Wanderlust

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Sometimes I wake up craving to feel sand under my feet, to print my footsteps where they have never appeared before and let my heart wander the unexplored.

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Madrid

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I had a 4 day city-break in Madrid, there’s a lot to do and its a really beautiful city.  Madrid is known as the political, economic and cultural centre of Spain. It felt like a cross between London and Barcelona, lots of great architecture, museums, theatres, palaces, shopping districts, parks and food.

The Mercado de San Miguel was our favourite spot to eat, it was a beautiful market full of all kinds of fresh food and it had a really lively atmosphere. We also ventured to the Mercado de San Anton which was off the tourist trail and a beautiful renovated market however it was quiet and food didn’t look as fresh because it sat there most of the day. I think its best to go there on the weekends as it was really a beautiful market but lacked atmosphere.

Plaza Mayor has a great selection of Tapas restaurants, its a place full of character with quaint cobbled streets, statues and retro style street-lights with beautiful buildings. Street performers are scattered all over Madrid, drawing crowds and creating a really nice atmosphere in the evenings. We stayed in Puerta Del Sol which is a really great location, everything is within walking distance and at night plenty of shows go on in the square.

We walked to the Prado Museum and Parque del Buen Retiro , the park is definitely worth having a stroll around and maybe a boat ride, was 40 degrees when we went so we skipped that. The Prado houses the greatest collection of Spanish Art dating back to the 12th Century. I loved the works of Hieronymus Bosch, his pieces depict a deep insight into man’s desires and deepest fears and you really need to take a seat and the time to analyse because his paintings unveil so many different topics in one piece, his pictures definitely paint more then a thousand words. I feel he was an artist very much ahead of his time, he used art the way Shakespeare used theatre, to comment on the human psyche, society and behaviour.  My favourite piece from him is The Garden of Earthly Delights: 1024px-The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_by_Bosch_High_Resolution

We checked out the night-life in Madrid too, Ten Con Ten is a great bar but don’t eat there, the food was awful however the atmosphere in the bar area is nice. We headed out to Opium from there, it was a little pretentious but a really nice club, felt like we were in Dubai, we made the most of it and danced the night away. It was a really great city, most things were really cheap and shopping is definitely cheaper then London or Dubai. I thought four days was a good amount of time to see all the main hotspots and would highly recommend a city-break in Madrid.

The Cove Rotana

I spent an amazing day at The Cove Rotana in Ras Al Khaimah, it was blissful! Each villa has its own pool and the resort has bigger shared pools as well, the infinity pool was stunning and the backdrop of the Arabian Gulf was just divine. Walking around the resort, you feel as though you are in a Spanish or Italian Town on the seaside. You walk through the cobbled streets lined with villas to get to the restaurants, swimming pools or to make your way to the beach. A lot cheaper then 5 star beach resorts in Dubai and I also thought it was nicer than most of them! I would highly recommend a stay there if you are in RAK! Here are some snaps:

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Chachapoyas

This blog post also appears on the Academia Superior de Idiomas’ blog

I woke up feeling like we were about to fly of the mountain. The driver was going around 80 kmph going round really steep bends that were 7000ft high in the mountains. I pulled back my curtain to see where we were but we were in the clouds and visibility was low. That scared me even more because I knew the driver couldn’t see either and we were on a double decker bus which literally felt like it was about to fall sideways. We were on a 10 hour overnight bus ride to Chachapoyas. We had heard stories of how exhausting the treks we had planned to do were so we all knew we should try and get some sleep but my heart was pounding for the next two hours.

We reached our cute little Hostal Ñuñurco, just 4 blocks from the centre of town which was nestled in the majestic mountains. We began our 2 and a half hour drive to Kuelap, it was nerve-racking at times because of the narrow winding roads on the mountain edge and the inability to see oncoming traffic around the corners, but we made it.

Kuelap is a fortress 3000 metres above sea level which contains the ruins of more then 400 Chachapoya structures, some were homes and others were mass graves. The fortress walls also served as cemeteries where more then a 100 bodies were buried. Other pits contained animal and human bones which are thought to be sacrifices. One structure was an ancient compass…I know this because I sat on it thinking it was a pile of rocks and was immediately told to get up.

The panoramic views were beautiful and it was still a pretty quiet site not overwhelmed by tourists. It is known as the Machu Pichu of the South and is still relatively untouched. As recently as 2010 70 bodies were excavated and while we were there an investigation was going on into a new body which was discovered.

On the way back we stopped at a lady’s house who was cooking us lunch, we had the option to sample the local delicacy…guinea pig, I opted out as it looked like a rat on a plate but others in the group enjoyed it.

We went out that night to an artsy little bar called La Reina and slept for a few hours before our trek to Gocta, the 5th tallest waterfall in the world. I had never horse ridden before but as it was an option I thought it would be fun. I wasn’t really prepared for the lack of handles, the steep slopes and uphill climbs, nor the horse intrepidly walking along the cliff edge but I suppose it added to the fun. One member of our group got a crazy horse, she decided to get off and not a minute too late as he literally went buck-wild charging towards us neighing and bucking. I talked to my horse Pisco the whole way after that, telling him to be a good boy and to try not to throw me off his back and it worked because I made it back in one piece.

The waterfall was breathtaking, it really was beautiful and worth the 6km trail there.

If you’re in Peru, I would highly recommend a trip to Chachapoyas, I wish we had stayed longer to enjoy the town more. There’s a really cute restaurant called Terra Mia which had amazing waffle breakfasts and delicious freshly made sandwiches which we took for our hike. You can try the best Pollo a la Brasa (rotisserie chicken) for just 5 soles (£1) including fries, a salad and a juice located in the hostel Rumi Huasi. Their service was really fast which is unheard of in Peru and was perfect before we got our bus home.

Until the next adventure,

Ciao! xx

South Of France

Hello World!!

In July 2012 I went to the South of France to visit my friend Charlotte and it was incredible so this is my “France Blog”. I can’t believe I only met Charlotte 3 months before, sometimes you meet people and you feel you have known them forever. She left London and asked me to come visit her so I did…like a week after she left hahaha. I arrived in France not knowing what to expect other than great weather and a beautiful place. After meeting her family I knew I was going to have a great time, they were such warm people, full of enthusiasm and so hospitable. They went out of their way to make everything perfect for me, kitchen stocked with all the typical French food, three course dinners every-day, live music :p, they wanted me to have a real taste of France and it was delicious! They even gave me my own floor of their house, no hotel could ever compare to the hospitality I received despite the fact that I was a stranger in their home. I explained to Charlottes mum that she didn’t need to go out of her way for me and she told me it was her pleasure and the thing is I could feel their enthusiasm every-time they explained things to me, showed me new places and watched me try all these new things. People like that who get fulfilment from giving someone else pleasure are like gold-dust and despite the beauty of France and my amazing experiences, meeting them was by far the best part.

Charlotte had wonderful things planned for me every-day!  On my first day we went to Toulon, I loved the little cobbled streets and squares filled with people dining Al Fresco, I loved that there were ports and beaches everywhere and being surrounded by water just filled the air with a sense of tranquillity. We then took a boat to the beach in Sablettes to meet Brenda who lives there but was here in England for two months with Charlotte so was nice seeing her in her home town! Charlottes mum has powers by the way, shes an extremely lucky person and when she feels lucky she knows so she decided to take us to the Casino that night where she came home with 800 euros lol. It was like being in James Bond!

The next day we went to Sanary – my favourite seaside town, It was so quaint and colourful and I could have walked around there all day but we had a cruise to catch! We spent the day on a boat cruising the South coast of France (Marseilles, Calanques, Cassis etc) It was so scenic, we saw all the beautiful beaches as the boat cruised the coastline.
We spent Saturday in Aix en Provence, my first glimpse of a City there, it was also beautiful and the hours drive there was filled with mountainous landscapes with the backdrop of the beautiful blue sea. Aix was a shoppers paradise J Not only was it beautiful, scattered with ancient landmarks and fountains but it also had endless rows of shops J We stopped for lunch in one of the squares, I watched Charlotte devour her Steak Tartare..i’m not gonna lie I felt sick hahaha.  A raw pile of mince meat with an egg yolk sitting on top of it and she thought I WAS WEIRD for not wanting to try it.
Sunday was definitely a highlight; we went to L’Estagnol beach which was breathtaking! The clear blue water was filled with glitter, It was actual flakes of gold and when you came out of the sea you were covered in glitter, it was amazing, I felt like a Princess  haha.
That night we went to an amazing restaurant on the beach, as we watched the Sunset we ate the most divine food, I can’t tell you how much better the food is there, everything is fresh and the fruit and veg has so much more flavour. I remember not enjoying the food in Paris but all I did in the South was EAT! The next day Charlottes boyfriend Will took us to a beautiful Medieval village and we ate Crepes..mmmmmmmmmm. The village (like everywhere else in the South) had beautiful viewpoints where you could sit and take in the scenery for hours.
The weather was perfect, the food was divine, the landscape was breathtaking and the people were beautiful, I couldn’t have asked for a better break J I highly recommend a holiday to the South of France!

Lots of Love xoxo