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Autumn Instagram Update

instagram europe travel

Is it just me or is this year flying by?

Sometimes it feels like moments that shouldn’t be forgotten are gone in the blink of an eye while others drag on for eternity (cue 26 hour flight from New Zealand to Dublin, woof!)

Very profound statement, I know.

Some days I can hardly believe Christmas and the holidays are just around the corner! Well, now that I am living in New Zealand, and the seasons are reversed, it almost feels like I’ve just extended 2013 by another half a year! In fact, I should probably rename this post “Spring Instagram Update.”

instagram europe travel

Leaving Wellington for Europe

But I digress.

After moving to New Zealand in August, I flew back to Europe for a month in October for some work-related escapades, plus visiting old and new friends.

Not the most logical travel route but some opportunities you can’t say no to, which will lead to some big news soon – hint, hint.

Because I felt like I was running around too much and about to lose my mind, I didn’t do too much touring, rather just spending time with people and soaking it all in. In the same tune, I shunned my fancy DSLR camera for my little iPhone, only when I remembered to document what was going on.

instagram europe travel

Somewhere over Qatar

instagram europe travel

London rooftops

Somedays I just want to throw my big camera out of the window and stay iPhone-only forever. But today is not that day. And, well, neither was October.

In this day and age, you can take and edit great photos with a cellphone. Sometimes I feel like I get too preoccupied with my camera and settings I forget to take in all the beauty around me. It’s almost like I’m losing the spirit of traveling. When I just use my iPhone to snap a photo, I’ve found this feeling is a lot less.

I thought I’d go ahead and share a recap of quite literally my Round-The-World trip via iPhone and Instagram.

Are you a fan of mobile photography? Do you use your smart phone to take photos while traveling?

instagram europe travel


Melbourne, Australia

On my way to Europe from Wellington, I stopped for a few days in Melbourne, Australia.

I had being hearing for years what a cool-fun-bohemian-chill-hip-alternative-artsy city Melbourne was, and I was eager to experience it myself.

Honest to god, I tried to love Melbourne, I really did, but things just didn’t go as I hoped they would.

To me, it just felt like a big city, like I could be anywhere in the world, even back in the US. I couldn’t find the little things that made it stand out for me. I was annoyed by how long it took to get places. I was really annoyed about how expensive it was. And the lack of free wifi anywhere nearly killed me.

Oh, and I was also followed by someone downtown which was really terrifying! Not a good start to a travel relationship!

instagram europe travel

I also happened to be there during their biggest sporting day of the year, the AFL (Australian Football League) final, which was insane, and also meant hotel room prices were through the roof. It was fun watching the game for a bit in the main square downtown and be part of the atmosphere, and I really loved all the street art around town.

Now thinking back I really want to give Melbourne a second chance, not be so rushed or be there during such a big event. I also think I need to be there with a local and someone who lives there.

Any tips for me? Have you been to Melbourne?

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel


After bidding farewell to Australia, I flew to Dublin and experienced my longest travel day to date (by plane). Melbourne – Qatar (14 hours) – London (8 hours) – Dublin (1 hour).

I won’t be doing that again soon!

Being a fan of celtic history and legends, I was really excited to head back to Ireland. The last time I was there was in 2007 and I almost died!

I was in Dublin specifically for TBEX, a big travel blogging conference I like to attend, which also is a great chance to catch up with other full-time travelers.

instagram europe travel

I forgot how much I love Dublin! The people are friendly, the city is gorgeous, the shopping is fun (I was stocking up on affordable clothes – something hard to find in New Zealand!) and there is always something going on.

Being there during the travel conference was amazing too, though exhausting. I got in a few days before it started so I would have some time to take in the sites, like visiting Trinity College and seeing the Book of Kells (medievalist, remember?) The Book of Kells is a 9th century Celtic gospel illuminated manuscript that is fucking stunning to see.

I also tagged along on a day tour to Wicklow National Park with Wild Wicklow Tours, hoping to fulfill a fantasy from the movie P.S. I Love You – remember the part where Gerry and Holly meet in Ireland for the first time? That was in Wicklow.

We really lucked out with the weather (sarcasm) but it was still a fun albeit wet day. I met a lot of new people, and even the Irish countryside in the rain is still gorgeous, in its own mysterious way.

The complimentary Jameson also helped.

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel

All in all though, it was a good week in Ireland. I saw some places I hadn’t seen before, met loads of new people, made a lot of good business contacts, and just had a good time!

For example we had one of the conference evening parties at the Guinness Factory – how cool is that?

I left Ireland already planning when I would be back.

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel


For me a trip to Europe would be incomplete without stopping in the UK at some point or another.

One of my good friends from university is doing grad work at Cambridge this semester, so I knew I wanted to hope over and see her. After a quick night in London, I headed up on the train, and it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this university town.

London is an amazing city, but my favorite places in the UK are out in the country. Cambridge is no exception.

instagram europe travel

Spending some relaxing time with an old friend in a beautiful place was just what the doctor ordered. Exploring all the old colleges and hanging out in the October sunshine was just what I needed.

Being in Cambridge was a bit hard for me because I’ve always wanted to do grad work in the UK, something which I’ve put on hold while exploring the world and working on travel writing.

Throughout university, I was determined to go through with getting a PhD and becoming a medievalist. But after I graduated, I wasn’t sure so I put it off.

I found myself questioning whether I could go back to grad school one day. Or are those dreams behind me and I’m on an entirely new path?

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel

While Cambridge stirred up some old memories and tough choices, ultimately I’m still glad I went. It was a beautiful city to get to know, and luckily the weather stayed fabulous the whole time.

We even spent an afternoon punting on the river, a common Cambridge pastime. And let me just say, it’s harder than it looks! I actually wussed out and didn’t try it because I knew there was a 75% chance I’d end up in the river, and nobody wants that.

Have you been to Cambridge? Would you like to visit?

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel


All roads lead to Rome, don’t they?

Now that I’ve been working on so many projects in Italy, I’ve become quite familiar with Rome, though it’s been years since I’ve done anything touristy there. Usually I’m in and out headed somewhere else, or just meeting up with old friends.

This time I was eager to try something a bit different so I hopped on a Walks of Italy food tour.

instagram europe travel

Rome is an iconic place, but this time I really wanted to experience a more local side of it, especially through food. There is one way to a girl’s heart, and let me just say, it’s not diamonds.

Aged balsamic, award-winning olive oil, famous coffee, and oh yeah, making your own pizza IN Rome. Does it get any better than that?

Stuffed to the gills with great food and lots of new information about food culture in Rome, I was reluctant to say goodbye and head off to my next destination – Rimini.

Have you been to Rome? Have you ever gone on a food tour while traveling? 

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel

Rimini for TBD Italy

The real reason I was in Europe in October was because I was invited to speak at TBDI (Travel Blogger Destination Italy) in Rimini.

The biggest travel trade show in Italy is called TTG-TTI and this year they were incorporating traveler bloggers. I was beyond thrilled to have the chance to talk about something I love and really care about with a good friend, Laurence, from Finding the Universe.

Laurence and I met in Brindisi last summer along with several other bloggers I was friends with, it was a great and hectic few days in the pretty coastal city of Rimini.

Italy just isn’t ugly. Anywhere.

instagram europe travel

It was a beautiful coming together of new and old friends, meeting with industry people, networking and pretty much no sleep.

It was also inspirational to listen to some great bloggers and content creators talk about their fields. I definitely left Rimini with more ideas and opportunities than I could have ever imagined.

Perhaps one of the best parts was getting to meet and hang out with Rick Mereki – the talented videoographer behind the Move, Eat, and Learn videos that went viral a few years ago.

Here is someone who made it, someone like all of us who had a dream and a big idea, chased after it without giving up, and have it be more successful than anyone could have possibly imagined. It was a good reminder to all of us that anything can happen.

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.


After Rimini, I headed back to the Pisa region of Tuscany for an epic 3 days of touring and exploring with a post-conference TBDI tour.

Tuscany and I have a special relationship – and to put it mildly, I’ll go back there any chance I get. I had a peek at the western side of Tuscany near Pisa last summer while shooting the Tuscany video, and I was eager to see more of this overlooked part of the region.

It didn’t disappoint.

instagram europe travel

From eating our way through the markets of San Miniato to walking along ancient olive groves in the footsteps of Andrea Bocelli, I fell back in love with Tuscany every step of the way.

We finished in Volterra, made famous from the Twilight books (death to Twilight!) which as much as I was prone to loath it on principle, I actually ended up enjoying. It has a seedy dark history making it unique from the other quaint Tuscan hilltowns.

So while Tuscany can be ridiculously popular, it’s not overrated. At all.

And I can’t wait to go back.

Do you dream of Tuscany too?

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel

Fried zucchini blossoms OMG

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel


The final stop of my grand autumnal Euro adventure was Pisa.

The last time I was in Pisa, it was 2007 on a day trip from Florence, and to be honest, I hated it. Pisa doesn’t have a good reputation, and most tourists just pop in and out for half a day to see the Leaning Tower and main monuments.

This time around I was determined to give it a second chance. I always champion for the underdog, and I was sure Pisa had more to share than meets the eye.

instagram europe travel

With fresh eyes and a new attitude, I took it all.

Pisa is a pretty cool place once you give it a chance. I loved walking along the back streets and seeing the very old and historical side of the city.

This time around I even climbed up the Leaning Tower, something I missed last time. The views from the top were magnificent, and it was very surreal climbing spiral staircases up something that tilts so dramatically!

instagram europe travel

instagram europe travel

After getting poured rain on, it was amazing to head to our hotel outside of town – Bagni di Pisa.

The old palace of the Dukes of Tuscany, it is now a 5 star resort with many thermal pools and spas.

After an intense month of travel and work, I was so so SO happy to soak in nice hot water and just let it go, even for just an hour.

While Pisa may not look like an easy place to love at first glance, once you start to dig a little deeper, and find the spas, you realize it isn’t so bad after all.

Have you been to Pisa?

instagram europe travel

Europe will always feel like home to me, and October was an incredible month for many reasons, nothing made me happier than seeing these beautiful New Zealand mountains on my home to Wellington.

Oh, and be sure to give me a follow on Instagram if you don’t already – @YoungAdventuress

instagram europe travel

47 Responses to Autumn Instagram Update

  1. Julie @ A Life Exotic December 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    I’m currently in grad school in the UK and I still drool over your travel photos & stories… the grass is always greener eh? You have amazing adventures! But it’ll never be too late if you decide you want to go back to school in the future. You’ll just be the cool kid in class 🙂

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 1:55 am #

      Haha I’ve never been the cool kid!

  2. Caitlyn December 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Oh, such a shame you didn’t enjoy Melbourne! It’s my hometown and I absolutely adore it, but it does take a bit of getting to know… I always say that you can understand Sydney in a day, but Melbourne can take weeks. Maybe next time (please be a next time, you’re relatively nearby now!) head out to some of the inner city neighbourhoods, go to a footy match at the MCG or get lost in the South Melbourne Market. Aw, I miss my city 🙂

    And I’m with you on Pisa! I got lost on the way to the tower from the train station (as per usual) and ended up wandering around aimlessly for a bit. It’s actually quite pretty!

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 1:55 am #

      Ahh you have to give me tips next time!

  3. Helen December 1, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Wow Liz, what a crazy few months for you! Love your Instagrams, always so beautiful!

    It was great to meet you in Dublin, and I’m looking forward to following your next adventures… sounds like you have exciting things ahead! 🙂 x

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 1:55 am #

      Thank you! It was lovely meeting you too 😀

  4. Olivia December 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    That sucks you didn’t like Melbourne! It’s my hometown and I love it. You should definitely visit at a better time.

    I’ve only been to Rome in Italy but you totally make me want to spend more time exploring other areas! One day.

    And you’re making me homesick for Dublin! That was the second city I lived in and one of my favourite places. Can’t wait to go back.

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 1:56 am #

      Dublin is so amazing OMG, yeah and I really want to revisit Melbourne this year!

  5. Lyddiegal December 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    This year is definitely flying by much too quickly!
    I love all these bright vibrant photos – especially the ones taken in Rome!

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 1:56 am #

      Thank you!

  6. Kayla Kiteley December 1, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    Beautiful Pictures, seriously amazing! I was captivated right from the very first one! Where is that beautiful scene? I need to go there immediately and just sit and take it all in. I love you blog and reading about all of your adventures.

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 2:00 am #

      thank you! The first pic is from Cambridge, absolutely lovely place! I definitely recommend visiting!

  7. Liz C December 2, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    Loving the blog, esp you living in my heartland, NZ. I dashed off there in 2005 for an adventure – studying at Otago Uni in Dunners. I spent nearly a year there…and 7 years later I married a Kiwi. We still talk about moving back someday. I traveled a bit while there though my main goal was definitely to befriend locals and get a feel for the real En Zed. I never did make it to Welly, but have friends there and am looking forward to our planned visit in July next year with our wee Halfling, expected in April 🙂

    Enjoy your rest and writing!

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 2:01 am #

      Awesome! I love it here, I never want to leave!

  8. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas December 2, 2013 at 4:12 am #

    OMG Cambridge looks just like it does on their adverts and promotional posters! Ha. I would be in B2 wonderland there.

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 2:01 am #

      It’s amazing! I’ve never noticed their ads before though

  9. Erica December 2, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    Great photos! LOVE the very first one. What are your favorite iPhone editing apps? I rely on VSCOCam the most and occasionally use PS Express, Pixlromatic, and PicFrame.

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 2:02 am #

      thanks! I use snapseed, camera +, proHDR and picfx mainly 🙂 I tried VSCOCam but I didn’t really like it, maybe I should try again!

      • Adilah December 4, 2013 at 11:00 am #

        I have been looking for a good photo editing app for my phone and I just tried snapseed I love it! and so simple to use thanks!

        • Liz December 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

          Snapseed rocks!!!

  10. rachel of hippie in heels December 2, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    I would love to be as busy as you! I take many of my photos with my iPhone only when I am going in a tour or event do I take my real camera . Instagram does wonders but unfortunately can sometimes change the photo too much making it unrealistic. I try not to do that so my readers aren’t tricked! You’ve done a good a good job editing 🙂

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 2:03 am #

      haha sometimes I overedit my photos but I don’t care. I try to capture how it felt when I was there, so hard!

  11. Kate M December 2, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    What a fantastic, photo-filled post! I loved reading through this; it sounds like an amazing month. Strange though – I’m an American living in London (grad student) and just in the last month spent some time in Dublin and Cambridge as well. Crazy! I loved Dublin too and am working on a post about Dublin for the next few days. It’s probably up there in the top five places I have visited. I have to chuckle too because it seems like everyone who visits Trinity ends up with that same, gorgeous shot of the Long Room. I know I have almost the exact same one. 🙂 That room, those books, the Book of Kells just downstairs – I could just move right in.

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 2:04 am #

      woah sounds like we were on the same trips! I LOVE Trinity College, I could live there too haha

  12. Sky December 2, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    Liz – I love your blog! I’m in a 1 year Masters program in Budapest right now and some classmates and I are travelling to Rome and La Spezia/Cinque Terre for about 10 days before Christmas – I’ve only been to Italy in the summer – any suggestions on what to do in December?!

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 2:03 am #

      Woah that’s awesome! I still haven’t been to the Cinque Terre but I am hoping to get there soon! I would check out some of the Walks of Italy tours in Rome, really awesome!

  13. Settit December 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    Your photos are beautiful! I definitely need to get me a new camera this Christmas! I myself went to Cambridge this summer and it was beautiful. I agree about the punting though, it was so incredibly difficult and a bit embarrassing when me and my friend were just moving in circles! Pisa and Rimini are on my Italian Bucket List (places to visit before my year in Italy is over) and the Walks of Italy Food Tours…All of them!

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 2:04 am #

      Sounds like a good year planned!

  14. Kelly December 2, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    I’m a huge fan of cell phones pics… and real camera pics… basically taking pictures in general 🙂 I would love to do a food tour, it sounds amazing!

    • Liz December 3, 2013 at 2:04 am #

      food tours rock!

  15. Andi December 3, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    Love the pics, but so sad you didn’t like Melbourne!!!

    • Liz December 4, 2013 at 2:19 am #

      I know! I need to give it a second chance, I haven’t given up yet!

  16. Kellie @ The Fundamental Alchemist December 3, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    That picture of the fresco ceiling in Tuscany is STUNNING.

    • Liz December 4, 2013 at 2:18 am #

      It was a really impressive church in Volterra 🙂

  17. Mallory December 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    I think all of your pictures are wonderful!!! I’m also very proud that you successfully took the “tourist photo” at the leaning tower…you should see mine! haha.

    • Liz December 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      It killed me to do it but I had to haha

  18. Dustin@WeGoRTW December 5, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    We love the people of Melbourne and the areas surrounding it (Great Ocean Road, Grampians, Penguin island, …), but the city came off as another big city to us.

    Great point of view though, if a placed rubbed you wrong the first time give it a second chance.

    • Liz December 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

      I will def give it a second chance 🙂 I never give up and I am always stubbornly optimistic about places 🙂

  19. Chelsea December 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Oh, Liz – you are so awesome. When I “grow up”, I want to be you. I absolutely adore your “Instagram Update” posts even though I follow you on IG. Your photos are gorgeous and I love your stories 🙂 Every time I read about your U.S. -> Europe -> U.S. -> NZ -> Europe -> NZ journey, I am exhausted just reading about it. I can definitely see how you got burnt out. Anyway, 1) I am definitely a huge fan of mobile photography but am hugely jealous because I sadly don’t have an iPhone. I’m an Apple user and lover without an iPhone – I know, it’s a crime. When I moved back to the U.S., my dad didn’t want his Android phone anymore so he sold it to me and I’ve had that ever since. Now, I’m getting ready to move back to Ireland in August and cannot sign a 2 year contract but I want an iPhone SO BADLY. I refuse to shell out $600 – $800 for one without a contract, blah. 2) I am so glad you had a better experience in Dublin this time around and that you can’t wait to go back. You’ll have to come visit me! I’ll be attending Trinity College for grad school. 3) “I found myself questioning whether I could go back to grad school one day. Or are those dreams behind me and I’m on an entirely new path?” First of all, I definitely understand your dreams of going to grad school abroad. I was determined to make those dreams a reality and couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity. Your situation is different than mine – grad school will ALWAYS be there… always. You’re never too old to go to school. Keep doing what you’re doing right now because your life is absolutely awesome 🙂 x

    • Liz December 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

      Love this Chelsea! I will definitely come visit, also think about getting an iphone in Europe, a lot of time their plans are cheaper and it’s easier to break a contract, and they’re easy and cheap to unlock – it’s worth looking into 🙂

  20. amelie88 December 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    Re: grad school abroad. If you can find a program that has your degree available and the school is abroad, I say take it. I was determined to go back to Spain after college and I really wanted to my master’s. Lo and behold, Middlebury and NYU both have programs in Madrid (though I didn’t know about Middlebury until I got to Madrid). I ended up doing the NYU program and while it had its ups and downs, I’m really glad I did. I got to write a thesis in a topic I was interested in, take classes in Spanish with native Spanish speaking professors, and really get to experience a foreign city on a completely different level.

    I have a few friends who have done their master’s abroad and nobody has regretted their decision. You’re obviously doing what you love now, which is great. 🙂 But if you’re still thinking about furthering your education, I say do it!

  21. Bridget @ A Traveling B December 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    Amazing photos – especially the ones of Italy. Tuscany gets me every time. Your photos have me needing to go back. The Walk of Italy food tour in Rome looks fantastic as well!

  22. Marisa November 7, 2014 at 3:18 am #

    In answer to you earlier question……I definitely use my phone exclusively for the photos on my blog. I am obsessed with packing light when I travel or go on hikes so my phone is always on hand. I have thought about going for it and purchasing a really good camera but the idea of carrying the weight doesn’t really appeal to me. It may be a stupid reason

    How do you do it? I have seen your gorgeous ONA bag but what other goodies do you take with you for those gorgeous photos?

  23. Otel kapadokya August 14, 2015 at 1:46 am #

    Very nice article.i am loving your blog

  24. Darcy Fahey December 7, 2015 at 5:06 pm #


    So I know this isn’t listed in the countries you traveled to, but I was wondering if you have any advice on where I should study abroad next year. I am choosing between Scotland and New Zealand. My main concerns are people, nature, food, city activities, and a sense of fulfillment. Thanks!


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