Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Amsterdam | Marco Polo Travel Guides

 Amsterdam is quite an easy city to navigate - whilst there's a lot to see, it isn't massive and everything is definitely within walking distance if you have the time to spare! As we were only there for two days (once you factor in travel time etc) we got to know the city quite well, pretty quickly. Out hotel (the gorgeous Hotel Jan Luyken) was based very close to the Museumplein, which is by Vondel Park. So although we weren't central, there were great links between our hotel and the real city centre. As we knew our time was going to be limited, planning was the key to our success!


I was very lucky to recieve the Amsterdam spiral guide from Marco Polo and both Dan and I read up on the city before our trip came up. It had a great little "Magazine" section in the front of it, which was really interesting to read and felt like we were getting insider knowledge. There is information in the section about a variety of different things - from the architecture to different foods that you will find in the city. The only thing I would say is that it is quite a big guide - it's definitely not one you could slip into your back pocket. We tended to read it at home and leave it there as it wouldn't fit into my bag.

The guide is organised very logically - with each district of Amsterdam being a separate section. This made it easier for us to plan what we wanted to do, because it meant we were able to group together things we wanted to see by each district. When we were exploring the Western Canal Ring, we tried "The Pancake Bakery" recommended by the guide and some blogs I read before I went. It was delicious. I absolutely agree with the guide's statement that whilst the pancakes are pricier than you might expect, they are huge and so filling!

 Probably my favourite part of the guide was the pages on what to do in your first few hours - it was so helpful and a great way to know exactly how to get into the city from the airport. Being the extreme worrier I am knowing information like this before we even left for the Netherlands was reassuring, and made those first few hours in the city a lot more efficient. There is also a map of the city which we would have been lost without!

 Also included in the "Finding your Feet" section was information about the different types of public transport in the city. We were already aware that our hotel wasn't central and that we wouldn't want to drag our suitcases through the city and getting the tram seemed like the most logical solution to our problem - as well as it being something we'd never experienced before. The guide explains the different types of tickets you can buy which was great to know in advance.

We hired bikes and cycled around Vondelpark which was one of the things recommended in the guide. This was one of my favourite things we did whilst in Amsterdam, and it was something a little different to what we usually do. The travel guide says that the park is a "microcosm of Amsterdam life" which makes absolute sense to me. We went on a Saturday morning so it was all of the locals exercising, and out enjoying the park with their families. I loved this because to me it was an extension of the relaxed vibe that Amsterdam has - it was great!

Amsterdam is the perfect city to visit for a short break. It's a good size, but there is easy access to everything you might wish to see during your stay. I'd definitely recommend the Marco Polo Amsterdam travel guide if you are looking for a travel guide.

Thank you to Marco Polo for sending me this guide! 
Have you ever used a Marco Polo travel guide? 

*I was kindly gifted this Marco Polo travel guide 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

5 Essentials for City Breaks

 2016 has been the year of city breaks. I've already been to Amsterdam and Paris for the weekend, plus I'm going back to Canterbury soon! Packing for such a short period of time can be challenging but once you know what to pack it makes it ten times easier. I think the key to packing for a short break is getting it right according to the weather you'll experience during that break. I loved Rome, but the fact it rained the whole time and I brought the most ridiculous shoes made it more challenging to explore - and all because I didn't pack as well as I could have done...


Decent footwear - Probably the most important essential here. The likelihood is that you will be walking a lot, so you'll need substantial waterproof footwear if you are going somewhere cold and rainy. On the other hand, if you're likely to have boiling weather, don't take the hottest shoes you own because that's not going to be good for anyone!

Travel guide - As you are only there for a short period of time, the best way to learn about a city and get lots done is to use a travel guide. Marco Polo and Lonely Planet are my favourites, and they include a lot of information about the history of the place you are going to visiting. I love to research the places I am going before I go so I get the most out of it!

Sunglasses - Even in the Winter! One of the things that is a must, is to bring sunglasses. Even the winter brings a glow, and obviously you'll need them in the summer. I think you are much more likely to enjoy yourself if you can see and aren't squinting 24/7! Plus, sunnies also look pretty fantastic in any outfit shots you might be considering...

Appropriate Luggage - Packing as lightly as possible is obviously a given, but bringing appropriate luggage is probably even more important! If you know that you have an early flight but can't check in until the afternoon you are going to want something you can carry easily without doing any damage to your back. I have a great lightweight suitcase that I take - it's spacious but also fits airline requirements...well worth investing in.

An outfit you feel comfortable and amazing in - There is nothing worse than going somewhere and feeling uncomfortable and self conscious. This is why choosing your outfits wisely is crucial. I tend to pick things that I could wear both in the day and the night-time to save on packing. Feeling comfortable and confident in what you are wearing means you'll forget about yourself and focus on your surroundings!

What are your city break essentials?

Friday, 20 May 2016

Cambridge | Catesbys #CambMeetUp

 Catesbys in Green Street Cambridge is the most gorgeous shop and cafe situated in the heart of the city. Georgia from Mapped Out and I arrived a little early as it was our first ever bloggers event, to be greeted by the lovely Pippa from Clashing Time. We've both met Pippa before so it was nice to see a friendly face before we headed further into the shop to explore!


 It's safe to safe that I had my beady eye on a few pieces as soon as we walked in the door, including a rather gorgeous grey candle lantern that ended up coming home with me - it was definitely love at first sight. As we wandered around snapping lots of photos of all of the gorgeous home-ware, the other bloggers began to arrive. It was great to meet some other local bloggers, and everyone was really friendly.







Once people had arrived, we headed back into the front room to hear more about the business. Neil and Jonathon started Catesbys five years ago in a little seaside town in Norfolk. After three years they were beginning to think about whether they would like to move their business to a city, and after visiting friends in Cambridge, their dream became a reality. They spotted the shop in Green Street which was to let, and 24 hours later - they were moving to Cambridge!

I loved hearing about their dreams for the business, and how they wanted their shop and cafe to feel like home. I have to say, it really did feel very homely. It was so interesting to hear about how their idea came alive, and the trips they spent buying from flea markets in Paris. You could really sense the love and dedication the pair of them had for the business.

Their philosophy is all focused around "L'Art de Vivre" or "The Art of Living", and they consider the pieces they sell to be timeless which I'd say is pretty accurate. All of the pieces that were sold there were unique, and pieces that would be appreciated for a very long time. I remember Neil saying that they would rather people buy one item that they would love for a long time, than lots of items which they would love for a month.

After hearing all about the business, it was upstairs for brunch (which of course was devoured once every one had had the chance to take photos!). I chose to have some pastries - the pain au chocolat was DELICIOUS. Literally heavenly, I can't wait to take my mum and sister.





Brunch demolished, and after getting to know some of the other lovely bloggers, Neil and Jonathon explained their new concept, the DecoBox. These are carefully selected pieces, that are specific to a certain theme or room. Currently there are three different types of boxes - The Cool Kitchen DecoBox, The Summer Dining DecoBox and The Hot Desk DecoBox. Priced from £200, these boxes include pieces that are very carefully chosen to reflect the theme, and I think they did a great job. Although these may seem a little pricey, just remember you are choosing timeless pieces - and £200 spread over a whole lifetime isn't much.

Catesbys is such a stunning place to visit if you are ever in Cambridge - I would really recommend a visit! Neil and Jonathon are the most welcoming hosts, so a huge thank you to them for letting us bloggers invade. Thank you also to Pippa who did a fabulous job in getting us all together, and arranging the whole thing. I had a great first bloggers event!

Have you ever been to Catesby's?

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

OOTD | Pastel Pink Jeans





So, I finally did it thanks to the encouragement of Georgia and Pippa who took these photos, thanks Pippa! 2016 was the year I was going to take the leap and do some fashion posts, and here we have it. My first OOTD. I was a bit apprehensive because the thought of being behind the camera in a busy street was pretty scary, but I actually had a great time with the girls.


 These jeans were only £29 from American Eagle, who sell the most amazing jeans. They are so comfortable, and I love the colour for summer (especially the English summer which requires a bit more warmth!). They go with so many of my summery tops and I'm so pleased I picked these up!


 How incredible are my shoes? I brought these back when the weather was pretty rough and have been dying to wear them ever since! I absolutely adore Espadrilles, and I love the fact that these are a twist on the original style. They are surprisingly comfortable too. They look great with the jeans and top which is a New Look bargain. It goes so well with these as it has both blue and pink in it. I love the cut out detailing around the neck line too!


I styled these with my Carvela Kurt Geiger bag, and my sunnies which are from M&S. I wanted to done down the colour pop a little with this stunning black bag. This bag is my go-to weekend bag, it fits enough in it and looks great too - it's my baby! My sunnies were £25 from M&S last summer, and I wanted a pair that would last rather than the usual cheap Primark ones I went for.

What do you think of my summer outfit?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Iphone 6S | Favourite Apps

 I love my phone. Always have done, always will, and after getting my brand swanky new Iphone 6S a few weeks ago I thought I'd share my favourite apps. I use a variety of different apps - ones that are practical, ones for social media and ones for travel, but these are my pick of the bunch!


Instagram - Who doesn't love a pretty picture? Instagram is a great way of seeing what people have been doing, plus some of the pictures posted are great for inspiration! Outfit posts, and quotes are some of my favourite posts to see on Insta. Obviously, I also enjoy posting my own snaps too! It's nice to have somewhere to see all of your best pictures all at once.

Twitter - Tweet Tweet! I love twitter. I love seeing what people have been up to, I love tweeting myself, and the benefits for my blog are great. Blogger chats are fantastic - I loved the one a few weeks ago (Bloggeration Chat) on Photography run by Pippa from Clashing Time. It's so great to chat to other bloggers, and learn new things too!

Stumble Upon - I discovered this recently thanks to Jasmin Charlotte and I love it. You basically set your interests and the posts you see are related to these. You can like and save the posts, and also add your own pages too. Not only is it said to be good to get blog views, it's also directed me to some really interesting posts. I'm obsessed!

Barclays Mobile Banking -  I love this app so much - it is a god-send. It makes saving money so much easier because come pay-day all I have to do is turn to my phone to put that money into my savings account. You can pay other people on this app too as long as you have added them to your payee list on your laptop.

Lonely Planet - Travelling to new places is something I love, and the Lonely Planet app is great for reading up a bit before heading off. It's always good to do some research and I've been reading up on New York already (we're going in October!) - it's a great app to do a little bit of exploring before you even get there!

Guardian - Although the news is not always the most cheerful thing to read, I do think it is crucial to keep up with what is going on around the world. The Guardian app is so clean to read so it is one of my favourites to use. Definitely my favourite app for getting the news!

What are your favourite apps to use on your phone?

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Amsterdam | See and Eat

 Amsterdam, what a beautiful city. We spent two nights there last month, and both of us fell in love. We felt so relaxed, and at ease there and when it was time to come home there was definitely a big case of the holiday blues. You might have already seen millions a few pictures over on my instagram but I thought a little "See and Eat" guide might be helpful if you're hoping to head to the Netherlands anytime soon (which you totally should by the way). These are our highlights!

See

The Heineken Experience - This was something we had planned to do mainly for Dan, but both of us actually really enjoyed it. I'm officially a beer-drinker! The tour was self-led which I really liked, because it meant we could take things at our own place but there was the opportunity to listen to certain aspects of the beer making along the way. For 16 euros, you got the tour experience and three drinks.



Cycling in Vondel Park - Hiring bikes in Amsterdam is an absolute MUST. I was a bit anxious to cycle on the roads, but we actually ended up cycling on quite a main route. We stuck mainly to Vondelpark though. It was a great experience - and a Saturday morning so we saw how the locals really lived. If we'd been there for longer we might have had a bit more courage to cycle along the canals!


IAmsterdam Sign - This is iconic Amsterdam, and we obviously wanted to go there to get a tourist snap. The sign (which is right outside the Rijks Museum) was so close to our hotel, and we woke up early one more, grabbed breakfast and headed to the sign before the mid-day rush would have hit it.



Eat

The Pancake Bakery - Before I go away I like to do some research on places to go, and what to see. This place was a recommendation from various bloggers, and travel guides, so Dan and two suitcases were dragged here on the morning we left for brunch. We were definitely not disappointed. The pancakes were huge, and delicious!


Bar B - I'm going to make a big statement here - but this was probably the best burger and chips I have ever had. I opted for the chicken burger, and it was AMAZING. The tomato salsa that was in it was unreal. This bar was just off Leidesplein, and we had a beer tap ON OUR TABLE?! It was such a cool place to go, and I've been recommending it to just about everyone. It wasn't even too pricey either which is a bonus.



Pasta Bar - After an early morning flight, and a morning of exploring the city centre, we were hungry and came across Pasta Bar which is right next to the Sex Museum. The portions were huge, and so delicious. You could mix and match what you had too which was great. We both loved it!


These are really just the highlights of our trip - we also wandered the streets, went to the sex museum, on a canal trip and experienced the red light district. I'd have liked to have been there for a day or two more, but as the city isn't massive you can fit quite a lot in even on a short break. Plus, the flight is under an hour so if you've never been and are looking for a city break soon I'd really recommend Amsterdam.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam?
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