Hvar Island, Croatia —

Dear Diary, I am on the beautiful island of Hvar, I got the catamaran here from Split, it takes about an hour. It’s a yachties paradise and a party animals kryptonite, this island does not sleep. Not only is it famed for the night life and beach parties, it also has some of the most beautiful […]

via Hvar Island, Croatia —

Call It Spring Yacht Party

Call It Spring is one of my favourite shoe shops, affordable, trendy and most importantly comfortable!! Their new collection was my favourite one yet and it was unveiled in the most amazing setting. We were aboard a beautiful yacht in Dubai Marina and as we sailed into the sunset we got to walk around and look at the wonderful displays. The collaborative collection with Mike Perry was so colourful and perfect for Spring. Some of my favourite pieces from the SS15 collection included the knee length Gladiator sandals and of course the amazing rucksack with fringing and a multicoloured eagle embellishment (Pictured above)-can’t wait to get my hands on that bag! It reminds me of something Peruvian given a rockstar makeover and Its such a wearable, versatile piece.

Lets talk about the party, I arrived on the yacht to be greeted by paparazzi happy snapping away and soon the yacht was full with Dubai’s glitterati, the DJ was on deck playing smooth R&B grooves and as the sun went down everybody got up on the dance floor and there was some amazing dance-offs! Some professional dancers also performed for us and I also got my groove on for a bit. It was a really nice opportunity to get to know the other bloggers a bit better, most of the time you come to an event, get your info and pics, see whoever is there while you are, and leave but this one was nice because you got to mingle, all the bloggers and brand managers were there and being on a yacht…nobody could leave haha. I don’t think anybody wanted to, my only criticism was that it ended too soon, I think we all had a wonderful time and wanted to party longer. For me it was one of the best collection launches I have attended in my four years of blogging, I can’t wait for the next one!

A Jam-packed January

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I can’t believe January is already over! My memories of travelling are slipping further and further away and I am getting back into the swing of life in Dubai. I still have many travel stories to write and hope I will find the time this month. Although I am embracing being back in Dubai I am missing South America a lot. I am grateful for January’s array of events and being able to catch up with old friends as well as meeting many new people. I also had my grandma in town so it was nice to spend time with her, she loves flowers so I took her to Dubai’s miracle gardens which was lovely! There are lots of new venues opening up and it was a great but busy month here are my highlights:

New Years fireworks in Dubai are always fantastic but this year they outdid themselves by placing the worlds largest LED screen on the Burj Khalifa, they had a wonderful light show combined with the fireworks, the lightshow remained on until January the 8th. I booked a table on the balcony at the Rivington Grill in Souk al Bahar so that I could have a delicious dinner accompanied by a fantastic show:

I was happy to be back in the sunshine so enjoyed Market OTB which was a daytime event in Southridge park. Another nice family day out was Dubai’s Miracle Gardens, It takes about an hour and a half to see it all with stopping for pictures and they have little restaurants and cafés. The flowers are all the same but beautiful nonetheless and its incredible how they have made monuments out of them such as the Burj Khalifa, beautiful peacocks, houses and cars.

Theres a fantastic new restaurant in town called Tribeca Kitchen & Grill in JA Oceanview hotel in JBR. It was a really cool venue, huge and artsy and had a real cool loungy feel. They provide a platform for local entertainment – I loved the band they had for the launch. They have healthy and organic food, I tried a couple of the salads…they were ok, the cheesecake was pretty good. Will have to go back and sample some of the food, it serves Mediterranean and American contemporary cuisine. I think its definitely got a great vibe and is a nice place to hang out, it fills a gap in the market with it being a lounge that is also a creative space, it felt unpretentious despite the launch crowd which was full of Dubai’s socialites.

Another great restaurant that has opened up is the Delphine Restaurant at the H hotel. It has a chic art deco inspired venue with marble floors and crystals fringing the bar. The original restaurant is a popular celebrity haunt in West Hollywood, California. It certainly was a fine dining experience, the service was perfect and the food was delicious, I enjoyed everything…even a raw meat “kibbeh” dish which I was apprehensive to try. Afterwards we headed up to the 40th floor to check out 40 Kong, it is a beautiful venue but was very crowded as anticipated. I think its somewhere you can fully enjoy with a table reservation.

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40 Kong

It was V-Cloud’s one year anniversary party,  V-Cloud offers a world of unique opportunities, refined tastes and unparalleled exclusivity. It is a one of its kind rewards and privileges program designed to enhance your experience in the lap of luxury. We had a wonderful night at their lavish birthday party.

My most anticipated event was the Latin American festival, it was the first of its kind in Dubai and I was really excited to see what it would be like. I think they underestimated the turnout as it was jam packed but it was a really fun event. It was in an alley in Al Quoz, the street was lined with stalls selling Art, South American food and there were crowds around the salsa dancers who were performing. I picked up a few trinkets and was happy to practice my Spanish. I hope they have more events like that, it was a great night!

Carnival in Cajamarca

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  This blog post also appears on the Academia Superior de Idiomas’ blog I spent one of the best weekends of my life celebrating the carnival in Cajamarca. I heard about it when I arrived in Peru, it takes place throughout Feb but the main celebrations take place during the first weekend of March. If you don’t mind getting completely soaked, the celebrations are not to be missed. I thought I was prepared, armed with my water pistol, but after getting hit by a water balloon I realised I was going to lose this fight as I ran away from a guy who was trying to pour an entire bucket of water over me. Locals here are intrigued by tourists and often ask to take pictures with you, this happened right after one of them threw a water balloon at us but I took the opportunity to make friends. Its always nice to have locals in your circle, firstly they are generally really nice people, secondly you get exempt from “gringo tax” and thirdly had we not met them we wouldn’t have known about a lot of the things that were going on. They were also better prepared with bags of water balloons, and as they lived nearby they kept going home to get refills. We had formed an alliance and literally had a war against the entire square. It was so much fun, it ended with a downpour of rain which I danced in, firstly I missed the rain and secondly…nothing beats dancing in the rain 🙂

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Throughout Peru every town and city has a small park in the centre and by 10am it was  full of revellers. Some people woke up in the square from the previous nights festivities. Groups of friends gather with their drums and all play the same beat and sing the same song but somehow nobody gets tired of it! You can spot Llamas dressed to the nines wondering around the square and you should constantly expect to be thrown water at. wpid-IMAG1594_1.jpgwpid-IMAG1533.jpgwpid-IMG_24387019115418.jpeg Their is a daily parade and then the final Monday is the main parade which went on for hours and included huge floats. wpid-IMAG1563.jpgwpid-IMAG1546.jpgwpid-IMAG1497.jpg Although Peruvians travel far and wide to attend the carnival, spotting tourists is rare and it’s a very authentic experience that you can really immerse yourself in. We stayed at a good hostel, Hospedaje Jesús Trabajador Manthoc, it was centrally located so we could walk everywhere. They are one of the few hostels not to triple their prices during carnival, they also let us check out of our rooms at 10pm, gave 8 of us a 16 people dorm and didn’t charge us extra. It was clean with basic facilities…I wouldn’t plan on staying their longer then a weekend but for it was perfect for a short time. It was such a beautiful city and I missed out on a lot of the highlights such as the famous hot springs so I will be going back their before I leave! Toodles for now x

Miami

I was really excited to get to Miami, the 10 hour flight just dragged! I had heard so much about the beautiful beaches, seen the boardwalk in lots of music videos and of course people always raved about the crazy nightlife. I decided to stay at Miami Hostel on South Beach, I think hostels are always best when travelling alone as it’s easy to meet people. I got there at 10pm and got chatting to some guests from Denmark, they told me they were going to LIV club which was on my list so I was easily persuaded to join them. 10 minutes later the party bus came to pick us up, it was empty when we got on but by the third stop it was rammed, everyone was dancing, a Korean guy entertained us with his dance moves and constant falling on the floor. We got to LIV at fontaine bleu, it was a pretty nice hotel and the club was huge but nothing spectacular. The music was really good, they threw all these giant balls into the crowd which was fun for a moment and then crazy amounts of confetti but it wasn’t anything amazing. The way people raved about it I thought it would be like some of the clubs I’ve seen in Cancun with acrobats hanging from the ceilings, waterfalls in the club, dance-floors in the middle of the sea that move to the beat so you don’t even have to dance. This club was pretty normal and it was way over capacity…so a good night but really LIV is just hype.

On my last night I asked a local girl if she knows a good local spot that wasn’t as commercial and she took us to Purdy’s which was so much better! It had great music and a really decent crowd compared to all the rowdy tourists that were everywhere else plus it was really affordable and just a had a good vibe. A bunch of us were leaving from the hostel so we all went together and it was an amazing last night in Miami.

So the next day I wanted to go walk around South Beach or SoBe as its known. We walked around Lincoln road which was my kind of place, lots of al fresco dining, great boutiques, a few random shops, we went to this book store with amazing artsy books and some were 4ft tall. We went to the 8th floor of a car park and you could literally see all of South Beach and as far as downtown, some amazing beach and city views (highly recommend it if you want to appreciate Miami from where all us tourists don’t get in the way and you also get great photos). I was amazed to find a boutique up there, apparently this random shop in a car park was a celebrity haunt, it was called Alchemist.

We walked along the beach, it was cold, my first day it dropped to eight degrees Celsius which was the same weather as London except I only had summer clothes so I was literally freezing. The Miami breeze is pretty cold, take something warm with you just in case! I went to see the Versace Mansion, I would have loved to go in but it’s been sold and is no longer open to the public. Anyways, I had planned to visit an amazing house the next day!

Day two I went to Vizcaya which is a mansion built by James Deering in the nineteenth Century. It introduces visitors to a subtropical hammock with its 34 decorated rooms reflecting a variety of periods and styles. Getting to the mansion requires you to walk through a nature trail, the house is nestled on 10 acres of beautiful gardens and I enjoyed every single one. The Barge on Biscayne Bay was my highlight but I also really enjoyed the gardens. The house itself was enjoyable really only because of my overactive imagination that visualised what the Deering’s would do in each room, I looked at this unusual mesh of French, Italian and various other European and American artefacts and imagined how Deering lived there, entertaining guests and receiving gifts from other wealthy people all around the world. It’s such a mish-mash of periods but I guess when you read about it you realize why and there is plenty of information all over the house, I was fine without a guide or guide book. I also had the best food there, a panko crusted mahi mahi in bread served with a broccoli salad tossed in a tropical dressing with cranberries and peanuts…mmm.

I was told by everyone at the hostel not to try and go there alone as it takes two hours, various modes of transport and Miami transport is apparently unreliable…don’t listen to people when they tell you that. Locals in Miami pretty much all have cars and they are extremely unknowledgeable when it comes to getting around without one, in fact the hostel manager told me if I don’t get a car I will struggle to see anything. Google maps was a really helpful tool, look up where you want to go and it will give you all the info. I changed from a bus to a metro-mover to a train and it was really simple and took forty minutes not two hours as they thought.

Day three was beautiful weather so I went to a few art galleries, Peter Lik is one of my favourite photographers so was in his store/gallery on Lincoln for ages looking at his amazing photographs. He takes pictures of beautiful natural landscapes and you just get lost in his photos, its free and great to check out. They had an art deco festival and market along the beach for the weekend, miles of stalls and (expensive) street food… I bought some and realised I could have eaten at a really nice restaurant for the same price plus it’s not authentic because there are chains of these food carts all selling the same thing. Anyways I took my food to the beach and soaked up the sunshine for a few hours.

I realised Miami wasn’t really my kind of place, I loved my four days there but it was definitely not somewhere that left me wanting to stay and I was ready for Peru! I met some great people and had some wonderful experiences but I found Miami to be completely superficial. The thing is I wanted somewhere to chill, party and have fun before my intense Peruvian adventure but I think I always had an idea of it being this beautiful glitzy paradise so expected superficial to a degree but I felt it lacked class and identity. London, Dubai or Paris are all cities that offer you a taste of their culture as well as all the tourist stuff and Miami is a city lacking identity. Also if certain places are going to charge those kinds of prices they should have an element of sophistication to them which I only really saw in Lincoln but anyway I had a great time, I just know that if I had stayed longer it would have got boring

Ruth’s Summery Look

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Ruth explained that she normally uses a darker palette on her eyes, I could understand why as that would really bring out her gorgeous green eyes. Darker shades are great for evenings but I wanted to do something different, since we were going to a pool party/BBQ I thought it would be nice to do a bronzed look and then add some colour to her usual eye palette. I used a Sleek Palette and blended copper with turquoise on her eyelid and then took a brown eye-shadow up to her brow bone. When you have smaller eye-lids you can wear your eye-shadow really high, it gives you the illusion of bigger eyes. I have bigger eye-lids so if I did that I would end up looking like a drag queen. I only ever wear high eye-shadow for costume parties or if I need an OTT look. Its really important to recognize your features and work to enhance them, I’ve seen people try to copy a beautiful make-up look and it just looks terrible because they didn’t consider how to adapt things to suit there features.

I highlighted under Ruth’s brow and used an eyebrow pencil to add more definition, then I finished with a metallic turquoise liner under the eyes and two coats of Benefit Bad Gal mascara. I added a MAC bronzer and a little Inglot coral blush and highlighted on her cheek-bones and nose. I finished with a Lancome coral lip-gloss, I thought it was perfect for the summery look I was going for and it really suited her.

A Weekend In Cheltenham

This weekend I went back to Cheltenham to see some old Uni friends, I lived there for three years but never really settled because I had trouble adapting to life outside a city…. The first time I went to Cheltenham I fell in love with the place, its so beautiful and there is a lot to do there. This weekend I had soo much fun, I know mostly it was because I was back with my 2 favourite uni girls but Cheltenham is actually a really cool place to spend a weekend.When I arrived the girls met me at the station and Huffingtons Bakery and Tearooms caught my eye, it looked so quaint so we decided to go there for a coffee and catchup…pasties, sandwiches and a GIANT meringue later we were stuffed to the brim..I skipped mains and just had the Meringue OMG it was to die for, I had this amazing chinese jade ringed green tea, apart from Tropical green tea this was the best I’ve ever had:

So we did a little shopping while we were in town, theres 2 shopping malls and the High Street which has every shop you need plus House of Fraser and all the little boutiques and designer shops going up the promenade towards Montpellier.  Montpellier is a really cool place to take a walk, its full of quirkly little cafes, wine bars and restaurants but it just oozes character and history:

We spent the next day pampering ourselves before our big night out and I got PURPLE HAIR:

So we got ready and headed to revolutions (standard) then a club opening of Pulse and then went next door to Subtone which is open  till 6am to relive the old days!!! So we partied till the sun came up, the music was amazing, it had several rooms but the one we stayed in was playing old school R&B so I was in my element.

The next day we went to The Brewery which is a complex where there are restaurants and a Cinema and we ate (mmmm Nando’s) and then watched The Sitter. It had its laugh out loud moments but I felt some of the time it dragged and was a little over the top but it wasn’t terrible neither life changing (watch it if there’s nothing better on).

It was the perfect reunion with my girlies and we hung out at all our favourite places, I would definitely recommend Cheltenham for a weekend break…just don’t move there :p

Zohra x