Personal style and fashion blog

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Sao Paulo, Brazil

After a hellish bus journey (I was sick - those of you who know me probably won´t be surprised - and we seemed to be travelling with the loudest and most unhygienic Brazilians), we spent our first day in Sao Paulo (and friday night) in the hostel, eating Mcdonald´s. Rock ´n´roll.

So our first proper day in Sao Paulo was spent exploring the city centre. Sky scrapers make up the whole of the city, and it´s easy to see why it is described as the New York of South America.
The centre was teeming with people - whole streets were packed full of saturday shoppers, enough to prevent any brave/foolish driver to get through. After stopping for (overpriced) lunch in a small square, we wandered down to the Mercado Municipial, a huge food market stocking every type of food you can imagine, and explored the various shops and streets that surrounded it.

On Sunday we headed to Liberdade, a Japanese neighbourhood (you know, when in Rome...) There was a market in the square, and it was chock full of people looking to pick up an oriental trinket. After a huge bowl of noodles from one of the food stalls, we walked around the lantern-lined streets, and somehow ended up on Avenida Paulista, a huge street, near the exclusive Jardins. Here we stopped for a Caipirinha before sitting down for a traditional (ahem) dinner of burgers and chips.

Monday was set aside for the football museum (I bet you can guess whose idea whis was), so we made the trek down to the stadium, only to find out that it is open every day of the week except mondays. Defeated, we headed to the Parque Ibirapuera, a huge park not far from our hostel, where we spent the rest of the day lying in the sun.

Tuesday: football museum take two. Not exactly being a fan of the sport (or any in particular), I didn´t think I´d really enjoy it, but it was actually pretty interesting - showing the cultural side of Brazil´s national treasure, as well as having some decent interactions.

All in all, I´ve enjoyed my time in Sao Paulo - there´s a lot to do, and there´s something for everyone. Even though negotiating this big city can prove difficult at time, getting lost can be half the fun, and this city is worth it.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Following a 16-hour bus journey, we made it to Puerto Iguazu.After duping our bags in the dorm we shared with a smelly German and a moody Brit with a headlight, we headed out for our first day at the cataratas. The place was teeming with tourists, but that didn´t distract from the amazingness of it all. The waterfalls, some of the biggest in the world, were unlike anything I´ve seen before, and the spray they gave off was a welcome relief from the heat.

Top: Hollister, shorts: Levis cut-offs, belt: Topshop

We had two days at the falls, but really one would have been enough unless you want to pay the extortionate prices for boat trips etc, or go to the Brazilian side of the falls (which we were told wasn´t nearly as good). So the second day we went over to the island in the middle of the falls to see some of them up close, which was awesome. Wildlife enthusiasts would love this place - all sorts of animals are all over, from birds, lizards and super-sized ants, to monkeys and coaties (cheeky little buggers).

Having now exhausted the falls, we spent the last day at Puerto Iguazu beside the hostel pool, soaking up the sun and getting bitten to shreds before embarking on a 17-hour bus journey to Sao Paulo.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Buenos Aires

After a long flight from South Africa (and quite possibly the slowest airport service), we arrived to the stifling heat and a severe case of jet lag. Our hostel was in the city centre, which although is a good location to all the touristy spots and amenities, it wasn´t the prettiest of areas. If I were to return, or give advice to anyone going, I´d stay in Palermo Viejo or San Telmo.

Discounting the day we arrived, the first day was spent in the city centre. We wandered down Avenida de Mayo to Plaza de Mayo, where we saw the Casa Rosada (government buildings), and tried to guess which balcony Evita Peron sang out from (ok, maybe she didn´t really sing but she did in the film!) We then wandered around the streets that surround the plaza, and gorged ourselves on quesadillas for lunch.

Casa Rosada

It was a Thursday, and at 3.30 on that day every week since the 1970s, the mothers whose children ´disappeared`during the military dictatorship march around the Plaza de Mayo, demanding to know of their whereabouts. We went to watch this, and I was pretty moved by the sight. Old women fronted the group, and sang at their top of their voices as they walked around. Knowing that they have done this for at least 35 years, and they still don´t have any answers, was a sad thing to witness, yet so commendable that they haven´t given up.

That evening we went into a little Parrilla (steak restaurant) in San Telmo. It was one of those gems that are tucked away in a completely unassuming area, but the steaks were fantastic, and you could tell it was the genuine article with an abundance of red wine, whilst getting a bottle of white that was actually in stock was a struggle.

On Friday we walked to Palermo, thinking the walk wouldn´t be too long judging by the map, but in hindsight the subway would have been a much better option! We went to the zoo (think this was the highlight for Adam) and then wandered around the streets of Palermo Viejo. I think this was my favourite barrio of Buenos Aires - it was a lot more chilled out than the city centre, the streets were tree-lined, and the buildings colourful. It was smarter too, but with a slightly bohemian feel.There we stopped for lunch in one of the cafes in Plaza Serrano, overlooking the busy market taking place in the square.
That night we enjoyed our first tango show in Cafe Tortoni (quite the establishment in BA - it´s been going for over 150 years), which was fantastic - the dancing, the music, the setting - it was worth the little splurge.

Tango at Cafe Tortoni

On Saturday we decided to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and went to Tigre, about an hour away by train. Here we got a train down the Parana river to one of the many islands, Tres Bocas. The serenity was a welcome relief and we strolled about, feeling like the only ones on the island, before settling down to lunch on the riverside.

After our relaxing day on Saturday, we wanted to take it easy on Sunday too, and not do too much of the usual trudging around the city (I won´t mention the part where I read the map wrong and we ended up walking for miles in the opposite direction). So we went to San Telmo and headed for Plaza Dorrego, where on sundays the Feria de San Pedro Telmo takes place. This is a market selling artwork, antiques, and jewellery, with the usual touristy bits thrown in, as well as having live music and street performers.
That night we ate in Palermo Hollywood, enjoying our last night in BA before a monster of a bus ride to the Iguazu Falls.


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Cape Town in pictures

Twelve Apostles

Dress: Zara, shoes: Kurt Geiger, ring: Topshop 

Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach

Apartment in Camps Bay. Dress: River Island

Hout Bay market. Dress: American Apparel

Llandudno Beach

Table Mountain. Top: Asos, shorts: American Apparel


Monday, 5 March 2012

Cape Town: a summary

The past two weeks have been spent holidaying in Cape Town before the real travelling begins. I have family here and have been coming here ever since I was 7, so it almost feels like a second home. For this reason, it doesn't feel much like I've discovered anything new, but in a way it's nice coming back to the familiar, and sharing my favourite spots with my boyfriend Adam.

We have come with the rest of my family (one person can't come out here without the rest of us jumping on the bandwagon!) so we rented a place rather than shacking up with my aunt. The first 10 days were spent in a wonderful rustic lodge in Constantia near her house - the house was a great size for a holiday home, managing to fit all 7 of us with possible room for more. It had a pool perfect for lazing beside and an extensive braai (bbq) area by which we spent many hours fighting over the tongs and discussing the best way to braai. The last 4 days were then spent in an apartment in Clifton, just up the road from Camps Bay. It was the complete opposite of the lodge: plush, in the thick of it, and overlooking Clifton 2nd beach. We really did experience the best of both worlds.

What we did (apart from lying by the pool!):

1. Beached. There are so many beaches in Cape Town but you soon find your favourites.
  • Llandudno - really nice beach where you're guaranteed a good spot (except maybe on weekends) but the sea is freezing and can have a really strong current.
  • Boulders - tiny beach which always gets full quickly, with a warm(ish) sea. Main attraction = all the penguins that live there and swim with you in the sea!
  • Clifton 4th beach - nice big beach underneath Lion's Head. Has a great bar at the top called Bungalow (a smarter but still laid back version of La Med - its former self) where you can go for meals, drinks, and an amazing view of the sunset.
  • Clifton 2nd beach - just down the road from 4th beach but the greatest thing about it was the 30 second walk from our apartment!
2. Ate. As with beaches, there are an abundance of fantastic restaurants in Cape Town, ranging from cheap and cheerful to top end.
  • Peddlars on the Bend - pub/restaurant that serves food from burgers and chips to seafood and steak. Not a massive menu but the food is always really good, and they tend to show English football matches which the boys loved.
  • Bacini's - real Italian restaurant with football shirts and pictures of the homeland hanging on the walls. Pizzas are fantastic, and prices are good too.
  • Beluga - went here for my sister's birthday and it's definitely the type of place you go for a special occasion. Everyone dresses a bit smarter, and the food prices are slightly higher, but for good reason. They do great dim sum and sushi, as well as your usual pasta, meat and fish dishes - including the more unusual game such as Ostrich and Springbok.
  • Alphen - went here for my birthday and again, it's for special occasion purposes. It's a restaurant in the boutique hotel the Alphen, and although the prices aren't steep by English standards, it is more expensive than a lot of places in Cape Town. There's a pool bar that feels a lot like Ibiza, with chill out music and white sofas. Inside, the restaurant walls are covered in paintings, and lampshades hang from the ceiling, giving it quite a quirky feel. Again, the menu isn't huge but the food was exceptional - best steak I've had in a while!
  • The Red Herring/Skebanga's - laid back pub-type in the middle of nowhere but it does great pizzas, and you have a good view of the sun setting from the deck.
  • Hout Bay harbour market - great food market in what looks like an old type of warehouse. Loads of stalls selling every type of food, including some selling clothing, jewellery, and bric-a-brac. Live music plays, and it's always buzzing. On fridays, saturdays and sundays only.
  • Cape to Cuba - quirky Cuban restaurant in Kalk Bay. Great food, cool vibe. Word of warning - the double burgers are more like quadruple!
3. Hiked. Table Mountain is a must, if just for the view at the top (if you can see anything through the crowds that have just got off the cable car!) Make sure you start early to miss the midday sun. It took us about 3 hours to reach the top so if you fancy something less, go up Lion's Head which takes about an hour.

4. Shopped. Being on a budget (and being with men), I didn't get to do much shopping but there are some good places out there.
  • V&A Waterfront - pretty touristy, but there are good shops, bars, and a fantastic view of Table Mountain.
  • Cavendish - indoor mall with not much character but a wider range of shop.
  • Kalk Bay - a row of quirky independent shops, perfect if you like floaty dresses and silver jewellery.
  • Hout bay market on sundays, and generally the side of the road, are good for picking up African prints, trinkets, and wooden animals. The same goes for Green Market Square, although this is probably a bit more touristy.

Cape Town is quite possibly one of my favourite places I've been to: the people, the weather, the way of life (although sometimes it can be a bit tooo laid back!) is fantastic. Definitely a must!

Pictures to follow!

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