Tag Archives: beach

Nicaragua: Volcanoes, Lakes and Drunken Sundays

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Nicaragua was my favourite place, and I can’t really put my finger on why. There was something about the feel of the country, the culture and the colours and the friendliness. Bus boys who didn’t speak a word of English but would try so hard to communicate, laughing and lifting us with our luggage onto old school American ‘chicken buses’. And of course the beautiful landscapes.

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We didn’t visit many cities in Central America, but I’m so glad we chose Granada. It’s a small colonial city, very pretty and colourful with lots of impressive buildings and hidden gems. I could have stayed there longer than two nights, especially because we spent most of our one day taking a day trip to Laguna de Apoyo! This had been highly recommended and for good reason, it’s a beautiful lake with lots of surrounding resorts where you can spend a day relaxing. We paid $5 at San Simian Eco Resort for access to their lounge chairs and facilities, including kayaks and tubes. We took some tubes out to a little platform in the lake and had a great sunbathing sesh. Shortly after our return to mainland, a model and her crew turned up and started shooting yoga photos in the lake which was mildly amusing people watching as she struggled to balance on the floor of rocks. Don’t blame her. The rest of the afternoon was so chilled out, what we needed after lots of travelling, pure bliss!

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Granada had a very zen vibe, so no surprise that lots of yoga was offered there. I squeezed in an 8am slot at Pure Gym which was a tropical paradise and one of the best yoga sessions I’ve done – the teacher even came around during our shavasana and gave us lavender head massages! Jack wasn’t so into the yoga but he met me for breakfast at The Garden Cafe, another beautifully zen location with yummy smoothies. The other foods we sampled weren’t quite so successful as we stuck to the touristy and overpriced La Calzada, but we did have another great breakfast at Kathy’s Waffle House. And although nothing will ever beat the coffee in Monteverde, the Nicaraguan coffee I sampled was close!

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From Granada we took a boat to the volcanic island of Ometepe. The island looks amazing as you approach it across the lake, with the twin volcanoes Concepcion and Maderas looming ahead. We got a taxi to our hotel in Merida with an Irish couple; he dropped us off and told us to walk the rest of the way up the path. 20 minutes later and many near-misses on stumbly rocks we had found our hotel slash farm, Finca Montania Sagrada. The owner was a slightly strange Italian man who had 7 million cats and the cutest newborn puppies, ideal. It was only once we had settled in our hut, the whole island had a power cut and we were about to embark down the treacherous path to seek out dinner in the pitch black, that we realised we might be slightly out of our comfort zone. We found one hotel that seemed vaguely open so we pointed at things on a menu and hoped the extremely unimpressed woman understood. Pasta pesto you rule in all countries.

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We didn’t fancy the volcano hike on our first day so instead we chose to visit the natural springs, Ojo de Agua. We had vague bus instructions and managed to get to the other side of the island, which we thought was a short walk to the springs. One thing about me: maps don’t like me. Definitely not my fault that many times on our travels we ended up walking 20 minutes in the wrong direction. This time my route took us over a stile and through an overgrown plantation, down a muddy path until we emerged at a fence at the back of the springs. As long as we made it to the destination…! The sun hadn’t quite hit the springs yet so they were mightily cool but as soon as it shone through the enclosure of palm trees the pool was a delight. We spent all day just floating in the beautiful water, lazing about and chilling by the edge. After sandwiches at the restaurant we decided to go crazy and purchased rum cocktails in coconuts, a scrummy delight. When in Nicaragua… Apparently we hadn’t learnt our lesson that this island doesn’t do evenings and stayed out far too late eating lasagne by the beach. Almost didn’t make it home but some stilted Spanish got us a man with a car to transport us back, after stopping off to meet all his family members.

The day of Volcan Maderas had arrived, and the look of our fellow guests after their hike did not encourage us. However we ploughed bravely on and followed our guide up the road towards the base of the volcano. Thankfully it wasn’t too hot and we were mainly in shade, but even so, every time our guide said ‘do you need break?’ I was like THANK GOD YES and inhaled a litre of water. This was before we even reached the steep bit. Breathing became something that you had to think about constantly, so much so that I forgot to think about controlling my farts and one slipped out just as Jacks face was in line with my bottom. Soz. It’s one of those situations where life is such a struggle that farting in someones face isn’t a big deal right? No? Okay…

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The path got steeper and steeper so we found walking sticks to assist us, and then it got to the point where we literally had to climb up and over rocks and trees and hold onto branches and pray we didn’t slip. Four hours after we set off, we finally emerged into the crater and oh my was I ready to collapse. Clouds were everywhere and we were all thinking ‘if I don’t get a view and there’s no reward for this torture, then seriously what is life…’ but thankfully they started to thin and we saw the beginnings of a view!

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We stayed up there for a while hoping to see more and luckily everything cleared and we saw some amazing views across the island to Volcan Concepcion, as well as into the crater itself. I would have happily stayed up there all day seeing as my legs were absolutely gone but our guide was all ‘yeah we gotta go back’. Meh. Downhill is always bad on the knees but nothing was going to be as bad as the climb up so I enjoyed it comparatively. Finally we made it back to our hut, having completed probably the hardest thing of my life. Proud. Never again.

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That was enough Ometepe for us so we took the boat the next day to the mainland and got a short taxi ride over to San Juan del Sur, ready for a bit of beach time and the infamous Sunday Funday. HC Liri was one of the nicest hotels we stayed in, big clean rooms, a fantastic pool and a cheeky hammock. We spent our Saturday walking up the beach and through the town markets, and settled at a beach restaurant with fabulous shrimp and happy hour cocktails. The sunset over the beach looked glorious from our little wooden balcony!

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Then came the big Sunday… 9:30am may seem an early start to an all day drinking sesh, but apparently that’s the way things go over here. We turned up at Hostel Pachamama to buy our wristbands and then headed out for a line-the-stomach brekkie whilst things were being set up. Barrio Cafe ended up being my favourite place for food, admittedly not a particularly Nicaraguan cuisine, but they had amazing Eggs Royale with fantastic sauteed potatoes, and a nutella mocha frappe. Oh wow. I actually made myself so full that the first few beers back at Pachamama were a bloaty struggle. But powering through…

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The hostel filled up gradually as people got the drinks in and gathered around the pool. I was so surprised to see the crazy amount of travellers after bumping into barely any during our trip so far – Sunday Funday must be where they all combine! I bumped into my friend from uni which was utterly random but great! However this was just the warm up, an announcement was made for the start of the pool crawl and we all stumbled down the road to Hotel Anamar.

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This was the real party – pool by the beach, crazy tunes, and a man with spray tattoos including 1D (Jacks first choice of course). A randomer at the bar introduced us to rum and water with lime and we didn’t look back. At $2 a drink they were most certainly flowing. Just before sunset it was time to move on again so we piled into the back of trucks and took the scenic route up the hill to Naked Tiger hostel. The location was amazing – views over the hills down to the coast, with a pool overlooking it all. We took a dancing break and chilled in the pool for a while, then as the evening truly set in the pool patio became a packed dancefloor with the DJ cracking out bangers like Sandstorm. All of the wet wiggling.

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The final destination of the night (after another bumpy truck ride, this time significantly more drunken) was Arribas bar. I have to say my memories are not crystal clear but from the snapchat story it seems like we had a great time and made many many friends. Jack even found someone to get low with him when T-swizzle came on. Being that drinking had now been occurring for somewhere in the region of 12 hours, most people drifted off as the bar started closing. Not us. We got questionable pizza and sat on the floor of the bar as the lovely Nicaraguan man cleaned around us. Finally we started the walk to our hotel but on the way spied the Crazy Crab which appeared to be a very not closed and exciting bar. I’m surprised we had any money left but we somehow paid the $5 entry fee to this locals club and carried on dancing the night away. By this point Jack had lost his flip flops and was very confused about it but they were a lost cause so he went back to the wiggling. Conclusion: Sunday Funday is the best, and we rule at life. Maybe a smidgen past perfect drunk but most certainly hilarious drunk.

Monday was of course a write off, we went in search of food and ended up with broccoli pizza which was so upsetting I can’t even explain. Pool, sleep and more food in preparation for our departure from San Juan the next day. Nicaragua was equal amounts of fun and ridiculous experiences, plus so many beautiful relaxing moments. We were sad to leave, but ready for our next adventure! (With just a 4 day journey in between…)

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Costa Rica: Hiking Waterfalls and Ziplining over Cloud Forests

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We were sad to leave New York after it had given us such a glorious 10 days, but excited for what the next stage of our adventures would bring. Making sure to get what would probably be our last fast food luxuries for a while (McDonalds, Starbucks and Sushi), we had a 9 hour journey ahead, via Texas (why oh why do my routes keep bringing me back here!). An hour before we were scheduled to land, we heard a series of Spanish announcements that sounded rather important, but obviously we had no idea what they meant… It surmised that there was a volcanic ash cloud over San Jose (shock) so we would be landing in Liberia instead. The first challenge of our Central American adventures before we had even landed! Luckily the airline put us up in the Hilton and offered to fly us to San Jose the next day, but as we weren’t planning on staying there we decided to make our own way to our next destination: Montezuma.

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Taking our first journey through a Spanish-speaking country was rather daunting. We found a nice travel agency man who, after we rejected his $250 cab offer, gave us instructions on the bus-bus-ferry-cab journey and didn’t make it sound too difficult. However being that he was the only English-speaking person we encountered, and it was the low season, the rest of the day was a bit of a struggle. We communicated with difficulty with various bus drivers and ended up at the port, however didn’t realise we were a longgg walk from the ferry so missed our time slot and ended up in a sweaty café drinking coke for 3 hours. The nice thing about getting a later ferry was watching the sunset across the sea which was beautiful! Too tired to haggle, we probably paid far more than needed for a cab that almost killed us, but hey ho, we got to our apartment and the lovely Carlos in good time.

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Our first day in Montezuma it rained a lot, stormy and grey, which put a slight downer on the start of our Central American trip as we were worried it might rain the whole time! However we didn’t let it stop us enjoying the beach, sunbathing in the rain and even braving the stormy ocean which in hindsight wasn’t such a great idea – the one time I failed to jump a wave the force of the water held me under for a scary amount of time! Exciting though, obvs. We hid from the rain for a while, watching one tree hill in our room (don’t judge, it’s fabulous), and then ventured out in search of food. The little village of Montezuma literally consists of one main junction with about four restaurants, one bar and a few convenience stores. We discovered a really nice outdoor restaurant for dinner with a beach view, colourful lampshades and a lovely ambience. Bonus: they owned the fattest cat of life that waddled around all night for our entertainment.

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Luckily the sun came out the next day which inspired us to hike it up to Montezuma falls. We started attempting to climb the waterfall ourselves but came across a few barriers i.e. big stretches of water with no obvious way across. So when a nice barefoot Costa Rican man offered to show us the way, we took him up on it. He also said we looked like native Costa Rican’s, lol. Don’t think the tan was that good. Careful stepping didn’t prevent us from getting drenched trainers, but we made it and emerged into the enclosure which looked amazing with the sun on it, and the sound from the falls echoing all around. Our waterfall expert man took some photos before departing, and we had a dip in the freezing (and very rocky) water! It was a lovely afternoon in the sun and a worthy respite after our hike up. There were more falls we could have climbed to, but we decided one was enough for the day..!

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Our next (and last) stop in Costa Rica was the Monteverde Cloud Forest. The town of Monteverde felt quite mystical up in the foggy damp forest area, and slightly eerie given that it was a tourist location at a non-touristy time! The one place that was still busy most of the time was the famous ‘Treehouse‘ restaurant. It’s built around a massive tree which has a great effect, and lovely decor! I decided I wanted to open one in the UK then realised it wouldn’t be quite as practical… I actually really enjoyed exploring the little town, I had the best coffee of my travels in ‘Beso Espresso‘, and we found the ‘Monteverde Beer House’ which surprisingly served amazing Mediterranean food! Jack enjoyed a Shakshuka, which was a welcome break from the usual burger, and I had a yummy falafel wrap with the best homemade chips.

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One of my favourite experiences of the whole trip was the canopy tour we did in Monteverde. We did ours with 100% Aventura because it seemed the best value for money; we got 12 zip lines across the cloud forest including the longest zip line in Latin America, a rappel, and a (mightily scary!) tarzan swing to top it all off. Most of the zip lines were quite short, but they got longer in the lead up to the epic one which was actually a superman zip line.

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It was such an amazing experience, felt like flying across endless miles of green forest without any inkling of where you were going to land! I had a minor freak out half way as one of my strings was flapping about and I thought it had come undone so I was all ‘i’m going to die, i’m going to fall, oh my god, at least this is a good way to go’ and trying to keep as still as possible, as if that was going to help. When I hadn’t fallen after 5 seconds I assumed it was safe and went back to enjoying the views.

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That experience would have been an amazing time for a GoPro but sadly we didn’t have one! Oh well, just means we’ll have to go back… I’m ashamed to say that I almost didn’t do the tarzan swing. I was giving all the excuses about back worries but really I was just being a pussy about jumping into nothingness. However I forced myself to do it and it was so great! Scary freefall but after you’ve been caught the swinging is great fun and hilarious! Jack even squealed when he did it, manly…

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The other activity we did in Monteverde was the hanging bridges. This was more of a self-led tour, you were given a map of the route and just followed it round across all the different bridges. It was a very nature-filled experience, although we were sad not to spy many animals or insects! We definitely heard them though… Some bridges were really long which was amazing because you could see so much of the forest beneath, plus the different levels of trees and waterfalls!

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Although we had some really fantastic experiences in Costa Rica, it wasn’t our favourite place. The tourism industry has definitely had an impact on the culture and feel of the country, and because of the low season the areas that catered to tourists weren’t fully functional which didn’t feel very lively! However Costa Rica definitely has some beautiful national parks and beaches, and I’m sad we didn’t get to explore more of them!

Travelling Alone: the Highs and the Lows

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When I planned my post-camp travels I originally had a travel buddy, however things changed, and I wound up doing the week and a half trip from Texas to Miami on my lonesome. I’ve travelled alone before in Australia, but this was very different in lots of ways. Australia is designed for backpackers, they are everywhere you go, there are organised ways to meet people and travel with people and everything feels very safe. The US doesn’t have so much of a backpacker culture. I found this out pretty early on during camp when my American colleagues said they didn’t know what a hostel was. Hostels do exist in the US, but they are few and far between, only accessible if properly sought out. They’re also used differently, I met Americans who had just moved and were househunting, I met a few Europeans and a few other post-camp travellers but not many. So not exactly the same carefree traveller lifestyle as Oz.

My first stop after leaving LA was Austin, Texas but I had a night stopover in Houston as I booked my flight at a silly time. Not exactly a great first impression of Texas or a good start to being alone… the hostel literally looked like a crackden, it was falling apart and was eerily empty which was so creepy especially because I had to leave the door open for air con. Naaat a good night. Early morning I was up for my megabus and had to wait an hour in a parking lot filled with druggies and homeless people. Safe to say Houston was not on my list of places to return. I finally made it to Austin, in an actual nice hostel called Firehouse, and took a day trip to Barton Springs. Planned myself a nice day of sunbathing, thought I’d get a selfie in the springs and plop I slipped and fell on my ass, bringing my phone down with me. Down down into that water. When will Joy ever learn to keep hold of phones. That is the million dollar question. So that kind of ruined my day a bit, had to find some rice and go phoneless whilst I prayed to the phone gods to save my trusty Samsung.

Being alone with no phone is not a fun time. Whilst my phone was ricing I walked down the famous 6th street where lots of live music was happening which made me happy. This is something London lacks, you would never walk down a street and see loads of bars with free entry and great live music. I watched a bit of blues in Friends with a Guinness but there’s only so long you can make one $8 Guinness last, so I was in bed by 10. The next day I went in search of something to entertain me and fill the phone void, and I found a cat colouring in book. That’s right. I ate tinned lasagne for dinner, but I splashed $20 on colouring in. Priorities. Trust, it came in useful during later mishaps…

That evening was my overnight bus to New Orleans, still with phone in rice so feeling fairly vulnerable. The first leg was fine but then we stopped off at – guess, only my favourite place – Houston. Midnight in a dodgy bus station in Houston, for reals not my idea of a fun time. I was on edge constantly, hyper aware that I stood out like a sore thumb as probably the only white young woman there, obviously foreign. Back on the bus some man decided it was a great idea to talk to me and warn me about New Orleans nightlife. I lied and said I was meeting friends and he was all ‘oh good, just stick with them and you’ll be fine’. Great. As the sun came up I began to feel vaguely sane again (what is it about the dark that makes everything more scary and daunting), and arrived at my New Orleans India House hostel so early that all my roommates were still asleep.

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Too wired to sleep, I jumped on a streetcar and explored the French Quarter. I got a nice coffee, found an amazing jazz band playing on the street (living up to expectations) and lay in the park doing some colouring in. I then decided the time had come to buy a phone. Jack was bringing me one to New York but I could not wait that long. For safety reasons, obvs. Being reunited with communication was a beautiful moment ❤ I may have spent $50 on a phone but I was still such a cheapskate that I hung around outside Starbucks to steal their wifi rather than buy something. Wifi life, serious.

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New Orleans ended up being one of my favourite places in the US. At night I went in search of Jazz and I found many many jazz bars playing beautiful music. I watched a nice lady sing smooth songs at The Spotted Cat and I drank a smooth budweiser. Get me all American and shiz. New Orleans is also famous for seafood so I sampled a shrimp gumbo and it was fantabulous. One of my best moments was at the famous Cafe du Monde where I was served a mountain of beignets (French doughnuts) with a mountain of icing sugar on top, and I ate them all in my tummy. That plus superb coffee = best breakfast. In general New Orleans just had a really good vibe, cool but not hipster, southern but welcoming, creative and colourful with character. But still I didn’t feel that I could experience it properly on my own. I saw great restaurants and fun bars and pretty lookouts but I just wished someone was there to see it with me!

I had a similar feeling in Miami, once I got there. The night of my flight was also the aftermath of the hurricane so I got cancelled on, and not wanting to part with more money, I decided to wait out the 14 hours in the airport. This was where the cat colouring in book came in really useful… I sat outside Dunkin Donuts and coloured my life away until some woman was like ‘wow, you’re really working hard on that, keep up the good work’. I was like do you think colouring in is my job..? I spent a hilarious hour on the phone to Jack and Ryan drunk in Ireland trying to translate their mess into actual language which passed the time. Finally I got my butt on a plane and made it to Miami, the last stop before the big NYC.

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I stayed in South Beach at a fairly nice hostel called Beds ‘n’ Drinks. I guess pretty much everyone goes to Miami for the nightlife but with me being friendless and penniless (okay not penniless but saving for adventures to come), I decided to stay in my little area rather than brave the big bad city alone. The heat in Miami was unreal, two hours on the beach and I felt like the sun had lobstered me already. I alternated between sunbathing, exploring botanical gardens, writing in cafes (yeah I’m one of those), and window shopping. And when I ran out of things to do I went back to my hostel and ate some super noodles in bed. Oh that high life.

I did come across one of my favourite quotes of all time on the side of a Miami hotel: “Everything in the universe has rhythm, everything dances.” I settled into a bit of a groove being alone in Miami, it wasn’t exactly fun but I made the best of it and went for long walks on the beach and dinners in the square (with my trusty colouring in book, of course). Miami was cool, but I still had the feeling that I wasn’t doing it properly. It was like I was looking at all these places through a looking glass, thinking, this would be a really cool place to come. And then thinking BUT I’M HERE. I just couldn’t really experience or enjoy the places in the way I wanted to. It just goes to show (cheesy line coming up) that a place is just a place, and it’s the people you’re with that make it a destination. Good job next up on my list was NEW YORK BABY and being reunited with Jack..!

Europe Travelling Vibes: Croatia

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Croatia. Oh you beauty you. The last stop on our interrail trip, we had a week to explore the islands and the amazingly blue seas. And boy were we ready for some chill time, most certainly. We emerged from our 15 hour train shells of our former selves, only to have the heavens open on us. Seriously Croatia what are you doing. But it was fine, because we ran to our ferry only to watch it leave the port with one minute to spare. Continuation of the bad luck and all that… So we took our sorry selves to a rainy gazebo where our bags and selves got soaked as we awaited the next ferry. Once we finally arrived on the island of Brac we discovered we were too early to get into our apartment so we had to sit on the terrace for 2 hours watching a lady clean it. All the funs. Grace had meanwhile contracted the fat-foot-cankle-erupted-blister disease and couldn’t move so Laura and I went on the hunt for medicines and foods.

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A couple of hours later and we were on route to the beach, taking a walk past some pretty spectacular views to get there. Let me tell you, you will never have a better sunbathe than after a night of no sleep on a train and that palava of a journey. We had this feeling like WE DESERVE THIS, WE HAVE WORKED FOR THIS. I have never so much craved a salty sea to wash away all my sins and dirt and wounds. As you can imagine, we fell so fast asleep in the sun that ain’t no one in the world had a hope of waking us. Every so often one of us would awake with a jolt and a fear of sunburn, realise the others were still zonko, and succumb to sleep once again. However there did come a time where the sea decided to ruin our fun and start lapping at our feet. What about this tide thing, eh? Can’t the sea just stay the same distance always? (Geographer over here). We took the opportunity to explore the rest of the harbour, and found The. Best. Ice cream. Of life. Raspberry yoghurt, snickers, chocolate fudge, you name it they had it in glorious ice cream quality. So much lushness in a dairy product stuck on a wafer cone. We scoffed our ice creams with our fantas sat in a beautiful bar area called Yolo. Yes that’s right, we had discovered a yolo bar. It was too perfect. That evening we were in much need of a good nights sleep in our air conditioned apartment (double bed to myself, just saying. Snoring works in your favour sometimes), so after a lovely seafood dinner in a romantic beachside restaurant we bought chocolate and juice and retired for the night.

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We got into a bit of a morning routine whilst Bol was our home, Laura would wake early and sunbathe outside for a bit before walking down to the bakery to pick us up some pain au chocolat. What a babe, what would we do without her mothering tendencies. Grace would emerge at the smell of pastries, and I would crawl out of bed at the latest possible socially acceptable time. The only exception to the beauty of this routine was our extremely hungover morning where Laura ended up vomming on the road into town. If you think that stopped her mission for croissants, you are wrong. She is a trouper.

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After our first beach day, we realised we could actually get a choo choo tourist train to the larger famous Zlatni Rat beach (all the hilarious slutty jokes), which was where it was all at. The beach is shaped kind of like a horn, which means you can watch people and their wet hair walking up and down the beach from both sides. People watch what?! We don’t do that… We had a few glorious days of sunbathing on that wonder of a horn beach. It felt amazing to have the time to chill and read a book and listen to music for the first time this holiday. And work on that all important tan of course. If I went back I would definitely trial out some of the water activity obstacle courses they had, cos it looked basically like being on total wipeout. Sadly I was too much of a poor lady at the time. And also, yknow, laziness.

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The nightlife of Bol was an interesting one. We had no expectations as this was our chilled part of the holiday, but of course we had to explore the options. Aforementioned pauper status led us to purchase cartons of wine for pre-drinking on our terrace. Who are we? It got us suitably merry for the dangerous cobbled cliff walk down to town, good choices. Our best discovery was what we called the Tiki Tiki bar, because it was basically a terrace covered with Palm trees and Tiki themed things (no idea of it’s actual name). They served a multitude of fabulous cocktails, and played some banging tunes from their outdoor DJ deck. It seemed that everyone who was anyone in Bol chose to spend their evening in the Tiki bar, we met many many travellers (all the floppy hair Australians and cheeky Irish), and also a rather creepy stalker man who was the epitome of dad dancing and who decided to take grace on a whirl. The only sad thing about Tiki was the closing time – 1am! Whoever is finished with their night at 1am I just don’t know. Luckily, our previous discovery yolo bar had a late night party going on. Tequilas galore and inadvisable drink mixing, Laura and I had an extremely fun drunken time (grace was lost again obvs). We were offered some vodka from the ‘daddy bought me a boat so I flew all my rah friends to Croatia’ crew, so that was just great.

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This crew inspired us to create some alter egos for ourselves, and dance moves to go with them. Grace became the spoiled Daddy’s girl, on her tenth gap yah spending all her moneys on yachts. Her dance move looked a bit like a slut thrust with a ‘show me the money’ hand gesture. Laura became event planner extraordinaire, she single-handedly organised Glastonbury didn’t you know. Of course she employed the Laura two-step one-step dance with a festival air punch. And Joy was the hippie travel yoga retreat ladida who set up Oxfam. Y’know, that person. My move was inspired by the tree dance, combined with some interpretive inspiration. Every time we were out dancing from then on it was a case of, “Alteregos. Go.” And then commenced the spectacle that was us. People love it.

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One of these moments occurred at the beach party on Zlatni Rat. This wasn’t your average beach party, oh no. After getting the pina coladas in at 4pm (standard holiday behaviour), the music stopped and out came a man with an electro violin accompanied by dancers wearing fishnet thongs. I mean, fabulous and all, but it was slightly strange that the beach bar was still full of families who then decided to take photos of their children with the dancers whilst they had some shisha. Each to their own. Electro violin man turned out to be one of the greatest things we had observed so far this holiday. It was just wow. He leaped across the palm trees and bar seats with his crazy smiley face and performed beautiful intense Swedish House Mafia inspired vibrato tunes. Electro violin, a great night out, who knew. DJs then came out with every hit European song you’ve heard of or haven’t heard of and the crowd became rather ‘Ibiza bumbag lads on drugs’ styley. We escaped to watch the b-e-a-utiful sunset and run into the sea and scream at massive bugs and laze around on bean bags.

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Our time in Bol had to come to an end at some point, and sad as we were to leave, we were very excited to venture across the sea to the famous Hvar. We had a 2 hour boat journey which consisted of sunbathing on the roof and a spontaneous jump into the sea, the most refreshing way to start the day. With only one full day in Hvar we wanted to make the most of it, so on hostel mans advice we took a taxiboat over to the small island of Jeromin and spent the day on a beautifully secluded rocky beach. You had to walk through a foresty area which had a hippie bar with bucket flush toilets and hammocks that we just cannot. Falling through holes like beached whales. We lay on our rocks eating our ham and cheese sandwiches (the girls wouldn’t allow me to bring gherkins to the beach. Like, what.) and took a swim over to the pontoon which was the pinnacle of sunbathing glory. Our people watching tendencies led us to discover that we were alongside a nudist beach, with people very much in the nude showing off for all to see. Lovely sights. And then the people watching took a new level…

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Joy: “That looks like Curtis.” Laura: “Oh yes, from that angle it does.” Grace: “He is actually in Croatia you know. OMG ITS CURTIS.” Joy: “I’m going to shout his name so we can see if it’s him.” Grace: “NONONONONONONONO. I am not stalker.” Laura: “Lets go swim over to him for lols.” Grace: “NONONONONONONO. I am not stalker. Well okay.” So much laughings, what is life, we are life, the world is a small small place. Hi Curtis, bum slaps, “That MUST be Grace Shellard.” Wowsa.

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Our night out in Croatia had been planned meticulously from the very beginning of our holiday, but fate and the weather decided to get in our way so sadly we did not experience the Carpe Diem club island. We did however go to ‘frat bar’ Hula Hula and danced on tables and chairs whilst drinking cocktails. Stereotype it may be, but it was genuinely full of Americans who genuinely swam over to the bar from their yachts. And who then genuinely bought prosecco and sprayed it all over everyone, many times. All the frat vibes. We did a little bar crawl to Nautica and Aloha, got some free shots and did some dancing. Then the heavens opened so the one sheltered bar became a very sweaty and claustrophobe affair. Sacked that off, dancing in the rain is much more preferable. I decided I was a hippie and demanded everyone must take off their shoes and feel grounded to the earth through their feet. Who am I? We got very wet. Attempts at other bars were made, but postcodes were lost down throats and the rain just would not let us have more funs so afterparties and gins were the only options. Being us and having no shame, we got Curtis’ friend with a fabulous narrative voice to read out his claim to fame through my blog, How Not to Date in 10 Steps. It was an overall embarrassing and cringeworthy experience for all involved, but obviously hilarious.

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We definitely did not have enough time to experience Hvar fully, so leaving on the morning ferry was a sad moment. However we had one more day of Croatian loving on the coastal town of Split. With optimum tans being of the highest priority, we spent the entire day on a little local beach, reminiscing and sleeping and swimming in the gloriously blue shiny salty sea. We had been recommended a quaint little restaurant called ‘Buffet Fife’, where the waiter decided to set us up on a blind date with two nerdy Oxford boys, thanks. The menu consisted of many many fishes, as well as “Beans” and “Boiled Meat”. Croatian delicacies? The fish came looking very much whole and alive, but was scrummily delicious, so well done Buffet Fife. I would recommend you to all Croatian travellers. With a 5am wakeup for our flight home we weren’t after a mental night, but we had to see what Split could offer in the way of drinkies. After 3 hour showers (“I have to moisturise”) and beers on the balcony, we walked through the pretty Palace walls to a cheap and cheerful alleyway bar called Charlies. The vibes weren’t quite right so we ate some pizza on the harbour and then chased after the bright lights and fabulous music we could see in the distance. Turned out to be an amazing outdoor Ibiza style DJ bar, good finds. We kept trying to leave because sleep was calling but then another great song would play and we ran back because MORE DANCING PLEASE. Don’t ever let it end. We are so not ready to go home.

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But the time had come, after two wonderfully adventurous and yolo weeks of Europe vibes, to catch our flight back to the UK. The adventures weren’t quite over yet, we had a stop over in Cologne and although we didn’t get to leave the airport we ate German sausages and pretzels in the airport so I’d like to say we can add that to our list of country experiences. Interrailing, you are the one. You ruined my liver and voice, and of course bad luck came calling at many moments because this is us, but you gave us hands down one of the best experiences of life. As great as it is to venture halfway across the world, Europe has so much to offer any traveller and every country has its own little thang that makes it exciting or crazy or just plain great. We squeezed so many experiences and adventures into two weeks, and I could do it all again tomorrow. Next stop….?

14 Reasons Why Summer is the Best Season and Should Stay All Year

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I am unashamedly obsessed with summer and all things related. Which is why I am presently in love with England and the phenomenally hot, beautiful summer we’ve had so far. I think I’ve been burnt at least 5 times already and it’s only July (sorry skin, at least you look lovely and tanned now). I’m one of those people whose mood is massively affected by the weather; I’ll wake up on an average day and walk outside into the sun and instantaneously all my worries will be gone and everyone will be gorgeous and everything I see will emulate happiness. On the flip side, walking out into the rain when I’ve woken up reasonably happy will turn my mood completely the other way. So suffice it to say the past few months have seen an overall happy Joy. And here’s a couple of reasons:

1. BBQs – any excuse to get out the barbie, cook some meat, and make a bowl of Pimms.

2. Cider – I’m not usually a cider drinker but there is nothing better than an ice cold glass of cider in a beer garden on a scorching day. Especially of the elderflower variety.

3. Jazz – beautiful summers day + cider + jazz = perfection. I wish I could have a jazz band following me around at all times to act like the backing track to my summer life.

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4. Festivals – what better way to spend an English summer than camping in a field full of crazy people, drinking all day, watching unlimited live music, having no sleep, and getting muddy? I’ll take 5 weekends of that, please.

5. Tan – sure, the first sunny weekend we may go a little hardcore on the sunbathing and forget about sun lotion and end up like a lobster. But a couple of weeks later, a lot of moisturiser and some lessons learnt, we get that all important summer tan.

6. Summer clothes – ideal to show off the aforementioned tan (once this is achieved). The beginning of summer is a great excuse for a new wardrobe shop – summer dresses, dungarees, flowery shorts, bohemian holey shrugs with no purpose – anything goes once the English sun comes out.

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7. Body and hair art – henna, glitter, flowers and feathers are the things of summer.

8. Happy folk – life in summer almost seems like one of those happy cheesy American movies, everywhere is full of people going about their happy day, jollilying along, and most importantly not being the grumpy busy British people they usually are.

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9. Sunglasses – make you look cool, and allow you to people watch without anyone ever knowing that you have been full on staring at them for over 5 minutes.

10. Light evenings – staying out late when it’s still light and (almost) warm is the perfect end to any day in the sun.

11. Seagulls – as annoying as they are, hearing flocks of seagulls cawing outside my bedroom window means that in my half asleep daze I can imagine I’m at the beach and not getting up to go to work in 5 minutes.

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12. Actually going to the beach – the epitome of any summers dream; sand and sea. Sand between your toes, sand in your sandwiches, sand in your phone – I’ll take it all for a day of contentedness lying on the beach. And if you get too hot you know that the English sea is always going to stay freezing, so there’s that.

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13. Iced beverages – iced coffee is probably one of the best inventions of all time. Caffeine kick plus relief from the heat = winner. Ice cream, iced smoothies, iced milkshakes, iced slushy things – anything cold and delicious, gimme.

14. Frolicking – definitely my favourite word to associate with summer. Basically a miscellaneous term for every kind of sun related activity, frolicking is what we Brits do best.

Welcome back, child me

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This weekend I got to relive my childhood. And it was amazing. We had planned a weekend away to Swansea, a prospect not all that exciting due to Swansea’s underwhelming reputation. Having driven 20 miles off route due to a satnav mishap and my inability to realise that 158 miles does not actually correlate to an hour and half (another such situation that shows me and Molly should NEVER GO OUT ALONE), we were slightly frustrated and ready for Swansea to disappoint. And sure enough as we drove into the city everything appeared rather backwards, industrial and, well, Welsh. I even convinced myself it was filled with old-style saloons before realising they were in fact what Swansea called hotels. However regardless of Swansea’s less-than-appealing traits, it became the setting for one of the most fun and childish weekends I’ve had in many years.

If there is one thing I recommend doing in your adult life, its this – go to an indoor playzone for an evening session. A group of 7 of us hit up Swansea’s own playzone with alcohol in tow, only to have it taken away by the over-friendly Wales bouncers. Not to worry, it was two-for-one on WKDs until 9 (classic kids). However once we’d entered the zone of play we came to realise that too much alcohol was probably a VERY bad idea. We didn’t want a vomcano all over the ballpit scenario – spinning around the spinny things made me sick enough without booze! What we discovered was that this was one place alcohol was not a necessary catalyst for fun but an opportunity to make our own fun through some good old games.

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The most fun came from a simple game of ‘it’. Not even lying, this game felt like the most exercise I’d done, like, ever. I was actually terrified whenever I found myself chased by the ‘on’ person and ran for my life, culminating in a non-optional breather hiding inside a spinny apparatus. It was so intense we decided something less active was in order so began a game of sardines – much harder than you would think in a massive play area. Our chosen hiding spaces ended up being a claustrophobic inbetween jigsaw maze, underneath a slide area, and inside a tunnel slide which wasn’t the best idea as someone rather rudely thought they might like to slide down on top of us. The cheek.

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Death slides were more scary and exhilarating than I ever remembered from my childhood; it took multiple attempts for us to actually force ourselves to let go (or for some people, not let go and end up going down backwards). Many mexican wave formations later, we still were not bored of being children but it was sadly closing so we were asked to leave. I think the inner child in us had emerged and didn’t want to subside after leaving the only place it is appropriate to act as such. The whole weekend ended up being hilariously childlike; we spent the next day on the beach taking photos of ourselves jumping in the air for a more-than-socially-acceptable amount of time and followed this by a hardcore arcade session of 2p machines and basketball hoop competitions.

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All in all, Swansea provided the perfect outlet to escape boring adult realities of working life and have a little well-earned fun. It’s far too easy to get caught up in schedules and tasks and forget to let loose and enjoy yourself for no reason whatsoever. From now on I see it as my mission to have more ridiculous crazy outings and weekends – these are the kind of things you should make time for.