Monday, 30 June 2014

Throwback | Brazil

In light of the World Cup (and following on from Saturday's post!), I have decided to do a post on Brazil, even though I went 4 years ago this summer! I know this might seem a little bit far off but Brazil was such an amazing country I just can’t not share it with you all! However, it was not all amazing, there were some really hard hitting things that we saw whilst we were there which I think makes the world cup even more poignant this year. That such a money making event is happening in a country with such an extreme rich-poor divide to it.

Sugar Loaf Mountain

 I stayed in a favela for two and a half weeks with my youth group and we were working with the families in the slums which was really eye-opening and quite upsetting at times, one of the main circumstances that upset all of us was the street children. There was one boy, who was only 7 years old, but he was extremely high from paint thinner which is what they use on the streets. There were other situations however which were upsetting but also gave me so much hope. We bumped into a young boy in the favela who was handing out his business cards as he was a singer. He wasn't famous or anything, he just enjoyed it and it was so nice to see that he was doing something he loved and being proud of it even though the places around him were so dirty and sad. 




 One thing that hit me incredibly hard was the fact that a young boy had been shot the night we arrived, and on our first day there we went to the place that he had been shot. I was so upset about this, in England if someone is shot they would have cordoned the area off for days, but in Brazil we were walking there twelve hours after this young boy had died. It was drugs related. Drugs is obviously a massive thing in the Brazilian favelas, and at the time I don't think it really connected with me that I was brushing shoulders with some of the main drug lords in one of the biggest favelas in Belo Horizonte. It is actually terrifying that I was there for 2 and a half weeks with such dangerous and powerful people, but when you think about the people who live there all of their lives, that makes me incredibly sad. 



This picture was taken where we stayed when we were in the Favela. I personally think this is a massive indication of the poor and rich divide, that such a gorgeous building was in the middle of such a poor area, which does make me feel a little guilty looking back. However, the local community did benefit from the work done by the people who live there, and they are also able to swim in the pool there and make use of the play area and the classroom there during the groups that are held there every morning and afternoon. That was one of the highlights for me, meeting some of the children from the favelas. They were so lively and happy even though they truly lived in some of the worst conditions I have ever seen. It really makes you think.





Not everything we saw there was sad though. We met some amazing people, including my friend Fiamma (hey Fiamma!) who reads my blog, and I am still in contact with 4 years after my visit to Brazil. We also visited some amazing places in the country which I have spoken about in my Travel Tick-list Post. We met some incredible volunteers who had dedicated their lives to making the poorest people in the city have better lives. It was amazing to see. I can now say I have seen some of the most incredible sights in the world, such as the Christ Redeemer, the town of Ouro Preto and the Sugar Loaf mountain. As well as having relaxed on some absolutely stunning Brazilian beaches. I have sampled Brazilian food, with rice and beans and Guarana. I have survived the crazy Brazilian driving. I have played football with the happiest girls in the Favela who were willing to loosen their game a little just so I could score (I'm forever grateful!).



Brazil was such an amazing country, and I apologise if this post has been a little depressing. The World Cup has really got me thinking about all those people I met in Brazil who had so little, especially compared to the likes of Wayne Rooney who earns more money in a week than most people will see in a lifetime. Its hard to remember all the poverty in the country when you are watching the matches but it has certainly reminded me to remember those I met!

 Have you ever been to Brazil? 







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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Travel Tick-list

I love to Travel and I have not done enough of it. I'm desperate to go and see new places and explore what different cultures have to offer. There is nothing better than strolling round a new city, or walking down to a foreign beach for dinner. I can't wait until I can properly pack up and go and see the world!

 I'm going to begin with a few places I have already been to, which were on my Travel Tick-list.

Spain 

 I have been to mainland Spain quite a few times, to the Canary Islands, specifically Gran Canaria once and also to Majorca and Menorca which are Balearic Islands. I love Spain; the culture, the food and the language and Madrid and Barcelona were both firmly on my Travel Tick-list. 

Madrid 

 Madrid is such a stunning Spanish city that I have been lucky enough to go to twice, once in February 2012, and again in April 2013. I'm extremely lucky that one of my best friends lives about 30 minutes from Madrid so we can just catch the bus into the centre. One of the main reasons I love Madrid is because of Churros, the most perfect sugary donut stick things ever. Another reason would be the city itself. There are so many gorgeous buildings, cute little side streets and culture filled squares, I actually think it is impossible to dislike this beautiful city. I love wandering around aimlessly with my friends, and stopping in the squares for an occasional 'Cola Light' whilst soaking up the sunshine (if you are lucky!) and the atmosphere. I already can't wait to return.





Barcelona

 Beautiful Barcelona. Need I say more? This city is surprisingly different to Madrid. When I initially booked the city break with Dan, I thought it would be the same! However, it is very different but just as gorgeous. I love both of these cities so much. Barcelona has so much culture especially along La Ramblas, the main street. If you fancy looking more at what we got up to in Barcelona and why I love it so much have a look at my blog posts on our trips there: 12 and 3! There was so much to do there, and I loved looking around the city and discovering new things. I especially enjoyed the Jewish Synagogue there, and the food was amazing. 




Brazil 

 I was lucky enough to go to Brazil in 2010 for three weeks and I can honestly say it was such an incredible experience. We worked in the Favelas for two and half weeks and then spent half a week relaxing by the beach and sightseeing in Rio. I met some lovely people, ate some delicious food and fell in love with a drink called Guarana which you can now buy in the UK. 

Belo Horizonte

This city is the one we stayed in for two and half weeks whilst carrying out our work in the favela. It was a massive city, and the one thing I remember after landing was the crazy driving and the stupidly steep hills that were so scary! We had such an amazing time here, and I feel we really saw a lot of the culture of Brazil. We ate beans and rice for lunch, listened to favela parties in the evenings but also went into the city. We went to the hippy fair, markets but also did some sight seeing in general. We also experienced a lot of the foods such as Coxinha which I guess is like a scotch egg type thing but with chicken instead of egg - it was lovely.



Rio De Janiero

Wow, just wow. We were only here for a day but I wish we had had more time to experience this city. We obviously went to the Christ Redeemer and I can't even express how impressive it was. You really don't see how big it is until you are standing there in front of it. Incredible. Then we drove across to the Sugar Loaf mountain and got a scary cable car up to the top. Both of the views we saw were truly breath taking. I wish we could have stayed longer to experience things like Copacabana. This is why Brazil has to be back on my Travel Tick-list as there is so much more still to see here!





Cabo Frio

Cabo Frio was a seaside resort. We went there for a few days to relax before heading back home to the UK. All I'm going to say is beautiful beaches, beautiful beaches, beautiful beaches! They were truly stunning. We also went into the town for dinner and some shopping as well which was lovely. It was a perfect way to rest and end our three week adventure in Brazil. 




 Now, onto the countries/cities I've not yet visited but that I am dying to go to. I wish I had won the lottery so I could make these dreams a reality!

  • Paris - I'm hoping to get to Paris at some point in the next few years for my 21st Birthday!
  • Florida - I'm heading here on the 8th July for three weeks of disney, seaworld and sunshine fun! 
  • Istanbul - I'm desperate to visit this city. I cannot wait to finally be able to say I am going to this european/asian city in the gorgeous Turkey
  • Marrakesh - Markets and Camels come at me, oh and some lovely Moroccan food and clothing please!
  • Prague - Wintery prague sounds amazing, I'm just imagining the christmas markets
  • Poland - I have polish roots in my heritage so I'm counting down the days to visit this country, especially the places that my Grandpa grew up in 
  • Ireland - I also have Irish roots and I want to see where my Grandma grew up, as well as a couple of the more traditional touristy cities like Dublin
  • Rome - Pizza, Pasta, Sight seeing and Gelato! What more could a girl want? I ALSO have Italian roots so I would like to be able to go to the country that blessed me with olive skin and extraordinary pasta twirling skills 
  • Australia - Sun sun sun! I have heard amazing things about Australia and would love to take my boyfriend here to see some of the amazing animals
  • New York - XOXO Gossip Girl. I feel like it would be rude not to go to NYC during my lifetime. It looks incredible
  • Lisbon - Not necessarily a world famous tourist city unlike places like Rome, but this is somewhere I would love to visit after my boyfriend's family went last year and would really like to go back!
  • Mozambique - When I was considering a gap year, this was one of the places that stood out to me. It looks so beautiful
  • Jamaica - I love reggae and I want to sit on a Jamaican beach and soak up the sunshine please?!
  • Venice - Gondola's look pretty cool, and I would love to know what it feels like to take a boat as a taxi!
  • Thailand - I'm not sure I have ever seen an ugly picture of Thailand, let alone heard a bad review. My uncle went on a gap year recently and his pictures just looked amazing
  • Norway - Northern Lights. I will not rest until I have seen these!
  • Mexico - I just want an authentic Burrito if I'm being brutally honest
  • Moscow - I really want to see Saint Basil's Cathedral
  • Jordan - I'd love to be an arabian princess for a few days, I think this would be a beautiful country 
  • Israel - As a Religious Studies student, I'm so intrigued by this place and I also, like Jordan, think it would be beautiful
  • Saudi Arabia - Yet again, the religion of this country fascinates me. I also think it would be a pretty cool place to visit with the heat, the buildings and the culture
  • Greece - Santorini, Lindos and Athens all look like places I really want to visit. I have been to Zakynthos before, but I want to experience real Greece not just party Greece
  • Cambodia - A friend who has been travelling recommended me to go there, and I am so up for that! I want to eat street food and visit Angkor Wat. It looks incredible
  • Bali - Bali looks like the perfect place to relax. I would love to go there with my boyfriend and my kindle and just read for hours by the pool, and then spend the evening on gorgeous sandy beaches!
 I honestly CAN'T include all of the places that I want to visit ever. This has already been a stupidly long blog post and I'd be surprised if any of you are reading this, I'm sorry if you are - I got carried away (blame it on the Wanderlust!). 

 Have you ever been to any of the places I'm so desperate to go to? If so, have you got any tips or recommendations for me for the future? 

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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Bhaktivedanta Manor

As I am a second year Religious Studies student (nearly third year!!), the opportunity came up for me to visit the Bhaktivedanta Manor near Watford. It is described on the website as the “Home of the Hare Krishna Movement” and George Harrison, from the Beatles, was the one who donated the Manor to the movement. I was really excited about visiting this Hindu place of worship.

 After the coach journey we arrived at the Manor, to be met by two Hindu Hare Krishna Monks dressed in Orange Robes. We were welcomed by them and taken to a room upstairs; on the way up I couldn’t help notice the beautiful pieces of artwork all over the walls. Religious art can be really gorgeous, but also really strange too! We had a small talk about the Hindu beliefs, specifically the Hare Krishna ones and we were also invited to join in with some chanting which was interesting! I always love to see the different ways of worshipping in different religions and this was something unique to everything I have previously experienced. 


 We then went downstairs to the main temple room – we were able to see things such as the Darshan, which is decorated daily and can take ages – I think they even said up to 3 hours. It was so beautiful, you can see the picture below. People were still finishing worship so we got to experience the chanting again on a bigger scale and it was cool to see people giving gifts as well.


Such beautiful colours!

 Other parts of our tour included looking round the George Harrison memorial garden which was stunning, the Bhagavad Gita walk around the lake (this is the Hindu sacred text and there were quotes scattered on the walk which was pretty), yoga (no matter how many times I try I just can’t get on with it!!) and there was also a cow farm there. Cows are extremely sacred in Hinduism and there were so many cows there, it was so cool! I even got to feed one. Finally, we grabbed lunch at the cafĂ© there and I probably had the best samosa I have ever had. It’s making my mouth water even thinking about it…






I had a fantastic day the Bhaktivedanta Manor! I really hope I can go again in the future, they were celebrating Holi festival there the next day and I’d absolutely love to go...maybe next year!

Have you ever been to the Manor? Or another Hindu place of worship?

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Canterbury | Boho Cafe

Recently, I was back in Canterbury (my university city) for a couple of days just to spend some time with Dan and see some of my friends! One of these friends was Steffy who also featured in my blog post about the summerball. We headed to the newly opened Primark (thank you God) for some bits and bobs then wandered down to the Boho Cafe. I had always wanted to go in there but for some reason never had, and I wish I had done it sooner because it was SO cute. 



This is the front of the cafe, and I think it looks so cute and inviting. I love the bunting and the way the name of the cafe is written. We headed in, and I was surprised by how nice the inside was. The theme was slightly Moroccan I guess but it was also very english, and it was so sweetly laid out. I'm already counting down until September because I can see myself here quite a lot.  



Sorry for my pictures - I was trying to take these without attracting TOO much attention. Perhaps I need to practice taking photos in motion!

Steffy lead me outside to the garden and I was even more excited. It is a little gem hidden away and it was the perfect weather to be sitting outside. On the back wall of the garden there was wallpaper and it had velvet on it too - OUTSIDE!! Here are some more pictures of the little garden which I'm now so in love with. I loved the cushions, floral print and chandelier! Even though a lot of clashing went on, I think it really works and it was such a love place to sit in and catch up!




As we were only having an afternoon catch up, we didn't get the chance to sample some of the food that they sell here. We just decided to get our cokes and natter over what we have been up to recently. It was so nice to see her! I took a picture of the menu because I knew it was a place I wanted to blog about, and I am already really excited to try some of the food on the menu. It isn't hugely clear but I am so excited to try the Marinated chicken skewers with cous cous (I love you couscous!)



I have to be honest now (unfortunately) and say that a diet coke cost me £2.50 which was a bit expensive in my opinion considering how much cheap you can get them elsewhere in the pubs around Canterbury. This is the only drawback to the beautiful Boho cafe, because there was definitely a "fine ambiance" as the menu says!



I had a lovely time with Steffy and the Mona Lisa at the Boho cafe! I think, due to the price, I will be back, but only once my student loan has graced me with its presence for now!

Have you ever been to the Boho cafe in Canterbury? Tell me what you thought of it...
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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Holiday Review | Tisalaya Park in Maspalomas

I'm going to shock you all by saying that I got a weeks holiday in Gran Canaria, in a 3* hotel with flights and transfers for £147. My friend Emily and I worked out that this was around £7.10 per night for the hotel itself which I am personally still in shock about. I felt like I had to review this hotel because for the price it was amazing. It was basic, but it had everything we needed for a relaxing week away after a hectic term at Uni! 

 We booked the Tisalaya Park hotel with teletext holidays. We were lucky enough to get a ground floor apartment very close to the pool, and we got sunbeds every day which is a massive plus for me as I am a massive lover of the sunshine! 




It was quite sunny most of the holiday, although we did have a few cloudy mornings but this meant that we could head to the beach or relax with our kindles which was perfect. Another really fantastic thing about the hotel was that they changed our towels regularly, and on every day except Sunday, the cleaner came round to clean our villa which I think was amazing considering the price we paid for our stay. We were so impressed because we really didn't know what to expect.

Our apartment had a living area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and was quite spacious for just the two of us! It was really relaxed there and we just spent the week reading and relaxing. There was a spar literally a 5 -10 minute walk away which was perfect as we aimed to eat in as much as possible and the hotel also offered a free bus service to the beach which we caught from the end of the road! 





 There was also a restaurant in the hotel, and we ate there for lunch one day. We only had chips but they were really nice and not too expensive for the price we paid! Another thing we paid for was wifi so we could keep in touch with our families. It was 27 euros for two devices for a week. It was fairly cheap for the access, however in our villa it was a little temperamental. There was also the option to rent the telly for the week, although we declined doing this as we knew we would be too busy tanning and relaxing! 

We both had such a lovely week and I really would recommend this hotel if you are looking for an affordable and relaxing week away. Although the pool got a little loud at times, which is bound to happen when you stay in a hotel, it was still really nice to just sit in the sunshine and soak up some sun after a busy term. 




 Have you ever been to Gran Canaria? Have you ever booked a holiday with teletext?



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Friday, 20 June 2014

Around The World

After looking at different items of clothing I have got in foreign countries, I have decided to do a post about them! I find it so interesting how different countries have such different styles, but you can always mix and match beautiful pieces from different cultures. The first piece I will be looking at are my Turkish trousers. I have been to a small town called Davutlar, near Kusadasi in Turkey twice now and I’m going again this summer! I love it there, and on Sundays they have a really cute little market which me and my family love to visit. Last year I found this amazing pair of black and white patterned trousers which were perfect for the hot temperatures there as they were baggy and cool but look amazing with a plain black camisole.

I apologise in advance that these aren't the best photos but I promise I will try to improve these skills in future blog posts!!!


I think these trousers only cost me 10TL, which is roughly £3! They are amazing, unfortunately they shrank a little length wise in the wash but I can usually make them longer if I iron them! My little sister got a pair too after realising what a bargain they were...

Another buy in Turkey would be some of the scarfs I have managed to get from the markets. They are amazing! Both years I have come back with about 5 and I always get complimented on them because they are such unique designs but they are so gorgeous. I think they might actually be used for headscarfs as many Turkish women wear these, but they work just as well for a pretty summer scarf, or a scarf to dress up an outfit in the winter. 





Turkey has also blessed me with these gorgeous sandals. They are so cute, and I think only cost me about £8! They aren't the easiest to walk in at times because they can slip off quite easily, but they are just too beautiful for me to not wear. I love them! 





On the topic of sandals, I have also got these white sandals from a visit to Madrid, although they are typically Majorcan (I used to have a gold pair when I was about 7 and I swear I still lust after a copy of them!). These are so comfortable and are the perfect summer shoe - especially for the UK. You can wear them with jeans when its pouring with rain, or with pretty much any summer outfit. They are getting a bit old now, and I must admit I have my eye on a gold sparkly pair from office. Spare £50 anyone? 





These gorgeous necklaces are brought from a hippie fair in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. I can't remember how much they cost me as they are four years old but they were just too pretty not to share with you all! 









I love buying clothes and accessories from different countries! It always adds something a little bit different/unique to my wardrobe! I'm hoping to pick up some more bits to add over my trips this summer!

 Do you often find bargains buys in foreign countries? What has your favourite purchase from abroad been?
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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Port Lympne

For my boyfriend’s 21st I decided to take him to Port Lympne; a place near Hythe, Kent, where you can go on Safari and stay overnight in African style tents! I was really nervous because he loves animals and I wanted to make sure that it was going to be realistic enough for him to enjoy! Luckily, it was incredible. We arrived, checked in and got free champagne, which is always a bonus…There were about 15 people overall in our group, and we set off on Safari style trucks (this was a personal highlight, they were so cool!).


Excuse the blurry photos, our cameras are so grainy!

 On the first safari, we saw so many different animals such as Rhinos, Antelope and Zebras. I found it really nice to be able to see these animals roaming around in such a large space, it was really obvious that they were well looked after. They were acting just like it was their natural habitat, we even saw some of them fighting just like they would in the wild. It was so cool to be so close to the animals, but we knew that we were safe in the mammoth truck; I really felt like I was in Africa. This safari lasted for roughly an hour which both my Dan and I really enjoyed. I was so pleased that it lived up to his expectations (even though this had been a surprise!). We then arrived at the tents we were going to stay in for the night. They were so authentic, and we looked right out on the watering hole… It was absolutely incredible. Our tent was called the Zebra tent and we had about an hour to settle in and watch the sunset before we headed down to the Laapa (a communal room) for our three course African style meal!








 Once arriving at the Laapa, we ordered some drinks (these weren’t included in the price) and began chatting to some of the other people who were on the trip as well! Before long, it was time for dinner…which was being cooked right in front of our eyes on a massive Barbeque in the middle of the room. There was such a big range of food to choose from, and I had the “Famous African Boerewors Sausage” for my starter and then peri peri chicken with couscous and salad for my main which was so delicious! I was so full that I couldn’t even manage a dessert. As it was my boyfriend’s birthday, the staff brought him out a tiny little chocolate cake with a candle! Although he was full too, he couldn’t say no to his own tiny birthday cake, African style. Once dinner was over, we listened to stories from the rangers; about travelling to Africa to see beautiful animals and their work at Port Lympne. It was such a lovely end to the evening, but we had to go to bed because we had such an early start (well, for us students anyway!) for the second safari.



 The morning safari was probably my favourite out of the two because we got to see Giraffes! We got so close to them, I was actually getting a little bit scared. However, it was absolutely incredible to see them so closely. We saw the elephants again, and other animals as well. After the safari finished, we were able to have a look around the rest of the park.

Port Lympne was actually massive, so we were able to have a good look round the rest of the park as our safari finish at around 11 o clock. The African Experience section on the map was where we had previously been on the safari, so you can see that we still had a lot of exploring left to do.

 We started walking around the park, and it was amazing to see so many beautiful animals. I especially liked seeing the Cheetah in the park, and the Lynx were absolutely stunning. The monkeys were cheeky and it was weird to see them so relaxed as in Zoo’s it can sometimes seem quite forced. After exploring the rest of the park we headed over to Howlett’s park (the sister park of Port Lympne, which is about 20 minutes away from Port Lympne) as this was included in our tickets! We saw more incredible animals, including a Snow Leopold, which my boyfriend was incredibly excited about as he has never seen one before but has always wanted to.

 We both had an incredible time at our overnight safari and would definitely recommend anyone to go! Have you ever been on a Safari? Would you ever be interested in going on one?


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