Monday, 1 July 2013

The Real Greek

I've been pretty sad since I came home from Spain so I took a cheeky trip to London in a bid to cheer myself up. It worked. London has healing powers in the form of excellent shopping, food and of course brilliant company.

I met up with my lovely friend Zoe and we filled the day hoping on and off the tube manically trying to see EVERYTHING!

We found some sexy, sexy cars.

One day I will be Batman.

Eventually our stomachs began to rumble and we left the comfort of the Selfridge's shoe department and headed to Bankside for a feast at The Real Greek. Determined to enjoy our 'summer' we sat outside and enjoyed the views of the river but luckily for us the outdoor heating kept us deliciously warm all evening.

Spoilt for choice we order an array of plates to share and they were all pretty darn good!

Greek Flatbread, Hummus, Gigandes Plaki, Dolmades 

Classic Greek Salad

Grilled Halloumi... om nom nom

My personal favourite was the stuffed vine leaves however the Greek flat bread and hummus were unreal too and I am not a huge fan of hummus!

If you can't decide what to have then I would suggest getting one of the sharer menus which have some of the best dishes for you to choose from

We caught up on three months of gossip until the stars came out and we had finished our wine and coffee.

The last time I had Greek food like this I was in Naxos so if you want some decent food and can't quite afford the flight maybe you should pop in to one of their restaurants in London town.

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Sunday, 23 June 2013

A letter to an Erasmus Student

Dear Erasmus student,

                  I have just finished my year abroad and I would be lying if I said that it wasn't the best year of my life so far. However, it was no picnic and perhaps if I had known some things beforehand it may have been easier. So, here is what I learnt on my year abroad and maybe you can take away some advice from it to help your life next year.

Firstly, even before you leave stop worrying!! If you are only a tiny bit worried or completely dreading the thought of moving abroad just stop! Enjoy the time you have with your friends and family at home and don't dwell on the future too much. I know the prospect of moving to a country or city you have never been to before is really flipping scary but you will be absolutely fine in about a week. Everything takes a little time to settle but once it does you will forget about least until your parents Skype call you, worrying if you are still alive.

Now most people find places to live when they are in the country and it is a really good way of doing it. You get to see the flat and meet the people you live with. This next point I can not stress enough:


1. Your language will get better over night.
2. You will get to do things a normal student in the city would do (The differences between a normal student and Erasmus student are disgustingly clear)
3. Foreign students are normally crazy so you a guaranteed to have a good time.
4. Their cooking is pretty darn good.

Also, try hanging out with the foreign students too. I know it is easy to flock to people who are from the same country as you (very guilty!) but it won't improve your language in the long run.

Don't stress too much about class or not understanding everything fully. You won't be the first or the last to feel like you being there is useless. It's not the end of the world. Also, don't pass up the opportunity to do something because you have class. If there is a trip or a party or something completely spontaneous happens then go with it. You are there to have fun as well as learn a bit.

Disappeared to Ibiza for a bit...

If you feel like you hate being abroad then talk to someone. Anyone. Don't keep it bottled up inside because it will just get you down and you will want to go home. If you are spending all your time on Skype and flying home you are truly wasting an incredible experience. The people who love you will still be there when you get back and not a lot will have changed with them.

Keep an open mind about the people you are going to meet. It's just like starting uni all over again, everyone is just as nervous as you are and keen to make friends. So don't cut anyone out straight away because you don't know if that weird American guy or the quiet German girl will do something incredibly lovely for you.

Finally, don't wish away your time because in a blink of an eye you will be on your flight back home, snivelling into the arms of your friends who carried your surplus stuff back about all the amazing people you met and the incredible things you have done. When your feet finally hit British soil you will be a completely different person than who you were a year ago.

Good luck and stay safe! x Pin It

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Lyon and Toulouse

Before I went to university I never really took an interest in music unless it consisted of epic key changes, guys sitting on stools and some pretty terrible dance moves. That all changed when I moved cities and lived with 21 other people with completely different tastes and was forced to learn songs quickly or look completely clueless on an average night out. All of a sudden I had new favourite bands and without a doubt one of them had to be Mumford and Sons. I can't get enough of them! Last summer my friend Martha and I went to Optimus Alive in Portugal to watch them, amongst others, and it could not have been any more perfect. So, when Martha said they were playing in France I didn't hesitate to say yes and with a click of a mouse my flights were book to spend a week in Lyon and Toulouse.

I must admit I didn't see an awful lot of Lyon. We partied on a big, old, Australian themed boat with the other Erasmus students who only really spoke in French, ate far too much bad but delicious food, had a picnic on the steps by the river and went to a truly odd museum full of robots. All the while we patiently waited for our trip to Toulouse and played both albums on a continuous loop. 

Toulouse was a ridiculous amount of fun, we stayed with Martha's friend who gave us a space in his bed/on his giant pimp coat and showed us around. On the first night we had a pizza the size of a small child and went to an incredible bar filled with students all singing and dancing and throwing beer everywhere. It was insanity at its best.

After the giraffe filled antics of the night before we took a walk round the city and saw some of the sites. I have to admit I did fall a little bit in love with Toulouse because of the narrow streets and the amount of vintage shops it had. I could have easily walked around it for more than a day but, Mumford and Sons were waiting for us.

They played at a venue called Le Bikini which was a pretty big trek from the centre but a decent place all the same. There were light bulbs hanging from the ceiling and all over the stage which got Martha incredibly excited, as did the support act Deap Vally who played with each member of Mumford and Sons.

As soon as the band came on and blasted out 'Babel' the crowd (the English half at least) went crazy and pretty much stayed that way until the end. There were times when it was so emotional that I nearly cried and others when I was stupidly happy. They had some jokes with the crowd and pulled everything of with effortless style. Who knew playing the banjo could be so cool? 

These are possibly some of my favourite photos I have ever taken. Honestly, if you haven't seen them yet just go because you will more than likely leave with a massive smile on your face and want to see them all over again. Lyon and Toulouse were amazing places to see, I got to hang out with my ridiculous friend after eight months and I saw one of my favourite bands. What could be better? 
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Monday, 25 February 2013

The Bull Fight

A bit of a controversial topic for this post.

I am a firm believer in the saying never judge a book by it's cover and so when I was given the opportunity to go and watch a bull fight at Murcia's Plaza de Toros I wasn't about to pass it up. Before yesterday I never really had a particularly strong opinion on one of Spain's most honoured traditions unlike a lot of people I know, so it didn't bother me about going although as it drew closer I became more weary of the idea.

Normally Plaza de Toros houses one of Murcia's popular clubs, Musik but once in a blue moon it is used for its original purpose. Crowds of people waited patiently for tickets and as I looked around I realised it wasn't just the older generation attending but, children no older that 5 were also there eagerly anticipating the fight. Of course not everyone was thrilled at the idea of the slaughtering of bulls as the row of protesters proved. The presence of the police made me wonder if there was going to be an unexpected riot and made me a little nervous to say the least. Although bull fights are a tradition in Spain and other Mediterranean and South American countries there are people in said countries who believe it is inhumane and fight for the rights of the animals which are forced to take part.

We took our seats in the rafters of the bull ring sitting on little more than slats of wood with people sitting shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee. The first fight had already started when we sat down and so we immediately turned our attention to the toreador and the bull. The first occurred with the toreador riding a horse which added to the spectacle and danger of the fight. The bull charged and the horse dodged with expert precision. The toreador took barbed sticks (banderillas) and thrusted them between the bull's shoulder blades as he charged. This went on for about 10 minutes with some very strong attacks from the bull to try and push the toreador off his horse. Eventually the bull slowed in his attacks and the toreador dismounted and came face to face with the bull. This was the moment. A hush fell over the crowd but I am still uncertain if it was as a mark or respect or if the roar of the crowd made the bull wild and endangered the toreador. Before I could decide if I was going to watch or not it was over, the bull was on the floor and the crowd was going crazy waving white handkerchiefs as a sign of appreciation.

There were 6 more bulls and 6 more toreadors to go who were all on foot and each fight occurred in a similar format. Each toreador would try and outdo the last with more daring moves, one even put his head on the head of the bull. The more courageous they were the more the audience responded and the louder the live band played. If the audience liked the toreador they waved their handkerchiefs up to the mayor's box and he would decide if the toreador could claim a trophy ear from the bull and a tail was awarded for an exceptional performance.

The entire situation was completely surreal and I couldn't exactly get my head around it. Although I had heard it was a brutal act I couldn't stop watching it. It was almost hypnotic and as if the toreadors were dancing with the bulls rather than attacking them maliciously. I have struggled not to call each fight a 'show' but if you watch, it nearly is. The men in the ring play to the crowd and provide this huge bravado that keeps the audience entertained, making them cheer louder each time the bull is struck.It is easy to forget that it is actually happening and the animal is feeling pain.  Only when you see the bull limping and gushing blood from it's back at the end of the fight does reality hit you that it is all real and that indeed the creature is going to die in the space of a minute. The final moments of the fight are the ones that stick with you. The silence of the crowd, the blood on the sand and the connection you can see between the bull and the fighter right until the very end.

Although I can't say I would go to a bull fight again I am glad that I have experienced one of the most controversial traditions in Spanish history. I can see how it is popular amongst many people but also see the points of view of activists but I wouldn't have known if I hadn't gone. I would also like to add that the money from the evening went towards a Spanish cancer charity.

What are your views on Bull Fighting? Have you ever seen one or would you like to? Pin It

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day

If for some obscure reason you had forgotten, today was the big Valentine's Day, dreaded by boyfriends and singletons everywhere. Whether you sat and wallowed in self pity or rolled around in the thousands of bouquets of roses you received I hope you enjoyed your day.

As much as I love Valentine's Day and being showered with various food and plant products (who doesn't?) isn't just a day for loved up couples any more but a chance for friends to share their love too. I was surprise to see how many of my friends were posting photos on each others walls, sending tweets and the traditional card too. SO, if you have been lying in bed wondering if you will forever be alone, I would like to make a suggestion. Get up, call your friends, go to the nearest Sainsbury's open until midnight and celebrate your friendships! You have about half an hour left....and then the early hours of the morning.

As for me, I am currently dressed as a glittery jam pot, drinking sangria and about to host a Carnival Fiesta.
                                                    Happy Valentine's Day to you all. Pin It

Monday, 11 February 2013

Carnival 2013

This weekend all over Europe people donned their best fancy dress outfits and took to the streets to take part in Carnival. It is like a huge party with a parade, music and about a thousand other things going on all at once. I went to Aguilas which is about an hour and a half away from Murcia to take part in my first Carnival. As it was a pretty last minute decision I didn't have time to utilise my incredible fancy dress skills so I just stuck with some face paint instead.

We arrived at about 5 o'clock in the sea side town and so began 12 hours of drinking, eating and dancing...

Bright colours and sangria were the order of the day but if you are planning to go to a carnival, just remember it is February, it's going to get cold quickly. Take some layers! When we were too cold we sheltered in the bars and clubs which were packed full of flappers and sailors (and children).

Carnival is pretty much an excuse to talk to complete strangers and become best friends within five minutes. And then run away when you get bored or things get weird. It's incredible amounts of fun. In one night I managed to claim I was Princess Peach to a Mario, have a dodgems battle with some 10 year olds and bond with a Spanish girl over how to order a hamburger.

From what I have gathered most carnivals have the same format of a parade, fair ground rides and lots of people but the bigger ones are probably way more crazy! It was an amazing night and I am so glad I was able to go in the end. However, walking home in a bright pink wig at 9 o'clock in the morning on a Sunday, being stared at by Spanish pensioners was probably one of the only low points and it didn't matter by that point. If you get the opportunity to go to a carnival, wherever it is, go! It has been the best night of this year so far and it is going to take a lot to beat it. Pin It

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Notes of a Wanderer

Leave the house without a map in a city you have never visited. Does it matter if you get lost and walk around the back streets for an hour? Depending on the time of day not really. Explore everywhere.

Don't be afraid of meeting new people, it is part of the experience. 

Use whatever means possible to make yourself understood. Even if it means miming a lightbulb to the lady in the supermarket.

Become a local don't just follow the tourists. If there is a bar or restaurant jam packed with natives on a Tuesday night there is bound to be a reason. It is probably a good sign if there appears to be no order to proceedings and everything seems to be a bit crazy.

The people who stare at you on the street are curious, not rude. When they start to shout at you then there is probably a problem. 

Appreciate what is happening in the place you are in. It doesn't matter if things are falling apart elsewhere.

Take pictures. Not of buildings and famous monuments but of the funny moments and the people you shared everything with.

Don't buy eggs that are already hard boiled. Unless of course you want eggs that are already hard boiled. Look at what you are buying properly otherwise your hungover self will hate you later.

Wear comfortable shoes. No one likes the grumpy person with blisters.

Don't climb out of your bedroom window to take pictures. At least put shorts on rather than a skirt, it might be easier.

I think that is about everything I learnt this week. I will probably think of other things. Maybe. 

A room with a view

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