Monthly Archives: March 2016

Slightly Astray’s Top Ten Travel Destinations

Welcome t another Travel Tuesday. Remember when you hop around today people’s posts might be themed, so have a fun time seeing what everyone came up with this week.  I decided to not write to the theme this week but let Anna from Slightly Astray blog have a space here.  This is her last week with us and she is going to be sharing her Top Ten Travel Destinations.


Hello A Compass Rose readers! I’m Anna from Slightly Astray and I will be taking over Bonnie’s blog today before passing my Travel Tuesday co-host spot unto someone else!

For those who may not know me, a quick little introduction: I quit my job as an engineer/project manager to live a life of full-time travel with my boyfriend. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this is where life would take me, and contrary to the glamorous image of full time travelers, this kind of life is not always easy, but I have absolutely no regrets!

I cannot believe that it is coming up on a full two years (on April 1st!) since we packed a luggage each and boarded a one way flight! So for today’s guest post, I thought I would share 10 of my favorite destinations visited (in random order!) in our two years of travel. I loved all of these places for different reasons, but no matter the reason, they have all claimed a piece of my heart.

1. Santiago, Chile

bellavista streetart 1

Santiago will forever have a special place in my heart as the very first city we headed to when we started our new nomadic lives. It may not the the prettiest city or have the best food (in fact, some of the food is downright disgusting!), but it is special to me for the fact that this is where I learned to function as a traveler and fell in love with the lifestyle. I think back on my time in Santiago with such fondness for this kind of “first” is truly a feeling that can never be replicated.

Read: The City That Stole My Heart

2. London


Anna tower bridge

English breakfast

Who doesn’t love London?! I was only here for a quick 3 days (because yeah… I’m poor and London is expensive) but I was completely enamored with it! London was the first European city I have ever set foot in and oh what a beautiful first impression it made! I barely even covered a fraction of the city and I’m constantly dreaming of when I can return to walk its streets again.

3. Wroclaw, Poland

Wroclaw Market Square 4

pierogarnia feature pic

Wroclaw is one of my favorite cities in Europe due to the fact that it’s such a perfect little fairytale town. And if I’m being honest, also due to the fact that I fell in love with the restaurant Pierogarnia and still insist that it serves the best pierogies I’ve ever had.

Read: Pierogarnia: A Love Story

4. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest view2

szechenyi bath 1

beef stew2

Budapest is just plain fun! There’s nothing I can say to pinpoint exactly why I loved it so much, so really it’s just a little bit of everything: the food, the architecture, the cafes, the river, the ruin pubs, the baths… I can go on and on. It’s also an extremely budget friendly destination, making it one of my top places I recommend in Europe.

5. Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia 8

The perfect city of east-meets-west! Is there another city as colorful, crazy, and exciting as Istanbul?! I loved hearing the calls to prayer multiple times a day, sitting down in an alleyway to smoke shisha + play backgammon, and seeing all the explosions of colors and textures in the markets. There’s just not quiet another place like Istanbul. And quiet literally… what other city in the world is divided by the ocean to sit on both European and Asian soils?!

Read: Istanbul: An Assault on the Senses

6. Koh Chang, Thailand

While this was certainly not the only tropical paradise I’ve been to, it’s the one that made the most impression on me. We stayed on the quiet, untouristed side of this little island for 2 weeks. For a large portion of that time, we didn’t get internet and I took the time to completely unplug and reconnect with my myself. I read a ton, scooted all over the island, swam in the warm waters, and spent hours in the kitchen creating Thai dishes. I felt completely at peace, like I was the best version of myself there.

Read: Unplugged

7. Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi veggies bike

Oh. My. Goodness. THE FOOD! The food in Hanoi is just INCREDIBLE! The entire Old Quarter is packed full with street vendors and eateries, and every single one is delicious… a true foodie heaven! I already liked pho before coming, but this is where I fell completely in love with Vietnamese cuisine (and Vietnamese coffee… and I’m not even a coffee drinker!). A perfect day in Hanoi is just walking around and randomly sitting down at whatever sidewalk eatery that looks crowded or smells good.

Read: 10 Dishes to Try in Hanoi (this is my top viewed post of all time)

8. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei view of 101 Taipei ootd 6

Tonghua night market

This was the first city that felt truly like home. Again, another city that doesn’t sound too exciting and is not even on most people’s travel itineraries, but it is an extremely fun and livable place. There’s so much to discover about Taipei, from the night market culture to the cafes to day trips. We initially visited for 2 weeks, and loved it enough that we went back and settled there for a whole 3 months, making Taipei the first place we called home for a temporary while.

Read: 17 Reasons Why Taipei is the Coolest (In Photos)

9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur Jalan Alor curry laksa

So I think I found a new city as exciting as, if not more than, Istanbul! Malaysia is a wonderful mix of cultures and ethnicities, which results in a very diverse place with some of the most exciting food I’ve ever had on my travels. Kuala Lumpur is a true city of contrasts: insanely modern yet still distinctively Southeast Asian. There’s just an neverending list of things to discover to excite me.

10. Beijing, China

simatai great wall 17me and mom Beijing 4 Beijing tulip fields 14

And last but not least, there will always be a piece of my heart reserved for my birth city, Beijing. In the past year, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a significant chunk of time there, both as a tourist and as a Beijinger returning to my childhood home. I was really able to gain a deeper understand for my culture and this country as a whole. China may seem intimidating to visit but once you look under the surface, it is a beautiful country with a rich history and of course, delicious food.

Read: Lessons from Time Spent in China

So that’s it! My top 10 favorite places in two years of travel! What were some of your favorite destinations?

Travel Tuesday Theme


England has been warming up quite a bit this past week and it has been glorious. Even though I work inside, the cafe has many windows which let the warmth inside. It is almost like being on vacation as the lack of sun can play up with my mood.  I swear when its bright and sunny, regardless of the temp, I am instantly the chipperest bird in Bath. Perhaps a bad pun, so lets move back on to Travel.

Travel Tuesday and my three lovely cohosts have a theme for next week:  Movies & Travel

Is there a movie that made you want to visit a certain place or do you have favorite travel films?

I cannot wait to see what everyone comes up with for next week. Until then lets hop around!

Continue reading

#SwagsJumps and So Can You

Happy Travel Tuesday with a guest post from Swags:

Anyone can make great jumping photos. I’ve always been more of an action/candid photo fan, and finding the perfect jump photo has become a favorite hobby of mine. I may be an athlete, but the last time I was considered a decent jumper, I was seventeen and pre-knee-surgery. That was nearly half a lifetime ago, and I’m not getting any younger!

The two key components of your jumping photo are the background and the camera angle. You’ll see in the following photos that jumping in front of sky always works, but a super cool attraction can be worth it, as well. Put your camera – or your cameraman – on the ground and press record. Yes, you’re taking a video, and it’s going to transform you into a jumping hero.

All that’s left is to pick your signature jump!

(Listed from easiest to most difficult. When you attempt, I’d love for you to hashtag either #SwagsJumps or #whatupswags to show your progress!)

The Assisted Fly

Find something to create the appearance of a higher jump. Swings, fences, and statues are very helpful.


The Happy Star

Jump and explode your limbs in every direction. Also, try the imaginary skateboard grab.


The Butt Kick

This is the best ratio of easy jump with high payout. Just make sure you kick slightly to the side, or you’ll look like your legs end at the knees. You can even do this jump in a skirt.



The Jump Squat

Try to bring your knees to your shoulders. Might want to stretch or warm-up for this one.



The Heel Click

Anytime you bring your feet closer to your body, your jump looks so much higher.


The Rock Star

You’ve got your air guitar, so kick one foot back and one foot forward, and rock this jump.

Here we’ve got a Happy Star, Jump Squat, Rock Star combo – and this one was miraculously taken with a regular camera on a timer.


The Ninja

Put on your game face and channel your inner ninja. My best ninja jump is in the title picture, but these ones are alright, too. Also, note how cool a silhouette jump can be against a bright background.



The Mary Poppins

This one is very difficult for me. It’s the feet position, arm extension, umbrella lift, and truly believing that you are going to fly up, up, and away in the moment. I have to find a better background for this jump style next time.

Hit record and start jumping! Don’t forget to tag me @whatupswags¬†or hashtag #SwagsJumps and #whatupswags when you get your jumping photo album going!

Social Life Rebooted


Pub Night with Friends

We have March-ed right into another month and inspired by my friend Kirsty, I am doing a monthly recap. Before I can talk about what we have done I have to explain why my social life needed a reboot in the first place. If moving every several months to couple of years is not a reason in itself.


Board Games Night

February 2016: ‘Being Social’

From November 2015 to January 2016, I was in the thick of rehearsals and performances for the panto I wrote and directed for Bath Drama. As the show ended I prepared myself for what is known as Post Show Blues.


Pub Quiz


Pub Quiz


Pub Quiz


Pub Quiz

After months of working with and seeing the same people in a fun and creative environment, we would go back to our daily grind and slowly lose track of eachother. I was not ready to lose my social life, where I could be more than just a working mother. The show ended and with it came a stream of different social activities and events organized by members of my cast and crew. To be honest I have probably gone out more in the last 6 weeks than I have since moving to England in 2011. It has been so wonderful.


After Movie Drinks with Friends


After Movie Drinks

My twenties have been mostly been devoted to being a mother and a military wife. Where social hours were during coffee dates with toddlers and babies. When we moved to England I was faced with the even harder challenge of making friends as a so-called expat now in my thirties. I left behind the child brides and young mothers in the military world to a peer group of parents in the UK whom as a group seem to have at least ten years (if not more) on me. With that age gap and coming in looked at as a foriegner, has made making friends in that social network challenging to say the least. 


Pubs, live music, and dancing


Pubs, live music, and dancing


Pubs, live music, and dancing

Ryan and I have each other but socially either it involves the kids or only one of us can go out. Since Ryan has always seemed to have coworkers and friends that do things outside of work, it has usually been me who stays home with the boys. Date nights are rare and few in between, reserved for when family members visit from the US.


With the lead singer of Harri Larkin


With the band Brockley Forest


EP Music Launch in Bristol

With the band IDestroy


EP Music Launch in Bristol

With that said you can probably understand why it has meant so much to me to have friends I care about who likewise want to spend time with me. As someone who went to Uni in a dry county (think footloose) and was raising young kids on her own in the military world far from family, this has been a blessing to finally feel like an adult outside of the role of just a mother.






So just what have I been up too in the last few weeks?

My friends and I have done a board game night at my workplace, movie night at the cinema, pub quizzes (we’ve won 3 out of 4 times), EP music launch with three live bands, nights out dancing in Bath & Bristol, and pub nights.  I love my friends and I enjoy getting to spend so much time with them. It has filled the hole void inside. It has made me really appreciate life more and I have felt more at peace with life. It has made me love this town we live in even more.






Thank you to everyone who has been to one of the events or arranged one. You have saved my (social) life. Never underestimate the power of friendship.


Travel Tuesday: Adventure Time

Welcome to another installment of Travel Tuesday and my three cohosts and I have a themed prompt ready for you all.  Do not worry if you have not posted about something sporty, you can still link up. Enjoy jumping around and I hope you get to meet some new bloggers and make new friends.


With my father’s brother and my mum during a trip with kayaking, one of my favourite in the water activities.  My family likes it so much that we went and go inflatable versions so that we could go up and down the rivers and the canals here in England.  I like to joke that they make great beds if you have an overnight guest. Seriously though getting outside when you travel and doing something active and sporty is just as much fun to me as lying on the beach and doing absolutely nothing. I need a bit of both worlds when I travel.  Lets take a look at my cohosts and I will direct you to their blogs as well.

Christy from www.whatupswags.comIMG_20140701_180623Diana from http://www.dianaelleblog.comziplining

Anna from

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