I Am In Newcastle & Durham

I Am In Newcastle & Durham

A few weeks ago, I decided to travel to the North of the UK with a lab colleague from London. We have both made a concerted effort to travel more within the UK on weekends and Bank Holidays. This time, we decided to go to Newcastle as we had heard lots of good things about it and the weather that weekend seemed decent enough! We travelled by the National Express coach service, and this only cost £17 return, in comparison to £100+ by train! The only downside was the time it took to travel there - 7 hours. I managed to take some work with me and downloaded some programmes from the iPlayer app to keep me occupied for some of the journey. We left London Victoria at 7am and arrived in Newcastle at 2.30pm. As soon as we arrived, we began exploring the city, beginning with the Science Centre and surrounding areas. It was clear that all the students had arrived in the...
Read More
I Am In Harar, Ethiopia – Part Two

I Am In Harar, Ethiopia – Part Two

One would think that two weeks in Ethiopia would suffice, but when you have family members all over Harar, even a month seems too short. Be sure to read Part One to see the first part of my trip, and keep reading to hear about the rest! Harar has the greatest number of mosques per square meter. When I heard this fact, I thought nah, it can't be! But when you actually visit, and hear the call to prayer echoing from mosques on every street corner, it's easier to believe that this is true. Most streets within the old city of Harar have a mosque / place of prayer. The white and green mosque below is the first built mosque in Harar. It has recently been refurbished, but it is a very small mosque with a green interior. This narrow pathway is known as the 'street of reconciliation'. This pathway is so narrow that one one person is able to pass through at any...
Read More
I Am In Harar, Ethiopia – Part One

I Am In Harar, Ethiopia – Part One

Harar, Ethiopia : the land where my parents were born and raised. It is a historic town in Ethiopia and considered the fourth holiest city in Islam, after Makkah, Medina and Jerusalem. The first time I visited Ethiopia I was 7 years old, and since then I've returned three times. Most of my uncles, aunties and cousins live in Harar including my maternal grandmother, and so visiting Ethiopia is always a fun-filled time with lots of love, culture and tradition. The last time I visited was 2012, and so I had been craving to return either this year or the next. It just so happened that my cousin announced her wedding date as planned for the end of July and I jumped to the opportunity to book a flight and find myself in the middle of a Harari wedding dance floor! Don't forget to check out my blog post detailing the ins and outs of a Harari Wedding (you'll be surprised...
Read More
A Traditional Harari Wedding

A Traditional Harari Wedding

At the end of last month, I experienced my first ever Harari Wedding. Harar is a small walled city in Ethiopia. It is considered the fourth holiest city in Islam, after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. It is also a city protected by the UNESCO World Heritage due to its preserved historic culture, and deep Islamic roots. Just before I returned home, I sat down with my cousin and we went through all the cultural steps involved when two people wish to get married. Culture plays such a heavy role in every day life in Harar, especially when it comes to wedding proceedings. 1. Nikkah In Islam, marriage is a contract where the bride and groom consent to the marraige. This is done at any point before the wedding. Once the Nikkah is completed, the bride and groom and now Islamically married, and anything that follows from this point is cultural and NOT  of a religious nature. 2. Sirri The elder women of the community make a...
Read More
Morocco In 4 Days – Chefchaouen

Morocco In 4 Days – Chefchaouen

As soon as I booked Fès, I had to find out how far the 'Blue City' was and if it was close enough to plan an excursion there. Google Maps said a 3 hour drive. TICK. Day trip it would be. I browsed the Internet for the best ways to get to Chefchaouen from Fès. I couldn't find anything really helpful, so I thought let's just ask when we get to the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, we mentioned that we did plan on visiting Chefchaouen for the day. We were told that we could book a day trip whenever we wished. We decided to go on the Friday, the day after arriving. We also chose to have an English speaking driver, to be sure that we could have conversations with him/her. It was nice that we had a large car and lots of space to stretch and sit comfortably. At 8am on Friday, we had breakfast in the hotel, and set off at...
Read More
Morocco In 4 Days – Fès

Morocco In 4 Days – Fès

I've always wanted to go to Morocco, I just didn't think I'd go this soon! Luckily, my friend suggested it as a last minute trip, and I thought why not, JUST DO IT! I'm going to share my highlights of my trip in Morocco and things to do in Fès for three days. It was most definitely up there with the best holiday destinations I've visited. I can't wait to return to visit another city of Morocco. On the first day, we booked a three-hour walking tour of Fès with a local. I can't recommend this enough - it really helped that our tour guide showed us the ins and outs of the Old Town (which is VERY complicated). We then used the tour as a checkpoint and decided for or against returning to some of the sights we had passed. Bab Boujloud (Blue Gate) - Entrance to the Old Town Random Woodwork Shops If you have space in your suitcase, then be warned, you will be temped...
Read More
Hotel Review: Riad Mazar, Fes Morocco

Hotel Review: Riad Mazar, Fes Morocco

One afternoon after a long day of work, my friend, Hanna, suggested to 'go somewhere' as a celebration for Eid-ul-Fitr; marking the end of the holy month of fasting, Ramadan. By 'go somewhere', I would never have predicted the next words that came out of her mouth. She said, 'How about Morocco?' Next thing you know, we booked our flights with Ryanair, and began the hunt for a place to stay for the short trip. We decided on travelling to Fes, instead of the more popular Marrakech. When travelling, I love soaking up culture and experiencing something different from my everyday life in London. Looking online, it seemed that Fes had retained its culture and history, making it an attractive option for us! Once we had booked our flights, we had to search for a hotel. Initially, we were looking for AirBnB places as usually these places are more authentic and cheaper. By chance, we looked on Expedia and found that 4*...
Read More
I am at the Seven Sisters White Cliffs

I am at the Seven Sisters White Cliffs

As an annual retreat, my lab group embark on long walks outside of London. This year, we decided to walk along the Seven White Cliffs in Sussex. The Cliffs are situated in the Seven Sister County Park, a short bus journey away from Brighton Beach. We took a train from London King's X to Brighton, and then a bus journey of over an hour. Although the journey was tiresome to say the least, it was exciting once we arrived at the Park and started to follow the walking trail up and down each cliff. The cliffs are made of white chalk, and are naturally unstable. After walking for a while, we took a pit stop to have a picnic for lunch. We had all planned to bring some home-cooked food for lunch; we ended up with an overwhelming selection of food the corners of each continent around the world. At the end of the final cliff, we reached a platform where we went down...
Read More
I Am In Poole

I Am In Poole

For the first May Bank Holiday, I found myself in the North of England at York and the Lake District. For this Bank Holiday, I instead headed South to Poole! In fact, this getaway was a nice surprise planned (and perfectly executed) by my friends for my birthday. I'm not a huge birthday person, I usually wake up grateful to see another year, and just get on with my day (maybe wearing a new outfit). 8am on a Sunday morning, I found myself in a car on the way to Poole - AMAZING! Poole is a large coastal town in Dorset, and boasts an amazing sand beach architecturally extravagant houses like nothing I had seen before in the UK. We spent two days in Poole, staying at the Cottonwood Boutique Hotel in Bournemouth. This was really convenient as Poole is only a 15 min drive from the Poole beach meaning we were close to everything we wanted to do. We first headed to...
Read More
How To Pack Light For Mini-Getaways

How To Pack Light For Mini-Getaways

As soon as I confirm a holiday, the first thing that comes to mind is: 'what am I going to wear?' I ponder over the question until the night before I travel, then panic at 1am trying to lay out half-decent outfits. Having become quite the travel connoisseur over the past few years, I thought it would be nice to share my tips with you all, to help you pack quick, pack right and pack light! 1. NO IFS NO BUTS NO MAYBES Banish that voice in the back of your mind telling you that you MIGHT want to wear this, and that you COULD take three outfits for one day and choose later. NO! NO! Just take one outfit per day, appropriate for the environment, weather and activities that you will be engaging with. Otherwise, you will end up with double the amount of clothes, half that you won't wear. Take one outfit, and you'll just HAVE to do with that one. 2....
Read More