|Denim jacket: £59, Topshop. Jumper: £24.99, H&M. Jeans: £255, Paige Denim. Trainers: Senso (old). Backpack: £167.20, Radley.|
WHERE TO STAY
|The courtyard of our Homestay in Cannaregio|
|Our room, from £71 a night including breakfast, dressing gowns and slippers and a private bathroom, Homestay|
|Denim jacket: £59, Topshop. Bag: £167.20, Radley (a backpack has completely changed my sightseeing experience – so much easier!)|
|Our room was one of the windows on the left – and this canal was our view|
|Sunglasses: £151, Kenzo at Monnier Freres|
|Street Food stall serving fresh seafood|
|Mixed plate of Cicchetti and 2 glasses of wine – €15|
|Bar just behind St Mark’s Square|
1. GET LOST
|Coat, £325, Gant. Shirt, Margaret Howell (old). Sunglasses, £150, Kenzo at Monnier Freres. Trousers, £79, Cos. ‘Clerkenwell’ bag, £199, Radley. Trainers, Senso (old). Gold-plated bracelet: Clarice Price Thomas|
|Puffa jacket, £59.95, Uniqlo. Skirt, Asos (sold out). ‘Portman’ bag, £179, Radley. Glasses, £98 with prescription lenses, Bailey Nelson|
|Jumper, £80, Hush. Skirt, Asos (sold out). ‘Portman’ bag, £179, Radley.|
|Coat: £325, Gant. Jumper: £80, Hush. Jeans: £255, Paige Denim. Boots: £215, Russell & Bromley. Bag: £99, Radley|
|Jumper: £80, Hush. Jeans: £255, Paige Denim. ‘Floral Street’ bag: £99, Radley|
LONDON – Covent Garden
|Coat: £180, Atterley. Cashmere jumper: Gap (old but buy similar here). Wool skirt: £35, Asos. Bag: £115, The Cambridge Satchel Company. Trainers: £65, Adidas. Photographs: Christopher O’Donnell|
Monmouth Street, without doubt is one of my favourite Streets in Covent Garden, perhaps even in London. The cobbled streets, the small boutiques, the Covent Garden Hotel with its iconic striped awnings and Union Jack flag…it’s an instagram dream.
Laura Lee is my favourite type of jewellery, fine, dainty and affordable. My engagement ring is from here and I love everything:
|Cashmere jumper: Gap (old but buy similar here). Wool skirt: £35, Asos. Bag: £115, The Cambridge Satchel Company. Trainers: £65, Adidas|
|Signet rings, £185, Laura Lee|
|9ct gold initial necklaces, £230, Laura Lee|
Indian for breakfast? We’re not just getting ready for our Indian holiday, it’s just really, really good. I’d heard about the breakfast here from a few people, and was sold on the idea when it meant it was the one time you don’t have to queue to eat in this now famous restaurant.
If not to eat, then to photograph, yes?
|In store embossing: £7 a letter (but capped at £21). Leather luggage tags: £10, The Cambridge Satchel Company|
|Notebooks: £9.50, The Cambridge Satchel Company|
|Coat: £180, Atterley. Cashmere jumper: Gap (old but buy similar here). Wool skirt: £35, Asos. Bag: £115, The Cambridge Satchel Company. Trainers: £65, Adidas.|
|‘Cloud’ bag, £115, The Cambridge Satchel Company.|
|Tile porn at Balthazar|
|Sunglasses: £20, Next. Sweatshirt: £24, Next. Lipstick: ‘Bright Poppy’ by Bobbi Brown. Photographs: Marisa Georgas|
|Hotel des Academies et Des Arts|
|Lunch at Vavin, Boulevard Montparnasse. Sunglasses: £20, Next. Snake effect bag: £20, Next|
The great thing about Paris is that you can stroll the streets and take in the sights for free. I travelled mainly by foot and metro (which is such great value – €1.80 for a single trip, no matter how many stops/changes).
|Coat: £55, Next. Jumper dress: £32, Next. Fringed leather bag: £32, Next. Pom pom flats: £28, Next|
|Jumper dress: £32, Next|
|Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’|
|View across the street from Musee du Rodin|
Ironically, I have always wanted to visit the bridge of love messaged padlocks (my family are all locksmiths) but it wasn’t really on my agenda this time. And that’s when we accidentally stumbled upon it! It isn’t such a dramatic vision as I anticipated, but lovely to see whilst walking along the river, which was how we captured it.
|Riverside strolls. Coat: £55, Next. Sweater: £24, Next. Bag: £20, Next. Jeans: £12, Next.|
|Coat: £55, Next. Cashmere mix scarf: £40, Next. Sweater: £24, Next. Bag: £20, Next. Jeans: £12, Next. Sunglasses: £20, Next. Lipstick: ‘Bright Poppy’ by Bobbi Brown
WHERE I DINED
But of course, in Paris, you just eat macarons and hot chocolate,
non? Well, we tried…and Angelinas is the place to do it.
And then from Angelina’s, you’re a stones throw from Jardins de Tuileries and right by Le Louvre…you decide.
Just walking along bustling Le Marais in the evening is exciting anyway – so many restaurants, bars – so little time! This was a wonderful recommendation from an instagram follower – and it was great. The good thing about Paris is that all the brasseries are pretty much capped, there is nowhere that is particularly pricier than others. You get good quality food for roughly €25 a head. Cafe Charlot is a great brasserie with bustling atmosphere and cool clientele – it reminded me of Schillers in New York (or rather, Schillers reminds me of Cafe Charlot).
I would recommend travelling a bit around the island, even if just for the occasional lunch out – because there are some amazing ones to try. Nowhere really takes longer than 45 minutes to get to…
DESTINO – I assumed this was the grand Hotel of the same name when Deborah Brett first recommended this place. But in fact it’s a tiny, inconspicuous restaurant in Sant Josep (only 10 minute drive from Cala Tarida).
|Sunglasses: £56, Mr Boho at Suitehazen. Dress: Lem Lem at Beach Cafe (buy similar in the sale here)|
|Hat: H&M (sold out). Top: £69, Monsoon. Shorts: £30, River Island. Sandals: £45, Solillas.|
|The famous Hammam towels everyone was asking about on Instagram|
|Cushion: £38, Sluiz at Amara|
|Dress: Lem Lem at Beach Cafe (buy similar in the sale here)|
The people-watching is insane, we had such a good time just listening to the music and watching party-goers on the beach, preparing for their night out.
|Relaxing at Sa Trinxa. Bikini: £28, Topshop. Sunglasses: £56, Mr Boho at Suitehazen. Earrings: Primark. Nails: Mavala ‘Cobalt Blue’. Husband: My Own|
|Balcon de Europa, Nerja|
For those who haven’t been, Nerja is one of the few ‘unspoilt’ places on the Costa Del Sol, it is a Spanish town with only a couple of hotels, not too many high rises (they actually have rules about paint colours and the height of buildings towards the sea)and probably the cheapest local food around – you’ll find it hard to find a freshly cooked paella for over €5.
|Playa El Salon|
All beaches on the Costa Del Sol are man-made so you won’t find the lovely light sands on the Costa Brava, but they’re still pretty amazing. Without doubt the prettiest is Burriana – it’s more manicured with hills behind, beautiful villas, rentable sunloungers and great restaurants – ‘Ayos’ always has a great vibe for paella and Ayo himself is a local celebrity.
I actually prefer Playazo which is near where we stay – it’s a sweeping beach where more locals hang out – we take our own chairs and if you walk along the coast you are never too near any other sunbathers. The beach bars along here by the allotments do great seafood and their boquerones are always fresh – Chiringuito Mauri was a favourite this trip.
For special occasions and views, try 34 Carabeo (but book ahead for an outside table). We went to La Joya at the top end of town which might just be my new favourite – it has a gluten free menu and amazing specials – I had a tuna steak which was out of this world (not bad daiquiris, either). We love Za Za rotisserie chicken too for a great affordable meal, and the Brazilian restaurant by Torrecilla beach is €12.90 for all the meat you can eat!
Tapas is the best in Nerja – traditional tapas – buy 1 drink for €1.50 and get free food – (you shouldn’t really pay for tapas). Try Pepe Moles, Sevillano, El Pulguilla (very Spanish) or the Dutch Oven.
Tutti Frutti is where everything kicks off late – don’t expect any bars to be busy until 1am. We usually have a few pre-dinner cocktails at Cochran’s for a lovely view or La Casita towards the top of town(€4.50 and made in front of you) – it’s not fancy but has a roof terrace and you’re pretty much done after 2 drinks!
|My favourite tipple: gin and tonic (and it came with a side of free anchovies, naturally)|
My absolute favourite place is El Molino – a wonderful local tavern with a local flamenco singer, Jose Manuel. Get there around 11:30pm as it fills up fast and at midnight they turn off the lights and he sings the most beautiful song to the Virgin Mary. Order sangria (as spritis are expensive) and sing and clap along to classic Spanish songs as the locals dance to flamenco. It really is enchanting.
Granit – the best storage shop you’ll ever see. It’s affordable, but not ‘cheap’ and still holds style kudos amongst Swedes:
|Where I got my idea for my Aloe Vera plant…|
|The website’s homepage image: says it all (I need everything)|
|My interpretation of Scandi chic in my bedroom|
Design Torget – this shop gives me all the pleasure of a Museum gift shop – intelligent books, brilliantly designed utensils and lots of chopping boards.
Lagerhaus – this was by far my favourite store, it’s like the Ikea marketplace – much more warehouse like and let’s face it, cheaper! there wasn’t much that was over £6, and I bought my concrete planter, copper toothbrush holder, neon candlesticks, cards and a grey tie-dye teatowel for under £15…
Grandpa – if I could design a shop, this would be it. A carefully curated store of cool clothing, interiors, cool signing and prints. I couldn’t afford much (I bought a print) but it was gorgeous.
I loved this place in Little Italy, great food, good atmosphere and you can eat your tacos sitting underneath the stars as part of the restaurant is open air.
I went here with some friends a couple of years ago and I really liked the vibe, it felt laid-back and cool and served my kind of American dishes, as well as Craft beers. A classic burger is only $10 and the portions are BIG.
|Menu at Neighborhood|
Taco shop with cool decor, Mexican wrestling masks on the wall, and great food with tacos, gourmet burritos and quesadillas.
Hash House A Go Go
THE best place in San Diego for breakfast and brunch. However, everyone knows it so expect long queues! Frugal tip: the portions are HUGE so maybe go halves on a dish.
|Hash House stuffed burger|
Minimal menu of pizza and drinks, which helps keep the prices fun and the atmosphere better (and they do gluten free!).
Hip cocktail bar with cool outside areas (think cacti and globe lighting), try a craft cocktail during their Happy Hour (which are most days!).
Altitude Rooftop Bar
22 stories up, a buzzing bar for great views of the city and Petco Park. It’s in the Gaslamp district as well, so it’s a good area to be in if you’re thinking of continuing the drinking theme…
Craft + Commerce
Great place for drinks and hanging out, their cocktail menu is superb and just because you’re there, you should probably try a beer cocktail…
There is a real buzz around Little Italy on the weekend, and not just for the great pizzerias: the Farmers Market is a great way to spend a Saturday, trying freshly made juices and admiring the flower stalls (as well as great people watching).
San Diego Zoo
If you have kids, there couldn’t be a better place – they have baby pandas. That’s possibly all you need to know – a great day out.
|With friends a few years ago|
I’m talking Target, J Crew, Anthropologie and all those American stores we love which we either can’t get in the UK or they’re ridiculously expensive over here. Well, they’re all in San Diego and that’s always a day well spent in my opinion.
Balboa Park is like walking around Spain, Moorish architecture and gorgeous landscaping make this a great pit stop. Not only is it great to walk around and grab an ice cream, it is also home to Museums and galleries, such as the San Diego Museum of Art. And in the summer, it holds numerous festivals and even has an open air theatre, holding a Shakespeare Festival over the summer.
The Old Town of San Diego is possibly one of my favourite places in California. Traditional Mexican restaurants, historical charm and a market selling Mexican trinkets you’ll never need but want (this is where I bought my neon Day of The Dead skull). Go late afternoon for a stroll amongst the old buildings (even visit the supposedly haunted ‘Whaley House’) and then enjoy some margheritas and burritos in Fred’s (my favourite Mexican – if you go on a ‘Taco Tuesday’, all tacos are only $2 each – you might have to wait for a table but it’s worth it).
Take a boat from the port over to Coronado, if you’re looking for a wide expansive beach with the softest sand you’ll ever feel underneath your feet, you won’t be disappointed. There are also lots of great bars along the walk down to the beach – we loved stopping off at Burger Lounge.
|Views from the boat on the way to Coronado|
San Diego is home to a lot of start-up breweries and it’s a great place to discover the microbrewery scene, there are 20 in Downtown San Diego alone, and even more if you venture upstate.
|Photo from Wandieing blog|
|Looking less than chic a few summers ago!|
|‘Finlandia Hall’, designed by Alvar Aalto|
Enjoy a Sauna
Saunas are a huge part of the culture here in Finland, but nothing beats ‘Saunasaari’, an island dedicated to its art. It costs roughly €100 euros a head for the day but this includes ferries, delicious lunch al fresco and the chance to relax in a sauna with glass walls which overlook the city. Or relax in a hot tub outside with a bottle of cider (and yes, you can wear a swimsuit!).
Flea market Style
Where To Stay
I’m in LA, I don’t drive so I always stay somewhere on Sunset Boulevard
– you can walk to bars, shops and a Starbucks and it always helps with
your orientation. You feel like you’re in ‘proper’ LA with all the live
music venues and bars. I like West Hollywood, and if I’m feeling flush
(and only staying a few nights) my favourite is The London Hotel – the price includes coffee and breakfast (always helps).
However, last time I stayed at The Andaz and it is perfectly situated and really good value – plus free coffee in the mornings!
What To Eat
great Mexican restaurant in Silverlake, always guaranteed to be
bustling. I love it when you order guacamole in LA it always has huge,
fresh chunks of avocado and the bowl is always brimming, as opposed to
our English servings…
is my favourite place in LA. You can walk to it easily from The London
Hotel (perhaps this is why I stay there!) as it’s on Sunset Boulevard.
Just walking in transports you to an ‘American Graffiti’ era – take some
quarters for the Jukeboxes and order a classic Melburger – perfect. A
meal for 2 with all the sides won’t set you back more than $30, either.
(basically a Westfield) or The Grove – both of these shopping malls
have J Crew (Century city has the added bonus of Madewell). Or the
Beverly Centre (walkable from Sunset Boulevard) has Bloomingdale’s and
just opposite are my favourites Old Navy and Target (stop in Baja Fresh
for delicious frugal lunch, as well!).
What To Do
– although I wouldn’t recommend going on any of the rides, the
unmistakeable pier with its amusements is iconic. The beach is
sprawling, and you can rent bikes from here and cycle all the way to
Venice Beach (the whole trail is about 8.5miles) – make sure you pick up
a Hot Dog Stick on your way through (they’re actually delicious)…
|Shooting on Santa Monica pier with Red Magazine a few years ago…|
We stayed at The Georgian Hotel, an affordable hotel from the 20s Santa monica heyday, right on the seafront. It’s also close to 3rd Street Promenade, the cool shopping area – yes, they have a J Crew!
|The Georgian Hotel|
If you like music, go to Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard – it’s like stepping into a real life Empire Records.
|Picture from LA Weekly|
is nearby and possibly the best I’ve ever tasted (Liberty Ross
recommended it to me, whilst I was on a Red cover shoot, so it’s
celebrity endorsed!) and is worth a visit (if you’re not burger’d out).
|The ‘Umami’ burger|
Mount Hollywood Trail
Get out of the hustle and bustle of the city by doing this trail, and stop by Griffith Park.
It’s a little gruelling (make sure you wear trainers and NOT leather
shorts, like me) but worth it for the fresh air and amazing views over
|With my husband – halfway through the trail!|
In California, if you drink soft drinks it is pretty much always free
refills. So when a waitress grabs your drink and says ‘Do you want
another?’ – just say yes!
capital, with over 2,000 shrines, is a must-see city. It’s just over 2
hours on the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo but feels a million
miles away from the city of lights.
WHERE TO STAY:
was not only my favourite Hotel in Japan, it is quite possibly my
favourite Hotel in the world. Boutique style accommodation with only 7
rooms, book in advance but it’ll be worth it, stylish modern rooms with
antique furniture and the staff act like your personal concierge. Every
evening between 5pm-7pm you can enjoy free drinks as the staff help you
decide where to visit, print maps and give personal recommendations.
Everywhere they suggested was out of this world. It is also in a great
location on a cute antique street right by the Gion area (Geisha
WHERE TO VISIT
Fushimi Inari Shrine
far my favourite shrine, it has a wonderful loud, market street leading
up to it with music, shaved ice (essential if you are there in the
summer), matcha (green tea) ice cream, street food and trinkets. Then
behind the shrine is an incredible length of the famous red Tori gates,
which are seemingly endless.
|Strawberry shaved ice|
The Golden Pavilion
so it burnt down a couple of times and is actually not as old as first
thought but it’s still pretty incredible, almost entirely covered in
gold leaf. And it has beautiful gardens, too.
little way out (we had to get a local train) but well worth it for a
day, I would rent bikes as there are lots of nature trails here. It’s a
bit like a giant national trust park, with lakes, places of astounding
beauty, and behind one of the shrines is the most amazing ‘bamboo
forest’, which is definitely worth some snaps.
|Rivers and bamboo forest of Arashiyama|
looks like a street from another era, and it used to be traditional
teahouses, some Geishas still entertain in some establishments but
mainly it’s full of restaurants and bars (and in Japan, there’s not
really such a thing as tacky, rip-off restaurants like you have in
London – all are pretty much great). The street runs along the river and
from afar looks like shacks and at night, all lit up, you can feel the
buzz of the restaurants come alive.
is the traditional geisha district of Kyoto, and here you might see a
Maiko (Geisha in training) or even a Geisha roaming the streets. It has
beautiful cobbled streets and is easy to walk around, you can also see
the small red bridge from the film ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.
Gion corner, there are daily shows showing 7 different types of
Japanese performing arts. In July, the Gion festival has parades all
through the streets, we just caught the end of the festival when we
|Part of the Gion festival|
– a restaurant in the Pontocho district and recommended to us by our
Hotel and probably the best sushi I’ve had in my life, and roughly £50
for two of us. We sat at the bar and the chef made each dish in front of
us, and gestured us how to eat each item – some items needed no sauce
and others should be eaten all in one go etc. It made us really
appreciate the food.
Must try: the fatty seared tuna…
this is a typical Japanese Izakaya (like a Japanese pub) where food is
simple, tasty and you can drink more than you would in a restaurant. You
would generally order drinks and then keep ordering small dishes to
accompany. They’re often more local and in this one we had to take our
shoes off and eat sitting on floor level. Try: sake with water.
– a trendy, hip place serving only local produce. The place was packed
with a great atmosphere, we ate at the bar – get your hotel to book for
you as there was no english menu but they were happy to help. We just
pointed to other people’s food or things they were cooking and it worked
perfectly! Everything we ordered tasted so fresh, and prices really
reasonable – we loved it.
was where we realised there was more to life than sushi: have you tried
okonomiyaki?! Basically savoury pancakes served on a hot
plates…delicious. The restaurant is on the red bridge from the Gion
district but great value and not too touristy – a must.
decor, although it gets busy. We went around 2:30pm to miss the crowds
which seemed to work, as there can be queues. Known to be some of the
best ramen in Kyoto, I tried the popular ‘dipping ramen’ which involves
dipping cold noodles into a hot soy broth so you fuse the cold and hot.
My husband tried the signature dish: burnt soy ramen.
Where To Stay
We stayed a few nights in Hotel Cerulean Tower – a nice, business-y hotel but a few minutes walk from Shibuya station (and the famous crossing), which is VERY central.
|View from our room at Hotel Cerulean Tower|
Where To Eat
Possibly our favourite night in Japan altogether was this ‘Fish Shack’ style restaurant – ‘Uoshins’
– it’s opposite Nogizaka station, near Ropponghi, and offers fresh fish
in a cool, relaxed setting – everyone eats sitting on crates.
|Really reasonable menu|
my favourite Japanese dishes sushi and katsu curry are not that common
in Japan. The main dishes we ate were noodles (ramen or udon), nabe
(broth style dish), tempura vegetables, BBQ skewers and sashimi. That’s
not to say we didn’t go out of our way to find the best places, though!
This Japanese curry restaurant – ‘Coco Ichibanya’
– is a chain which has just branched out to the US – I hope it comes
our way soon. The best katsu curry of my life (you choose your spice
from a scale of 1-9) and only £4.50 – take that Wagamamas!
sushi (conveyor belt sushi) is kind of considered low-rate in Japan,
it’s a bit more pricey in Tokyo than somewhere like Kyoto but still
nothing like UK prices. Each dish will cost you just over a pound..the
two of us ate lunch in Heiroku Sushi near Harajuku for £10. They also more ‘western’ sushi such as salmon and avocado – my favourite…
a little bit Touristy BUT…good food and atmosphere and it was
supposedly the inspiration behind the fight scene in Kill Bill – Gonpachi
in Nishi Azabu does great meat skewers. And if you get tired of noodles
and fish? Mos Burger is the Japanese equivalent of McDonald’s but you
can get teriyaki burger (or a normal one), so you still feel like you’re
staying on the right side of culture.
‘Electric Town’ – the largest town of electric appliances in the WORLD.
It’s so bustling in the day and it’s also a real hub for Manga and
Anime fans and collectors. Yodobashi is a 9 floor electronics
store and the basement has an entire floor dedicated to photobooths
where you can enhance your features and add graphics like anime!
|We made our eye huge and whitened and dewrinkled our skin, which is why we look about 16 years old!|
Tsukiji Fish Market
is apparently going to be relocated now Tokyo has won the Olympics bid,
but if you get a chance to go before it relocates, it is well worth it.
It’s a hub of activity and there are good restaurants in there…did
you know that Japan eats 20% of the world’s fish content? It’s actually a
If you love shopping for trinkets (or ‘tat’ as my husband refers to it) whilst seeing culturally beautiful buildings, then Sensoji Temple at Asakusa
is a must. The Temple is surrounded by hundreds of little stalls
selling magnets, Hello Kitty phone charms, postcards, food stalls etc.
However, if you’re planning to do Kyoto on the same trip, this ‘tat’ can
be bought much cheaper there.
Walk though Takeshita Dori in Harajuku to see all the stalls and goth shops (a bit like Camden and very touristy) and then cross over to Yoyogi Park –
a place of serenity amongst the madness. On Sundays, loads of guys
dressed as Elvis dance with their radios and you see some sights! Walk
through the park to the Meiji Shrine, it’s really beautiful and if you’re lucky on a weekend, you might see a traditional wedding.
|Wedding at the Meiji Shrine|
Karaoke – we actually did karaoke in a tiny village in the Japanese Alps but there are loads of places in Tokyo – Ropponghi or Shinjuku
are probably a good place to start. You can hire your own room (even
for 2 of you) so no need to embarrass yourselves amongst strangers and
most rooms come with telecom service for drinks and tambourines! Shidax looked impressive in Roppongi and apparently the one from ‘Lost in Translation’ is called ‘Karaoke Kan’.
Where To Shop
The only thing I wanted was STICKERS! We had a Japanese Tourguide for one day in Tokyo and she took me to ‘Loft’, possibly the best stationery store in the world. B Side Label is also a great sticker store in Harajuku.
|Post-it note heaven!|
And then my list wouldn’t be complete without Daiso
– the 100 yen store in Harajuku! When I was there the exchange worked
out at roughly 65p…you could buy pretty much everything – toiletries,
stickers, Hello Kitty wallets, lampshades….need I go on? LOVED it…
whole time, found it really easy to use. As we were there for 4 days,
we got the pass (a bit like an Oyster) and topped it up, and it was
roughly 80p a journey. Taxis were very expensive and not worth it.
We planned our whole honeymoon with Unique Japan Tours and it came with a personal Tourguide
for one day in Tokyo – ours was so friendly and helpful and she planned
the day according to what we wanted to see, do and how far we wanted to
walk etc. You can book day tours here – I would highly recommend it if you don’t have loads of time and find it hard getting your bearings.
Tokyo Cheapo – a cheapo’s guide to doing Tokyo on the cheap (my kind of blog).
The Guardian’s Best Budget Restaurants Tokyo – this was how we found ‘Uoshins’.
That Food Cray – love this blog and all its recommendations. She highlights some great burger bars in Tokyo, too.
The world famous museum has re-opened after a 10 year refurbishment. And is more resplendent than ever (loving the Farrow & Ball tone walls!). Home to the much loved ‘Night Watch’ by Rembrandt, I personally love the Vermeer paintings.
Obviously this is on most people’s To Do list, but make sure you actually get in by booking tickets in advance. There is pretty much always a queue (even off season) and by booking tickets, you could save yourself valuable time.
always worth going to this, if only for some beautiful instagram shots!
The market is on the canals and it is amazing to see how much different
variations of tulips there are, and it’s not only open at the crack of
dawn – it’s open 9am-5:30pm.
at all touristy but if you manage to get an hour to pop into
Amsterdam’s equivalent of Wilkinson (but way more chic), then you must!
Great homewares, beauty products, accessories and fab stationery, I dare
you not to come back with a few bits. See my last post on Hema here.
can purchase these cards for 24, 48 or 72 hours at a time and for an
all-in fee you will gain free entry to museums, attractions and they can
be used on public transport, too. If you’re planning on a lot of
sightseeing, this is a great idea.
|Card for 24 hours is €42|
it’s not exactly chic but it’s fun and all part of the experience! If
you haven’t got much time to stop for lunch, grab a croquette from these
‘vending machines’ and carry on your way – and it won’t set you back
anymore than €1…
good, reasonable restaurants is hard in Amsterdam. This one is both,
and has a beautiful canalside location, too. Main courses will set you
back around €20 each.
You can go pretty much anywhere for this and the roads are so set up for it, it’s actually probably safer than walking! I used Mac Bike to get around the city and felt like a real local.
I love Berlin. It’s definitely my favourite city in Europe, I love the
cool art vibe, bar scene, concrete jungle streets with graffitied
artwork on the side of buildings…I’ve been many times and mostly on a
budget. Here are my tips on what to do:
2. My favourite building is the Berliner Dom, and the views from
the dome are great (even if not particularly pretty):
|Berlin relics and graffiti|
5. Berlin Wall Eastside Gallery – this is the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall and Artists have been commissioned to design a section of the wall, it’s fascinating just to walk along and appreciate the art as well as think about what it was like to live behind these walls (this stretch alone is about a mile long).
7. Oranienburgerstrasse – in the trendy ‘Mitte’ district, this is great in the evening, and where most of the bars and clubs are as well as lots of old derelict buildings now used for galleries and exhibitions. We stumbled upon many galleries simply by chance.
Where To Eat:
- Dada Falafel
-there is a huge Turkish community in Berlin and it shows in their
food. This is a hole in the wall place with possibly the best falafels
- Pan Asia – I had sushi here in the summer, we ate outside and it was delicious.
– amazingly brilliant winebar where you pay €2 for a glass and the pay
what you want at the end…dependent on whether you had a nice night!
- Tiergarten Quelle
– this was our FAVOURITE place in Berlin – it’s underneath a railway
arch and very dingy but VERY German – selling beer by the litre and the
LARGEST plate of meat you’ve ever seen for €9 – all served with
traditional mash and hearty vegetables. Great atmosphere, a bit like an
old beerhall. And great value.
|Downloadable map, City Spy|
in the Spanish frame of mind, I thought I’d share my top Barcelona
spots – a MUST VISIT place if you have not been! You can get really
reasonable flights on Easyjet and the subway from Barcelona airport goes straight into town.
Here are the top tips I keep on file should any of my friends decide to go:
– this is an amazing indoor market in the centre of Barcelona, just off
Las Ramblas. An absolute feast for the senses and great to mingle with
all the local traders.
Sagrada Familia, great to see, but quite expensive to go in (around €20 each) and the best architecture can be seen from the outside…
Gaudi: surreal, mad colours and amazing views. And best of all – FREE. I
would do this early as you have to climb a huge hill so best not to do
in the heat of the day.
Tapas in Barcelona is amongst the best I’ve ever had – I would rather do all these restaurants again over the sights…
you only do one restaurant, do this. It is BUZZING and full of people
both inside and on the streets, all waiting for a table…..the trick is
to go, put your name on
the list and then go back (or stay and drink) but it is worth it, which
is why there are so many people waiting! The tapas is amazing – and
great value (Spanish know a good thing when they see it) – we loved the
croquetas jamon (ham & potato croquettes) and the calamari.
Ramblas, v trendy restaurant but still great value. Tapas with a twist,
we loved the raw tuna and guacamole and Calamari Andalusian.
– on Calle Muntaner, we loved this place – bit of a
walk but worth it. Very Art Deco, like The Wolseley in London, or Pastis in
NYC…..very Spanish – their croquetas jamon were the best.
– tucked away on the backstreets of the Gothic Quarter, this restaurant
serves modern Catalan cuisine and is always very busy – a good sign!
THE best brunch in New York – indulge in a fried egg sandwich (it comes in a brioche bun with a chorizo sausage patty, and served with potato hash) and enjoy the bustling atmosphere.
Delicious tapas, great to pop in for a beer and patatas bravas after a hard day shopping.
Catch, 21 9th Avenue
Great location in Soho and the seafood is delicious. Very relaxed, tapas style food, you
can order small sushi or crab linguine dishes without the oppulence of
‘seafood dining’. And the truffle fries are delicious! Also, great
restaurant which you can guarantee would have an atmosphere on say, a
Freeman’s, Bowery + Chrystie
It’s like eating in someone’s living room, but they’re super cool and have loads of antlers on the wall and make really delicious, food. And it’s busy. Guaranteed to always have a good vibe.
The Fat Radish, Orchard + Canal
Go for brunch and try the best Bloody Mary you might ever tatse. the avocado on toast is good, too.
This is the place I’d open in London if I could. Very New York,
brasserie style food and uber cool dining without the hefty price tag. I
love that the wine is listed by price and just labelled ‘Cheap’,
‘Decent’ or ‘Good’. Try to find out what nights the DJ plays too…
only tried it last month. There is no point even looking at the menu,
the Artichike Pizza is incredible, if a little rich…make sure you
share it (or order by the slice)!