Travel Diary (Day 15) – Sogndal – Bergen

Day 15 – 4/10

Well, sadly our time in Norway had come to an end. It was time to wave goodbye to our gorgeous Air BnB boathouse loft and head back to Bergen. Now on any other holiday and in literally any non-Scandinavian country we would have taken our time, we would have just paid the extra day. We however were renting a car in Norway and therefore there was absolutely zero chance we would be returning our car a minute past 11:30, because quite frankly we didn’t have the money to spare!

Grant woke us up at 6am and we were on the road by 6:30am, heading back to Bergen. Being the Wife of the year I consider myself to be, I very solemnly swore to remain awake and alert with Grant for the four hour journey (in the dark and in the rain). I then woke up in Njardarheimr in Gudvangen, which was around two hours into our journey. Bad Wife. Also, can I just say how confusing it is to wake up after sleeping to see two traditionally Viking dressed persons at the service station?

However this was not the most shocking part about the service station. Oh no, not at all. Pop quiz for all of you playing at home. How much would you expect 3/4 of a tank of diesel for a VW Polo? Did you guess $120 AUD? No?! Weird! Neither did we. I think we only cried for the next 40km.

Once we made it back to Bergen, it was apparent that the beautiful weather we had been experiencing was long gone, it was absolutely bucketing down. So rather than wrangling all of our luggage in the rain in a cab, Grant dropped me at the Hurtigruten terminal and took the hire car back and then he cabbed it back to me.

Now. What happened next may or may not be a miscommunication, but it kind of set the tone for the rest of that day. We were aware that you could do a bag-drop at 1pm (thank god!) and could check-in from 3:30pm and get onto the ship. So, we cooled our heals in the coffee shop at the terminal, excited to know that technically it was our last out of pocket expense for food for the next week (we had paid for the full-board package oh our journey (this does NOT include alcohol). We dropped our bags at 1pm and asked what we needed to do to check-in. Now, our recollection of these instructions were that we could get our tickets and then at 3:30pm we could go upstairs and board. Pretty clear right?

So off we skip, into town to try and see more of Bergen than we had the other day. Except it was hammering down rain, which we don’t mind, but it can really kill your strolling around town vibe! We went to the Irish pub we had seen, except they don’t open until 5pm and quite frankly, I am not sure the Irish are aware of this. Surely it’s against Irish law?! The barkeep (I am positive that’s not the term, but ah well) kindly told us (with judgement in his eyes) that no, we could not drink there but thankfully there was a coffee shop around the corner where we could get a meal.

We found a booth at said coffee shop, saw a sign for ale, reminded one another of the dietary blessing that is a stout that it’s magical liquid is basically a steak and two eggs and that technically we were eating.

Guinness was not available but we found Murphy’s Irish Stout and promptly ordered several pints of this. We FaceTimed the kids which is always really nice when we are travelling and let them know that we would be on a ship for the next week so reception might be poor. We then took a walk around the old fishing village and checked out a few stores.

Bergen was founded in 1070AD and was the capital of Norway for many years. A central point for Norwegian travel it holds the beautiful history UNESCO-listed Bryggen district, which is dated back to the 14th century. When we stopped in at one of the sweet little gift shops down an incredibly old alley, we learned that the Norwegians take great pride in their manhole covers on their roads, and in fact each municipality has a different plate with intricate designs on them.

We had an hour to spare before we could get onto the ship and so we found a local supermarket, bought two rather large beers and drank them like uncouth backstreet bandits. It was pouring and we had a few stouts under our belts. Not my proudest moment but hey, that’s travel for you babe!

Now is the time to bring back into focus the aforementioned ‘miscommunication’ at the check-in counter, because it’s a doozy. We make our way upstairs, the lovely lady tells us that check-in has been moved to 4pm. No matter. That’s just another half hour wait. We see downstairs that there is easily 200 people waiting to do their bag drop and check-in. Oh my god we think, thank god we did that earlier. That line looks horrendous.

So 4pm rolls around, we’ve got the jump on hundreds of people and then it happens. We find out that yes, we’ve done a bag drop but no, we aren’t checked in. Wait, what?!

So downstairs we go, beaten. Devastated. Horrified. We were now at the back of the line of hundreds of people who, and I mean absolutely no disrespect here, but people who in the event of any emergency are not winning that hate v. Tortoise race. Ever.

An hour and a half later we get to the front. We check-in. We’ve had at least 15 comments on our age, our lack of luggage, our height and our age. Great.

Hurtigruten is not marketed as a seniors cruise, so let’s get that out of the way. It’s an incredible, educational and adventure trip up and down the coast of Norway and guess what? We had every right to be there with ever other person and we had certainly paid for it!

All of that aside we finally made our way onto the ship and even though they advise your rooms are not available until 6pm we figured if the room opened we could go in and drop our belongings. I think we may have been the reason it was announced over the speaker that you were not permitted into your rooms until 6pm. Sorry Hurtigruten. Also when we made our booking we had requested and paid for a room with unobstructed views. Trust me when I say the price difference is noticeable. So when we first boarded and saw large life boats sitting outside our room, our hearts sank. However when we had a peek into our room we saw that for the most part we could see outside of our window. Not whilst in bed though, we could only see the lifeboats. So that was disappointing but not the end of the trip.

Once we were allowed into our rooms we unpacked, found the laundry – washed our clothes and got ready for dinner. Our dinner spot for the first night was beautiful, the food was amazing and our early night to bed, in the comfiest bed we had had all trip was welcomed.

It was time to start our Hurtigruten voyage!

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Travel Diary (Day 12) – Bergen to Sogndal

Day 12 – Monday 1/10 – Bergen – Sogndal

We woke up this morning in beautiful sunny Bergen, completely taken away with what an incredible location our hotel was. We were staying right near the fish markets and it’s location to the harbour made us wish we were staying for longer!

Our hotel came with a free breakfast and everything you could possibly want was available to us. I will never say no to a free breakfast, I’ll pretty much load up on as much food as I can to survive the day. Also, given the price of pretty much everything up here I’m inclined to shove pastries in my pockets (but haven’t….yet).

After a quick walk around Bryggen, several coffees and a forty-five minute battle with Lycamobile via phone / text / app and website to get G’s up and running. Here’s a tip, play dumb when someone rude as hell in an airport sells you a Sim and Credit, and ask them to top it up for you. Otherwise you are going to end up with a useless little plastic SIM card.

We ended up seating ourselves at a coffee shop, feeding off of the free WiFi and managed to get Grants sim working for 100NKK, which was around $20 Australian. Also, the credit that comes with SIM cards in Europe is crazy! He know has 60gig, which I doubt he would use in a year. I on the other hand, Ashe dutiful Wife will make light work of it!

We headed back to our hotel, I packed our bags and Grant caught a cab to the Hertz to pick our car up and drive it back. He was back with a zippy little VW within the hour, we did a small grocery shop and hit the road.

Our nav told us it would be four hours out to Søgndal and it was already passed lunch so we legged it. We drove straight through Flåm by accident and decided to keep going, with the hope we could see the area on our way home. Originally when we made our travel plans we had intended on doing the Norway in a Nutshell journey, but the price was obscene and still incredibly limiting without your own transport, so we scrapped that and decided to make our own way.

We had time to stop and see the incredible Borgund Stave Church, this place is absolutely incredible and was completed in the 12th Century.

Our little hire-car did the job and before we knew it we had made it to the Manheller-Fodnes ferry, which only costs around $20AUD to get across to the otherside. The efficiency of these barges are amazing. Once we crossed the fjord we were faced with two tunnels, one of which was 24km long! Which is a crazy long tunnel to drive through.

As we drove into Sogndal, we knew we had made the right choice, on heading in-land for a while, just our Air BnB in the loft above a boat-shed. We arrived quite late so we did a quick shop (just basics but honestly, the price of Norway is crippling!).

Sogndal is a municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. It is a beautiful little town on the northern shore of the Sognefjorden and has a population of just under eight thousand people. Your three star hotel averages around 200 euro’s, thankfully we had managed to score our Air BnB for three nights for under $600.

We settled in with some wine, some Netflix and an early night, we wanted to make sure we made the absolute most of our time in the area!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

Travel Diary (Day 11) – Faroe Islands to Bergen (via Copenhagen)

Day 11 – Sunday 30/9 – Faroe Islands – Bergen (vis Copenhagen)

Well we knew today was a write-off, as most transit days can be. We had no idea how long the day would feel though! As our schedule really only allowed us to visit the Faroes for three days, this meant we would leave on a Sunday. Sadly there are no direct flights on a Sunday from Vàgar to Bergen, so we needed to fly via Copenhagen.

As our travels tend to play out, we woke up to shocking weather and we were beyond pleased to have experienced the beautiful weather we had whilst we were there.

Our flight was not until lunchtime, so we had a few hours to explore Vagar a little more, we drove out to a beautiful old cathedral, boat harbour and village with some older style log buildings.

We drove back to the airport, dropped off our fantastic little cat which had served us well and decided that wine + beers at the airport were our best-bet for some time wasting.

Once we were on the plane we had a few more drinks and watched movies on our phones and we were back in Copenhagen. We had around a four and a half hour layover in Copenhagen, but once we collected our luggage and then took it to the departures terminal and survived that disaster we couldn’t be bothered leaving the terminal. We had originally planned to maybe go back into Copenhagen and see some more, but sadly that was not to be!

We departed Copenhagen around 9pm and landed in Bergen at 10:30pm, it was such a long day. Once we had our bags we then headed out to our bus transfer which dropped us off at the Torget stop near the old fish markets which was the same block as our hotel!

Originally we had booked to stay at a place called Citybox Hotel, but in my over-prepared state as I couldn’t pre-pay the stay I had cancelled it and booked elsewhere. We stayed at the Magic Hotel in Bergen and it was gorgeous! The rooms great, the location could not have been better, incredibly comfortable bed and all-inclusive breakfast in the morning. If you are heading to Bergen, I couldn’t recommend this hotel any more!

Really not too much to update on today, given it was a transit day – only that we are finding the serving of hot fish meals on planes to be, um…different? Also a lady kept turning around in her seat and turning our air pumps off above our seats. Seriously she did it three times, until I had to tell her ‘No, leave it – that’s my fan and it’s on me’. Oh and the other lady that tried to stay on her mobile phone during our plane’s taxi – hiding behind her seat. Hilarious.

The Scandinavians are a very tolerant and patient bunch, put it that way! We all know what sort of responses occur with that sort of behaviour in America!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

Travel Diary (Day 8)- Faroe Islands

Day 9 – Friday 28/9

Waking up and knowing that you are heading to a magical land you stumbled across through Pinterest five years ago, is to say the least, a little overwhelming.

As excited as we both were, we really had no idea what our expectations should be or what we would be coming across. We knew that the weather for most of our trip was likely to be rain-filled, windy and cold. So to some degree we were prepared for that (side note: jeans, as fond as Aussies are of them, are not technically wet/warm-weather pants), other than that we had no idea what would be awaiting us.

We caught a cab from our hostel to the Copenhagen Central train station, as neither of us really felt like hauling our packs there. Once we were at the station it was all pretty straight-forward and just like that, we were on our journey to Vágar Airport, Faroe Islands. The flight was only two hours, Atlantic Airways has movies available on their internal and free Wi-Fi which is always appreciated! I made a terrible choice and watched a movie about an elderly couple, one of whom has Alzheimer’s and the other terminal cancer. Grant watched a comedy and his thoughts were “why are you crying? Always go dumb with the movie Courtney. Always”. I’ll admit it, there was far too much crying on that plane.

As our plane came in for landing and we spotted many of the Faroe Islands our of our window, we were nearly jumping from our seats. Flying into the Faroes is other-worldly, it is honestly like nothing you have ever seen before. Or in our case, will ever see again.

Getting off the plane was easy, getting the keys to our hire car was easy – there was just one problem. My international sim did not work there. Grant had bought a SIM card at the Copenhagen airport as well as the top-up credit, with the assurance (yet disdain) that it would work by the cashier. Yet here we were, in the Faroes with absolutely no reception. Thankfully I managed to feed offa servo’s Wi-Fi as G bought us very bizarre drinks (my request admittedly) which tasted like Guinness cola soda (but in a bad way, not a good way). So after a few back and forthcoming we found our Air BnB in Tórshavn.

Our Air BnB absolutely blew away any expectations we had, it was gorgeous, local to everything and had anything you could possibly need. Relief. Pure relief after our bare-as-bones hostel stay the two nights before.

It was a converted area on the bottom floor of our hosts home. We had a separate bedroom, laundry, wet room, tv with Apple TV and a courtyard. The kitchen was fully equipped and it just felt like home. For three nights we paid around $600 Australian and our host had left some local fruit and biscuits and locally brewed beer as well. It was just lovely.

It was getting on in the day so we went and spent a small fortune on a grocery shop, came home, had a few drinks and watched tv. The little comforts. We also started planning our Faroe Island attack for the next couple of days.

I was still coughing and generally being gross (seriously a holiday tradition of mine is to be a germ-riddled pain in the arse. So Grant slept in the lounge room, which is so unfair for him. He’s such a gentleman, honestly if it was me I would have kicked me out to the lounge room.

It was hard to believe we were finally here, this little place we had only dreamt of, changed our plans for and squirrelled away an extra amount of money which would make your eyes water to get there!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

Travel Diary (Day 6) – Paris to Copenhagen

Day 6 – Tuesday 25/9

Today was the day we were to say aurevoir to Paris, as sad as it was we were incredibly excited to start the next leg of our adventure. Initially the morning did not start out well. We may or may not have over-indulged in the red wine on our dinner cruise the night before. So to wake up, pack our bags and get out and going was much harder than it should be.

Once we were packed and loaded to the high-heavens (why the hell have I packed so many things?!!), it was time to head to the metro station. Naturally the metro we needed had serious delays so we thought about catching the local bus. Then we realised that I’m horribly poor planning we didn’t have any cash to buy tickets (because, idiots). So we walked 500m the WRONG way, because our internet is deadset out to ruin our lives (seems dramatic, but remember = wine flu), then we turned around and walked the other way. Then we got off at the right stop to catch the bus that goes directly to the airport. Of course on the wrong side of the Arc de Triomphe, which meant legging it the other way. Then we horribly, terribly, inexcusably asked the bus driver if we were at the wrong one. This question caused the type of offence you would think would occur if you kicked someone’s dog or spat on their bus. He yelled at us in French and indicated we should basically piss off. To be fair, G spoke French really well when he asked the question. So, go figure. Maybe he had wine flu as well (or was an a-hole). The next bus driver was lovely and told us to move one bus stop down (old mate cranky pants had told us to walk around the corner, so he’s a jerk).

Regardless, we made it to the airport and might I say, these European airports have got this check-in situation SORTED. For someone who likes a smooth check-in, having the ability to pretty much do the entire thing on my own – is total travel bliss. Charles de Gaulle airport is really cool, it reminds me of a museum, all of these different tunnels and escalators weaving in and out from each other.

Once we got to our gate, I awkwardly made myself the table mate of a man who was sort of kind of hogging all the power-points. It must have been interesting watching this non-French speaking human pull out around 12 cables and plug in every single digital appliance known to man and get to charging!

G came back with chocolate croissants the size of our heads and two gigantic coffees. Hello wine-flu cure! Our flight from Paris to Copenhagen was around two hours. Luggage pick-up was cruiser and we were out of the airport within half an hour. What’s crazy is this whole non-boarded situation, it seems such a waste having to buy a 50-something page Passport only to get two stamps!

We bought a two-day travel pass for our stay, because we knew it was the best value for money. We had so many grand plans for Copenhagen, such limited time BUT, I was quickly crashing from some germ I had picked up from somewhere. We caught a Taxi to our hotel as Uber does not exist in Copenhagen (how reliant on Uber’s we have become for clear instructions, despite any language complexities!). Once we made it to our accomodation, we quickly found out what the meaning of a hostel is. Upon check in, we paid for a laundry room card, were given a couple of bags of sheets and towels and we were on our way. The view was spectacular, but after our luscious stays in Paris, the bare-bones hostel style was somewhat shocking. Once the bed was made, I was out. I slept from 3pm until the next day. So poor G was left to his own divides. Props to him though, he went out and wandered and got a feel for the place. I’m just sorry I missed it. My body desperately needed that sleep though. Apparently I slept/snored and tossed around like a demon-possessed freak for the night, but I think it helped.

Unfortunately, I did not really make the best of our time in Copenhagen for day one, but we made it, illness sometimes happens when you travel, and with a month ahead of us, I needed to just miss our a bit and let my body do its thing.

We made it to Copenhagen!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

Will I break my back(pack) on my next trip?

Have you ever travelled over 36 hours internationally, only to reach your destination and realise you have packed a bag of rubbish (tags and receipts from your pre-vacay purchases), into your suitcase instead of a bag of undergarments? NO? Just me. Weird.

My first solo international trip I had a bag which may as well have been the same size as me. Which was an absolute hoot to drag up and down old European hotels which did NOT have elevators (now is a good time to let you know I was absolutely not prepared for international travel in 2009).

Let me show you the monstrosity I thought was suitable, for those playing at home – a bag this size is never appropriate. Ever. If you notice, there are additional bags because releasing two Aussie girls and a Kiwi girl into America was quite literally, letting loose in a candy store. Yep. Those bags are mostly filled with snacks. #noshame (okay, maybe a little shame).

giant pink bagI’ve tried soft bags, hard bags, bags with internal ribbing, bags with locks, bags without locks, bags wrapped in plastic (thanks to Mum who was not at all okay with me going to Thailand in 2012). I have tried the vacuum packs, the packing cubes and also separating clothes and accessories into their own situation. Guess what? It changed nothing. I am a mess of a person when it comes to contained, constrained and appropriate packing.

Fondly known as a ‘Court-nado’ (thanks Jem), my ability to take a beautiful new space and absolutely cover it in the remnants from my exploded bag within thirty seconds would be (if not hideously annoying), a marketable skill. bag explosionG and I are heading on a different trip this time, we are not guaranteed footpaths or lifts or even paved ground. So it was time to succumb to the backpack. I’ve often put it off because I am not overly sure I have the skills to lug a backpack around let alone pack it correctly. G was pretty excited to get his as it matches his smaller daypack I bought him for his birthday. So I ummed and ahhhed and then in a typical copycat-Wife fashion, bought the exact backpack (but in pink, obviously).

So far it has sat in the cupboard, staring aggressively at me. I think it knows I have no idea how to bond with it. This poor backpack could have been the property of an equipped backpacker and yet it has me. I’m sorry. I am going to try my very best to not ruin you, also I don’t want to ruin my back because then G will have to carry both of our bags and me and I think we all know how that is going to end (G will raid my bag for anything he wants, put it into his bag and leave me and my pink bag on the side of the road somewhere).img_2930So, my question to you all (and please feel free to give me all of the help and all of the advice) is, WHAT EXACTLY DO I NEED WITH MY BACKPACK?

Is there some kind of packing separators? How do you pack it? Are they good or are they bad? Are there any recommended accessories you can recommend? We have 73 days to get this show on the road and I don’t want to appear as obviously out of my depth with a backpack as I probably look now….

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post. I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

 

 

My go-to movies to make my heart happy <3

I absolutely LOVE throwing myself into a movie, tv series, book, music – you name it, if it offers me some form of escapism, or if I am hungover, or if I just do not want to leave the house – then I am in! I have 100’s of favourite movies, but here are ten which, without fail, are the movie version of chicken-soup-for-my-soul.

In no particular order, here is my list of my favourites – enjoy! P.S These are normally enjoyed with tea and or wine ;).

Overboard (1987)

This is a movie which I watched with my sister and my mother so many times, we have lost count. It’s hilarious. Goldie Hawn a snooty heiress who ends up with amnesia and becomes the ‘Wife’ of the Carpenter (Kurt Russell) she mocked? Amazing. If you re-watch it now, I guess you could say ‘kidnapping’ and ‘criminal’ and ‘immoral’ but I just think it is 1987 at its finest. Also seeing as I am constantly being asked when I am having a baby I like to quote this exact movie ‘if I have a baby, I won’t be the baby’ ;).

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Steve Martin’s epic journey to get home to his family for Thanksgiving, trailing along with the ever-annoying, but loveable John Candy. It is another movie that reminds you that kindness costs nothing. It is a comedy, and I remember laughing with my entire family watching this one, but it also gives me all the feels. Despite its age, the core of the story remains ever-relevant.

Mrs Doubtfire (1993)

Hellooooo! I watched this movie probably 4 or 5 times every year when I was a kid. It was my first exposure to divorce, Robin Wiliams’ extraordinary talent, San Francisco, cross-dressing and Pierce Brosnan playing a skeazy d*ckwad. I love this movie, I still watch this movie and I cry every time I think about poor Robin and the pain such an amazing man experienced throughout his life. Also the sentence ‘the whole time!?’ is a staple in our household.

Practical Magic (1998)

I definitely seem to love the movies with lost love, not sure why! Is that morbid? I don’t know. I love Practical Magic, it came out when I was about 15 and excuse the pun, but it was completely bewitching. It was also scary when I first watched it – it did however remind me that love is real and one day I would have it <3. I love Sandra Bullock and I cannot help but love ‘our’ Nic. It also reminds you to stand up for yourself, not to give into bullying and to have your families back x

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Heath Ledger. Kat’s Teen angst. A powerful female character who was not the most popular chick in school and who was well-read. Heath Ledger. That scene with Joey doing the exact same pose for underwear and swimsuits at Bogey Lowenstein’s party. Oh my god. The poem, the end scene, the kiss at the paintball. Just stop. 14 year old me could barely handle the excitement of this movie (and 31 year old me is still the same level of excited). This movie always makes me feeling ‘just whelmed’ :).

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

This movie has won no particular accolades, many people have not even seen it. I remember borrowing it from Video Ezy in one of my manic Friday afternoon 10 for $10. However, from the first time I saw it – I loved it and I still love it to this day. Diane Lane is Frances, a writer who goes through a marriage break-down and impulsively buys and restores a tuscan villa on a holiday. Uplifting, inspiring, girl-power, you can do it on your own. I absolutely Love it. If anything, this movie taught me that I had to love myself before I could love someone else.

Love Actually (2003)

Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth? A little boy finding love and chasing after it with conviction even just after his Mum has died? Billy-Bob Thornton playing a sleazy American President? An entire village in Portugal thinking Jamie is there to kill Aurelia? What isn’t to love? It is a staple Christmas-time movie and to be honest, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Love Actually, because, love, actually is all around ❤

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)

Who doesn’t love Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey as Benjamin Barry and Andie Anderson in this movie? All of the feelings! Special mention to Kathryn Hahn for being her usual hilarious self in this one as love-clueless Michelle. I like this movie because it embarrasses men and women – shows us how ridiculous we both can be! Also, Princess Sophia, making men curl their toes in embarrassment for years! Which couple hasn’t had the love-fern fight?

The Upside of Anger (2005)

Joan Allen is a woman whom I absolutely adore, and in this movie my love affair with her only grew. When Terry’s husband leaves her and her four daughters, her life is flipped on its head. Terry needs to draw strength to support her family and each one of their unique lives. It is gritty, it has some dark moments but it is feel-good. I do think its an adequate portrayal of a family filled with head-strong and very different women. Kevin Costner is brilliant in this as well and even though the movie is hardly all sparkles and sunflowers, it is a feel-good movie that I just keeping come back to.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Again – empowering! Also Meryl Streep (there is no Meryl Streep I do not love!) Emily Blunt (the most adorable English rose in Hollywood if you ask me). Stanley Tucci, the thought of being exposed to all of that fashion! Ruthless behaviour, demanding Boss. Sign me up! It’s glossy and not a true portrayal of probably any real-life situation but I don’t care. I love it and it makes me happy.

P.S I Love You (2007)

Ireland, Gerard Butler, the ultimate acts of love – even beyond the grave, a family rallying together to support a woman who has lost the love of her life. I love this movie. It makes me bawl my eyes out, it makes me remember why I love who I love and to let them know. Every, damned, time. The book is amazing and although I am not the biggest fan of Ms Swank’s, I absolutely adored the movie.

Tell me, what is your go-to movie, to perk yourself back up?

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see!

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

x C x

My 2009 Europe Adventure – at 23

My first solo overseas adventure – naïve, unprepared and a little shell-shocked

Brisbane – London

When I was 23 I had my first overseas adventure. I would love to say I packed a backpack and travelled the world for 12 months, coming back a hardened and seasoned traveller, with empty pockets and a head full of memories.

The last two are true (ridiculous actually) but the first part was a dream which quickly fell to the wayside. My mother basically insinuated that I would be locked in a room if I attempted my solo backpacking trip to South America. So at her requests (read: demands) I was booked on a three week Contiki journey around Europe. I know that sounds terrible (I am sure there are some intense eye rolls happening right now along with “that’s not travel!”).

I disagree though, I packed a bag and went overseas. That’s travel. We need to stop judging each other on our journey’s, the way we judge pain or experience or loss or achievement. It is all relative, who are we to judge others? Some people go overseas and volunteer and sleep rough, that’s amazing. Some people travel luxury and never leave the resorts in the countries they visit, that’s amazing. Some people hitchhike, that’s dangerously amazing. Some people go on a different Contiki each year that is also amazing. Travel is travel, as long as you come home with some awareness of how fortunate you are for being able to travel and you don’t behave like an over-privileged and insensitive jerk, then good on you!

So, back to my Contiki. Regardless of this being an organised tour with one of the world’s most popular tour companies, this trip was something I set off on alone. I had never travelled to Europe, did not speak any other language and the longest flight I had been on was around five hours. I had been to NZ, but really that is just ‘crossing the ditch’, so the journey is still less than it is to fly from the east to west coast here in Australia.

My trip was from London to London, a 21-day adventure took me from London to Paris, Lucerne, the French Riviera, Florence, Rome, Venice, the Austrian Tyrol, Munich, Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam and back to London.

I bought my flights only a couple of months before departure, flying from Brisbane to London, I flew Emirates with stops in Singapore and Dubai. The trip itself (door to door) took around thirty hours. I made the mistake of not getting off the plane to stretch my legs in Singapore and in Dubai I only had time to run from the plane, to the toilet, to my next plane. When I arrived in London, I felt like my head was spinning, I had lost all track of time, realised I had left home without a phone (in 2009 I just didn’t think I needed one?) and caught a shuttle bus into London.

I arrived at the Royal National Hotel in London which has a 3.3/5 star rating on google, but in 2009 it probably would have been 2 stars, if it was lucky. When I made my booking, I had zero idea that I had been booked into a hostel/share-room type situation. I arrived quite late and by the time I was given a swipe card which gave me access to my room (x3 visits back and forth to the front desk with my gigantic pink suitcase in tow), I went into my room, saw the two beds in the dark, saw a suitcase unpacked near the door and actually though I had been given the wrong room. Nope. I was in a share room. Weird, why did I not know that before?

I was so rattled that I just climbed into bed and made zero attempts to let my family know I had A) arrived in London; and B) was okay. Jet-lagged as I was, I was beyond excited to be somewhere else other than Australia, I was in LONDON!

So, first day in London. Woke up, got dressed and went for a wander. Found a delicious little eatery called Giraffe in Bloomsbury (which is still there if you can believe it!) and tucked into a gigantic English style breakfast. Once I had eaten I realised that I should probably find some way to let my Mum know that I was okay (seriously, 23 – can you be any more ridiculous?!), I went to the Contiki Basement back near the hotel and sent a few emails, checked Facebook – you know the usual activities.

I had been booked into the hotel for three nights, so I spent the day wandering around and doing my own thing. Later that afternoon I met up with another Brisbane girl who was booked for the same tour and we made a plan to explore the next day. It was a really weird holding space, waiting for your tour to begin, it was both comforting and limiting spending the first amount of tie with someone from your home town (was this the travel experience I was looking for?). We ended up having an amazing day – we walked from our hotel, down to Big Ben, across Westminster Bridge, down to the London Bridge and back again. It was a really lovely day out, sun shining, beautiful weather and a really nice intro to beautiful London.

We had our tour group meeting that night and as at 6am the next morning we were on the road!

Now – if you are thinking about your first trip overseas, on your own and you’re late-teens /early twenties I have some (probably super obvious) advice for you! This may seem ridiculous but this actually happened and if anything it should give you a laugh:

  • When you are travelling overseas, take a phone or something you can communicate with people through. Checking into Facebook 48 hours after you left home, is not the loving contact your parents are after;
  • When you pack your bag and you are happy with what you have, remove 2/3rds of it. Seriously, you do not need it;
  • Make some attempt of learning basic phrases of another language. Hello, goodbye, please, thank you, toilet, how much? This WILL make your life easier;
  • Have some currency on you. I know this seems really obvious but in 2009 I was kind of just winging it. Learn from my mistake;
  • Have some idea as to where you are staying and if someone will also be in the same room.
  • Pack more than just thongs and runners. This is not enough footwear. Not at all.
  • Pack a wallet or a purse. Again this is so obvious it is cringe-worthy.

Do you remember you first trip? Did you do anything ridiculously naïve like me?

x C x

A love for travel <3

One of the most amazing things to occur after you have been planning and saving for a trip after many months/years is when you arrive at your destination. You are no longer glued to that photo somebody else took and which you downloaded or screen-shotted many moons ago. You are there. Finally.

And you know what? Nothing is more beautiful than that moment. I say this a lot, but honestly the most breathtaking moment I have ever had whilst travelling was when I was in South America and I saw Machu Picchu. Anyone who knows me, will vouch for the fact that I am rarely without words, but Peru…Peru silenced me. I had planned the trip for almost two years with my girlfriend Jemma and to finally be there was just amazing.

The first time I knew I wanted to explore the world, I was not quite six years old. I had the most vivid dream. I was exploring waterfalls and caves with my Dad, I think we were in Africa or Asia (or whatever combination my brain had concocted at such a young age). When I was telling Dad about our adventure and he told me I had just been dreaming, I actually thought he was having me on. How could I have dreamt something so detailed? Also, how was I going to deal with the disappointment that I had not been there?

I became obsessed. I WAS going to travel the world. One day. When I was six we went on our first overseas family holiday, to Bali. I have really lovely memories of this trip. Catching the plane with my family, coming across people who neither spoke English or Anindilyakwa, as was spoken on Groote Eylandt where we lived. It was one of the most exciting weeks of my little life – so many beautiful things to see and smell and taste, people to meet. Amazing!

I came home with braids in my heart, a hundred new stories to tell the kids at school and a burning desire to travel. Being a mining brat, I had the ability to see a fair bit of the top end and east coast of Australia, because we typically moved every two years for Dad’s job. I used to pour over and harbour any travel articles I could get a hold of and I wished for a subscription to the National Geographic magazine for years and years.

Then puberty happened. High school. Jobs. Wagging School to go to the beach. Parties. The usual. Sure enough, by the time I was 17 I had planned my next big adventure, I was going to live in London and work in a pub, like nearly every third or fourth Aussie at the time. I went to uni instead.

Then I dreamed of teaching English in Japan, which then changed to working in a ski field in Canada, then back to possibly landing a job in the UK. Then I changed jobs, changed degrees and decided to travel on leave instead.

I must have planned three or four big trips which never came to fruition. I always had friends with the best of intentions, but when it came down to the crunch, they just were not willing to part with ever spare dollar to save it for a holiday. My friends didn’t want to wear the same clothes all year, miss out on parties and dye their own hair. Which was completely fine, my dreams didn’t need to be my friends dreams!

Eventually at 23 I decided to bite the bullet and just go away on my own. I had my sights set on South America. My Mum gave me a firm and resounding “NO” to her 23 year old daughter running off overseas on her own. So instead, at the pleading of Mum/Friends/Employer, I booked myself onto an arranged Contiki tour instead.

This would turn out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, I met some amazing people, experienced the high of travel I had been seeking and knew that every sacrifice I had made in the past was worth it :).

I am pretty sure I would have had Dad over my shoulder (who had since passed), carrying me along my journey – remembering the five year old who animatedly “remembered” an international adventure all those years ago xx

When did you know you had fallen in love with travel?

x C x