enjoy and bask in the world we live in. To witness the beauty of our nature and to see magnificent architectural structures both old and new. Time warp into histories and learn about other cultures.
Myself: It is what I enjoy, the independence, the learning, to push myself to limits in thrill seeking activities and adventures I wouldn’t be able to find at home.
Everybody has their own reasons why they travel abroad whether on a backpacking trip or a holiday. Some to party, others to learn, some to shop and others to relax. I have had the pleasure to meet so many different travellers from many different backgrounds, different ages and including my travel companions there are varied answers to this common question.
So its evident the Corona Virus COVID19 has affected millions of travel plans across the world and travel confidence is in an all time low with border closures, unstable flight plans and national restrictions placed in every country our planet has for the foreseeable future.
I have to admit my plans have been affected this year and uncertain going into the next. Already two of my plans have been cancelled this year including my huge “30th birthday, round the world in 30 days trip” which I have to say was very disheartening as ive been planning that for over a year. Other plans which are closely coming this year are on hold as nobody knows when borders will reopen, restrictions eased and flights flying.
But hey, were here now and whatever challenges lie ahead for travelling we must cope. As the world seems to be opening up slowely and cautiously I guess I should start planning for my next few years of travel.
Everything is obviously dependant on the matters around us going forward. Least to say if I will have the money, job and enthusiasm to venture out in the world again.
Around the World in 30 Days (Postponed 2022)
So this was the big downer for this year. I have postponed this trip till 2022 (maybe 2023) as I believe there will still be a few uncertainties next year. Furthermore to be able to circuit around the world would mean visiting many different countries across many different continents, so I would like the confidence in travelling to build up again in order to do a project like this.
The initial route of this circuit was to start in the UK (home), Morocco, Spain, Colombia, Los Angeles (USA), Hawaii (USA), Guam, Philippines, Hong Kong, UK (home). Approaching 2022 the route may change.
Morocco (On Hold or 2021)
This trip was supposed to happen for the round the world trip (stated above). However as this tour was booked and is paid for, I can go on this trip whenever. As soon as I can, I will be going on this trip whether this year or next.
I will be with Gadventures taking me around Marrakech, Todra Gouge, Merzouga, Aite Ben Haddou, Aroumd and many more. My target is to do the camel ride and camp out in the middle of the desert, all of which is included in the tour.
Christmas Market Chicago, USA (On Hold)
This year for my Christmas market trip, I thought to go somewhere different than in Europe. With the Christmas markets in Chicago boasting to be one of the best in the country. I thought a visit there would be worthwhile. Still on hold, just waiting for the USA to open its borders hopefully they will by December.
The Philippines (January)
Every year I go back to the Philippines but hopefully visiting other islands I haven’t yet been. I also usually look to touring friends to the country maybe a 2-4 week trip.
Fiji/ Micronesia Tour or Central/ South American Tour (May)
So for this one I still have a huge decision to make. Its either I go to a continent I fell in love with in the Latin Americas or explore a new region in the Oceania area. I believe the decision will be down to what type of trip I want. I think Fiji and Micronesia will have a predominately beach and island life atmosphere whilst the Americas will give me a varied trip including jungles, beach, culture, food and more. Although at this moment I am edging for going tp the Americas I believe to go to a region I haven’t been yet is important and might enlighten my travel perspective. I cant decide yet, to be continued…
Denmark/ Sweden (September)
One of my random summer Euro-trips. This year its back to Scandinavia and to what I believe are my last two in the region I haven’t visited. I have always complained about this region being very expensive but enjoyable. I have met a few of the friendliest travellers from this region and may need to contact and them again.
Christmas Market Poland/ Germany (December)
For Christmas 2021 I go back to Germany but this time I plan to include Poland in the trip. I was suggested to visit the markets in Warsaw or Krakow in Poland and Dortmund, Cologne or Dresden in Germany. The exact trip is to be confirmed. I did believe there is direct trains travelling between the two (as in many European countries) but now know there isn’t, so I may need to drive.
Circuit Around the World Previously Around the World in 30 Days (May)
The cancelled trip in 2020, I hope to revive in 2022 maybe even 2023. However no need to do it in 30 days as it is no longer my 30th birthday so I would probably look to doing this as a 6 week or 2 month stint, depending on my job holiday allowance off course.
My route for the year 2020 trip may need to be changed. Maybe I need to put more of Africa into the trip, Rwanda, South Africa or Kenya would be good to put in this route. I guess its time to plan this.
Christmas Market France or Hungary (December)
Maybe a trip closer-by for the year of 2022. Both countries have spectacular festive markets but I have been told Budapest is nice and the costs are lower.
Type : City, Provincial Best Date : Feb-May Expense : Expensive Things to do : Sightseeing, religious prayers, dining, shopping, dress up in kimono, ect Points of Interest: Nijo Castle, Fushimi-Inari, Kiyomizu-Dera, Gion, Kyoto Impreial Castle, Nishi Hogan-Ji, ect The Good: Best preserved Japanese culture The Bad: Generally expensive
Kyoto is another of Japans former capitals. Rich and famous for is various Buddhist temples, shrines, gardens, imperial palaces and wooden houses. The Prefecture or city is said to be the historical and cultural centre of the country with its traditional society, dining and architecture still experienced today. The kaiseki dining and the female entertainers known as geishas are found within this city.
Getting a train from Osaka to Kyoto (S rapid train) within 30minutes was amazing to say the least, even though it was very busy and crowded. I was expecting to get out of a very rural small station but was surprised to arrive to a large station just like Osaka central. Walking out of the station I was starting to get a vibe that Kyoto was anything but provincial but another metropolis.
I arrived in Kyoto in the evening and planned to check-in and head straight out to visit what I could. The first building you see once stepping out of the main entrance of the station is ‘Kyoto Tower’ which is an observation tower overlooking the city, I didn’t enter the building but ive heard its a sight to see.After we planned a trip to a place called Shijo Dori (Shijo Street) to have something to eat and see what the nightlife is like as it was also the area for their clubs and bars. Walking around the streets there were plenty of shops some more traditional than others. Arcades were also a big thing around these streets and can get very busy with local children, some even still in their school uniform.
The next morning we went to ‘Fushimi Inari-Taisha’ it rained but this gave our experience a little more character. Dating back to year 794 when Kyoto was capital, this shrine is one of the most important which is dedicated to the Shinto god of rice, Inari. The iconic shrine is famous for having over a thousand orange vermilion torii gates which routes up mount Inari and into the wooden forest. The experience was incredible, the whole visit took about 3-4 hours in total trekking up and down the shrine. There were plenty of stops and different shrines to visit. I saw lots of fox statues and didn’t know what they were for till I found out that foxes are seen to be the messenger for the God Inari. The top of the mountain (shrine) was a bit of an anti climax (in my opinion) as there was nothing different than the various shrines that you pass along the way.
After hiking for almost 3-4 hours, we went back to Shijo street then got something to eat in ‘ Nishiki market’ which is known to have the best traditional food in the city.
On that same day we also visited the ‘Kiyomizu- Dera’ which is a one of Kyoto’s notable attractions. ‘ Kiyomizu Dera’ is a huge Buddhist temple which is significant to the city and named a UNESCO world heritage site. When I visited the main building was being refurbished and had plenty of scaffolding and a cover, so it wasn’t as picturesque as it would normally be. Nonetheless the Kiyomizu-Dera is one of Kyoto’s main attractions and must be visited, even with all the construction the place was still very beautiful and scenic.
‘Gion’ is also an excellent place to visit especially in ‘ Hanamikoji Dori’ the street famous for the Geisha tradition. Filled with long-established wooden buildings, this area is also famous for its traditional dining and hospitality. The walk is only about 10 minutes from one end to the other and the Geishas are rarely seen, there are very strict rules in the street which include no touching of the geishas, selfie sticks, littering and others alike. Take note although dining here is a must, it is very expensive.
Nishi-Hogan-Ji is another place that should be visited as it is the largest school for a particular type of Buddhism. Here you will find beautiful large traditional Japanese architecture.
One place that is not really advertised for tourist to visit is actually an observation point above Kyoto station. Here there are views of Kyoto but the most observed are its stairs with LED lights acting like one huge screen where short light shows happen. I don’t know a special name for this place but yeah, the light stairs!
Kyoto was the best place I went to in for Japanese culture and history. I was expecting a provincial rural atmosphere but was surprised that the whole city looked like a miniature Osaka and Tokyo with many lit up and technological areas such as ‘Gion’. Although it rained when I was there, this only just gave the city more character. Tourists rent Kimonos and Geisha outfits whilst around the city. This was interesting as this is not done in any other place around the world with their local traditional outfits. I did however under estimate the time I needed in the city, so there were plenty more places I haven’t visited.
Type : City
Best Date : Don’t Know
Expense : Expensive Things to do : Eat, Theme Parks, Points of Interest: Osaka castle, Universal Studio, Dotonbori, Osaka Aquarium, Umeda Sky Building The Good: Excellent food, Very nice people The Bad: Most confusing train system (Japan in general), Expensive
Osaka (formerly known as Naniwa) was the first known capital of Japan. Today it is the second largest metropolis in the country behind the country’s current capital ‘Tokyo’. Osaka was destined to be the political centre of Japan as the then general ‘Toyotomi Hideyoshi’ chose this city to build his castle only for his successor to shift the power to Tokyo.
Osaka is known for its food, nightlife and architecture especially in the Dotonbori.
Osaka was the first city I visited in Japan and my first impressions was that it was an industrial city as I saw plenty factories whilst travelling from the airport to my hotel.
We stayed at the ‘Keihan Universal Tower Hotel’ near the ‘Universal Studios’ theme park. Although far and complicated to travel to ‘central Osaka’ and other significant attractions in the city, it was a good clean area with its own characteristics. The area which is just outside the theme park is known as Universal citywalks it was a very lively place from early morning till about 11pm in the night full of performers, restaurants and other amusements. Food is plentiful and although expensive there are various local and western cuisine to choose from, whether a quick snack or finer dining ‘citywalks ‘ caters to all. The nearest station ‘Universal city’ can get very busy at peak hours in the morning and evening from tourists entering and exiting the theme park, so if staying in the area it is would be good to plan timings of when to roam.
Universal studios was a great outing, but you will have to leave a whole day.
Another Place we visited in Osaka is Dotonbori a very famous place for nightlife and dining, one of Osaka’s principal tourist destinations. Best visited at night the street which runs along the Dotonbori canal is lit by many luminous flashing lights full of different colours and shapes which equates to stunning photographic opportunities. Here we found a brilliant Japanese restaurant (forgot the name) where we tried the famous Wagyu beef.
Shinsabashi which is the next road parallel to Dotonbori is also a booming place at night, full of restaurants , bars, clubs and a traditional market.
Probably the cover attraction of the city is ‘Osaka castle’ which centres ‘Osaka castle Park’. The park in itself is beautiful and around the ‘cherry blossom’ season it is said to be a sight to see. In the middle of the park is two large ring lakes surrounded by amazing thick steep stone walls which were built to protect the castle in the early years as this was a frequent battle ground. These walls are impressive and there are boat tours to see these walls closer. Furthermore around the park there are many attractions such as shrines, various gardens, an American world war factory, baseball field and an outdoor events stage. Various restaurants, cafes and food stalls are inside the park which is very convenient as the park is huge and can take a whole day to roam. However the main attraction of the park is the ‘Osaka castle’ and its ‘Museum’, in my opinion the outside (of the castle) is impressive but inside not too much, although it has plenty of historic artefacts.
Central Osaka (Umada district) is not much of a haven for tourist but a nice place to visit anyway. Here you can go shopping with many different modern outlets and dine at some of the city’s finest restaurants. ‘Osaka Station’ in itself is a nice place and aight to see, although very busy with workers there are many places to unwind.
Just outside Osaka station you will see the famous and spectacular ‘Umada sky building’ with the ‘Kuchu Teien Observation deck’ which is a floating garden above the two towers. Here you can see the whole of Osaka.
Lastly another place that must be visited whilst in the city is ‘Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium’, which is one of the largest in the world. A popular amusement and one in a few which houses the enormous whale shark which they also use as their mascot. This aquarium has been the best so far with a diverse collection of creatures from mammals such as sealions and seals, birds such as penguins and the many fishes from around the world. The ‘Tempozan Ferris wheel’ and ‘Legoland’ are also based within the area, however I didn’t bother going to them as I believe they are more for the younger audiences.
There are other places to see in the Osaka prefecture (city) that I didn’t or couldn’t visit due to the time I had. I decided to leave shrines and temples for my next city (prefecture) Kyoto as that was the place for it. Otherwise the only places I missed out were other districts and amusements such as Tennoji zoo.
My visit to Osaka City (Osaka prefecture)was interesting and a good place to start my whole Japan experience. The best way I could describe it was a smaller more conservative Tokyo (in my opinion). The city was busy and full of people with the train systems (like many in Japan) were a bit more complicated than other countries. There was plenty to do and visit in Osaka but the majority are modern amusements like the Universal studios, Lego land or Osaka aquarium. Osaka is not a place if you want to see shrines and temples as there is little to none, with the only significant historic structure is the castle.
Why everyone should travel alone at least once in their life?
I have now done my fair share of Solo travelling and although I admit it can sometimes be difficult, it is somewhat enjoyable as well. I have travelled solo a lot now around 3 different continents and I believe travelling alone have the same hurdles and pleasures whatever the territory may be. I have encountered many people whether friends, families and colleagues who question the experience of travelling alone. Many feel they wouldn’t be able to survive, some say it wouldn’t be enjoyable, others feel too scared to try and many envisage loneliness whilst traveling. All I could say is “you wont know until you’ve tried”, I know many people including myself who wouldn’t even think of the idea of going away alone but for those who did really enjoyed it and appreciated the experience.
What stops people?
There is many reasons to why people are hesitant to travel alone many that are actually true (makes sense) and some just a state of mind. Most frequent reasons are:
Have got many people to go with, why travel alone?
Will get lost
Safety (especially for female travellers)
Boredom, no one to talk to
Nobody to take my pictures
and many more…
All the above are reasons I have heard from so many people in many occasions, non of the reasons are wrong, its just the way you look at it.
Firstly, why would you travel alone? Yes, why would you? if you have plenty people to go with, it doesn’t make sense. However in the current world many of us, our families and friends work, and we all know it is very difficult syncing leave (holiday) dates with each other, so there are times that the date you really want or prefer cannot be taken as you’ve got nobody to go with. Further more your friends and family may have no interest what so ever in a place you want to visit. Whatever the reason, there are times where you may be better off travelling alone but too ashamed to admit it. Travelling alone is nothing to be embarrassed about and more and more people are doing it across the world whether male or female, young and old.
Another main reason that people are resistant travelling alone is because of the social aspect. Simple reasons such as nobody to talk to, no-one to take photos, do activities or to dine with are expressed a lot as negatives to travelling by yourself. Many Solo travellers will tell you that these reason will only be true, if you let it be true. Travelling alone will encourage more interaction with strangers, some of which are solo travellers as well. There are increasing amount of young people who travel by themselves purposely to meet new people, they are everywhere and you can tell who are alone, usually lone travellers are very approachable. After meeting new people it is then that you will have company to dine, do activities and much more. In conclusion, there is plenty of ways connecting with other travellers if you find yourself bored being alone, its just the way you act about it.
The only aspect of being companionless which I hate to admit is true, is the fact that it can be unsafe and make you vulnerable to theft. However this aspect can be true whether you are by yourself or not, vulnerability is just higher when alone, all you need is extra care and everything will be fine.
Why everyone should try travelling Solo?
Solo travelling is something you full heartedly want to do, not something that you have to do. However I do believe that everyone should travel alone at least once in in their life, to gain and appreciate the experience whether the outcome is positive or negative.
My personal reasons I think travelling alone is sometimes good are:
You get to visit places at your own time and pace
Do and eat whatever you want with no compromising
Meet new people
Learn and experience travelling independently
and many more
First reason I always tell people why they should try travelling alone is that “you go places at your own time and pace”, especially at airports I have noticed some individuals are early birds whilst others like to be there just at the right time. This is no difference to the holiday or travel itself, I have noticed that the larger the group the slower places are visited as breaks, rests and stopovers are more frequent, maybe its you who cant handle the pace or others that fall behind. So going at it alone, there will be nobody to wait for and you can stop whenever you want.
“No need to Compromise” is another reason to go alone. Everybody has to admit that travelling with others especially a big group has many positives but also has its problems. As every individual has different opinions, preferences and budgets, travel plans may need to be compromised for food, activities, transport and other arrangements. By yourself all plans and decisions are made by you and nobody else, there will be no regrets and “what if’s” should anything go wrong with the trip.
Another perk in travelling alone is the chance to “meet new people”. Although you can do so with companions, being alone increases self encouragement to go out and meet locals and other travellers to converse. This is overseen when within a big group, as friends and families are more inclined to stick together, with the exceptions of bars and clubs. In my opinion, it is easier to approach or even be approached when alone on your journey.
Inevitably travelling solo will increase your independence in many aspects such as location finding, money handling, conversing and others alike. You have to admit that in a group there will always be some more active and dominant, whilst others like to be the observant type and just follow the actions of their companions. Furthermore there will be the character that love to do the talking on the trip, another that likes doing the budgets and others take charge orienteering. When alone everything is left to yourself and whatever your weaknesses in travelling (eg, direction finding, conversing) will definitely improve as there is nobody to depend on.
In Conclusion there are positives and negatives to travelling alone, for those who have done it admit hardship but always recommend it as it is a very unique experience. I personally believe everyone should try it if you are looking for an easy relaxing holiday wanting to learn about different countries and cultures, however for a more action packed party type holiday then go with companions. Ultimately nobody can force you to travel alone and only you decide whether you want to try it.