Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Israel - Nazareth and Galilee | TRAVEL

Just as day one had began, day two started bright and early overlooking the ocean from our hotel. Today our tour was the Biblical Highlights of Galilee! Once we had picked up everyone in the small bus we began the drive towards our first stop; Nazareth. Nazareth is know in the bible as the town where Jesus grew up. Just as Jerusalem is, Nazareth is situated on top of hill about 320 metres above sea level. While here we visited 2 churches; The Church of Annunciation and St Joseph's Church. The Church of Annunciation is the largest Catholic church in the Middle East and is believed to be built on the home of Mary. It is also where the angel Gabriel appeared to her to tell her she was going to have a baby named Jesus - The Son of God. The front door of the church shows and tells of major events in Jesus' life. Inside it is simple but decorated with beautiful stained glass windows. Downstairs is the grotto of the Annunciation. This contains the remains of a house believed to be Marys childhood home. The walls of the upper level are covered with mosaics of many different countries depictions of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. There are also mosaics in the courtyard of the church. St Joseph's Church is only a short walk away and is significantly smaller but just as admirable.











We continued on to our next stop of the day; Capharnaum. Capharnaum was a fishing village along the Sea of Galilee. It is known for being the hometown of Simon Peter, one of Jesus' Disciples. It is also the town in the bible where Jesus performed a great deal of miracles that are noted throughout the gospels, such as, healing the man with an unclean spirit (Luke 4:31-36), healing a servant close to death (Luke 7:1-10), healing Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15) where Jesus calmed the winds and sea after the disciples were scared (Matthew 8:23-26), where Jesus heals a paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8) and where Jesus raised from the dead a young girl (Matthew 9:18-26). Today it is full of ruins from the ancient civilisation. Excavation has revealed a late 4th century AD synagogue which they have named the 'White Synagogue" after the white stones used for its construction. It is among one of the oldest synagogues in the world. The building consists of four parts: the praying hall, the western patio, a southern balustrade and a small room at the northwest of the building. The praying hall faces towards Jerusalem which is how it had been identified as a synagogue. One of the ruins in Capharnaum is concluded to be the house of Peter. Two memorial churches have been built over the ruins as preservation. 







Before lunch we stopped in Tabgha, another seaside village along the Sea of Galilee. Tabgha once again is another significant town in the bible; it is the site where Jesus fed the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44). Other biblical events that took place in Tabgha include; the calling of the first apostles (Mark 1:16-20), the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1), healing of the leper (Matthew 8:1-4) Jesus walking on water (Mark 6:45-52), meeting with Peter and his companions after the resurrection (John 21:1), the last appearance of Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20).




After we had our lunch we hit the road again for our final stop of the day; Yardenjt - The Jordan River.
'At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, He was Heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from Heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased."' Mark 1:9-11.
The Jordan River is a site visited by Christians all over the world, many of whom wish to be baptized in the same location as Jesus. The river runs from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea in Palestine and is the longest river in Israel. With such a spiritual significance I feel so lucky to have been able to visit such a beautiful location.






We arrived back into Tel Aviv early so we decided to have dinner on the beach watching the sunset. A peaceful end to a wonderful day.




To be continued...

Thank you for reading!

God Bless,
Amber x

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Israel - Jerusalem and Bethlehem | TRAVEL

Israel is a country I have always had an interest to visit but due to the conflict in and surrounding Israel I never imagined I would ever go. When the opportunity arose for us to go, Aaron and I took the chance of a lifetime, jumped on the plane and went! I could tell this trip was going to be a special one.

We arrived into Tel Aviv late Sunday evening and went straight to bed in preparation of our first excursion to Jerusalem and Bethlehem the following day.

We woke up bright and early and went for breakfast in the hotel. We sat outside in the morning sun overlooking the sunrise on the beach. Today was going to be a great day! We hopped on the bus bright and early in pursuit of Jerusalem.


Along with many towns and cities in Israel, Jerusalem is situated on a hill with outstanding views of the valleys beneath. I was amazed at how the new and old architecture came together in such a way that gave the city an incredible atmosphere.


Our first stop for the day was the Old City which is surrounded by a 5000 year old wall within the modern city of Jerusalem. The Old City is divided into Quarters; the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. Our tour began in the Christian Quarter where we followed the Via Dolorosa up to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Via Dolorosa is believed to be the path in which Jesus walked with the cross on his way to his crucifixion. There are 9 stations within the Via Dolorosa where a significant event happened during Jesus' walk to Calvary. The remaining 5 are within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.




The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is arguably one of the holiest sites in the Christian faith and is believed to be built upon Golgotha/Calvary; the location in which Jesus was crucified. The Church itself is not an extravagant work of art like others such as St Paul's Cathedral in London or the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but it holds a spiritual significance which can be seen and felt throughout the building. Just inside the entrance is the Stone of Anointing which many believe is the rock where Jesus' body was washed and prepared for burial. To the right of the entrance is a stairway that leads to Calvary. This has been transformed into an Alter that is covered in gold and extravagantly decorated. Jesus' Tomb is also within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and is located in and to the left, but unfortunately we did not have time to queue for an hour or so to see that. Walking through the Church I felt a such a rush of emotions that could not be explained and the presence of God was so apparent. It is an experience I will never forget.




We continued through the aromatic markets of the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter.





The Western Wall is the only wall still remaining from the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple and is the holiest site in which Jews are permitted to pray. The Second Temple replaced Solomon's Temple after it was destroyed and is said to have housed the 10 Commandments. What an amazing place to be able to experience another culture and religion in such a holy setting.



After lunch we continued our day onto Bethlehem. As many know in the Christian faith (or from Christmas carols), Bethlehem is the town where Jesus was born. Today it is a Palestinian city located in the West Bank of Palestine with the population consisting of 90% Arabic and 10% Christian. Our little time in Bethlehem was spent going through the biblical sites such as the Nativity Church and the Church of St Catherine. As the Nativity Church was under construction we couldn't see much due to the scaffolding so we didn't stay long. That meant our last stop of the day was Sanctae Catharinae (translated to the Church of St Catherine) which is a more modern church with a beautiful courtyard to the front of the building. The perfect way to end such a special and memorable first day in Israel.





To be continued...

Thank you for reading!

God Bless,
Amber x

Notes:
All photos taken with an iPhone 6s.
Dress: Boohoo

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Liebster Award | Q & A

I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by Tiffany from Red Wine and Blue Mom!! It is such an honor to be nominated for something as sweet and kind as this and what a fun way to connect and develop friendships within the blogging community!


The Liebster Award was created by The Global Aussie and 'is an award given to bloggers by other bloggers. In German, Liebster means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.' It was created to connect and support the blogging community.

Firstly I would like to thank the lovely Tiffany from Red Wine and Blue Mom for kindly nominating me! Her blog is all about motherhood, cooking, inspirational posts and everything in between. On top of all this she is an exceptional blogger and writer! Don't just take my word for it, click here to find out for yourself!

The way the Liebster Award works is:
  • Another blogger nominates you.
  • They answer questions posted to them by their nominator and at the end of their post they ask you a series of questions to answer.
  • You then nominate 5-11 blogs that you feel deserves the award.
  • Thank the person who nominated you, and put a link to their blog on your blog.
  • Head over the The Global Aussie for more rules and don't forget to post your blog in the comments for others to read!


Let's get to the questions!!!

1. What inspired you to start your blog?

I started my blog in early 2016 and previous to that I had never been much of a writer - in fact English was my worst subject in school! I had just moved to London from a small town in New Zealand, and wanted to keep my friends and family up to date with our adventures on the other side of the world. I fell in love with blogging early on and even spent the little time I had on my evenings and weekends writing and taking photos. I found out quickly that it is very time consuming and almost a full time job, so the blog got put on the back burner for a bit. Since moving back to New Zealand, I have had the time to invest into making this website the best it can be (I still have a long way to go!) and have rediscovered my love for blogging again!

2. What has been your proudest blog moment so far?

To be honest, my blog is pretty small and doesn't get a lot of traffic, which is fine because it is a hobby and not a job - but I have to say being nominated for a Liebster Award is pretty exciting! To think someone thought of me and has visited my blog makes me very happy!

3. Where do you go when you need a little material inspiration?

I go to other blogs, pinterest, instagram, youtube etc for inspiration. There are so many talented bloggers out there who create beautiful content, and I find that is the best place to get inspiration. Plus its important to support each other as it is such a tough business to break in to. I also love going to YouTube for inspiration. Even though I am too shy to post videos, I love to be able to incorporate those ideas into my blog posts.

4. Do you have a routine you have to do before or during your writing time?

Not really. I usually write the blog post first and then sort out the photography later. I love having loads of photos on the blog because that is what I like seeing on others.

5. What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the year?

Personally, I would like to become less dependant on other people's approval and accomplish some of my fitness and health goals.
In my blog, I would love to grow my audience, get better at blog photography and stick to a schedule of posting throughout the year. We will see how that goes!

6. Which blogger would you love to colab with?

This is a tough question as I don't know too many. I would say Niomi Smart would be one of the bigger YouTuber/Bloggers I have always admired and I love her content. I also love InTheFrow and her fashion posts. She is killing the game!! To be fair I would be open to colabing with anyone who shares the same interests - travel, fashion, beauty, fitness or God. Hit me up if you would like!

7. What do you love to do when you aren't busy blogging?

I love to travel and explore new places. That is something I always hope to do. I like fitness and enjoy running (OK maybe 'enjoy' is too strong of a word...). I have also found a new love of cooking recently so creating new dishes is something else I love to do!

8. Post 10 random facts about me (from The Global Aussie)

  • I am a Christian
  • I have travelled to 22 different countries (some more than once)
  • My nickname is Bam 
  • My favourite movie is The Holiday
  • I have 2 tattoos and 5 piercings
  • I am terrified of the ocean and I find beaches in no way relaxing
  • I do not like coffee or tea
  • My personality type is INFJ
  • I LOVE sleeping
  • My favourite TV show is Friends

9. What makes you passionate about blog posting? (question from The Global Aussie)

Blogging has created an environment for me to share my experiences, be creative, and write about the things I love. I hope to use this platform to inspire others and I pray that whoever reads my posts can walk away with a smile and a bit of encouragement. The world can be a negative place - especially with social media - and the blogging community is such a positive and supportive place to share and discover new products, travel stories, find inspiration and everything in between.


My nominations are:
1. candidlykristina.com
2. pricelesslifememories.wordpress.com
3. phillipdeanblog.wordpress.com
4. lazygirl.us
5. moretoexplore.co
6. todaytomorrowforeverella.wordpress.com
7. thetustingirl.com
8. forevermotivated.blog

My questions are:
1. What or who inspired you to start your blog?
2. Where is your dream travel destination and why?
3. Do you have goals for your blog? If so, what are they?
4. What is the last compliment you got?
5. What are your hobbies outside of blogging?
6. If you could live anywhere in the world (fiction or not), where would it be?
7. What is something that most people don't know about you?
8. Do you have pets? If so, post a photo of them here!

I hope you enjoyed reading this and thank you again to Tiffany for my nomination!! I can't wait to read your responses! Leave your blog links in the comments - I would love to support you!
Don't forget to be kind and lift each other up!

Thanks for reading!

God Bless,
Amber x


Monday, 29 January 2018

Self Love | BEAUTY/LIFESTYLE

We live in a world that is dominated by social media where our minds are constantly being filled with a distorted image of beauty. Every time I look in the mirror I find something else that I do not like about myself and I know that I am not the only person who does this as well. This is not OK.

We as humans want what we don't have. We see a picture of our dream travel destination on Instagram and we think 'I will never get there'. We see the people around us following their dreams and think 'I will never be that successful'. Or we see a photo of that skinny super model and think 'I will never be that beautiful'. We need to break free of social media's influence on our minds.

I feel very strongly that everyone must know that they are valued and worthy. Whether this be at work or in our personal lives. We are all different and created for a purpose. We need to dig deep into our hearts and and find our self worth. What makes you different? What sets you apart from others? This can be anything from your talents, your kindness, your love for helping others, or your work ethic. We need to start having a good relationship with ourselves. God is not going to help you try to be someone else - someone else is already taken.


Most importantly, let's pray for our mindsets to be renewed. Too often I allow someone's false opinion of me determine my self worth. Do not allow anyone to dictate your happiness or steal your joy. Stay positive through the hard times, forgive those who have hurt you and leave it in the past. Stop dwelling on the pain and realise how incredibly special YOU are! Do not be controlled by what people think, say or do. Even if they totally reject you, you will survive!! Do not let others define who you are - you define who you are.
Let's start focusing on the good in our lives, enjoying the present, getting rid of our negative thinking and begin speaking positively about ourselves and others.


Romans 12:2
'Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.'

You are more beautiful and precious to God than the earth. You are created in God's image, hand picked and hand woven. Nothing is more beautiful in this world to God than YOU. Speak positive, speak love, speak His Word and you will see a change in your perspective.



'CAUSE YOU'RE AMAZING, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.'
Bruno Mars


Thank you for reading!

God Bless,
Amber x

Sunday, 21 January 2018

A Weekend with my Best Friend in Paris | TRAVEL

A weekend in Paris with your best friend sounds like the ultimate dream holiday and let me tell you something -- IT WAS!

It all began with my beautiful best friend Laura flying all the way from New Zealand to surprise me and my wonderful husband planning the whole thing! 

The day she arrived was a typical cloudy London day and as it turned out I happened to be off work sick with a cold/flu. No hint at all of what was about to happen. 
When she walked into my room I didn't know what to do! I was (and am) so overwhelmed that I have a friend who would travel halfway around the world to visit me and whisk me away to Paris for a long weekend away in the sun!
As the weekend came closer, London got windier and rainier and evidently colder considering it is the beginning of 'summer'. Paris was looking better and better.

When we arrived into Paris and were immediately welcomed with beautiful blue skies and a 30 degree day! And that my friends, was the beginning of a great weekend!

Paris Must Dos:

The Louvre

Originally The Louvre was build as a fortress for Philip II in the 12th century and served as a palace for Napoleon. It is now one of the biggest museums in the world. It is well known for housing Leonardo da Vinci's  'Mona Lisa' and the 'Venus de Milo'. Take 4 hours out of your day to walk around the exhibitions, taking in the art and history that surrounds you. I would recommend that you get an audio guide as the signs on each exhibition are not only in French but the descriptions are very minimal. You cannot visit Paris without going to the Louvre! 





Eiffel Tower

I mean -- this is a MUST! You cannot visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower! Tickets to get to the top are 14 euros and can be bought online but are sold in limited quantities. To avoid waiting in the looooooooong que I would suggest buying your tickets in advance. The view is worth the wait! 









Moulin Rouge

Made famous by the movie, Moulin Rouge is one of the most iconic cabaret shows in Paris. Situated the Montmartre area in the heart of the red light district, the street has an edgy vibe and is lined with strip clubs and peep shows. If your budget allows, I would absolutely recommend going to a show although there are plenty of cheaper cabaret shows in the area as well. We didn't get the chance this time but when I was in Paris 4 years ago I was lucky enough to go to a show and believe me it did not disappoint! 




Sacré-Coeur

The Sacré-Coeur is a Roman-Catholic church situated on a hill in the heart of Paris. It is also the highest point in the city. Well known for its beautiful exterior and incredible panoramas this church is a must see and it is free (BONUS!)! The inside is absolutely breathtaking but unfortunately no photos are allowed. Take a seat on the grass to soak up the astounding view of the city and church in the background but make sure you have you walking shoes on because that hill is no joke! 





Champs-Élysées

The Champs-Élysées is one of most famous streets in the world. It is known for its luxury shopping, cafes, restaurants and theaters. For all those shopaholics (like me!) this is a must! Beginning at the Place de la Concorde and ending at the Arc de Triomphe, the street is beautifully lined with trees and the busy hustle and bustle of cars makes for a vibrant and lively stroll. 



Arc de Triomphe

After walking down the hectic Champs-Élysées, you will arrive at the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc de Triomphe is a monument to honour those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I lies beneath its vault. An underground tunnel allows you to walk under the roundabout so you can get to the centre. You are also able to climb to the top for 8 euros. The Arc de Triomphe is such an iconic and beautifully symbolic structure that I would recommend seeing.





Notre-Dame

Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most famous medieval Catholic Churches in the world and one of the best examples of the French Gothic architecture. It is also well known from the Disney classic move 'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame'.  We visited the church on our last day in Paris and sadly ran out of time to go inside. Admission is free however once again the line is very long.





Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles has to be my favourite place in all of Paris! The Palace is situated in a small town called Versailles about 1 hour out of the centre of Paris. The best way to get there is by train. The nearest station is: Versailles-Chateau-RG but it is also walking distance from Gare de Versailles Chantiers station. The Palace itself originally housed King Louis XIV in the 17th century. The inside is absolutely breathtaking but also very busy. The walls are lines with gold, crystal chandeliers, and paintings dating back to the 1600s. The gardens cover over 800 hectares of land, and was designed by André Le Nôtre. Each area is dedicated to a different god. Spend the day there soaking up the historic rooms of the palace, walking amongst the beautifully sculpted gardens, watching the musical fountain shows and taking in the atmosphere. Cafes are hidden throughout the gardens too when you are in need of a refreshment. 










The Food and Wine

If the sites of Paris aren't enough to sway you to visit, then the food and wine might just do the trick! Paris is one of the best cities in Europe for food so naturally I was going to be excited! I don't know about you but when I think of French food I think of croissants, baguettes, cheese, snails (although they were not on my list, feel free to add them to yours), frogs legs and lots of wine. Cafes and restaurants line the streets meaning you will never be short of places to go. Set your taste buds on an diverse range of French cuisine and make sure to try something new!




Before we knew it, it was Sunday afternoon and we were packed up and ready to fly back to London. 
I am extremely grateful that I was able to experience Paris with my best friend and being able to show her all of my favourite places in London was so special to me as well.

Heres to many more trips and memories!

Tips

  • Get to the Louvre 1st thing in the morning as the lines get longer and longer as the day goes on. There is also a secret entrance which is a lot less busy. It is located in the building to the left of the pyramid when you arrive from Place du Carrousel. The entrance is called: Passage Richelieu.
  • I would recommend that you get an audio guide at the Louvre as the signs on each exhibition are not only in French but the descriptions are very minimal.
  • Pre-book the Eiffel Tower tickets (which we didn't do) in advance as once again the lines can get VERY long! We waited for just over an hour to get in. 
  • The line to get into the Palace of Versailles is very long no matter whether you have tickets pre-booked or not. Make sure you have a bottle of water to get you through the wait time - especially in summer!
  • The Metro is the easiest way to get around Paris and see all the sites. Buying a day pass is the cheapest option.

Thanks for reading!

God bless 

Amber x

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