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6 Can't Miss London Sights

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

Whenever I visit a new place I always google “points of interest”.  These are always the most iconic and famous sights that that particular location is known for.  I like to know what a city is known for.  Sure, finding hole-in-the-wall places and things off the beaten track are fun, but if you've never been to that city, you gotta see the classics.

I’ve done all the work for you for London.  These are six can’t miss sights in good ol’ Londontown.  It wasn't that hard to choose, honestly.  London has such beautiful landmarks full of such history.

Ps. fun stories ahead!

one.
TOWER BRIDGE

The Tower Bridge is one of those landmarks that’s equally as beautiful in the day and the night.  I love that each side of the bridge has a slightly different view.  My favorite is from some benches on the north bank just outside of the Tower of London.  These benches are a great place to sit a while, enjoy the scene and my favorite travel past time, people watch.  You can buy tickets to go to the top of the bridge, too.

two.
TOWER OF LONDON

The Tower of London is definitely one of those places that has left a lasting impression on me, but probably not for reasons most would.  I got kicked out of the Tower of London back when I was studying abroad in England.  I swear I did nothing wrong.  Long story short, my friends and I were waiting in line to view the crown jewels and some of my friends decided they wanted to take a picture of the beefeater guard nearby.  They walked over a 3 inch barrier, which we didn’t realize was actually a barrier.  A minute later a very angry beefeater came running at my friends for trespassing.  He kicked all of us out.  I still haven’t seen the crown jewels.

three.
ST. PAULS CATHEDRAL

Now this is one grand and beautiful church.  The dome at the top of St. Paul's Cathedral is reminiscent of the Vatican in Rome.  I actually just sat in front of it for a while staring at how beautiful it is.  Well, and waiting for people to pass so I could take some photos of myself with my tripod.  You can walk around the inside of the church, but it is 18 pounds and they do not allow photos.

four.
BIG BEN + PARLIAMENT

The most iconic and famous clock tower out there.  I think Big Ben is probably the first thing people think of when thinking of London or England.  It sits at the north end of the palace and the parliament building.

For the best view of Big Ben, read more, here.

five.
LONDON EYE

This giant ferris wheel is the tallest in the world.  It really is grand.  You don’t realize how big this wheel is until you’re standing next to it.  The capsules are much larger than a traditional ferris wheel.  You could probably fit 20 people in one with room to sit and walk around for 360* views.  If you have the time and love a view from above, this is a fun experience.  If I'm remembering correctly it takes about a half an hour for one revolution.  You can buy tickets online head of time, here.  You can get a great view of the London Eye from across the river on the north bank.

six.
WESTMINSTER ABBEY

Well, this is another one of those landmarks that made an impression on me all because I got kicked out.  I’m not sure what it is with British landmarks removing me from their properties?  Another long story short, my friend and I were taking photos in front of the building for about 15 minutes.  We were actually standing there waiting patiently for a couple people to leave to get a better shot.  A security guard walked over to us and told us that we had taken enough photos and we needed to leave their private property.  Note taken, don’t take too many photos.  Regardless, Westminster Abbey is a beautiful church inside and out and shouldn’t be missed.  After all, it is where Will and Kate got married!

I know i've said this before, but London definitely holds a special place in my heart.  There is just so much to do and see on this great city.

Yours Truly // Shannon

Best View of Lake Bled

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

If you haven’t heard of Lake Bled or the country of Slovenia yet, don’t worry you haven’t been living under a rock.  Slovenia really hasn’t been on many people’s radars, until now.  Its magical, fairytale land is much less undiscovered because of how beautiful it is.

Lake Bled is probably one of the gems of the country.  It is at the least what the country is slowly becoming known for.  Lake Bled, the scenic, picturesque lake with a stunning island in the center.

There really isn’t a bad view or angle of Lake Bled.  Let’s be honest, it’s photogenic from all sides.  I, however, found the most beautiful view of the Lake and it’s from above.  No, you don’t have to pay tons of money to see it from a hot air balloon, though that would be a dream.  The Ojstrica hike is by far the best way to take in Lake Bled.  Here’s how to get there.

Be warned, this hike can prove to be a little difficult, both to find and while on it.  

TRAIL HEAD

The signs for the entrance to this hike are pretty hidden especially if you get there at 5am in the pitch black to catch the sunrise at the top which I highly recommend.  There are actually two ways to start this hike.  One is from a parking lot and the other is just off of the main street.  We were dropped off near Camping Bled.  When you see the Camping Bled sign, look to the far left in the brush.  There will be a slight opening and a sign that reads Ojstrica.  The sign at the driveway of the parking lot also says this.

The First picture below is the view of the trailhead from the street. The second is the entrance to the parking for the second entrance.

PATH

The path can be a little tricky especially since it is actually pretty steep and at multiple points very rocky.  On top of that, we took 2 wrong turns.  The first one was because we missed the turn to start heading upward and is the reason we discovered the alternate entrance from the parking lot.  For the most part just follow the dirt trail that looks cleared.  It was rather slippery when we went since it had poured the night before, so be careful!

OJSTRICA VS. OSOJNICA

While these two words look crazy similar, they are actually two very different hikes!  Don’t be fooled!  This was our second very wrong turn.  Since there was no service, we had to rely on our memories of what we had read on our research for this hike.  We were pretty sure that the best unobstructed view was a shorter hike called Osojnica.  Boy, were we so wrong.  This mistake lead us 20-25 minutes out of the way and to a small view point surrounded by a chainlink fence.  Not to mention a very steep hike up what seemed like a vertical hill.  Osojnicia is actually the longer hike, to a higher viewpoint.  As we backtracked, we found the faster, easier hike up Ojstrica was only 5 mins vs that dreaded 20.  

Our mistake did lead to making it to the viewpoint just after sunrise when all the hikers were starting to leave!  If you want the place more to yourself, head there just after sunrise, or wait 10-15 mins and the people will start to clear out.

You can see in the photo below, the Ojstrica sign points up to the right.

TIME

If we had taken the correct path, I believe the hike would’ve only taken us about 30 minutes to get to the top of Ojstrica.  Remember if you head out in the dark, bring a light.  You are hiking through the woods.

That’s it! Now you know how to get the best view of Lake Bled.  And you know the difference between Ojstrica and Osojnica.  Don’t get them confused!

Here’s a funny story to go along with this hike.  Not only did we take a couple wrong turns in the dark, but we also did this hike in dresses.  Not the most practical hiking attire and probably not something I would recommend.  Though, they did make for some beautiful pictures.  Oh Instagram!  I did tie up my dress and hiked in tennis shoes, so I wasn’t totally crazy.  If you did happen to see us on this hike though, you probably would’ve thought we were.

Happy hiking!

Yours Truly // Shannon

Oxford: Top 6

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

Oxford, England holds a special place in my heart.  If you happened to catch my Instagram stories from when I was in Oxford, you would have learned that I not only studied abroad once, but twice.  Once here and once in Rome, Italy.  My first experience was at Magdalen College at Oxford University.  I was just 17 years old and it was my first trip abroad and really my first time being away from home for an extended period.  I think the reason this city is so special to me is because I feel like I did a lot of growing up here.  

It’s an amazing thing studying abroad, especially when you're underage.  You really have to grow up quick.  I was going to the grocery store, making decisions for myself and generally just learning how to be alone and self-sufficient, all in a foreign country.

It had been 12 years since I spent the summer wondering these streets.  When I returned, it seemed like nothing had changed.  I’m sharing my top 6 things to see and do here - the same 6 things I would’ve chosen all those years ago.

one.
RADCLIFFE CAMERA

This building is one of my favorite buildings in the whole world.  It is so beautiful.  I think I have dreams about how beautiful its architecture is.  Maybe its the symmetry of it since I love balance, but this place just takes my breathe away.  The Radcliffe Camera is one of the most iconic places in Oxford.

two.
PUNTING

I’d say no trip to Oxford would be fully complete without a ride down the River Cherwell.  Punting is much like the gondolas you see in Venice, Italy, but there is a distinct difference.  The punt is propelling by pushing a pole against the bottom of the riverbed.  A gondola is propelled more like a canoe or kayak with no contact with the ground.

three.
UNIVERSITY CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN

This beautiful church sits directly across from Radcliffe Camera.  Yes, you can visit the church or sit outside at a table enjoying the scene, but the main attraction is a hike up to the top of the church.  After you walk up 127 steps, you can walk around the tower to see 360 degrees of views of Oxford.  The best part is the view of Radcliffe Camera from above.  It is 4 pounds to access the tower.  Further info can be found, here.

four.
BRIDGE OF SIGHS

Just around the corner from Radcliffe Camera and St. Mary’s church, this one is a quick stop.  It’s definitely a good photo op stop.  You may think that it was resembled after the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, but in fact its actually more similar to the Rialto Bridge in Venice.

five.
CHRIST CHURCH

Christ Church is actually one of the colleges that make up Oxford University.  A visit to this campus is an experience in its own right.  The grounds here are simply beautiful, the details and architecture embody the feel of Oxford.  You can take a walking tour through Christ Church that leads you through the dining hall, chapel and meadow.  The Christ Church dining hall is a big selling point here.  It’s what Harry Potter’s dining hall was inspired after.  Entrance tickets range between 6 to 9 pounds. Check out Christ Church, here.

six.
COVERED MARKET/BEN’S COOKIES

My absolute favorite place, besides Radcliffe Camera, in Oxford is Ben’s cookies.  They might be a toss up.  I don’t think I can accurately convey how delicious these cookies are.  They are baked fresh throughout the day so that when you order, you are served a giant cookie still warm from the oven.  I’ve since learned Ben’s Cookies is in London, as well.  Please Ben come to the US!  Also, the Covered Market, which Ben’s Cookies lives in, is a great stop for a bite to eat and browsing through cute stores and produce stands.

If you do have time, check out the school I attended while at Oxford, Magdalen College.  In my opinion it's one of the prettiest campuses in Oxford.  Although, they do all sort of look alike with the same bricks and architecture.  Magdalen is great though because it has a bell tower and a deer park.  Fun fact: Magdalen is actually pronounced Mod-lin not Mag-da-len.  Seems way more British that way, right?

I am a huge advocate for studying abroad.  So, if you are still in school and have the chance, snatch it up with zero hesitation.  It will change your life and will probably give you a travel addiction.  It sure gave me one.

Hope you fall just as in love with Oxford as I did.

Yours Truly // Shannon