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!

 

 

 

HOW TO EAT AND DRINK YOUR WAY AROUND EDINBURGH

In this post I will let you in on my favourite spots to eat and drink in Edinburgh! I know I’ve written a post about my beautiful capital before…however this one is based on only my OWN recommendations!  Besides…my last post was a mix of sights to see, walks, bars and restaurants…now I am focusing on the priority. 

My Top 3 Restaurants

1. Howies

This restaurant is perfect for any occasion! I would say that the restaurant on Waterloo place is a more unusual building and better for larger groups, but the restaurant on Victoria Street is ideal for a more romantic atmosphere.

The menu here is excellent, it is extremely varied and it’s based on seasonal and local produce! If you haven’t already booked a table here this might make you confirm a booking….there is a lunch menu that will serve 2 courses for £11.95 and 3 for only £14.95….

I do like to change it up every time I go….but some things are just too good to change! Order the Cullin Skink Soup and the Hot Fudge Sundae for dessert…I’ll let you pick your main course…maybe.

2. Angels Share

I LOVE this restaurant! It is situated at the West End of Princes St on the ground floor of The Angels Share 4* Hotel. The decor is so glamorous I could definitely get some interior design tips walking through these doors  (hinting at the 5 chandeliers and mirrored walls)…..  30176418_1832686253418492_1375613239_o

It serves heartier than expected but still beautifully presented dishes with a Scottish twist.  I have only been here once (on St Valentine’s Day) but I still have dreams about the Red Velvet Cake…..Untitled design (2).jpg

 

3. Pizzeria 1926

Naples or Edinburgh?!

Step into your pizza eating dreams and immerse yourself in the BEST PIZZERIA IN EDINBURGH for a truly authentic experience! I am lucky enough to live with 3 Italian’s who insisted I check this place out….they know what a GOOD pizza should taste like!

This small restaurant is always packed so make sure you book a table! I would say this is the best pizza I’ve eaten outside of Italy and it’s so cheap!!!

*Top Fact* The name of the restaurant emerged from the love for the Naples Football team that was established in 1926 that the family support. 

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Top 3 Bars

1. 99 Hanover Street 

This is my favourite bar in Edinburgh! It is a great place for girls night or date night with the comfy seating, cool music and chilled atmosphere. I have been into this bar a fair few times and it has never been too busy to not get served quickly. The quick service definitely adds bonus points seeing as time standing around the bar (usually in heels) is not my ideal night!

Order the Elder-flower Edinburgh Gin! 

2. Badger & Co

This is a cosy bar located on Castle Street (just above Princes Street). There are so many reasons to visit this place! The Wind in the Willows decor runs through this bar and also appears in the cocktail menu adding to the whimsical experience.

In the Summer they usually open The Outdoor River Area (downstairs section) which is decked  out floor to ceiling, matching the theme of the whole bar! This area is covered enough that you wouldn’t get wet if it rained (happens once or twice in Scotland) but is still open if you want to catch a glimpse of the stars. If it’s not a warm Summer evening don’t worry you can still enjoy the outdoor area next to a flame heater!

In the Winter months the drink pictured below is a must try!

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Signature Whisky Hot Chocolate

3. Hoot The Redeemer

This bar is insane! It is owned by a company called Panda and Sons that are known to have the most unique bars dotted around the city. Even the entrance is unusual, it’s hidden behind an old looking door tucked away, next to Costa on Hanover Street.

As soon as you find the door and walk down the stairs it becomes a bar like no other…greeting you with “Hoot The Redeemer” himself. The bar is decorated to reflect a 1950’s New Orleans style carnival complete with an alcoholic ice cream machine (seriously thinking about buying one for the flat..)

In addition you can pick your cocktail flavours from the infamous claw machine so you can live out your childhood memories of wasting all your parents money. Only joking it will be your friends money….also if you don’t manage to grab anything just grab a bartender (they have a knack)…

THIS BAR GETS EXTREMELY BUSY SO GO EARLY ON WEEKENDS OR VISIT ON WEEKDAYS!

Top 3 Cafes

1. Procaffeination

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This cafe is a gem! It is situated just on the corner of the Royal Mile and is perfect for a healthy lunch stop. Take a seat in this tiny cafe and pick from a range of homemade organic foods and juices. The smoothies are my motivation for climbing up Arthur’s Seat!

2. Cafe Noir

This charming cafe is situated in a leafy area of Edinburgh, not far from Haymarket Station. It has so much on offer, the menu is crazy! Who knew there was such a thing as Pink Latte and Lavender and Vanilla Hot Chocolate but it’s definitely a thing here. This cafe is perfect for a chilled Sunday morning or if you want to bring your laptop and use the free wifi to study ( password = wedrinkitnoir).

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3. Hotel Chocolat

Hidden at the back of the Hotel Chocolat shop on Fredrick Street you will find a luxurious little cafe. Most people are not aware that this chocolatier actually has a cafe inside and they are totally missing out!

The menu highlights that they include a chocolate twist in everything they sell. All their products are made by various cocoa roasting techniques especially designed for the cafe. People pick the drink they would like such as a latte and decide if they would like it “adapted“. All the chocolatey additions are actually made from more cocoa and no syrups. This means less sugar = major win!

These are just a few of my favourite places in Edinburgh to indulge and enjoy! If I mentioned all the places I liked to eat/drink the blog post would turn into a novel so you are lucky I narrowed it down for you all….

I would love some recommendations for other cities to so feel free to leave them in the comments!!!

 

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.