Walking 800Km! (Camino De Santiago)

In Bangladesh, less than 31% of women have a secondary school education and around 45% are illiterate.

I first met Monita in 2017 whilst I was living in Northern Bangladesh as a community worker. Due to Monita being so kind and welcoming we became fast friends. We travelled around rural communities delivering health and social workshops. We created the workshops together whilst Monita also taught me Bangla so we could be as effective team as possible.

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Since I left Bangladesh Monita has carried on this great work and continues to work as a school tutor to support her mother and younger siblings. Monita has recently passed all her exams and has applied to university to become a nurse. But this costs money that she does not have.

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So…I will be walking 800km along the Camino De Santiago from 21st August to 25th September 2019 to raise money for Monita’s Nursing Degree. The degree costs around £1500 and any money raised above this target will go towards food and shelter for her mother and younger siblings who are dependent on Monita. If you want to help, no matter how big or small, please follow this link https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-monita-become-a-nurse-for-her-community

Thank You!

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Street Photography on the Streets of London

This time a few days ago I found myself with a couple of hours to spare before my train home from London. So I grabbed my camera out my bag and headed out to the blustery streets of the capital.

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I took loads of photos at this location along Oxford St. waiting for the right person to walk past.. thankfully this women and her stripy top didn’t take too long to arrive

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To get these silhouettes I stood in the shade and adjusted the aperture

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It’s not always safe to cross the road even when its a green light! These horses had just come from a presentation at Buckingham Palace

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Bus stops always provide an opportunity to use the reflection or get up close and personal

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Rush hour can be overwhelming if you’re trying to get anywhere in London but provides lots of photography opportunities. I captured these businessmen outside Covent Garden Tube waiting for friends.

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The wind did provide some comical moments including this groups’ teachers tripping over

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Tired tourists can be spotted everywhere- London is bigger than you think

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I sat down for a few minutes to rest my feet at Leicester Square. This father and son were tasked with finding the families next destination.

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Theres always time to catch up on the news-even if it is at Piccadilly Circus

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When I’m shooting street photography I try to mix up the angles including shooting at shoulder height to get close up portraits

 

NEW BLOG ALERT!

If you want to check out a brilliant new travel blog, one of my favourite people I met in Bangladesh, Morgan, has just set up a blog detailing all her travels, she has just got back from Cambodia! Morgan is a ball of energy and an annoyingly good dancer when you go out clubbing (makes me look even worse) so go check out and support her blog.. morganvibes.wordpress.com

Morgan (left), Me and Emily

The Best Capital Cities I’ve Visited

Copenhagen

The starting place of my inter-railing adventure from Denmark to Switzerland, Copenhagen set the tone for what turned out to be a brilliant European journey. As most of my friends will tell you I will cycle or walk whenever its an option, especially in a busy city. Using public transport is a great way to save energy and feel like a local but I prefer being able to take my time, go off the beaten track and take way too many photos. Also its a great money saver if your on a budget!

 

Copenhagen is filled with students, bikes and friendly locals. The city far exceeded by expectations and everyone we met was incredibly helpful.  The only disappointment I had was the famous ‘Little Mermaid’ bronze statue. It was much smaller than I was expecting and it was engulfed by tourists. The city is very walkable and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to experience Scandinavian cuisine first hand.

As you would expect from a capital city, Copenhagen has great transport links. You can get a train over the famous bridge to Sweden, a boat to Germany or a flight to almost anywhere in Europe.

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Tokyo

Tokyo, another starting point of an adventure. This time my 2016 Japanese adventure. Our 24 day journey started and ended in Tokyo. Overall we spent 6 days in Tokyo, I could’ve happily spent 6 months here. Being so big I knew there was a potential of being overwhelmed, especially while still experiencing jet lag. But from the minute we landed at the airport I felt at home. The sheer size of Tokyo means it has a suburb offering something for everyone. Whether you want to spend your day walking around the beautiful parks or dressing up as your favourite anime character, theres a place to do that (and not be judged!).

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Like every city Tokyo has its flaws. Both me and Juna were disheartened by Akihabara. The district is know for its vibrant electronic stores and arcades. Although I did find the Japanese Harry Potter DVD’s I had been longing for, the shops didn’t hide their adult material and there was lots of it. Adult DVD’s and comics weren’t off limits, they could’ve easily been accessed by children. It made for an uncomfortable trip through the district’s shops. But in the almost month-long time I spent in Japan this was my only negative experience.

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The underground train system is intimidating at first but once you get the hang of it, its an efficient, clean and relatively cheap way of getting around.And the nightlife in Tokyo is as eclectic as you can imagine. You can eat dinner at a robot restaurant, have drinks at a bar that fits only 5 people and then sing the night away at a Karaoke Bar.

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Juna at the Moomin Cafe

I am already planning my return to Tokyo and if you haven’t yet been now is the time! The country is gearing up for hosting the 2020 olympics, you can already feel the excitement and see the venues being constructed.

Budapest

Budapest happens to be the first place I travelled to with just my friends so it will always hold special memories. It was the first time we had held the responsibilities of having a successful trip; not loosing our passports, exchanging currency,  planning enough to keep us occupied without being so tired we walk around with our eyes shut.

Terri outside our ‘Happy Flat’ hostel

Budapest has a range of sights and a good nightlife which entices a lot of young (and older) visitors from around the world. From ruin bars and riding the tram to visiting the spa, you could spend a week just scratching the surface of what Budapest has to offer.

As a big fan of architecture I loved winding through the streets of Budapest and photographing the grand castles and decadent government buildings. The thermal spa is a must visit and if your looking to save your money theres great walks ending with brilliant panoramic views across the city. It was a very happy surprise that Budapest was so cheap, if you play your cards right you can eat dinner out for under £5. I really enjoyed my 4 days in Budapest and created a short film..

Feel free to recommend and comment your favourite Cities!

5 Accessories Under $30 That’ll Up Your Photography Game

Monopod
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Great for mixing up the angles and getting to those hard to reach places.  

Colour Filters 

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A brilliant way to make landscape photography more interesting and a bit of fun to use. You can use in front of the lens of flash, a great technique to try when shooting double exposures.

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Camera 

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I got this second hand Sony camera off ebay for £19.80. The viewfinder is broken but unlike my Sony A7RII I can throw this camera around and experiment without having to worry about breaking it.

Remote Shutter 
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Nowadays these come in different forms. You can get manual/digital shutters and even apps. If you’re shooting self portraits this is a great way to have more control in when and how many images you shoot. And if you’re into moving image, remote shutters provide another option to create stop motion or time lapses without having to keep your finger on the shutter.

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Mirror 

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If you enjoy shooting portraits in or out the studio a mirror can be a useful tool and make the viewer look twice. If your in a creative rut a mirror can provide a great way to start approaching your images differently.

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Barcelona Day Four: Easy Mazes and the Gothic Quarter

Our last day here in Barcelona started slowly as our over-priced cocktails from last night took a grip. After re-hydrating we sloped towards the nearest cafe we could find. Typically we found the best breakfast spot on our last day. It was a tiny, albeit slightly cramped veggie cafe. But it was cheap and delicious.

After consuming some food (5 plates of food to be precise..) we strolled around the nearby gothic quarter; home of the town hall and very impressive gothic cathedral. The area was buzzing with locals, tourists and street sellers.

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When i’m in a new city I like to try out the different modes of transport they have on offer, and Barcelona has trams. So we boarded a tram to our next and last destination of the holiday- a hilltop maze. unfortunately it turns out the tram lines are very limited and we had to get off after two stops to get a bus. We both needed the toilet and luckily we had got off the tram near a new, and very modern shopping mall in the middle of nowhere. There was music playing out speakers around the shopping mall, if you’ve ever played Sims, you can imagine the music playing.

We also realised we hadn’t consumed any water for a very long time so headed into a CarreFour super market- well we tried. The entrance wasn’t very clearly marked (considering Alex speaks both Catalan and Spanish)  so we just headed backwards through the self checkouts so we could get into the supermarket. But one lady on the checkout did not take us ‘breaking in’ to the shop very kindly and proceeded to shout at us then call security..

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So after that slight misunderstanding we boarded the bus; drink-less.  It dropped us at the bottom of a massive hill, on a road, with no pavement and no phone signal. Against our better judgement we started to walk up the giant hill.. And to our surprise the winding path did lead us to a beautiful gardens complete with a maze..

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Although often the main selling point of these gardens is the maze, it was very small thus easy to complete. The real charm of the place is the hidden, secluded paths winding through forests, past waterfalls and beautiful wildlife.

As we reached the exit of the gardens and the entrance of the metro it dawned on us that this was the end of our holiday. So we collected our luggage, stocked up on tapas and spent our euros in duty free. So here we are at Barcelona airport planning our next trip whilst waiting for our delayed flight home..

Barcelona Day Three: Cable Cars and Castles

Day three in Barcelona called for an Al Fresco breakfast. Alex and I returned to the cool shopping centre built in an old bullring to buy some pastries and fresh orange juice. We then headed to the  national art museum of Catalunya. I was promised escalators to the top and there were- but they weren’t moving. So after a sweaty trip up hundreds of stairs and some now, slightly warm orange juice we made it to the entrance of the museum. But we weren’t there for the museum- the view opposite is stunning. The only problem was, this view is no secret. There were hundreds of tourists and school kids at the top. Along with some pesky pigeons vying for my pastry so we didn’t stay too long.

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The view from the bottom of the art museum of Catalunya

Luckily the paths at the back of the museum is slightly quieter and even better, leads to a cable car.. The cable car was 8 euros and took around 10 minutes to get you to the summit- the location of Montjuic Castle. As we are travelling on a budget we decided not to pay to enter the castle, instead we went for a stroll around the castle grounds which are free. You can do a full circle around the castle- we even spotted some archery practice.

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After a returning on the cable car, a frantic search for a free toilet and a delicious waffle we decided we needed some culture. After looking through a list of art exhibitions in Barcelona we chose to visit the centre of Photography, showcasing the work of legendary photographer August Sander. I was really excited as I had researched Sanders work last term at uni. The Photography Centre is extremely accessible, plonked ring tin the middle of Las Ramblas. Which made it even more odd that it was so quiet when we entered. Not that odd though when we re-read the exhibition poster. It was opening in 3 days time- a day after we leave. With our tail between our legs we did the only thing possible- retail therapy. After Alex bought a whole load of make-up which will be impossible to pack in our hand luggage decided a rest at the apartment was needed.

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The Terraza Hotel 360 bar

I don’t know why but when deciding what I wanted to do in Barcelona, I was set on seeing a sun set. Maybe (and rather embarrassingly) I assumed the sun would set beautifully over the beach- obviously not, Barcelona is on the East coast. After speaking to some local friends they suggested the rooftop terrace at the upmarket Terraza hotel. So after dressing up and pretending we knew what we were doing we walked straight into the hotel lobby, to the lift and up to the top floor. We walked straight into a 360 rooftop bar with seats around the edge primed to witness the sunset- just what we were looking for. After paying for some over-priced cocktails we sat down ready for the sunset and boy did it live up to expectations…

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Barcelona Day Two: Walking my socks off

Alex, who I’m travelling with, has family on the outskirts of Barcelona so she headed off early this morning on the coach to visit them for the day.  Leaving me with a metro ticket, a map and a day to explore the more ‘touristy’ side of Barcelona.

First stop, Sagrada Familia. After trying to memorise the map in my head (don’t ask me why) the Sagrada Familia poking out about the buildings was a welcome sight. Its an incredibly impressive piece of architecture and like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I didn’t stay too long as I knew there was a lot more I wanted to see but I am really glad I visited, it’s a must see for a reason.

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According to google maps the walk between the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, my next stop, was 32 minutes away. What it didn’t tell me, and I should’ve worked out from the geography of Barcelona, that this walk was all up a steep hill. That being said this was one of my favourite parts of the day as I explored some of the backstreets and enjoyed chatting to locals in a sweet cafe half way up the hill.

After arriving at Park Guell, slightly hot and out of breath, I spotted a queue for tickets. Being British I saw my time to shine and stood in line. But as I got to the front I was told theres a limited capacity in the park and the next available tickets were for 5pm (it was only 1pm).

But the women on the information desk was extremely helpful and told me that a large portion of the Park (around 2/3) is actually free to walk around at anytime. So I thought the best compromise was walking around the free parts rather than waiting around for 4 hours- Im glad I did. The wildlife I spotted along the beautiful paths was worth the uphill walk alone. At random parts along the paths you could get a glimpse of the Barcelona skyline. And at one view point there was an Elvis impersonator singing Take That songs- all a bit surreal.

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I spent a couple of hours in the park wandering around, buying snacks and eating snacks. By this time I had just about recovered from my earlier hike so I decided to embark on another uphill walk, this time to the Carmel Bunkers which according to many travel blogs offer the best panoramic views across the city.

From the park it was a 30 minute hike, but halfway up I started spotting graffiti sprayed by the locals. It started off as ‘go home stupid tourists’ and got progressively more aggressive the further up the hill you go. After researching, I found the locals are against the Carmel Bunkers new found popularity as tourists often drop rubbish and the prices in local cafes and shops have been hiked up.  I made the decision to carry on as it’s a weekday so it wasn’t very busy and of course took all rubbish home with me.

After a steep walk and a set of steps I reached the top. The views were stunning and only a handful of people were at the summit. I sat for about 30 minutes taking it all in as the top offers a 360 degree view. It you visit, it’s a great idea to take food and drink with you as it is a de-hydrating hike to the top, but please respect locals and take any rubbish home with you.

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The view was pretty spectacular

With Alex heading back from visiting her family I jumped on the metro back to the apartment. But before I did I checked the pedometer on my phone- I had already walked 15km!

After a (well-earned) nap we headed out for dinner which provided more great views! We headed to a shopping centre which has been built in an old bullring. And if you take the escalators to the top you get to a 360 degree balcony with restaurants based in the centre. Here we had Paella and some more tapas (of course) and watched the sun set out the window.

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The view from the restaurant

After a day of walking and eating we headed back to the apartment for an early night and to plan for tomorrow. Already we have planned to visit a castle, a photography exhibition, an art museum and ride on a cable car..