Friday, 1 December 2017

02.12.17 // Vienna

Vienna is one of those places that I've always wanted to visit, so when my friend moved there for her year abroad, it offered the perfect opportunity to go. Usually I would rather visit cities in the Summer, as I much prefer exploring places when the weather is nice, but as Vienna is well known for its Christmas markets I ended up going in late November. I'm not much of a festive person normally, but being somewhere so cold really got me into the Christmas spirit. 

It's such a beautiful city, and there is so much to see, but being there for 3 days was the perfect length as I felt like I saw all that I really wanted to and didn't miss out on too much. 
Obviously Christmas markets were top of the agenda, but we also managed to do a bit of shopping along Mariahilfer Strasse (and checked out all the shops that you struggle to find in the UK) and a bit of culture (in the form of the imperial apartments and Sissi Museum in the Hofburg). I also ended up flying out with a few family members as we have some family friends out there that we also wanted to visit which meant that I got to spend some much needed time with everyone. 

Staying in the 5th district, we were a 10 minute walk from the underground station Kettenbrückengasse and one thing that's definitely worth mentioning is just how easy it is to navigate, the underground is so simple which definitely made the trip more enjoyable as we didn't get lost and could get about so quickly! We were also so close to Naschmarkt which is a big food market with so many different stalls and restaurants which was a definite highlight!

I would definitely recommend visiting Vienna, it's one of my favourite cities in Europe that I've visited, and I am so tempted to try and go back in the Summer...

Sunday, 9 July 2017

09.07.17 // My First Year Uni Room

It took me quite a while to really settle into my room at uni and make it homely, which probably explains why I'm doing this post at the end of the year! I had an en suite room in halls which I've totally grown to love, there's something so exciting about being able to start a room completely afresh and make it your own. I thought I'd share some pics of the how my room was, partly for my own memories but also potentially as inspiration for any of you heading to halls. As you can probably tell fairy lights and pictures proved to be firm favourites as I found both really good at brightening up the room with colour and lighting, and they were both quite comforting to be surrounded by!
And just for contrast, this is how it is empty:
I also think I want to do before and after pictures of my new bedroom, for the same reasons as I've done this post so hopefully that will be coming very soon!

Monday, 26 June 2017

26.06.17 // Paris

I'd already been to Paris about 5 years ago on a school trip, and I didn't really love it at the time, so it seems surprising that I decided to head back there for a few days! When I went last time the weather was horrendous, and as it was a school trip it seemed to be a whistlestop tour of all the major tourist attractions and I didn't really get a feel for the city. So when it came to deciding which city me and my friend Megan would visit when we went away this Summer for a little break, I was desperate to give Paris another shot.

Megan hadn't been before, so we did do a lot of the major attractions anyway but I loved the flexibility that we had of just being able to wander round and explore. There are so many little Parisienne streets, full of gorgeous cafés and shops and it was so lovely to get to take our time just seeing what the city had to offer. We went for about 5 days, so slightly longer than the typical "city break" length, but we found that was the perfect amount of time to properly allow for adventures as we weren't ever in a rush or felt pressured for time. 

We hadn't made any plans at all for the whole trip, which would normally freak me out, but it was nice to just go with the flow and do what we wanted, and we obviously had a few bits and bobs we knew we wanted to do anyway. We got an Airbnb in the 1st arrondissement, which meant that we weren't that far at all from the Notre Dame. We were pretty far away from most of the attractions though like the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Élysées, but the area where we were (near the Hôtel de Ville metro stop) was full of various restaurants, little streets and was quite a good location in that it wasn't super busy. 

I definitely fell in love with Paris this time around, and it seems bonkers that with it being so close (only 2hrs 15mins by Eurostar) it's not somewhere I haven't visited in such a long time! 

Monday, 12 June 2017

12.06.17 // Margate

Many people think of Margate's heyday as the popular seaside resort whenever it's mentioned, but to us locals it's been pretty dead for such a long time. For a few years there has been a great deal of investment in the town so I figured while I was back home it was as  good a time as any to go exploring and see what it had to offer. 

I'm not going to lie but I was extremely surprised by the number of independent restaurants and cafes that were on offer...we ate at a place called GB Pizza which was actually really good! There are so many cute little shops as well as vintage shops, so it's really good to just wander about. There's also the Turner Contemporary gallery which is quite nice to just have a look at (although I got so confused by the pieces that were currently on exhibit as they seemed pretty abstract!). It's also worth mentioning the beach and the amusement park Dreamland, which both have their obvious plus points! 

If you're in the area I'd definitely say go and have a nosey round the town, it's so nice and there is so much you can get up to. With new bars, restaurants and shops popping up all the time it's worth a visit...

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

06.06.17 // The Cows by Dawn O'Porter

I absolutely adore Dawn's style of writing in her column for Glamour magazine, so I was naturally intrigued as to how her first novel would be. It's worth mentioning that the writer, journalist and presenter has written other non-fiction books aimed at young adults, with her novel 'Paper Aeroplanes' being extremely well received. 

'The Cows' follows the lives of three very different women as they both judge one another, and themselves, and examines the pressures faced by women within society from family, friends and the media. The premise for it doesn't seem exactly groundbreaking, but the characters seem to be so real in that none of them are perfect, and there are aspects of them all that make you despise them. Generally though, the story is gripping as you follow the surprising twists and turns that pop up through each character's storyline. 

I found that this book was definitely a page turner, I was always wondering what was going to happen next and how things would turn out for Tara, Cam and Stella. I also feel that there was such a sense of originality with this novel, as there were topics that were tackled that probably wouldn't feature in your run-of-the-mill chick-lit book. There was a large focus on what it means to be a woman nowadays, especially one in the public eye, and the modern role of women, feminism and women's choice. 

I'm hoping that pretty soon Dawn will release more books as I absolutely love the style of her writing and this book...would recommend! It's available to buy from here

Monday, 8 May 2017

09.05.17 // York

With so many cities so close to me in Sheffield, I feel like it’s about time that I actually get exploring and visiting all these places that I’ve never been to. A couple of weeks ago, a couple of friends and I decided to head over to York for the day seeing as we’d never been before and the train was only about £15 return. 

Had we been a little more prepared, we would have actually done lots of research into where to go and what to do, but the funny thing was that we still found loads to explore and had such a lovely day. I would definitely say that York is one of those places where you can kill hours by simply wandering about, seeing all the little shops and coffee shops. 

We were so lucky that we visited on such a warm and sunny day, and the city really did look stunning with all the blossom around. Within minutes of arriving, I’d already fallen in love and was planning my next visit!

Whether it be for a mooch around sweet little shops, the old buildings or the numerous inviting coffee shops and restaurants, I would definitely recommend visiting there at some point...

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

05.04.17 // Budapest and Prague

It struck me the other day that I had never really spoken about the holiday that I went on last year with my gal pals?! It seems bizarre as it was such a monumental occasion (y'know first trip away, without parents, as adults and all that!) but nevertheless, I neglected to mention those 10 days. Anyway, it was such an amazing trip, jam packed full of gallivanting around Prague and Budapest, exploring and getting some pretty chic looking instagrams. 
I can't remember exactly what it was that made us decide on Budapest, it was probably something as simple as "so-and-so went there and had a whale of a time, so obvs we will too!" but Budapest was something we very quickly settled on. We quickly realised that for a city break, it was going to be pretty inexpensive, but for our student budgets it seemed a little pricey for little more than a weekend away. That got us thinking that seeing as we were in central europe, we could probably explore another city too for not that much more money, and after a little bit of train journey research (and trawling through the pretty pictures on pinterest, not going to lie) it was decided, Prague it was! 
In terms of prices, if I remember the cost of flights was between £35 and £45 each way, although my two friends and I all shared one suitcase to save on money. The hostels we stayed in (in Budapest it was Wombats and in Prague it was Prague Square) were pretty basic but we didn't pay more than £25 a night so they worked well enough for us; and the train between the two cities was £30 which was surprisingly cheap. In total, we didn't pay more than about £450-£500 each for the 10 days we were away, spending around £15 a day on all our meals and activities. 

Overall, we did so much in those 10 days. With about 4 days in each city, we really didn't want to waste any time so packed each day full of different cultural things, the amount of walking we did was pretty impressive too! Both cities were truly beautiful, and not a single bad thing can be said about any of the places we visited.

We arrived in Budapest in the late afternoon, and we headed straight back out to see the sights and pick out any places we wanted to investigate more over the coming days. Our quest for food gave us a really good chance to explore the city at night.We were up bright and early on the first day, heading up the St Stephen’s Basilica to get the best views of the city. We followed our traditional lunch of goulash with a tour round the Parliament building which was really interesting. That evening, we found a really lovely beer garden where we had a few drinks, I wish I remembered what it was called though as it was a real treasure! The next day was probably the most jam packed in Budapest. Firstly, we headed off to the market, on the tram as obviously we are so full of culture! Then we walked up to the Statue of Liberty, along to the national gallery and then back down and across the chain bridge. In the night we headed out to one of the most well-known ruin bars, Simpla. It was really weird as it was an almost-derelict building, but it was also really cool with a good atmosphere. Pretty much everyone was dancing in the main area, and we met some really nice people in one of the “side bars”. Our final day in Budapest was a lot more relaxed, and luckily for us, it was also the warmest! We walked over to Hero Square, where the Szeynik baths are in the park just behind. The baths were really relaxing, and it was really bizarre as they range in temperature from freezing right up to boiling! On our walk back to the hostel we decided to head back up the Basilica as the views would be better than on the first day, what with the good weather. Sure enough, it was so lovely to take one final look at all the views before heading off the next day.

Arriving in Prague was…interesting. We just assumed that when we got there, there would be loads of information and we’d find the hostel really quickly. We didn’t. Nevertheless, we eventually found it after a couple of hours of wandering! After dumping our suitcases, we headed off in search of dinner, yet again! The hostel was located just a few metres from the main city square, which was amazing, but it did mean that a lot of the restaurants were pretty pricey which is something to bear in mind as often we found ourselves wandering further afield for food. On the first day in Prague, we ended up spending about an hour and a half in the Hamley’s store on the main high-street because we’re all big kids and there were so many things to play with! The funny thing was that the only people we spotted in there were our age, so obviously it’s a big attraction! We spent most of that day just exploring, visiting the John Lennon Wall, and trying to get our bearings. I would totally recommend visiting the wall as it’s such a peaceful place and it’s so amazing to look at. We also trekked up the hill to visit the cathedral on the hill, which was really interesting but because we arrived quite late in the day, we didn’t have long before it closed. The next day was probably one of the highlights of the trip as we went to watch a Sparta Prague match. I have no clue when it comes to football, so was wary of how much I’d enjoy the match, but because of the atmosphere it was so much fun. I would totally recommend catching a match if you can, as the fans really went for it, unveiling new posters and chants every few minutes! The next morning, we ate breakfast at a pancake café called Den Noc which had really good reviews online, I didn’t even realise that pancakes could taste so good! There was a charity project running in the main high-street where you could pay to paint a brick which we decided might be fun to do as a group. I got quickly bored so took the opportunity to mooch round the shops whilst my friends continued with their art skills. That day we decided to head to the zoo, and somewhat naively decided to walk there which took us about an hour and a half to 2 hours, that day alone we clocked up 38,000 steps which is a personal record. The zoo had so many animals, but because of the long walk we didn’t have long so rushed round visiting animals like elephants, giraffes, and even a polar bear! I think that it was about £6 to enter as a student which we thought was really good value, although it would have been nicer to spend more time there. There was also swing style ski lift thing there which meant you could see the whole park as you travelled down which was pretty cool. That evening was our last one so we hired a peddle boat on the river to watch the sunset which was so lovely, it was such a different way to see the city and was the perfect end to the trip as we then headed off for our final dinner.
Overall I could not recommend a trip like ours enough, it was not only really interesting and fun but so chilled out. I hadn’t really properly done “city breaks” before, and now I think I would definitely do them more often as they need not be too expensive and can be a great way of discovering places you have never visited before.