The Blog

A new era – Introducing ‘Bandtees and Backpacks’

Hello there, it’s been a while.

Some of you may have noticed the lack of posts over the past 18 months, which to be honest was both a welcomed break (aka the perfect cover up for my procrastination) but also due to the world being flipped on it’s arse due to Coronavirus.

Blogging about travel during this time I felt was insensitive and irresponsible, after all, why would I put myself on blast for encouraging such activities, so naturally I bowed out.

With isolation, came much thought and with that I felt that something fresh was needed. The world was changing, so why not mix up the one thing I felt I could control, my blog. So with that in mind, it felt fitting to refresh my presence online too.

This was down to many other reasons too,

a) I no longer feel that my page should solely be a travel blog

b) The name of my blog doesn’t reflect me anymore

c) I’m restricting myself to solely European content and let’s be honest, given the shit show that is Brexit, I plan to escape this plague island and venture to South America and lastly

d) I just feel that most travel blogs are beginning to look the same.

So with this in mind, I’ve decided to get more personal and re-introduce my blog and incorporate other aspects of my life such as art, music and alternative lifestyle into the pot. Maybe I’ll even throw in some style… who knows.

I’m proud of how far my blog has grown, but now it’s time to reflect my growth too. Which is why I will no longer be going by the name of ‘Girl About Europe’. (Nor am I a girl)

And introducing ☆ Bandtees and Backpacks ☆ a name which certainly feels more suitable for the type of content and new direction in which I would like to take my blog.

Of course I will still write about travel, I love it, but there’s just so many other fun topics I’d love to deep dive into also. So let’s give it a shot.

As always, thankyou for your support and stay tuned for more updates. I will shortly be updating and merging content over the coming weeks and bringing you a whole new look.

….and content.

But until then, happy travels xo

Unique Day Trips in Northern California

Having traveled to (and even lived in) California over the past 8 years, I’ve certainly had the privilege of experiencing some of the States most uniquely diverse sights on offer.

It’s without a doubt that some of the first thoughts that enter our heads  include the glitz and glam of Los Angeles’ bustling celebrity hub, Yosemite National Park and of course the stunning Pacific Northwest coastline.

However for this post I want to share with you some of the more unusual spots within Northern California and provide just a short list of some of my personal favourites, from mountains to art installations, which of course can be enjoyed as either as part of a day trip, weekend break or simply added to your American road trip.

Pfeiffer Beach
Located off Highway 1 (and some rather minimal signage) lies a small cove leading to Pfeiffer Beach.
Pfeiffer Beach is regarded as one of the most intriguing beaches known along Big Sur.

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Known for its uniquely purple sand, caused by the erosion of manganese (garnet and rose quartz) along the cliffs edge which have entered the sand giving the beach it’s scattered purple hues, these colours are often more noticeable after storms and makes for some amazing sights.

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Pfeiffer beach is also a popular destination for photographers, with keyhole rock being another major focal point, keyhole rock is a unique rock formation with a (you guessed it) a keyhole shaped gap inside and when shot at the right time, most popular at sunset, can offer some amazing photo effects.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajbrustein/11597804726
Photo taken by AJ Brustein – via Flikr

Old Faithful Geyser of California (Via Calistoga) 
We’ve all heard of the famous old faithful geyser of Yellowstone National Park but what if I told you that active Geysers also exist in the heart of California too?
For sure the Old Faithful Geyser of California it’s not as huge or well known – but I can assure you that it’s definitely worth the visit.
Located just outside the charming city of Calistoga, Old Faithful Geyser certainly has it;s perks of being less crowded, no queues and a quaint Geological museum which dives into the science and history of the area.

If you’re patient, soon enough you will have the chance to see the eruption which usually occurs every 30 minutes.

Old Faithful Geyser, Calistoga, California - YouTube

 Mt Diablo
Located in Contra Costa County of California, many visitors to head straight to the summit for amazing views over the Mt Diablo State Park. On clear days you can even see as far as San Francisco.
Mt Diablo elevation reaches a total elevation gain of 3323 ft and takes roughly 6 hours to reach the summit – but not to worry, if you don’t fancy the hike you can drive, taking approx 50 minutes without stopping.

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Fun fact: Mount Diablo is sacred to many California Native American peoples; according to Miwok mythology and Ohlone mythology, it was the point of creation. (Source Wiki)

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 Albany Bulb 
Located at Vista Point, overlooking the Bay of San Francisco, Albany Bulb is an ex dumping ground turned hippie commune and home to some pretty eclectic artwork.

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Throughout the grounds you will find a variety of unusual art installations and up-cycling such as sculptures constructed of both scrap metal and natural resources, old walls and rubble decorated with graffiti art, along with a make-shift park consisting of tree branch swings, rock climbing frames and stone spiral mazes.

If you’re interested in seeing more quirky locations and photos then I highly suggest you check out my Instagram page, where I post my weird and wonderful discoveries.
IG: @Girlabouteurope

Lastly, be sure to check out some of my videos too over at Girl About Europe Youtube channel below ☆☆☆

Girl About Europe – Pfeiffer Beach, California

Girl About Europe – Big Sur, Pacific Northwest, CA

I hope you enjoyed this post, what are some of your favourite hidden discoveries?

Disclaimer – All photos are mine unless stated and credited*

Why I’m taking a break from travel.

Do you ever just sit and scroll endlessly through multiple social media platforms, gawping at photos of sandy beaches and sunsets from atop mountain ranges?

Or do you ever feel green with envy that folks are able to whip up several blog posts in the time it takes you to brew a coffee?

Welcome to the club!!!

I often feel deflated at the fact that I can’t quite measure up to the success of others I see on the daily.

Beating myself up about how I’ll never be as good a writer or photographer. Wasting copious amounts of time pining over the fact that I can’t travel full time or even afford a weekend break – then suddenly this got me thinking about my behaviours not just as a traveller but as a blogger too.

The internet has brought much richness to my life, such as the ability to connect with people all around the world, to access an endless supply of information at the click of a mouse and of course to share my own corner of the internet through blogging; but from time to time the negativities of social media also rears its ugly head and in enters jealousy and competition.

To some my life may look pretty exciting, but like many of us this simply isn’t the case and we’re all at least a little bit guilty of highlighting only our best moments.

Solo travel female in the USA
Aren’t we all guilty of sharing only our highlights?

This is why I wanted to write this post and challenge this mentality.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the travel blogging community, the talent and creativity out there is unbelievable but at the same time I must pause and ask…

When did figures become such a thing?
Or why is it that all I’m seeing are sales pitches lately? When did this become more important than genuine engagement?

How many of you reading this are absolutely bamboozled with the thought of figuring out how social media marketing even works, or setting up a SEO plan?… jeez, how many of us even struggle to find just the motivation to create, pin and even write blog content?
I know I certainly do, daily.

I’d reached a point where all the joy of writing was being sucked out of me – because I was worried about how well ‘liked’ my content would be, or whether it would grab the attention of some fancy company, then stressing about trying to come up with edgy unique content.

Whilst in Slovenia I took a moment to ask myself whether I was actually there to enjoy the city or just to take photos for the Gram.
The fact I even had to ask myself this question said it all.
Travel and the community was becoming a chore.
It changed me.

I think in one way or another we’ve all been a little guilty of this, which is why I think it’s important to stop and ask ourselves just how honest are we about our travel and blogging motives?

Reflexion about my travels
Taking a moment to reflect.

So why am I taking a break from travel?

The simple answer – To get back to my roots.

To go back to a time when I found writing enjoyable and adapt a much healthier and creative approach to my work.
To stray away from the negative influences of online jealousy, competition and most importantly comparison.

Instead I plan to focus my efforts other aspects of my life, like honing in on other skills and interests such as art, languages and photography to name a few.

Secondly to branch out in other topics on my blog and add a ‘Journal’ section, to include other thoughts.

To take a Staycation.
Having spent so much time and energy trying to get away from the UK, I’ve realised I’ve taken for granted and neglected so much about where I’m from.
This year I want to dive into more UK based learning and exploration.

So what other factors have influenced this decision?

Money

I’m broke…. like all the time and haven’t spent wisely. Choosing travel over rent. Not a good idea.

This time around I’ve decided to put away a decently substantial amount of savings over the next few years (or to the best of my ability) for a more long term venture in the future.

Like most of us here, I too dream of being able to pack up and travel for a year, or even longer, however at the same time, I’ve decided not to make money be the primary focus. So I felt that this was the right time to cut down my work hours and use this to benefit my mental health.

Lastly to focus on other hobbies which cost little to no money such as going to the gym and painting.

Unhealthy Competition

To break the cycle of comparing my life to others and getting so caught up in the depression it brought along with it.
I no longer wanted to be in competition but instead support and encourage others to follow what they love.

To remember that numbers aren’t everything and isn’t the be all and end all.

To focus more on content

This year I want to actually take a step back and add more love to my blog, to steer away from the ‘5 Best things to do in Slovenia’ but instead actually approach my blog with a more personal perspective from real experiences.

Of course I didn’t tick off everything on my Ljubljana bucketlist but that doesn’t make what I have to say any less credible.

I find that some bloggers forget this.

So yes, this year is all about focusing on reigniting that that spark within my content, figure out my style. Write from present, past and eventually future experiences.

Incorporate new angles and ideas.

Stressing less about how much or how often I post content and remember that quality over quantity is what matters.

Be more in the moment

When I first started blogging I would be eager to write down as many notes as possible in said place, therefore writing a post within a few days or even the same day.

Then soon enough I began realise I couldn’t remember much… as I was too focused on taking just photographs, rather than actually taking the time to just ‘be in the moment’, fast forward a week (who am I kidding, more like 4 months) and here I am still staring at a blank page when recollecting my thoughts

In future, I will limit the use of technology, enjoying the time spent in a location, maybe write down a few notes.
If I’m feeling particularly creative with the camera, then I plan to only take a select few photos, if any.

Be. More. Present

True vs. false expectations

As much as I love social media, Instagram it the absolute worst.
The overly edited, over saturated photos I see repeatedly throughout my feed.

Content Aggregators who gather and regurgitate other people’s content purely for the sake of followers and likes, many of which do not credit the original owners and their work.

Photos which have been altered to the point they are unrecognisable, therefore leaving us with unrealistic expectations, only to be disappointed when visiting these places for real.

I’m not against a little tweaking here or there, cropping, brightening etc…. but let’s keep it real, keep it ORGANIC.

Lastly….

Reflect
To learn to appreciate the opportunities which have presented themselves and be grateful for the opportunities to be able to travel.

This isn’t a post on why I plan to quit travel… I will again – but why I plan to take a step back for now and focus on creating and getting back to my roots and focusing on my blog with a renewed sense of fun and passion.

Why I began this adventure to begin with.