Goa

We chatted away on the flight and before I knew it we were beginning our descent into Goa, Sheryl was her name, A born and bred Goan flying back home to her family after a business trip. She formed my first opinion of Goa and Goans, she was very warm and helpful and said to call her if I needed anything during my stay. It was an impulsive trip, somewhere I had never previously thought of going so I hadn’t really had time to do much research and I had no expectations. My parents told me to be careful (they went there when they were around my age) so I thought maybe it’s dangerous, “Goans are too lazy to steal” explained Sheryl, she explained life was very relaxed and to expect things to happen very slowly.

It was almost a two hour drive to the hostel, peak traffic time and still it seemed very calm. Apart from the constant beeping of horns which I’d grown accustomed to after 4 weeks in India, there wasn’t really much noise and for most of the drive we were surrounded by jungles. Buildings  were spread apart unlike anywhere I’d seen in India, usually buildings are literally on top of each other.  I took pictures of the beautiful coloured houses with the strong Portuguese influences clearly visible, Goa was a Portuguese colony for over four centuries. You could tell that Goans were more worldly then other Indians due to their various influences and Goa is a tourism hub so they’re a lot more liberal.

https://zizzleblogger.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/5d81d-img_8909-copy.jpg

The hostel was decent and people were friendly, my friend Shantel was staying there already, she helped me take my bags to the West Wing. Everyone was staring at us struggling to pull my 60kgs of luggage along the dirt road including the two English guys who arrived the same time as us and were also walking to the West Wing but none of them offered to help. “Chivalry is truly dead” said Shantel, “Excuse me can you help my friend?” she asked the guy showing us to our room, “I am too weak, I am a weak man”. Wow! men really are different here, is this even earth? Did he just say that? “Whatever, I am a strong woman” I thought to myself and pulled my suitcase with a bit more purpose… after about 5 seconds Shantel took over but between us we made it hahaha.

https://zizzleblogger.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/92d6e-img_8837-copy.jpg

We ran into the two English guys again, one of them looked really familiar, “Did you go to Graveney School by any chance?” unbelievably he did! What a small world, imagine running into someone who went to the same school as you in a Hostel in GOA!? His name was Guy and he was soon to become one of mine and Shantels beach buddies. I napped and when I woke up Shantel had gone for dinner so I went to the Night Market with some people I met at the Hostel. The market was AMAZING, SO CHEAP and sooooo much jewellery and clothes, most of the jewellery was silver, embellished with beautiful semi precious stones. I bought a “magic dress” which could be worn 7 different ways and some other bits and bobs but mostly I was just taking it all in and then I heard a voice behind me that was sooo distinct I turned around and screamed, “DIANEEEE!!” Diane was a lady I met at the retreat in Tamilnadu 550 miles away, as I said, Its a SMALL world! It was great seeing her, she told me to come and stay with her in the South of Goa as the beaches there were divine but sadly I didn’t get the time to explore that side of Goa.

 

On our way home we decided to go to Club Cubana known as “the club in the sky”, it was on top of a hill and kind of like a giant treehouse. You go up some stairs and on different levels you could get off and there was a pool on one level then one was a VIP area and there was another bar and dancefloor area. It was an interesting experience, there weren’t many locals there, mostly Russians and then a mixture of everyone else; Brits, Americans, Australians. It was fun being out with people I didn’t really know, we just chatted the whole night and got to know each other, Cristina was in Goa for a few months to try and finish writing her book, Alec was travelling the world while saving it by volunteering at every stop, Jaya and Jake were travelling around India and I just found everyone’s stories fascinating.

 

The next day I woke up and went for breakfast with Shantel and then we headed to Vagator beach with whoever else was awake – Simon, Guy, and the Sophies (Swedish BFF’s travelling together with the same name – they were actually adorable!) The beach has huge rocks on it and even in the sea so you have to be careful where you step but that was really the least of our worries. We got harrassed by cows – India really needs cow police because there are just as many cows as people and they need to be hoof-cuffed to trees for certain hours of the day so that humans can relax. But seriously this cow did not leave us alone for like 2 hours, we bought fruit from a lady on the beach and the cow just wouldn’t go away. We threw the mango skins really far away…like we actually walked for a good minute and then threw the skins but as soon as it finished it came back and would shake its horns at us (it was a bull) and tried to headbutt us or just stand over us while we sunbathed so I had a major fear of being trampled to death by a cow. Simon had a staring match with the cow but it wasn’t backing down. Moral of the story: DONT GO TO VAGATOR BEACH (unless you’re going swimming after clubbing or to watch sunrise coz then the cows are asleep)
 
Our beach group stuck so every morning we would go to the beach together with the addition of Tova and Tony, we found a beach called Morjim which was about 25 minutes by scooter, the drive was really scenic and the beach was quiet, clean and calm and didn’t have rocks or cows! Me and Shantel hired a scooter too…Guy gave me a quick lesson and I thought I could drive it but then when we set off I almost died four times in the space of about 30 seconds so I literally abandoned it on the side of the road and we hopped on the back with the boys haha. Even though Simon and Guy are good drivers and most of the time we were just driving through jungle roads where there weren’t many cars, in the town I found it scary so I don’t know what I was thinking trying to drive one lol. We got lost a few times but it kind of added to our adventure, one of the places we got lost in had so many cows in the road and people and cars and we were zig zagging in and out of them. They need a cow lane and a footpath…The cows just stop in the middle of the road or they just decide to change direction…its madness. Shantel learnt to ride the scooter after a few days but I spent most of my time praying or not breathing on the back so I stuck with the guys (sorry Shan hahaha). We had two nights out in Baga which is where the majority of the clubs are and one in Anjuna.

 

Food in Goa was amazing, seafood is so fresh and so cheap and sooooo yummy, I had my best meal at a restaurant called Sri in Anjuna – if you ever go there you have to try the fish! Thalassa was also in Anjuna, an outdoor Greek restaurant that overlooked the beach. The ambience was serene and we went there twice and watched the sunset while we dined. There’s lots of great beach shacks that have good food and generally you can’t go wrong with seafood. I tried a local curry called Xacuti and I couldn’t eat it…it basically tastes like curry powder and water so I would steer clear lol, Goan fish curry was amazing though.

Most people in Goa come just to party and chill on the beach, I don’t think I’ve ever been so relaxed in my life, it was like living in slow motion, you never need to be somewhere or rush for anything. I wanted to explore Old Goa and so did Felix and Malik so I skipped the beach that day and we went exploring. To be honest there wasn’t much to see but the 3 churches we saw were really amazing and we rode the bus there which was interesting. The bus conductor suddenly jumped of the bus and started fighting with this guy in the street so we had to wait until he finished so we could go. I really wanted to go to a floating Casino as Sheryl highly recommended it and they looked amazing but I just didn’t get the time even though we extended our stay. I managed to get us free tickets to the David Guetta concert so we stayed another day – it was fun and the Goan crowd were so enthusiastic. I loved every minute of being in Goa, definitely one of the funnest weeks of my life! I would highly recommend a trip to Goa and the Asterix Hostel!

 

There are many more stories but what happens in Goa stays in Goa :p

 

Kisses,

 

Zohra x

 

Cape Town – 1/9/12

I’m back in Jo’burg from a four day trip to Cape Town, it was amazing! We were supposed to be there for three days but we extended it because we didn’t wanna leave (me and my bro). Theres so much to see and the City is rich with views scattered all over like jewels waiting to be found. Downtown is a different world to the coastline. On our first day we explored downtown, it felt unsafe and beggars follow you around relentlessly and every street corner is riddled with drug dealers and “dodgy” looking people lol. After that day we decided it would be wise not to wear or carry any unnecessary valuables and for the first time in my life I was without a handbag haha all I carried was my camera, lipgloss and some money in my pockets. Locals told us its fine to roam around but not after dark and to never look lost or scared (which is pretty hard when your following a map) We climbed aboard a local minibus which was 6 rand (50p) in comparison to 100 rand (£8) and we were told it was safe…I didnt feel safe at allll..the guy who we paid to let us on had ripped clothes and a passenger told him he stinks (which he did) and got off and then the bus driver seemed completely high he was singing and dancing to every song that came on the radio shouting at people on the streets and I have no idea what he was saying to me most of the time I just nodded and smiled while I clung to my suitcase and prayed that we would get off soon haha so after that we just got taxis everywhere. Without our valuables it felt a lot safer obviously the beggars dont target you if they see you dont have a bag.

We stumbled on a shoot for a cadburys ad in the middle of town where a giant purple hippo/cow pinata was floating in the middle of the street, two girls hit it and the most chocolate I have ever seen came out. We wernt allowed any though, only white people as they were the only people allowed in the frame so all the other indian/african/chinese people had to watch haha it was like the most racist thing I’ve ever experienced but I understood it was to do with marketing and South Africa is very backwards in that way due to there history. One black guy tried to run for the chocolate when the others did because he was just passing by and thought it was for everyone and I actually have a video of the white director yanking him back shouting at him and telling him it was for white people only not a free for all, we left after that…im thinking of sending it to cadburys and explaining that nearly 70% of the worlds cocoa is from west africa and grown by black people and that not just white people buy there chocolate and if they are gonna shoot ads in a black community they should be more tactile, also shouldnt employ racist people.


So day two, we went on the hop on hop off tour bus which went around the peninsula. We saw the amazing coastline where every beach was different to its neighbouring beach. The sea often lapped against the mountains and then the next beach would be against cliffs or boulders and then you would stumble upon a bay where the beautiful white sand was washed with turquoise water. I was trigger happy, I think in four days I took more than a thousand photos haha. We went to table mountain that day, we took a cable car to the peak and then walked around up there for about two hours just taking in the views. We were waiting for sunset which was amazing. It looked like the horizon was on fire and the sea was slowly extinguishing it as the sun sank. We dined on the waterfront which was buzzing with people, its a beautiful place to eat out and then theres a few pubs where you can go and enjoy amazing live music.

Day three was my favourite day, we booked a backpackers tour with Baz Bus along the whole peninsula to Cape Point. We stopped at Hout Bay where we had the option to go on a glassbottom boat to Seal Island, it was really nice and we watched the seals lazing around on the rocks. Our next stop was Simons Town to see the cutest penguins everrrr at Boulders Beach. It was sooo amazing and I wished I had my handbag I would have totally put one in there haha they were tiny and there little waddle was adorable.

The next stop was Cape Point national park, It had wild game roaming around, and we were told to look out for baboons but unfortunately we didnt see any. Only a deer like animal and wild ostrich. We stopped for a picnic and then the 6km uphill cycle to the Cape of Good Hope. It was so beautiful cycling along the coast and although the hill was a struggle it was so worth it when we got to the top. Going down was so much fun, as we glided down the mountain the fresh sea breeze was beautiful and the views below. Then we climbed to the summit of the Cape of Good Hope by foot, it was amazing at the top. I could have sat there all day but we had to get to Cape point where some say the Atlantic Ocean and Indian ocean meet but others believe its at Cape Agulhas, the southern most point of Africa.

We went out clubbing that night along Long Street, clubs are pretty dead on week days, more like bars and they were very casual. We went to Dubliners and Fiction and met quite a few people, a mix of tourists and locals who all told us that we should stay the weekend to party as this wasnt a good reflection on the nightlife of the Cape. They had bands performimg in a lot of the bars and they were all really amazing! I would recommend Rafikis its a really cool bar/restaurant with amazing pizza in Kloof.

Day four, Unfortuantely Robben Island was fully booked (book 3 or 4 days in advance) we were told to go and see some vineyards before we leave as they are very popular in Cape town so we went to see the oldest existing one in Constantia where all the diplomats and rich and famous live. It was beautiful and the scenery was epic. We did another bus tour and then had our final dinner on the bustling waterfront and then headed to a club called Cubanas which was really nice and chilled out.

I would highly recommend Cape Town, its one of the most amazing places I’ve seen with a rich history and amazing scenery. Theres plenty of things to do and I think to really enjoy it all you need a minimum of five days.

Johannesburg – 31/8/12

Hello from sunny South Africa,

I came here expecting snow as it had been snowing heavily the week before I arrived but I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy high’s of 29 degrees despite warnings of a cold front EVERY DAY! I came here 10 years ago so my memories are pretty blurred but I remember that last time I came I was surprised at how modern it is. Having been to East Africa several times I expected it to be similar but until you see the dry terrain, mountains and brown grass in the suburbs you don’t even know you are in africa. The huge highways, shopping malls, beautiful cars and houses create a divide between what we perceive as third world Africa.

Yesterday I had a real taste of Africa when me and my family entered a Lions cage in the Lion park. They were cubs and from a distance they look so cute and cuddly but its only when your up close and they snap at you with their razor sharp fangs and claws that you realise these little babies are deadly. Wearing an animal print skirt was definitely NOT a wise move, the keepers told me they HATE loose clothing and everytime the wind blew they were on guard. Then on top of that I’m sure the animal print was pretty intimidating. At one point a cub stuck his claws into my skirt while trying to bite it and he had to be pulled off me while he roared away. I assumed because people go in there every day they would be tame and used to it but they were wild and scary haha but I guess that made it more fun.

We then went through the park where the huge lions and cheetahs were being fed, that was really cool to see and one crazy gamekeeper was actually walking around with the lions in the very same park a Japanese tourist was eaten alive by the Lions recently after he got out to take pictures :s well I guess playing with lions is one thing I can cross of my bucket list 🙂

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