Weekend in Warsaw

Last weekend I took little weekend break in Warsaw with my fabulous flatmates (you know who you are). It was so much fun! It felt really special to finally be in Poland as I’m actually a 1/4 polish! As well as eating, drinking and exploring I learned a few polish words, but I won’t embarrass myself by trying to spell them for you…

We booked our flights a few months in advance for only £40 from Edinburgh to Warsaw Modlin. The flight was only 2.5 hours, which is funny considering it takes longer to drive to Inverness from Edinburgh!

Before leaving we prebooked train tickets to take us into the centre of Warsaw where our Airbnb was. However, the train station was a taxi ride away and took an hour. Learning from this experience we rode in an Uber (£23) to the airport, which took 40 mins and was just a little more expensive than the train and MUCH EASIER!

On that note Uber is your best friend in Polish cities as it’s so much cheaper than in the UK!

 I had an amazing time in Warsaw and would recommend checking out these places…

What To See

1. The Old Town Market Place

This colourful square is the heart of Warsaw and one of the oldest places in Warsaw (it was rebuilt after WW2 ended).  Find The Mermaid of Warsaw and enjoy the Christmas market stalls in Winter.

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Legend has it that local fisherman wanted to capture the mermaid after she kept rescuing the fish from their nets. However, after the heard her singing they fell in love. Then a rich man imprisoned the mermaid,but the fisherman saved her. Ever since, she has been protecting Warsaw’s citizens with her sword and shield.

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2. Warsaw Rising Museum

This museum was well worth a visit. It was created in memory of the people of Warsaw who died fighting for the independence of Poland.

Entry is free of charge every Sunday

3. Palace of Culture and Science

This is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit, but we heard a rumour that the top floor is the best place to take a picture of Warsaw!

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It was a little foggy….

4. Royal Castle

This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Warsaw! Spend time wondering around the lavishly designed rooms of the Polish monarchs.

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Entry is free of charge every Wednesday

Where To Eat

If you have been looking at any of my recent Instagram stories you probably saw brunch and Pierogi crop up a few times…. these were the stars of the show!!

1. Bulke przez Bibulke

Yes Polish is a very tricky language….so the link is above so you can find this gem too! This place was so cosy and is rated one of the best brunch spots in the city. Try the stack of pancakes!

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2. Restaurant Zapiecek

According to two of my native friends, this traditional Polish restaurant serves some of the BEST PIEROGI (dumplings)!

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If you want to stick to the local cuisine order a class of apple wine with your meal (it’s delicious).

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3. SAM Kameralny Komplex Gastronomiczny

Back to Brunch!!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day… and if you don’t wake up early enough this is the perfect solution…right?!

One word….BAGELS!

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4. Hala Koszyki

This is one of the best indoor food markets I have ever been to. It’s such a relaxed environment with so many cuisines to sample. If you are vegan check out the range of vegan stalls here!

But what did I chose to eat again…..

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PIEROGI!!!!

Where To Drink

1. Czupito

This quirky vodka bar is the perfect place to start your night out in Warsaw! Try the Pink Panther if you have a sweet tooth or Rainbow if you’re brave enough….

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2. Nap Nap Cafe

This is the perfect stop for a midday mulled wine and cake!

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3. Panorama Sky Bar

If you want to take your night out to the next level check out the Sky Bar! Great cocktails, music and views!

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Bare in mind the cocktails here are more like UK prices eg £10!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my time in this cool city and have the chance to experience it for yourself!

I’m currently planning my next trip back to Poland….people to see and things to explore!

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Newbies Guide To New York #2 Wine & Dine

If you haven’t read my first blog post about my favourite sites in New York click here to check it out!

This post, as you can imagine, is all about the top spots we found while running around NYC! The city really has something for everyone whether it’s burgers and chips, Asian noodles or pizza slices as big as your head….

1. Juliana’s Pizza

As mentioned in my previous post this amazing pizzeria is run by the pizza legends themselves….the Grimaldi’s of New York! This dining option is perfect for those of you wanting to check out the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s nestled in the cool district just over the bridge called Dumbo which is also well worth exploring.

This restaurant is so popular that you cannot book in advance, so prepare for a little wait (worth it)  or visit outwith the main dining times.

Just  note that they are closed between 3:15pm and 4pm to “stoke” the coal-fired pizza oven.

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2. Kimoto Rooftop Garden Lounge

If you spend more time in Brooklyn and looking for a rooftop bar experience head to this place! Kimoto is a good priced Asian fusion restaurant that also serves AMAZING cocktails. I think we were just incredibly lucky because we had almost the whole garden lounge to ourselves when we visited!

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  3. Joe Allen

If you are looking for a pre-Broadway meal check out this gem! Joe Allen’s is an intimate restaurant popular with locals. Everything on the menu looked excellent when we went and it changes frequently so there’s always new flavours to try!

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4. Tick Tock Diner NY

This retro little diner was situated in our hotel, The New Yorker, but is for non-guests too! If you know me you would know why this was one of my FAVOURITE meals I had in NYC. I have a MASSIVE SWEET TOOTH and heard that the pancakes in here were incredible so of course had to try them out….

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Not just orange juice…..

5. Chelsea Market

This quirky market is open from 7am to 2am Monday-Saturday and us filled with food outlets from all over the city! I would suggest heading there for lunch then walking the High Line as the access point is very closeby.

I wanted to eat EVERYTHING….

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6. Carlos Bakery

How could you walk past THE HOME OF CAKE BOSS everyday but not go in for a slice??! I know it’s impossible as it sounds…

There are so many different cakes and cannolis to chose from and they come in cute individual slice containers!

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Red Velvet cake anyone? 

7. State Grill & Bar

If you want a night to remember book a table at the State Grill & Bar in the Empire State Building! 

This really was a special night for us in New York that had been planned well in advance. We dined in the grill and had some cocktails before taking the lift up to the Observatory Deck at the top of the Empire State Building. 

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I know what you’re thinking….how could I fit on the plane after my week of indulging in New York! All I can say is we walked…..A LOT!

I hope you enjoyed my posts about my time exploring one of most amazing cities in the WORLD!

Newbies Guide To New York #1 Attractions

As the title suggests, yes it was my FIRST TIME IN NEW YORK! 

We arrived home early on Saturday morning after spending 1 week in The Big Apple and it was such an incredible place.

We got good flight deals to Stewart Airport direct from Edinburgh which was ideal (8 hours). The airline was Norwegian Air who are known for doing long-haul budget deals. It made much more sense to fly cheaper into Stewart Airport and drive 90 minutes on the bus into Manhattan than pay for more expensive flights to JFK.

There is no “cheap” way of doing New York properly but there are plenty of wallet-friendlier alternatives…

After researching the cost of the attractions that we wanted to visit (there were so many) we thought it was cheaper to purchase a 5 Day New York Pass. This pass granted us access to all of the city’s main attractions. This was great because it meant that we could visit everything we wanted to in the time we had! For the 1 day pass it was $127 but for 5 days it was only $325. The pass was definitely worth it because there was 4 of us doing on average 3 attractions per day. For example the price to visit the observatory deck at the Empire State building is $57 per person

Click here to purchase the New York Pass

It would take far too long to write a day by day itinerary of my week in New York… so I’ll give you a quick run through of my favourite things to see and do!

1. Brooklyn Bridge at Sunset

For the best view of the complete Manhattan skyline spend the day in Brooklyn! There are so many cool places to visit in Brooklyn, we loved Dumbo! This is the area of Brooklyn that is just over the bridge and is home to Jane’s Carousel and the BEST pizza you may ever try in NYC!

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Promise I wasn’t the only adult……
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Guacamole on a pizza is life changing!

The pizza parlour was called Julianas Pizza and was run by the pizza legends themselves….the Grimaldi’s in New York!

After exploring Dumbo follow the pedestrian signs onto the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset and watch Manhattan light up! The walk took around 30 minutes but we stopped for lots of pictures.

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If you love the look of my t-shirt use my personal code CatrionaKe15 for 15% off all orders at the checkout! A percentage of all Sandcloud’s profits go into saving marine life by supporting conservation charities. #savethefishes

2. Empire State Building

Included in our New York Pass was entry to the observatory decks at the Empire State building. I don’t know if we just got EXTREMELY LUCKY but we went up to the top at around 10pm and there was NO QUEUE!!

Even if there was a line we would have waited for this magical view!

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3. Top of the Rocks

On our last full day we realised that we still had to check out the view from Top of the Rock! Again we flashed our New York Passes and got entry up to the top. The fact that we didn’t have to pay more for the entry was good as we might not have seen the view because the weather was similar to Scotland…hence my signing in the rain picture!

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4. Broadway Show

Even if you are not a huge theatre fan (like my brother) most people still love the experience of seeing a show on Broadway at least once! We saw Chicago in the Ambassador Theatre and it was definitely worth seeing.  If you are not too fussy and looking for discounted tickets try websites like BroadwayBox. 

5. The High Line

I know when people think about parks in New York, Central Park springs to mind. However, The High Line is a cool green space hidden above the busy city streets. This space used to be home for an old railway line now it’s an urban oasis.

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6. New York Water Taxi

I know this isn’t an attraction but it was a great way to see the city! You can hop on a New York Water Taxi either in Midtown Manhattan, Battery Park, Seaport or Brooklyn. My favourite part of the ride was sailing around the Statue of Liberty with the Alicia Keys “Empire State of Mind” playing!

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As I come to the end of this post, I’m a little sad that I didn’t mention all the other amazing attractions. However, I would be writing a book not a blog post in that case and that’s not what I do!

Watch this space for Newbies Guide To New York #2 Wine & Dine!

Weekend in London – Day 1

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” (Samuel Johnson, 1777)

As you may of noticed from my Instagrams you will have seen that I spent my weekend in London. I’m sorry for the spam pics but London is soooo INSTAWORTHY, especially Covent Garden! I had been to London once before when I was younger so I had done the major attractions but not the “real London”. It was amazing this time to explore the city with my best friend because she could show me hidden gems, as she has lived in London previously.

Somehow all my salary ends up in EasyJet’s pocket…..this time it was to fly from Edinburgh to London Luton. I knew that all the airports were outside London centre anyway so it didn’t really matter which one I flew to and Luton was the best price. I started off my day with a croissant and chia latte from Cafe Nero (pre-flight ritual) and was in London before I knew it (1 hour flight). From the airport I had already pre-booked my bus transfer to get me towards my Airbnb in Canning Town through EasyBus. The bus was £10 per journey and took my to Baker Street station (40 minutes) where I could get a direct tube to Canning Town.

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By reading this you may think I was clued up on London transport prior to my arrival…that would be incorrect. I had already asked for transport advice from my lovely Airbnb hosts and they were more than happy to help! That is one of the aspects of Airbnb that I love most, the hosts local knowledge. This is my 5th Airbnb I have stayed in so far and I have been blown away by the friendliness of each one of the hosts! For my trip to London I booked myself into Amir and Helena’s home which was only 20 minutes from the centre and had everything I needed. Fresh towels were laid out upon arrival and I was able to have a flexible check in as there was a key safe – very convenient when arriving early!

Click here for £25 off your first stay! 

After unpacking I headed to the Temple area to start my Hidden London Tour with Fun London Tours. Danielle the tour guide was excellent, especially when she sang  the Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme at St Clements Danes Church! I thought this tour was particularly cool because it showed you areas of the city that the average tourist wouldn’t pay attention to.

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Gringotts Bank in Harry Potter
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St Bride’s Church – Inspiration for the tiered wedding cake!
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Printing Press Mural – Magpie Alley

After walking around the Temple area I walked 15 minutes to Covent Garden to soak up the atmosphere with a cocktail in hand…

 

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Royal Blush at Tuttons

To be honest, London is NEVER EVER going to be cheap but it really wasn’t anymore expensive than Edinburgh. Obviously it depends where you go, but a cocktail in the centre of Covent Gardens ranged from £8-£13 which is pretty standard.

 

Covent Gardens is such a beautiful area in the Summer. It’s buzzing with street performers and dressed with gorgeous flower displays. I went a little Insta-mad here but it would just be rude not to make use of all the perfect picture opportunities….?!

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By late afternoon I thought it was time to visit all the touristy places that I knew Sophia wouldn’t want to spend time seeing! I walked along the Hungerford Bridge enjoying the London Skyline featuring the London Eye and Big Ben.  After taking a few different wannabe photographer angles of the London Eye I ventured over to take in the view across the River Thames.

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Hungerford Bridge
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London Eye
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View from the Hungerford Bridge

After spending some time chilling in my Airbnb (recovering from my 22,000 step day) Sophia and I took the tube to Canary Warf. Unlike the rest of London that is continuously hectic we headed to the business hub for a more relaxing evening. As Canary Warf is the home of glittery office skyscrapers it’s a lot more chilled after office hours end!

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It was just after 10pm and the Crossrail Place Roof Garden  caught our eye. Unfortunately the garden closed at 10pm and they were just locking up…after a little persuasion we were allowed in to explore by ourselves!

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Crossrail Place Roof Garden At Night

After our private garden experience we headed towards the Giant Robot, which is a rooftop bar filled with lots of cool street food stalls. I would definitely encourage you to check out out this cool place! Rooftop, DJ and burritos….what’s not to like?!

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I hope you have enjoyed reading about my first day in London…stay tuned for day 2!

 

 

 

Heidelberg

Heidelberg…. the place where your dreams come true! My bad, that’s Disneyland but this place is just as magical…

Heidelberg in South Western Germany is a place for romantics, tourists, students, photographers and writers. Exactly my kind of place!

It is IMPOSSIBLE not to take an impressive picture of this town that MUST be  plastered all over your Instagram page! This place just begs you to take as many photos as you can to capture the iconic “I’m in Heidelberg” picture that focuses on capturing the town from each angle of the Alt Brucke (Old Bridge). 

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I think my phone memory is full with photos from the weekend here…I have an extremely patient boyfriend/photographer…. 

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It was our third time staying in an Airbnb which I cannot recommend enough for a type of accommodation! We always find the coolest places and the hosts we have met so far have been extremely helpful and laid back.

If you would like £25 off your first stay you can use my referral code www.airbnb.co.uk/c/catrionak205

I flew into Baden airport with Ryanair which is an hours drive to Heidelberg and 1.5 hours on the train.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE!

……my flight was the grand total of £10!!!!!

Yes it was a one way ticket seeing as I was flying back from Stuttgart but £10! I pay more going from Edinburgh to Fife, seriously one way is £11.

If you think about it…..you could fly 900 miles for the price of a takeaway pizza….just a thought….

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We did not arrive in Heidelberg until the evening so after leaving our suitcases in our room for the night we headed into the centre. The weather was INSANE! It was even around 20 degrees at night! Everyone said it was unusual temperatures for the time of year…I guess I brought the sun from Scotland…

We rode on the tram to the town centre which was not the easiest system to work out….I think the machine was broken but we got there in the end and took the bus back! Just a little piece of advice…it may seem obvious…. but PAY ATTENTION to the station you get on from….we had no clue…

By the time we got into the main centre we were eager to find a restaurant quickly! We stumbled upon Perkeo (traditional German cuisine) hidden away in the winding streets. Apparently Perkeo was the Jester that kept the barrel in Alt Schloss (Old Castle) safe. I ordered Maultasche which is a must have when in Southern Germany. It’s similar to ravioli!

Fun Fact – Perkeo consumed 18 bottles of wine on a daily basis but died after drinking a glass of water…

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Heidelberg is a perfect place for a weekend break, it has enough buzz about it with the student bars and coffee shops, but also ideal if you want to see some sights! Unlike my previous weekend in Munich (which I loved) this trip was so much more relaxed.

We did see the famous attractions and landmarks but also had enough time to take it easy and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. However….the weather did make such a HUGE difference and made it more enjoyable to do less. It was 30 degrees during the day which was the ideal weather for stopping for iced coffee and frozen yogurt!

After walking along the riverside into the centre we headed straight towards the Alt Brucke (old bridge) so I could snap the iconic Heidelberg pictures!

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Walking through the winding streets really does make you feel like you are in a fairy- tale, especially at the Schloss Heidelberg  (Castle)!

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Even though all that remains of the castle are it’s ruins it attracts millions of people every year. At many points in the year a beautiful firework display takes place to commemorate the  attacks on the castle in the late 17th Century.

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After exploring the castle we spent our afternoon soaking up the sun at the top of the Philosophenweg (Philosophers Way). This walk is famous because it is known to have inspired many philosophers and writers throughout history! Don’t worry if you are not keen on long walks, it doesn’t take much time to get to the viewpoint at the top and there are many stone-made seating areas during the trail.

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Does it get much more Insta-worthy than this???

We finished our day by soaking up the last rays of sun in a beer gardenwhere I drank the regional Riesling wine of course….

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If Heidelberg is not already on your list of destinations…. I think it’s time to revise that list….

Weekend in Munich – Day 1

I have just arrived home from my weekend getaway to Munich….you might have guessed from my Instagram…maybe!

I think that was honestly the quickest weekend to date and the furthest I have travelled in such a short space of time. In total I travelled over 900 miles between Friday and Sunday evening, not including my journey back home!

The past couple of times I have visited Germany I have travelled around the Southern part of the country. I have been blown away by the incredible scenery, the friendly people and the outstanding amount of carbs that I can consume in my short time in the country…. (forget the Great British Bake Off….the cakes are amazing)!

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Schuhbecks Orlando

Exhibit A

I feel my official place of residence has changed to a window seat somewhere towards the back of an EasyJet plane…..

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This is because the flights are very cheap, especially out of season! I usually fly from Edinburgh to Stuttgart airport and so far the return flight has not cost over £80. Considering the average spend on a night out is between £40 -£60 (of course, depending on if you buy the cheap vodka or not) this really isn’t much less than a flight to a new place.

Enough money and cake talk and more about The Heart of Bavaria….Munich!

It was incredible to walk around he centre of Munich as there was always something to catch your eye. Everywhere you turn it’s impossible not to notice the detailed architecture.

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Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
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Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
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Marienplatz
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Bavarian Lion Statue at Odeonsplatz

 

Whilst exploring the centre we were also keen to see the stunning churches that produce the soundtrack to a day in Munich….all the church bells!

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Frauenkirche

When you are in Munich find some time to discover this hidden gem! The Asamkirche, this church was built in 1733. This is a beautiful, theatrical looking place tucked away between two ordinary buildings. Honestly, when we weren’t actively looking for this church we walked past it so many times and didn’t even notice! This is a must see…

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Asamkirche
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Asamkirche
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Asamkirche

After all the wondering around we went back to our cute hotel, Hotel Condor and relaxed until we went out for dinner. I have to say the location of this hotel was perfect, it was so central and close to the train station. The one to many breakfast pastries I consumed in the morning were also very good…

Studying Event Management really does get you into a particular mindset….schedules….timings…plans….however sometimes it’s more fun stumbling upon a great restaurant or bar by chance. So guess what? That’s exactly what happened.

We left the hotel and headed into the centre of Munich (only a 10 minute walk) and  enjoyed the different atmosphere the city has at night. After a little while we found this beautiful restaurant called Cafe Luitpold.

If you like dining in pretty buildings this is the place for you! This restaurant/ cafe was built in the 19th century and has retained it’s original pillar structures. They had a large menu which made it difficult to choose what we wanted to eat…so we didn’t. We selected the tapas selection and were given a tapas styled starter, main and dessert! cafe

After dinner we had a few drinks in Fedora Bar where a DJ was playing, which was a great way to end the night. I ended my first day in Munich right…. after finishing my first pint of beer….i’m a wine gal… but when in the home of Oktoberfest!

 

 

Getting Lost In Barcelona – Day 3

Morning

On our third day in Barcelona we decided to take things a bit slower as we appeared to be racking up the steps on our fitness trackers! After breakfast we headed back to the El Born region of the city by metro, to visit the Picasso museum and explore more of the boutique shops.

The Picasso museum was excellent, especially the student discount….entry was completely free! Also the general admission price was only 11 euros which is far more reasonable than the larger tourist hot-spots. Unfortunately photography was not allowed in the museum but I guess it’s better to have a look for yourself. My opinion of his masterpieces made me compare the experience to what may happen on an acid trip… but I can’t say i’m an art lover!

An art lover I may not be but I can definitively appreciate fine pieces of jewellery (not hinting..). I will give Joid’art a mention in here as I actually went away with a couple of items from the store! All the pieces are produced in Barcelona which I thought made them an extra special souvenir.

Afternoon

After enjoying our second time in El Born we journeyed back towards our hotel to cool off for a bit. On the way back we were mesmerised by the huge slices of pizza that you could buy by the slice for a couple of euros. In addition to our pizza stop we made one more detour before entering the hotel. We had no idea that Barcelona had so many patisseries, it was like being in France! Since arriving at the hotel we promised ourselves that we would give into temptation and visit the patisserie shop right next to the hotel (Patisseria La Estrella). Get the Red Velvet cake…it’ll be the best decision you make this holiday.

Lazing around the hotel courtyard area refreshed us enough to embark on a walk down to Barceloneta to head to the beach. Our memory greatly shortened the walk from Las Ramblas …it took us about an hour to get there (we were wearing stupid shoes but still!) Next time I would probably take a taxi from the bottom of Las Ramblas. The beach is again what makes this city so unique! It’s great that you can spend a day at the beach but still be on a city break. Although, as the beach is such a bonus it is VERY busy so don’t expect serenity! 10502238_805358276151300_7722972751872260732_n10525950_805356112818183_5696445545388885323_n

Night

I think from reading my blog by now you know i’m a huge foodie…..this meal merits as one of the best meals I have ever had! For our last night in this incredible city we wanted this dining experience to be something special and it was.  Los Caracoles is a family run 18th century restaurant in the heart of the Gothic district in Barcelona. It’s world renowned fame has people, including celebrities eager to give this place a go!

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Getting Lost In Barcelona – Day 2

Morning

On our first full day in Barcelona we decided to discover more about the person that essentially developed Barcelona’s image, Antoni Gaudi.

We started off visiting Palau Guell which was on the same street as the hotel we were staying at. This one one of the first buildings Gaudi designed at the start of his lustrous career for the Guell family. This building is a town house like no other and definitely worth a visit! Unlike his later designs this particular building is more Gothic and far less whimsical than the likes of Casa Batllo, La Pedrera and Parc Guell.

(Entry for this attraction is 12 euros or 9 euros for discounted entry such as students!)

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After visiting our first Gaudi building we continued the theme of the day by taking the metro to Casa Batllo. The first thing we noticed was how different the vibe was at this attraction. Not only was the building designed completely differently we also noticed that this attraction was far busier than the previous attraction.

We booked our tickets online to save time so we just walked to the entrance and got our tickets scanned than we were in! If you like all things weird and wonderful this attraction is for you. The tour is very clever as it involves an aspect of augmented reality through your phone-like device, that you are given as you begin the tour.

(Entry to this attraction is 23.50 euros and 20.50 for students if you book online!)

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Afternoon

When we left Casa Batllo we were surrounded by shops to explore, as woman of course we couldn’t resist checking some out. Including the Burberry bags we wish we could afford! Although ladies I would highly recommend this Spanish shop called OYSHO, it’s great for lingerie! 😉

After hopping in and out of the shops we sat down at a Spanish restaurant called Bo De Gracia. Again the tapas selection we choose was excellent and the Cava definitely wasn’t missed out!

Night

After exploring works of Antoni Gaudi we went back to the hotel to chill for a few hours before heading back out into the heat of the night. (At night it didn’t drop below 25 degrees!)

We headed up to Montjuic by funicular…not really to explore the area because we caught the amazing Magic Fountain show last time we visited but to ride down to the port on the cable car! It was well worth the journey up to Montjuic as the areal view of Barcelona was stunning.

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After landing in the Port area of Barceloneta we continued into the centre in search of a nice seafood restaurant. X marks the spot where this gem is! It is called 3 Nusos and we were attracted by the beautiful outdoor gazebo eating area covered in fairy lights (perfect for wining and dining your other half!).

Getting Lost In Barcelona – Day 1

Before you read this post I just want to inform you all that this is my 2nd time to this wonderful city! Therefore this blog will show that this time I focused on some of the secondary sites, instead of the main ones, such as the magnificent Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell.

Barcelona is a city like no other, this European city has such an original vibe which makes the city come to life! With the laid back locals mixed in with the tourists, the oldy-worldy gothic quaters and of course the surreal Gaudi architecture makes this city unique.

To make it easier to read I will write 4 posts about my time in Barcelona!

Morning

We arrived in Barcelona at around 11am local time and quickly jumped in a taxi to our hotel which was called Hotel Onix Liceo.

We weren’t supposed to check in until 3pm but luckily our room was available when we arrived. The hotel was excellent. It was clean, modern, had friendly staff, was located just off Las Ramblas and had an outdoor pool. We only booked the hotel a few weeks before we departed and managed to get a good deal for this 4* hotel on Opodo.

After freshening up in our room we decided to dive straight into what Barcelona has to offer. We were really lucky to be in such a central location which made it an everyday occurrence to stroll down the famous street known as Las Ramblas. Our first destination we headed to was the area known as El Born which was home to the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar. This church was well worth a visit, we took part in the guided tour that took you up to the roof of the church. What a view from the inside and out!

We took the metro from the station closest to us which was Liceu and got off the metro at the stop Passeig de Gràcia. However we did have to change lines to get to our destination which was Jaume 1. The metro is a great way to get around the city. I would recommend buying a ticket that allows 10 journeys as it is only 9 euros.

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Afternoon

After our climb up to the roof we exited the church in search of some traditional tapas and we weren’t disappointed. If you are in the area make sure to visit Bubo for some tapas and cava sangria! This is definitely one to remember if you want tapas with an outstanding view.

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After you are finished your tapas lunch I would recommend spending some more time getting lost in the streets of El Born as there are some quirky bars and little boutique shops hiding in between the city walls.

When visiting Barcelona in August you will most definitely get hot and sticky so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids (sangria , water, cocktails 😉 ) in addition to seek shade for at least a couple of hours a day! We we would always head back to the hotel at around 4pm for a couple of hours to chill and get rejuvenated again before heading back out.

Night

As it was our first night in the city we opted to dine somewhere local just off Las Ramblas. However, you are spoilt for choice in this city as the number of restaurants available is astonishing! One thing to bare in mind though is obviously the nearer you get to Las Ramblas the more expensive the restaurant is likely to be! The restaurant we wondered into was called Julivert Meu which is a traditional family run restaurant. The restaurant stretches back further than you would expect and has a lovely tavern-like vibe.

 

 

Edinburgh

“Where is the coward that would not dare to fight for such a land as Scotland?”

– Sir Walter Scott

Edinburgh the heart of Scotland is the place I am privileged to call home for the time being. I have lived in a cosy one bed flat at the top of Leith for 4 months now and i’m  loving my time here.

I have had itchy fingers and felt like writing even though I haven’t been able to travel very far since Prague. On the other hand I think that there is no place like home so why not blog about the beautiful and historic capital of Scotland!?

If you have a few days to spare you should visit Edinburgh, it is extremely accessible with the multiple stations and is home to Scotland’s largest airport.

During your stay in Edinburgh of course you will want to explore Princes Street, with all the best high street shops as well as having a tremendous view of the Castle while you do so. However, if you are looking for more designer shops, upmarket bars and restaurants go to George Street which is located 2 streets above Princes Street. If you enjoy the Spanish cuisine don’t miss out on Cafe Andaluz which is a charming Spanish Tapas restaurant offering delicious food (best tapas I have ever had)! If you are looking for something special, The Dome is a very famous restaurant and bar which offers stunning Afternoon Teas and is home to one of Edinburgh’s largest Christmas trees in December. However, The Dome is only for those who have a slightly more generous budget!

Walking down from George Street you will come to Frederick Street and Hanover Street which is home to all my favourite indulgences…what’s not to love about boozy milkshakes, unique bars and irresistible hot chocolate! Yes these small streets have it all! If you enjoy fantastic milkshakes and are eager to shake things up a bit enter down the stairs to the Boozy Cow and grab a burger and a shake…would highly recommend the Reece’s Peanut buttercup shake!  Also, if you are looking for a fun cocktail experience then pop into Hoot The Redeemer’s. This bar really is something special…although it’s easy to walk past because it’s an old door which is always open to reveal the stairs down to the bar doors where you will be greeted by the first surprise of your visit. One of the best bars I have ever come across! If all that wasn’t enough to make you head straight to these streets then visit the Hotel Chocolat shop and head to the cafe at the back to order the most indulgent  hot choc you have ever tried. They have flavours such as chocolate orange, ginger and chilli!

If you are keen to know more about what makes Edinburgh special visit the Castle and journey back in time or have fun at Camera Obscura which is a whole attraction dedicated to the world of optical illusions. (Fun for all ages)…I promise!

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If you do any attractions in Edinburgh it has to be  The Royal Yacht Britannia which has remained Scotland’s Best Tourist Attraction for the 11th year. The ship is docked in Leith which is only a 15 minute bus ride from Princes Street. The admission charge is £15.50 for an adult and is very good value for money, as the tour takes roughly an hour and a half to enjoy.

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Walk , walk and walk again

Edinburgh is a very easy city to walk around (despite the hills) so whenever you feel like stretching your legs avoid the bus fair and walk! You can easily walk to the Royal Mile from Princes Street via The Mound (steps) and get a beautiful view over Edinburgh. In addition to the infamous Arthur’s Seat you can also enjoy the Edinburgh skyline from the top of Carlton Hill (one of my favourite places). If you keep walking past Waverly station you will see a hill with various monuments, that’s Carlton Hill! It won’t take you long to climb the steps to the top of the hill (best time to climb to the top is to see the sun setting over the city.)20117446_1563787946974992_273967160_n20117451_1563787950308325_1428630380_n20120718_1563787980308322_893485016_n

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Leith

This section is dedicated to the hidden wonders of Leith! Many tourists do not stroll down into Leith from the city centre as they are unaware of the fantastic eateries, trendy bars and quirky gift shops that occupy the area.

You can reach Leith by journeying down the longest street in Edinburgh (Leith Walk) which will take you roughly 20 minutes from Waverly station. If you fancy a tasty cocktail in one of Leith’s coolest bars , The Lioness of Leith, continue down into the heart of Leith. As you are strolling nearer the sea take a minute to enjoy The Shore area where you are spoilt for choice if you want some good food. A personal favourite is The Granary! It is an intimate dining opportunity with a relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and the tastiest local food. If you are interested on a longer walk in Leith head to the Western Harbour. I love it there, it’s a beautiful location to visit.

If you enjoy climbing or looking for something  a little different to do then head to Alien Rock which is a climbing wall and bouldering centre near the harbour.

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“Piled deep and massy, close and high; Mine own romantic town.”

Sir Walter Scott

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