kenziology

Travel Guru, Photographer + Coffee Enthusiast

Oxford | Weekend Getaway


For all my fellow Harry Potter fans, this post, and Oxford itself, are for you.

It only took me about an hour and a half to get from London to Oxford by bus, and it was also super cheap, like £10 one way and the bus takes you from Central London right to the heart of Oxford.


What originally drew me to Oxford was definitely the multiple Harry Potter filming locations scattered throughout the town. I grew up with Harry, Hermoine and Ron. Seeing these places in person was so surreal for me. It was an incredible moment standing in the cloisters at New College and realizing how far I have come and how many things I have accomplished that I never thought I would. And as nerdy as it is, being here was one of those things.


Oxford is a beautiful small town with cute cafes, university campuses, churches and cathedrals. It is the embodiment of picturesque, and many times during my weekend here I wished I was an Oxford student. Minus the soul-crushing student debt, of course!



I couldn't stop in Oxford and not see the Bodleian Library and Divinity Hall (pictured above). This hall was the filming location for the Infirmary scene at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone! I think it would also make an amazing wedding venue, but it is quite pricey at £500 an hour.

New College Cloisters (pictured above) was used as the filming location for several scenes in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Even that fact aside, it is such a beautiful area. A bright and grassy courtyard surrounded by the most beautiful architecture.


I also swung by Christ Church and visited the Cloisters, a filming location for the Philosopher's Stone when Hermoine shows Harry his father's trophy for Quidditch (above). I also couldn't resist swinging by the famous staircase on the grounds that was the grand staircase when the students first arrived at Hogwarts in the Philosopher's Stone.


I was right in my element all weekend and I would highly recommend visiting Oxford, even if you aren't a huge Harry Potter buff. It is quaint and beautiful, especially in the spring as all the blooms are just starting to come out.

Where to next?!




Advantages of Traveling Solo



Traveling solo is not for everyone. I will be the first one to admit that sometimes it gets lonely, and I most definitely have soul-crushing moments where I wish I had someone with me to experience certain things with. 



All that being said however, I do truly enjoy traveling on my own. 



Mostly because I get to set my own schedule. If I choose to sleep in, greaaaat. I don't have to worry about someone getting frustrated with me for having a lazy morning. If I stand in the same spot for 30 minutes trying to get the PERFECT shot of a sunset, I'm not wasting anyone's time but my own. 


Another perk of traveling solo is that you learn to trust yourself. My confidence in my abilities to overcome obstacles (this is my fancy way of saying I get lost a lot and somehow I don't manage to die) has grown exponentially since I began venturing out on my own. The more you travel on your own, the more you learn about yourself. 


By default, you also become more social. Because you don't have any one else as a buffer, you get to know the people around you. Whether that is the people you are sharing your hostel dorm with, the people on your tour, or just people on the street when you ask for directions... If you told 15 year-old me that I would be walking up to total strangers and introducing myself on a regular basis, she would laugh in  your face.


I am also an extremely indecisive person. I changed my mind three times before I decided on coming to Brighton for my four-day weekend. First it was Paris, then Bristol, briefly Ireland. Finally, the night before my long weekend I went to book my transportation and accommodation and said 'screw it' and decided on Brighton. I like the freedom of being able to make split second decisions like that. 


And I guess that's really what I'm trying to say. The bottom line is that I love having the freedom that comes with Solo Travel. I love knowing that my adventures are mine and mine only, and that I don't have to worry about factoring anything else in. 


I hope you enjoyed this post, and leave me a comment below and tell me why YOU love solo travel! Or why you hate it... Or if you've never done it but wanted to try!

Brighton | Weekend Getaway


The very first time I came to Brighton, I knew it wouldn't be my last. I came just for the day, but I fell in love with the beach and the lanes. I fell in love with the gelato and beach-front bars and I just knew I had to come back.

And boy, did I pick the perfect time to come back for a four-day visit.

I got into Brighton on Saturday afternoon and it was warm and sunny and gorgeous. I bee-lined it for my hostel, got checked in and my bunk sorted (and maybe had a little nap), and I was delighted to find that the hostel was only mere steps from the beach-front.


So I headed down towards the West Pier and grabbed myself a seat to an epic sunset. I had only been here a little while, but I already felt so relaxed. After a few hectic weeks in London, I can't tell you how nice it was to finally unwind with a beautiful view and a cheeky Krispy Kreme donut.

I had a bit of a lie in on Sunday morning until about 9.30am. My stomach finally won it's battle though, so I got ready and headed out. Again, towards the beach, but this time I headed more towards Hove (neighbouring beachside town) and stumbled upon the infamous beach huts! I scoured the seafront for these last time I was here with no luck so I was ecstatic that I found them this time.


Once I realized however cool the beach huts were, they still weren't food, I headed back towards the Pier. Lucky Beaches seemed like as good a place as any for a beachside breakfast, and even though I did not eat the beans (I never know how to politely ask for a substitute because I HATE beans but the British LOVE beans and I don't want to be offensive...) the rest of it was absolutely delicious. I also ordered a Fizzy Passionfruit drink with my breakfast and it was super yummy.



Because the weather had blessed me for a second day in a row and it basically felt like I was in the tropics, I headed to the Tempest Inn and the lovely lady at the bar whipped me up a berry mojito sans mint (I realize I'm weird for this) in a plastic cup, and I plopped my butt in the pebbles and soaked up the sun and enjoyed my alcoholic beverage.


After getting just a little crispy, I made my way to the lanes and found Boho Gelato. I got the carrot cake and mint flavours and was not disappointed. I then realized I should probably eat a real lunch after spending a good few hours sitting on the beach and popped by the Giggling Squid for some fried rice.


Monday played out very much the same as Sunday. I swung by the Lucky Beach Cafe once again for breakfast, and spent the rest of my morning wandering on the Brighton Pier. It started off cold and overcast, but it quickly cleared up and it turned into yet another beautiful day. I ordered churros, sat on a deck chair, and enjoyed the view.


I headed into the lanes to look around and although I didn't buy anything, I spent a good few hours just browsing all the cool little shops. If you are ever in Brighton, don't forget about the North Laine! It has some incredible shops that I nearly missed out on!

Brighton has quickly become my new favourite place and a little piece of home on the sea. It's only an hour train journey from London, and offers all varieties of food, drink, and culture. And the beach. The beach doesn't hurt!

Leave me a comment below and let me know where you spent your weekend






Top 5 Bucket List Destinations


I don't like narrowing down my bucket list because ideally, I will be able to see all of the destinations I want to and more. But for the sake of this post, I am going to give you a little peak at my Top 5 Bucket List Destinations.


Dubrovnik
I can't really explain to you why I want to travel to Dubrovnik so badly. I remember when I first heard about it in my Selling Destinations class in college, and I was just intrigued. A walled Croatian port city where you can walk along the wall and cliff jump into the Adriatic. I will actually be visiting Dubrovnik this year hopefully, as I am planning on doing a Croatia Island Hopper Tour for my birthday in August!


Giant's Causeway
Another place that I can't quite explain my attraction for. Something about standing on the edge of the world (or the edge of Northern Ireland rather) on one of the most unique geological phenomenon screams magic. Again, hopefully something I will be ticking off my list quite soon as I am going to Ireland in June!


Hobbiton
The nerd in me needs to see this before I die! While I'm at it, I will probably make a point of traveling throughout New Zealand and visiting many of the other filming locations from Lord of the Rings. New Zealand in general is on my bucket list because it seems incredibly beautiful and diverse, but I won't say this isn't a huge draw as well!


Santorini
Does this one really need explaining? At some point, I just want to go to this incredibly beautiful island, stay in a really nice hotel, have drinks by the sea, and do nothing but swim off a yacht all day long. 


African Safari
So this isn't an actual destination but more of an experience that I want to have. A very specific experience where I want to see an African Elephant in the wild. Elephants are my favourite animal, and I have always wanted to get in one of those cool jeeps and take a trek through the African landscape to see all kinds of incredible wildlife. 

So there you have it, my Top 5 Bucket List Destinations. Leave me a comment below telling me your top destinations! I always love seeing where other people want to go!

8 Travel Quotes to Live By



 I don't just like quotes. 

I adore quotes.

Whenever I am not really feeling 100% myself, or if I'm doubting myself, or anything really... I hop on Pinterest and search for inspirational quotes. And you can argue that words are just words all you want, but to me words are magic.

So I have curated my top 8 inspirational travel quotes that I use on a regular basis to motivate myself to keep on this wild path that I have chosen. Write them down, memorize them, think of them when you just aren't sure. 

And I promise you they will bring you hope.

***



The mountains are calling, and I must go - John Muir 
Is it any wonder this one is my favourite? I know I will always end up back in the mountains, because what they say is true. They call to you, they are a reminder of peace, serenity, and the desire to be surrounded by something larger than yourself.


Not all those who wander are lost - JRR Tolkien
Just because you are taking the long way around, doesn't mean you are lost. It just means you are taking the scenic route.


Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure - JK Rowling
Who doesn't love a good JK Rowling quote? While my travel adventures are far less sinister than the ones she writes about, they are soul-satisfying nonetheless.


Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures - Lewis Carroll
This is probably one of my favourites. Because it is true for me on such a fundamental level. I don't want presents or diamonds or a house. I want adventures. 


I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list - Susan Sontag
Who else has a bucket list a mile long? *Raises hand. Raises other hand. Lowers one hand to add another destination to my list*



Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all - Helen Keller
This doesn't apply to everyone. Some people are perfectly happy living normal lives. (I know, right? But apparently, it's true.) However, for me, this isn't just a quote. It's an affirmation I repeat on the daily to remind myself to say YES to all the things that scare me.



 I'd rather have a passport full of stamps, than a house full of stuff. 
I have to admit, I battle with this one. I like to have my creature comforts, and sometimes I need to remind myself what my priorities are. At the end of the day, travel comes first.




 If not now, when? Robert F. Kennedy
Best for last. This is something I try to live by not just when it comes to travel, but in every aspect of my life. Tomorrow is NEVER guaranteed. Do what you want, do what you love. Do it now, when you are able.

Your turn! What is your favourite inspirational quote?

All my love, 
Kenzie


Bath | Two Day Getaway


I promised myself that I wasn't going to go anywhere last weekend. I told myself I was going to stay at home, catch up on laundry, and just chill out. 

Then on Friday, I booked a round trip ticket to Bath.

Oops. 

As it turns out it ended up being a truly relaxing and beautiful little trip. Bath has that small town charm that reminds me of home, plus a truly iconic piece of history that I can now cross off my bucket list! 

I took the bus (because I'm cheap) from London Victoria Station to Bath, and my very first mission was to find the Roman Baths. I literally just picked a road and started walking and stumbled right onto the courtyard which houses the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. 


I bought my ticket, picked up my free audio guide, and spent a good two hours wandering around and listening, learning all about the history of this incredible place. I am absolutely fascinated by history and this by far is one of the coolest historical places I have visited so far. 


Once I reluctantly handed in my audio guide and left the Roman Baths I wandered through town and stumbled on the next gem... That's right... a Krispy Kreme Shop. 


Anyone from the UK is probably reading this and saying "Yeah, so what?" But you don't understand... These shops simply do not exist in Canada. If you're lucky, every once in a while Costco will have them in stock and you can buy a box of the original ones. But there is only one kind and it only happens once in a blue moon.

My Mom was not pleased when I sent her the photo of my carefully selected donuts. She was green with envy to say the least! 

While I was in Bath I stayed at St Christopher's Inn. Although it seemed to be undergoing some construction work and the check in was at the Bar, it was clean and bright with friendly staff and secure entrances. 


The next morning I woke up fairly early and headed back to the courtyard in the center of town and got myself a cherry and almond croissant and a latte from the The Cornish Bakery. Not only was the breakfast delicious, it also had unrivaled views of Bath Abbey. 

Bath Abbey is truly spectacular with it's Gothic architecture and hallowed halls. There was a tour to climb to the top of the Tower, but I was unfortunately too late to take part. 


I set off from downtown Bath and caught a bus up to Prior Park Gardens just on the edge of town. If I'm honest, I went solely to get some photos of the bridge. I ended up strolling through the gardens extensively however, and found cute little vistas around every corner. From miniature waterfalls to ponds and swans, it turned out to be a magical adventure that I thoroughly enjoyed.


And I got some good shots of the bridge, of course! 


Once I found my way back into town, it was time to head back to London. You could easily do everything I've mentioned in one day, especially if you opt for the train (which is much quicker than the bus). But I'm glad I took my time, it made it feel like a true weekend.

Where are you headed on your next weekend getaway?





Follow Your Dreams



When I meet a new person in London their first question is “Where are you from?” This is mostly because I am clearly not British, nor am I noticeably European. People often assume I’m American, at which point I have to patiently explain that I am Canadian, no I don’t live in an igloo, but my parents do drive their snowmobiles to work sometimes… 

The second question is “Where in Canada are you from?” Then I tell them about being from a small town in Ontario, but that I actually spent the last few years living and working in the Rocky Mountains. 

The third question, inevitably, is “Why in the world would you ever leave the Rockies to live in London?” 

Okay, ouch. 

I mean, yes. It is a totally valid question. The Rocky Mountains are undeniably beautiful and I fully intend to return to them one day. I probably would have been perfectly satisfied to continue living there instead of deciding to come to the UK. 

But I don’t want to be satisfied. I wanted to follow my dreams across the pond and see the world the way I had dreamed of doing since I was a kid. 

In order to start this adventure I had to say goodbye to the old one, at least for a little while. 

People often ask if I was scared about moving somewhere so incredibly foreign where I didn’t know anyone. The simple answer is no. Of all the emotions I felt leading up to moving here, fear was not one of them. Anxiety over my visa coming through, worrying about finding an apartment, excited about starting my new job, anticipation over exploring a new city and being able to travel to places I had only ever dreamed of… Those were the emotions that swirled around me leading up to this huge, life-changing move. 

It was the same when I moved to the mountains from my small town in Ontario. I wasn’t afraid. I was excited; I was seeking new adventures and experiences. It never occurred to me to be scared and it never crossed my mind that most people wouldn’t have the guts to pick up their lives and move halfway across the country, let alone the world. 

I have always felt the need to explore, and to move on to something new when I felt it was time for a change. I used to hate that I could never seem to stay in one place for very long, but that is just who I am. I am nomadic at heart, and I think I will be this way for a very long time. 

I want to see the world; I want to say yes to every opportunity that knocks on my door. I want to live. 

I don’t want to wake up one day when I’m 80 and realize that I have spent my whole life in one place, because I was too scared to follow my heart. I want to live a life of no regrets. 

The way I see it, you will never regret following your dreams. Even if you fail, even if you go running home with your tail between your legs, you still made it further that you would have if you hadn’t tried at all. 

You can’t win the game if you don’t even play. 

I have seen and done things that 15 year-old me would not believe. I’ve gone horseback riding through the mountains, watched meteor showers over Lake Louise, been a production assistant for The Bachelor, seen the Queen, met my favourite blogger and Youtuber, and I’ve explored my little heart out. 

Words cannot describe how proud I am of myself. Never in a million years did I picture myself being this happy, being this brave, or being this adventurous. 

If I can do it, you can do it. 

What are you waiting for? That dream isn’t going to chase itself.