Finding home.

 

This year, I’ve found it challenging to define the word ‘home’. After travelling year upon year, with endless amounts of moves, I couldn’t be further from finding ‘my place in the world’.

The last five months, I’ve been living back in my hometown. And most people in the small town that I grew up in have lived in the same four walls for all their lives. I’ve had a total of 6 addresses just in that town alone. On top of that, I’ve spent a year of my life from my backpack travelling Asia, South America and unpacking my bag for a few months in China and Mexico. And more recently, I made my move to London where I stayed for 3 years under 3 more different addresses. And now I’m back ‘home’ but I’ve never felt so unsettled. *update I’m now back in China where I’ve semi-settled, found a new place, have a daily route to work and now have another home address. Deep breath*

So, in my head (and to you), I’ve been trying to work out what and where ‘home’ is. What does home really mean? Have I come home? Do I have to build a home in just one place? Is home even a building? Is it a place? Is it a feeling? Or a person? (I know, cliché). Where is my place in the world and why am I struggling so hard to find it?

And you’re probably thinking why it’s so important. What on earth is she talking about now?! But seriously (when I was writing this over the Christmas period when families are supposedly all gathering in their ‘homes’ to spread joy and festive love) I couldn’t help but wonder that this word that people find so much comfort in, this word that’s meant to mean everything, the word we go to when we’re lost or run to for safety. What if someone doesn’t have this word? What do they have? Where do we go? I’m doing all the running, in fact I constantly have one foot out the door, why can I not just bloody settle? *and these thoughts caused me so much anxiety at the time I started this blog but it’s always in the back of my mind as I travel and try to find new places to be. The idea of being ‘lost’ and the pressures to ‘find your place’ can be overwhelming ok. Hence my brain going into overdrive*

Perhaps it’s because in my hometown I feel surrounded by ghosts of people that I left in my past, and memories that I don’t want to revisit, and versions of me that I don’t want to remember. My hometown will never feel like a home for me. And I think that’s the same for lots of people. You never know what people have to go home to. Home isn’t always a happy place. It’s not always safety or comforting. Home can be something we run from.

Or perhaps it’s because I’ve travelled and moved too much. Maybe settling will never be an option for me and that might be okay. I can’t think of one place that I’d want to spend even 5 years yet alone my life. Maybe I just haven’t found the right ‘home’ yet.

Or maybe it’s because home is a feeling. A few months after I started writing this and I’m in a strange place of between. But I’ve come to more of a conclusion now and feel a lot less anxiety lol. Home is a feeling. A feeling of familiarity, comfort and safety. A few months ago, I thought my childhood and choices in life meant I’d always have the feeling of instability and lack of safety, but, it might not be so bad. Maybe I’m still hunting for my ‘home’, someone to share this beautiful life with and he’ll remind me it’s not the about destination “it’s about the journey Vin”, he’ll say as he commits to a lifetime of journey-ing around the world with me…

Right now, for me, I feel at home in many countries, with many people. I walk around my new city in China and feel familiarity and warmth in people, like the last time I was here was four days ago and not four years. Every day I look forward to the day I’ll fly back to Mexico, the home of Mision Mexico and the people whose lives are still joined with mine. It’s the feeling after a Skype session with my loved ones then seeing them and hugging them after months of being apart. I’ve been on the run around the world leaving parts of myself everywhere. And now, my place in the world is all over the world and that is such a blessing. My home is in me and in my people.

Some food for thought and it’s a good watch!

Ever felt lost or need a chat? Give me a shout!

Have a fab day and follow my IG adventures @vanishamay

V

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p.s miss you kiss you huns and fam ♥️

Three nights in Barcelona

Quick and cheap flights; the beauty of living in Europe! Before I jet off for my new job in China, I had to get one last holiday squeeze in! And I did think about volunteering on my week off however, the naughty devil on my shoulder told me to be selfish and just go wild for a few days instead. So, a quick call to my bestie (who is my naughty devil in real life!) and it was done! Three nights of fun in Barcelona with B. But how did we do it? People always ask me questions about my travels so here I am breaking it all down for you…

Before you do anything, SKYSCANNER.

Skyscanner is the only website you need when it comes to booking flights ever. It’s literally my best friend when I travel and has all the best prices and comparisons. We got our return flights to Barca and back for £40. Amazinggg.

Then if you’re not fussy, and you’re up for some fun and meeting new people, stay in a hostel. Our hostel was called HelloBCN and we paid £35 for 3 nights with breakfast included. I think hostels can be quite daunting if you’ve never done them before, but I absolutely love them now. They’re cheap, easy and fun, and our beds in this place were super comfy! They always have tours and activities going on which makes it so helpful when you’re in a new city.

DAY ONE

We had a daytime flight and went straight to our hostel by the metro which cost around $10 for us both. I heard a lot about safety and pickpockets on the metro, but it felt really safe and just like in any big city, you have to take care. We only had the evening, so we went to a nearby restaurant and filled up on all the Spanish foods! Tapas, paella and Sangria galore. The food is great, and Becca is a vegetarian, but we had no problems getting food at all. Try it all. It’s all fab.

DAY TWO

As I said before, hostels are great for budget-friendly and free tours and activities. We spent our first full day doing 2 free walking tours which were recommend by our hostel, but they’re open for everyone if you want to meet at 10:30am and 3pm outside the steps of the Barcelona Catedral. Free walking tours are amazing! You have a guide who knows all the info and history, you visit places that you might miss otherwise then you leave a tip of however much you think the tour was worth. We managed to see the Barcelona cathedral, the Sagrada Familia, the Gothic Quarters, Casa Battlo, Casa Mila, Palau Guell, and a load of other famous places and artworks along with stories and history.

For lunch, we ate 3 courses for £5 at a cute little place in the George Orwell Square. Then that night, in classic Becca and Vin style, we went out out! It was a Tuesday night and quite difficult to find a lively bar or two as most places died out around 12pm, but we stumbled upon a bar called Monkey (I think!) where they were offering 2 free shots, a free cocktail, club entrance and a party bus (which turned out to be just a regular bus LOL), but a really good deal! The club was called Shoko and the music was really good. Prices for drinks however didn’t vary much from London. And we couldn’t find a single McDonalds open at the end of the night, say whaaaat (?!) so we went Spanish style and ended our night with a baguette each. First time for everything!

DAY THREE

We obviously woke up late because we were hungover little rascals, so we got lunch at a little burger place then headed for Park Guell on the metro. The metro is super easy and cheap to use, don’t be afraid to try it. Park Guell was lovely too. We bought our tickets online to see the Gaudi art area of the park because they were cheaper, but you can walk around the main park for free which was lovely too. Our tickets were $6 and deffo worth it, the artwork and architecture is stunning, and it wasn’t too busy, and the skies were blue and sunny!

That evening we headed back to the Gothic Quarters where we ate $1 pinxos and drank wine to celebrate our new jobs woo. You can find this at a little bar called Craft. There’s also lots of vintage shops around here, and we found a huge charity shop where everything was $4, including this big pink coat which is now my fave. Then we ended the night by walking along the seafront and headed back to our hostel for pot noodles. Fab.

DAY FOUR

We literally just got the flight home but one big tip for you! Do not buy food at the airport, I know this seems obvious, but we thought they’d have more choice. It was super overpriced so just buy a sandwich before and save $2 for some water!

So, that’s it lovers! Barcelona was fab, there’s so much to see and do, it’s pretty, there’s sun, a beach, lovely people, great food. I’d definitely recommend it. Feel free to ask me questions. Go book a ticket. Live ya life to the maxxxx.

V

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The troubles of travel. Do you have what it takes?

Thanks to social media and mobile phones, it’s easy to see the glam side of travel. But what you don’t usually see or hear about are the downsides. And although there are many beautiful positives, there are of course many downsides to choosing a life out of a backpack! 


So in my 32nd country and new home of Mexico, I present to you my 3 main pros and cons of travel:

Lack of connection to life back home vs a connection to the world 

Although it’s easier than ever before to sit down in front of your laptop and see your mum from the other side of the world, the connection and life from back home is definitely lost and missed whilst travelling. Being around your friends and family is completely different to constantly being surrounded by strangers and new people. While you’re planning your next trip around the world alone and what backpack to live from, your friends are growing up, settling down with partners, children and in homes for life. Life doesn’t stop back at home and the daily conversation and closeness to the people that I love is one of the only things I miss while I’m away. 

However, you do gain a whole new connection to the world and countries you travel to and people you meet along the way. People change your life and ways of thinking on a daily basis (as well as the few the completely test you!) which is amazing, and inspiring and so worth missing a Sunday dinner or drink down the pub for a while!


The constant need for adventure vs the absence of normality

My last three years in London was the most settled I’d been in a long time and it still wasn’t very settled with a summer in Asia and three house moves! But I loved my routine of work, uni and social life. And it was something I really took for granted before I travelled. It’s a lovely feeling being settled and having a routine, knowing what you’ll be doing next week and having an unpacked room with all your belongings in it. It’s normality that you miss whilst travelling. The ease of being able to pop down to costa for a coffee or doing a food shop in Morrisons, and the little things like a proper duvet and going to the fridge for food! (Lol that my main normalities revolve around bed and food). And then the big things like a monthly pay and regular income…!

But during these days I’d find myself longing to get on a plane again. I loved my life in London but the need to see a new city or two, to be around more exciting and inspiring people, the need to try something new always takes over my need for normality. And so again, I venture across unknown streets and into new shops for cups of coffee. I walk the streets listening to people speaking unknown words and wonder what will happen today. Whether it’s excitingly life-changing   or completely bad luck, every day brings something and someone new which is worth the risk surely?


Wanting to go home VS never giving up

We all have bad days but it’s the home comforts and people around you that always seem to make things better. So, when you’re travelling, all these bad things are quite literally more complicated and harder (because you’re a million miles away!) and always feel 10x worse. Losing my debit cards and camera was tough, inconvenient and gutting, and being ill whilst away is incredibly testing too. Honestly, some days, all you want to do is give up, book that flight home and run into the arms of mum and dad. But at the end of the day, all that’s really lost is a few objects and a few days in bed which could happen back at home too. The experiences and memories that I’ve gained trump my GoPro pictures any day. And alongside that, it makes you realise what’s important, makes you 10x stronger and so much more independent. So, if you can get through these times with a smile on your face and the determination to keep going then guys, you’re smashing it! 

People rarely tell you that loss is a fundamental part of travelling. You’ll experience feelings of loss of normality, chances of love and settling down, opportunities of a normal 9-5 paid career. You’ll feel lost, alone and question what on earth you’re doing. But you’ll find new ways of living, loving and working. You’ll never get the experiences of travel by never leaving your doorstep. And so far, through all the tests and difficulties that I’ve faced, I’ve learned that it’s always worth the risk. 



Catch up with my adventures here on instagram @vanishamay

Thanks for reading guys!

Vanisha

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Machu Picchu and the wonders of Peru

One of my favourite countries in South America so far is Peru and definitely a top place to visit!
We headed straight to Cusco by a long bus ride from La Paz, Bolivia and we spent a lot longer than planned in the historic city of the Incas. We loved it so much! The city itself is pretty and quaint, full of friendly happy people and we finally had hot weather and blue skies every day! We were happy gals! So what did we do? How did we do it? And what makes Peru so special?


How to do Machu Picchu…

So there’s tonnes of different ways to visit the incredible wonder of the world from day trips to four day treks along the inca trail. We booked last minute and committed ourselves to a 3 day adventure trek called the Inca Jungle Trek. It was so much fun and a completely different way to work your way up to Machu Picchu. By bus we passed through villages in the sacred valley and the Andes mountains, we walked, mountain biked, zip-lined, white water rafted and hiked up to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain. Whilst mountain biking we passed through clouds, we zip-lined across rivers and on top of the mountain we saw Machu Picchu city in all its glory surrounded by the valleys and mountains. It was amazing and all at a pretty good price of around £200 which was a huge relief as average tours to Machu Picchu cost around £500-£600.It was all incredible and was made better by staying in hotels rather than camping. Aguas Calientes is the main starting point when visiting Machu Picchu and even that little town is full of wonder with a train track running through it and the mountains surrounding it. 


We only stayed in Lima, Aguas Calientes and Cusco but Peru was one of our favourite countries for so many reasons. And there’s so much more to do! I’ll definitely be visiting again in the future to conquer rainbow mountain, sand board down the famous dunes and to visit pretty little Arequipa. But thanks to the people that we met there, the hostels we stayed in, the yummy food we ate, the amazing sights and finally the sunny weather, Peru definitely left it’s mark on us. 


Here’s a little list of places to visit in and around Cusco:

 • Visit Machu Picchu, obviously.

 • See the llama’s! They so funny. They so cute. 

 • Go shopping for the colourful clothing, alpaca jumpers and accessories in the cute markets with the cholitas.

 • Check out Cusco’s chocolate museum where you can get classes, freebies and chocolate liquers!

 • Stay at Inka Wild Hostel in Cusco! Good location, good vibes and good backpacker prices!

 • Visit the sacred valley, and pretty Aguas Calientes but avoid day tours and make your own way around. Our day tour around the valley was ridiculous and rushed all day with the guides shouting ‘vamos’ every five seconds… Lol.

 • Party at Chango’s and dance the night away to the amazing Latino music! 


You can use this code to get £10 off when booking through booking.com 🙂 http://booking.com/s/vanish15
Follow my adventure here on instagram @vanishamay 

Thanks for reading guys! 

Vanisha  

San Pedro De Atacama

Things To Do In Chile

Reading time: 5 minutes

Country #28

 

When did I go? 24th June – 1st July 2017

Where did I go? Santiago, Valparaiso, San Pedro De Atacama

How much money was spent? Between £200 -£250 max

Highlights: Bus drive through the Andes, wandering the streets in Bellavista and Valparaiso and visiting the desert town of San Pedro De Atacama.

 

After being stuck in Argentina due to the border being closed because of heavy snow, we were really happy to finally arrive in Chile! First stop was a shopping day to buy warmer clothes in Santiago, and after plus a bit of sun, we were happy gals again. Chilly Chile was really enjoyable with lots to see and do! We didn’t do any day tours and spent little money so it worked out really well especially because there’s so much to do for free which was great for our budgets!  Thanks to the friendly faces and people we met along the way, our time in Chile was full of fun times all round! Here’s my little list of my fave things that I recommend for you to do when you visit Chile….

  • Take a bus from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile. The bus drives through the Andes mountains and round winding roads with no edges and steep drops. It was pretty crazy but the views were phenomenal and the ticket was pretty cheap (£25!). I highly recommend it!
  • Wander the streets! In Santiago and Valparaiso there’s an overwhelming amount of street art, coloured houses and graffiti. In Santiago visit Bella Vista and just spend the afternoon wandering around and enjoying the art. It’s pretty cool stuff.
  • Hang out with the locals! We were really lucky because we stayed with my friend in Santiago where we all spent the night drinking wine, eating cake and practising our Acroyoga. But even in Valparaiso, we went out with a few other travellers to the local bars and spent the night drinking there. Hostels are a really great place to meet people and hang out where the locals would. Spend time venturing out, making friends and drinking their national drink of Pisco Sour!
  • Visit the desert and San Pedro De Atacama. We didn’t stay here for long because it was just a stop before we did the 3 day tour to Uyuni, Bolivia, but the pretty little town was like nothing I’d seen before. Set in the desert and surrounded by mountains, the town literally looks like something from a movie set. We took a long 24 hour bus journey which ended up being a lot longer due to a fault with the bus but the drive through the desert was pretty cool, the stars at night were amazing and we saw some of the best sunsets that filled the entire sky. Depending when you go, take warm clothes. The desert reached temperatures of -15 degrees while we were there, it was insanely cold!


I’d love to visit again to explore more of the country and visit Patagonia which was too cold for this trip. Chile is a cool country and the people are lovely. It literally has everything from snowy mountain regions, big cities, seaside towns and desert life so go book a ticket and explore!

Here’s a little list of some of the places we stayed:

You can use this code to get £10 off when booking through booking.com 🙂 booking.com/s/vanish15

 

Let me know if you plan on visiting Chile or if you want to share any thoughts or your own experiences!

Follow my adventure here on instagram @vanishamay

Thanks for reading guys!

Vanisha

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Travelling Argentina

How Not To Travel Argentina

Reading time: 5-10 minutes

Country #27

 

When did I go? 16th – 23rd June 2017

Where did I visit ? Buenos Aires and Mendoza

How much money was spent? Between £200-£300

Highlights: Thermas Cacheuta, Wine Tasting in Mendoza, bus trips through the snowy Andes Mountains and La Recolecta Cemetery.

 

So I’ve been pretty lazy with blogging since I’ve been away. Finding it hard to take time to sit at my laptop and write, plus so much is always happening! It’s rare to have even half a day where no plans have been made. It’s been pretty go-go-go. But here’s my thoughts and a bit about my time in Argentina. The first country that I’ve actually kind of disliked. Possibly down to bad timing, possibly down to preference, but have a read about why I disliked it and the things I did like!

 

Avoid Going In The Winter!

So it’s officially winter in South America right now and although we were fully aware of this, we didn’t realise just how cold it would get! Prepped for a summer trip, our warm clothes literally consisted of ankle socks, a jumper, leggings and Becca bought a hat and gloves. Minus the pretty snow-topped Andes mountains, it was pretty grey and miserable while we were in Argentina which automatically put a dampener on things.

 

Coming from sunny Brazil, the huge differences between the countries were pretty obvious. Walking around Mendoza and Buenos Aires especially, we could have been in Europe again. The colours of South America disappeared and the city streets felt far from vibrant, happy Brazil.

 

Along with a European feel, the places we visited also had a European price! With an abundance of pizza restaurants, the food choice was pretty pants and similar to prices back home (Brazil we could have dinner for around £5 but prices almost doubled in Argentina).

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Things Not To Miss…

Don’t get me wrong, we had some really good days out. La Recolecta Cemetery in Buenos Aires was amazing. The city of the dead holds over 6400 tombs all with their own style and design. I’m so fascinated with how other countries, cultures and people treat the dead (pretty morbid I know) so this incredible cemetery was right up my street. You can also see the final resting place of the infamous Eva Perón whose fascinating story is worth a research! Also check out El Ateneo Grand Splendid, the worlds most beautiful bookstore rated by The Guardian.

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Mendoza was a sleepy little city which in all honesty, I wasn’t very fond of either. But again, I don’t think the weather helped much considering we were stuck for three days longer than hoped because the border was closed due to heavy snow and it was just very cold! However, one of the highlights and a huge recommendation would be to visit the Thermas Cacheuta, a variety of outdoor and indoor thermal spa pools set in the Andes mountains. There’s two to visit, the more expensive thermals which is adjoined to a hotel and includes a buffet lunch, towels etc, or the cheaper one more famous with the locals and the one we visited. It was a lovely day out, we took a local bus, a picnic and a bottle of Argentinian wine, and it was perfect!

We also had a wine tasting day and visited the family-run wineries. It was a good day out and we had lots of wine, bread and different types of olive oils to taste so definitely can’t complain about that!

 

Call Me Debbie Downer…!

I do sound like a Debbie Downer in this blog about Argentina but it is important to remember that it’s just based on my opinion and experiences. I’ve met people that really love the country so do your own research and perhaps  go in the summer!

 

Places we stayed at:

You can use this code to get £10 off when booking with booking.com 🙂 booking.com/s/vanish15

 

Follow my South American adventure on instagram @vanishamay

 

Let me know your experiences and thoughts on Argentina!

Have a good day guys!

Vanisha

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Sunrise in Rio at Copacabana Beach

Backpacking South America. First stop: Rio.

Reading time: 5 minutes

Country #26

 

When did I go? 1st – 6th June 2017

Where did I stay? Secreto Hostel, Copacabana

How much money was spent? Too much (oops)

Highlights: The people, drinking caipirinhas in Lapa, being washed away in what seemed to be a tidal wave, watching the sunrise on Copacabana beach and the city views from the mountains.

Playlist: Rio – Netsky and obviously Copacabana – Barry Manilow 

 

Rio De Janeiro was a super exciting place for me and my best friend who I’m travelling South America with. We’ve just finished studying at a university in London and have been dreaming of cocktails, sun, sea and sand for months. Our first stop in Rio gave us all of this and more….

 

Is Rio safe?

Rio is a huge city with almost everything that you need. We stayed in a hostel in Copacabana called ‘Secreto’ which was in perfect walking distance of the busy streets, restaurants and the beach. It was a home away from home and although the city has a reputation for being dangerous, we felt quite safe and comfortable. This was probably down to the people. Everyone we met was extremely friendly and helpful regardless of the language barrier (not many people speak English and our Portuguese is horrendous!). We heard some horror stories even while we were there, but as long as you’re sensible and avoid walking through the favelas at midnight with your iPhone out and wallet hanging out your pocket, you’ll be more than fine. It’s expected in a city where so many live in poverty, don’t let it ruin your travels.

Me at Copacabana Beach, Rio, Brazil
Here I am, loving life in the sun on Copacabana beach in Rio De Janeiro.

Lapa, Salsa and Caipirinhas 

Staying in a hostel is great for meeting people and we even made friends with the staff. Our real taste of Brazilian life was a night out in the party area of ‘Lapa’ where we spent the night with our new friends drinking way too many caipirinhas and dancing to salsa music. The people are incredibly sexy and some of the best looking I’ve ever seen… and they’re amazing dancers. They’ve got it all!

 

Our partying days in Rio didn’t stop there. We also spent a night on a party boat which was just as fun and full of caipirinhas. The nightlife was wild and an experience, but for girls on a budget and considering this was our first stop; we were pretty naughty with our time and money.

Things to do

Luckily, Rio has lots more to offer. We spent one of our days doing classic tourist-y things that included a visit to Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Selaron Steps, five other popular spots and an amazing lunch buffet. The views overlooking the city were amazing. We paid around £50 and the tour lasted nearly all day (8:30am-5pm). Similar tours cost more and lasted half the time. We got our package from a man selling from the beach so look around before you book for better deals. Unfortunately, we missed other sights like the favelas due to cancellations, bad planning and hangovers, but there’s lots to see and do around Rio. It’s easy to spend a long time there for sure.

Tourist day and Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Tourist day and Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Overall, our first taste of Brazil has been non-stop silliness and fun. Rio is amazing for beaches, chilling and partying. Do not let the dangerous reputation put you off, the city is full of history, culture and happy people. We can’t wait for our next stop!

 

Feel free to ask me any questions and share any stories or advice you may have!

 

Have a good day guys!

Vanisha

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Follow my travels on my instagram @vanishamay

 

You can also find our hostel at this website: http://www.secretohostel.com.br