Giraffes! My Favorite!
AFRICAN HUNTING DOGS!
A WALK THROUGH WITH THE LEMURS!
SOME COOL GRAFFITI ART
KING OF THE JUNGLE
MONKEYS & APES
Giraffes! My Favorite!
AFRICAN HUNTING DOGS!
A WALK THROUGH WITH THE LEMURS!
SOME COOL GRAFFITI ART
KING OF THE JUNGLE
MONKEYS & APES
I traveled to London, England and had the best experience ever traveling solo.
At first, I was nervous to take this trip but I’m so glad I took the chance!
The following are some of the highlights from my solo adventure.
First up (one of my favorites):
The Shard London:
The shard is the UK’s tallest structure (skyscraper) and it’s the fifth tallest building in all of Europe.
(Here’s a view from the London Tower Bridge)
It’s dubbed “the shard London” because, just like it’s name, this beautiful structure is shaped like a shard of glass.
It’s 95 stories tall and the view from the top is breathtaking.
Construction started in 2009 and doors opened in 2012 (so the Shard is fairly new). It’s home to offices, restaurants, and apartments.
The view from the Shard:
this was one of my favorite experiences because you could see all of London at once and take in all of its beauty!
The Tower Of London:
Home of the Crown Jewels!!
The most BEAUTIFUL diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, pearls, gold, royal crowns, scepters, jeweled out swords and just a bunch of royal history (from generations of the royal families) reside here.
All in one place are the most breathtaking jewels I’ve ever seen in my life.
I was not allowed to take any pictures inside but take my word for it!!
There were guards everywhere protecting the vault Crown Jewels.
The Tower of London was many things over time…
It was a defense tower:
It was a menagerie (zoo) for when the royal family would receive live gifts (animals) from all over the world.
One of my favorite stories was about the pet polar bear that King Charles received and how he would take it to the river Thames so it could fish:
The Tower was also a place of execution; within its walls was the “bloody tower” where prisoners who were sentenced to death would spend their last hours.
London Tower Bridge:
This historic landmark was built between 1886-1894 and is used to cross the Thames River.
The tower bridge gets confused as the popular “London Bridge” all of the time but this Bridge HAS NEVER FALLEN.
In fact it is built with some of the strongest materials in the world.
This Bridge was built because of the necessity of having to cross it everyday for work and other purposes (over 170,000 people cross this bridge everyday).
The steam/ engine rooms were pretty cool to visit.
Once operated by coal and a 100 person team, now a single person is able to operate this Bridge with a few clicks on a operating board.
The view of Big Ben:
Lastly, one of my favorite moments was taking a Thames River Cruise ❣️ and the view of Big Ben!
London is so beautiful at night because everything is illuminated; this cruise was the best way to see all of the lights:
Look at the London Eye!!
I purchased a three day London pass which turned out to be my best investment because I was able to skip long lines (or queues as the British say), avoid pricey entry fees, and receive other types of discounts at over 100 attractions.
<Please invest in this pass if you’re planning on doing any sightseeing in London it’s so worth it!>
“I’m going to Africa and I ain’t going back and forth with yall!”
My impulsive, solo, trip started with just an idea: Investing in myself will be my top priority and I would kick this idea off my by committing to international travel.
It was my birthday and I wanted to celebrate myself like I never had before so I thought “what better way to celebrate (my 27th trip around the sun) than to plan a trip to Accra, Ghana 🇬🇭
I decided I would travel to West Africa which was a no brainer because I have roots there; my father was born and raised in Ghana and I wanted to explore his old stomping grounds, possibly meet some of my family, and overall get a feel for where I come from.
What would be so terrifying about traveling to Ghana solo?
It is completely beautiful and I don’t care what the narrative may look like through mainstream America’s lenses…
I wanted to find out all about Africa’s beauty for myself (and solo if need be!).
I figured if I waited around for other family/ friends I could possibly lose my nerve…there’s no time like the present…right?
No time to answer that! I just began booking!
SHE did it & so can I!!
While being so inspired by the many female travel bloggers/IG influencers making their mark all over the world (like “@thecatchmeifyoucan”) I convinced myself I could do the same thing.
This is so true HOWEVER, planning, researching, networking, and just being honest with myself would have been key and it took a few mistakes for me to realize this.
I dedicated the past couple of years to facing my fears and accomplishing so much; I was about to cross out another “need to do” up off of my list (or so I thought)…
RESEARCH is key
I began “researching” and I started accumulating some of the “must haves” every solo female traveler should have.
I had gained all of the materials but none of the actual knowledge it would take to carry out a successful trip to Africa.
The materials included (but weren’t limited to): an awesome carry on suitcase (with a built in TSA approved lock, a great sized traveling backpack, rain proof slip on sneaker protectors, Anker power bank, travel adapter, new digital camera and mount, selfie stick, travel SIM cards, and a variety of apps downloaded on my phone to help with everything else (what’s app, hopper, WiFi map, cash app, money exchange, google translate, hotel tonight, etc.).
Before I knew it I was in the hopper app finalizing the flight arrangements because I set set, right?
Yes, I would have the physical things I needed for traveling, but the most important question was “could I actually meet the requirements to enter into the country?”
Caught up in excitement, I was overlooking key elements, like securing my safety all in the name of trying to live my best life.
I didn’t consider all of the vaccines until I contacted Penn’s travel medicine and looked into the type of travel visa I needed.
I told the angel and demon on my shoulders “I’ll be fine” and “I ain’t going back n forth with Y’all” (in my best Lil Duval impression).
Without doing the ACTUAL RESEARCH needed to actually be prepared for Africa I booked an expensive flight…
If you’re catching on to how irresponsible this trip was about to be you’re keeping up.
My biggest mistake was not doing enough research first! If I had, I would’ve realized in addition to paying almost $400 for the flight, I needed a visa to travel to Ghana (~$280), and needed to get pumped full of vaccines (averaging over $300).
At this rate, I needed to spend at least a month out there in Accra & Kumasi (and not just a week of vacation time I saved up.
For someone who was balling on a budget, I sure started off by wasting a TON of money I already didn’t have…and needed to dish out more if I wanted to step foot on the continent.
I was honest with myself and admitted I just couldn’t afford this trip (not at this point in time).
I would’ve spent all of my money just trying to get there and one week wouldn’t be enough time at all to enjoy it all!
I was going to keep this trip a secret but as discouraged as I was becoming I decided to talk to my mom about it.
I was so reluctant about that because I knew she would freak out at the idea of me going anywhere solo let alone the place where she had the worst experience of her life.
My parents honeymooned in Ghana with back in 1990 and my mom was so homesick and out of her element so I just knew she would be totally biased against me going.
Anyway, I decided to share my dilemma with her I started off with “mom, I booked a crazy trip” and smiled reluctantly.
She asked where and when I told her she said she was sad and didn’t want me to go but I already knew that.
She said it’s not like it’s Cali it’s Africa lol okkk I realized that I started explaining the money situation because I value her opinion.
Finally, I decided I wouldn’t go all the way but stop in some places where I didn’t need any vaccines or visas, just my passport which I had and was eager to get it stamped.
GHANA WAS A FAIL (for now…but with better planning I’m definitely taking a crack at it again)!!Hopefully I’ll go when I turn 30!!
We all make mistakes and sometimes they cost us big time. I’m thankful I listened to my gut and my mom (and went back and forth lol) because I could’ve spent all of my money just to get to Africa and I probably would’ve had a terrible time (being short on money which isn’t a good look!).
For more on my impulsive solo adventures, and to see what four countries I actually ended up in after this FAIL, continue on in this series!
I arrived in London, England after an extremely long twelve hour Megabus ride to Toronto Canada, then another seven-hour plane ride courtesy of West Jet.
I was so eager to get out and start doing all of the touristy things I’ve always dreamed of.
The first thing I wanted to do after I checked into the PubLove Hostel, where I would be spending one night, I was off to visiting Buckingham Palace!
I wandered through the city of Westminster, without a working phone or a reliable WiFi connection, just a screenshot of google map directions that revealed Buckingham palace was only a short distance (25-minute walk) from where I would be spending the night.
I passed by Victoria train station, where just an hour before I was dragging my luggage in one hand and a Burger King meal in the other, lost and frustrated trying to find my way to Publove; now luggage free and full, I followed “Buckingham Palace street” (so clever) all the way to one of London’s famous places.
I heard the palace before I saw it!
To my surprise, I was greeted by loud chants, songs, drums, and people waving flags with half painted faces.
At first, I thought to myself “I must have this all wrong this isn’t Buckingham Palace” but…it was, after all, I was on BUCKINGHAM PALACE STREET and after all of the tourist and swift moving locals I dodge on the way there it just better had been.
It’s just…not exactly what I expected, instead of it being a completely magical experience, it was sort of ruined by the large group of people creating a huge ruckus in the name of climate control; but one thing I’ve learned is that in protesting is there are no rules and it has known no bounds.
I had a brief conversation with one of the yellow-jacketed police officers, guarding the gates, just to confirm what I already knew.
I asked if the protest was really happening before my eyes at Buckingham Palace? To his reply was simply “yes it is.”
The friendly officer, with the awesome accent, followed up by explaining that prior to this protest demands for better climate control programs (by the same group) were demonstrated at the Parliament (law making- city council headquarters) but on this particular day “they chose to come here” out of all of the days I thought!
Anyway, for the record, if I were to be caught up in a protest that would have been the one to wonder into…
Nothing compares to America’s protests or more recently the uproar in Paris where locals (with yellow jackets ironically) are literally setting fire to the streets and police are launching canisters of tear gas for crowd control all over fuel prices.
No, this was something different; it was peaceful, people were singing and dancing, and there was clearly a huge mixture of tourist in with the locals (I could tell by all of the selfie-taking).
Typically you wouldnt think a local would yell “CLIMATE CONTROL” but first, let me get this selfie (although today that may not be too far from reality…)…
I missed the changing of the guards but I still caught a glimpse of the guards marching back and forth at the entrance, in uniform, protecting the Palace.
Let’s get into the details!
Buckingham Palace’s physical appearance is GORGEOUS. The Gold trimmed gates, huge fountains and carefully sculpted statues were just amazing; it was like looking at a page from an art history book.
Although this was not what I expected for my first experience at this famous landmark in England it was nothing short of amazing and is unforgettable.
During my first night in London I made it a priority to visit BRIXTON.
Brixton has been dubbed as London’s Harlem (it may have been after Nelson Mandela visited in 1996) either way I had to find the African presence in London…I had to!
I read a lot about Brixton and found that this area in London is where a lot of African/ Caribbean culture resided (ever since the ending of the second World War) so it was at the top of my list of “must sees”.
After the craziness at Buckingham Palace I decided to end the day on a sweeter note and rock down to Electric Avenue.
Luckily Brixton wasn’t too far away from Victoria station, which was so close to the Buckingham Palace (it was basically the last stop on the Victoria line) so it just made sense to go while I was in the neighborhood.
So I took the “tube” (Victoria line from Victoria station to the last stop) and was instantly pleased.
As soon as I reached the top of the escalator I was met by a sea of brown faces and heard nothing but Caribbean music.
I shopped around a bit at the outside marketplace…
Stopped by “Pop Brixton” a cool indoor shopping mall/ pub for a drink…
Then I treated myself to some of the best Caribbean/Jamaican food I’ve ever tasted!!!
Brixton was Amazing!! I definitely want to return and get some more beef patties soon!