Sunday, 24 September 2017

Sal, Cape Verde | Trip Report, Hotel Review and Travel Tips



Before you go on holiday somewhere, you like to research it a lot, or at least I do. Usually my way of researching something is by reading blog posts about it or watching vlogs on YouTube. I found a severe lack of this for Sal in Cape Verde, so I thought I'd write my own travel guide about the island for anyone thinking about booking a holiday there. We decided on Cape Verde on a bit of a whim really, it looked gorgeous and so we booked to go there.

The Island and Weather
Sal is a very small island at 216km², but it is beautiful nonetheless. Their perfect white sandy beaches is what sold it to us. However, exploring the island a bit further you will find despite your 4/5* resorts, there is still a large amount of poverty surrounding you. There isn't a huge amount to do on the island, you could easily fill a week or 10 days, but I'd say 14 days would be a bit too long to stay.

The weather was amazing the whole time we were there, it was always between 26-31 degrees celsius. With hot weather comes lots of flies, which is to be expected as it is Africa and nothing can really be done about it. It didn't ruin our holiday at all, despite what I'd seen on TripAdvisor before we went. For the evenings and nights, I'd say it is essential that you take high repel spray and mosquito bands, which we used throughout our holiday. I was only bitten once using all of these! The final thing I would mention about Cape Verde is the currency. The country's currency is Escudos, but they are not available to exchange outside of Cape Verde, so we just used Euros. 

The Hotel - Oasis Salinas Sea
We stayed for 7 nights at the Oasis Salinas Sea on an all inclusive basis. On arrival, whilst waiting to check in we were given juice which was incredible after the long journey. When you're checking in you have to pay local tourist tax of 2€ per person per night, for up to 10 nights. Our bags were taken up to our room for us - I felt sorry for the man carrying my suitcase!

There is entertainment every evening which is either a show or live music. On the night we arrived, The Lion King was on but we were too tired from the travelling to watch. In the hotel reception there is a sign telling you what entertainment is on each evening.

At the beginning of the holiday we found it impossible to get a sunbed by the pool, but after a few days it got easier as the hotel was a bit quieter. You don't have to pack your own beach towel for this hotel, they are provided. You are given a card each to exchange for a pool towel and you can exchange them twice a day, which is great when they're wet and/or sandy! Because we had a late departure from the hotel, we asked to keep our towels until we left and we just had to pay a 10€ deposit each. The swimming pool itself was amazing and so clean - we loved the swim-up pool bar, it's great not even having to get out of the pool to get a drink. 

Everyday there is a cocktail of the day, one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic. A few they had to offer were Sex on the Beach, Pina Colada and Frozen Raspberry Daiquiri. We drank plenty of Sex on the Beach while we were there, they were so nice.

As I previously mentioned, we had a late departure from the hotel and spent all day in and by the pool. There is a left luggage room, which comes in very handy as you don't want to have to keep an eye on all of your stuff and lug it around with you. There are also two male and two female shower rooms so you can freshen up before your long flight home, it was lovely to be able to shower the pool water and suncream off.

Hotel Food
We played it quite safe on holiday with food, we wanted to avoid being ill at all costs. We ate at the hotel everyday, we only had one meal out which was on an excursion. There are five places to eat in the hotel, so we didn't feel like the food was too repetitive. We didn't actually try Restaurant Tradi├žon (a la Carte), Restaurant Sakura (Sushi) or Morna Beach Club for food during our stay, but we heard good things about the dinner at both Restaurant Tradi├žon and Morna Beach Club.

Restaurant Tabanka is the buffet restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is served from 7-10am and there's a lot of choice. To name a few options there is cereal, pancakes, omelettes made-to-order, churros, waffles, bacon, egg, bread, croissants, fruit, juices and strange tasting sausage. There was also a door hanger with a breakfast form on in the hotel room in case you wanted breakfast in bed. Lunch is served from 12:30-3pm. We didn't notice much of what was available for lunch as we didn't have a big lunch at all, but there was always chips, pasta, chicken, pork and bread available. Dinner is served from 6:30-10pm and there were similar options to lunch as well as crispy chicken, tuna steaks and sweet potato. There was a bar inside this restaurant where you could get bottles of water, fizzy drinks and Strela, Cape Verdean beer, which is actually quite nice!

By the pool there's a restaurant that has two menus, Batuko and Pano di Terra. Batuko is a grill menu and you could get pork, chicken, lobster and more, this serves food from 12:30-3pm and 6:30-10pm. Pano di Terra is a pizza menu and as well as pizzas you could get toasties, this serves food from 12-3:30pm and 5:30-10pm. The bar by the restaurant is open from 8am-12am.

There was a lot of food available between and after meal times too. You could get ice cream, which was two scoops in a cup, we didn't actually have any but noticed vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. 
There was a hot & cold buffet in Restaurant Sakura during the hours of 10am-12pm and 3:30-5:30pm, which had pizza, chips, bread and juices. There was also a buffet at Bar Ponton (the 24/7 bar) between 12am-4am, which had sandwiches, yoghurt, cake, biscuits and fruit. Behind the bar there were also snacks available to purchase but they were quite expensive, it cost us 5,50€ for a lion bar and snack bag of crisps. I'd recommend visiting the mini supermarket across the road from the hotel where you could get Lays, Pringles and Oreos for a smaller price. 

Excursions (Thomas Cook)
We went on 3 out of 19 excursions Thomas Cook had to offer on the island, the Turtle Watch, Island Tour and Sunset Beach Dinner. They also had boat trips, shark watching, snorkelling, scuba diving, quad bike and buggy excursions. 

The Turtle Watch is held on Monday, Tuesday and Saturday and they pick you up from the hotel reception at 9pm. They take you on a mini bus as a small group, just a warning it's a very rocky drive to get there and back, which isn't pleasant! It was incredible to see turtles in 'the wild', we saw 3 going back into the water after they'd laid eggs, one of which we saw laying the eggs. I can't remember the name of the tour guide but he was great and seemed really enthusiastic! Earlier in the day we had walked to the Riu Funana hotel to see their turtle hatchery, my advice would be don't walk along the beach, it's a very hot and long walk.

The Island Tour is held on a Monday and they picked us up at 8:30am. We went to Palmeira (a fishing village), up a small mountain, to see the buracona and the blue eye, we also went to Espargos, to the Salinas at Pedra de Lune and to see a mirage. We had a buffet lunch whilst we were in Espargos at Restaurante Universo, there was some traditional Cape Verdean food, but also chicken, white rice, chips and salad. You also got one drink with your meal. It wasn't that tasty but it filled us up until we could get food back at the hotel.

We also went to the Sunset Beach Dinner at Odgo d'Agua which was fun and the food was good. There was fish, pork and chicken on the BBQ and then you could add to your meal with the buffet, which included sweet potato, rice, sausage, salad and bread. You got two drinks included with your meal. For dessert there were two types of cakes and some fruit. Whilst we were eating, there was live music which was a mixture of English and Cape Verdean songs. After our main, there was a fire eater which was really fun to watch. Afterwards, we watched Cape Verdean dancing and then had a go ourselves on the stage, which was enjoyable.

Trip Report
Thursday 7th September 2017 - The first day of our holiday! We got to the hotel quite late, so once we'd checked in and got into our room, we went for dinner in Restaurant Tabanka and then went back to the room to unpack.
Friday 8th September 2017 - We slept in as we were so tired from travelling the day before, so we spent the day by the pool before going to have a look at the pier. We had dinner in Restaurant Tabanka and then watched the live music outside. We went to the beach bar, danced and we may have had one too many.
Saturday 9th September 2017 - We chilled by the pool, before going to the hatchery at Riu Funana to see the baby turtles. We ate at the restaurant by the pool and then went on the turtle watch excursion, which was incredible to see. As it had been a long day we went to bed, but we were awoken by the carnival which was coming along the street, which we wish we would've known more about to get involved.
Sunday 10th September 2017 - I have a motto and belief that Sunday's are lazy Sundays. We spent the day by the pool and in the pool, we had food at the pool restaurant and then went to the beach bar, before heading on to the 24/7 bar. 
Monday 11th September 2017 - We went on the Island tour which we loved, it was amazing to see pretty much all of Sal island. When we got back and got ready, we ate at the pool restaurant then watched Grease. We then carried on the evening with the wonderful group of people that we met whilst on holiday, by dancing the YMCA on stage and then doing karaoke in the beach bar.
Tuesday 12th September 2017 - Woke up with a hangover so took persuading to get out of bed before going to chill by the pool. After getting ready we went to the sunset beach dinner, then we went to the Ocean bar in Santa Maria afterwards for a drink.
Wednesday 13th September 2017 - We spent the day by the pool and then went for dinner at the pool restaurant, sat with all the people we'd met. Then all of us went to the beach bar and some of us went to the 24/7 bar before heading into Santa Maria.
Thursday 14th September 2017 - We spent the day by the pool before travelling home later on in the day.

I hope this post has given you a bit of an insight into Sal and the Oasis Salinas Sea hotel. We had the most amazing time on our first holiday together in Cape Verde and loved the hotel we stayed in. We met incredible people on holiday, who made our holiday even better.

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Bondi Sands Self-Tan Eraser

When I first saw this product being advertised, it didn't even occur to me that it might be a bit gimmicky. I was expecting amazing things from the Bondi Sands Self-Tan eraser, because of how amazing all their other products are. I bought this when it first came out, when it was on the introductory offer in Boots and I'm glad I didn't pay full price for it.

The Bondi Sands Self-Tan eraser claims to 'erase' tan off and to avoid exfoliation by only needing to use a washcloth. You apply it five minutes before showering in warm water and gently exfoliating with a washcloth.

I found that even following all of the recommended instructions, my tan never fully comes off and I'm often left with random patches all over my body. I wouldn't expect this when a product claims it will 'erase' self tan off. I'd say that their recommended way of taking your tan off with a washcloth, only takes off the top layer and you still have to exfoliate the tan off. Until I used a white washcloth, I didn't notice that any tan was actually coming off, and even then it was only a small amount!

I also found when applying this that if you have any sore patches of skin, like I did on my hands, it stings and you can't wait to shower it off five to ten minutes later. All in all, I wouldn't repurchase this as it barely helps remove tan and I still have to take time to exfoliate it all off.
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Sunday, 10 September 2017

My Travel Makeup Bag

The last time I went on a summer holiday, I didn't wear makeup apart from a coat of mascara. Now, I love to wear a full face and I feel like these are my makeup essentials for my holiday. I obviously won't be wearing foundation in the day - it'd melt straight off - but for dinner and going out in the evenings I thought a bit of makeup would be quite nice to wear. I haven't been able to buy any new products for a while due to a lack of funds, so they might seem quite similar to previous posts I've done recently.

Base
As I am fake tanning before my holiday, I am taking my trusty tan base. NARS Illuminator in Copacabana provides the perfect glow to the skin, which I love to wear underneath my foundation to create a dewy effect. Revlon ColorStay foundation is long lasting, matches my tan perfectly and makes my skin look flawless, which is perfect for a holiday night out. I use two concealers, Rimmel Wake Me Up to cover up redness and blemishes, and Urban Decay Naked Skin to brighten my under-eyes. I am taking my Bourjois Healthy Balance powder to set it all. This is the perfect holiday base for me.

Lips
I have decided to take plenty of lip products on holiday, as you never know what colour you'll be in the mood for. Even though in my case it'll probably be red! I am taking one Clarins lip oil because I love to apply this after my base, to get my lips ready for lipstick application. You can read a more in-depth post on my holiday lipsticks here.

Eyes & Brows
I've decided to pack light on the eye front and to just take my Naked Basics palette rather than the Naked 3 or Naked Smoky. I am also taking my favourite L'Oreal perfect slim liner and Le Volume De Chanel mascara as it's one of my favourites and it's also waterproof! For my eyebrows, I'm taking Anastasia Beverley Hills dip brow in Auburn and L'Oreal Brow Artist plumper to create the brows I love. 

Extras
I believe that bronzer, blusher and highlighter are essentials on a summer holiday evening. Highlighter will look beautiful in the evening with dewy skin, and if you can't pack on the highlighter for a holiday, when can you! Bronzer is essential to make sure I look as tanned as everyone else is - due to how pale I am this wouldn't happen naturally. Finally blusher, it adds a bit of nice colour to the cheeks which you tend to lose some of when you're hotter than usual!
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Thursday, 7 September 2017

Lipsticks I'm taking on holiday

For me it's a big decision to pick only five lip products I'm taking on holiday, especially if I want varied colours. I could have easily put five of my favourite reds in - but then obviously I'd be very limited! I decided to go for a few different finishes and no two similar colours for a bit of variety. I obviously had to put some of my favourites in my travel makeup bag!

Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Apricot Shimmer
I thought I'd take a light lip product in case I want to wear some makeup in the day. This is the perfect lip product to just swipe on without much effort, it doesn't stay on extremely long but it so easy to reapply that I don't mind at all.

YSL Rouge Volupte Shine Lipstick in Pink in Paris
This is a perfect moisturising lipstick which will be great if I want to wear a less daring shade in the evening, or if I feel like my lips need a bit of moisture.

MAC Viva Glam by Miley Cyrus
You need a hot pink lipstick on a summer holiday, it's an unwritten rule. This one actually matches the colour I've had my nails painted, so it'll be nice matching all over! This stays on for a long time and will be perfect for going for drinks, or an evening out.

MAC Lady Danger
I think this is the perfect summery red, this is why I've chosen only this red to come with me on holiday. If you know me you'll know how much of a big deal this is. I find that MAC lipsticks stay on for a long time and this is the perfect shade for going out for drinks in the evening.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Bond Girl
This is my favourite lipstick of all time, it's the first lipstick I've repurchased and this was a necessity to bring with me. It's the perfect everyday shade so it'd be good for the evening if we go out for dinner, mainly because it doesn't budge and won't end up all over my face. It also looks great with a tan, which I'm hoping I'll have a bit of by the end of the holiday.

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Sunday, 3 September 2017

Dairy-Free Waffles

I'd wanted a waffle maker for such a long time, due to being lactose intolerant and not being able to eat waffles you could buy from a shop or restaurant. I finally bought this VonShef Waffle Maker from Amazon, I love it because it makes 4 waffles at once which means you can make them quickly, and be sat eating them before you know it! This recipe makes approximately 6 waffles. I found this recipe here.

You will need:
1 egg
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
240ml Almond Milk
60ml Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 tsp Caster Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/8 tsp Salt
140g Flour

1. Whisk one egg in a large bowl until foamy. Add the almond milk, vanilla extract, vegetable oil and whisk thoroughly.
2. Add in the sugar, baking powder and salt, whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
3. Every waffle maker is different, mine takes about 5 minutes to cook the waffles so they're a quick and easy breakfast or dessert! Top them however you would like - I usually have strawberries, maple syrup and sugar, but today I opted for melted dark chocolate and strawberries. I've heard Nutella is also a tasty option, if you can eat dairy!
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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Nutella Brownies

It was my boyfriend's birthday on Tuesday and I wanted to make him some brownies, as I know he loves them. I found these Nutella Brownies on Jane's Patisserie and thought they'd be the perfect treat. They were so quick and easy to make, I'd definitely recommend them for a birthday as long as the birthday boy/girl can eat nuts!

You will need:
A 400g jar of Nutella
3 Large eggs
75g Plain Flour
8-16 Ferrero Rocher

1. Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4 and line an 8x8 tin with baking paper.
2. Put the Nutella, eggs and flour into a large bowl and mix together with a spatula until completely combined.
3. Pour the brownie mix into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes. You can check whether they're done by inserting a skewer, which will come out slightly gooey but shouldn't be covered in mix.
4. When you remove the brownies from the oven, insert a Ferrero Rocher into each square you'll be cutting it into (8 for bigger brownies, 16 for smaller ones). Leave to cool fully in the tin and then cut up and eat!
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Sunday, 27 August 2017

How I achieve a deep natural looking tan

I haven't written a tanning routine since last June and the products I use have changed slightly since then, new products have come out and my tastes have also changed. If I would've been told last year or even six months ago that I'd be using ultra dark tan, I would've probably laughed at the thought. When you're incredibly pale like I am, fake tan seems like a minefield. This is what I do to achieve a natural looking tan that keeps me confident throughout summer.

Unless I've got a specific event on, I like to do my tan prep on a Wednesday night and tan on Thursday night. This creates a bit more of a routine for me as most of the time I can't be bothered to tan, but I know I'll regret it if I don't! To prepare for tanning, first I exfoliate in the shower using exfoliating gloves and then I shave. The next day before I tan, I shower to make sure my skin is clean and smooth. I then moisturise my knees, elbows and ankles with my favourite Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Concentrated Cream. After waiting a few minutes, I'll apply Bondi Sands Ultra Dark tan starting from the bottom of my body to the top, using a Bondi Sands mitt and a Boots face mitt.

In the morning, I shower the guide colour off and go about my day. Every day after my shower when I'm completely dry, I'll apply the Bondi Sands Everyday Gradual Tanning Milk to keep my skin moisturised and to top my tan up. When it's been nearly a week since I first applied the tan, I'll put on Bondi Sands Self-Tan Eraser ten minutes before I get in the shower. In the shower, I'll exfoliate my body and shave, then I'll be smooth enough to tan again.

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Thursday, 24 August 2017

What I wore to a summer Christening


Last Sunday, I went to my boyfriend's nephew Harry's Christening. As usual I wanted an excuse to buy a new outfit and I had a voucher for New Look, so I decided that would be where I got it from. I saw this dress in the window and thought it would be perfect with some tan accessories. I decided to style this with a tan bag that I also bought from New Look and some tan sandals that I already owned. I think this outfit would also be perfect for wearing on holiday or on a nice (rare) British summer's day!

An accessory I always carry with me is my phone, which was dressed up for the occasion too. GoCustomized is a website where you can create your own phone case, and they kindly gave me the chance to design my own. I chose a photo of me and my boyfriend from his brother's wedding, which I thought would look lovely on the iPhone 7 silicone case that I picked. The case feels really hard-wearing and durable, the quality of the photo on it is also amazing and I was very happy that they personalised silicone cases too. You could even match your phone to your outfit! 

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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Christening cupcakes & other bakes

The day this post is going up is the day of my boyfriend's nephew Harry's Christening, which I've done a bit of baking for and I wanted to show off what I'd baked for it. Four out of the five recipes I used are from Jane's Patisserie, her recipes are some of my favourites to use because they work so well. The other recipe is from Cupcake Jemma, whose recipes I am also a huge fan of.

Firstly, I made cupcakes using Cupcake Jemma's Vanilla cupcake recipe and Jane's Patisserie's Chocolate cupcake recipe, which I spent a lot of time and effort on. I decorated them with alternating blue and white buttercream icing, blue and white sugar craft stars and I decorated five of them with 'HARRY' on larger stars backing the letters. I baked them in blue baking cups from Iced Gems, which were so much easier than using cupcake cases and they can also expand so you have a 'plate' to eat the cake on.

I also made brownies which are a classic that everyone seems to love. There's not much better than a gooey, chocolatey brownie and I hope these are a hit with the guests! Secondly, I made M&M cookie bars, as my Double Decker cookie bars went down so well before. I thought brownies and cookie bars would be the perfect tray-bakes to make for the Christening.

I decided that these Mars Bar Crispy Squares would also be great to make, they're quick, easy and don't require any baking. I made them for a charity bake stall last week and they were a hit, who doesn't love chewy crispy cakes!
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