48 Hours in Vienna: Day One

It has taken more than one attempt to visit Vienna. Ill-timed illness as it were caused me to miss out on Vienna earlier this year but finally, this summer I managed to experience the Austrian capital and all it has to offer..

Day One

As with most holidays it started with our plane being delayed and spending an abnormal amount of time in the airport Starbucks. But eventually we were on our way, the flight was just under two hours from London Gatwick. Due to the delay we arrived at night- but this didn’t stop me being impressed with Vienna from the off.  The airport was clean, the train station was clearly sign posted and getting through passport control took literally two minutes!

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The lift ‘artwork’ in the hotel

After a good night sleep in our comfy yet slightly creepy hotel room we headed out to see Vienna. First up food (obviously). Cafe Central  famed for having customers such as Totsky, Stalin and Freud and serves pastry and hot food all day. Given the grand surroundings I was expecting a very high price tag- but instead I consumed the most beautiful food for an incredibly reasonable price.

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With full stomachs and time ticking on we decided we should probably see a bit of culture. The museum quarter is packed with museums (of course) but also a well though-out central area with chairs for reading, cafes and a water fountain. Each museum takes around half a day to go round so we had to pick one, we went for the Kunsthistorisches Museum which opened in 1891. It turned out to be the most stunning building I’ve ever seen, it’s packed with original artworks by painters such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt and my personal favourite Gustav Klimt. It’s so big I had to make use of all the sofas placed in all the rooms to give my feet a rest.

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After loosing track of time we left and explored more of the city. The city was buzzing and completed by chance we were there during the Vienna Music Film Festival. It’s on for the whole of the summer and takes place in front of the magnificent town hall. Its a big screen showing music-related films with 100 food stalls and around 2000 seats for the audience. And best of all its FREE. It would be unheard off to have an event like this free in somewhere like London.

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So with the sun setting we bought some burger, fries and settled in for a night under the stars watching a live recording of an Alicia Keys concert. Tomorrow we have a full day planned- shopping, the famous Prater fairground, St.Stephens cathedral and returning to the film festival.

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Snapshots of a Robot Camera

For me, having fun with photography is what it’s all about, and this robot camera provides it in bucket loads.

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It’s super light, fits in your pocket and has 3 lenses. The viewfinder is non-existent as is the ability to frame a shot. But this camera is more about capturing moments with the hope that one of the 3 images is usable.

I got given this camera as a birthday present a couple of years ago. As I’m often working on commercial or personal projects this camera isn’t a viable option. But after so long collecting dust on my camera shelf surrounded by my beloved Olympus MJU II and Pentax 1000 I decided to take it with me everywhere I went for a week…

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Visiting Camden Market

As a street photographer I have a few favourite spots around London; busy places with interesting characters (and good food is always a plus!). Camden market ticks all these boxes so with an hour before I needed to be at a meeting in central London I hopped on a tube for 10 minutes and explored Camden.

 

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Despite being a week day, Camden was packed with tourists, businessman and market traders.

There is almost too much choice when it comes to food. There are hot food stalls including pizza, Indian and Chinese, but there are also more street food-type options such as burritos and burgers.

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Of course you can avoid the British art of queuing and save yourself some money by bringing a packed lunch.

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I would definitely recommend a packed lunch if your staying in London for a few days and on a budget. As delicious as most of the food is- it’s not cheap. Camden also has a river running through the market, it acts as a great picnic spot.

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If you want to check out Camden I would also recommend heading north and walking to Primrose hill, after a sweaty walk up the steep hill you can see my favourite view across the London skyline..

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Lisbon Travel Diary: Eating the Most Famous Custard Tarts in the World!

Belém, a district famous for it’s custard tarts and monastery, is just a short tram ride away from the city centre. Unfortunately for us the tram didn’t turn up for half an hour and the queue was so long we wouldn’t of got on the first couple of trams that arrived.

So we made the decision to take the metro- only problem was the metro doesn’t go to Belém. So just two metro’s and a train later we finally arrived.  First impressions was busy- so so busy. Filled with tourists and students spilling out the cafe’s and taking in the beautiful architecture of the monastery.

Like many visiting, first stop was lunch. After trying to find a seat in a few restaurants we stumbled into a burger place. Turns out this place was a cosy, artisan burger joint and the best decision we made all day- it was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately I was so hungry I ate it before I could take a picture but this is the front of the restaurant, if you ever visit Lisbon I highly recommend a visit..

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With our stomachs full we headed to the windy riverside to see the gigantic monument; Padrão dos Descobrimentos.

The 171ft tall monument was finished in 1960 after 2 years of construction. It sits on the edge of the Tagus river and has a viewing platform at the top. There are 33 sculptures surrounding the monument representing figures (mainly white men) from history, with Henry the Navigator leading from the front.

The size and detail makes this a must see for a visit to Lisbon, as is the most famous Portuguese custard tart cafe. Pastéis de Belém house’s the most secretive recipe in the whole of Europe. The recipe was first created by monks 200 years ago and the recipe has not changed since. It is so secretive only 3 people know the recipe-and they won’t travel in the same car together. The custard tarts are so popular on an average day they sell 20,000!

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The queue came out the entrance all around the block.  But as we weren’t planning on returning to Belém during our time in Lisbon we joined the masses. And to be fair, the queue went down extremely quickly and before we knew it we were inside ordering a couple of custard tarts to take away. And boy, did they live up to the highest of expectations, well worth the wait.

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To end the day we headed back into the centre of Lisbon, this time by bus, and took a funicular up to a stunning viewpoint across the city to watch the (cloudy) sun set.

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How to Prepare for Travelling in a Developing Country

Since moving back to the UK from Bangladesh lots of people have asked me what its like to live and travel in a developing country. So I thought I’d put together a handy little guide of tips and tricks I learnt during my time.

1.Have realistic expectations

Doing some research is a great way to set some realistic expectations and get excited for the country your visiting. For me hygiene is the biggest cause of concern, so before flying out to Bangladesh I made sure I prepared myself for having to use squat toilets  that are often found outside.

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2. Learn the Language 

Don’t assume people will speak English, especially if you are visiting rural areas in a developing country. I have never had an ear for languages but having daily language lessons really helped me get my head around bengali and got me out of some tough situations including getting detained by immigration! It is also a great way of making connections with locals.

3.  Be Wary of Food

Trying new food is one of my favourite things to do when i’m travelling. BUT this is also one of the most common causes of illness when in a foreign country. Although its hard, avoiding street food can be a great help in avoiding food poisoning  along with making sure you only eat food that has been peeled or cooked.

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4.Be Money Conscious 

When your in a developing country your money will often go further than at home. For example, in Bangladesh buying tea and cake for my whole team (10 people) came to $1.34. But when things are cheaper than at home don’t let the locals hear your surprise/happiness at the price, this can often cause offence and the price to rise next time your at the market!

5.Prepare for the Worst

The likelihood of anything bad happening is so slim and shouldn’t worry you, but do be prepared. From having a first aid kit with you to knowing the embassy number and having travel insurance. When it comes to reviewing your best travel options I have found reviews.com really helpful especially their travel insurance guides reviews.com/travel-insurance/   .

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Reviews.com top 4 travel insurance’s

Bangladesh Travel Diary: Being Ill in a 3rd World Country 

I’m currently based in Bangladesh as part of a team of community workers. Follow me over on Instagram (@madisonbeachphotos) and here on this blog to keep updated with the ups and downs of living in such a beautiful yet challenging country..

Coming to Bangladesh we expected that the new food and climate would at some point make us ill; nothing some sleep and antibiotics wouldn’t cure. But none of us predicted what happened at the end of October. On the very same day 5 members of the team including myself starting feeling odd but couldn’t put our finger on what was wrong. Then slowly but surely one by one we became worse; diarrhoea, sickness, nausea and headaches.

We first made a trip to our local village clinic. Despite obviously having the same problem the doctor prescribed us all with different medicines. A quick google afterwards showed that half our medicines didn’t relate at all to our symptoms. Something you have to be careful with as a foreigner, as our insurance pays for all the medicine they will prescribe as much as possible.

Over the coming days the group quickly declined and the decision was made to go to Dhaka. As we were so ill the organiser of the transport said we would go the ‘quick’ route. He failed to mention this included an incredibly painfully bumpy 10km rickshaw journey and that the rickshaw journey would end at the edge of a river where we would have to board a boat. To say we were unprepared to be in public boarding a boat was an understatement. We were all in pyjamas, wearing socks with flip-flops clinging to pillows and blankets. Thankfully the wobbly boat journey was a short one and there was just a short wait for our van to arrive the other side.

Despite being assured that the ‘quick’ route would take just 4 hours, 7 hours later we were stuck in traffic nowhere near Dhaka. Although light relief was provided when Hannah, sleeping at back of the van, sat up having had a life epiphany, unfortunately her joy was short lived when she had to grab a sick bag.

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We arrived at the Hospital 10 hours after setting off. As the main hospital was now closed we had to go to A&E. We explained our symptoms were all the same and started at the same time but things appeared to get lost in translation. Along with two other team members I was hastily put in a hospital bed while the remaining two members were escorted upstairs to a waiting room. It was all a bit surreal, ironically my roommate from the village, Emily, was put in the bed next to me; we managed to keep each other sane as they put us on drips.

Halfway through the receiving the drips a women was wheeled into the ward. It became very clear very quickly why she was there: she was giving birth. At home I can’t even watch the end of One Born Every Minute and yet here I was 3 metres away from a women giving birth with just a curtain between us.

By the time I had finished the drip there was a healthy baby boy in the corner of the room being weighed by the nurses.

Not looking my best but celebrating the birth of a healthy baby amongst the chaos

After 4 hours the 3 of us on drips were all discharged and given medicine to deal with our symptoms, it turns out the doctors here aren’t very keen on spending time working out the diagnosis they just give you the medicine. It took me two more visits and an overnight stay in the hospital to get a diagnosis. They found an infection in my blood, most likely caused by food poisoning. We then spent 3 long days in a compound in Dhaka starting our various courses of antibiotics, resting and eating. We are now very happy to be back in north Bangladesh in the village we call home surrounded by beautiful landscapes and reunited with our team. Hopefully the next time any of us will be in Dhaka will be when we’re flying home.

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Bangladesh Travel Diary: Eating Bangla Style 

I’m currently based in Bangladesh as part of a team of community workers. Follow me over on Instagram (@madisonbeachphotos) and here on this blog to keep updated with the adventures and challenges faced when living Asia.. 

One of the biggest cultural differences to  the UK is the food. Bangladeshi’s eat rice for every meal of the day and often don’t feel full until they’ve eaten rice. 


As a fan of rice I wasn’t apprehensive about my new diet but after two months I can confidently say I am now 80% rice. And here in Bangladesh the only dessert we have been served is rice pudding! As an owner of a very sweet tooth this has been the hardest thing to adjust to food wise, I am especially missing cheesecake. 

Delivering first aid training.

We have been working incredibly hard delivering important workshops to those living in rural Bangladesh. As these communities are often cut off from main cities these workshops provide the residents with vital information about health and social issues affecting their villages. So yesterday after a long days work and planning for future projects in our community we decided to have a Bangla Style BBQ to celebrate our hard work so far. 

It was a brilliant experience as I got to cook and see first hand how the meat is killed (!) and prepared. I think it’s incredibly important to avoid burying your head in the sand when it comes to where your food comes from. 

I got to peel potatoes and make the roti (round flatbread) although our resident chef tried to subtly fix all my attempts. 

We ended up pouring a bit too much fuel on the fire; it was more reminiscent of a bonfire than a BBQ. We had a long wait for it to die down so we didn’t loose our eyebrows turning the chicken. But we did end up with a delicious meal of chicken, garlic potatoes and roti under the night sky filled with stars. There was no rice in sight and we all went to bed full! Although I did look forward to rice for breakfast..