Tuesday, 30 September 2014

They're my new "I don't need a job, I don't need my parents, I've got great boots" boots!

I'VE JUST REALISED HOW HARD IT IS TO SAY MIU MIU MULES. 21ST CENTURY TONGUE TWISTER. 

My favourite designer brand is and always will be Miu Miu. From their sunglasses, to their quirky shoes, even their ad campaigns leave me with stars in my eyes! If the fashion Gods somewhere, somehow granted me one item in all the galaxies, I'd chose a pair of Miu Miu's fall 2012 mules or clogs and never look back.


Over the weekend, I was online window/screen shopping when not only did I stumble upon a pair of GORGEOUS black heeled mules, but they were on sale - £24 down from £49! I took this as a sign from the fashion Gods and bought them instantly. I figure it's the closest I'm going to get to the Miu Miu mules on a student budget. 

They arrived this morning and I've since been pottering around the house trying to wear these babies in. My neighbours must think I'm nuts... all in the name of fashion.


Whilst I was lusting over Miu Miu shoes for this post, I came across this photo on Google images. How chic does this lady look?!


What would you ask the fashion Gods for?

(kudos to whoever got the F.R.I.E.N.D.S reference in the title!)


Blooming Bakery #5 Lykke Li's Chia Pudding Recipe



Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm an avid reader of Rookie Mag. I love everything about this online magazine, from the platform it gives young women to connect with each other, to their kooky monthly themes and even kookier (and MAGNIFICENT) founder Tavi Gevinson. There's something so refreshing about their unconventional and often raw posts, which tend to be written by young budding writers like myself. I also love how Rookie is so dreamily cosmic yet attainable at the same time. I wish, hope and pray to one day be a contributor!

Every now and then, Rookie delves into the brimming minds of a celebrity for their 'High 5' articles. Recently, I read singer-songwriter (and light of my life) Lykke Li's High 5 where she divulged her experimental Chia pudding recipe. Well, I had to give it a go and was not disappointed.

Simply mix almond milk with chia seeds, a dash of vanilla and if, like me, you want it a wee sweeter, add a teaspoon of agave nectar. Leave to set in the fridge overnight. Garnish in the morning with goji berries, walnuts, blueberries and chopped banana et voilà, breakfast is served! You'll be left with a scrumptious tapioca consistency and a no longer rumbly tumbly.

What's your go-to healthy snack?



Planes, trains & automobiles / Amsterdam

Good morning Petals,

My final InterRailing post is only a little one as we were only in Amsterdam for two days and in that time my wisdom teeth were coming through. Luckily, I managed to grin and bear it and tick a few things off my list!

Needless to say, in the wee time we spent here I was bewitched with the city's colours, endless flowers and general green essence. Our initial intentions were to rent a bike in Amsterdam, but I'm so glad we didn't as they really take it up a notch here. The bike to car ratio would've been a little too overwhelming and intimidating for a rookie like me.

During our stay, we crashed in The Flying Pig Uptown hostel which is hands down the best hostel I've ever stayed in. Literally everything about this place is bob on; the location, the people, the energy and the AMAZING bar. We also found ourselves right on the cusp of the city's largest and most lively park, Vondel Park - a fantastic spot to people watch and unwind. The hostel's walls were also adorned with notes and quotes from past and present backpackers, which reflects its laid back attitude.

I'M IN HOSTEL HEAVEN #JABBERWOCKY #LEWISCARROLL / THE SECRET GARDEN

One of the first things I did when we arrived, was hit up Albert Heijn (Holland's answer to Tesco) for my obligatory supermarket sweep. Amsterdam's selection of tea are what dreams are made of: apple pie, green tea with coconut... You can take the girl out of England, but you can't take the England out of the girl! I ended up squeezing quite a few boxes of green tea with coconut home, which helps make green tea more bearable. (When are we going to stop pretending green tea tastes nice?)

Before I left blighty, my Dutch friend who knows about my Nutella fixation told me to try Chocomel the second I get to Amsterdam. Let's just say, it's any 'spacers' heaven.

If you're ever in Amsterdam, hunt a bar of Tony's Chocolonely down. Their lovely jubbly chocolate is practically right out of Willy Wonka's factory and also charitable. Guilt free chocolate, who knew?
DALE WINTON WOULD BE PROUD

On our first night, it was my friend Theo's 20th trip around the sun, so we went on a little venture. We ended up finding a hidden gem: The Piano bar. Free entry, electric energy and request coasters. Naturally, I couldn't resist requesting a Fleetwood Mac number (it's in my veins). 


This was also the night we 'fell down the rabbit hole'. All I'm going to say on the matter is three things; The Bulldog, when in Rome and live & let live!

HIGH FROM AMSTERDAM / MY MECCA 

Amsterdam was as beautiful as it was cold; no, really. Make sure you pack an umbrella and extra layers as I almost resorted to buying gloves!

BEAUTIFUL DUTCH MORNING / THIS BUNCH SHOULD HAVE THEIR OWN TV SHOW, FIGHTING CRIME AND SPITTING COCKNEY RHYMING SLANG #BULLDOG #KEITHMARVIN #DOGANDBONE

On our first morning in the city, we woke up bright and early and made a beeline to the Anne Frank museum. Although time was against us in our final city, nothing was going to stop me from visiting this museum. I first read Anne's diary when I was twelve and her vivid descriptions are still seared in my brain. I had goosebumps from the moment I walked in, until the moment I left; my hands where even shaking as I entered her bedroom and when I later glanced over the glass shield protecting her diary. The real, worn orange and white checked diary. Truly humbling.


Looking back at all my travel photos and mementos for these posts have made me even more grateful for my magnificent friends and eager to see every corner of the world.

My mum has lead a very rich tapestry of life and travelled the world as a dancer when she was my age. During her early twenties, she lived in Israel, Australia and Japan (to name a few) and always ingrained in me that travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.

I couldn't agree more.



Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Planes, trains & automobiles / Berlin

Guten Tag Blütenblätter,

One of my first ever university assignments was on - one of my now favourite films - Run Lola Run and ever since, I've been itching to visit Berlin. If you haven't already watched this cult classic, or even if you have, watch it (again) tonight and thank me later.

THE BALL IS ROUND, THE GAME LASTS 90 MINUTES, EVERYTHING ELSE IS PURE THEORY - RUN LOLA RUN

My fist impression of Berlin was the sense of familiarity. Berlin to me is London's long lost sister. Both cities are melting pots of culture and behold that terrific 'anything goes' vibe. 

Accommodation wise, we stayed in a hostel called Lette'M Sleep - we'd be lying if we said it wasn't for the hysterical name alone. I'd hardly call the location prime, but it was however in a lovely little neighbourhood. I'd only recommend this hostel if you're hanging around the city for more than a few days. The only downside I can really think of is that it's the first hostel I've stayed in where you have to press the shower button every five seconds to maintain the water flow, but I suppose you just have to take that with a pinch of salt!

I LOVE BERLIN ALREADY / HONEY, I'M HOME

During our time in Berlin, it was my soul sister Caitanya's 20th. As her birthday fell on a Monday, the bar we were hoping to go to called The Chelsea Bar was closed, luckily it wasn't long until we stumbled upon A.m to P.m. Yes, this is a bar / disco - depending on what phase of the moon you swing by - that never sleeps. The barman's philosophy? "We'll sleep when we're dead." One thing (drink) led to another (drink), and before we knew it we were catching the first U-Bahn home at 5am.

I couldn't recommend a bar without suggesting where to hit up the morning after the night before for some TLC. Just around the Riverbend corner from our hostel in Prenzlauer Berg, there's a quaint little coffee shop called Impala. They serve the most dreamy lattes and scrumptious apple strudels! You know you've found a hidden gem when the place is buzzing with locals.

A.M TO P.M / IMPALA


BIRTHDAY GLITTER GIRL / CAITANYA'S BIRTHDAY PRESENT #BEERSHOWERGEL #SORRYETHAN

Word to the wise, keep one eye out for the cheap and cheerful photoautomats dotted around the city (the best results occur during the witching hour)!

PUT ON YOUR RED SHOES AND DANCE THE BLUES / 2AM PHOTOAUTOMAT 

Our free walking tour in Berlin was the only tour during our travels where we weren't guided by a native. We were guided by a funky Aussie called Taylor, who has been living in the city for five years and knows it like the back of his hand. This tour was unique in that not only were we inundated with fascinating historical facts, but lots of quirky tidbits where also added in such as when we passed Hotel Adlon, where back in 2002 Michael Jackson infamously dangled his baby over the balcony. Iconic. 

The two and a half hour tour took us to some of Berlin's most significant and at times harrowing points, such as the Brandenburg gate, the memorial to the murdered jews of Europe (words don't do justice) and Checkpoint Charlie.

AFTER ASKING FIVE PEOPLE FOR DIRECTIONS, I REALISED I'D BEEN ASKING FOR THE BATTENBERG GATE / SURREAL

At one point during the tour, we found ourselves standing above the underground bunkers where Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves. There was no memorial or plaque, for obvious reasons, we were just guided under a tree on a specific patch of grass adjacent to what used to be the Reich Chancellery - now a block of flats. It was as surreal as it sounds. 

Another eye opening moment was when we were taken to Bebelplatz and discovered the discreet memorial - a pane of glass on the cobbled street - where, when closer inspected, conceals empty bookshelves underground. There's apparently enough space for 20,000 books to commemorate the amount of books burned by the Nazis on 10th May 1933. A prophetic quote remains nearby...

That was only a prelude, there
where they burn books,
they burn in the end people.
Heinrich Heine 1820

STANDING MERE METERS ABOVE WHERE HITLER AND EVA BRAUN COMMITTED SUICIDE / BEBELPLATZ MEMORIAL 

Berlin is so vast - almost ten times the size of Paris - that if you only have a handful of days to squeeze everything in, I wholeheartedly recommend renting a bike. Weaving your way through the city allows you to see the city from a whole new vantage point and, in many ways, like a local.

 If your cycling skills are a little rusty, don't be disheartened. I hadn't ridden a bike since whizzing round the streets of Corfu aged eight - and if I'm not mistaken, I had stabilisers! It's easy to get the swing of as Berlin is flat and hence a cycle city. If you stay in the cycle lane and keep calm, there's really nothing to fear. Just remember to stay alert and hydrated!

We rented our bikes from our hostel for just 10 euros a day. Not too shabby!

BRIT ABROAD

ABSOLUTELY STUNNING / DISCO NAP

A trip to Berlin wouldn't be complete without a trip to one of its multitude of galleries. One lazing on a sunny afternoon, we cycled to Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin to catch their Avant Garde exhibition (think Dada); it's a little out in the sticks, but worth the extra mile.

Do remember to pack your student I.D card as most attractions in Berlin offer student discount (learn from my mistake).

AVANT GARDE

MOWGLI / ALBUM COVER PHOTO

One of my favourite things about this topsy turvy city was forever discovering curious oddities such as this...
BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY

Keep your eyes peeled as everything is not as it seems.

IF I HAD A WORLD OF MY OWN, EVERYTHING WOULD BE NONSENSE. NOTHING WOULD BE WHAT IT IS, BECAUSE EVERYTHING WOULD BE WHAT IT ISN'T. AND CONTRARY WISE, WHAT IS, IT WOULDN'T BE. AND WHAT IT WOULDN'T BE, IT WOULD. YOU SEE? - ALICE IN WONDERLAND

I could preach about The East Side Gallery all day. Even though I was warned how big it is, you can't grasp the enormity until you're there yourself. We must have been walking up and down the Berlin wall, taking photos and reading hidden passages, for over three hours. I was in awe. 

I think it's worth mentioning that just behind the start of the East Side Gallery, there's a really lovely hangout area; follow signs leading to 'Pirates Berlin' and you'll find this haven. It's a charming place to have a few bottles of moonshine or a cosy picnic whilst watching the world go by. 

JUST A WEE REMINDER

THEO, AMY, YOURS TRULY, EL, ALICE, CAITANYA, ETHAN, OLI & RHIANNON
ONE FOR THE MANTELPIECE

Thanks for all the memories Berlin, 
you still have me grinning like a Cheshire Cat!


AFTER THE GAME IS BEFORE THE GAME - RUN LOLA RUN


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Planes, trains & automobiles / Warsaw

After an overnight train journey (and rather rocky sleep), we eventually found ourselves in the capital of Poland, Warsaw. I immediately fell head over heels in love with the city and it's hands down my favourite of all four. Not only is it overflowing with cosmopolitan food, but the architecture and history is utterly fascinating too! 

We stayed at Moon Hostel, which in all honesty was more like a hotel than a hostel. Guests kept to themselves and little luxuries such as free rental towels and an enormous kitchen were at our fingertips. The hostel was also smack bang in the middle of town which was incredibly handy.  Here's a video of our view from the hostel, three days simply wasn't enough.

ARRIVED IN ONE PIECE, CHECK OUT THE FUNKY PIANO ZEBRA CROSSING / NOMAD LIFE

One of my favourite places to wander in Warsaw has to be the old town, it's like entering toy town with all the different shaped, knickerbocker glory coloured buildings. Grab a hot chocolate and take a romantic stroll around the old town at dusk.

TOYTOWN / WARSAW SKYLINE AGAINST DREAMY SUNSETS

It won't take anyone visiting Warsaw too long to notice the abundance of Green Caffè Nero's. It wasn't until I was craving a chai latte one twilight that I figured out the mystery behind its popularity. Walking in is like entering any eco warriors nirvana. There's a trust library, tea served with organic honey, a smorgasbord of vegan cakes and a corner full of jars of loose tea leaves. 


 A fellow traveller we met recommended a bar called Cześć. We popped by one afternoon and ended up staying for hours. Brilliant prices, selection of drinks and overall ambience. One of my girlfriends Alice opted for what looked like a witches potion called 'Iced Yerba Mate.' Although you can't help but gurn drinking this mix, it's actually quite nice. I've since got my Nancy Drew on and discovered that it's super popular in Brazil where it's known as Chimarrão!

(If you ever bob in Cześć, check out the space invaders in the powder room!)

PEACHES IN POLAND / ALICE'S PECULIAR CONCOCTION

SALSA SELFIE / INTERIOR INSPO #COUNTINGMYCHICKENSBEFORETHEYVEHATCHED

On our first night, we ended up going for our first snazzy restaurant which just so happened to be dedicated to one of my favourite artists Frida Kahlo. The place is adorned with some of Frida's most famous pieces as well as bright colours and textures to reflect her Mexican roots. The vibe of the restaurant was almost tangible, and the food cosmic. I'd walk all the way to Warsaw for their guacamole and savour every morsel!


Frida's work was once described as a ribbon around a bomb. Not only did Frida have a way with a paintbrush, but also with words. She managed to turn the agony and internal turmoil of an all consuming love into poetry; beautiful, beautiful poetry. "Your word travels the entirety of space and reaches my cells which are my stars then goes to yours which are my light."


If you ever find yourself in Warsaw, make a beeline to the gelataria Grycan and order one scoop of pistachio, one scoop lemon sorbet and you'll be whisked away to cloud 9 and 3/4!

Last year when we all visited Prague, we unearthed a Pulp fiction themed bar called Hany Bany's (honey bunny's). So when we stumbled upon another Tarantino bar aptly named Pulp Fiction, we had to give it a whirl - great spot for a nightcap!

POLAND PEARLS OF WISDOM / SIGISMUND III VASA

The free walking tour we went on in Warsaw was probably my favourite. We went with a company recommended by our hostel called Orange umbrella and our guide Gawel was terrific! During the three hours, we learned about the ins and outs of the city and it flew by, I'm certain in a past life he was a history teacher. We also got a complimentary vodka shot at the end - and well, if that doesn't sway you nothing else will... Na zdrowie!

WARSAW'S COAT OF ARMS IS A SYRENKA (MERMAID) / MARIE CURIE'S BIRTHPLACE 

AUTHENTIC STATE SUBSIDED PROLETARIAT FOOD FROM A MILK BAR / I WONDER IF THIS WILL FIT IN MY BACKPACK

During our trip, we opted to go on a pub crawl in Warsaw as it was by far the cheapest city. If I'm honest, the night is a blur and haze of writing on each other with lipstick and downing 80p shots. A*

ETHAN'S CHALLENGE AT THE PUB CRAWL WAS TO LET US DRAW ANYTHING ON HIM ALL NIGHT. WE HAD TO IMPROVISE WITH LIPSTICK... / FOUR ZLOTY'S A SHOT. LETHAL.

If you're rooting for something more laid back, Zielony Jazdów is for you. We all ventured into the forest and spent the afternoon lazing around in hammocks, drinking fresh juices and just taking a breather. The field was full of families having picnics, friends making memories and writers animatedly tapping away. Warsaw’s Center for Contemporary Art is ideal for people watching and recharging your batteries in a comfy cocoon.


FOREST PARTY

Six hour train journey check-list: a bag full of Polish chocolate, buckets of Seinfeld episodes, a well thumbed book and lots of trees...

I'll see you in Berlin!




Sunday, 14 September 2014

Planes, trains & automobiles / Budapest

Happy Sunday Petals,

AND WE'RE OFF...

I've just returned from two incredible weeks backpacking around Europe with eight of my closest friends. I had the most magical time immersing myself into new cultures and seeing the world with fresh eyes. We started in Budapest, followed by Warsaw, Berlin and finally Amsterdam.

We spent roughly three days in each city before upping sticks and starting from square one in a new country and crashed in hostels. I thought I'd dedicate an entire blog post to each city as there's just far too much to cram into one, also one wouldn't do them justice.  These posts will be pretty chunky, so make yourself a brew and kick back!

BUDAPEST BY NIGHT / THEO'S NATURAL POSE IS KILLER

So, our journey began with a four hour flight to the capital of Hungary, Budapest. We stayed  at 'Interflat Youth Hostel' which is right in the heart of the city, yet far enough to sleep without earplugs. Luckily, we managed to book a room for nine exactly, meaning we didn't have to worry about waking up fellow travellers whilst stumbling in at 3am; it was basically a nice way to ease us into the chaos of being a nomad. Although we didn't share a room with strangers, the fellow guests were lovely and generous - one morning whilst I was busy boiling eggs, a German man was rushing to catch a train so said the top shelf of the fridge was all his and is now mine... not too shabby! I honestly can't recommend this hostel enough - the view alone speaks for itself...

GOOD MORNING BUDAPEST #BALCONYVIEW

The city itself is absolutely stunning. We stayed in Pest, but crossed Danube river into Buda one day which is a must do (don't worry I didn't know they were divided either). Apparently, if you want to explore the city's history, Buda is for you and if you're on a fiend for retail therapy, head to Pest. The advice given to tourists is "visit Buda but stay in Pest".

Ironically, we thought Hungary would be the hottest country so were caught off guard when the heavens opened on our first day - listen to your mum and bring that bloody rain coat! Luckily, we found shelter in a quaint little café called 'Charlotte Cukrászda'. They served an array of scrumptious goodies as well as a bubbling hot chocolate that tasted like something Willy Wonka had created. The mural on the wall was pretty spectacular too...

APPLE AND ALMOND PIE SHELTERING US FROM THE RAIN  / THIS CAFE IS SO PRETTY!

On our first blustery day zigzagging our way through the city, we also dove into Budapest's oldest and largest indoor market. The moment you walk in, your senses are bombarded with colours, spices and tourist speaking every language under the sun. You don't know what to look at, where to head to, or what to eat first. Its old world charm and bustling nature is enough to tempt any traveller!

Next place of refuge from the monsoon, was a shabby chic boutique called 'Full Moon'. If - like me - you're into crystals, astrology and general hocus pocus, you'd LOVE this shop! The Phoebe Buffay in me wanted to buy the whole shop, but the Monica in me was screaming stick to your budget! I ended up treating myself to an Amethyst necklace and a teeny weeny jade ring ~ I paid £9 for both! ... (*Monica's voice*) I KNOW!!

GREAT MARKET HALL / FULL MOON TREASURES

Whenever I mentioned to anyone that I was visiting Budapest, the one thing everyone said I HAD HAD HAD to do was visit the ruin bars... and now I know why! During our time we hit up a few, but the best by far (in fact, Lonely Planet actually dubbed it the third most beautiful pub IN THE WORLD) is Szimpla! This bar is almost indescribable (even for a writer) in the sense that, every room you walk into has a different aura and vibe. There's no one way to describe this place, it's somewhere you must visit for yourself. If you want a peek, I took a wee video whilst I was there with glimpses into a few of their copious rooms!

SZIMPLA / EPIC BAR

Another honourable mention, particularly for fellow students on a budget, is a bar called 'Epic'. It's probably the cheapest place in the city to get truly great quality cocktails. Most hours are happy hours and one day we dipped in, it was actually happy DAY - all drinks half price, all day! (Not bad when the drinks were already peanuts to begin with!)

ST.STEPHEN'S BASILICA / PURE DECADENCE

Our hostel was a stones throw away from Budapest's most iconic church, St.Stephen's Basilica. I implore anyone who visits to take half an hour out of their day to visit this wonder. Not only is it one of the most decadent buildings I've ever found myself in - on par, if not grander, than Notre Dame - it's also free entry. An oasis of calm, in a whirlwind city.

SZECHENYI THERMAL BATH

The highlish of Budapest - scratch that - the entire trip, was our day at the thermal baths! My oh my. Six hours of hopping between piping hot pools, wilting in Eucalyptus steam rooms and watching old Hungarian men play intense games of water chess - furrowed brows and all. I found my bliss.

OUR CRAZY (BUT AMAZING) TOUR GUIDE, ANGIE / ALICE & I AT THE HALF WAY POINT

In most cities, we embarked on a free walking tour where a local, who knew the city like the back of their hand, would shepherd us around whilst delving into the rich history of their country and add personal anecdotes along the way. A total must do.

HUNGARIAN GUARDS / MYTHICAL TURUL STATUE

GIFT TO THE KING / MATTHIAS CHURCH

In terms of souvenirs, I couldn't resit making a little pocket of room in my brimming backpack for a tiny tin of authentic Hungarian paprika for my Dad. I also picked up some Hungarian Blueflower seeds, which I'll plant in my new uni bedroom as I wanted to bring a little Budapest back home with me! I also brought back tonnes of Haribo peaches - seriously, it's like I've stockpiled for an apocalypse!


I'll leave you with a glimpse into our 12 hour overnight train to Warsaw...
READING, READING AND MORE READING


Take a walk on the wild side,