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Friday Photo: Spooky Souvenir

By on Nov 1, 2013 in Travel | 2 comments

Since it was Halloween yesterday and the #FriFotos theme is Souvenirs this week, it seemed appropriate to put the two together. I must warn you: this is not a photo for the faint of heart. This is not the ‘cute pumpkin’ version of Halloween; it is the ‘gruesome and creepy’ one. But it is an insight into Bolivian culture.¬† In fact, the creepiest sight in Bolivia is to be found in August, at the culmination of the Pachamama festival, when local people give offerings to Pachamama, or Mother Earth. These generally include coca leaves, sweets, cigarettes – all the vices of Bolivian people, which they naturally assume will appease the often-temperamental Earth deity. However, at the Mercado de las Brujas, or Witches’ Market, in La Paz, the offerings take a more sinister turn. At the stalls here, dead baby llamas are the offering of choice, a throwback to a...

Moving to a New City

By on Oct 15, 2013 in Travel | 4 comments

Whether moving to a new city for work, family, opportunity or necessity, relocating is always a huge upheaval. Even if, like me, you’ve done it so many times that if people ask where you’re from, you end up talking at them for half an hour, leaving them totally bemused because they were only making polite conversation. But I invest my heart, soul, and -it has to be said – belongings – into a place relatively quickly, and when it comes to moving again, it is always hard. But there are ways to make the best out of it, so I thought I’d share the things I’ve found help to preserve my sanity.   Socialise This is especially important in large cities, where in one day you can see maybe a thousand people, but not talk to a single one of them, except to order a latte in Starbucks. If you’re of an introverted disposition, socialising with new people...

The Art of Haggling (and when not to do it)

By on Sep 30, 2012 in Travel Tips | 7 comments

  Wherever I am in the world, one of my favourite pastimes is browsing the local markets, whether it’s a flea market in London, a souk in Morocco, or a small stall in Bolivia. Markets give you a real flavour of local culture, there is always a buzz of energy and so much to stir your senses. The culture of haggling is almost synonymous with markets, and it can make the whole shopping experience come alive in a quick repartee. However, it is practised differently in different countries and cultures, and being aware of local practices can make a big difference.   In the souks of Marrakesh, haggling is an art form. It is an expected, almost obligatory part of the transaction and is to be entered into with aplomb. The first price proposed by the seller is a deliberately inflated one; it is up to you as the buyer to push it down to a more realistic level. It’s...

A Blogger Relay with Olympic Spirit

By on Aug 6, 2012 in Travel | 6 comments

Olympic spirit: internationalism, sportsmanship and a competitive streak. Well, you’ll find all of that here, in a new blogging relay organised by Low Cost Holidays. There are five teams: Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple and RED. I’m captaining Team Red, if you couldn’t tell! The blogging relay requires each team captain to write a post of their three top travel memories, before passing the baton to someone else, trying to build the longest chain and a winning team. One blogger will even be eligible for a prize including an iPad 2 and a Nikkon D3100 Digital SLR Camera. Now, the other teams are already out of the starting blocks, but I have no doubt that, in true Olympic champion style, Team Red can power past them and perform several double twists and backflips along the way. (You need a bit of self-belief!) My head is spinning with travel memories, both distant and...

Friday Photo: Summer

By on Jul 13, 2012 in Uncategorized | 1 comment

The theme for this week’s #FriFotos is Summer. I only wish summer would arrive here already! I have never known a year like it – it’s mid-July, but instead of BBQs and lazy afternoons in the park or at the beach, we’re battling¬† endless rain and being constantly disrupted by floods. Unsurprisingly then, I have chosen a photo which represents balmier, sunnier days than the ones we’re currently having. There is nothing I like more than being by water on a late summer’s evening, watching the sun slowly set over silhouetted boats, with that beach-tired feeling and a marine scent in the air. This photo was taken at Copocabana in Bolivia, overlooking Lake Titicaca. It was not technically summer, but after a long day soaking up the sun in many more degrees of heat than I’m experiencing at the moment, it certainly felt like it. Summer, please hurry up!...

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