Most Instagrammable Café’s in Bali

Bali is the mecca of Instagrammable café, I think every café I went to in Bali was Insta-worthy. The interiors of cafés in Bali are minimalistic, having cute corners that you wouldn’t want to leave without snapping for sure. Apart from how all the cafés looking cozy where you could spend hours. The food is SO good!! A lot of cafés are vegan, which have fresh, colourful and perfect plating that you would want to capture before digging in. The best part about most of these cafés is that they’re extremely affordable!! So well, that means you can actually go to all of them! Here, are my few favourites and most instagrammable cafés in Bali.

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  • Kynd Community:
    Kynd Community is a plant based café, one of the most Insta-famous cafés in Bali, they are known for their smoothie bowls with customised letters on it. Trust me, apart from how good the food looks, I was really surprised how much I liked the vegan food here. From freak shakes, burgers, smoothie bowls and of course coffee shop staples for me avocado toast and latte, you get everything at Kynd, this was undoubtedly one of my favourite vegan cafés in Bali and I highly recommend it.
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    Must Have: Gourmet Toasts (leo), Freak Shakes, Berry Tropical Smoothie Bowl, Loaded fries and Big mac
    Location: Jalan Raya Petitenget No.12X, Petitenget, Bali
    Timings: 6am – 5pm, Mon – Sun
    Pricing: $8 – $10 per person
    Instagram Handle: @kyndcommunity
  • Café Organic:
    Café Organic is another vegan and vegetarian cafe in Bali, really cosy and a perfect place to get an early breakfast. This is again another insta famous café in Bali.  Café Organic has a corner with a cute botanical painting, perfect spot to get your picture for the gram and guess what, you can buy yourselves goodies to take back home such their chocotella, granola and a lot of other organic, sugar-free and vegan goodies. #GardenGangstas while posting pictures on your Instagram from here.Cafe Organic
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    Must Have: Super Smoothies, Smashed Avo, Kombucha, Blueberry Pancakes, Earth Bowl
    Location: Jl. Petitenget No. 99X, Seminyak, Bali / Jl. Batu Bolong No. 58X, Canggu, Bali
    Timings: 7am – 4pm, Mon – Sun
    Pricing: $10 – $12 per person
    Instagram Handle: @cafeorganicbali

     

  • Revolver Espresso:
    Revolver Espresso is a must visit for all the coffee lovers! It’s one of my favourite coffee shops in Bali. The dope interiors of bright neon lights, floral painted walls won’t let you leave this place without snapping it, but what’s even cooler is the coffee bar!! Revolver is the perfect place to get your morning coffee or a mid-day coffee fuel paired with a dessert. I could spend couple of hours working here and sipping on coffee and maybe a cocktail or two later! They even host Revolver nights which is a dinner, wine and cocktail menu. Unfortunately, that’s something I missed but there’s next time. And lastly, you can buy their merchandise and take their  roasted coffee back home!!
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    Must Have: Piccolo Latte, Cold Brew ( Best I have ever had), Revolver Coffee Shake, Espresso Chiller
    Location: Jl. Kayu Aya, Gang 51, Kuta Utara, Seminyak, Kabupaten Badung, Seminyak, Bali
    Timings: 7am – 11pm, Mon – Sun
    Pricing: $4 – $6 for coffee, $10 -$12 per person paired with food
    Instagram Handle: @revolverespresso 
  • Sisterfields:
    Sisterfields is literally my favourite breakfast/brunch spot in Bali, it has the best pancakes and french toast I have ever eaten!! Sisterfields is an Melbourne style café, having an indoor and outdoor sections, unlike other cafés the outdoor is surrounded by greenery, try and get a spot with all the plants in the background for your Instagram picture. The staff is super friendly and nice, this place will not be a disappointment for sure! 
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    Must Have: Acai Berry Bowl, Smashed Avocado, Chocolate Brioche French Toast, Pancakes & Red Berries, Charcoal Breakfast Burger
    Location: Jl. Kayu Cendana 7, Seminyak, Bali 80361
    Timings: 7am – 10pm, Mon – Sun
    Pricing: $10 – $15 per person
    Instagram Handle:
    @sisterfields
  • Sea Circus:
    Sea Circus is another insta-famous cafe and bar, known for it’s colourful graffiti exteriors and the pink bench that you probably cannot miss! And as soon as you enter a big pink neon sign says ‘restaurant, cocktail bar and coffee den’ that’s enough for you to know what to expect from this exceptionally pink café. It’s a perfect place to get dinner and drinks, a tip – go early sometimes it gets really busy here, which means queuing up to get a table.
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    Must Have: Acai Bowl with Granola, Pulled Jackfruit Tacos, Rice Paper Rolls, Baked Parmesan Dip, Frozen Margaritas, Pow Wow
    Location: Jl. Kayu Aya, Seminyak, Bali
    Timings: 8am – 1am, Mon – Sun
    Pricing: $15 – $20 per person paired with drinks
    Instagram Handle: @seacircus
  • Mad Pops Bali:
    Mad Pops Bali will be your beat the heat spot, mad pops is a vegan ice cream parlour and trust me you’ll be surprised how good vegan ice cream can be. All their ice cream is non dairy with a cold pressed coconut base made with fresh locally procured ingredients. Get yourself a fresh fruit popsicle or a soft and get your perfect ice cream snap near the neon board that says ‘ice ice baby’. Definitely a go to spot even though it’s not a café, it’s got the Insta-shot aesthetics.
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    Must Have: Matcha Sesame, Mint Chocolate Chip, Popsicles
    Location: Jl. Kayu Aya No. 48, Seminyak, Bali
    Timings: 11am – 10pm, Mon – Sun
    Pricing: $4 – $6 per person
    Instagram Handle: @madpopsbali 
  • Nalu Bowls:
    Nalu Bowls you could probably tell my the name, it’s Bali’s first smoothie bowl shack, even with a limited menu they make some of the most Instagrammable tropical bowls. Apart from Bali, Nalu bowls is available in Jakarta, Ibiza and Portugal. You can only imagine how good their smoothie bowls are. It’s a perfect healthy detox place after a night out in Bali.
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    Nalu bowl
    Must Have: Uluwatu Bowl and J-Bay Bowl
    Location: Jl. Drupadi 1 2A, Seminyak, Bali, also in Canggu and Uluwatu
    Timings: 7:30am – 6pm, Mon – Sun
    Pricing: $4 – $6 per person
    Instagram Handle: @nalubowls 
  • Coffee Cartel Bali:
    Coffee Cartel Bali coffee is a big deal in Bali, and Coffee Cartel is setting a new trend of the ripple coffee, using their ripple machine they churn out the most Instagrammable coffees in Bali, it can be a text or an image, they will have it rippled out on your coffee. This place has the most chilled out, laid back vibe, really pretty plating and the most good looking coffee, you will not leave this place without posting it on your gram!
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    Must Have: Speciality Lattes, Mixed Berry Cheesecake, Banana Bread
    Location: Jl. Lb. Sari No. 8, Seminyak, Bali
    Timings: 6am – 5pm, Mon – Sun
    Pricing: $10 – $15 per person paired with food
    Instagram Handle: @coffeecartelbali

I am sure there are many more Instagrammable cafés in Bali left to discover, incase there are places you’ve been to that aren’t on this list, please leave them in the comments down below, I would love to visit them on my next trip to Bali.

Bali Location Guide

 

Bali is one of Asia’s popular island and beach destination. And I completely understand why, spending 10 days in Bali seemed too little to spend enough time and cover every area in Bali. I would really wish to stay in Bali for a month to cover every place and I am sure there would be some place undiscovered. Well so here, I am making a simplified guide about different locations in Bali and this will help you pick where to stay based on the vibe and things to do in every area.

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Seminyak

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La Plancha, Seminyak

Seminyak is the most popular, uber cool, chic and the one of the nicest areas to stay in if you want to shop, party and eat. Seminyak has a lot of bars, restaurants, cafes and beach clubs, it is one of the higher end, posh areas of Bali. I would definitely recommend staying in Seminyak for 2 nights at least as there is a lot to explore there, if you are someone who would prefer a less touristy area, then you could avoid staying at Seminyak as it can be wee bit commercial. But if you love the classy, fun vibe, staying at Seminyak exploring the boutique stores, amazing coffee shops, beach clubs and bars are a must. The advantage of staying in Seminyak would be that everything is in close proximity, hence you can save yourself from the taxi bargain. Young travellers looking to party and shop, this is definitely where they should be staying.

Ubud

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Tegenungan Waterfall, Ubud

Ubud, another popular location in Bali, Ubud has a lot to offer but it may not be everyone’s vibe as it is a more relaxing part of Bali. You won’t experience the hustle bustle here, everything is a lot more calming. Ubud is a must stay for anyone who loves early morning yoga, an Ayurvedic spa, a fresh breakfast, shopping at the Ubud art market, and basically a more cultural experience. Apart from this Ubud has a lot of sightseeing to do as well, that’s why is a must visit while you’re in Bali. For the sightseeing and touristy experience, a day trip could be enough to visit the monkey forest, the waterfalls, rice fields and the temples but if you want to have a more wholistic cultural experience I would recommend staying here for 2-3 nights at a really nice spa resort and immerse yourself into the culture. I am pretty sure, you will be feeling more rejuvenated after your stay here.    

Canggu

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La Brisa, Canggu

Canggu, is the more hipster, fun area of Bali, if you are someone who doesn’t like the commercial scene in Seminyak, then I would recommend staying at Canggu, about 30 minutes away from Seminyak. Canggu also has a lot of beach clubs, bars and cafes, few being a lot cheaper, less touristy and a lot more chilled. Canggu is a place where you are likely to meet a lot of freelancers, bloggers, solo traveller as I noticed that’s a preferred location for them, having everything to do but little less crowded and more fun.

Uluwatu

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El Karbon, Uluwatu

Uluwatu is one of my favourite locations in Bali, Uluwatu is an hour away from Seminyak, located on a cliff and has some of the nicest beaches and day clubs in Bali. Some of the best hotels in Bali are situated in Uluwatu with the most stunning views, I would definitely recommend couples holidaying in Bali to stay in Uluwatu for 2 nights, party during the day, get a nice romantic dinner and catch the sunsets from the cliff. Uluwatu is less crowded and very sophisticated, I highly recommend staying here for a few days. It’s 15 minutes away from another area in Bali Jimbaran where you get some of the best sea food and the most amazing sunsets in Bali. Uluwatu should definitely be added to your list.

Nusa Dua 

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St. Regis, Nusa Dua

Nusa Dua, is where most five star hotels are situated, perfect location for a family holiday in Bali. Nusa Dua has nice clear beaches, lots and lots of activities and water sports to enjoy. It is the most developed resort area in Bali, if you’re looking for a luxury suite and a private beach experience, this is definitely the place you should be considering while staying in Bali. You are likely to find a lot of hotel chains in Nusa Dua with endless amenities being provided and you wouldn’t have to go anywhere else. Nusa Dua is where you should be staying on a family holiday and enjoy at some of the finest hotels in Bali.

Hopefully this helps you plan your Bali holiday better based on where to stay and what to expect everywhere, I can emphasis more on how much there is to do in Bali and there is literally something for everyone, just make sure you stay at the right location for the experience you would expect in Bali.

Let’s Talk About My City

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So for today’s post, I decided to talk to about my city Mumbai. Most of you’ll know this where I have been born and brought up in South Mumbai, so I thought why not give you’ll an insight about this magnificent city. Mumbai isn’t your average big city; it’s very different from any other big city. It is definitely the city of dreams in India; it’s the city where the magic happens. This dynamic multi-cultured city that never sleeps, all year round you can experience different festivals being celebrated from various regions and cultures across India.

This city is has got something in store for everyone, no kidding! From the famous starry Bollywood industry to millionaire slums (however ironic this sounds, it’s pretty damn true) this is not it, if you’re a finance brainchild or a creative media person, Mumbai has it all for you. For a foodie, there are endless options, from the famous street food like our vada pav and chaats to some of the best fine dine restaurants. But for food, I think India itself has so much to offer like literally, every state in India has it’s own cuisine and speciality. Read more about Mumbai’s street eats here.

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But, apart from all this what makes this city so special, it’s the PEOPLE that make this city what it is. I have never come across people that are so humble, helpful and they just don’t fail to make you feel comfortable. If you tend to interact with people in the city, there is story everyone will have on how they made a living in Mumbai. Everyone here is so approachable and friendly, language, age barrier isn’t even a problem to ask someone for help here, cause irrespective of that people will always offer a helping hand. One thing I have noticed over the years is that most people in the city are extremely energetic and passionate about what they do, A story of a driver coming to Mumbai with absolutely nothing, he even spent nights on the railway station taking up odd jobs, soon he got employed as a taxi driver and he noticed he was catering to a lot of foreigners as he used to work near the airport. He felt the need to learn basic English, which he did, thereafter he could communicate with a lot of people and this expanded his horizons. Little did he know, in a years time he bought his own car and started a personalised tourist taxi service in Mumbai and couple of years later he even opened his own Indian fast food restaurant in the city. This was pretty inspirational that from having nothing to owning a company and restaurant, for this he had to say “this was possible for me to do only in Mumbai as in a smaller city, he wouldn’t have the aspirations to become big”.  Well, that being said I believe that if you are truly passionate about something, there’s nothing that can stop you in life.

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This was a little glimpse into my city Mumbai,  which is the fourth most populated city in the world and on of the fastest growing cities, and the city of dreams in India. And it’s the only city that gives me the feeling of home.I would love to know about your city and what makes it special.

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Tips To Travel Being Broke

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One of the biggest barriers to travelling is being broke and, there is a way around this. Money shouldn’t be stopping you from taking off for an adventure. Rather than fantasising of that dream holiday, make it happen just with a few compromises. Here, I am going to give tips on travelling whilst being broke. So stop scrolling through all the destinations you want to go to on your Instagram and make it happen this way.

Take a bus, instead of flights and trains:

Buses are a long ride, but it’s a lot cheaper than taking a flight or a train. Hitting the road is the most cost effective way to get away. The example here, taking a flight or a train to Paris from London would cost anything between £60 to £200 whereas taking a bus which would be an overnight journey would cost you as little as £20. Besides, being cheap overnight bus rides will save one night’s stay cost. So, bus it out, folks!

Couchsurf:

Couchsurfing as the name says it, is literally crashing on someone’s couch for a couple of nights. This is pretty simple, you sign up with Couchsurf, put in your enquiry and find someone that would be willing to accommodate you for a couple of nights. What you could do in return is probably cook a meal for your host or get them a bottle of wine. This would be a sweet gesture for them offering a place to stay.

Exchange of skills for accommodation:

There are a lot of sites like WorldPackers that are tied – up with hostels around the world where you could stay for free in exchange for your skills. So if you’re good at digital marketing, photography or even attending guests at the reception you could apply to hostels and they’d offer a free stay, laundry and even meals at certain places just for your skills and services in return. Working at one of these hostels is a great way to make new friends, meet travellers and on days and evening off explore cities.

Walk or cycle:

I have managed to cover travel and stay in a super budgeted way, but you’d probably wonder what to do on your vacation being broke? You obviously can’t pay for expensive museum visits, guided tours and taxis. The best ways you can explore the city is by taking a walk around, cycling and immerse yourself in the local culture. You’d be surprised how many things you could do and explore for free or minimal cost, it could be something as simple as a picnic in the park or exploring the local markets or spend a day playing volleyball on the beach. What’s so great about not spending money and yet travelling, you will end up doing the less touristy things and see a different aspect of the city.

Cook your meals:

Okay then, you are broke and managing holiday, unfortunately, you can’t be out dining and sipping on some fine wine. So what do you do now? COOK, yes I mean if you’ve found yourself a cheap Airbnb or Couchsurfing, you have the facility to make your own meals. How about visiting some farmers markets, getting yourself fresh ingredients at a bargain and just be experimental with the cuisine and cook yourself a great meal and probably pick up a bottle of cheap wine from the supermarket and celebrate your little getaway.

So, if you think you’re not a digital nomad or don’t have big bucks saved for a holiday and that’s stopping you from taking a vacation. I suggest, just follow your heart and these tips, I am pretty sure if not your dream holiday you’d definitely be able to take a long weekend off. Just save a small sum of money and just travel, life is too short to let anything stop you from travelling.

 

20 Holidays to take in your 20’s

20 holidays in your 20'sYour twenties are all about exploration, finding yourself and maybe getting lost again. There is no better way to make the most of it other than traveling. These are the years, where we can take the plunge and just book a ticket to an adventure. Prior this age, we are too young to go crazy and after this we will be old and responsible. I have made a list of 20 destinations I want to visit, while I am in my 20’s, these places will literally cover everything I have been wanting to do, from partying to adventures to teaching.

Here, are my top 20 trips to take in your 20’s:

Full Moon Party in Thailand

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The Full Moon party takes place once every month throughout the year, and new years is the best time to attend it. Here, everyone’s going crazy on the cheap buckets of alcohol, covering their bodies in neon paint and fireworks everywhere! It’s a holiday not to miss in your twenties.

Trekking to the Himalayas

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Once you get older, your knees are going to get weak, you’ll be out of breath and stamina to do this trek, trekking up to the Himalayas is once in a lifetime experience, traveling through the highest motor-able road in the world and camping at the Everest base camp, things like this will never be forgotten.

Teach English Abroad

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As students, graduates we can put our language skill to some use, teaching English in a non-English speaking country could add a lot of value to you and someone else’s life, and you get perks for this as being well paid to sponsor more travels. If you look up on the TELF website, there are a list on countries you could teach English in.

Summers in Europe

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European summers are the best, this one trip you have to take with your best of friends or do a study abroad in Europe to spend enough time here. The variety of holiday destination is vast, you could chill on the beaches in Spain or indulge in wine and cheese in Italy or go for the hot tub parties in Budapest or have a summer love affair in Paris or get high in Amsterdam. Basically there’s a lot you could do in Europe, just spend a month here with your friends and make the best memories.

Tomorrowland in Belgium

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Tomrrowland, is one of the most talked about and popular EDM festival. As you get in your 20’s the few things you want to do is rage at these massive music festivals and enjoy the vibes there, and Tomorrowland should be top on your list and can’t be missed.

Backpack across South East Asia

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While we are in our twenties, one thing I suggest is being open-minded and learn about various cultures around the world. One of the best trips to get a different cultural exposure, this will surely be an enriching experience. The countries backpackers visit in South East Asia are Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. So, get those backpacks out and book this trip!

Roadtrip to Iceland

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This road trip would probably one of the most scenic road trips in your life, rent an RV and driving across Iceland’s Ring Road, surrounded with volcanoes, rainbows and northern lights. This is once in a lifetime, and is surely on my bucket list to do in my 20’s.

Hike up to Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu is the world’s most famous and popular Inca archeological ruin, and now voted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The best way to discover the city is through the Inca trek and trails, it’s surely not an easy way to get up here. This trek would be exploring mountains, flora and fauna, sacred valley of Machu Picchu and the culture of course. Your twenties are the best time to explore this city and hike up.

Burning Man in Nevada

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Burning Man isn’t an average festival, it’s a weeklong cultural festival in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada. This includes camping in the desert, self-expression art from all over the world, music and a lot of cultural influences are found here. Well, this weeklong festival isn’t easy as camping in the desert is difficult and requires you to be well prepped for this exceptional week.

Experience the great barrier reef in Australia

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The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest living space on Earth, with over 1500 different types of species found on a 3000km long marine stretch, this and unbelievable sight. This is the up close experience with the underwater world, undoubtedly Australia is the best place for this experience.

Scuba diving lessons in Indonesia

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Do you love the ocean? The best thing you could do is take Scuba Diving lessons and maybe even become and instructor. Gili Islands in Indonesia is one of the best places to learn scuba diving, a week-long of training to become a pro yourself, and maybe a month-long training to become and instructor. Can you leave a desk job to become an instructor later in life? In the real world it seems unlikely, so go take this leap while you can.

Party in Ibiza

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Yes, our twenties are meant to party are asses off! We will be working hard in the future, so what better place to let hair down other than Ibiza, one of the best party islands having the most chilled vibes and that’s all you need. The beach, music and a little bit booze to let lose.

Volunteer in Africa

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So, I am a big believer of giving back to the world. I mean, for the ones reading this and the ones who’ve had chances to experience even half this list, are really fortunate. Sometimes, we could give back by volunteering in countries like Africa, it could be teaching students, working in a Safari, helping in the fields and experiences like these will make us realise how bless we actually are, so make sure you get a chance to do something like this before responsibilities take over.

Spring break partying in Mexico

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I bet most students have this ticked off their bucket lists, spring breaks are where you’ll are going to prep for summers but in style, Cancun is where most students go party till sunrise and just begin their twenties. Spring break party holidays are the best way to start your twenties travels.

Get wasted on a Yacht at Yacht Week

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Yacht week is a weeklong of sailing, island hoping, diving and partying. You and your group of friends get your own yacht for a week, and this experience is filled with being drunk in the middle of the ocean to waking up on a new island. This could definitely be a perfect bachelor party!

Attend the world’s biggest carnival in Rio

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This is the biggest carnival in the world, in Rio Brazil it’s even known as the Carnival city. This 5 days long party has over 2 million visitors per day and performances, parades performed poor neighbourhood that make this carnival a world-class event. Before you’re too old to move those hips to samba, attend this street party and be awestruck by Brazilian performances and the samba parade.

Learn Spanish in Spain

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Well, in our twenties we are quick learners and the best thing we can learn is a new language, to how about spending a summer in Spain, learning Spanish and immersing your self into a different culture. And this will open so many doors for you in the future in terms of being able to connect with people from different countries, jobs abroad and so much more. Give this a shot in your early twenties!

Get lost in India

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They say you need a lifetime to experience India, and I wouldn’t disagree as India has got such a vast culture and so much authenticity. This is one trip that should be on your list in your twenties, exploring different cities, food and seeing the most stunning places. Maybe one trip wouldn’t be enough to explore this large country but starting in your twenties will always have you going back to India for a new adventure every time.

Underground clubbing in Berlin

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For all those who love deep house and underground music, this one trip you must not miss out on, Berlin is known for having the best clubbing experience in Europe. It’s not mainstream, they are dark underground clubs that make sure you party till 8 am, also it’s got clubs with the strictest door policy in the world. And let’s be honest, as we get older our partying capacity reduces, partying till dawn is something your older self wouldn’t want to do.

Take an Adventurous leap in New Zealand

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Your young and pretty damn courageous, this trip will give you that adrenaline rush. New Zealand is known for having the best adventurous exposure, having the ultimate bungee jump, to sky dives and ocean walks. These are just to name a few activities here, but there’s a lot more! Seriously, I don’t even need to explain why you should be doing this trip in your twenties, go take this adventurous journey.

Your twenties are probably going to be the best years of your life and these are a few experiences you shouldn’t miss out on, take these holidays abroad the experiences and make some unforgettable memories in these years.

Stereotypes and misconceptions about India 

Stereotypes & Misconceptions about India

Recently at a bar in Mumbai, I had a strange encounter with these white guys from Europe traveling across India for a month. Well, it was strange cause, I was surprised what they though of India and us Indians to be, and it made me realise how every white person who comes to visits India or even interacts with us, has a few preconceived thoughts and stereotypes about India. This wasn’t my first experience, while living in the UK I’ve had people ask me questions like “are you allowed to date?”, “why don’t you have an Indian accent?” and the list could go on. I had to keep explaining that India is not what they see in movies or they hear about. It’s really big and diverse, and they’d be so surprised with what I would tell them. Not everything you’d hear about is false, but there is a lot of stuff that’s exaggerated and has just created a bizarre image about India, which is why explaining myself about India, that it’s not what you may think it is.

Indian isn’t a language:

So a lot of foreigners, assume Indian to be a language, and it isn’t that’s our nationality. I was communicating with a taxi driver in Hindi (our national language) and I was asked by one a foreigner, if I was talking to them in “Indian” well they meant Hindi which obviously I corrected. So, a fun fact here, Hindi is our national language, besides this there are 28 official languages spoken across India and over 200 dialects. Yes, this would be probably one of the most diverse nation in the world.

Curry isn’t the only Indian food and not every Indian eats spicy:

India has mastered the art of making curries, but there are debates and conflicts about curry being originated from England (does England like taking credit for everything we do?) non the less, if you’re visiting India, curry isn’t the only thing you should be trying, there is a variety of dishes such as South Indian food like idlis, dosas or chaats like bhel, aloo vada and there’s lot more you could find here. Now getting to our spice tolerance level, for the record not everyone in India can eat spicy, example myself, I have tears streaming down my face if my food has too much chilli. So next time you’re hanging with an Indian, don’t assume they’re spice superman, you’d be surprised to see that you could probably eat spicier food than your Indian mate.

Dating is a taboo:

So, I encountered this experience twice once in London and in Mumbai when I met these blokes from Amsterdam, who tried flirting, but I wasn’t responsive and the next thing they said to me was, “Oh you’re not allowed to date right, you’ll have an arrange marriage.” To he honest, this really pissed me off, cause you know nothing about my life to comment and coming back to our culture, arrange marriages do exist, but as time has passed by, everyone’s allowed to date find who they like and this doesn’t mean if someone’s flirting, I need to give them what they’re looking for. Times have changed, and arrange marriages exist in the rural areas of India and those marriages seem to be lasting a lifetime so I don’t see what’s wrong in that. Guys, honestly watch out before passing comments like this, it is quite personal and offensive.

Every woman would be in a Sari:

When I was a part of an exchange program in college, while talking to these students they told me they didn’t carry their normal clothes as it would be “too revealing” for India and most girls and women would be dressed in saris is what they heard. This has been one of the most false statements I’ve heard, like my mum doesn’t even know how to drape a Sari forget wearing it everyday. Saris are beautiful and elegant, they are worn on special occasions like weddings and festivals, not on everyday basis. In big cities like Mumbai and Delhi girls would be dressed in normal jeans and tops, or even dresses for night outs. And working women wearing indo-western clothes to work which would be wearing a scarf along with your jeans, or a longer top known as “kurta”. We live a pretty updated fashion world, so please get this mindset off and Saris are beautiful.

The Indian Accent:

So every white person thinks the Indian accents in very think and loud, how they mimic us in all the American tv shows saying “what are you doing?” I’m sure you’re imaging the accent while reading this. Now, open up your mind, not every Indian has that accent, we are very well spoken and let me repeat myself about the diversity in languages in India. Literally accents in English change from city to city, people in UK were pretty surprised by my accent as it wasn’t the thick accept you’d have imagined and wouldn’t guess that I was Indian. I’ve been fortunate enough to get the best education which allows me to speak well, but seriously that accent you’d very rarely find across India, maybe if you go down to south India (which is also the most literate part of the country).

These are a few stereotypes I’ve come across, and what people thought about India and sometimes I found it really frustrating about having to explain my about things like this, and such stereotypes did exist but but everything has evolved over time, and sometimes a lot of things could be offensive if you have failed to be opened minded about a country and its culture. So, if you’re visiting India with an open mind I can assure having a life changing experiencing the culture here, seeing two sides to India and be mind boggled with diversity in one country its self.

High Tea At The Taj Falaknuma Palace

The Falaknuma Palace represents the luxurious lifestyle of the late Nizam, this palace was built-in the 1890’s with Italian marble, timeless architectural design is spread over 93,971 square metres.
What are truly admire about palaces in India is the intricate details to everything even in those times, this palace was no exception to this. Located up hill in Hyderabad, this iconic palace is now taken over by the Taj Group and converted into one of India’s luxury hotels giving you a Nizam style living experience.

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Reception area at the Taj Falaknuma Palace with Italian marble interiors 

While I was visiting the palace I happen to meet a couple of people staying at the hotel and I really wanted to know what it was like living in this fabulous crib, and they told me its an experience that comes with the hefty price tag, but is truly worth it if you can afford paying £350 a night.

Well, what comes with that price is a king size stay with butler services, spas, breakfast in bed and all the prince and princess pampering that you’d imagine of.

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Stairs that lead you to the ballrooms 

But, don’t be disappointed you can get an essence of the luxuries at the palace by opting for high-tea or dinner with a guided tour around the palace just for £30 this is the fair deal I opted for, and this the only way you would be able to get into the palace. I must say they are quite stringent on rules to let people come visit ever since the palace has been converted into a luxury hotel, which is understandable.

So my evening started by being warmly greeted and taken to the palace in a chariot (how I wish that was true), but as you go up, there is a chariot right outside the palace for visitors to take pictures. After strolling around for a bit, we were all called in to take the palace tour, I got to be honest here I felt like I was in school doing this with another bunch of tourists or locals coming to dine here. This tour comes free along with high-tea or dinner.

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Chariot at the entrance of the palace 

As the tour starts, I noticed the high ceilings at the reception and the grand staircases going up, and now it was time to absorb all the facts and figures of this beauty. So, to begin with the palace consists of 22 halls and 60 rooms lavishly furnished and decorated with paintings, artifacts, one of kind master pieces and chandeliers. Falaknuma is known for its largest Vientiane chandler collection with 40 being only in the hall. It’s also known for its unique jade collections and paintings of well-known personalities.

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Crystal Ballroom with an infinite chandler reflection 

Thereafter, we arrived in the Nizam’s games/activity room, this room was where he would spend most of this time with friends playing chess, billiards on the one of a kind billiards table which is designed by Burroughs and Watts who designed two identical billiards tables out of which one being in the Buckingham Palace and the other at Falaknuma. Then, I noticed this massive hookah pot which had five pipes and was probably two feet tall. Wow, the Nizam could smoke quite a bit I must say.

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Burroughs & Watts Billiards table 

Now, we moved to the ballrooms, it’s absolutely magical with beautiful tapestry and glittering chandeliers, imagine having your party or wedding in one of these ballrooms it would be a complete fairytale. Moving on to the dining hall where the worlds longest table is with 100 guests can be seated on the table at once, here the chairs are made of carved rosewood and green leather upholstery and the tableware is made of gold and crystal. This is open to guests with a minimum booking of 20 guests.

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100 seater dining table – worlds biggest dining table 

The tour was about to end, and I almost lost my way around wandering in the palace, the only bit that was left was the bedrooms and library which was a replica from the Windsor Castle having the best Quran collection here. Going back to the reception, it was time for tea at the coffee shop.

 

I was really excited and hungry about by this time, after a day of work, walking around the palace I needed this to fuel me. There are two types of high-tea that you can choose from The Nizam Special – this has a variety of arabic teas and indian snacks along side or The English Tea – you can choose from a variety of green & black teas which are served with sandwiches, scones and parties. Knowing my palette I chose the English Tea.

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High-tea with a view

I have to talk about the great hospitality I was provided here, at first my tea was served indoors and it was about evening time. I noticed there was a terrace area and requested to be shifted there to enjoy the city view while the sun goes down and I sip on my tea. Though there was dinner setting being laid out outside, the staff made arrangements for my tea to be shifted there, which I thought was nice, they ensured all the guests were provided with first class service.

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And finally, managed to get someone to take my picture (even though its unclear)

This was definitely a blissful experience and of the best ways to spend my evening in Hyderabad. Whenever you would be visiting this city, a visit to the Taj Falaknuma would be a must. Make sure, you call the restaurant and make reservations as they could deny you entry at the palace if your name is not at the entrance.

And if you’re staying here, I am pretty sure you’d have a once in a life time king size experience.

10 Tips to get around Istanbul

Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, its got the perfect balance for a cultural experience and to ball out! This city is a fusion of Asia and Europe as it’s the one city in the world spread over two continents, which makes it even more interesting. I personally think it’s a modern Islamic country, even compared to Dubai, I feel Istanbul was culturally forward. For instance, I was walking down Taksim square while the evening prayers were on, I walked a little further from the mosque and see a street filled with loud, vibrant bars and pubs. That’s when it occurred to me that Istanbul is culturally forward, a reason why it attracted more tourism. But, like every big city Istanbul has its pros and cons, out of my personal experiences a few tips to get around Istanbul.

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Use Public Transport
Try using public transport over taxis, I have had couple of awful experiences with taxi drivers in Istanbul. From being ripped off and paying double the fare, to not getting my change of 80 Lira back, well I did get it back but I literally had to threaten the driver saying I would call the police if I didn’t get my change. Ugghh, to avoid this I would suggest of trying public transport like their trams and metros. If you want to take the cab make sure you pay according the meter.

Walking is the key
Walk, walk, walk! So when you’re around the city doing the touristy bit, walking is essential, everything is not too far away especially the historical places like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Archeology museum are all within a miles radius.

Take the Bosphorus Cruise
If you want to go explore the Asian side of Istanbul, the fasted and a fun way to get there would be by taking the Bosphorus cruise which will take you to the other end of the of the river towards the Asian side. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go explore that part of the city, but from what I have been told a lot of gypsies reside on the Asian side and its like the suburbs of the big city.

Live Centrally 
While deciding on where to stay, there are two central locations you could stay in, Taksim is more of a young, vibrant, party and shopping area with a lot of hotels located around there, easy transport. Apart from this, the other central location would be Sulatanahemad, which is right by the historic and tourist attraction.

Ignore the stares
Istanbul is pretty safe, but it’s not an ideal destination for solo female travels in my opinion. Turkish men are attractive, I won’t deny that BUT they can get creepy with constant stares and shamelessly rolling their eyes up and down. I would suggest have a friend along to go with in Istanbul or just ignore those eyes rolling up and down if you’re traveling alone.

Use the local currency Lira
While shopping, eating at a café or even for taxi fares you may encounter people asking you to pay in Euros, Pounds or Dollars. DO NOT pay them in any of those currencies, use the local currency Lira for anything. It’s cheaper and there are fewer chances of being cheated.

Get evil eye souviners
Ladies, get your self the most exotic evil eye jewellery from Turkey, they do it the best, its affordable and looks beautiful. It’s probably the best souvenir you would take back from your trip. I was broke and yet managed to bargain a good deal for my evil eyes. Besides this, you will be lost in the grand bazaar seeing beautiful turkish lamps and cutlury.

Indulge in Turkish Teas & Delights 
So if you’re a staple espresso or a latte drinker, I would suggest on skipping Turkish coffee, its thick, dense and a muddy texture. Rather indulge in Turkish teas, they’re aromatic and rich in flavor. My personal favorite was the jasmine, rose and peppermint teas.

Early Sunday shopping
On a Sunday most places would shut down a bit early than usual, around 7 most local stores would be calling it a day, if you have shopping plans on a Sunday evening going start early, plus during early hours of the day you could bargain a good deal for yourself.

Arrive early at the Blue Mosque
For most people the first thing to do one their list in Istanbul is visit the Blue Mosque, I don’t blame you its beautiful. Tips for the blue mosque would be, its open from 9am to 4pm only, there is no entry fee, but go early as there is always an hour-long queue. For girls avoid wearing shorts or leggings while visiting the Mosque, they will give scarfs to cover your head and if yours in shorts a long cloth to drape yourself. There are chances they may refuse entering the Mosque if you are inappropriately dressed, so keep this in mind before going to the Mosque.

Street Eats Under A Pound 

It seems unreal doesn’t it? When I moved to London, and if anyone asked me what was the one thing I missed from back home, undoubtedly it was the street food, it’s literally been my appetite saviour for so many years now. If there’s some boring lunch/dinner cooked at home, just run down and have a lot of options to choose from without making a hole in my pocket. However unbelievable it may sound, street eats in Mumbai start at as cheap as 10p. And it’s full of flavours and freshness, obviously it’s not the healthiest option, but hey, it’s better than have your dominos pizza.
If you’re visiting Mumbai, something that you cannot miss out on is the street food, to be warned you’ve got to have a good immune system and a spice tolerance to handle these local Mumbai delicacies.

1. Vada Pav

My all time favourite, Vada Pav is a potato patty with a hint of coriander, garlic and a lot of spices and masala put in a bun with the best garlic chutney (Indian sauces) and green chillies, even known as the “Indian Burger”. It cost as little as 10p for a vada Pav in Mumbai and you’ll find a Vada Pav-wala in every nook and corner of the city. But the best ones I’ve come across by far are the ones in worli and flora fountain, people being queued up and waiting to get that piping hot Vada Pav.


2. Bhel

Bhel is made out puffed rice, finely chopped onions, tomatoes and boiled potatoes, and the binding substance, the three chutneys– tamarind chutney, mint chutney and garlic. You can alter your bhel according to your palette. Weather you’d like it spicy or sweet or something in between. Bhel is a perfect evening snack to have something light but not too filling. And again, Bhel costs about 20p only and my staple places I have bhel is Hari Om Bhel in Fort.

3. Road-side Sandwich

This is nothing like the cold Tesco sandwich you’d have here. These sandwiches are freshly made infront of you, fresh veggies and cheese put in generous portions, grilled and given to you with a tangy ketchup. And wondering how much this would cost, it would be around 25p but the prices vary depending on your sandwich fillings. This is a must have accordingly to me. One of the best sandwich-wala is at Nariman Point.

4. Dosa

Dosa is an Indian pancake made out of rice flour and you can literally have upto 100 kind of different fillings in it. Dosa is one of the healthier options. It’s known as a South Indian delicacy but everyone in Mumbai love it! Dosa is normally served with a coconut chutney and sambhar (a tomato gravy). The best places to have dosa in Mumbai would be Babulnath Dosa and Ramarshray Dosa in Mantuga where people are waiting in lines from 5 in the morning. Dosa start from 40p and vary according to the fillings. This is a perfect filling lunch meal.

5. Bhutta

Bhutta is a corn cob roasted on charcoal, there is nothing fancy about it. It’s fresh corn being cooked and then topping it up with butter, lemon and some spice. This is everyone monsoon favourite food. Having Bhutta in the chilly monsoon is one of the things everyone in Mumbai does. Right opposite the Taj Mahal Hotel at Gateway you’d find these friendly Bhutta-wala enjoying the rains, roasting golden corn cobs and serving it to you in your cars. These roasted corn cobs cost only 15p and are normally big in sizes.

I think, besides the food being so cheap. It’s fresh and made right infront of you, these guys who are making this food get the joy of feeding people and love being appreciated for what they make. They might not make big profits but yet serve the best food in generous portions which everyone can afford. Now, these streets are a must have when you visit Mumbai.