June – Exploring the Netherlands!

Hi there!   It’s been a crazy month (again) and I’m finally sitting down to write about it. It’s now T-2days until the flight home, and on the one hand I’m very sad to be leaving this place, but on the other I’m excited to see my family and friends. It’s been 6 months since I was last in the UK, and I’m starting to miss weird little things, for example, strict queuing etiquette, twiglets, Pimms and just being able to talk to a stranger. However, I think when I leave here it will take me a while to realise that this year is really over, it hasn’t sunk in yet at all. I really can’t say enough how grateful I am to have been in this time and place, and I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person, letting go of whatever construction of self identity I was holding onto before, and realising the true nature of our impermanent reality. Anyway…what was I talking about?

My bench, by the river next to my flat
My bench, by the river next to my flat

So, June was basically me trying to sit my exams and complete endless paperwork for leaving here, and the next year of university. I passed 10/12 of my subjects this year, meaning that I achieved enough points to receive a grant from the EU. I decided I will spend my money on travelling this summer, and I will go for 6 weeks to Lisbon, Granada, and Seville. I’m very excited about this, as I will stay with Erasmus friends who will show me around their beautiful cities! (it will be on my blog, hopefully lol). 🙂 In the meantime between exams and trying to pass to get my grant, there were many farewell dinners, bbqs and parties, as people have been leaving for the past month. Me and my flatmates decides to stay until the last day possible, because we are HARDCORE aha. During the weekends I did a lot of cycling to check out things around my city Nijmegen, and one of those was a small village called Mook. It took about 30 minutes to cycle there, and it has a lovely river running through it, with a large lock to stop the are flooding. 20150617_124553139_iOS 20150627_150851768_iOS I also went a few times to the River Waal, the main river running through Nijmegen. The current is too strong to swim, however, there are small beaches all along the sides with shallower sections of water, and many people hang out here in the warm evenings. It is a very beautiful place at sunset, definitely one of the best places in the city! 20150606_183448035_iOS 20150606_183443444_iOS Another ‘beach’ I discovered was the lake in Dukenburg, which is about a ten minute bike ride away. It is a series of small lakes to cycle by, but there is also one huge lake, where the locals swim and sunbathe! It is super beautiful, and with all the pale bodies in the sun, I felt at home 🙂 aha. If you are in Nijmegen, definitely come check it out! It has been almost tropical weather here, with highs of 38degrees, but also huge thunderstorms! Its been a beautiful month. 20150701_124106427_iOS 20150630_141116462_iOS 20150630_144041491_iOS 20150630_143858828_iOS 20150630_134746284_iOS 20150630_140706971_iOS Of course in my last weeks here I had to visit Amsterdam, and in the end I went twice 😀 The first time was to visit my friend Nadine, an Amsterdam native who I lived with for a year in Hertfordshire. We went to a local beer festival, in a converted shipping container, and the beer was awesome! The wind was crazy compared to my place in the south, but the malts helped me keep my balance 😉 20150613_151830591_iOS 20150613_145144574_iOS The second time was actually yesterday, and it was just a trip to kind of say goodbye to the city. Over my time in the Netherlands we went to Amsterdam quite a bit, and it felt right to just chill around. We had a couple beers in the sunshine by the canals, met with random friends, and had a nap in Vondel Park (the biggest park there). We also did an INFORMATIONAL coffeeshop tour, where we learned about the history and commercialisation of Cannabis 😛 overall, an awesome last day in the beautiful capital. 20150710_183400210_iOS 20150710_172207092_iOS 20150710_172816900_iOS Lastly, a couple of weeks ago we decided that we wanted to go to the North coast, and explore the island Texel. It is one of the Frisian islands and it just a ferry ride away from the mainland city of Den Helder. It took us 4 hours in total to get to the island, but it was worth it. After stepping off the ferry, we rented bicycles and set off toward the first town. The island is very small and only has 13,000 residents. Along the way there were many sheep (what the place is known for) and rolling hills of flat countryside. It reminded me a lot of home! And the coolest thing was getting to the beach, as only a small distance on the other side is East Anglia! The North Sea smelt and looked exactly how I remembered it, scummy, grey and salty, and it was awesome! The girls I went with were all used to Mediterranean seas and so did not join me when I ran down and stood in the shallow parts, in the stormy weather 😀 While cycling back the biggest storm I have ever seen started, and we all had to cycle 20K back to the boat. I have NEVER been so wet in my life, the rain was hammering on my face and it kinda felt like I was drowning, but, riding with your friends, battling the weather and laughing the whole way was one of the best moments. All in all, would 10/10 recommend for visiting, but no more than 2 days as its only small! 20150705_161216858_iOS 20150705_133022960_iOS 20150705_133055678_iOS 20150705_112527303_iOS texel The Netherlands is such a beautiful country, with a peaceful and calm atmosphere. The architecture is breath-taking, and the nature even more so. I truly never expected to love it so much here, but I can really see myself living here again one day. My year here has been indescribable, and ever new person I met and place I went to taught me something. I’ve made some lifelong friends, and I’m eternally grateful to them for all the have given to me. When I signed the paper for the year abroad, I had no idea what I’d be doing, and there is so much beauty in that alone. I am also thankful for everyone who sends me love and support from the UK, you made me strong enough to feel that wherever I am, I have your love and spirit behind me. Tonight I will go to my lovely Vegan restaurant, and for the last time in my city centre. Tomorrow will be spent doing the final packing and cleaning 😦 Thank you again for reading my journey on my blog, and I will speak to you when I’m in Portugal! Blessings, Zara xxxxx


May – Paris; the last trip of my Erasmus!

Hi everyone!

Today is the 3rd of June, and its now less than 6 weeks to go until the end of my year studying abroad. In May I had a crazy month of travelling, and its taken me a few days to rest and recover and write this 🙂 In the last weekend of May, me and some of my closest friends on Erasmus went to visit our friend in Paris! We decided we would rent a car and do the drive from Nijmegen to Paris, which takes about 6 hours. But DONT WORRY, I didn’t drive, although it would’ve been fun to see how I’d cope driving on the other side of the road 😛 This was my first ever road trip with friends too, and it was really fun! We had reggaeton (spanish dancehall) tunes blasting and crazy dancing… until we all fell asleep like little babies until we got to Paris.

The weather in Paris was amazing compared to the Netherlands! When me and my sister visited in November for the day, it was still kind of warm, but this time was crazy! As my friends told me, I was full ‘typical British tourist’; getting burnt within about 30 minutes under the sun 🙂

Our friend’s parents knew some people at the Eiffel Tower, so instead of waiting in the 3hour queue line, we were VIP fast-tracked straight to the entrance and to the top. I’ve never felt so fancy in my life, and the evil glares from the sweaty, irritable tourist in the queues only added to my feeling of superiority, ahahaha. The view from the Eiffel Tower was amazing, I partially remember going up as a child, but I didn’t remember just how far you could see! It was an amazing panorama and the weather definitely added to it.

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It was really cool to go with someone who lived in the area, as he knew all the ‘cheap’ (for Paris) places to go and eat awesome food and drinks. For example, we got a Mojito cocktail near Monmartre, a very expensive area, for only 5 euros. Monmartre is a big hill in the North of the city, with the Sacré-Cœur Basilica church on top of it. We took our cocktails and sat on the side of the hill, where you could see an amazing view of Paris, and some people playing guitars and doing magic tricks. This was amazing in the warm evening with friends, and I would seriously recommend it to anyone going! It is free to go and sit there, and you get one of the best panoramas in the city. It was probably my favorite part of the whole trip 🙂

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We also went inside a lot of places that I had only ever seen the outside of. The Notre Dame cathedral was one of these, and I know that it looks big from the outside, but oh my! It is hugeeee on the inside! We were lucky enough to go on Sunday, so we saw part of a service and heard the 3 beautiful organs echoing through the whole church. It is free to enter and although the queue looks very long, it moves very fast, so definitely go inside!


Another place I finally saw the inside of was The Louvre. I had always wanted to go here, but never had the chance, and you need AT LEAST 3 hours to even look at the tiniest amount of artwork there. The queue was only 1 hour, which was short for this museum, and it is free entry for people under 26, so it was great 🙂 I saw some really awesome & famous artworks, like John Constable’s ‘Weymouth Bay with Approaching Storm’ which was painted in Suffolk UK, ‘The Four Seasons’ by Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo, and of course ‘Mona Lisa’ by Leonardo Da Vinci. The crowd by the Mona Lisa was crazy, and it took a while to get close enough to see it – in real life its teenie! There was also a really awesome Egyptian exhibition with rows and rows of sarcophagus and hieroglyphics on papyrus. I really loved this museum, and I would love to go back and spend a few days there just in the Louvre 😀

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Now for the last major thing that I should probably tell you about my time in Paris. We went to the Cabaret! For those of you who don’t know what the Parisian Cabaret is all about, its basically beautiful ladies dancing, flashy lights and production, and not a lot of clothes. We went to the best Cabaret in the whole of Paris, the ‘Crazy Horse’, where tickets start from 80euro per person. BUT, we were lucky enough for our friends parents to also know people who worked here, and we got in for 25euro each, plus a couple of glasses of champagne. I felt sooooo posh AGAIN, and we were all dressed up so it was just so amazing to do something I would never normally do, or even think of! In there you are not allowed to take pictures, but I will put some below that I can find on the internet. It lasted for around an hour and a half, with various themed acts and dancing routine. Oh, and also Robin Thicke was in the audience with us…just a normal Sunday night for us I guess 😉

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I am very grateful to have such amazing friends all over Europe, who like to show me their hometowns and let me stay at their lovely homes. I am sad that this is the last trip abroad that I will be doing on my Erasmus, but I”m actually very happy to be spending my last few weeks in the wonderful Nijmegen, and exploring whats left to explore! I will keep you updates on what I discover 😉 Thank you for reading!

Love & Blessings! – Zara

May – Berlin, Germany

Hi again!

Hope you’re all having a wonderful day so far 🙂 So, May has turned out to be a crazy month for me, but all of June will be ‘studying’, so I’m allowed to, right??? Last weekend me and my lovely flatmates went to Berlin, ready to explore and take advantage of our time before exam period. I couldn’t have gone with a better group of people, and its those laugh-a-minute kinda days you’ll never forget.

On our first big day there we took a free tour with New Tours Sandeman; the same company I’ve mentioned before. It was a 3 hour tour hitting all the major tourist spots, and our tour guide was a pretty cool dude and gave some really cool insights into the spots that you’d never had realised walking around by yourself. For example, did you know that infamous Michael Jackson baby-dangling incident happened at the Hotel Avalon in the main square in Berlin? No. You didn’t, and neither did I! All the architecture in the city was super cool, and to learn how they tried to reconstruct as much as they could after the devastation over the last century. Really recommend the tour!

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Another amazing thing about Berlin is the cheapness, coupled with the amazing quality. In the evening we went to a Turkish restaurant that my flatmate Teresa had been before, and it was, no joke, one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I had a huge platter of falafel, hummus, lemongrass salad, balsamic aubergine, fried cauliflower. OMG. To top it off, it was only 6euro. To put this into real terms, this is £4.30. I thought I had died and went to heaven. But the awesomeness doesn’t stop there. Drinking on the street here is a very normal thing, and to see people taking a cold one from the corner store at 10am is not presumed to be alcoholism, just commonsensical. This is due to the fact that a 0.5l tasty beer is only 60 cents. 40p!! literally a tenth of the price of a beer in London, and it tasted much nicer too. So, its safe to say we sampled a few 😉 There was everywhere these cheap restaurants and 24/7 corner stores, and we ate Arabian, Vietnamese, Italian, Indian and I was in my own mini vegan heaven.

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There was also one other really unique part to Berlin that stood out over the time I was there; the street art! Obviously we looked around the Jewish museums and memorials, and that’s a really important part to Berlin that shouldn’t be overlooked, but there is so much more than the cities past! The modernity of the city was so beautiful and creative, every you looked there was some artistic graffiti with often an anti-establishment, anti-discrimination thread running through it. In the Jewish District there was this super awesome little alleyway where street artists went to express themselves legally, and it was probably my favourite part of Berlin (apart from the Turkish restaurant 😉 haha). The mix of the art being so ahead of its time, but being in a place which represents such a huge part of Berlin’s past, made the ora of this place so magical. We took our time with the street art around the city, and some of the things we found were absolutely incredible! If you go to Berlin, make sure you keep your eyes peeled, you wont regret it when you see these treasures…

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I had a really great time on this trip, one of the funniest and most loving trips of my Erasmus! Great sights, great food and even better company 🙂 This weekend I will have my final international trip of my study abroad experience, and I’m very excited for it…but you will have to wait to see where 😉

Thanks again for reading, I hope you enjoy my random ramblings 🙂 I enjoy writing them.


With love as always 😀 Zara xxx


May – Växjö, Gothenburg & Kalmar

Hi guys!

Its crazy to think this is my 16th post. I know this isn’t a lot to other bloggers, but as this is just for fun, I’m quite proud that I’ve stuck to it for the past 9 months! As I was saying in the last post, my friend Rebecca came to visit me the first weekend of May. So, I flew back with her to her Erasmus home, Växjö, in the south of Sweden. It was amazing to be with such a like-minded person! Looking forward to living with a fellow vegan, philosopher and compassion oriented woman in September 🙂

The first day was spent exploring her home town of Växjö. The first thing that hit me about Sweden was how many open, lush natural places there are, and how much less populated the place is than the Netherlands. The city is the greenest city in the whole of Europe, and its easy to see why. The town was relatively small, but the great expanses of untouched forest made it a magical place to be. We set off in the morning to see the Kronoberg Castle ruins on lake Helgasjön, and the weather was clear and warm. The beauty of the place was incredible, seeing the clear water of the lake surrounding the castle, which was a tiny speck compared to the size of the water. We sat on one of the many huge, moss covered rocks and ate some great vegan food. It was so peaceful and seeing all the tiny birds and bugs really made you feel at one with the world.

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After that we went to the city centre to have a look around and see the 700+ years old Cathedral. It was a really original design with two blue devil-like horns at the top of the building. There was also a Viking rune stone that was found inside a church wall 200 years ago, that reads “Tyke – Tyke Wiking – raised this stone after Gunnar, Grim’s son. May God help his soul”. I could feel my Scandinavian roots surging to the front of my spirit 😉

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After this, we took a look around her university, and saw the Teleborg castle. This a 115 year old wedding present from the eccentric count Fredrik Bonde af Björnö to his young wife. After this, the rain started to fall, and we retreated back to her house for the evening.

The next day we visited Gothenburg, the second largest city in the country. For the second biggest it is still pretty small, maybe the size of Norwich, but it was so cute! We walked to the Haga district, the oldest in city, and walked up many MANY stairs to the Skansen Kronen defence tower. We were very out of breath, but the view of the city from the top was worth it 😛 There was a lot of beautiful botanical gardens too, and it was lucky we were there in spring! The one we went to was free, and dates from the 19th century, I very much recommend Trädgårdsföreningen! After seeing the Poseidon fountain, and checking out a few churches we went for a meal on the main high street, and for Sweden, it was very cheap at 8euro for a huge meal 🙂


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On the third day we headed to the south east coast of Sweden, to Kalmar. Between the 13th and the 17th century, Kalmar was the biggest and most important port in the whole of Sweden. Therefore, it has a very impressive and beautiful defensive castle, to protect from pirates. This was the first time that I had seen the Baltic Sea, and the coastline in Kalmar is a stunning mix of sand, rocky shore, natural islands and a lot of wildlife; there was even swans swimming in the sea! The museum inside the castle was amazing, definitely in the top 3 I’ve been to on Erasmus. The interactive nature, reconstructions and displays were awesome, although, I did jump a few times 😛 Kalmar itself was beautiful, and I would highly recommend it for nature lovers! Be sure to check out the cathedral too, the priest was very friendly dude, even to tourists!

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That night we went out to celebrate it being PRIDE week, and it was really cool to meet her study abroad friends, and to visit her student pub. I had an awesome week travelling with Becca, and so grateful for her showing me around 🙂 I really love Sweden, the nature was breath taking everywhere we went, doing the simplest outside things there were such a joy.

Feeling very blessed!

If you want to see Becca’s blog on her Erasmus experience in Sweden, check it out at carrotsandswedes.co.uk !!

Peace and Love, Zara 🙂 xxxx


May – Rotterdam


Hi! The weather is getting great here, and the sunshine has been an amazing change to the usually mild, but rainy days. Today marks 2 months exactly until I have to leave, but on the bright side, I have lots of things lined up to really make sure I squeeze every last drop from my time abroad.

My friend Becca who I met in my philosophy classes at University Hertfordshire, also did a study abroad, and she went to the south of Sweden. I invited her to come and stay with me for the weekend so that she could see the Netherlands, and I could try to be her tour guide.

Obviously, I showed her around Nijmegen and we chilled in the awesome weather, but I wanted to make the most of the weekend and go somewhere I hadn’t gone either. Luckily, the Netherlands is a teenie little place, so you can hop on a train and in 1-2 hours, be in a whole new city on the other side of the country.

Rotterdam was the last big city I had yet to see, and I had been recommended it by friends a few times, so Becca and I, and some of my other friends, took the train on Saturday. Stepping out of Central Station was a feeling of being so amazed, almost stunned, by shining silver skyscrapers. It was as far cry from the dainty little Dutch towns I was used to, and for this reason I thought I wasn’t going to like it, but I was very wrong. The trip reinforced in me the message of ‘don’t knock it till you’ve tried it’! We took a city walking tour map and started heading about amongst the giant buildings.

We soon got to a main market square type area, and looked around the church and through the market. The mix of architecture here was amazing! A new modern building, next to an old church, next to a skyscraper, next to some 80s inspired houses, it was fantastic! Rotterdam was destroyed in ww2, and instead of rebuilding old structures, the city let architects go crazy with original and opposite designs.

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All the crazy designs, like the see through semi-circle building, with hundred of tiny square windows, or the ‘leaning tower of pisa’-esque slanted tower, were so beautiful even sitting next door to each other in such contrast. My favourite, FAVOURITE however was the Cube Houses, designed by Piet Blom in the 1970s. These yellow houses were built at 45degree tilt in order to build houses where space was restricting for a tradition build. They were so funky and cool, but I don’t think I could stomach living in one 😉


After walking through the wacky downtown, we started walking towards the Erasmus bridge that joins the two parts of the city. Rotterdam is the largest cargo port in Europe, and so it is fitting that it had a hugeeeeeee bridge, and it took us a lot of power to walk it twice 😀 We also stumbled across a really awesome harbour, and walked towards the bridge with cool boats flanking us.



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After passing by the river side, we went to a quirky street in the downtown, and took a beer in the sunshine. In fact, there was a lot of cool and strange things all about the city. From how to cross the road, to anti-racism art, to anti-consumerism art, it was all pretty wacky. My favourite was the statue of Santa with, erm, well, lets say a sex toy…

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Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than a quaint little Dutch town. BUT Rotterdam really blew my mind, I had such an awesome time there, and I think I would even consider living there, and living in a big city was something I never thought I wanted. Its a great thing to realise that to hold onto something and keep saying you don’t like, is a silly thing to do. Try, try and try again! I really loved Rotterdam, and I would recommend it to anyone of any age or preference! If your in the Netherlands, definitely visit this place 🙂

My next post will be about my trip to Sweden to visit Becca’s home. I only got back a week ago, and theres a lot to cover, but hopefully it will be up soon 🙂 much peace and love!

Zara xxxx

April – Keukenhof & Koningsday

Hi there!

Towards the end of the month, I went to events that are only ever held in April, and only ever in the Netherlands. I was told by multiple people, and the internet, that these events were in the top 10 of Dutch must-sees, so I was eager to experience them both. I had an awesome group of friends to go with to both of these, and it only rained for 30 minutes, the rest was clear and warm. Both of these days were full of fresh, spring energy and celebration.

Keukenhof is one of the worlds largest flower gardens, and it is full of the Dutch flowers; Tulips! Along with many, manyyyyyy other breeds, a windmill, and different speciality gardens, like the Japanese one which was filled with cherry blossom trees and tiny waterfalls cascading under mini bridges. It was about a 45 minute bus ride for Amsterdam Central Station, and it was super easy to find; so, if you come to the Netherlands in spring, go! The tickets were more on the expensive side for me, at 27euro, but it was worth it as we spent 3/4 hours walking around. Over 7 million flower bulbs are planted each year in over 79 acres of land, all delicately placed in patterns and together in varying arrangements. The only thing I didn’t like about it, was that we went at the recommended time for flowering, mid-April, and it was jam packed full of people. This meant that it was slower to walk around, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected to be skipping through the fields, with a flower-crown in my hair anyways 😉


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On the monday, we went to a big city near to Nijmegen called Eindhoven to celebrate Koningsday! Koningsday, or Kings Day, is a celebration of King Willem-Alexander’s birthday, which falls on the 27th April. Basically, what happens is that Dutch people dress up in the national colour (orange), enjoy some drinks and dance to free, live music! As you can probably tell from my blog, I have been omitting all the parties of my study abroad, but I thought I’d include this one because its the national day, its the law to party! 😉

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So, I had a pretty awesome weekend all in all! Next time, my friend is visiting from Sweden, and then I will go to visit her for a few days 🙂 Thankyou for reading, and have an awesome day, wherever you are!

Love Zara xxxx

April – Gouda & Nationaal Park De Hoge Veluwe

Hi there!

Its been a crazy month again, and I was lucky enough to have my family visit me for my 21st birthday. Time is flying, and I only have 1o weeks left of this magical experience, but I feel blessed with every new day that I get to spend over here. My family came on the 8th of April until the 11th, and so I planned 3 days of adventure with them. We were so thankful that the weather was beautiful, and not its usual temperamental self 😉

On the first day that they arrived, I took them for a little tour of Nijmegen. We walked through all the parks that were now adorned with spring flowers, and down to feel the cool breeze blowing over the River Waal. The scaffolding had recently been taken from the church, and it was the first time I’d seen it unobstructed since I got here! We spent the rest of the day looking at all the cool quirky shops, and everyone had an awesome chilled afternoon 🙂 Also, just a quick mention on the hotel they got. It was one of the cheaper ones in the city, and it was so beautiful! My family had the best stay here, if you ever come to Nijmegen, book at the Hotel Oranjestaete!

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On the second day, I planned for them to visit 2 cities, and they had to follow me like mumma duck through all the Dutch train stations 😀 . We first visited Gouda, which was a city I had never been to before, and the day we went was there market day, and the cheese judging contest! It was a really cute city, and it was such a sunny day! We walked to the key with all the boats and had our lunch, and then me, Will and Lloyd climbed up the windmill. Me and Will thought we were ninjas and went all the way to the top, only for when we got there, the mill started turning and we had to roll out of the floor exit, dodging moving cogs, Indiana Jones style. It was awesome. We also all tried the famous Gouda cheese and had some drinks in a bar in the market square 🙂

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It was an awesome time, and then on the way home, we stopped in Utrecht for a few hours, and at this time it was so hot and sunny! We walked through the city centre and saw the huge Dom tower, and the bars canal-side chockabloc with people taking a beer in the sun 🙂 (See one of my previous post for more details about the city). In the evening we went for a HUGE Chinese meal, and it was probably the biggest meal I’ve had since I’ve been here, thankyou Mum!

On their last full day here, we visited Hoge Veluwe, one of the biggest national parks in the country, and it was beautiful sunny weather without a cloud in the sky. We had to take two buses there, and it took around 2 hours in total to arrive at the entrance. When we got there, we got a map, a bicycle each to use, and we set off, not knowing which direction but just enjoying the ride. This day was one of the best of my whole Erasmus, and it something that my family and I really enjoyed, to get out into nature and get lost on our bikes. Will and Lily were a bit wary at first of the bikes, but after 5 minutes, they were off in front racing each other down the winding bike paths. The bikes paths were smooth and easy to use, and you could simply just follow them though all the different, naturally made, terrains of the park. We went through forest, desert, long yellow grasslands, and lakes. We saw a castle, some lizards and deer, got chased by a bee, had a picnic on a hill and stopped for an ice lolly when we triumphantly found the centre. I really enjoyed biking and chatting through the park with everyone, and I will definitely be going again!!

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I am so lucky to have such a wonderful, healthy, energetic, and beautiful family and I’m so happy I got to have this experience with them! When we got home, we all sat outside the hotel in the warm evening, and me and Lloyd had some beers, and chatted until I was tired and ready to cycle back to my flat. The next day, the weather was not good, but we felt like we had earned some bad weather after the past two lush days 😛 We had a beer in the main square of Nijmegen, and had a look through the Saturday market. I was sad to see them go, but it won’t be long until I see them all again. I want to say an extra big thank you the rest of my family who sent me presents and helpful stuff for my 21st, it means a lot to me! And I will use it wisely, you guys gave me thrifty genes 😉


Love Zara xxxx