If you follow any major travel websites, blogs, or Pinterest boards, chances are you’ve heard something along the lines of “experiences, not possessions” or maybe you’ve read about people who never buy souvenirs, preferring to travel light or to save their money.
And while I appreciate all of those arguments – I’d much rather have plane tickets than a designer purse, for example – I am one of those people who ALWAYS buys souvenirs. In fact, I’ve bought souvenirs (sometimes multiple souvenirs) in every country I’ve been to, even if it’s something as small as a thimble or a postcard. I have lugged bags full of knick knacks all over the world, sent boxes full of treasures home, and budgeted souvenir shopping into every trip I’ve taken. Some may call that materialistic, but I just call it sentimental.
Because the fact is, I LOVE looking at the souvenirs I’ve brought home from around the world. I love walking around my flat and picking them up. I love remembering where I was when I bought it, or who I bought it with, or who I bought it from. I love surrounding myself with little memories of my travels. Of course, I have photos and journals, too, but there’s something about having a little piece of a place to yourself.
Recently, I pulled back a bit to take a look at this blog, and where I’d like to take it. As I recently went down to part-time to focus on this as a possible business, it was necessary for me to outline what I wanted for the future of This Battered Suitcase, and for my career. I started going through my archives. I started looking at the posts that I loved writing the most. I started looking at the posts that readers loved reading the most. And it hit me: if I keep accepting all of these trips, and if I keep chasing SEO stats, my blog might grow, yes. But isn’t my blog also going to get really fucking boring?
These “what to wear” posts are some of my favourite to put together – as much as I love fashion in London, there’s something about the clothes I wear when I travel. As mentioned in previous posts, I love to mix my clothes from home with pieces I pick up on the road, whether that’s clothing, jewellery, bags, or shoes. I often form a sentimental attachment to the clothes I wear when I travel; there’s no way I’ll ever get rid of the alpaca jumper I bought in Peru, or the colourful scarves from India, or the wooden beads I bought in Havana.
Here, then, is what to wear in Cuba.
Over the past year or so, as I’ve enjoyed Instagram more and more (and simultaneously less and less with the new algorithms, if I’m honest), there have been some photos that have actually inspired me to travel somewhere new, or to explore a different part of a place I’ve already been. I fell in love with Cinque Terre through Instagram, for example, which inspired not one but two trips there this year.
In doing research for my recent trip to Paris, I noticed that a particular photo kept popping up – the “sinking house” or “tilting house”. Although I’d been to the French capital a few times before, this seemed like a fun and unusual spot to visit, and so I decided to try to find out just how exactly to find the sinking house of Paris.
The first time I was ghosted, I didn’t understand what I had done wrong.
I met Chris in a little cocktail bar one rainy night in London (sidenote: my best friend has demanded that I never again date a guy called Chris… I’m cursed with guys called Chris). We had a fantastic date, one of my best ever, and it culminated with both a passionate kiss and an invitation to a second date. He texted me on the way home.
“I can’t stop smiling…,” he wrote, and oh my god, there is no better feeling than getting that text after making out with a ridiculously hot, ridiculously intelligent journalist named Chris, let me tell you.
Over the next couple of days, we texted back and forth and made plans for our upcoming dinner date. And then, the day before, I texted him to confirm what time we were meeting. No response. That seemed a bit strange, but I tried not to let it bother me until the next day. By lunchtime – I would assume we were meeting only a few hours later – I texted again. Yes, oh yes, the dreaded double-text. But I was kind of worried, and very confused.
“Hey,” I texted. “Are we still on for tonight?”
And that, dear friends, is when I encountered my first ghost.
If you’ve been following my Facebook or my Instagram accounts, you’d know that I’m not hiding the fact that I fell absolutely, head over heels in love with Cinque Terre, Italy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know – I can be quite promiscuous with my travel love. But how can you NOT fall in love with a place that looks like this, especially when the sun is shining and you have a glass of wine in your hand?
I’m still going through all of the hundreds of photos I took from my four days there last month, so I’ll be posting a photo essay soon, but I wanted to write a post about some of the logistics of getting around Cinque Terre, especially for those who are on a bit of a budget (like I was…er… always am). I had quite a few people write to me to say that they plan on visiting the region this summer, and so hopefully this guide can help, or perhaps it can help inspire you to plan your own trip there. It is one of the most beautiful places in Italy, if not the world, and I truly believe that Cinque Terre can be visited on a budget. Here’s how.