“In the magnificent fierce morning of Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the old world gave way to a new.” – D.H Lawrence
“Berlin is more a part of the world than a city. ”
—Jean Paul, Writer, 1800
Arriving in Berlin in the midst of the winter solstice I shouldn’t have been taken aback by the chill in the air, the whiteness of the sky, snow falling on my face – but it was claustrophobic, looming above my head, closing in on me. The whole week I was there, I never saw the sun. Thankfully, the magic of the Christmas Market lights meant that even in its gloomy winter state, the city sparkled.
Los Angeles (laws·an·juh·leez) – translating to ‘The Angels’ in Spanish
New York might be the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, but Los Angeles is the place where you’ll see them come to fruition. My travel buddy and I booked this trip last minute – like, two weeks before we flew out – which means we had to work extra hard to stay on a budget and still live the high life. Here’s how we did…
Salt Air, Venice: Oysters, Hawaiian prawns, black cod, charred octopus… if you want a rich, smoky, delightful taste of the sea in an intimate candlelit setting, this is it.
Bubba Gump, various locations: A California-born staple for seafood, Bubba Gump might not have the most sophisticated menu – but with shrimp of every variety, an extensive drinks list that come with light up glasses and a fun décor, it’s a must do.
iHop, various locations: My American friends sneered when I said I liked iHop – again, maybe not the ‘coolest’ restaurant in town, but it was really fun, absolutely delicious and well priced. Plus, kids are guaranteed to love it.
The Butcher’s Daughter, Venice: A plant-based restaurant and an Instagram enthusiast’s playground, this ‘vegetable slaughterhouse’ offers wholesome guilt-free bites in an airy plant-adorned space.
The Halal Guys, various locations: The choice is simple – meat sandwiches or platters. It is essentially a glorified kebab house, but was damn tasty. I went for the platter, which included rice, a mix of chicken and beef gyro meat, bread and salad. As far as Halal offerings go, the Halal Guys won’t let you down.
Clutch Restaurant, Venice: This was my favourite place – lobster tails, shrimp and grits to die for, jalapeno and cheddar biscuits that melted in my mouth, ceviche… I really would kill for it right now. Go, go and go again.
Salt and Straw, various locations: The ultimate ice cream haven. Expect queues out of the door, and remember it will be worth it. I tried honey lavender flavour, which was like nothing I’d ever had before. Oh and I tried gooey chocolate brownie. And did I mention it all came in a waffle cone? Excuse me, let me just wipe the drool of my chin.
WHAT TO DO
Universal Studios: I’m not really into theme parks, but this was incredible. Venture into an actual replica of the Hogwarts castle for a Harry Potter ride, visit Krustyland and be sure to do their amazing studio tour where you’ll watch stunts happen live and visit iconic sets, such as where Psycho was filmed!
Griffith Observatory: Views. Views for days. Coined as Southern California’s gateway to the cosmos, everything you’d want to know about astronomy is here.
Griffith Park: You’ll find the hiking trail to the Hollywood sign, which will take you about 90 minutes each way. There is also a zoo and botanical garden here.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard: Named the coolest neighbourhood in America, this is the place for quirky shopping and eateries.
Getty Museum: The Getty houses work by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and I really don’t know that much about art but come on.
Hollywood Walk of Fame: Ya gotta do it! We parked in the Hollywood and Highland shopping center, which is free for the first two hours and gives you quick access.
California Science Center: Free entry, pay for parking, see some cool planet stuffs.
Things I didn’t do, but I hear you should: Disneyland (Anaheim), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Natural History Museum, shopping and celeb hunting at Rodeo Drive and Beverley Hills.
We hit three beaches in our time in LA – Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice.
Venice is stunning and full of character – a double whammy, the beach serves as a personal sunbathing paradise and a place to people watch, surf, skateboard, and shop.
Santa Monica should be seen for its pier, where you can take a picture with the iconic Route 66 sign (the route ends there!) and check out the rides. The least picturesque of the three, but the most kid-friendly.
Malibu was quiet, peaceful and romantic. Go for a dreamy afternoon with your partner (or alone – team #SingleLadies here) and soak in some sun as you lay on the white sands.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotels were crazy expensive by the time we were looking to book – you’re likely to find an awesome Airbnb for the price of an average hotel. We stayed in two Airbnb apartments – one Downtown with our own balcony surrounded by palm trees, a rooftop pool, large living room, breakfast bar and separate bedroom, for £100 a night.
Our second home was far more humble, but it was a 10 minute walk from Venice beach and had an even more humbling price of £57 a night, so we were okay with that.
The first time I went to LA I didn’t have a car, and I survived just fine. That being said, you’re better off with one – it gives you more flexibility, more freedom, and you’ll be able to see more. We got a decent ride for £150 for the entire week with Alamo, booking via NetFlights.
And that’s it, folks! I cut so much from this post as it would have been ridiculously long – so if you have any questions, or any tips for me next time I go (oh yes, I will be back) drop ’em in the comments!
Marrakesh (mar· uh· kesh) – aka The Red City, The Land of the Atlas, The Maghreb
“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.”
― James Joyce, Ulysses.
I was so desperate to escape London this summer. The constantly cloudy suffocating weather, the rain and the giant house spiders that lurk out from under it, the commuters who don’t let you get off the train before they get on, the fact that socialising in the city costs the same as my rent – let me stop before this post goes left.
Madrid in August – some people said it was a deathwish, for August is the time of year where those who can afford to shut up shop, heading straight for the coast for some much welcomed relief from the scalding sun.
In 2015 I went to Scotland for the first time. Not a place I’d really thought of visiting before possibly due to the curse of Londoner’s ignorance, I can only put the urge down to hearing ‘Scottish Independence’ around 451 times over that past year and my subsequent fondness for Nicola Sturgeon. That aside, any country who has a unicorn as their official animal has to be pretty awesome.
Having gotten a delicious taste of Italy while travelling to Sicily, Venice and Milan together previously, my girl Dian and I decided to set aside five nights to venture to Rome and Tuscany – here’s what happened.
HELLO THERE: This turned into a long read – if you want to know something particular, please do ask via the comments section or try searching with your friend Control + F. Alternatively, I’ve bulletpointed the highlights at the end – scroll away / forgive me x
Arriving in Rome, we got the express train from Fiumicino Airport to Termini Station (duration: 30 minutes / cost: €14) and set out to find our way to the Best Western Globus Hotel which was said on their website to be ‘nearby.’ 20 minutes later I had a dead battery thus no Google Maps and subsequent anxiety, but we managed to navigate ourselves through the eerily quiet graffiti splattered streets to our base. On the subject of Google maps and the convenience of internet usage abroad, I’d recommend Three as a network provider for their ‘Feel at Home’ service alone.
We were pretty knackered on our first day so excitedly grabbed some food when we peeped a Halal sign near Termini. I got a diavola pizza whilst Dian got a lamb biryani because only a sick human being would order a curry as soon as arriving in Italy. Both were so greasy that we left with a higher chance of heart disease – stay away!
I’ve wanted to explore Egypt since I was a teenager; my room was strewn with DIY Ancient Egyptian art and much to the dismay of my parents I had a shisha set-up in my room, forced myself to be into Turkish coffee and had mastered the art of Kushari (that part is impressive, shut up).
It was one of those things that never came to fruition for one reason or another, until last month – and even then, it was scarcely planned; I’d barely had time to get to grips with the layout of the country on the map, which is something I like to do before visiting any country so I can sound intelligent and informed providing you don’t ask me too much. I mean, did you know the Sinai peninsula was once under attack by… No, I’ll do that later.
I flew to Cairo on December 22 after confirming it the day before and packing on the day.