Sunday, 15 October 2017

Book review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

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Moxie (ˈmɒksi/): force of character, determination, or nerve.

This past Wednesday, on October 11th, it was the International Day of the Girl so I thought it would be perfect to get this review out this week since this book is all about girls.

I confess I was halfway through this book before I decided to look up what Moxie actually meant and I feel it fits perfectly. I bought this one at the airport, on my way back home and read half of it during the plane ride. It is an easy and fun to read book with a feminist message, for anyone who has ever had to deal with #everydaysexism especially in school.

Moxie, by Jennifer Mathieu is a story about a sixteen year old Texas girl, Vivian Carter and she is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. While she is in class she has to put up with the football's team comments asking girls to "make them a sandwich" and gross t-shirts. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules. So she was inspired by her mother and created a newsletter zine that she distributes anonymously amongst her highschool classmates. Slowly, she "recruits" girls by asking them to draw hearts and stars in their hands to find other girls that are also fed up with the school's attitude and wearing bathrobes to school as a protest against the sexist dress code. After a while, the Moxie zine doesn't just belong to her but to every girl in East Rockport High who wants to be part of it.

Shortly, this book is about girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings. I really liked Viv, the main character. She's a very realistic high school girl and you can see her growth as you read the book. It starts off a little bit slow but the last 50 pages are SO AMAZING you won't be able to put it down! 

So why should you read this book? Because it empowers all kinds of girls. Honestly, after reading it I was ready to start a riot against sexism somewhere. I felt like girls, when united, can do anything they want to and it was amazing to see that in a book!

You can get Moxie on Amazon or Book Depository (free shipping) and then let me know what you thought about it! 

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Sunday, 8 October 2017

A Muggle's Magical Musings: A Guide to the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour

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As a great big Potterhead since childhood, my visit to London would not be complete had I not visited the studios that brought the books to life. I have lost count of how many times I reread the books and reviewed the films and how much of my childhood (and adolescence) was spent waiting for a letter to Hogwarts so obviously visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Tour was the highlight of my trip, I am not going to lie.

If you are as big of Harry Potter fan as I am, I guarantee the visit to the studios will be the best memory of the trip. And why? Because we can see with our own eyes the magical world becoming real with all the sets, clothing and real props used in the movies! Here is a summary of my experience as well as some tips and information for someone who wants to visit:

* TICKETS *
The first step is to book your tickets online in advance through the Warner Bros. Studio Tour website. They do not sell tickets at the entrance so this step is essential. Then just print out the booking confirmation and get the tickets when you arrive there. A regular adult ticket (>16 years) costs 39£ and there are some package options with additional souvenirs and/or guides included. In my opinion, however, the standard ticket is more than enough.
You should also book the visit as early as possible because there is no time limit to be there and the sooner you arrive, the more you can enjoy with less people getting in the way! I spent almost 4 hours there and I don't think it was enough!

* TRANSPORTATION *
The studios are in the outskirts of London and the nearest train station is Watford Junction. From London Euston station you can catch the train to that station for 9.9£. There are two types of trains departing from this station which stop at Watford Junction: the Overground (the local train, which stops at all stations until it arrives there, taking between 50 minutes to 1 hour) and the Express (which has only two or three stops between the two stations and takes 20 minutes). Since we had arrived at Euston with more than enough time we chose to catch the slow train but we picked up the fast one afterwards, coming back to London.
From Watford Junction there are buses to the studios every 20 minutes and it takes about 15 minutes to get there. The ticket costs 2.5£ roundtrip and has to be paid in cash. They are big buses full of Harry Potter pictures so you absolutely can't miss them!

* THE MAGIC BEGINS *
After we passed through security we found the closet under the stairs where Harry slept before entering a dark room with several posters of the movies. While we are queuing to get in, I recommend here asking someone for the tour passport, it's more a free souvenir! They are flexible regarding the check in time. In our case, my enthusiasm was so big that I had booked the visit for 11h30 but by 10h we were already there. We went to the queue and got in at around 10h15.
After the room with the posters we see a small movie where the actors introduce the tour. The screen goes up, we face the door to the Great Hall and this is where the experience truly begins! The studios are divided into two parts, separated by the Backlot where you can eat, experience the so famous Butterbeer and see Privet Drive, Knight Bus and more! Personally, I did not think the taste of the drink was that good but I ended up buying just to try it and it comes with a souvenir cup if you want to (but you have to pay more for that, of course). I advise you to take food instead of buying it because of the confusion, time lost waiting in line and the money you save that can later be used in the final souvenir shop!

Here are some of my highlights of this first part because I can not express it by words and the pictures are worth more than words:

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The second part is made up of special effects, the Diagon Alley and Harry Potter Art Work. Here the highlights are definitely the Diagon Alley and the giant Hogwarts model at the end of the visit:

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The tour ends up with a visit at the souvenir shop and guys, the strugle is real. It was very hard not to spend all the pounds we had brought and my whole bank account there! The trick has to be coming up with a certain budget and not exceeding it. Because, let's face it, even though that store is the biggest dream of any Potterhead, it's all pretty expensive! I ended up buying a necklace with a snitch (and I didn't go over the budget).

I may have never gotten my Hogwarts letter but I sure have been to Hogwarts! In short: one of the best days of my life!


* Mischief Managed *
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Sunday, 1 October 2017

10 tips for a trip to London

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This past week I left both internet and pharmacy aside and got to know and revisit the fantastic city of London! I say revisiting since I had previously been there when I was younger but it was different to bring the boyfriend along and being responsible for planning our entire itinerary (I believe I did not do bad). So I took the camera and the boy there and went to discover this wonderful capital!
Here are some tips I have been putting together from my days there that may be useful for a future trip (either for myself or anyone else reading):

1 - Book your hotel near/in the center of London with breakfast included
They are slightly more expensive, that is true, but in my opinion it is totally worth it. This is because we ended up saving money on transport and it took us a lot less time to get to London's main attractions. If we choose a hotel near the center we can easily get there on foot. There are a lot of things you can do and visit in London and the last thing you want to do is having to waste your time on transportation to get there.
Regarding breakfast, I think it is an essential requirement to a proper start of the day. Having to leave the hotel and then still being overcharged for breakfast just makes your day slightly more complicated.

2 - Walk, walk, walk!
London has the advantage of being extremely flat, unlike Lisbon, which is great for walking. It ends up saving money on transportation and you end up doing more sightseeing. Also, the underground is absolutely CHAOTIC during rush hour and the ticket fare is more expensive!

3 - Buy all yout tickets online
All the attractions I went to had the option of buying tickets online. It is not only cheaper but also saves time in queues, you just get in and out! For Madame Tussauds and London Eye you can also get the combined pass where you save 20£.

4 - Enjoy the free stuff
Honestly, I found that most of London's attractions are quite expensive. You can not get into the most commonly known attractions without dropping at least 20£. So please enjoy every free stuff you can get! There are many great museums in which admission is free, although they recommend a small donation. We visited The National Gallery, The National History Museum, The British Museum and The Science Museum.
If you are visiting the Tower of London, I recommend that you take the free guided tour that takes place every 30 minutes. The guide is fantastic and you end up learning a lot!


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5 - Sky Garden
This falls into the category above but I think it deserves its own spotlight. It is a 360º view of the entire city of London from a 35th floor, terrace and an interior garden included! Access to the Sky Garden is free but you must book your visit through their website.

6 - Meals
A great way to save some money on meals we discovered is through Sainsburry's meal deals. For 3£ you can eat a sandwich, a packet of crips, a chocolate or fruit, and a drink. You can also buy a small pizza already heated for 3.6£ there (4,6£ for a big one, if I'm not mistaken)! By the way, you can also get a 2l water bottle there for only 50p.

7 - Pack accordingly and always carry a raincoat
Everyone knows the typical grey and cloudy London weather so a raincoat in your backpack is a must. I consider myself lucky since it only rained on the last day I was there but it's always better to play it safe.

8 - Outlet adaptor
EU outlets are different from UK ones (apparently it was not enough for them to just drive on a different side!). So either bring an adaptor from home or ask for one at the hotel. Most of the time they have adapters for tourists. But please, never buy at the airport. That's 10£ you will never see again!

9 - Oyster card refund
Do not forget to get your Oyster card refund at the airport machines when you leave. That's 5£ and if you haven't used all the credit you had in it you will also get that money back!

10 - Take someone special
As cliché as it might sound, taking someone special with you and visiting this wonderful city with them definitely makes the trip much better!

Aaaand that's a wrap, I hope they have been somewhat useful! I am open to questions, suggestions and comments! (:
Over the next few days my instagram will be full of photos of this trip, take a peek!

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Friday, 22 September 2017

Veriation, why?




I feel like the first post is always the most difficult to write because you don't know who you are writing to. For now, I am writing to myself and my future self. I hope that someday I will be able look back and see this blog as my life's journey. And perhaps when I have grey hair and a bunch of grandchildren they will amuse themselves with how ancient all my posts will certainly seem like!

If you are reading this you were most likely directed to this first post by myself so I feel like introductions are unnecessary. However, if you stumbled across this page and know nothing about me: Hi, how are you? Welcome! Here's some random facts about myself: My name is Vera, I am currently 24 years old and I live in Portugal. I studied Pharmacy in university and I am currently working as such. I am passionate about photograhy and my goal in life is to travel as much as I can and pet as many pets as possible. I prefer winter over summer, don't like cheese, I like skiing and figure skating and I believe my biggest talent is being able to remember a lot of random facts about the most diverse topics (which are an amazing conversation starter and even better awkward silence fillers).

So why Veriation? Simply put, because my name is Vera and I'm planning to write about a variation of themes. I thought about a thematic name but somehow Veriation was what stuck to me the most because it is, in fact, the truest one and the one that makes most sense. I will not write about a specific theme so I feel it is rather fitting.


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