Black Friday Discount Codes

Black_Friday_Shopping_lines

There are many things I am thankful to Americans for…actually they’re mostly food (mmm Reeses Peanut butter cups) but the thing I am most thankful for is BLACK FRIDAY! I think we should adopt every sale holiday from around the world actually!

If you don’t know Black Friday is the American equivalent of boxing day sales. Sales are on for 1 or 2 days in most places and here are the discount codes you need so that you can begin shopping online NOW ūüôā

BooHoo
30% off and free delivery
No code
Starts on Friday, ends on Monday

Missguided
20% off
CODE: CYBER20
Starts Thursday, ends Monday

AllSaints
20% off
CODE: CYBER
Starts Friday, ends Monday

ASOS
20% off
CODE: CYBERWKND20
Starts Friday, ends Tuesday

River Island
20% off everything from 11am-3pm on Friday
CODE: TREAT28

French Connection
30% off
CODE: 30FCBF
Starts today, ends Friday
40% off
CODE: FC40B
Starts Friday, ends Monday

Gap
50% off
CODE: BLKFRIDAY
Starts Thursday, ends Friday

Topshop
Up to 50% off selected lines
Starts Thursday, ends Monday

Urban Outfitters
Up to 50% off
CODE: BFDELIVERY
Friday only
Whistles
30% off everything
No code
Starts Friday

And I saved the best for last! You can get 20% off Kurt Geiger with the code F&FKG20

Happy Shopping!

Zohra ūüôā x

Guayaquil

My first stop in Ecuador was Guayaquil, I had heard that it wasn’t worth going there and that it was really dangerous but I actually thought it was a really nice city. I hadn’t really planned any of my trip, I just had a hit-list of places I wanted to see which meant that I had nowhere to stay in Guayaquil. I walked around with my backpack in the heat wandering from hostel to hostel completely shocked by the prices they were quoting me. Simple rooms were anywhere between $50 to $150 and the cheapest dorm I could find was $20 and it was horrible. As I walked around I saw a cute looking place called Manso Boutique Hostel¬†and it was the one. They had dorm space and it was right on the malecon and very chic so that was to be my home for the night.

I walked down the Malecon and then went to explore the markets, the markets didn’t feel very safe, I could feel a lot of eyes on me and decided not to go to deep inside. I headed back to the hostel after a few hours and I met a girl who had just moved into my dorm. We went for dinner and then decided to walk up the malecon to the lighthouse in¬†Cerro Santa Ana.

We took the 444 stairs up and through Santa Ana, I found the juxtaposition of this place crazy but something that I was growing accustomed to. The rich and poor divide is very apparent in South America and this was a perfect example of how one small hill was inhabited by two different worlds. It was actually a slum that had been transformed into a prime tourist location with bars and souvenir shops located at every level. On the other side of the hill lived many people in what was still a slum, a place so dangerous taxi drivers refused to take you there but only a few hundred metres away. The views of Guayaquil were breathtaking and I enjoyed snapping away for a while. Then we headed back and heard some live music so popped into a bar to watch.

The next day I went to see the famous Cathedral, it was very ornate and grand and outside was a park where HUGE land iguanas roamed freely! I wandered around and came to a park, somebody came and warned me to hide my SLR, all kinds of shady characters sat around me on benches. I thought I should head back and so made my way to the main street, I loved taking pictures of all the colonial buildings. Guayaquil was very Americanised, it had a lot of franchises and I saw a lot of tourists. I found it very expensive and had seen everything I wanted to see so I went back to the hostel to plan my next location. I had decided on Cuenca!

Guatape, A Colourful Paradise

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Colombia was the¬†first trip that I did without any research or preparation but I had a plan. I just jotted down¬†recommendations from people and facebook pictures of places I thought looked nice. I felt very unprepared, I didn’t even have a guide book, usually on the way to somewhere I would read about it but this time I was going in blind. It was actually a very exciting way to travel, just knowing that I would probably like the place but having no idea whether it was historical, cultural, touristy, dangerous, good for night-life or good for hiking.

On the way to Guatape I knew it had a massive rock that you can climb and that it looked beautiful and was surrounded by water. I knew I wanted to climb the rock and try and find a boat to take me for a little cruise around and everything else would be a surprise. The bus drops you to the bottom of a hill on which stands the gigantic rock, scattered around are the most vibrant Motos (tuk-tuk/Rickshaws) I have ever seen and trust me, India has some colourful ones so they were pretty epic. I looked at the rock standing over 200m high and thought it will be exhausting climbing those 649 steps to the top so the moto taxi till the bottom of the rock would be a good idea to conserve my energy. It ended up being slightly faster then walking as at some points it felt like it was going to start going backwards but we got there in the end.

The way the rock was formed was incredible, it had a crack through the middle in which they had built stairs. You could see it from miles away, it stood higher then any of the mountains around and the landscape was stunning. The walk up the rock took about 20 minutes, I stopped every few minutes to catch my breath and admire the incredible views. There were so many tiny islands around us, I had never seen anything like it, it was gorgeous and the higher you climbed the better the views, the islands continued for as far as I could see and nestled in the centre of the islands were some very colourful buildingst. When I got to the top of the rock I was exhausted, they had built a viewing deck on top of a turret with a further 100 stairs or so. I walked around the top to admire the different views on every side and then proceeded to climb the final 100. It was gorgeous up there, I could have literally stood there for hours. There was a gift shop and restaurant up there and we sat and had some ice-cream before climbing back down.

The moto driver was still there, he asked us if we wanted to go to the town and pointed to the colourful buildings I had seen earlier. The drive there was bumpy but beautiful, the picturesque landscape continued and as we got closer the town came into view and it was so bright and colourful. As we stepped out I couldn’t stop taking pictures, the buildings were all different colours and the walls were adorned with paintings and colourful wood panels. The motos did not stand out in that town, they just blended in. They even painted the ceilings of their motos! We wandered around the quaint streets and then headed for the waterfront to find somewhere to eat. We had a great meal with a wonderful view and then I began the hunt for someone to take us on a boat ride. After bargaining for ages we found a guy to take us on his speedboat for half an hour, it was pricey and if you have more time I would recommend waiting for the big ferry tours. It was a beautiful ride and even from miles away you could see the huge rock. I could have spent longer in Guatape, it was so colourful and cute and it just made me happy! From the boat you could see the islands had huge mansions on them and our driver showed us some cottages that you could rent for holidays, I would love to stay there for a few days. There were many water-sports on offer and it was just serene and a wonderful place to unwind. I hope one day I get to go back to Guatape ūüôā

Medellin, A Story of Hope

DSC_0147My first two weeks in Colombia were not very culturally rich, most days consisted of chilling in hammocks, by pools or beaches and most nights were spent checking out the night-life. In fact I think the most cultural thing I had done until Medellin was to go on a party bus which played typical Colombian music and attracted a South American crowd. So far Colombia had been a pleasant surprise because in the Western world we are only fed negative stories and are painted a picture of a very unstable, unsafe country. We tend to associate Colombia with cocaine and the infamous King Of Cocaine, Pablo Escobar. We are generally told one side of his story, the one where he is portrayed as a Robin Hood character, the best way to hear the other side of the story was to go to his home-town of Medellin where he took his first steps on his criminal career ladder as an alleged grave-stone robber. Here he climbed the ladder to a thief, kidnapper, drug cartel and mass murderer.

pablo
Pablo Escobar

My first night at the hostel, I asked some Colombians what they thought of Escobar, whether he did help his people or whether they felt he had ruined their country, one wasn’t bothered and the other completely flipped out saying not to speak about him around her as she didn’t want to hear his name. This strong reaction was the more common one, most people hated him and hated that tourists gave him such importance. They felt he had ruined them and caused years of suppression and war and hated that Colombia was associated with him.

I went on a walking tour of Medellin which I would highly recommend, you can book it HERE, this further solidified that this view was the more popular one. Our tour-guide began his introduction by saying he knew a number of us would want to ask about Pablo Escobar but to please refer to him as “the famous criminal” as it would cause problems if passers-by heard us saying his name. He explained that it was obvious that we were tourists and if he was heard telling a bunch of gringos¬†about Escobar, they would assume he was glorifying his name and associating Colombia with him thereby giving him¬†importance he didn’t deserve as the country had a lot more to offer.

Parque de las luces symbolising Hope

Parque de las luces symbolising Hope

We went to the Parque de las luces (Park of Lights). As we stood there, our guide explained that just 15 years ago that square was like hell on earth. He said his mother would be afraid of sending him to school as he had to walk through it and bombs would blast or people would be kidnapped or mugged. He said that Medellin was the worst city in the world, that people lived in terror and were afraid to leave their homes. As his story progressed to the present day, he beamed with pride as he described the transformation that had taken place. How the lights in this square represented hope for the people of Medellin and how a building that was previously a refuge for drug addicts had been transformed into a library as Medellin wanted to forget its tumultuous past and promote hope and education to inspire the next generation to be better. Forbes Magazine recently voted Medellin as the most innovative city in the whole world!

First Train Network in Colombia

First Train Network in Colombia

We travelled by¬†train there, this was incredible as it was the only city to have a train network in Colombia and it was a good one. Trains were regular and simple to get and it symbolised modernisation and moving forward. I was fascinated that they had escalators in the slums, they felt people already living a hard life shouldn’t have to struggle, that after they had finished a days work, they shouldn’t have to climb up hills for hours to get to their houses and wanted to make their lives easier so they installed escalators. The poor areas were the first to be invested in as these were where people really needed to feel cared for and to realise that they mattered too. They then installed cable cars which went through the slums allowing people to get to their houses safely without having to walk for hours through dangerous areas at night. I went on these cable cars and found it so amazing that the poorest region¬†had the slickest transport system! Our guide had told us that you will never find people eating, doing graffiti or scratching windows on public transport as it was something that they were incredibly proud of. It put London to shame as I looked around and realised despite being almost 20 years old it was immaculate.

Incredible Views

Incredible Views

The views were beautiful although we were riding over slums, the backdrop was green mountains and the cityscape. One of the routes takes you over the mountains to a beautiful national park, Parque Arvi. We did a quick walking tour and our guide showed us various species of plants as we walked through the forest.

Botero donated many sculptures to the city to add value and make Medellin even more beautiful. I was touched by the story of how one of his sculptures of a bird was blown up at a concert, killing and injuring many. The council wanted to remove the sculpture but he insisted its remains were kept on display as a reminder of lives lost and Colombia’s terrible past. He made a new sculpture of a bird standing proud with a puffed up chest which he placed next to it, this symbolised the present, a transformation that Colombians can be proud of.

Symbolising the new and old Medellin

Symbolising the new and old Medellin

Colombians are some of the friendliest people I have ever met, they¬†want to show you around and tell you all the best places to see as tourism is something new for them. They finally have a country that isn’t hostile and they are so proud to be able to share it and will take time out of their day to ensure that you have a good experience without wanting anything in return which is something that made Colombia a rare and beautiful experience for me.

A friend of mine also blogged her experiences of Medellin, you can check that out here

Save These Dogs From A Cruel Death

I just watched this video about how stray dogs are smuggled and killed¬†in Thailand and it’s so sad!

You have to be pretty emotionally dead not to want to do something to help these poor dogs who get treated worse then battery farm chickens, they’re crammed into tiny cages and then killed for their meat in horrific ways. It’s really easy to make a contribution, you can simply sign a petition HERE¬†to influence the government in Thailand and you can also pay to buy billboards to make the Thai public aware of what is happening, you will get this option after signing the petition.

I hope you take a few seconds of your time to try and make a difference!

Lots of love

Zohra x