EDITION 2 Fast Facts About Each Place I Visited in Europe

  •  Stockholm, Sweden

    • The ABBA Museum is the funkiest place ever. It’s interactive and allows you to sing with the cast in hologram form, cover one of their songs in a recording booth, star in a music video, and test your knowledge with one of their many quizzes. You can even view your experience online and share with friends.
    • It’s incredibly easy to get around as an English speaker. Every local I came across spoke fluent English and was happy to help in any way they could.
    • Stockholm is just an amazing place overall. The city is made up of many islands, its Old Town is like a faraway land with gems hidden down every laneway, and it’s ridiculously photographic.
  • Berlin, Germany

    • The Brandenburg Gate is always packed with tourists. If you’re after a great shot, plan ahead. Even at night, it can be hard to get a shot without someone’s backside in the way. There’s an open café centered directly in front of the gate, across from Starbucks. If you work around their trading hours (sneaky), use one of their chairs as a stool to get a view above the crowds.
    • It’s very artsy. If you walk into an Aussie souvenier store, you’ll be greeted with stuffed kangaroos and koalas. In Berlin, prepare for colourful bears and cars. You’ll see a lot of Noir artworks; one of many artists who fought for freedom through his paintings on the Berlin wall.
  •  Paris, France

    • Cabaret shows are not to be missed. Dancers are wow, singers are wow, complimentary wine is wow. And the costumes? WOW.
    • The Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain ride at Disneyland is so so so so so so so much fun. And wild. Oh, and you better do the meet and greet with Darth Vader while you’re there. Just don’t attempt to hold his hand like I did – you’ll get told off.
    • It truly is a beautiful city. Sadly, I was only there for two days so I was only given a sneak peak into the Parisian paradise.
  • Lucerne, Switzerland

    • Swans have sass
    • Kapellbrukke (chapel bridge) is the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe. I’d dreamt of walking along it for years, so to finally do it was a highlight of my trip.
    • There’s not many places that beat Italian gelato, but Lucerne came close! Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Ooh yeah.
  • Malaga, Spain

    • The ferris wheel is gorgeous at night, but beware of the staff who may join your carriage and hit on you unless you’re upfront from the get-go (unfortunately I let him in, the wheel stopped up the top for 10 minutes and I had to deal with a non-English speaker who kept kissing my cheek and touching my leg).
    • Mirador de Gibralfaro is the place to be for the best view of the city. It’s accessible by bus or by foot, which will take approximately half an hour. It’s a very steep hike.
    • If you don’t go topless at the beaches, you’ll regret it (maybe). Spain’s culture in that regard is different from Aus, so embrace it!
  • Barcelona, Spain

    • La Sagrada Familia may give you a kinked neck from admiring its work too long, but it’s better than the empty soul you’ll have if you miss the extraordinary building.
    • The cable cars offer incredible views. Hop off at the top and stroll around for an hour, or even a day. Ditch Wally and play ‘Where’s La Sagrada Familia’ – it’s fun, I promise.
    • People-watching can lead to some treasured shots, like the one above of a young girl twirling her frock.
  • Seville, Spain

    • Plaza de Espana will take your breath away. Star Wars fans, this is where Anakin and Padme walk with R2D2 when they arrive in Theed, Naboo. I definitely couldn’t contain my excitement when I was there.
    • The Alcazar of Seville is where many Game of Thrones scenes have been shot. Seville is the place to be for film locations!
    • Travelling by foot is tiresome if you’ve got a lot to see. I was too stubborn to take public transport and consequently spent most of the day walking.
  • Gibraltar, UK

    • Monkeys will eat your food
    • Gibraltar is a British territory in southern Spain. After spending 10 days by myself in a Latin-speaking country, crossing the border and being greeted with British accents and news channels was a welcome familiarity. I recommend doing a day tour from Malaga or driving down if you hire a car.
    • Although it’s small, there’s a lot to see. St Michael’s Cave and Europa Point are my top picks.

Edition 1 –  click here ◊

Come At Me, Wrinkles

I was sixteen when I spotted my first grey hair. My boyfriend and I laughed it off humorously, knowing very well it was probably blonde and I was being melodramatic. To be honest, I wasn’t fazed by ageing at that stage. I couldn’t wait for the days of pimple parties and itty bitty titties to seize. I wanted a driver’s licence, full-time job, place of my own, and money; as if it would all be handed to me on a silver platter. When you’re young, you view age as opportunity and knowledge, awaiting the world to greet you with open arms and pat you on the back for graduating adolescence.

At nineteen, adulthood came pounding on my door. ‘Can I pull off the fake managerial experience I’ve claimed to have on my resume?’ ‘Why do I have to pay tax?’ I’d been to university twice and deferred twice: unsure of my career aspirations. The world was finally at my fingertips and I had nothing to show for it. I was lost, unmotivated, unhappy, and concerned that my potential would never be more than just that. Instead of dancing through life in a protective bubble, I was now dodging bullets from my own gun. Welcome to the real world.

And then, just as I was wallowing in self-pity, the ‘sigh’ came knocking without invitation. You know, the infamous sigh of relief that happens after you sit down from overexertion that isn’t warranted, letting you know that your limbs are past their best before date. That’s it. I’d reached my peak and it was all downhill from there. The days of picking up the dropped juice lid were long gone, as it became a question of whether the lid was worth my suffering. Wrinkles were on the cards soon, and I wasn’t sure if sticky tape would suffice. The only thing I had going for me was libido.

And yet, the closer I came to diminishing libido, the more I realised that signs of ageing are our medals of privilege. The looser your skin and thinner your hair, the more stories to tell at family barbeques or nursing home speed dates (that should definitely be a thing). So far, my medals represent becoming an aunty to my two favourite little humans, backpacking around Europe for four months, having an education and loving home, and witnessing same sex marriage legalisation in Australia. Okay, you caught me. That last one ain’t true yet but it’s years overdue.

There are actually many perks of being an adult. On the odd occasion that my parents drive me somewhere, I’m a queen being chauffeured out the palace gates as she waves to peasants in the left lane. Cake for dinner? Try stopping me. I can flaunt that top that’s a bit too booby or wear slippers to the shops because I’m a grownup now and grownups care less about what people think. Whilst part of me face-palms at the idea of turning to granny panties and Millers button-ups for comfort one day, I can’t wait to uncover the wicked tales that lie in the future of Angela Jan. I’ve learnt that with age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes gratitude.

Stick around awhile, grab a cuppa and your fluffy cat who probably hates me, and let’s grow old together. Oh, and when you spot my next grey sucker, tell me it’s blonde. See you soon, friend. ♣