Pamukkale and Hierapolis

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Whilst looking for things to do during a recent trip to Turkey, I came across lots of excursions to Pamukkale-Hierapolis – somewhere I’d never heard of previous to this. After google-imaging the place, I decided it was a must. From Antalya, it was about a four hour drive – but well worth it. The first thing we did after entering the site (which costs about 20TL/ £8ish) is head to Cleopatra’s Pool. It is structured from remains of Roman times, and allows visitors to swim in the warm calcium-laden mineral water (for an extra fee) surrounded by palm trees and sunken columns. It was extremely relaxing, but the temptation to explore the rest of Hierapolis was too much – so we didn’t stay for long.. Perhaps this would be best to visit towards the end of the day when you’re becoming weary and tired. There are lockers to put your things in while you swim, as well as a cafe/shop.

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After a bathe in the spa, we went to look at the rest of the ancient Roman city. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t best to do this mid-afternoon in peak sunshine, as parts of the city require quite strenuous walking to reach (definitely recommend comfortable shoes..!). The best part of the remains is the ancient Roman theatre, where you can walk to the top and overlook the view of the surroundings.

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The last, but by no means least, place to explore was the travertines of Pamukkale (Pamukkale translating to “cotton castles”). The travertines, likewise to the pool, are filled naturally with warm spring water, and the fairytale-esque aesthetic is due to the petrified lime, cascading down into the frozen limestone. The limestone itself is very slippy to walk on and for safety purposes you can’t wear shoes, but it is only a small walk to the travertines where you can relax and paddle your feet (maybe not-so-relaxing on a busy day). But – don’t let the crowds put you off – this natural formation is beautiful and unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  If you get a chance to visit this natural site – take it!

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All photos are my own.

January Skincare

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1. Liz Earle Eyebright Soothing Eye Solution

I had never used any products which were primarily for eyes before buying this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I saw it has a trillion amazing reviews online so I thought I’d give it a go. It is meant to “clean and revitalise the delicate eye area”, which was appealing due to all the late night reading I am doing at the moment giving me very tired eyes.. It is a really gentle and easy to use, simply sweeping over eyelids when you wake up. You can also use it as a ‘eye mask’ essentially, replacing the cucumber treatment when you want a skin pampering with cotton pads soaked in the solution for five to ten minutes. It is £13.25 rrp for a 150ml bottle, which lasts quite a while, and it is available in Boots and John Lewis, as well as the Liz Earle website which frequently has really good offers on their products.

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2. Nip + Fab Glycolic Scrub Fix

Exfoliating is something that I know is so good for skin and makes such a difference, but it is also something I frequently forget to do. I picked this product up in Boots a few weeks ago when it was on offer, wanting to give the Nip + Fab range a try (resulting in a borderline obsession with it), and it has become something that I use multiple times a week. It contains glycolic and salicylic acids which “refine, brighten and renew” skin. It is a 75ml tube which is handy as it is between travel and full size, and a tiny pea-sized bit is enough for your whole face. My skin has felt a lot smoother since using this, and I really notice it when I haven’t used it in a while. It’s quite a lot more vigorous than previous exfoliators I’ve used in the past, so perhaps it is not the right product for really sensitive skin, but overall it is a great skin polish! Sold in Boots and Superdrug etc for £9.95.

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3. The Cool Fix by Shaveworks

I got this sample product in the January birchbox. It claims to “treat ingrown hairs, razor bumps and redness” and I have to say it actually does what it says on the tin. I haven’t ever actually thought about looking into a product like this, previously relying on moisturizers to soothe skin. Having quite sensitive skin, this product is successful in reducing redness that you get after shaving – since using it I have had no redness at all. It has no stinging effect after application, it is really cooling and a little bit goes a long way. I would definitely consider buying the full size product after my sample bottle runs out. (156ml rrp £25 from retailers such as Space NK, Amazon etc.)

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4. Lush Mask of Magnaminty

I love lush products and I find it really hard to go in there at the moment without spending ridiculous amounts on products that only last one use but I definitely have no regrets in buying this! It is a gooey green minty mask that you can use on your face and your body which claims to “fight eruptions and outbreaks” to “return your skin to tip top condition”. The best bit is the fact it is self-preserving, lasting about three months until expiry, which is unlike Lush’s other masks which only last about three weeks. It smells delicious, like peppermint, and it is really fun and satisfying to use. On application, it is a little bit stingy (not in an unpleasant way), and I usually take that as a sign that it is actually doing something to my skin. I was advised to leave it on about 10 minutes, and wash it off before it solidifies completely, otherwise it can be a bit too harsh on your skin. Doing facemasks is always a really fun thing to do when you want a bit of self-pampering, either on your own or with friends, and this is the perfect little pot to do it with. It is £5.50 for 125g and £9.95 for 315g, sold online here and obviously in all their shops!

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5. Nip + Fab Detox Blend Body Lotion

This moisturiser is probably the best one I have used in a long time (bold statement) but I love it and I am fearing the day it runs out. It is the detox blend body lotion with “aromatic tea tree, green tea and jasmine fragrance”. It has a really fresh scent and it’s really light on application. I don’t think I have had a moisturiser with a pump before so that is probably why it’s such a revolution for me, but it makes it ten times easier to apply. As it’s on my desk I use it ALL the time – when my hands are feeling dry or before I apply my make up in the morning, as well as after the shower etc. The bottle is really attractive – probably the nicest of all the Nip + Fab products in my opinion. I also have the Yoga Blend and Energy Blast body lotions (the purple and yellow ones) which I picked up in the Superdrug January sales for 99p (!). I highly recommend this moisturiser, it ticks all the body lotion boxes. It is available on the Nip + Fab website for £8.99, but I think it’s also sold on Asos and in supermarkets where it’s often on offer!

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2015 Travel Bucket List

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Being on a student budget it is quite unlikely that I will be able to venture outside of Europe this year, but that is fine with me as Europe has some of the most beautiful places to visit. Below are five of my most desired locations to go to this year:

LISBON

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I have been wanting to visit Lisbon for a long time – purely for the novelty of staying in one of the apartments built on the narrow roads, decorated with beautiful tiles. It seems to be such an authentic, colourful city – perfect for a break in Spring. I am also very drawn to the crazily sized bookshops that it offers, can’t think of much better than spending the afternoon pondering around one of those..!

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ALMALFI COAST

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I haven’t explored much of Italy yet, but the Almalfi Coast is definitely at the top of the list when I do! It looks like one of the prettiest places to visit, very compact and intimate. Although I think I will have to become a millionaire first as it seems to be a hot spot for celebrities etc. However, I have heard great things about Seven Hostel in Sorrento – near enough to Almalfi – which has beautiful roof top views with amazing prices for the location. I would also use the opportunity to visit the ancient city of Pompeii, being only a four hour bus journey from Sorrento.

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SEVILLE

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Seville is also somewhere that I am desperate to go this year, the capital of Andalucia.  I am attracted to the beautiful Moorish architecture, VERY hot climate and the traditional Seville orange marmalade! It combines all my favourite things. The attraction of the extremely easy (and cheap) flights direct to the city also contribute to my wanting to go there – I seem to have always visited similar parts of Spain so this year I hope to venture out!

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REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

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Deviating slightly from the hot and sunny destinations above, Iceland is a country that I would love to visit. The speculation about the best time to go differs, but I would probably want to go February time, just to make sure I am not missing any sun rays back in England. I don’t know much about the city of Reykjavik, but the pictures I have seen of it make it look almost make-believe with the array of beautiful multi-coloured houses. Another big attraction to Iceland is obviously the Northern lights, which would be an amazing addition to a holiday.

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LAKE BLED, SLOVENIA

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Lake Bled, in Slovenia, is another place in Europe which looks like a fairy tale-esque Kingdom. The lake is ajoined to the town of Bled in the Julian Alps. Its extremely picturesque location (with mountains as its backdrop), seems like an ideal place to go in either summer or winter.

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*pictures are not my own*

Antalya

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At the end of summer, I went with my boyfriend to the city of Antalya, a sea resort located on the Turkish Riviera. It was my first time visiting Turkey, but I was surprised with how much I grew to like the country. With reservations due to the reports of constant hassle on street-markets and my arguably fussy taste in food, the beautiful harbour and sea front restaurants, along with mind-blowingly cheap food made up for any negatives.

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After spending a week pondering ignorantly of the purpose of the powders sold in most of the markets, we were finally able to try them on our last night. The copious blends of tea were surprisingly delicious – it was only my hand luggage weight restriction that stopped me from bringing packs of this home to drink on a regular basis.

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The Old Town of the city was on our doorstep, and it was my favourite part of the city – escaping the noise and hassle of the city centre. The hotels were beautiful and open for lunch everyday, there were shops rather than market stalls and there were ruins and museums to explore for rainy-days.

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Our favourite place to eat was called the Castle Cafe, located in the Kaleici Old Town. When there is a table next to the sea-front free, the views are amazing and the food is just as satisfactory.

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Turkish lanterns found in every bazaar – impossible to resist bringing one home.

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With minimal places to bask in the sun during the day without travelling to the beaches on the tram, we spent one of our days at the Marmara private beach – hidden behind the Marmara restaurant. It cost around twelve turkish lira per person for the day, and I can imagine during peak season the sunbeds are hard to get, even in September there were not a lot left at ten in the morning, but it was a tranquil and simple place to spend the day next to (and in) the almost transparent water.

Hvar Island

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Hvar was the last island we visited, and it was by far worth the ferry from Split and the noticeably higher hostel prices. The harbour attracts the grandest of yachts, and the island is built upwards – the steep cobbled steps lead up towards a Spanish fortress that overlooks the coast of the island. It also has a lively nightlife that attracts people from around the globe. Hula Hula beach bar was the first point of call at the beginning of the night, and Carpe Diem was main attraction in the night time – a club with its own island only accessible by the shuttle-boat leaving from Hvar.
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We stayed in the White Rabbit Hostel, a sociable and friendly hostel located right in the centre of the island with its own bar. It was the best hostel we stayed in during the trip.

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Sunset at the harbour. In the daytime, the only spots for sunbathing are sunbeds fixed to the harbour rocks – the only thing missing from the island is a sandy beach to retreat to in the peak sunshine.

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The view from the Fortress at the highest point of the island.

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Although the prices are slightly higher than in other parts of Croatia, the restaurants we were recommended by our hostel were some of the best meals we had, hidden behind the main square, up the streets (A deceptive portion of Tuna Spaghetti).

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Another inexpensive thing to occupy the daytimes while on the island was renting out a boat for the day to travel between the surrounding islands, most of which allow you to moor up and spend the day there. Although our boat broke down mid-ocean, it was worth the stress and if I wasn’t so afraid of shark-infested waters it would have been idyllic opportunity to dive off the edge.

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The Palenki islands – accessible from Hvar by boat.

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Split

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We got a coach to Split from Zadar after two nights there, which took about four hours. A four hour coach ride at first seems like a unpleasant way to spend a sunny day but the views out the window make it a worthwhile trip in itself. We stayed in Diocletian Palace hostel; a quaint and simple hostel above a gorgeous restaurant in the Old Town. The city was my favourite place I have visited in Croatia – bustling markets and antique cafes in the daytime, and frequent festivals, street acts and nightlife in the evening, combine to make it a worthwhile trip while on the Dalmation Coast. The city is also a hub for visiting other islands and inland cities with bus and ferry links running throughout the day. We visited Brac island from Split, an inexpensive and tranquil way to make the most of your time there.
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Croatia’s National Treasure

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A paradise of water, trees and wood – the Plitvice Lakes escapade we took from Zadar was some of the most breath-taking scenery I have seen – no photograph could do it justice. The downfall of visiting in the peak of Summer was the copious amounts of tourists you have to battle through to make your way down the trails, however the trip is well worth it – a must see in Croatia! Exploring the entire park takes the best part of a day and the trails can be demanding on the rickety wooden walkways (I found myself watching my footing rather than the scenery at times, wear walking boots…!).
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We hired rowing boats which allowed you to row up to some of the smaller waterfalls – dodging the huge taxi boats that powered back and forth over the lakes – really inexpensive and atmospheric experience!np4

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Zadar

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Our first stop on the Dalmation Coast was Zadar, a charming old town that surpassed our expectations as soon as we arrived. We stayed in the Old Town Hostel, right in the centre of the town, who’s doorstep stumbled onto the main shops and restaurants. The maze of cobbled streets led to beautiful white marble buildings round each corner.  The city had a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere – perfect for a few days to explore. However, the heart of the city is found at the harbour, where the natural sea organ attracts tourists to sit and listen to the harmonies of the wind and the waves. Whilst we were there, an outdoor photography exhibition was shown along the harbour, before the Sun Salutation art instillation fitted with LED lights that come to life after the sun has set.
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The food was inexpensive and delicious, we ate at a busy restaurant on the harbour which was eased with live music through the night. However, we spent a few nights buying food from street vendors, eating whilst sat on the harbour in front of the sunset.

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Paris in the Spring

In June, I went with my family for a city break to Paris for a few days. I have been once before but the beauty about places like this is that there is something else to see that you haven’t before – I am already planning another trip as I am still dying to see Monet’s gardens. Our hotel was a short walk from the Sacre Coeur so that was the first stop, where we found this adorable cafe. Also, the streets around our hotel, true of many streets there, were laced with patisseries (my favourite part of Paris) for us to (guiltily) indulge in pastries each morning! To visit Paris in spring – having been before during October where umbrellas and hats filled the streets – was refreshing, the blue skies we did see made everything look that tiny bit prettier.

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Les Invalides

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A picture of the Eiffel tower taken from a boat cruise down the Seine.

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The times where we walked from sight to sight rather than taking the metro was always worthwhile to see the beautiful windows and apartments (I spent most of my time taking copious pictures of buildings and bumping into people in the process..!).

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An example of my weaknesses at duty free…