My London Bucket List – Part 4: The X Factor Finals, Two 21st’s & Wishing I was Spanish

Hello and welcome to PART 4 of My London Bucket List!

This post is based on lot on heading out, please don’t judge me on my drinking habits (Jokes I don’t have any because I’m broke). So one day before i stepped into work I noticed the X Factor were at the SSE Arena in Wembley, Well I say I noticed but you couldn’t miss it! Extravagant people all singing and dancing, being interviewed and just generally warming up for Boot Camp auditions! Now the X Factor is sponsored by Just Eat, the magical food takeaway company, and of course Just Eat were outside the SSE Arena with a ‘Spin the Wheel’ and win game, so of course as I was bored before work, why not? Typically I spun the wheel, and managed to win two tickets to the final!

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So December 3rd rolls around and My Younger sister and I are off to enjoy the night! We stayed in the Hilton Canary Wharf. Its a very business orientated hotel but it was incredibly accommodating. We stayed in a comfy twin room, en suite and all other hotel comforts and it was lovely, we ordered room service desserts (of course) after the show and they were gorgeous and did not take long to get delivered either! I’d highly recommend the Hilton Canary Wharf to anyone staying in that area or nearby as my sister and I were heading to the Excel Arena!

So to the Excel Exhibition centre we went, The Excel is an incredibly huge building used for shows, presentations, conventions and of course the obvious, exhibitions of all sorts, so it is a large building indeed. But with perfect transport links arriving on the DLR at the Prince Regent stop, its really not difficult to get too at all, depending on which way you’re coming from you may even get to see the O2 Arena on your way!

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Once we arrived we were ushered to a ‘Pize Winner’ queue which felt pretty fancy. We were given our tickets with our seat number and row and send off into a Just Eat area with food, they took photos of you as you arrived with the X Factor background behind you, almost like a mini red carpet! There were lots of you typical corny X Factor photo booths and cheesy music, it was set up with park benches and a bit of fake grass, it was funky but we didn’t stick around for long before we went off to get a proper burger! FYI, I couldn’t tell you where I got it from, but it was amazing.

24312605_10210104814128715_8857701371266376113_nOnce being told at 16:50pm that the doors had opened and we could start queuing we were like Hell yes as we’d been waiting around for hours now, only to get in the queue and wait until 18:30pm. But it was absolutely worth the wait because the show was amazing and our seats really weren’t all that bad at all! Not only that but we got to see Little Mix, P!nk and Sam Smith perform live and watch Rak Su win the finals! (Sorry if I ruined it for anyone!).

Although I’ve never been a fan of the X Factor it was really enjoyable, and the Excel is an incredible building, so if you ever get the chance to see both either at the same time or separately, don’t hesitate!

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I’m at the age now where myself and a lot of my first are turning the wonderful 21 years old, Now legal and able to drink in America, how exciting. But turning 21 means a large session is at hand. My first 21st was a big one, Maddie’s 21st. I’m almost certain we 24312483_10210104807688554_7886318755466502035_nwere just going to wing it around London and just see where we ended up. We started at a friend (Mason’s, I’ve mentioned him before as a wonderful tour guide, sorry mase), And then headed to Old Street in London.

Now we had absolutely no plan at this rate. It was amazing. We started in The Craft Beer Co. literally nearby Old Street station, the atmosphere was great and it was relatively cheap as well consider how central we were! After consuming a few drinks and listening to some ultimate cheese music we then headed a little further down the road to a Bar/Club called Floripa! MY GOD was it expensive, £10 entry into this Brazilian themed club, but the vibe was amazing, the drinks were flowing and of course there was good music too! I paid £21 for two doubles, boy do I miss uni prices of £2.50 doubles at Superbull every Friday!! But the place was super cool, all summer themed with Floripa up on the wall with bright bulbs and a large dance floor that was absolutely packed out!

It was a good night that did end with being superglue’d out of masons flat due to his neighbours not liking how loud we were BEFORE the noise curfew of 11pm. 11pm may I add is when you should stop being too loud or noisy in a residential area in the UK. 11pm – 7am are the exact time. So we left at around half 10, to come back to a superglue’d door and no way of entry from 3am, to 5am. It was a pa-larva and a half but it was a great night none the less!

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My second 21st was in Watford for my wonderful friend Shannon, she was 21, we hit up Watford town and headed to Pryzm, a massive nightclub in the centre of Watford. With 2 floors with different music and a funky rooftop smoking area, the music is a main factor as it is amazing. Mixed with your typical chart music and house music that you’d hear in Ibiza it was a crazy night being picked up in a LIMO.

The best part of the night wasn’t just celebrating with Shannon but the fact that I also got to see some of my university friends, its nice to see them in/outside London and not in Lincoln for once! It was a really fun night, and Pryzm in Watford, for £7 entry, is where it’s at on a Friday night! Compared to Floripa where I paid that £21 for doubles I paid £6 for a double in Pryzm! I dont understand clubs sometimes but then Watford isn’t as central as Old Street in London!

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Now I saved the best for last! My wonderful friend Miriam turned 21 back in October and as she is from Spain it made perfect sense to go to the Spanish night they have at the club Tiger Tiger in Piccadilly, London! I went out with Miriam, Carlos who is also spanish, Alex, and Joanna who is Portuguese! There were a few more of us as well all to celebrate such a good night!

The club itself was huge with a large bar and dance floor as you walk in, flashing lights and what looked like a VIP Area up some stairs as you came in. The drinks weren’t too expensive, with a Double being £8-10, which isn’t so bad but also incredibly extortionate! Of course the music was your traditional and typical Spanish music, I discovered this night that I LOVE Spanish music and want to learn the Spanish Language. We discovered a second dance floor a little later on in the night and it was the best part of the whole night!

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We hit the club at about half 1 in the morning and stayed until the lights came up, I’ve never danced the way I danced in that club that night! It was phenomenal, it wasn’t just your boring typical trashy dancing you would see in a club, people were dancing traditionally and with partners and moving their feet and their hips like no ones business, it was an amazing place and atmosphere. When the lights came up even then the fun and singing didn’t stop as people were still dancing and singing, everyone was so merry and there were no problems at all, just like a huge family night, and it was a night I know I will never forget.

Shout out to Miriam, Carlos and Joanna for showing me how to REALLY move my hips to the wonders of Spanish music! I will be going there again one Wednesday!

 

My London Bucket List – Part 3, Brads Birthday adventures!

Our next London Adventure was a good one, it was for Brads 21st birthday!

I thoroughly enjoyed this one because I planned the wholeeeee day for Bradders and what he wanted to do in London, so I’m going to enjoy telling you about it! So we were headed to central London! Of course we started with some food as we set off around 12ish. So where else to be for that but Camden?

89We arrived and as per usual it was busy busy! It was a lovely day as well which meant we could walk about in just T-shirts, so we headed down all the different alleyways looking at the clothing stalls and smelling all the food. I went for the old school Chinese chicken and noodles, The stall I got it from was incredible, I chose it because the last time we visited Camden they gave me a sample from the stall and it was AMAZING. So of course I went back for more this time! We had a proper wonder around Camden and there are so many different stalls I want to go back and try, for example the cereal Killer shop looks incredibly cool. More reason to come back hey!

We found the main area of the market, kitted out with deck chairs on different levels and places to sit, theres a statue of Amy Winehouse as well as a memorial to her, it was really lively. But my personal favourite shop that we found was called Cyberdog. Its a ravers shop with two huge metal statues outside the front, its all luminous and loud bass line music pumping out the shop, I didn’t even realise until after we went inside the shop it has 3 FLOORS. It was crazy fun!

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93.jpgOnce we decided it was probably about time to head from Camden the next part of Brads 21st was somewhere he kept talking to me about going, so if course we headed straight over to the Imperial War Museum!

When we arrived we had a couple hours to go around the entire building, it was incredibly impressive and moving, really enjoyable and insightful too! The outside of the building had two massive gun statues placed right out in front of the building. It looked so good. As we headed up the pathway and inside the who place opened up and there was a huge open space in the middle of the museum. With the building rising up 5 floors and being able to see each display roughly from the outside of each floor from the balconies above, it was a pretty cool place. 99There were huge planes hanging from the ceiling and a number of tanks dotted around, with all these different displays of the trenches and how brutal the war was. You could see each story of WW1 & WW2 on different floors. There was a new floor that had opened also dedicated to the holocaust. It was eye opening and moving, dark tourism at its finest, with there being a model of what Auschwitz would’ve looked like from above, behind the model in glass cases were real shoes left over from those who were hoarded into the gas chambers, it was chilling.

We stayed right up until we had to leave because it was closing, it was a wonderful place, we didn’t quite manage to get all the way around, gives us an excuse to go again!

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Once the museum had closed we headed to the hotel! We’d booked in to stay in the Doubletree Hilton Docklands, right on the Thames/Docklands area of the Thames, And just opposite Canary Wharf!

It was a beautiful hotel on the water, we’d booked a king room and it was wonderful and huge, with a view of Canary Wharf and the thames one side and a skyline view the other side of the window! The beds were comfy, of course we got warm cookies upon arrival, and the en suite was so clean and fresh. Of course I wore my robe religiously around the room. Nothing better than hotel robes.

We had a lovely stay, a cracking breakfast as well, like my god did it set me up for the day. But it was nice to stay in London for a change, we were pretty close to everything we wanted to do and it didn’t take us long to get back from dinner at the Savoy to the hotel either!

One thing I wont forget was when we were heading back to the hotel from the bus stop literally 2 minutes away, there was a small park and as we were walking past, there were 3 urban foxes all fighting and playing in the middle of this park. I’d never seen anything like it, and it was so dark and quite they didn’t even see us. it was wonderful to watch and I never thought id get the chance in such a big city to see such a thing.

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109Finally, Brad and I went for a wonderful Dinner together at the Savoy Hotel in London, In Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant to celebrate Brads 21st Birthday!

It was a very fancy place, the Inside of the hotel was beautiful. It was marble floored and the bathrooms were something of royalty, yes the bathrooms were a high point, but if you’ve seen them you know they’re fancy as hell! There was a piano in the middle of their open seating and dining area, and the woman playing the piano was so talented and she had a wonderful voice.

We then headed into the restaurant, two glasses of rose and our food orders later and we were incredibly impressed. With someone to ask us what when we wanted before we ordered the wine, and incredible service and food, it was a lovely experience.

I ordered The Lamb and it melted in my mouth and the flavours were incredible, and brad ordered a Steak with Peppercorn Sauce and chips and it was cooked exactly bow he wanted it, They even put something together for Brad for his birthday which was also lovely!

After we were done we headed down to the Thames and had a little walk down to the London Eye and back before heading back to the hotel. The city lights looked so pretty from there, with St Paul’s also lit up in the background. I’d never even walked along the thames before this, so it was really nice. A wonderful way to spend such a lovely night!

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The next part of the bucket list coming soon guys, thanks for reading!

J x

 

My London Bucket List – Part 2, Notting Hill Carnival & EGG

SO HERE IT IS, INSTALLATION NUMBER 2!

(apologies for any delay)

This time on my London Bucket list we ticketed of two pretty fun and memorable things!

NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL & EGG LONDON

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Now Notts Hill Carnival was something I NEVER thought I Would be lucky enough to  experience, but I was and I was also very lucky to experience it with Brad! The atmosphere, the streets of London, the tube, the music and dancing, the drinks, it was all such a surreal experience and also so much fun!

21686502_10209590355547572_6929236103481512279_n.jpgSO we jumped on the tube to Notting Hill, of course it was absolutely rammed. Getting out of the station was like sardines in an oven. I have never seen so many people trying to get out of a station before and it was a beautiful day. Minus the 40,000 I tried to walk against going to Wembley Stadium from Wembley Park, that was difficult. Once we’d gotten out of the station there were people EVERYWHERE.

We headed over to carnival on the Sunday, prior to this someone had been idiotic enough to throw acid the day before at carnival which you may have seen in the news or paper, so there were incredible amounts of police, but it quite obviously didn’t dull the shine or traditions and general atmosphere because everyone was still enjoying themselves in the moment. No one could ruin something like this, and even if they tried, it wouldn’t work, we won’t live in fear here, its the way London is!

21617567_10209590357307616_493999236797992347_nThe build up of people was incredible, there was music coming from every direction. Once we got to all the streets and madness there were different stages down each road, I could feel the baseline in my chest as we walked the streets. We stopped at a stall and bought what I think was 10 beers for £6, trust me as you can imagine it wasn’t GOOD beer. But beer is beer at an event like this and for that price in London, anything goes. The FOOD oh god it was amazing even if it was just from a market stall, I got a Jerk Chicken skewer and it tasted incredible. It was about £8 for something rather small 21462689_10209590349547422_3538097775363721314_nthough so I did go a little bit hungry. The toilets were literally holes in the cubicle with rips in the side and everything, it was hilarious going to the loo and being able to chat to someone next door, its always enjoyable to look back at the fact I went to the toilet with the girls using the only cubicle without a door.

There was quite a lot of us so we were trying to get too Hyde Park, the main areas of the carnival, this was a huge struggle and in the end we didn’t get there, there was just so many people we were never going to make it there anyway! We ended

21558662_10209590355027559_8199868914592284400_nup on one of the end streets, dancing till our feet hurt and enjoying ourselves. There were girls dressed in their little outfits looking incredible and all different types of music, I’ve never had so many people offer me weed on the streets on London! Amsterdam sure, but London and the police literally standing by and watching? It was another level, it was like this small part of London had been completely transformed for 2-3 days.

We never actually did catch the parade, which is quite funny because it was what we went to see! When Brad and I were leaving we actually caught the end of it! It was great, the buses were pumping out their tunes an the girls dancing,  It was so incredibly and phenominally enjoyable, and it goes to show how much different cultures have moved worldwide!

Carnival is Caribbean culture, so the fact that we celebrate it here in London with happiness and laughter is really great. Its all about being a community after all! I can’t wait to come again next year, at least thats what the plan is!

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EGG London was one of the nightclubs I had on my london bucket list to go too, and when we did, It certainly did not disappoint. Its Situated in Camden and not too far a walk away from Camden Town station!

From Outside EGG looks like the dingiest club you’ve ever seen in your life, With the strictest security dawdling about outside waiting for the punters, like us, to come in! Tickets were about £6-10, but the joys of this place are that they have flash sales, so we all got out tickets for £1!!! Its a phenomenal night club.

21430608_10209590362627749_3125597419639237790_nSo once you arrive and have been frisked right down to the underneath of your bra and practically your gooch (yes, seriously), The first thing you see on your right is the KITCHEN! So apparently its called EGG for a reason, every wandered were you’re gonna get food after a night out? well in EGG the kitchen does pizza’s and all sorts whenever you’re ready to leave the club!! Apparently if you stay until morning they start serving eggs and breakfast, but I’m still yet to stay until 6am to find out! Next time!

So our first visit we spent most of it dancing away to the deep techno tunes of the basement, the club itself has 3 floors and 5 rooms/areas. Theres a large main room as you walk in, then the basement through another set of doors at the back of the main dance floor. From there its a flight of stairs and another room and some toilets, then all the way to the attic where its a huge open plan floor and a terraced smoking area. Its a pretty massive place with incredible dance, tech and house floors to enjoy! Drinks aren’t incredibly expensive either!! Which is nice considering we visited a bar in Old Street, London called Floripa and 2 doubles were £21 (funky place though)

21615991_10209590361427719_116666540737806104_nThe first visit was just a club night that we went too, the second time we visited EGG for for a proper gig! Went went to see Amine Edge and Dance live, the main gig was based in the main room of the venue and the vibes were incredible. The music was pumping and of course with two of the best DJ’S playing it was hard not to enjoy it. The funniest part was that I did the whole night sober with work the next day, and Amine Edge and Dance didn’t come on stage until 3am, so that was a tired shift later on in the day for sure.

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So this is the end of this chapter of The London Bucket List!

Plenty to talk about in the next post about My London Bucket List for sure, Brad’s birthday trip to London was a busy one!

Jessie

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South Africa – Robben Island

When we went to South Africa, Cape Town, we visited the Dark Tourism and heavily emotional site that is Robben Island. Robben Island is known as the Island that Nelson Mandela spent years imprisoned before being released.

Robben Island is a national heritage site, but it is also where political prisoners were kept and was a gruelling prison for others. Mandela was imprisoned here for 18 years before his release. Robben Island is literally no larger than 2 miles and to reach it involves a boat trip!

Naturally the weather when we visited wasn’t all that nice. SO this boat ride was like something from hell for me. The water was So choppy I was terrified and nearly in tears whilst my family laughed at me of course. It really wasn’t that bad which is why they laughed at me, I’m just a wimp.

I didn’t take many pictures but considering the experience it really didn’t bother me. Once we arrived at Robben Island it was incredibly bare or covered in greenery there was no in-between. There was also barbed wire fences in most area’s indicatig where the outer edges of the prison were.

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Once leaving the mini port they had to reach the island we walked and jumped on a coach. This coach took us all around the outskirts of the island with a guide telling us little bit of information about the area before we reached the main prison. We were taken to a little cafe area also where we could look out back to the mainland and have a quick snack. Then it was back on the coach and to the actual prion building.

When we arrived at the building we all piled off and entered a large square room. We knew we’d entered the prison because of the barbed wire and bars across the windows of the rooms we were in. Now a gentleman greeted a small group of us and it was until he had introduced himself that we realised we would be taken around the prison by an ex prisoner! It was something that I was absolutely blown away by and made the experience all that more moving and better because we got it from the point of view of a prisoner who used to spend his time there.

imagesSo we started the tour around the prison and we were taken around the entire prison ground by our ex prisoner tour guide and it was incredibly fascinating but harrowing. We were taken to the yard where they would spend their time in the day, all of the cells and also where they would eat which was also sometimes their cells.

We were taken to see Nelson Mandela’s cell that he stayed in whilst he did his time on the island and it was so small. It amazes me how prisoners cope with such small cells, but then realistically they don’t (I watch too many prison shows). So the cell was pretty small, he had a bed with a pillow and blanket which was set up on the floor, a table with a small bowl, one barred window and a toilet. I did take my own picture of the cell but unfortunately couldn’t find it for this post so i’ve found a picture which is exactly what his cell looked like to give you an idea.

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Overall the experience at the prison was something that was eye opening and harrowing but also incredibly fascinating at the same time. I left the island in a somber mood and reflected in my mind quite a bit about the conditions and wondering how they were treated.

I would definitely recommend visiting this site as it will leave you with lots of different thoughts for sure.

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(Photo creds to google as I didn’t take my own bar one which I couldn’t find)

South Africa – We need to discuss this journey from hell.

I went to South Africa a few years back, Im mainly writing about it because I know it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I will never forget it. one day maybe I’ll be lucky enough to go back hopefully and do everything we didn’t get to do!

Now the plane journey was enough. It needed its own blog post. Because the journey was an incredibly unfortunate one. The time to South Africa, landing in Cape Town, should’ve taken us 11 and a half hours. It was a night flight and sleeping was the plan even though I can’t sleep on any mode of public transport. But surprisingly enough I managed it this time for the first time ever. Theres a lot of us on this trip so we’re all excited getting on the plane ready to sit on our arses for a few hours for the holiday of a lifetime!

The Plane takes off absolutely no problem at all, it wasn’t till we were about 5 hours in that we noticed something wasn’t quite right. Now the last thing I remember seeing is the crew and a first aid kit heading very fast towards the back of the plane. All the crew were occupied with something else, followed by an announcement for a doctor on board. I fell asleep after that.

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Myself and my sister on the plane!
Now I didn’t wake back up until we were in Barcelona. Yup, Barcelona! Not South Africa. As it had turned out, unfortunately for one of the cabin crew their appendix had burst and we had to turn around to Barcelona to get the crew member off the plane and to safety. Luckily in the end they were all a-okay which was a relief!

When I woke up I was so disorientated about the fact we were in Barcelona and I was so tired, I cried! Tragic I know, but I was tired alright! So the end result in this first aid was that after landing Barcelona they wouldn’t let us get of the plane, so we were sat on the runway for the next 4 hours until we had to go back to the airport, in the UK. We landed at 6am and were not allowed to board the plane again until 11am. The man was alright and that was the main thing! This late boarding of the plane was mainly because of a cabin crew change due to their hours they’re allowed to fly. Which is understandable as if I was cabin crew after that I’d have just had enough. Shout out to all the cabin crews out there, you’re smashing it.

To compensate for the fact we were back in the UK we got a complimentary Starbucks because who doesn’t enjoy being a stereotypical white girl for free eh? I just remember plugging my phone into the wall, sitting on the floor and then pleasantly staying there till we were called to board the plane again!

I didn’t mind staying in the airport at all, I love the airport more than anything! Its one of my favourite places to be because of the hustle and bustle and the constant buzz, people coming and going, hello’s and goodbye’s and all these different stories of different people. Its just an exciting place!

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In the airport hotel in SA!
After getting back on the plane the journey was plain sailing, we even got a night in Hilton at the airport at the other end due to the time we landed because we were driving to the Kruger National Park, and that would take us 5 hours. So we all set up in the hotel for the night which was much more pleasant, could do the journey refreshed that way too!

I was more excited about the fact I was in Africa, and there was so much to see & do!

Whats to come: Cape town / Safari / Robin Island / Table mountain & more!

Slum Tourism, Good or Bad?

They say that when you’re a university you should embrace your course, so I guess this is me embracing my course. One of our topics that we go over is Slum Tourism which is something that I took a really great interest in, especially due to my thoughts, opinions and also my experience. Although I haven’t directly been into a Favela (another word for a Slum meaning township or ‘community’), I’ve visited South Africa, and Cape Town in particular has a large Favela, Cape Flats, going through the middle, in other words Its absolutely huge. You can’t miss it. I guess the point I’m going to talk about is whether or not Slum Tourism is good or bad.

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Cape Flats, Cape Town, South Africa

Everyone’s opinions are different in regards to whether or not slum tours and slum tourism is beneficial or if its disrespectful. For me, in my opinion, I find that its really intrusive and as a result of that I think its bad.

Imagine you’re in your own home minding your own business and doing what you would do on a day to day basis, washing clothes and dishes, eating, sleeping, looking after your children. When all of a sudden a huge group of people or a small group are looking through your window and front door and taking photos of your house, the layout, your things, the way you live and the way you do things for their enjoyment. Some take pity, others may laugh and mock, and other won’t say a word. How would that make you feel? Would you feel angry? Insulted? Like they’ve just invaded a space that wasn’t even theirs to do so? Like trespassers.

What we don’t realise is that Favela’s, townships, slums etc, they’re where people live. its their way of living, their life and their home and its not something most of them have a choice of. They don’t have what some of us are lucky enough to have and we see this by entering their territory, invading their own living space, their way of life and sometimes we end up ridiculing them as there are some with little to no respect for others. So why have we made their homes a tourist attraction? for us to enter and amuse ourselves with their misfortune.

When I visited South Africa I did not go into the Favela, we had a tour booked and the moment I’d heard about it I was skeptical. I really didn’t want to go by the end of it and luckily we didn’t end up going and this was due to our safety. We are intruders. To go on the tour would’ve been plain as day an invasion of privacy and its unpleasant for them, so it would be just as unpleasant for us. We need to respect their home just as we do our friends, families and anyone else’s house we enter.

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View of Cape Town from Table Mountain.

Although there are some good things that can come from Slum/Favela tours. Sometimes favela tours can bring money to the community. Tourists spend money. If they are to come to the area they will pump money into the community. So although it is an invasion of privacy it is also a benefit to favela communities. Vice named this type of tourism ‘Poorism‘ due to the fact that these people live in poverty and we marvel that.

There are also some slum tour companies in other countries which will employ people from the favela to work with their company and this can be seen as a benefit as its giving these people jobs and money. Creating jobs for the community is definitely not a negative thing and it can also develop a cultural understanding between those who live in the favela and the tourists, as that is something that can also be an issue with these slum tours. The cultural differences and the lack and willingness of some tourists and those who live in the favela to understand & respect each other is evident, theres no doubt you’ll have those who believe they are bigger and better or theres resentment, and this can come from both sides.

Favela tours can make us realise that if we continue to ignore this poverty it will only get worse/develop. Overall I believe slum tourism is wrong, but due to some of the benefits the tours bring morally and to help the community its not all as horrendous as it seems, and as I said before it would be worse of us if we ignored it.

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(please remember this is only my opinion, something we’re all entitled too).

My First Hospitality Job

I’ve been incredibly quiet on here the past couple of weeks and I am apologetic but do not regret it. This is because Ive started my first job in the hospitality sector. For me this is a pretty big deal, It is part of my university degree where I shall be working for a year in my chosen industry (hospitality). So, I’ve joined The Hilton Team!

Hilton is one of the largest and possibly most well known hotel business worldwide. So for me this opportunity to work in one of their hotels for a year was an obvious yes. Not only will it give me the experience I need in the future but it gives me a year to see what its like, because this is the real world not university. So a lot has changed.

I’ll be on placement from July 2017 until July 2018 so unfortunately no holidays/travelling to write about for you guys other than my South Africa trip from a while back which I’ll tell you guys all about when I have the time to write my blog! I mean I’m taking a holiday in September, but I’m only heading back to university for a week to see my friends, & I’m not going to write about that because all I’d be able to write is “I am too hungover and recovering from this week for this”.

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Getting up at half 7 is normal, maybe even half 6 now, which is really nice. Makes a change for me! I’m actually going to bed at 11pm and sleeping through till half 7, Getting up for work isn’t even that hard! The only thing I could say that could possibly fault it is the drive to work. I live 20 miles away from work. Now for those who are well aware of the hospitality industry you’ll know that normal hours 9-5 are a thing of the past, which is something that I really don’t mind as I love having different shifts as no shift is ever the same! If I can time it right I can get to work in half hour especially if my shifts are good. If my shifts are in peak times, we’re talking a whole hour and 10 minutes just to get 20 miles away. Ripping my hair out on the regs.

I’ve been working coming on three weeks now nearly and I am throughly enjoying myself. Even though the training is frustrating and it is a long process its something thats got to be done, I just can’t wait to finish the training so I can get out onto the desk and finally do something!

After starting the job I thought a lot would be different but I was wrong. I was convinced as I was so young I wouldn’t be lucky enough to make friends, now I realise it was hands dow the stupidest thing I had ever thought/said in my whole life. I’ve already met some wonderful people, Yeah I may be a baby but I’m not the only young one either. Everyone made me feel more than welcome, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it. I was also so worried that I was going to be thrown straight into the deep end and that I might crumble and struggle big time. But its actually been the opposite, I’ve never been so throughly briefed about the way things are down in my life, It made me super confident which was really really nice.

One phrase used regularly by my family whenever I moan about work is “Welcome to the real world” because lord they aren’t lying. But I would much rather Live to work than work to live, and thats the aim especially if I can find a good career in Hospitality after this year and university (and travelling of course).

Its incredibly interesting seeing how the hotel business actually works, and It’s actually really impressive. There’s so many people all in one team. But at the same time all in different teams in departments and it’s all so well organised and yeah sometimes I’m sure as hell it gets hard to deal with everything for a lot of people and departments. So next time you visit a hotel, any hotel not just a Hilton Hotel, Be considerate because everyone goes that extra mile to make sure you enjoy your time whilst you’re staying.

Im very excited to see what the future holds! Here’s to the next year!

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Here’s a picture of Primrose Hill, London, With the London Skyline Just because!

Miami – Being terrified of scorpions, alligators & crocodiles. Star Island, Home of the famous and some HUGE houses.

The Everglades was an experience I’d really like to do again. We left the comfort of the heart of Miami to head a little way out to the Everglades to do a tour and try and see some alligators and crocodiles! It was a one of a kind experience and like I said I would totally go back and do it all over again. Firstly because the fan boats were so incredibly loud but SO much fun, they went a whole lot faster than I thought they would! And secondly, because we actually only saw one baby Alligator and that was about it!

I want to go again so that I have a little more of a chance to see some more of those water creatures I am so wonderfully afraid of! Although I say this now, chances are when it finally comes to going back It’ll be one of those things where I won’t see anything again. But the experience would be totally worth it.

 

We had a guide on the back of our fan boat, the boat sat about 15-25 people and we ended up at the back which meant we got given ear plugs because of how loud the fan was. Our guide was great, she was really talkative and open to all question and she actually got into the water at one stage of our tour where the water was only knee deep and all I could do was watch and listen and just PRAY that there was no creature with sharp teeth circling around her shins. It was pretty cool though when she just got back into the boat as if it was totally normal. But then I guess for her It was!

 

I could only imagine some of the beasts she’s been lucky enough to see on the huge area of water and grassland that is the Everglades! When we arrived back at the boat area we all piled out of the boat and headed towards a show area! Here we all sat around this large fenced area in the middle where another guide demonstrated how to tackle and catch an alligator or crocodile! I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, but it was so interesting to watch. And If I ever get into a spot of bother with an alligator or crocodile then I know how to handle it, because you know, its something I deal with on a regular basis in the UK… sure.

He also showed us other animals and reptiles and Its a safe to say GJ and I thoroughly enjoyed it when he decided to place a scorpion in his hands, pretty damn close to my entire body. The photographs sums up our exact emotions. BUT I did get to hold a baby alligator, and if thats not cool and totally doesn’t makes up for the fact he terrified me with a scorpion then I don’t know what will!

 

*****

When In Miami it would be almost rude not to do the boat tour of Star Island and all the other celeb inhibited areas! Although probably incredibly intrusive to those celebs that live on star island, some of the houses were absolutely out of this world. We went on the trip with Island Queen tours and it was honestly such a fun experience for our little trip.

The tour started in the harbour of Miami where theres also a huge market place! I bought a hoodie that said Miami on it and it lasted a grand total of one wash. I pulled it out of the washing machine and I hadn’t gone to Miami, I’d just gone to M-am- Instead, the letters had peeled of nicely!

 

We hopped onto this boat which had two tiers, it also had a bar with refreshments and an intercom across the entire boat so our guide could tell us who’s house/flat we were passing as well as all the other wonderful sights we did see. It wasn’t incredibly bumpy either on the boat so the journey was smooth. The water is such a clear blue when you hung your head out of the windows you could see all the jellyfish bobbing about in the water.

Not only did we get to see star island but you also get this totally different view of the Miami Skyline, all the cruise ships in the harbour were also massively impressive. It took us about an hour and a half to get around. We saw the houses that have been rented out by the likes of Kayne, P Diddy and houses that belong too Philip Frost, Shaquille O’Neall, Will Smith, Gloria Estefan and A few residents are women from the real housewives of Miami.

 

We also saw Fisher Island and Millionaire Row. Fisher Island is only accessible by helicopter or ferry and get people like Demi Moore and Bruce Willis renting the flats there. Plenty more famous faces still visit there too. It even has a golf course and a supermarket, I’d just never leave.

Nearing the end of the tour they take you under one of Miami’s main roads into the Port where the cruise ships sit and there were 5 HUGE big ships all docked. I’d never been so close to a cruise ship as nothing terrifies me more than cruise ships. But they looked wonderfully impressive from the outside, at a distance, in another boat that wasn’t a cruise ship. Much where I’d rather be!

 

We chose the best day for it too as there was no cloud in the sky! Overall I would totally go again, for the experience and because I enjoyed the boat trip that much!

 

 

Miami – Miami South Beach, Tiny Shorts wearing models & Nearly getting eaten by Sharks.

Miami south beach was my idea of perfect. I know I’m not yet travelled enough to have seen Thailand and Australia etc and I’m very sure my opinion will change once I do go to those places. But for now, Miami South Beach is my beach of dreams, its also where I realised I wanted to study tourism.

Our first day on Miami south was spent walking up and down the sand, not going that far into the water as there were swarms of jelly fish everywhere and watching a man nearly get eaten by sharks. No really,  he really did nearly get his ankles nibbled by a shark. But I shall get to that.

I was blown away. I love the beach. At home the beach is my happy place. So any beach that is more gorgeous than the seafront at home, which is most as its England, will never fail to absolutely blow me away. It had golden sand and the clearest sea I have ever swam in so far in my life. The lifeguard huts were even like ones you see from the movies. I fell in love. I won’t hide it.

This was also where I fell in love with the idea of working in the tourism industry. The influence of all the tourists and the sites that I saw as I wondered along the beach were something that made me realise that this industry was for me. So it really wasn’t just any old meaningless trip to Miami South for me because I decided my future. The best decision may I add.

One day I went for a wonder along Miami South on my own with just my headphones and I saw a stingray for the first time as it swam along the shoreline! I never thought I’d see one so close to the shore and because the sea was so clear it was so impressively large and swam so fast. i also saw a film crew filming someone who looked to be a male model, but its safe to say the swimming shorts were far to short for my liking.

The walk where the man nearly got bitten by the shark was an interesting one. I wasn’t on my own for this experience either so I had Imi’s shoulder to hide behind if I needed too. There was a a serious jellyfish problem at the time we were there so a few huge schools of fish were coming really close to the shore to feed, and following those schools of fish were some little sharks who wanted to eat the fish. Because they were so close to shore some man decided yeah Ill walk out into the water where the fish are, and the shark which you could see very clearly, and take some photos.

I think he realised the mistake he’d made when the shark spotted him and started to go for him and he was knee deep and humans running in knee deep water doesn’t always work in our favour. That and the shark was a lot faster than he was. So he literally JUST managed to make it back to the shallows before the shark decided he fancied fish instead of human for lunch.

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Honestly you know when you’re cheering someone on to win a competition because they’re winning and an opponent is just behind them and you get that rush of excitement and you’re alrmost screaming for them to win? It was a lot like that because we didn’t want his ankles to be devoured.

One day Imi, GJ and I decided we wanted to go exploring to the end of the beach where there was South Pier. The view of the coastline from south pier was literally something from a magazine, I was speechless. It made me realise Miami is a beautiful place. The other side of the pier was the harbour and I think what made it was when the disney cruise ship was leaving the harbour and they sounded the horn that played disney tune and I melted. It was an impressively large harbour and port which can hold up to 5 cruise ships! But I’ll get to that in my next post about our Star Island trip!

My stepmum and I also did a beach run along the boardwalk that they have along the top of the beach, almost like a promenade. That was perfect to run on. It was also incredibly hot, but really perfect for a 6 mile run as we went a little earlier in the morning! We tried to run along the sand but as you can imagine that wasn’t the easiest!

So the verdict from Miami south was that I’m going to live there one day and bury myself  under the sand so I never have to leave ever again. And go to Nikki Beach. 

 

 

What is so great about Dark Tourism?

Trust me i’m here to tell you.

Dark Tourism is something that has fascinated me from the moment I started looking into it on my university course. That was it from the get go honestly. From the outset I wanted to know more about Dark Tourism and what it was.

For those of you who aren’t aware of what dark tourism is heres a little definition:

“Dark tourism, the act of visiting sites associated with death, suffering, disaster and the overall macabre” – (Tinson, Julie S; Saren, Michael A. J; Roth, Bridget E)

Sounds like something really chirpy to be interested in hey? But it is totally worth the interest. Dark Tourism isn’t something that is unfamiliar to us. It has been around for centuries, the example starting as early as the Romans going to watch live executions. Delightful right? So its not something that is new and unheard of.

Dark Tourism sites now are not quite to the extent of live executions, but definitely when being visited, bring an overall sense of sadness and realisation as to what happened during these horrible events and in some cases can help us to understand and gain more knowledge on the situation. An Example of this is Ground Zero in New York.

Ground Zero is the memorial for those who perished in the terrible 9/11 bombings. It was an act of terrorism that shook the world, but we did not and do not let those who suffered be forgotten. This has been done at Ground Zero in a brilliant and clever but harrowing and sorrowful way. The two squares are to mark where the two buildings known as The World Trade Centre / The Twin Towers used to stand. Around the edges of these large footprints where these towers used to stand are the names of those who were lost on the edges of the wall.

The concept of Ground Zero was to “remember absence”. Something that after speaking to someone (My stepmother) who recently visited Ground Zero, was very apparent, moving and emotional.

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There are incredible amounts of Dark Tourism sites all over the world, these sites are sites of respect, remembering and they all share the same theme.

Other examples of Dark Tourism sites are:

  • The Anne Frank House, Amsterdam.
  • Auschwitz.
  • The Killing Fields in Cambodia.
  • Prypiat, Chernobyl, Ukraine.
  • Hiroshima.
  • The My Lai massacre grounds in Vietnam.
  • Memorials dedicated to war veterans globally.
  • Prisons and Mental Institutions, abandoned and currently functioning.
  • Battlefields and previous war sites.
  • Robin Island, South Africa

I’m sure the list could definitely go on.

These Dark tourism sites are an incredible influence on our tourism industry as there is the offer of tours and guides to help understand these places more. Although there is the argument that whilst tourism for these venues is incredibly good for awareness and spreading the word of what happened in these horrible circumstances. There is also the argument that encouraging tourist to visit these places is wrong and can bring larger crowds and mass tourism. This can be seen as ruining the atmosphere and the entire meaning to the site. 

we should respect those still in mourning, which is a given of course. And respectful generally as a whole. Recently there have been issues in places like Auchwitz for example, with younger adults being disrespectful by being loud, littering on the sight and believe it or not, it’s been reported that some were even playing Pokemon Go on the death camp site. 

Some of the more positive aspects of these tourism sites is that we can learn, we can be fascinated by our tour guides who may have once been there during the tragedies. An example of this is at Robin Island, where you are taken on your tour around the prison & island by ex prisoners, a normal tour guide will never make the hairs stand up on your skin as much as these people will. 

We can learn about the past, these memories are ours for the taking and to make those around us and ourselves aware of the tragedies these people have suffered.

I feel that Dark Tourism sites make us appreciate life a little more too. 

I recently visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam and I was thoroughly moved and emotional by what the Frank Family went through. Reading her diary extracts and walking around the house, it gave me chills. It was an experience I will never forget and was lucky enough to encounter. It widened my understanding Of their experience too, I knew a little bit not a lot, so to go and to learn about it in its entirety was a wonderful experience. 

So go to these sites, be fascinated, be interested, cry, smile, enjoy, discuss, and most importantly

be respectful.