I used to turn life into a poem.

Today, I got a message from a friend. A friend whom once I shared every hour of every day with – that was up until the day came that we went our separate ways, flights to separate countries. We’ve kept in touch, and today’s message was a photo. The photo was of a poem I wrote for her on my typewriter (at the time, a new secondhand addition to my London flat), and it was framed and on display in her sister’s bedroom. It was a poem I’d always loved; a poem about thinking and respecting where you’re sat

St. Pauls was and is my favourite building in London. I would walk past it, and it’s sheer size and beauty, would force an inhale of air to my lungs; a reminder that where I was, was spectacular.

st. pauls - a poem

i sit on the steps at st. pauls and i think, 
of how many people have stood where i am sat.
the years of history trampled under foot, 
under breath.

i sit on the steps at st. pauls and i think,
of how many people have walked past here crying, 
where they came from,
what they left behind that broke their hearts.
i ponder what year they lived.

i sit on the steps at st. pauls and i think,
of how many people have walked past here holding hands,
laughing,
talking to somebody,
thinking of someone.

at the steps at st. pauls i beg you to smile,
at the thought of where you're sat right now. 
where you are now has been there before you,
will be there after you, 
it hosts thousands of stories.

feel the stories, hear the stories,
be a story of your own. 

by paige bolland 

Yes, I used to live in London and contemplate life, and mind, under beautiful historic buildings, writing out my feelings as I went. But I don’t anymore. I guess I still struggle with not being that poetic with my feelings anymore, and I suppose this blog is an attempt at trying to understand and accept this.

Yes, I used to turn life into poetry, but now I’m too busy trying to live life to romanticise it –

– and that’s okay.

Why, As A Writer, I’m Taking A Break From Books

I’m taking a break from books. (Or so I’m going to try.)

On average I read 4-5 books a month. That’s a lot of words to compare to my own, and I’ve decided that I ought to stop complaining I don’t write enough when I spend so much of my time reading.

I used to bring books to accompany time and space, my bag overflowing with one too many books. But now I’m starting to see that books are different to my own creativity. They are there, they are permanently in print, they create noise in my head. They are the expectation – I have to be as good as these to be published; to be read. I have fallen so far into admiring others I have started to doubt my own use of words. I’ve always known I can write as they do, its only lately I’ve started to realise I just haven’t been giving it enough time. I must live and breathe my own creations. Picasso didn’t look at paintings trying to figure out how they did it, he picked up a paintbrush and made strokes that felt right. I want to write because of the infinite possibilities a keyboard presents when I open my MacBook. After all, for every word I read, I could be conjuring one for myself.

As I’ve grown in London, I’ve observed that London is a city of expectation. Expectation through external stimuli, through noise, even something as small as facial expressions. As a young, aspiring writer this has proven to be hard…. I’m sure as any young person, trying to make it in this city, it’s hard.

Through time, I’ve discovered my laptop provides a silence that nothing else can. I can sit in the most noisy of cafes and hear nothing. When I am sitting in front of a screen I can achieve anything, write anything. Literal infinite possibilities the alphabet provides. With my laptop in hand, I can go anywhere in London; Anywhere, and it will always lack expectation.

I love books so much, but I love my completed projects more; my stack of poems, my nearly finished novel, my website and articles full of poetic monologue.

So here I start, indefinite days without reading any word of another. My to-read pile will just have to wait.

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My Experience With Writer’s Block

Writer’s block was never something I gave much thought to.

I tossed the word around after a few days of less-than-desirable pen to paper action. However, it wasn’t until I realised that I was experiencing writer’s block for real – in it’s full force, a period of over a few weeks – that I gave the title some credit.

By definition, writer’s block is…

“the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.”

And in my reality, it was exactly that… and more. I was battling with a pensive sadness because I wasn’t writing. So, after being unable to write for weeks on end, I sat (and if I’m completely honest I sulked whilst doing so) and I thought about how I could figure this out; it wasn’t as if my passion for writing had just disappeared over night… right? In  an attempt to find the answer I listened to myself, and the energy around me, and the verdict was that every fibre of my being was crying out for me to show it something new.

So I did. And here I am, sitting in a café in Bath, Somerset.

The first day of my three days away, I sought out Bath Abbey because when I travel I enjoy historic elements – I’m a true tourist when I wanna be. But what I didn’t purposely seek out was the Square at the back of the gorgeous building. Within this square, a square surrounded by benches, was a man. He was centred and in solitude – only a guitar to keep him company. He was playing beautiful Spanish music and after my trip to Spain, where Spanish buskers brought joy to my ears every path I went down, I felt no choice but to sit and listen. I sat for two hours in the chilled sunshine, wearing my favourite sweater and a smile upon my face. What did I do while I listened? I observed those around me, and saw all the unique faces as potential characters and sentences.  And, as if the music went in my ears and broke down the writer’s block my brain, I exploded with ideas. It was as if I had had an epiphany. I whipped out my notebook with a dramatic flair – that belonged in a film – and I wrote. I wrote poems, a short story, and I had the biggest break – creatively speaking – for my book.

Finally.

After three weeks of not even adding a teeny tiny apostrophe to my book, I was now thinking too fast for my hand to keep up. And now, barely 48 hours after sitting in that square, I’m still writing. I’ve added 4 new chapters to my book and altered the narrative perspective of a quarter of what I’d already written. It has been a lot of work, but I’ve enjoyed every second. (Especially since I had an excellent excuse to seek out cute coffee shops and drink coffee for hours on end).

So, what was writer’s block for me? It was frustration, mood-swings and a sorrowness I couldn’t figure out; like being a passionate skater, and then waking up one day without a clue as to why you can’t stay on the board for more than a second.

And how did I diminish my writer’s block? I removed myself from the normal routine of my London life, to give my brain new faces to characterise and new places to think about. Every one of us will get our own form of writer’s block (for our select passions) if we don’t stimulate our minds. We need to get out more and work our brains.

My brain stopped giving me what I wanted, because I stopped giving it something to really think about.

I won’t do that again.

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Why We’re So Scared To Make Sacrifices And How To Take The Plunge

sacrifice (ˈsakrɪfʌɪs/) verb – to give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations

 Have you ever made a sacrifice? Why?

In 2015, as everyone knows, I moved to London; away from my family, and the life I knew, to selfishly start a new one. It wasn’t until last night, as I was walking across the Millennium Bridge in Central London – the skyline lit up for the evening – that the word sacrifice slipped into my mind. I had never thought of my move as such, but yet it is an entirely accurate word to describe the adventure.

I sacrificed security in the known, for the unknown. I sacrificed my safety and happiness, at the risk of finding it in a foreign place. So, what is this word – positive or negative? As much it may sound negative, I believe it to be both. You’re not going to get anywhere in life unless you’re willing to put yourself first. And yes, I sacrificed valuable time with my family to seek adventure. However, if you’re passionate enough, those of importance in your life with support you; they’ll make a sacrifice also.

With selfishness comes selflessness.

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Did you start 2018 with an intention of making dramatic change in your life? Have you put your idea into action by starting plans? If not, ask yourself why. Postponing change is nearly always down to either fear or fear of sacrifice.

Be the one to take that risk, offer up something in your life right now with the intention of only bettering your current situation! If you go all in, you’ll get everything you want out of it. I have moments of ‘Oh my goodness, this is my life’ all the time – because I made the choice to try and make it in London; I did it, and I am doing it.

I made the choice to try and make it in London; I did it, and I am doing it.

Yes I had to make sacrifices along the way – but everyone that I left behind are supportive of my decision, and everything else was worth sacrificing for the endless days of excitement, creative expression and happiness I now have. From 2015 until this very second, my excitement and passion for this city hasn’t faltered. And I don’t think it ever will.

It wasn’t until last night, that the word sacrifice slipped into my mind. It was in that moment that I realised everything good in life comes from moving onwards and upwards. And unfortunately if you try and take everything with you, your life will be too darn heavy to climb the mountains you so very want to conquer.

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A Moment To Reflect

Today I arrived back from a long weekend spent in Amsterdam, Holland. If you’d have told me this ten years ago, that at twenty-one I would be jet-setting around Europe on my days off, I would have possibly spat-laughed in your face.

I started writing this blog in the airport waiting for my return flight home yesterday. However, after the cheery announcement that my flight got cancelled, I slammed my laptop lid. This never happens to ME; I’m always hours too early for flights so as to not miss them, I weigh my luggage, I prepare my toiletries in a clear zip-lock bag, I’m patient in queues, and then this?

Me being me, I started searching my memory for reasons why my karma was deciding to kick me in the ass.

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I ran through the airport alongside my fellow stranded passengers, tears only held back by the red haze of frustration. I queued to get the whole “sorry for the inconvenience” relay from the compassionate help-desk clerk – which I didn’t blame because let’s be real we don’t wanna be that person that blames the messenger, do we? – and got the news I’d be flying out the next day. I wanted to cry. I got on the phone and spoke to the supportive best-friend, the parents, and it was decided that I just wasn’t looking at it positively. I almost always look at situations with an optimistic outlook – so, why not this?

I arrived at the airline organised hotel, pissed off I’d wasted half a day with the intention of going home, and then dropped down face first onto my queen bed with crisp white sheets. I had intended on screaming into the pillow, instead I surprised myself because I started laughing. After all I was being ridiculous; I didn’t have work the next day, the airline had provided full amenities – hotel, meals, an airport voucher, shuttles & a seat on the first flight out the next day – and I was here wasting my energy and mood on something that couldn’t be changed.

I had a hot shower, propped myself up on the 4 luxurious pillows, switched on the flat screen and started watching America’s Next Top Model with Dutch subtitles.  An extra night in Amsterdam couldn’t be all bad, what was I going to do with my evening at home anyway? PLUS, I had just spent a weekend in a stunningly beautiful city, because it’s only an hour away from my home in London – I need not be so petty over a postponed flight home.

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I always try to live by the motto that…

everything happens for a reason

…but yesterday I realised that I am still perfecting the recipe for the all-the-time positive person I aspire to be. I think my flight got cancelled for a reason. My life runs fairly smoothly, and I needed to be reminded by the Universe that life isn’t all picking fresh cherries; sometimes you get stuck with the last pack on the shelf at Tesco after craving them all day. I’m home, with the refreshed reminder that there is always something positive to come from what may appear as a misfortune – if you’re willing to figure it out.

Psst, make cherry jam.

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Stick To The Status Quo? | The Self Series

Welcome to Episode 5 in The Self Series. This is the series where I give some thought to common said quotes in today’s society. This time it’s all about the status quo.

What is the status quo?

Status quo is a Latin word literally meaning ‘the state in which’. In today’s society, the label status quo is typically used to generalise what is deemed ‘normal’ in society.

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I have a discussion for us today based around my personal take on the saying “Stick to the status quo” – and before you ask, yes, I was a huge High School Musical fan as a kid.

So, what is my take? I see the status quo as more of a comfort zone; sticking to the status quo being the attitude of playing it safe rather than only societal norms. If we talk about the status quo in this way, this would be our own choice – right? We individually decide whether or not to stay comfortable.  If you ask me, life is all about taking risks and encouraging ourselves to get out there and make the most of things. Life is also about encouraging everybody around us to do the same.

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Quite often when it comes to something new, our bodies inject our minds with a little thing called fear. We can’t blame our bodies for this feeling, because ultimately it’s a survival instinct, but sometimes we mistake worry for fear; we escalate the anxiousness of failure to a level of fear that makes things seem impossible. Well, I’m here to tell you to feel the fear and do it anyway. This seems to be an overall theme in my blogs, but hear me out once again. If I asked you to join me on a skydiving quest tomorrow, what would you say? I know your body would probably start to feel a little more tense, and some part of your insides would do a little dive to the pit of your stomach, but after putting that aside what would YOU say??

I’d hope you’d say yes. After all, experiences such as this aren’t an everyday thing. I’m sure your first instinct would be to say no. Our bodies weren’t designed to fall from the sky, 15,000km above the earths tectonic plates, at speeds unknown to the raw human body – but hey? What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, ideally it’s probably not best to ponder this thought right before you jump – but seriously, you’d never do anything if you didn’t live with risk.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” – Susan Jeffers

I have in fact jumped from a plane. When I was about 16, one of my brothers and I joked about skydiving on a family holiday. Emphasis on the word joke. The next morning, as we were in our holiday cabin comfortable in our bunk beds, my parents came in with an aura of adrenaline and asked us, “How about it? Want to skydive today?”. I can tell you now, I still remember that feeling of absolute terror and how quickly my stomach clenched. It had only been a thought, something to laugh about, yet now it was so close to becoming reality. Eventually after our parents encouragement, me and my older brother committed to jump from a plane.

It was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. It was also one of the most terrifying and fear-filled adventures I’ve taken part in.

When I find myself filled with fear; from accepting a new job role, to travelling abroad solo, I tell myself what’s the worst that can happen? I tell myself to feel the fear, and do it anyway because you only live once. More often than not, after we take these risks, we feel a sense of relief and accomplishment.

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We’ve discussed taking risks, and now I want to bring us directly back to the status quo and the idea of self-expression. I was doing some research for this article, and I came across this quote from none other than Dr Seuss:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

As a child, I loved the books of Dr Seuss because they were so different to anything else I read. I loved the unique illustrations, the crazy storylines and the characters being so different to anything I knew in real life.

This quote from Dr Seuss is the definition of a perfect life. We can’t conform to the ideals of society; we can’t live our lives in response to someone else’s standards. If someone dislikes us for who we uniquely are, do they really matter? Should we really let their idea of a ‘right’ life distinguish how we live ours? NO! And if someone lives a true, self-actualized and self-empowered life, they’re not going to mind how we live ours. Be unique, and only live for yourself.

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When someone says things such as stick to the status quo to me, I can’t help but think it over. Remember: that feeling – after conquering a fear or something with an uncertain outcome – is what we should all live for. Be who you are, be true to your thoughts and your feelings.

Don’t believe the status quo to be anything other than encouragement to be different and adventurous.

Travel Log: Copenhagen

Monday 6:50

With an early start this morning, I ventured out into the crisp morning air. The only sound coming from birds – a fresh perspective on a city life.  Today I am off to Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a city I’ve never been to, yet experienced vicariously through those having borrowed my guide book. I’m currently sat in a café in Gatwick Airport waiting for my avocado on toast; one of very few vegan options I could find. I’m surprisingly awake for having woken up at 4am, perhaps it’s the excitement of spending the rest of my day in a new city.  Or perhaps it’s the 4-shot Soya cappuccino I just finished. This trip is very unplanned for me; I got my Danish krone at the airport, I have no idea how I’m getting from Copenhagen airport to the hostel, nor what my plan is for the return home tomorrow. I suppose time will tell.

10:18

I must be more than halfway to Copenhagen by now. The sky is the clearest of blue, allowing the sun to glisten perhaps too brightly off the plane’s wing through my window. I somehow always get a window seat, and I couldn’t complain less. It’s an interesting thing to be so close to nothing; so far away from everything you’re used to being near. Buildings insignificant and the rushing lives of those in the streets of London invisible. I feel calm, and I feel un-rushed in my impatient descend on Copenhagen. I’d like to think, as I look out at the world below me, if my plane were to fall that it would be caught in the soft grips of the clouds blanketing the earth.  The clouds – they bring us rain, food for the soil under our feet – they also separate London from the world beyond. We stop looking up after a while because we are so used to seeing the grey barrier above our heads; we get so accustom to looking down at our feet, knowing our direction, our daily path. It’s nice to be above the clouds, to feel as if there is nothing stopping me from seeing new things. I am amongst the unreachable. With the unexpected wifi on board, I feel confident in my plan once I land. I know I will take the metro, a 3-zone ticket bought with either coins or credit card, and I will get off at Hovedbanegården otherwise known as Copenhagen Central Station. From there I will walk to my hostel, check in, and carry on with aimless wandering. According to the flight tracker, we are 24 minutes from Copenhagen. The descend has begun, I am now gently leaning forward with the plane; gravity pulling me towards yet another destination to tick off the map.

17:49

My feet are ready to fall off. I got to Copenhagen Central Station just after midday and spent 20 minutes lapping the perimeter trying to find my hostel; suddenly earning a major appreciation for my Citymapper app in London. I found my hostel and then went back out in search of anything that defines Copenhagen as a city. I still feel near anxious being here. Not because of it’s size or population mass, just the fact of I know nothing about it. I always prepare my holidays, map out places I want to see, where I want to eat, I teach myself the language basics; this time I came in blind. After wandering in the heat and eventually discovering what seemed to be a busy part, I opted for a canal tour. A smooth sail into tourist mode. This was beautiful and somewhat informative. More than anything it gave me my bearings and sites to aim for by foot. The hour tour finished where it began, and so did my ventures. Saw beautiful buildings, did some window shopping, but more so just absorbing everything foreign. I followed it up with more wandering until now – Urban Bar, coffee in hand. As much as I am tired, I am also eager to see more and make the most of this 48-hour trip. I am headed to Tivoli Gardens this evening.

Tuesday 12:36

I am currently located in what seems to be the Danish version of Subway – iBagel. It’s pretty good, eggplant salad topped off with a beautiful dollop of humous (of course). I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to tackle another day of touristing. My first stop had to be food, and eventually I found my desired breakfast destination: 42Raw – a café that has surrendered it’s services to the plant-based community. An acai bowl and my new addiction, The Passage by Justin Cronin, made for a beautiful start to the day. Peaking above the city, reaching for the heavens, are spires scattered around the city. All distinctly different, I’ve been finding them an easier alternative to the maps within my guidebook. As 10:30 came around, I aimed high and true, and climbed 95m up Vol Frelsers Kirke. A beautiful old church which presented me with a stunning view of the city. Since my descend back down to earth, I have wandered; seen the Nationalmuseet, Christiansborg Slot, and Det Kongelige Bibliotek. It’s warm, I’m sun kissed veering burnt, but I feel calm and happy. My flight home to London is at 18:55, and according to the Central Station clock on the opposite of the square it’s now 12:57. I have plenty of time to continue this relaxing getaway.

Café

The café in which I sit is submerged in life. People’s bellies satisfyingly full of freshly ground coffee, minds greedily living vicariously through those in the novels they read, mouths competing against each other in unconstrained conversation.

I come to this café often. I mostly come with a friend who also likes to write, we sit and motivate each other with silence amongst offerings of the thesauruses within our heads. I also come alone and it’s days like these I find myself to be more productive. I order a coffee and put my headphones in. This mutes a very distinctive and important connection to the people surrounding me; I don’t hear voices nor background noise, I just see bodily expression allowing a deeper gaze past who these people portray themselves to be.

There is a man. He looks alone. His torso slightly turned to the conversing couple to his left. His faded blue eyes constantly looking around him, only drawing to the fact of his lonesome even more. He sips his tea in small sips, and holds no book or hobby in his grips. I’ve been this man. I used to be so uncomfortable in my own solitary; drinking my tea so slowly so I would always have something to hold. If I wasn’t drinking tea, I would have my mind in my book; I couldn’t bare myself to be truly alone. I think we people have difficulty being alone because we think it gives an impression of weakness. Being alone doesn’t make us weak, it’s confidence. If this man eliminated the worry in his eyes, strengthened the weakness in his shoulders, he would come across as a different man.

There’s close to thirty people in this café. Amongst the young couple discussing finance, the elderly lady engrossed in the daily news, myself on my computer writing this, there is only one man in his own mind and company. He has no slump in the ‘S’ of his spine. He has no computer; has no book – only a mug stained black to accompany him at his table. He doesn’t seek companionship only  gazes upon the world beyond the glass. I don’t see him as weak because of this. If anything I look up to this man. We bring the discomfort of being alone upon ourselves, we’ve taught ourselves to seek the outward expression of popularity by wandering the hollow worlds within our screens. This is not how it should be. We have every right to be alone with our thoughts, I encourage myself to do just that everyday.

I find writing in a public setting like this inspiring.  Even though sometimes I can sit and get no words down, the individual beings and the stories that come with the bodies, can turn a viewed facial expression into a sentence of beautifully connected words.

The café in which I sit is full of regenerative life. Individuals finishing unfinished tasks, children bursting with curiosity, and a barista steaming a full jug of almond milk for my next latte.

 

 

 

Ignite

I still find myself trying to figure out how a passion is ignited, how a mood is lightened, how a day is made, by such simple things. If you live in London, you would have realised that the last few days have been beyond beautiful – blue skies, windless parks, and sun that is above 15ºC and has actual heat to it.

It was Friday last week, and I was having a pretty good day. I blame this living in London thing, any hint of sun and my day becomes that much brighter (no joke intended). So, on this fine, Spring day I was walking through the park and I saw a man on a longboard and I wanted to instantly hurl in envy. The sunglasses, the cool hat, the effortless glide of wheels on pavement; I wanted that back. In NZ, my Dad makes longboards. In total he’s made a miniature cruiser, and three longboards varying in shape. Living on the beach, in a beautiful town built on coastal hills, a longboard was the coolest way to get around. Picture this: You’ve finished work and you’ve changed into your favourite loose shirt. You grab your headphones and your board, and with an upbeat song blasting in your headphones, you’re carving through the beach roads, with the setting sun glistening on perfectly blue waves with an island in the distance? … Picture perfect right? It makes me sort of homesick in a way because that part of coastal life is something to miss. This scene is also possibly one of the things I look forward to recreating most when I go home for a visit next year. It was that image, that perfect image, flashing through my mind in the park that made my blood curdle green. I almost bought one last summer, and seeing this skater made me realise I couldn’t go another summer without it. So with the word impatient in mind, I had a board purchased and paid for from my phone screen through squinting eyes within 10 minutes .

My board arrived three days later and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was tracking it on the map as it circled in on my street. I tore open the box, and I couldn’t stop smiling. It wasn’t my Dad’s but it was damn near as special: a pinstripe, bamboo, 41″ pintail cruiser. I was stoked, I still am. The first chance of freedom, I was out there sailing the streets of London; the sun and Thames filling me with almost as much glee as boarding the coast in New Zealand did. I think even the simple thing of being on a board with a favourite song playing in my ears, is enough to ignite a genuine happiness within me. It’s just me, nobody else, I am in 100% control and totally free.

Ultimately I don’t know what the point of this blog is, but I wanted to share this simple thing that has made my last week so beautiful. As the days get longer, and as the sun shines brighter, I can’t wait to spend my second summer in London with friends and things that make me happy.

I’ve done a bit of Rome-ing around.

Currently it is 16:10 and I am in the internet ‘cafe’ of my Roman hostel. I arrived in Rome on Monday roughly midday and since I landed on Italian soil, I have experienced a lot. Rather than posting weeks after like I normally would with a holiday such as this, I thought I would take a break from the heat and walking around to sum up my week – I leave tomorrow afternoon.

When I first got to Rome, the excitement that I thought would overwhelm me never came. I walked around that first afternoon convinced there was something wrong with me – I was in Rome and I was barely excited! I guess I had no idea what I was expecting. But over the course of the week, I have fallen in love with Rome as much as I did Barcelona when I was there last August.

The first night after roaming until my feet were aching, I sat under the Colosseum on fallen down marble pillars and just absorbed it. I was sitting under THE Colosseum and when it hit me I couldn’t wait to return the following morning to venture within it’s walls. My second day in Rome was full of everything that Ancient Rome could offer me – a Colosseum audio tour, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum; I was standing within the ruins of a city that Julius Caeser built; I walked down the streets that Romulus founded; the history was overwhelming. This part of my trip was definitely a highlight and it one of those things you just have to see when you’re visiting Rome.

A major highlight of the last 5 days I’ve spent in Rome has been the Trevi Fountain. The fountain made famous by film is beyond beautiful. I could have sat there all day if it wasn’t for all the tourists and the men trying to talk me into buying a Polaroid. The first time I came across the magnificent water feature was per chance on my first day of roaming. I didn’t really click what it was until I checked my guidebook and realized that it was the famous fountain I’d seen in the Mary-Kate and Ashley film I’d watched as a kid. I read the history and stepped down and turned my back to the fountain, and whist closing my eyes I threw €1 over my shoulder.  You will return to Rome. Good thing I didn’t throw two, cause afterwards I read that two coins means you’ll meet an Italian man, and the third means you’ll marry them – thanks, but no thanks. The second and third time I went to the fountain was with the intention of finding a highly recommended gelateria. I can honestly say that Il Gelato di San Crispino is the best gelato I have ever had – and this week I’ve had a fair amount, shh. As I ate the creamy honey, chocolate and caffé flavoured goodness in front of the fountain, I felt on top of the world.

Besides the beautiful tourist attractions – Vatican Museum, St Peter’s Basilica (highly recommend paying to climb up the Dome), Borghese Gallery, Pantheon etc – at 11.30pm on Wednesday evening I booked a spontaneous tour to Pompei. The next morning at 7am I arrived at Piazza del Popolo and departed with a bus load of people. The tour guides were amazing and had us laughing before we’d left Rome. The 3 hour bus ride to Napoli and the Ancient City of Pompei was full of Roman legend, culture and history of Italia. In Napoli we visited the National Archaelogical Museum which houses all the artifacts such as household items, paintings, and mosaics extracted from Pompei itself. This was amazing and made me extremely excited to see the Ancient City. After eating Neapolitan pizza for lunch (which is different to Roman pizza) and a history lesson on the food of Italy, we arrived at the long awaited city of ruins. I went into Pompei expecting a few ruins and was astonished at how much more there is to see. When they say a city, they mean a city; main streets, back streets, homes, mansions, graffiti, brothels, takeaway shops, restaurants, bathing house, amphitheatres etc etc. It was amazing, but heartbreaking at the same time. The clear day allowed us to see the looming Mt Vesuvius behind the city – constantly reminding us that a lot of people died there. It really is something I feel lucky to have seen and experienced with the local tour informing us of every small detail they’ve discovered. I recommend seeing it in your lifetime. After the drive home, stopping off on the way to taste test Limoncello, I returned back to Rome so energized and informed of everything Rome and Italy have to offer.

Today, my last full day in Rome, I took my tour guides advice and did nothing but meander. I tried Roman cuisine on the back cobble-stoned roads; paid perhaps a bit too much for a personally embossed Italian-made leather (refillable) notebook; I had the best cups of coffee; I soaked up the warm ‘winter’ sun in Piazzas.

Today I fell in love with Rome. Tomorrow I leave Roma, Italia and I’m not happy about it.