Russia: First and Last Thoughts


Last year, I embarked on one of the most daunting trips of my life: Russia. I would be studying there for 3 months. Before I left, there were mixed reviews about life in Russia and what to expect. For example, you can pretty much guarantee that anywhere on the UK news, there will always be a story about Russia containing elements of classic Russian stereotypes – a dangerous country, alcoholics, hooligans and bears. I soon found out that this was far from the truth

On 11th February 2018, I flew from London Heathrow Airport to St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport. I arrived in snowy St. Petersburg full of nerves, yet excited at the same time. I’d never seen so much snow in one place! After making my way outside, I was taken to the flat where I would be living with a Russian host and two of my fellow university classmates. To my surprise, I would be living within walking distance from the famous Marinskii Theatre (literally a 5-minute walk!). After getting settled in at the flat, my classmates and I sat down with the host to learn a little about the area, how to get to university and her background. The host was such a lovely, kind and generous lady, who – throughout our entire stay – provided us with meals, snacks, lots of tea and general advice.

I won’t go into detail about the days that I spent in Russia, but I will say that the country itself and its citizens surprised me. Yes, it is totally different from the UK in terms of how it functions, thinks and its mindset, as well as its extreme weather conditions, culture and traditions. However, it is fascinating because of those differences (which I will explain in detail in a later blog post).  It is such a beautiful country, full of historic architecture and traditions that make it unique from any other country. The stereotype of Russian people faded away so quickly when I was there. Yes, people can seem harsh at first (just like people from any other city e.g. London), but once you get to know them, they are friendly and can really help you! They are definitely not scary, alcoholics or hooligans as the UK media often portrays them to be.

Throughout my Russian adventure, I spent time not only in St. Petersburg, but in Moscow and Sochi too, where I met a diverse range of characters. This experience taught me not to believe in stereotypes and to experience it for myself before making a judgement. It made me grow as a person as I learnt more from first-hand experiences by embracing different cultures and other ways of thinking. If you are willing to adapt and be open to change, Russia will be such a positive experience for you, like it was for me. Yes, there were lows but there were also highs and it is these experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I can definitely say with confidence that I will be returning soon!

до скорой встречи! x

My Welsh Adventure – Barmouth


I thought I’d change country for this next blog post to somewhere a bit closer to home…Wales. This Monday (24th August 2019), I spent the day in the stunning town of Barmouth, Wales.

I started my journey at Wolverhampton train station embarking on a long, but direct 3 hour and 15-minute journey on the ever-reliable (or in my case, as you will find out later, unreliable) Arriva Trains Wales. The journey was comfortable surrounding by classically stunning Welsh hills and farm animals which soon transformed into equally beautiful coastal views.

View from the train

After 3 hours 15 minutes, I arrived at my destination: Barmouth. After popping into a local shop to gather the essential snacks for the day, I ventured out to try some of the local fish and chip shops. I was spoilt for choice as I soon found out! Eventually I settled on a fish and chip shop by the beachfront. After ordering takeout, I headed straight to the beach to find a quiet spot to relax and enjoy the food.

Barmouth beach

The beach – white sand scattered with seashells – was absolutely stunning, serving to host a whole variety of people looking to enjoy themselves, relax and swim. Laughter filled the air all around creating such a positive and memorable atmosphere. Not to mention, the sun was shining – which if you’re familiar with this area, you know it is very rare!

Barmouth beach

After a few hours of relaxing and sunbathing, I ventured out to the town to explore. But before I could do so…I had to get an ice cream! My choice was a classic Mr Whippy paired with bubble-gum and raspberry sauce! Content with my ice-cream, I walked out to the town, where I soon came into contact with several souvenir shops and local sweet shops full of different flavours of rock (sweets) and fudge.

After exploring, I made it back to the train station to catch the train. Little did I know, I was in for a treat…NOT! The train that I wanted to catch was cancelled! After a lack of announcements and several phone calls, we (myself and many other frustrated people wanting to get the train home) were told that there would be a replacement bus in 1hour-1 hour 30 minutes to take us home. After waiting and calling up again, this did not happen. As you can imagine, the stress mounted up as we all wondered if we would ever get home. Luckily an early issue regarding the trains was rectified and the very last train of the day to Wolverhampton was confirmed to run, although delayed. To cut a long story short, after a very lengthy and crowded train journey, I did in fact make it home!

To sum up my Welsh adventure up, I loved the beach and town of Barmouth, and I cannot recommend it enough! It is definitely worth the visit however; I do hope that the Arriva Trains Wales service gets a lot better in the future! But for now, on to the next adventure… x

Getting your NIE


So you’ve bagged a new job in sunny Spain…what now? Firstly, CONGRATULATIONS! But wait…don’t you need to get an NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero or Foreigner’s Identification Number)? You must have heard the difficulty and effort in firstly getting an appointment set up, and secondly obtaining the NIE card. But fear not…I have been through it all and I am here to offer my advice and support in the blog below! Find out how I obtained my NIE in virtually half a day!

Firstly, from personal experience, I would definitely say don’t stress! It may seem like a daunting experience and very last minute, but that is generally how the system works. It is more laid back and it will get sorted as long as you have all the documents required. In most cases (but not all!), you will need the NIE application form (EX-15) – there is also a translation in English but remember that the form you submit must be Spanish! – passport, photocopy of passport and 2 small passport-sized photos. Normally, you will also need a letter from your workplace office to confirm your employment. You will also be required to pay a small fee. Check the website for up-to-date requirements –

Once you have all the documents, you are one step closer to getting your NIE! One option to obtaining your NIE is to book an appointment online. This is often tricky, but it can be done! Use the official website – – which will show you any available appointments. Make sure to check very early in the morning as the appointments will go very quickly!

I was unable to get an appointment before I went to Spain, so I took the more daunting route. I was due to work in Barcelona the week after and I really needed to obtain the NIE as soon as possible. I was very stressed! The way I obtained my NIE in a day was to queue outside at a police station very early in the morning. I woke up at 3am and caught a taxi to Sant Adrià de Besòs (a police station in Barcelona that I had been told about previously). When I arrived at around 4am, there were already 4 or 5 people in the queue ahead of me. We all waited until 9am when the police station opened. Approximately 10/12 people in the queue get seen for an appointment on the day. We were issued a ticket with a time to come back for our appointment. Mine was 11am so I headed to a local café to indulge a little. At 11am, I arrived back at the police station, where I was taken to a waiting room with a number. After waiting, a lady called out my number and my appointment began.

I had to hand over all my documents, including my passport, photos, a letter from work and my UK student status letter as I was on my placement year. After this, it seemed I had met all the requirements and I was told I had to go to a specific bank close by to pay the fee that they had given to me on a piece of paper. I took this and paid the fee. Then, I had to come back to the police station. I was finally issued the NIE and was able to leave and take the rest of the day off to relax and recover.

Although this seems like a long process, it only took up half a day and once I had it, I was able to begin my employment. My top tip: make sure you get to the police station very early as there is a heavy demand for NIE appointments! I hope that this has not put you off but instead, given you hope that it can be done very quickly and easily!

Happy Friday blogging! x

Essential Travel Checklist


So the day has come…YOU’RE GOING ABROAD! As the excitement sets in, you race to get ready, pack your bags for the trip and leave for the airport. As you arrive, panic sets in…have you got everything you need? Have you forgotten anything important? Where’s your passport?! To ensure you have a stress-free start to your amazing travel experience, here is my essential travel checklist to help make sure that you don’t forget anything! I hope it helps!

1) Passport/Visa

The most important item to remember when going abroad is your passport. Without this, you won’t be able to go on your travels so make sure to pack this the night before! Double check in the morning too for peace of mind.

Some countries may require a visa. You will have to check on your countries travel guide website to check whether you will need one. For example, in the UK, you can check the entry requirements for each country via Make sure you apply for your visa well in advance to ensure that the document will be ready before you travel.

2) Additional documents

Personally, an important and arguably, essential document to take with you when you travel is travel insurance. This will cover you for your time abroad and any additional sports activities, such as water sports, that you might want to do. It will normally include medical expenses, accidents, theft, loss and other categories. There are a diverse range of travel insurance options available so make sure you check them all out first before you buy so you can choose the right one for you.

If you are from the UK, EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland, you can apply for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for free. This is additional to your insurance and will cover you if you are unwell or require medical attention. The charge may be free or come at a reduced price so it is always handy to have one.

3) Flight details

There are websites that compare a range of airlines so that you can buy the cheapest and most efficient one for you! My personal favourite is SkyScanner and I have used it many times! Once booked, note down your flight details or print the details off. Often, airlines will allow you to check-in online 24 hours before you fly for free. This option is normally easier and makes your airport experience a little more stress-free!

4) Money

Before you travel, it is beneficial to exchange your money to the currency of the country which you will be visiting. If you do forget, you can always buy at the airport, however, generally this works out to be a more expensive option. Alternatively, you can use a cash machine abroad and withdraw money but often, you will incur charges based on the country and the cash machine specific bank.  

TIP: When exchanging money at home, use travel money comparison websites for an easy comparison of suppliers to see which one is the cheapest! Please note that sometimes online offers do vary from instore offers.

5) Hotel/Hostel/Apartment

For a stress-free experience, remember to book your accommodation before you travel. When you land, you will know exactly where to go and can arrange your transport to your accommodation. Hotels and hostels are very popular options as well as AirBnB apartments. Be sure to check out reviews before you book as other traveller’s experience can help you make an informed decision about where you want to stay. Once booked, make sure to print any additional documents and reservations or save them on your phone so that check-in is quick and easy!

Gloria Palace Royal Hotel & Spa, Gran Canaria
Gloria Palace Royal Hotel & Spa, Gran Canaria

6) Clothes and toiletries

Another essential is clothes and toiletries. Check the weather before you go so you can pack seasonal clothing and accessories. Toiletries are useful to take as well but make sure to check the airlines flight restrictions on toiletries and what you can and cannot take. If you forget to pack any items, remember that, more often than not, you will be able to buy items when you are abroad so don’t worry!

7) Phone/Camera/Laptop

Last but by no means least, remember to take your phone, tablet, camera or laptop with you to capture all the amazing memories and stay connected with the world! Don’t forget to bring chargers and charger adapters too!

I hope that this checklist has helped you have a stress-free experience when travelling! If you want to be super prepared before you go, use social media e.g. Facebook groups, Instagram and Twitter to connect with fellow travellers and see how they found their experience to that country. It is also a great way to make friends before you travel and get some more advice! I hope you have a great experience wherever you are planning on travelling! x

Top 3 Day Trips in Barcelona


Barcelona is a top European destination with hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to its city centre to experience what it has to offer. The hustle and bustle of this city and the atmosphere is amazing however, there are places in Barcelona where you can enjoy the tranquility and amazing views that the city has to offer. These are unique to the city and make Barcelona so much more than just another European city. Experience a different side to the city. Here are my top 3 day trips that I would recommend visiting in Barcelona!

1) Montserrat

My top choice is Montserrat! Here, you can take in the stunning views, relax and even reflect outside of the hustle and bustle of city life! It’s a perfect day out which you can enjoy alone or with friends and family.

The start of the journey begins at Plaça Espanya. Here, you have to take the R5 train (to Manresa), getting off at either Aeri de Montserrat or Monistrol de Montserrat. If you want to get the cable car up to the Monastery, get off at Aeri de Montserrat. However, if you want to either hike or get the funicular up to the Monastery, get off at Monistrol de Montserrat.

When you reach the monastery, you can visit the Basilica of Monserrat, the Art Museum of Monserrat, Sant Miquel’s Cross and the Santa Cova Chapel. There are also a number of outdoor stalls – in which locals sell various food products and products – cafes, a restaurant and a souvenir shop. You can also hike around the mountain to higher points and enjoy a picnic or relax infront of the stunning views.

It is definitely worth visiting if you have the time!


2) Mount Tibidabo

A trip to Mount Tibidabo is also an excellent way to enjoy a family or/and friends day out! There are various ways of getting there, however I would recommend getting the T2A bus from Plaça Catalunya, which runs every 20 minutes.

The first thing you see when you get off the bus is the absolutely stunning architecture of the ‘Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón.’ It is free to enter this church and take in the breath-taking views from the outdoor grounds. For a small cost, you can go right up to the top of the church’s viewing platform, directly underneath the statue of Christ.

Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón

You’ll also find the highly popular amusement park here! It has a great retro look and is so much fun with a range of classic fairground rides. There are also food stalls and ice-cream stands around the park if you are feeling a little peckish. There is even a Xurreria stand!

The mountain is also a great place for walks. There are many paths across the mountain to explore and enjoy. There is also green spaces to enjoy, especially if you have bought your own picnic along with you.

Mount Tibidabo

3) Montjuïc

There are several ways to get to Montjuïc. The quickest route and the one that I used to get is the funicular situated in Parallel metro station. However, if you want a more scenic route, you can use the Montjuïc’s Cable Car or Port Cable Car in Barceloneta.

At the top of the mountain, stands Montjuïc Castle. You can enter the historic castle for a small cost, however it is free to enter on Sundays after 3pm! There are also temporary exhibitions that you can see but these will depend on when you visit. The views are simply stunning, and you can walk around the castle grounds to take them all in!

If you are interested in art, there is an amazing, contemporary art museum here called ‘Fundació Joan Miró,’ dedicated and featuring works from the famous artist, Joan Miró. There are numerous pieces of art from paintings to sculptures are more!

Barcelona’s 1992 Olympic Park is also situated in Montjuïc. The Olympics played an enormous, vital role in transforming the way the world sees Barcelona as an important European city. Here, you will be able to find the main Olympic Stadium, Palau Sant Jordi and the architectural statement that is The Telecommunications Tower.

As you venture down Montjuïc, you will be able to see the Palau Nacional which hosts the MNAC(National Art Museum of Catalunya). The building itself is just so beautiful and is surrounded by stunning views and greenery. Inside, you will be able to explore thousands of art work pieces and various expositions.

At the bottom of Montjuïc, you will find the Magic fountains. There are fountain shows here that must not be missed! These shows last around 15 minutes and are totally free. They do get busy often, so I would recommend getting there early and securing your spot. I would also recommend taking some drinks or food along and relax as you watch the show!    

Thank you for reading my blog on the Top 3 day-trips in Barcelona! I hope you have enjoyed reading this and that it has opened your eyes that Barcelona is much more than just a standard, European city! x

My Top 5 Bars in Barcelona


Did someone say bar??? If you are like me and love to socialise, Barcelona is certainly the place to be. With hundreds of bars throughout the city, you will be spoilt for choice. Barcelona’s bars are such great places to meet up with old friends and even make new ones! Here are my favourite affordable bars to visit when in Barcelona!

Sharing is caring!

1) Bar Jardí

Carrer de la Portaferrissa, 17, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest Metro: L4 Jaume I or L1, L3, L6, L7 Pl Catalunya

Located at the back of a shop and up the stairs, is this secret, hidden gem of a bar. This rooftop bar is totally unique and is a great place to relax and unwind. Although the menu of drinks on offer is small, the quality, affordability and freshness of the drinks definitely makes this bar stand out.

Bar Jardí, Barcelona

2) Dow Jones

Carrer del Bruc, 97, 08009 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro: L4 Girona

Ever heard of a stock-exchange bar? Well you have now! For an exciting and completely unique experience, Dow Jones is a must! The prices of all drinks fluctuate throughout the night, leaving you in control of when you buy your favourite drinks. There are also crashes when the prices of drinks hit an all low, creating a mad rush to the bar to get the best deals.

3) The Coconut Club

Carrer Marina, 19 – 21, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro: L4 Ciutadella | Vila Olímpica

For a bustling atmosphere with great music, visit The Coconut Club. Located near to Barcelona’s beach nightclubs, this bar is the perfect place to start your night out! Although slightly pricier than the other bars listed here, the quality and atmosphere is something to be a part of!

The Coconut Club, Barcelona

4) Sub Rosa

Carrer d’en Rauric, 23, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro: L3 Liceu

Located off one of the many narrow side-streets in the Gothic Quarter, Sub Rosa offers a diverse variety of drinks in a uniquely designed small bar. It is a great place to meet friends and there is even a Happy Hour, meaning drink’s prices are very affordable.

Sub Rosa, Barcelona

5) Broders

Carrer de Còrsega, 232, 08036 Barcelona, Spain
Nearest metro: L6, L7 Provença

This colourful and Latin American-themed bar is another great place to meet friends and family. Enjoy a range of cocktails, beers and wine here along with a delicious range of food! It certainly has an authentic vibe!

Whenever I’m in Barcelona, I enjoy spending some of my free time at these bars and I hope that you do to! So sit back, relax, socialise and enjoy the atmosphere! x

Top 8 Places to Visit in Barcelona


Barcelona is a city that will forever remain in my heart. In 2017, I had the opportunity to live and work in this amazing city and experience life to the max. I got to see so many different sides to the city and discover some of the city’s hidden gems. I have written this blog to give you a few helpful tips of places that I would recommend visiting when in Barcelona! I hope it helps!

1) Bunkers del Carmel

Carrer de Marià Labèrnia, 08032 Barcelona, Spain
Recommended transport: Bus 24

This is my top recommendation – 100%! I can not recommend this place enough. Situated in the district, El Carmel, this spot is definitely a hidden gem. These bunkers originated from the Spanish civil war and acted as a defensive base. However, now, locals and an increasing number of tourists visit here to get an amazing 360-degree view of the city. People bring picnics and even enjoy a glass or two of wine, whilst enjoy these views and watching the sun set. Sometimes, there is even some live music to enjoy whilst relaxing!

2) Parc Güell

08024 Barcelona, Spain
Recommended transport: Metro L3 Lesseps or Vallcarca

Also situated in El Carmel, is the well-known Parc Güell. This park is famous for its designs and artwork from the artist, Antonio Gaudí. It is truly stunning and unique in style. It is a great place to explore and take in the culture and beauty with friends and family.

3) Sagrada Familia

Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Recommended transport: Metro L2/L5 Sagrada Familia

You can not visit Barcelona without visiting the world famous Sagrada Familia. Designed by Gaudí, this stunning cathedral is beautiful both inside and out. Although it is not yet completed, the designs and attention to detail is awe-inspiring. It’s unique style, especially inside, ensures that it stands out from the rest.

4) Camp Nou

Carrer d’Aristides Maillol, 12, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Recommended transport: Metro L3 Les Corts or Palau Reial

¡Mes que un club! Camp Nou is home to the football giants, Barcelona FC. This stadium is certainly one of the places I would recommend. Last year, I had the opportunity to watch a football game and the atmosphere was truly amazing. The passion of the supporters really comes across. It is definitely something great to experience whilst you are visiting the city.

5) Port Vell

Moll d’Espanya, 08039 Barcelona, Spain
Recommended transport: Metro L4 Barceloneta

The Port of Barcelona is one of Europe’s important ports and this section is definitely worth a visit. It is such a sight to see, with numerous super yachts and other boats stalled next to each other. It is surrounded by many restaurants, bars and shops such as Maremagnum – which is open nearly every day of the year. It also has a cinema and aquarium too!

6) Beaches

Passeig Marítim de la Nova Icària, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
Recommended transport: Metro L4 Ciutadella/Vila Olímpica

You can’t come to Barcelona without exploring its beaches first! My favourite beach is Nova Icària as it is slightly quieter and better quality than the main touristic beach of Barceloneta. However, all beaches in Barcelona are a great place to unwind, take in the sun and enjoy the surroundings.

7) Plaça de Catalunya

Plaça de Catalunya, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Recommended transport: Metro L1, L3, L6, L7 Pl Catalunya

This is the main centre of the city and is used often as a meeting point for friends and family. It connects to many streets, such as Passeig de Gràcia (full of designer shops) and La Rambla (the famous long street that connects the centre of the city to the port).

8) Gothic Quarter

Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Spain
Recommended transport: Metro L4 Jaume I

Explore this unique and medieval district in Barcelona. Full of narrow streets, every corner holds a surprise. You can find unique shops and outlets along with numerous hidden restaurants. Street artists can also be seen performing throughout this district.

Thank you for reading my post! I hope it has helped you get a few ideas of where to go when you visit Barcelona! I hope you have an amazing experience! x