Egypt: a country steeped in bribery or just good tips?

Throughout this blog you’re going to see some images that are pretty cool (in my humble opinion) but I would never have been able to capture these if not for one thing, money.

As I’m sure you will have noticed I’ve stopped banging on about America now and managed to find myself in Egypt. Not spiritually, just bantering about with my parents. I’m HALF EGYPTIAN don’tcha know.

Throughout this blog you’re going to see some images that are pretty cool (in my humble opinion) but I would never have been able to capture these if not for one thing, money.

Everyone expects a backhander or are we to call that a tip? Here’s just a few things I wouldn’t have been able to do if it weren’t for this ‘tipping culture’:

• Climb on the pyramid next to a sign that says “No climbing”

• Take a picture of hieroglyphs inside a tomb

• Go behind the pyramids for that ‘wonder shot’

• Special access to the Sphinx

• Drive a bell hop’s golf buggy in a hotel

Mena House Cairo
Breakfast with a view

I knew that I wanted to go out into the desert so I could see the pyramids from afar but had no idea my guide would have to ‘tip’ everybody and their brother along the way.

We came out of the hotel and were immediately approached by a tall, rat-like man who offered us a deal — 400 LE (around £18) for a 2 hour camel ride. We took one look at the hill beside us and chose to take the man up on his offer.

He told us he would take us to where we could pick up the camels and our guide. Soon enough rat-man pulled around in his rat-mobile and we got in. In hindsight this probably wasn’t the smartest decision, getting in a random, ratty man’s car.

Nevertheless, the rat-mobile served us well as we were taken down some backstreets to our camels, Michael Jackson and Mickey Mouse. I took one look at the white one and was like nah, absolutely not, that is not a bit of me. It looked so angry so I left my mum to that demise.

After the initial struggle of getting on the camel we plodded along the ‘authentic’ route to the back of the pyramids. I have never seen so many loose animals left to their own devices, think horses, donkeys, camels, goats, dogs. Men flying past in flip flops on horses.

At one point my mum (the native Egyptian can I remind you) tried to warn a tourist not to keep touching the dogs. The woman looked at my mum like she was a stupid bitch and ignored her; she was white with dreadlocks, woven bracelets up and down her arms, patterned trousers, you know the type. Probably a travel blogger or something, typical. Have fun getting rabies ya dickhead.

Anyway, so we’re in the desert and my main man Karam says he will take “AMAZING” pictures for me, all I have to do is wait. And you know what, he was SO right. Karam became my insta boyfriend for the next two hours, whata guy (see below).

My main man Karam

We get to a good viewing point and Karam goes over to a man and hands him a note. Next, we go up close to the big boi pyramid and he tells me to climb over the railing. I look at him like are you sure hun and he simply tells me to be quick and hands another note over to two men.

I climbed up a few steps and one man started shouting at me “Enough, enough!” Karam tried to reason with him whilst still taking photos, MY G. Lastly on this tour, the Sphinx. Whilst all the other normies were crowded on the other side Karam took me round to a road alongside the Sphinx where no one was. Got these cracking pics didn’t I?!

Sphinx

Just kiss me bitch

We come to the end of our journey and of course, common etiquette is to tip the tour guide, right? My mum hands over a 100 LE note to which Karam questions the amount. “For both of you?” he asks, “it’s for my kids”. She apologises profusely and hands over another 100. Whilst we weren’t actively ‘tipping’ all these officials along the way, I can’t help but think whether the money was handed to them or Karam it was all for the same thing, bribery. There’s no other way to address it, it’s bribery.

Whilst the pyramids is a hot spot for tourists from all over, a lesser known place called Saqqara isn’t, yet still as active in its taking of bribes, SORRY, tips. The site contains pyramids, tombs, ruins etc. There is a man at the entrance of every tomb waiting not for you but for his money.

We picked up a nice man along the way who asked if we wanted to ride his horse, (his actual horse don’t worry) and off we went. He showed us around , gave us some interesting history and of course, again, I’d think it natural to tip this man who had spent the good portion of an hour with us.

However, I would not expect to tip the man who let me pass into the tomb. We had already paid entry into the sites, why would I need to pay again for no extra service? Mahmoud had let us take pictures in the tomb and similarly to Karam had rushed us before anyone saw. He asked us to tip the man who guarded the tomb on the way out; I realise now it was for the privilege of being able to break the rules.

It’s a lax society in some ways and not in others. Do you really think I would have been able to drive a golf buggy around the hotel if we hadn’t been tipping the bell boy well? Actually, this is a bad example, he was A KIND MAN; he probs would have let me ride it around.

My point is at every turn it seems like someone is after what they call in Arabic, “baksheesh”. Ask any Egyptian about the country’s recent history of corruption and they will condemn it. Ask them about the 100 LE they used to get a government document processed a little faster and they will condone it.

The little man forgets an act of bribery is corruption no matter on what scale. Many Egyptians are tired of the regime they’ve succumbed to but perhaps this is part of a culture ingrained so deeply that it can’t change. Who am I to hold judgement? I don’t live here. I don’t fully understand the culture. I don’t understand that maybe this is ‘just the way things work’.

Should I refuse to partake in it? On this kind of scale, is it bribery or is it really just ‘good tips’? Where does the line blur? It happens all over the world.

As always let me know your thoughts in the comments or email me, inbox me, DM me, anything you want fellas.

ALSO, keep updated on the journey by doing me a solid and following me on Instagram. Cheers xoxo

See below for details of where I stayed and who I’d recommend taking tours with :

Hotel: Marriott Mena House, Giza

Tours: Giza pyramids, the man in the picture called Karam. Straight opposite the Mena House entrance.

Saqqara, Mahmoud and his horses (message me for a phone number)

Look how ripped I look

Does it look like I’m flying?

Hahaha

Saqqara

Las Vegas: a night out alone…

What happened when 4 friends got separated on a night out in Vegas and didn’t reunite until the morning… Read about it here!

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

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**** Competition has ended ****

If you were hoping to find out what happened in Vegas then sorry but you missed out. I ran a competition on Instagram and Facebook with the prize being a personalised letter in the post detailing exactly what happened in Vegas.

Thank you to everyone who entered and well done to the lucky 6 who won and found out what happened…

Make sure to like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram for future competitions and giveaways (links below).

https://www.facebook.com/justjennylamb/

https://www.instagram.com/justjennylamb/

Yosemite: the ultimate unfit, non-gymming, slightly chubby student’s guide to the National Park

Speaking of which, the brochures Yosemite hand out are very informative, especially on the topic of hungry animals. If you encounter a mountain lion ‘hold kids up so that they look bigger’ not sure how sound this advice is? Also, if it attacks you ‘always fight back’. What kind of advice is this?! Ffs.

Yosemite is one of America’s most impressive national parks; it’s in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and covers 1200 sq miles. Home to the tallest waterfall in America and around 300-500 black bears, 3.5 million visitors come every year to witness its magnificent landscape.

Ok, for those of you who still don’t know what I’m talking about let me make it a bit easier. You know that massive rock on the default background of a Mac? Yeah, it’s that big boi.

So, how do you ‘do’ Yosemite? Ima try and give you a quick run down of how to complete Yosemite.

How to get there

As you’d expect the park isn’t exactly near anything big but the closest airports are San Francisco, Fresno, Merced or Oakland. You’d then need to rent a car to get to the park. We drove from San Francisco in the shitty Kia and it was alright but we ended up staying an hour and a half drive from the entrance of the park. Why did we do that? 1. The place was bouji af with a hot tub 2. Finding accommodation NEAR Yosemite is so bloody difficult.

Where to stay

There’s a bunch of ‘lodges’ near the park but they’re spenny and get booked up fast. You could camp but if you’re idiots like us then you probably won’t lock your food away properly in the designated boxes and will get eaten by a bear. (There are many warnings about this, I’m not lying, you will get eaten by a bear if you leave food out).

Speaking of which, the brochures Yosemite hand out are very informative, especially on the topic of hungry animals. If you encounter a mountain lion ‘hold kids up so that they look bigger’ not sure how sound this advice is? Also, if it attacks you ‘always fight back’. What kind of advice is this?! Ffs.

Anyway, back to our accommodation. Christine and Lee’s Airbnb hit the spot. Clean, nice beds, lil hot tub, amazing. Although they wouldn’t provide extra sheets for a sofa bed unless we paid extra – stingy gits.

The ‘Crane Suite’ as they labelled their small home was situated in Ahwahnee, population of 2,246, ayyyy buzzin’. Have you just spent 2 minutes trying to pronounce that place? Yeah same. I still don’t know how you say it but it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that it’s a small town in Yosemite Valley with a less than comprehensive mini mart run by a guy who looks like he’s been in that exact mini mart in that exact cashier’s seat for his whole life.

Yosemite guide
Spot that crane

It’s useful to stock up on supplies if you want to take lunch with you as there’s not much in terms of eating wise in the actual park. We stocked up at said mini mart with said guy. We bought all of the food we wanted and just as we were saying goodbye the guy said in a slow, lulling Southern accent, “By the waaaay… yurr caaarrd gat declynnneed”.

I got a bit flustered and said, “Oh shit, sorry did you want me to do it again?”

-“If ya waaant” (I mean how else was I going to pay for it?)

-“Oh, yeah, sure. Let me just put it in again.”

-“Y’all travellers? I think the baaankss git a lil con-fused whin thaay see Ahwahnee, be-cause they say to thermselvess ‘Wherr the helll is thaaaaat’. So it miight take a few goesss.”

We finally left the mini mart and with it a man who was bound to still be there waiting for the sweet release of death in another 50 years. Went home, made lunch and anticipated a whole day of hiking in the park, Jesus.

What to do in the park if you’re as unfit as I am

 

Student guide to Yosemite
Ya girl’s unfit af

Student guide to Yosemite
Look at that sweat

 

Ok so, there are loads of things you can do in the park; you can swim in the lakes, you can see magnificent waterfalls, you can hike for hours, you can star gaze, you can drive to viewing points, there really is something for everyone.

If you’re like me and can’t deal with a lot of strenuous exercise because you’re lazy, then absolutely choose to do the second hardest hike in Yosemite. Sure, it was tough-ish but the views were worth it.

Don’t be put off by the word ‘strenuous’ because it really wasn’t that hard when I look back on it. We took the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point, which is kind of misleading because it’s actually closer to 5 than 4. It has an elevation of 3,200 feet and took us roughly 6 hours roundtrip, including plenty of stop offs for pics (see below).

Guide to Yosemite
I look like such a try hard

Guide to Yosemite
Family day out

The hike is technically the second most difficult hike after Half Dome – the big ol’ rock boi I mentioned earlier. If you want to do this you’re going to have to leave super early in the morning as it’s 5000 feet above the valley floor and will take you roughly 10-12 hours roundtrip. ALSO, you need to apply for a special permit before you go, so plan ahead.

 

When should I go to Yosemite?

It’s always good to ask the park workers for advice on what to see when you’re there but if you’re after the glorious photos you see on postcards and plastered all over Instagram, you need to go to Yosemite in the Spring (see vid below from my visit last year).

There is no water in the valley during summertime and instead you’ll be greeted with fire risk warning signs. It’s hot. Like… really hot.

When we asked a woman at the visitor information desk for advice on the two hikes we wanted to do (haven’t mentioned the first hike as it wasn’t worth it) she looked at us like we were crazy. Tbf, she probably took one glance at Jack’s Stan smiths and thought to herself, they’re deffo going to die on the mountain.

She had one of those piercing, squeaking, nasally accents and told us that the valley was, “Burning UP”. After getting all our information, she waved us off and squawked “HAPPY HIKING LADIEEESSSS”. Oh shut up ya dickhead. WE WERE THERE ON THE ONLY DAY IT RAINED ALL SUMMER LADY, CLEARLY IT WAS COOLING DOWN. FYI the rain wasn’t enjoyable, it was like a monsoon and we all felt like we were blinded for some reason, that was weird.

All in all, absolutely go to Yosemite if you’re in California. The views look like a painting. Your pictures look like you took them in front of a green screen. It’s AMAZING.

If you’re going in the Summer definitely do the Glacier Point hike. If you’re going in the Spring, do the Nevada Falls hike like I did last year as you’ll see some great waterfalls. If you’re lazy you can also drive to Glacier Point but where’s the fun in that? Why do your make up and get great photos when you can look like a gremlin instead?

If you go to Yosemite after reading this send me a message and let me know and of course, HAPPY HIKING LADIES!

Yosemite National Park
Spot a wild Georgia

Yosemite National Park
Mate, you alright?

Yosemite National Park
There she is

Four mile trail
Chubs got up the mountain

San Francisco: one way journey on the Vomit Comet to the world’s sweatiest man

“In the same night I got touched up by a 17 year old, saw a girl chun in a bar, met America’s worst comedian and danced with the world’s sweatiest man.”

“In the same night I got touched up by a 17 year old, saw a girl chun in a bar, met America’s worst comedian and danced with the world’s sweatiest man.” – KJ

Oh San Fran you were weird. Boy, you were so weird. The city has a kind of unique, relaxed energy that makes it addictive. Every corner has something and someone different.

Now, SF has a great transport system, the BART (budget version of the tube) as well as numerous trams but given that we’re all ballers we got Ubers everywhere. The Ubers in SF were super friendly, maybe a little too friendly, if you know what I mean.

Actually, how could you possibly know what I mean? Let me explain. The first Uber driver we got was considering coming on the night out with us after he’d finished his shift. The second Uber we got gave me his number and suggested we go trapeze-ing in the woods with him the next day. “In the woods” what does that even mean? He proceeded to whip out an iPad (all whilst driving) to show me him on his trapeze in the woods. The third Uber driver was just a fun time guy who liked head-

ing towards the nightclubs. Read between the lines.

Backtracking to the first Uber, our guy Mark recommended a place called Ireland’s 32. You guessed it, it was an Irish bar, which apparently was THE place to be on a Thursday night given its crowd. The crowd was not a delight. Turns out it was the first week of ‘school’ and a bunch of underage, annoying arseholes had come out to play.

The queue wasn’t moving and everyone around us looked like they were 15. KJ was getting consistently touched up by one of said 15 year olds. I mean… it just wasn’t good.

We decided to move down the street to a quiet bar where we thought we could have a civilised drink. We thought wrong. All the people who hadn’t got into the previous bar had spilled into the next closest thing and a girl decided to throw up all over the floor. Good one dickhead.

We didn’t let it kill our spirit though, metaphorically and literally. The next bar we went to had $1 tequila shots, ayyy. When we walked into that bar a woman just outside said, “You guys look too nice for this place”. It was uncomfortable. Shots were cheap and so were the jokes being made by the stand up comedian. She is the worst comedian I have ever been in the presence of. She literally said the secret to her looking so young was the blood of young children? Someone please explain where the joke is in that?

We eventually left and treated ourselves to the actual city in a club called Monarch. The music was on point. It was like a mix of funk, electronic dance music and all played by a live band with a DJ helping things along. The dance floor was rather empty but it picked up and by the end of the night Georgia had a bald man who wouldn’t stop high pitch whistling and KJ managed to find the sweatiest man in the world (see video below). Drugs’ll do that to you lol.

Our first night had introduced us to some of the freaks who lived in SF. The daytime seemed like a different world. The next morning most of us were feeling alright bar one, Geo, who had started to feel sick. We skipped out on taking public transport again and decided to Uber to the Ferry House. Geo took a plastic bag for precaution. The morning presented another incident of getting close to an Uber driver. Geo threw up in the bag, in the back of the car hahaha.

Imagine, your mate throws up in a plastic bag and then doesn’t even decide to get rid of it. She literally walked the streets of San Fran holding a bag of liquid yellow puke. Being the good friends we are we sourced some more bags and made her dispose of the one in her hand.

And, being the BEST friends we are then made her get on a boat. In my defence I read water taxi and thought nice, big boat, ferry type thing. We called a number on a lamppost (probably should have been the first red flag) and were told Captain Tom would pick us up in about 6 minutes.

The boat arrived and it was some shitty yellow boat like the size of a big dinghy. I could see the fear in Geo’s eyes but everything worked out. Waves were choppy, no one was sick and everyone got to drive a boat across the SF bay.

Sf bay
Ahoy there Tom

Captain Jenno sails the seas

After a day of sight seeing which you don’t need me to describe to you, we chose to face a night out again. Upon leaving our Airbnb I said “Why does this house smell like literal shit?” KJ concurred the same and just as she turned the corner, the owner was there asking if we were heading out for the night. Needless to say, I don’t think their review will be the best…

Anyway, San Francisco is known for its gay scene so we couldn’t not go. Upon entering the gay bar I was presented with a glittering disco ball and sweet drinks that tasted like Haribos. KJ and I went to the all gender toilets and whilst waiting for the only cubicle a guy came in, knocked and told whoever was in there to hurry up. Four guys walked out… all with smiles on their faces and started chatting to us so casually. I honestly couldn’t tell you what was going on in that room. It was five minutes of straight excitement, shouting, endless questions but most of all, pure happiness. Who knew the toilet could be a space for such entertainment?

Yaaaaaassss queeeeeen

The gay scene got too much for us and we went to infamous nightclub Temple. Spenny drinks and a collective of English people. Why do we all swarm together in foreign countries? Long story short, the night ended at a 24h chinese/casino. All in all a successful night.

San Fran was weird and it’s difficult to explain exactly what was weird about it; it just was and I loved it.

The infamous sea lions on Pier 39

Alcatraz
Alcatraz

Mission Dolores Park
Mission Dolores Park

Me looking cute af at 5 in the morning

Just a nice lil view

L.A.: My Tinder Nightmare

We snuck out through the back. We’d just had a lovely night together aside from the stalker, everything was fine right? NO, again, no. While your princess (me) was asleep the tinder man sent me these messages…

Los Angeles, what a big friendly giant. Sort of but actually, not really. One thing is correct in that sentence, it was big. After my experience, friendly? Not so much.

First things first, people drive like arseholes in LA. Lost a coin toss and had to do the first drive in the rental car. Imagine never having driven an automatic 4×4 down a freeway in the pitch black– HA! I got proper stressed out and had to pull over because I thought I was going to chunder.

Covering the car up cos it’s so shit

Many other things have made me want to chunder on this trip, including the smell of our air bnb, which smelled like cat piss or cat food, who knows. Maybe don’t stay in Korea Town kids.

L.A. with its vast expanse excited us. We spent the night in our shitty kitty litter flat and were ready to face a day of sightseeing. So, what did we do? See the Hollywood sign of course. Or, try and see the Hollywood sign… multiple times… 3 times to be exact. We drove around the hills for ages looking for the trails. To be fair, we got a great pic with the sign and no one else was around (see below) so go exploring kids. Don’t be afraid to get out there and get lost.

1st attempt wasn’t bad right?

Now, if you’ve made it this far you’re probably wondering about this tinder nightmare. You’ve opened this blog for one reason only and it’s that. So, let me set the scene. It’s a Thursday night, you’re in L.A., you’re loving life after having just eaten the best Korean bbq. You spent last night in a bar that was far too edgy for you and that you were far too drunk for. You want to experience what Korea Town’s night life has to offer (the natural choice of course). What do you do? You get on tinder and ask for recommendations.

The food was AMAZING

We all agreed at the start of the trip to swipe right for most people in order to get good ‘local’ recommendations. And, it worked! For the most part…

Back to Korea town, a man messaged me on Instagram, who I could only guess found me on Tinder. I responded asking for the best unknown spot to go out to in LA. He suggested going to a speakeasy called Break Room 86 in Korea Town. Perfect, right?

No. Really, no. After drinking a solitary beer each whilst a 40 year old man tried to hit on KJ, we decided to check out Break Room. When we arrived they checked our Ids round the back of what looked like a pub’s kitchen fire door and told us to go to a woman standing just behind the door’s opening.

She took us down a corridor with lockers on either side, chairs, other random shit until we got to a vending machine. She opened the vending machine and it turned out to be a door! We walked through the door and were greeted with a swanky bar. Retro decor in the cool way, not the try hard way. A live band began to play later in the night, an ice cream van was outside and a telephone box had a secret doorway to a karaoke room!

Secret doorway

I thought wow, what a great recommendation so I messaged the man back saying ‘Break Room, cool vibe, you were right’. He then replied asking if I was there. I did not reply. He then sent me a message saying ‘Yeah I’m here, where you at?’ This is when I began to shit myself.

There we were, happily smiling the night away, playing some arcade games when the Tinder man walked in. I swiftly turned my head and pretended I was engrossed in Miss Pac-Man. I don’t know why I thought this but I thought oh, it’s fine I’ll just spend the night dodging him. That was so dumb. The venue was super small and intimate.

The time came, I bumped into him ffs. Had to go through the niceties of saying hello, how are you etc. As soon as that was over I turned straight back around to KJ, Jack and Georgia and started dancing. He stood behind us the whole time. Oh, also, can we just clarify something, HE CAME ON HIS OWN. Whilst we were LOVING the band, some of us a little too much, we had to leave.

We snuck out through the back. We’d just had a lovely night together aside from the stalker, everything was fine right? NO, again, no. While your princess (me) was asleep the tinder man sent me these messages…

HE TRIED TO VIDEO CALL ME 25 times. Needless to say I went for that block. Be careful gals. Get those glorious recommendations but do a thorough look through a profile before replying.

Ahhhhh it’s all funny isn’t it or is that borderline psycho?

If you thought that was weird, check back here for a blog on San Francisco soon because THAT was even weirder.

Jack enjoying the ol’ gamesssss
80s rock band we all wanted to “f@#!”
Living it up large on Venice Beach
Blu Jam Café (another Tinder recommendation but from a normal man)

Next stop ——-> San Francisco, California

Keep updated on the journey on Insta

https://www.instagram.com/justjennylamb/

New Orleans: Nashville but on meth

I saw some old woman, (who I’m going to say was at least 80) ride down Bourbon Street in a people bike wearing nothing but a bra and skirt blasting out ‘Move Bitch Get Out the Way’.

NEW ORLEANS, my my myyyyyy, this city is crazy. If I thought Nashville was mad, then this is like Nashville but on meth. If New Orleans was a person it would be that guy in every friendship group who takes it way too far on every night out and who you are low key worried about becoming a serious drug addict or alcoholic. So, you know… the fun one.

Bourbon Street is the infamous strip in NOLA and it’s kind of dirty but in a good way. You’ll see people pouring out of bars at all hours, women (old women) regularly getting their nipples out in exchange for beaded necklaces and you’ll even hear the sweet sounds of jazz music in the midst of the dirtiness.

Let’s get away from the city for a minute. Really do consider getting a tour out of the city whether that be taking a swamp tour or visiting a plantation. I was lucky enough to visit Oak Alley Plantation and was the youngest person on the tour. All in, it was $65 for transport there and back as well as a tour of the house. If you’ve got a good tour guide you’ll even get a short history lesson on the hour or so journey there.

So insta blogger innit

When we got back into the city, we bought a bottle of SoCo and headed for the bars. First one we spotted, ‘Bourbon Cowboy’; it had a mechanical bull so of course that was the first port of call. Rode the bull didn’t I?! Once the novelty of the bull had worn off and bald, military man Ray from Texas started to get a little TOO friendly, we moved on.

Living my best life

Next bar was the home of HUGE ASS BEERS and course we got one. Did I spill mine all over someone on the street from the balcony? Course I did. Turns out, my faux pas did not go unnoticed and the man stormed into the bar, up the stairs and tried to start a fight with my pal Seán. After countless attempts to tell him it was my fault, Blake Ward (so American) would not listen. Imagine an over privileged but really good looking frat boy, yeah… that. Escaping a punch in the face, we ended the night with a pizza from a woman who’s knowledge on local meth dealers could not be rivalled.

The following evening we decided to be a little more cultured and try some of the local cuisine. Draygos in the Hilton was recommended to us and albeit a little pricey, once seeing countless lobster dishes on the menu, I decided that was DEFFO a bit of me. For dessert we headed down to Cafe de Monde to try the infamous beignets and they did not disappoint fellas.

Lobster, oysters, mushrooms, pasta, JESUS

New Orleans is famous for two major things, its food and its music. We couldn’t leave without experiencing some traditional jazz so decided to get in line for Preservation Hall. Preservation Hall is a small intimate venue that was established in 1961 There’s no air conditioning so get ready for some serious bum juice. There’s no photography or recording allowed and there’s no microphone. What there is of course is great jazz music. It feels authentic because it is. At $20 a ticket, it’s worth it.

The hall is just off Bourbon Street so if you thought you were in for a relaxing evening of jazz, think again. As soon as you step out of the building you are once again reminded that you are in the mental district.

A night out on Bourbon Street is like if someone got every single hen party and stag do, every single lads and gals night out, every single addict and vomited them onto the street. Rules don’t seem to apply and you’ll end up appreciating the crazy things in life.

New Orleans is full of characters and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I saw a man go into the hotel swimming pool with a shower cap on. I saw another man sitting in only his dressing gown outside the Ritz smoking a cig and I saw some old woman, (who I’m going to say was at least 80) ride down Bourbon Street in a people bike wearing nothing but a bra and skirt blasting out ‘Move Bitch Get Out the Way’.

New Orleans, you were jokes but I think I would die there amongst all the craziness if you hosted me for more than a weekend.

Next stop ———> Los Angeles, California

Beignet at Cafe du Monde

Try some Alligator Bites, surprisingly nice

Check out Frenchman Street and find some artsy markets along the way

Memphis: the home of nothing except Elvis

People had scooters, bikes, others were simply running for their lives with one guy screaming to his friend in a higher pitch than most little girls, “I CAN’T RUN IN THESE SHOES”.

“You’d be maaaad too if you had to say that thiiiis was your home”.

Wise, wise words from a recovering drug addict/Uber driver. Her name? Couldn’t tell you, was far too focused on her raspy southern accent and her disdain for Memphis and men, not in that order by the way.

I got the impression that her number one hate in life was men not texting her back. Why do I get that impression? She told us. Second thing she hated, Memphis. And while I don’t want to disrespect the people of Memphis, your city was so shit.

Perhaps it was coming from the previous life of the party that was Nashville but Memphis was like stepping into Nashville’s deathbed. The only thing I knew of it was that it was home to Graceland and it seemed as if that was the only thing it was home to.

So, only go to Memphis if you are an Elvis Presley fanatic, are in the area or it’s a stop over for you. Even as an indifferent fan of Elvis, I have to say that Graceland was pretty cool, the tour is good and it’s just a cool house. Cool is definitely the word to describe everything there. Ahhhh Elvis, what a guy.

Elvis’ COOL pool table

Elvis’ COOL dining room

Elvis’ COOL house

As for my house or rather my air bnb, not so cool. We stayed with a night nurse and his dog. His house was cute from the outside and every house in the neighbourhood looked like it was part of a film set. Inside however, not so pristine. I was just there eating my quesadilla when a cockroach crawled across the floor, niceeeee.

Air bnb looks nice from the outside…

The area had a weird, eerie feel to it. No one was around and nothing was there. It was recommended to us that we visit the massive pyramid in the centre of Memphis. What was inside this pyramid you ask? A massive shop. Classic Americans. And, not just any shop, the world’s biggest Bass Pro Shop; they sell a range of fishing, hunting and boating gear. Lol, the South.

To be fair, the shop is an EXPERIENCE. It’s also a hotel and restaurant with a viewing platform at the top. Pay something like $10 and go up to the top and have a panoramic view of Memphis. The restaurant looked peng but unfortunately we had already indulged in what looked and tasted like a prisoner’s meal at Graceland.

Have you seen anything more Southern?

All in all, Memphis just seemed to be empty; it was weirdly quiet. We had been told to walk down Beale Street, THE street in Memphis. Whilst it was filled with characters including, bikers, trucker guys and alcoholic women, I wouldn’t walk down it again.

Having taken a Greyhound for 4 hours after getting a solid 2 hour sleep the night before, we were in no mood for an even more dismal place than what our heads were already in. We sat in a park for a bit and suddenly saw a rush of people running from all over the place. Turns out Jailbreak had hidden hundreds of dollars all over Memphis and were releasing coordinates throughout the day as to where the money was hidden. People had scooters, bikes, others were simply running for their lives with one guy screaming to his friend in a higher pitch than most little girls, “I CAN’T RUN IN THESE SHOES”. An entertaining spectacle but still didn’t make up for the fact that all in all Memphis was shit.

One thing I would say is definitely ask your Uber drivers for recommendations wherever you go because they are the best for it. If we didn’t ask, we would never have gone to the Pyramid and would have had to have found something else to occupy ourselves for a couple of hours… god.

So folks, avoid Memphis and stay tuned for the next blog somewhere which is set not to disappoint.

Next stop———> New Orleans, Louisiana

Nashville: Cowboy Maga

A word to describe Nashville? Fun. Two words? Guiltless fun.

If you’re like me and not super knowledgeable on the topic of the South then you’ll associate Nashville with great country music, hot chicken and dreamboat accents. After reading this, you’ll still associate it with all of those things because it was exactly like that.

I got a flight from New York and as soon as I entered the terminal I could feel I was in the South. Probably because they had country music blaring out. Anyway, I stepped out of the airport to be greeted by Jennifer driving my Uber. Jennifer, lovely name, lovely lady but also bat shit crazy. My Uber driver was either completely trashed or absolutely bolted. She was flailing her arms everywhere, head moving frantically from side to side, eyes darting whilst telling us how much she loved Princess Diana and hated Camilla — (read in deep southern accent) “Oh we all lurrvveee Diana; we hate Camilla, she can go dieeeee”. Ok, hun? Still trying to decide whether her being binned was funny or not; I’ve come to the conclusion it’s all just banter innit.

After not dying on the journey, we checked into our hostel. My man Ted gave us a little tour round the place and reminded us of the ‘no hard liquor’ rule. I met some great people in this hostel, it was really close to the main strip and wasn’t super spenny (details at the bottom). We met a low-key country music producer and violin prodigy as well as a singer who had just decided to stay in the hostel because it was “more fun”. Aside from them, you’ll probably bump into LOADS of English people if you go during the summer as they’ve all just flooded from summer camps. You just can’t leave the English behind… shoutout to my boy Max.

Although the hostel wasn’t too spenny, going out definitely was. The plus side is that almost every bar along Broadway (main street in Downtown) is open every day of the week til late and has a live band. There’s no cover charge for watching artists you’d normally pay for anywhere else in the world. The only down thing is that it means drinks are pricey. The bands take requests if you tip them and will interact with the customers. Ever listened to a country song ironically at pres? Think of how everyone goes mental for it and times that by 100. It’s a fun vibe, a mix between an authentic American city and a strip on a lads holiday.

Luke Bryan’s Bar (Huntin’, Fishin’, Lovin’ Everyday – that guy)

That’s not to say that every bar pounds out the same thing because they’re all different and there’s something for everyone. Choose between learning to line dance, attempting karaoke in the ‘Music City’ of America or dancing on the bar at Coyote Ugly. Ticked something of my bucket list with that last one for 20 seconds of fame on the bar before being told I couldn’t do that… and then realising I’d left my credit card in another bar… the good times just kept on flowing. Ultimately, the going out scene in Nashville was like Cowboy Maga (N.B. Seán came up with this and wants credit, write your own blog lil bitch).

Prime example of a Maga Cowboy

If you’re not into going out and getting drunk, don’t go to Nashville. Ahhh, I’m being superficial but also not, don’t go. Sure, there are things to do in the day but the main attraction is the amazing music. If you’re into country music then check out the Johnny Cash museum; read his personal letters, listen to his songs and watch clips of his movies. At $20 a ticket I wouldn’t recommend going unless you REALLY like Johnny Cash. Alternatively you can go and visit the Parthenon in Centennial Park, a replica of the one in Greece or maybe you could just go to Greece? On the plus side their food is just as big as the music. Try their hot chicken and for the best mac ‘n cheese eat at The Stillery.

The Parthenon
The Parthenon

The Stillery

Mac n’ cheese at The Stillery

Go to Nashville for the music, good food and people. You’ll be surprised at how into country music you’ll get. It’s an infectious atmosphere filled with carefree, outgoing and friendly people.

A word to describe Nashville? Fun. Two words? Guiltless fun.

*Hostel: Nashville Downtown Hostel, 177 1st Avenue North

Next stop —-> Memphis, Tennessee

Nashville
Buy 1 pair and get 2 free – great deal fellas

Not quite Coyote Ugly but no one got a pic so enjoy this other cute one of me

Nashville
Diabetes in a photo

New York: a haven for the confident, not the shy

Even in the bouji-est of yaaassss queen bouji places it was happening…

Hello friends, here we are again, your ol’ pal Jen has re-started this blog after HUGE demand for the international blogging sensation —cheers to all you sarcastic pricks.

For those of you who don’t know I’ve gone on a jaunt round America for the next month, where I will be aiming to provide you with a run down of the enigma that is the USA.

First stop: New York

I’m sure many of you reading this will have been to New York and yeah, I could just reaffirm that all the touristy things you did were worth it but cba. Go to the Met, see the Statue of Liberty, get in a yellow cab etc. but get out into the boroughs and listen to a guy tell you about how he lived in a cult for almost a year or how some guy got scammed into going on a tinder date with 200 other guys.

I stayed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, edgy and try hard I know but ya gal needed some free accommodation so stayed with a friend. Think of Williamsburg as the Shoreditch of New York, loads of artisan coffee shops, overpriced craft beers and unfairly good looking people. If you find yourself there, go down to Smorgasburg, a food market next to the water. Think of Camden market but less shitty and with people taking insta pics with watermelons and drinks served in pineapples, that kinda thing. Good food though and you get a fab view of the skyline.

Venetian Sandwich
Venetian Sandwich

Smorgasburg
View from Smorgasburg

If you’re looking for something to do in the evening, get yourself down to Barcade (yeah, it’s an arcade in a bar). If you hate people, like me, then you’ve found a place where you can appear to be social without actually socialising with anyone. All the games are individual player except maybe one or two so, grab a beer and indulge the inner child with retro arcade games.

After that, we headed to a bar called Union Pool, which I was told was notoriously known as a ‘hook up bar’ (sorry mum and dad). I’M JOKING, relax. Just having some good time fun with friends. It was here in a relatively sober state that I realised how non-subtle New Yorkers are. People are definitely on the prowl. The two girls next to us immediately started flirting and talking to the two guys I was with. Girls!

And yeah, sure this place was kinda sleezy but it was happening in the nice places too. People just accept that they’re at a bar for one reason only, to “hook up” and they’re so blatant about it. Even in the bouji-est of yaaassss queen bouji places it was happening— rooftop bar, Mr Purple in Lower East Side. Imagine your typical wealthy guy in a shirt and chinos combo, drink in hand, surrounded by 5 women; he had his eye on the blonde but she was playing it coy. Next thing we know she’s gone and he’s onto the next one. Literally on… as soon as the blonde left his hand wormed it’s way down to the arse of the brunette next to him. No subtlety, just went for it. If you want this classy experience visit Mr Purple. Nah but seriously, if you love the high life vibe, do check out Mr Purple, totally instagrammable with a pool, good view and everyone pretending they have the money to spend on $16 cocktails.

Mr Purple Lower East Side
Pretending to enjoy myself drinking the cheapest thing on the menu

If you’re looking for something more chill and less alcohol focused then head on down or rather up, to the High Line. It’s a 1.45 mile walk along greenery on an old New York railroad. You’ll get a nice walk, see some contemporary art along the way and feel healthy. Or, get away from the crowds and go to Union Square. Not much to do but it’s a nice small green space and there are plenty of shops about. When we went, we arrived just after the aftermath of something ridiculous.

A half torn down stage was lying on the ground with the remnants of DJ equipment next to it. Alongside the equipment were a bunch of big cue cards. One of them said ‘Trump supporter’ with another saying ‘If you’ve ever been in a long term relationship’. A girl had matched with over 200 boys on tinder and asked them to meet her at Union Square at a specific time. When they showed up, she held up cue cards with conditions to eliminate them so she could find the right suitor. Who does that? To be fair, I think it was some publicity stunt to gain followers but still, WHAT?

Americans are so ballsey, New Yorkers especially. So, if you want in yer face experiences, definitely hit up New York.

Next city ——> Nashville, Tennessee

NYC High Line
Mural along the high line

13 reasons why… you should go on study abroad!

Have you ever been driven around by a stranger in a convertible whose front is held together with a massive chain? Have you ever spent the night on a citrus farm in the middle of nowhere? Have you ever slept with an infestation of spiders above your head? If you want all this and more, go to the ol’ UC Berkeley friends.

Have you ever been driven around by a stranger in a convertible whose front is held together with a massive chain? Have you ever spent the night on a citrus farm in the middle of nowhere? Have you ever slept with an infestation of spiders above your head? If you want all this and more, go to the ol’ UC Berkeley friends. I was considering writing some really soppy, meaningful ode to Berkeley but nah, here’s 13 reasons why you should do study abroad:

  1. Contacts

As an international student you get to meet a bunch of other international kids which means you can basically exploit your friendships for free accommodation anywhere in the world–– I’m looking at you Tim.

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Abundance of international pals

  1. New appreciation for travel

We’ve all been there, staring at some Instagram dickhead who is beautiful beyond words and travels the world but study abroad, especially in California, will let you pretend you’re that dickhead for a bit. I mean, look at me, I’m writing a blog… about travel… right now… You will discover a new appreciation for making the most of your travelling opportunities and you should take these in whatever form they come!

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  1. You feel like an adult

Yeah, we all think going to uni or taking a gap year made us grow up but just wait till you’re in a queue in immigration with all your documents because you had to do adult stuff like apply for a visa. Or, when you’re arguing with sassy women in administration because your parents are an 11-hour flight away and not just can’t deal with, but have no desire to deal with your shitty problems. What I’m trying to say is, you’re on your own pal and it’s great.

  1. You also feel like a child

There’s something about American college life that makes you feel like you’re in school again but in a good way. Maybe it’s because my home university is in the city but even at British campuses I don’t think you get the same communal and friendly vibe. You’ll experience unbelievable friendliness and kindness from people who genuinely just want to help you.

  1. You’ll ‘find yourself’

In the least cringey way possible, being dumped in the middle of nowhere in completely new surroundings really makes you evaluate the kind of person you want to be, the kind of people you want to surround yourself with and what you value most in life.

  1. It’s basically one big holiday

Minus the academic stress of Berkeley, if you go to university in the UK, you will 100% feel as if you’re on holiday in California. I don’t even know why because I was doing twice as much work at Berkeley as I was at home but it’s just those Cali vibessss you know.

  1. You’ll do more spontaneous things

Given that your time abroad has a time limit on it, you’ll want to pack the most in that you can. Also, you’re in a country, thousands of miles away from anyone you know; you can do whatever you want to do without fear of being judged by those closest to you. You have the opportunity to really be yourself.

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Be yourself; I can assure you no one batted an eyelid to this.

  1. Don’t you want to experience a frat party?

If you go to Berkeley, they’re not exactly wild like the films but you’ll still feel ‘American’ drinking shit beer out of your red solo cup while playing beer pong to the dulcet tones of trap music. Also, frats are actually as dirty as you think they are, beer all over the floor, remnants of tacos or some other savoury snack and wine in a bag. Tip: If you don’t get there too late, you wont have to pay for any alcohol for the whole night (frats have bare $$$$)

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Lol

 9. Academic satisfaction

At Berkeley, you really are taught by the experts in their field and yes, every university says that but at Berkeley they really mean it. I actually felt like I was being taught things. Shocking isn’t it, valid teaching at university? I was encouraged to go to office hours for help, I was given constructive feedback on work and didn’t feel intimidated to put my hand up in class. I went to the library more times in one week than I did in a year and a half at King’s.

  1. Gain a zest for life

Americans are 10x happier for no reason; it’s super annoying at times but if it rubs off on you a little then you’re sorted. You’ll find yourself smiling at people in the street or saying ‘for sure’ to anything anyone asks you. You will become a beacon of happiness for generations to come.

  1. Friendz 4 lyf

Since starting uni I’ve been rather lost with the people I want to surround myself with but on study abroad you will definitely meet people who you know you will stay in contact with for a long time to come. You have the opportunity to completely revamp the kind of people you want to spend time with and it really makes you reflect on how you treat other people.

  1. Less judgemental/more open minded

If you go to Berkeley you will be immersed in a liberal bubble and that’s a good thing; it was a refreshing change to the hard line conservatism that I was used to from Essex. I say Essex, I mean my dad––yeah, Big Dave. Listening to others is actually a good thing. Respecting opinions, being compassionate and just being an all round decent person is just quite nice I guess.

  1. Give me one reason not to.

 

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that made my study abroad the way it was. It actually was a once in a lifetime in experience that I will never, ever forget and I am a better person because of it. So cheers fellaaaaaas. xoxo

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The infamous Chain Car