Welcome to my Blog!!

Argh! I swear I jinxed myself so bad calling my blog ‘CurrentlyCara’!

…After a fairly up-to-date beginning in the blogging world, I have since fallen off the horse big time and found myself seriously behind with posts! However, the good news is that my excuse for lack of writing is that I’ve been busy doing a tonne of travelling! Ugh.. not another travel blog I hear you say. Yes amigo, I’m sorry to say that you have stumbled upon one of a gazillion travel blogs on the big old world wide web. So what’s the point of this one? Well if I’m being honest, because it’s good for me (so selfish!), and it could be good for you! I get to feel like I’ve left a tiny footprint in cyberspace and indulge my passion for writing, and you might just read a handy hint or two that could be just the thing for one of your own trips. 

Now, to the nitty gritty – what’s to be found here? In a nutshell – a series of posts showcasing the different locations that I’ve travelled to, featuring my highlights and lowlights, travel tips, and little bits and pieces about fashion, interior design and cuisine. I’ve also made recommendations of what to see and do, where to stay, what to eat, and where to party. Where have I been? Since I quit my job for the dream that is traveling the world in May 2014 I have travelled through 34 countries and counting. My travel has mainly been focused across Europe and through Central and South America, but there have also been some fun stops in countries such as Morocco, Turkey, and Cuba along the way!

Passport In Hand. Carmen Sandiego Vibin'.

Passport In Hand. Carmen Sandiego Vibin’.

Sometimes, OK mostly, I write a lot (sorry, it’s just that I never want you to miss out on something really fabulous!) and sometimes I write only a little, but I always include a bunch of fun and colourful snapshots to keep things and interesting. You’ll also find a sprinkling of quotes inspired by the places I’ve seen and things I’ve done, because sometimes famous people just say it so much better!

As I’m still on the go, searching out new and wonderful places around the globe (and experiencing seriously intermittent WIFI!), my writing is back-dated and fairly sporadic – so make sure you check back in every now and again to see what new locations I’ve added. Oh, and also… You’ll have to keep in mind that I’m travelling on a backpacker budget, so there’s nothing super fancy-pants about my experiences (even though I have an obsession for all things glam)!

Happy scrolling… With love, Cara xxx

Zermatt

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This was a very special destination for me as it was my first return to the little Swiss mountain village where I spent the first three years of my life. Although I have barely any memories of those years (who does?!), I’ve always maintained an idea of the place I came from through our home videos of when we were babies (Dad had me skiing up on the glacier at the age of 2!) and 15 years worth of old photographs from when my parents lived there before my sister and I were born. My parents travelled to Zermatt seperately as young people, Mum from London and Dad from New Zealand, both fell in love with the place (and each other) and made it their home. I can see how they fell in love with it. From the moment I clapped my eyes on the Matterhorn (the famous pyramidal mountain that rises above the village) I was under it’s spell – completely enchanted. The village itself was also magical to me.. all traditional wooden chalets with great blooms of bright red and white geraniums tumbling from every balcony.

Gorgeous Swiss Chalet

Gorgeous Swiss Chalet

To be fair, my family and I probably didn’t visit Zermatt at the best time of year – It was in between the summer and winter seasons so it was construction central with giant cranes erecting more chalet apartments wherever they could fit. The first light snow fell on the hills around the village while we were there so we got our first taste of really cold weather since our travels began, but the only skiing available would have been on the glacier at that time. In saying that, nothing could really take away from how happy I felt to finally return with my family, after 23 years(!), to the place where it all began!!

First Snow of the Trip!

First Snow of the Trip!

Arrive

Our family rented a car out of Geneva and drove into Täsch (a little village used as the transfer point for travellers into Zermatt) where we caught the ‘Zermatt Shuttle Train’ into Zermatt as the village itself is ‘car free’ (only the real locals are allowed to take their vehicles in). We parked the rental car in the covered parking complex/garage attached to the train station where you get a ticket and pay for however many days you parked there on your return. The train station and the trains are like everything Swiss, impeccably clean, straight forward, and on time!

All aboard for Zermatt!

All aboard for Zermatt!

Stay

As were were traveling with Mum and Dad at this stage, we were lucky enough to stay in a beautiful modern chalet apartment called the ‘Powder Snow’ (no more cheapo hostels for us!) with the most fabulous view over the village and the Matterhorn, organised through ‘Zermatt Apartment Rentals‘ (www.zermattapartmentrentals.com). The best thing about Swiss apartments is that they are always kept gloriously warm inside. Also, Swiss bedding is a dream – they don’t really believe in a top sheet, just a giant fluffy feather duvet and equally giant and fluffy pillows making sinking into bed at the end of the day pure luxury! One thing that I found really curious was these giant slipper-like over shoes kept at the doorway that you slip over your outside boots to wear around inside (mountain boots are a pain to take on and off apparently lol).

The 'Powder Snow' Lounge Room

The ‘Powder Snow’ Lounge Room

Curious Giant Swiss House Slippers

Curious Giant Swiss House Slippers

Do

Walk all around the village exploring the streets and poke around the shops oogling the window displays of all the latest fashions for hitting the slopes. Hike in the hills around the village. There are kagillions of mountain walks and trails to choose from. We did a lovely loop walk from up behind our apartment, via Winkelmatten, Blatten and Furi and back down into the village. So gorgeous seeing the old chalet style barns in the hills and the sheep with their sweet little black faces, elbows and hooves in the pastures with the snow-capped alps framing everything in the background. The air is so cold and fresh in the hills and is just excellent for clearing the head after a few beers the night before! Obviously the best thing to do in Zermatt is to go up skiing or snowboarding, but I will just have to return some other time for that!

Slope Style Window Shopping

Slope Style Window Shopping

Swiss sheep are too adorable!

Swiss sheep are too adorable!

Eat

For lunch, I would recommend hiking up to one of the chalet restaurants in the hills around the town. We made the short hike up to an adorable one called ‘Chalet Reid‘ and had a phenomenal feed of pork ribs with salad and potatoes, washed down with a few glasses of champagne.

Post-lunch at Chalet Reid (champagne eyes!)

Post-lunch at Chalet Reid (champagne eyes!)

We had a fabulous dinner out at the ‘Walliserhoff‘ a restaurant right in the centre of the village where I had a very traditonal Swiss meal of rösti (pretty much the national dish, made of fried coarsely grated potato – droooool!), wurst (sausage) and onion sauce – accompanied of course with a few beers.

Swiss Dish - Rösti, Wurst & Onion Sauce

Swiss Dish – Rösti, Wurst & Onion Sauce

Oh, and of course you can’t go to Switzerland and not eat CHOCOLATE –  It’s what the swiss are famous for after all! We grabbed a couple of blocks at the local grocey store, called the ‘Migros‘, which is perfect for all  your grocery needs and blocks of cheap swiss chocolate.. a new handbag staple of mine 😉

Party

According to the parentals THE place to party in their day was the ‘Hotel Post‘ which, lucky for us, is still there. So after a fun  dinner out involving several alcoholic beverages with a few of their dearest old friends and Zermatt locals, we headed there so they could show us their moves on the old ‘barrel’ – a massive wooden podium in the centre of the dance floor. The club, which I think was in the basement, was empty when we got there (off season) but we soon had the party started and everyone had a go up on the barrel (dad was totally hogging though). It was great because the DJ gauged the crowd really well, playing all the old school tunes that Mum, Dad and their friends loved making them keen to carry on the party into the wee small hours. Also, when I asked the bartender the price of 8 tequila shots he said “It’s on me” – you can’t not love a bar with that kind of service!

Hotel Post

Hotel Post

For absolutely all the info on Zermatt you should check out http://www.zermatt.ch

My First Home – Zermatt, Switzerland – Pretty Huh?

Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is stuck all over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo clock style of architecture – Ernest Hemingway

Dream Decor. Le Mezquita. Cordoba. Spain.

Dream Decor. Le Mezquita. Cordoba. Spain.

Ultimate Ceiling Envy. Le Mezquita. Cordoba. Spain.

So the four months of planned travel with my sister have come to an end. What to do next? Ah, how convenient (and how fortunate) – Mum and Dad are renting a little ‘casa’ with a spare bedroom in the Andalusian Hills of Southern Spain. It’s the perfect opportunity for some quality time with the parentals, knocking off a tonne of laundry (it’s ridiculous how excited you get about using a decent washing machine when you’re backpacking), munching a bunch of healthy home-cooked meals, a mini fitness bootcamp (oh so desperately needed after all those irresistible Italian carbs), a moment to assess the remaining travel funds (eeeek), and of course the chance to explore this gorgeous region of Spain…

You can check out andalucia.com for a comprehensive guide of locations in Andalucia and Southern Spain but, for now, here’s my own little blurb on the spots we checked out:

Cútar

Cútar is an adorable little village of Moorish origin nestled in the Andalusian Hills. It’s low white-washed houses sparkle among the greens and browns of the beautiful surrounding hillside landscape which is covered in olive trees, vineyards and mango plantations. Our little rental house, ‘Casa La Loma‘ was situated about a 10-minute walk down the hill from Cútar and had a fantastic salt-water swimming pool. It also came with the sweetest little black and white kitten nicknamed ‘Peanut’ who quickly became a part of the family. To be honest, most of our stay was spent chilling out poolside at the casa, but Cútar made for a lovely spot to take an evening stroll and was an eye-catching feature of the phenomenal view we were so lucky to have.

Cútar

Cútar

Peanut and I at 'Casa la Loma'

Peanut and I at ‘Casa la Loma’

Poolside at 'Casa la Loma'

Poolside at ‘Casa la Loma’

Mani-Pedi fun in the Spanish sun

Mani-Pedi fun in the Spanish sun

Yay for healthy home-made lunches

Yay for healthy home-made lunches

Torre Del Mar

Torre del Mar is a beach resort located on the coast of the ‘Costa del Sol’ region in Andalucia. It took around 20-30 minutes for us to drive from ‘Casa la Loma’ down to the beach at Torre del Mar, which is a superb four kilometre-long stretch of sand lined with fantastic little beach shacks. Many an afternoon during the fortnight we stayed in Cútar was spent soaking up rays from the Spanish sun laying on Torre del Mar beach. We particularly enjoyed the fact that, as we were there in September, we missed the busy summer crowds, leaving plenty of space between our little beach set-up and the next persons. No visit to Torre del Mar was complete without stopping in at any one of the beach shacks for a big plate of absolutely scrumptious calamari rings drenched in garlic aoli and freshly squeezed lemon juice! For Dad’s birthday dinner we made a visit to a beach restaurant named ‘Rompeolas‘ where a lovely big ‘Pargo’ or Red Snapper fish was cooked for us over an open fire right on the sand, then served covered in olive oil, sea salt and garlic and accompanied with potato and zucchini fries drizzled with honey balsamic – deeeeeelicious!!

Calamari & Aoli at Torre del Mar

Calamari & Aoli at Torre del Mar

Pargos cooking on an open fire at Torre del Mar

Pargo cooking on an open fire at Torre del Mar

Pargos is served at 'Rompeolas' restaurant at Torre del Mar

Pargo is served! – ‘Rompeolas’ restaurant at Torre del Mar

San José

For a fun family day out, we decided to drive approximately three and a half hours from Cútar to a truly stunning spot called San José which is a small fishing village located in the ‘Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata‘. The Mediterranean Sea here was just so incredibly clear and WARM – absolute bliss to float about in all afternoon long – and the sand is more golden and clean than that at Torre del Mar. There are two very nice beaches right in the village which have easy access to a good selection of cafés, restaurants and tapas bars, and then there are a few beaches outside of the village also, all within walking distance.

La Playa at San José

La Playa at San José

My happy place in the Mediterranean Ocean

My happy place in the Mediterranean Ocean

I is for IOS – the number one PARTY ISLAND in Greece!

Arrive – We arrived relaxed, rested and ready to P.A.R.T.Y on a ferry from Paros that took around 2 hours.

Welcome to Ios Party People!

Welcome to Ios Party People!

Stay – A few of my friends had recommended we stay at a hostel called ‘Francesco’s’ so we decided to take their advice and booked in for 3 nights – and were glad we did! We were met at the Ios ferry terminal by ‘Alex’, a super friendly and informative rep from Francesco’s who drove us up to the hostel and installed us in a lovely, clean, modern and new private double room with ensuite for €18 ppn/night. Francesco’s boasts a fantastic view down towards the port and is the perfect spot to watch the beautiful sunsets over the Aegean Sea. The hostel pool is pretty fabulous and a great place to go and be social, or just relax and get your tan on! One of the best things about staying at Francesco’s is their ‘Welcome Drinks‘ at 10pm down on the outdoor terrace by the reception. Here you get to meet and mingle with all the other party-goers staying there, play drinking games, and take advantage of the cheap cocktails from the hostel bar before making your way out into the maze of bars as a big group for the hostel’s pub crawl, first stop – the ‘Blue Note Bar‘.

The Phenomenal View from 'Francesco's'

The Phenomenal View from ‘Francesco’s’

Do – Before you get caught up in the never-ending party that is Ios, take a day, or at least an afternoon, to explore the island a little bit. There are 2 pretty churches that are worth a visit – one up on the hill above all the bars in the main village or ‘Chora‘ (look out for the big palm tree right next to it) from where you can see a gorgeous view of the island down to the ocean, and a second out on a point down by the port area which also has stunning views. Take a walk over the hill from Chora to Mylopotas Beach and while away the day (or what’s left of it if you wake up late after a big night out on the razz) basking in the golden sand or swimming in the beautiful waters of the Aegean Sea. If you are up for it, there are plenty of water sports and diving trips available at Mylopotas Beach and we heard that in high season (we visited a a bit before), ‘Far Out Beach Club’, located at the end of this beach, puts on lots of day parties and events. If you fancy taking a boat trip out in the day, these are advertised along and leave from the port area (well duh, that’s where all the boats are!).

The Ocean Waters of Mylotopas Beach are the Best Hangover Cure!

The Clear Waters of Mylopotas Beach are the Best Hangover Cure!

Party – First things first, make sure you grab a couple of big bottles of water or Powerade from the little local supermarket down on the main square and put them by your bed for the morning – you can thank me later 😉

For a pretty tiny town, there is an impressive number of bars and clubs in Ios town! It feels as though almost every building along the narrow white-washed alleys of Chora is a bar or club with dance music blasting out. A crazy throng of revellers stumble around the streets and in and out of the numerous establishments from around 11pm pretty much until the sun comes up. The best places we went to (that I can recall the names of) were the Blue Note Bar, Slammer Bar, Flames, Astra, and Disco 69 but there are just so many to choose from (and I’m sure the popular places change from season to season). There are guys, mostly cocky Aussie blokes, on a majority of the entry doors who all try and entice you into their bar with various cheap drink deals or cheesy lines. These same guys can also be found lurking on the beaches during the day, promoting their clubs and insisting you come for shots later on (can you just leave me alone, can’t you see I have a splitting headache and just want to lay here in peace?!). Then, there are the ‘floor whores’ – attractive girls employed by the bars and clubs to dance and flirt with guys in the aim of getting them to buy lots of drinks (so don’t be sucked in lads)! Also, watch out for the €1 shots.. apparently these are not good stuff and will potentially land you in hospital, eeek! If you’re anything like my sister and I, you’ll have the best time partying it up in Ios and come home at the end of of each night (we could only manage 3 in a row) with a tonne of hilarious (if somewhat blurry) memories, a bunch of new friends, and be covered in stickers, face paint and glow bands!

The Ios Nightlife got the Best of Us!

The Ios Nightlife got the Best of Us!

Eat – If you’re a little over Greek food and wanting a fun and relatively cheap dinner out before a night out on the tiles, line your stomach with some tasty Thai dishes at ‘Thai Smile‘ in Chora – the staff were really sweet and gave us free shots and dessert, gotta love that!

For me, hands down the best place to eat on the Island has got to be ‘Harmony – a fun Mexican restaurant located up on the hillside as you come down to Mylopotas Beach from Chora. To find it, look up on the hillside to the right if you’re sitting on Mylopotas Beach facing the ocean and you’ll see a big sign painted on the side of the building. The vibe at this joint is just so chill – such a great spot to relax from the late afternoon into the evening, sipping on frozen strawberry and mango daquiris or slugging down giant bottles of ‘Mythos’ beer! The food is probably a little pricey for what it is to be honest but the staff are friendly and the view is unreal!

The Fajita Plate from 'Harmony' is Perfect to Share

The Fajita Plate from ‘Harmony’ is Perfect to Share

For a drunken pig-out before you crash into bed, we found the gyros at fast-food/takeaway joint ‘Porkies‘ to be very satisfying, but the best find was the little bakery at the base of Chora, just back from the main square under the bar area (just follow your nose, ah the aroma of sweet baked goodness!) – the giant slices of mouth-watering pizza, the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate bread and the delicious mince pies from here were all freaking amazing (and yes, I did have one of each)!

A Party Paradise and Picturesque to Boot. Ios. Greece.

A Party Paradise and Picturesque to Boot. Ios. Greece.

Magical Mylopotas Beach. Ios. Greece.

Magical Mylopotas Beach. Ios. Greece.

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