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Here & There

Your Go-To Paris Guide! From a Parisian living in London.

Well well well, this blog post is SO overdue I apologise for taking so long to get it written so here it finally is, your go to guide to Parii – the City of Love ❤

For my 24th birthday last May, my boyfriend and I went to Paris for a long weekend of sights, wine, food and lights. Paris is such a beautiful place I cannot recommend going enough. I have been many times but each time is like experiencing it for the first time all over again. I recommend travelling via Eurostar (if you are travelling from the UK) as you will save money rather than flying.

We arrived in Paris at 7am on Thursday 2nd May. Too early to check into our hotel and also tired from a 5:30am train journey. Nothing hits the spot like a French espresso in the morning AND nothing beats a French pastry/Croissant/Pain au Chocolat so find the nearest cafe or boulangerie stat!!!! One thing, when you arrive in Paris I highly recommend buying a three day train ticket as travelling via train is very easy, convenient and the fastest and cheapest way to get around Paris (cheapest not including walking). Once we’d had our fill of French coffee and croissants, we decided to drop our bags off at our hotel and explore. Another tip, even if you can’t check in early at your accommodation, many hotels will take your bags and look after them until check in so this allows you to start sightseeing without carrying heavy bags all day. We stayed at the Best Western Opera Gallion, which I highly recommend. Very central location (directly outside/in front of the Paris Opera) and for a very reasonable price. In Paris hotel prices can be very expensive especially if you are in the first 6 aroundisments or close to a monument. Our hotel was really fair priced and in a very central location so we were very happy and lucky. Having dropped off our bags at the reception, we decided to start by visiting the Paris Opera (a monument I feel is highly snubbed by people visiting Paris) but actually one of the most beautiful buildings. The architecture is stunning and tickets start from 15euro pp.

Following a very LONG tour of the Opera, we popped into Zara for some holiday shopping. Girls if you are a Zara lover like myself, then the Zara’s in Paris (Opera and Champs Elysee) are the BEST Zara’s I have ever been too. Better than the UK, Venice, Rome, Budapest lol.

As afternoon was approaching, we decided to walk down the road to the Louvre and stop for a coffee at Cafe Marly. Expensive but you are paying for the view so if you want to experience this on a budget, I suggest ordering an espresso and you can sit directly in front of the Louvre for as long as you like 😉 We spent an hour or so taking in the views and relaxing before we headed back to our hotel for Check in around 4:30pm, freshening up and getting ready for dinner. We found a small, very cute little restaurant hidden in the side streets near the Louvre and indulged in lots of red wine, cheese and delicious food. One of my favourite things about holidays is night time strolls exploring cities after dinner, trying to digest all the food you’ve just over ate lol. So full bellies, we headed back over to the Louvre and it is so beautiful all lit up at night.

Next morning, I woke up bright and early (for my FAVOURITE French activity) and went on our breakfast run….the local boulangerie and collected lots of croissants, choixs, and pain au chocolats (not forgetting our coffees either haha). There is nothing more beautiful or refreshing than walking the empty streets of Paris early in the morning, the sun rising and pink skies collecting your pastries. And not forgetting the very friendly bakery people.

We got dressed and headed to the Champs Elysee making sure we visited every shop possible (lol) including Zara of course, and finished under the Arc de Triompe. We then took a very LONG walk to the Eiffel Tower, saw how ridiculously long the queue was (3 hour wait) and decided to head up to the Place du Trocadero for a different view of the Eiffel Tower. By this point we’d been walking for a few hours so we wondered back down towards the Eiffel Tower to find a little coffee shop along the river and ended up walking all the way to the Quartier Latin (do not ask me how we ‘accidentally’ did this but when you’re constantly admiring the beautiful city whilst walking around this will definitely happen to you haha). We stopped at a little corner restaurant and order some baguettes (so French) and LOTS of water to regain our strength. Whilst taking a long walk back to our hotel, we bought tickets for the ‘Bateau Mouche’ a boat tour along the Seine River, another activity I highly recommend. Tickets are around 15euro pp and the tour takes you past all famous monuments and gives you some history on Paris too. I also recommend not doing this when it rains because we firstly got SOAKED then we got extremely CRAMPED by all passengers coming inside from the rain on the tour haha. Luckily for us, once we got back to our starting point and walked back to our hotel, the rain stopped so we took the long scenic route back to get ready for dinner.

As we had such a late lunch, we ended up buying a few bottles of red wine, getting quite tipsy and actually headed to the Eiffel Tower around 7:30/8pm (we got there at 8pm because we got there just in time for the light show which was BREATH TAKING!) and the light show is usually every hour. There was no queue (lucky us!) and we headed up for some late night magic. Paris is so beautiful at night. I can’t put it into words but it’s something everyone should experience once in their lives because the city comes alive at night. We stayed up there for a solid hour because we witnessed another light show (haha) whilst being inside which was amazing and by this time we were starving (I can’t say whether it was the all the alcohol or stair climbing we did) but a very VERY kind restaurant let us in at 9:30pm after their last orders and let us order burgers, fries etc and fed us well before we headed home for bed.

Despite our late night drunken antics, I woke up surprisingly early (probably the smell of fresh croissants calling my name), headed to the boulangerie for our usual croissants and pain au chocolats and woke Matt up for another day of exploring. We started at the Gallerie Lafayette past the Opera, so not far from where we were staying. These are HUGE buildings full of your shopping needs but we went for the 360 view of Paris that you NEED to see when you are there. Also, both buildings are beautiful and especially at Christmas (so sad I won’t be able to visit this Xmas due to corona ahhh). After taking hundreds of photos of the panoramic views of Paris, we headed to the Sacre Coeur. One BIG tip for when you go, the ‘street sellers’ over here are a little more aggressive than more central Paris. When you say NO they will still try and get you to buy so make sure you steer super clear of them and say ‘NON’ as loud as you possibly can, or just stay close to another group of people and hope they don’t harass you. The Sacre Coeur is so beautiful, I always come here when I visit Paris. There are also some amazing (and cheaper) coffee shops in the streets surrounding so naturally when it started to rain a little we headed straight for a coffee to wait for the sun to come back. After the rain stopped and two coffees deep (I am a caffeine addict I know) we headed to the very famous and very beautiful Notre Dame. Now, as the world knows, earlier in the year Notre Dame was damaged by a fire so we could only admire from a distance but when and if you get the chance to visit inside, do it. I went a few years back with my mum and it was stunning. That evening was our last night in Paris so we wanted to do something really fun to end the trip on a high so we headed to the Moulin Rouge and Chat Noir.

The last day! We woke SUPER early that morning, leaving our bags at reception, because we wanted to get the earliest train to Versailles possible. Versailles, my FAVOURITE place in Paris!! You cannot come to Paris and not visit so make sure you allocate at least half a day for this. Book your tickets in advance too and make sure pay the extra 10euro for the skip the line ticket or you will be waiting outside for at least three hours. The train journey is also roughly an hour so like us, get the first train in the morning and you’ll miss the packed stuffy train. Just before catching our train, we went to a local boulangerie for more crossaints (lol by this point I had turned into a croissant) so we could enjoy breakfast on the train to Versailles. Versailles was by far my favourite part of the trip. It is SO beautiful, from the architecture, hall of mirrors, paintings, furniture, landscaping etc all of it. It is not something to be missed. The Palace, the gardens there is not one part I don’t love about it. We stayed for HOURS before we had to head back into Paris to grab our bags and head home 😦 Paris is always a fun and magical trip so I can’t push you enough to go if you get the chance! It will always hold a special place in my heart 🙂

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Here & There

Sunning it up in Santorini

Hello hello, another travel post from me, I live for these! Reminiscing about the places I’ve been and amazing holiday memories makes me so happy. Now this post is a month late, maybe a bit more, but work and life definitely got in the way of me being able to sit down and put memories to paper.

We flew to Santorini on the 8th September 2020 from London Gatwick. Instead of our usual 4:30am start (LOL lucky Matt!) we had a later, afternoon flight. This trip was a birthday present to my boyfriend who I knew had always wanted to travel to Santorini (myself included!!) and I was lucky enough to get a VERY good deal on the flights seeing as I booked them during the midst of a global pandemic, call me hopeful but I did a lot of praying we would still be ok to go haha and luckily we did!

The flight was a breeze and before we knew it we had landed on the beautiful island of Santorini VERY excited for the next few days! Once landed, we jumped in the first taxi and headed to our villa. First tip for Santorini, Air Bnb’s are a cheap luxury out there! We booked the most stunning spacious villa for very cheap which included a jacuzzi, HUGE private patio, kitchen and beautiful interior so I can’t recommend this enough. Our Air Bnb was located a 2 minute walk from Oia in the old settlement called Finikia. Beautiful and very hilly though so some good exercise/steps if that’s your thing! Our first activity of the holiday once we were all checked in was to walk to the local market and grab LOTS of food and wine for a chilled evening in the jacuzzi and let me tell you all it did not disappoint 🙂 watching the stars from our jacuzzi was oh so romantic and dreamy.

First day in Santorini and we were up early! Very keen explorers haha. The first thing we did was head up the road to Oia to rent a vehicle and explore the Island. We settled for a Vespa (I settled for the Vespa and Matt didn’t have a choice haha) jumped on and headed off to begin our adventures. Second tip, ALWAYS wear sunscreen. Santorini is HOT and also very windy so if you’re out and about or on the back of a Vespa all day you do not realise how burned you are getting (please learn from my mistakes aha). We ended up driving to the Akrotiri Lighthouse all the way at the other end of the island, stopping off for some coffee and views along the way.

After a long morning clinging onto the back of my boyfriend on our Vespa and exploring the lighthouse we headed into Fira. Wow, Fira is so beautiful! We parked up and headed for lunch…nothing like a traditional Greek salad with extra feta to fill an empty stomach…yum! Following lunch we headed into Fira and got lost in the beautiful white bright streets and it did not disappoint! The views were simply stunning! After hours of walking and exploring the streets of Fira we headed back to our Air Bnb to get ready for dinner. Another and probably the most important tip if you’re going to Santorini – BOOK DINNER WELL IN ADVANCE! Not the morning of because even by then most restaurants are fully booked. You need to book a day or two ahead (I know who is even that organised) but if you’re wanting dinner with a view (and who wouldn’t in Santorini) then suck it up and remember to book a day ahead. We headed into Oia for dinner, spent 45 minutes walking and searching for a table to eat (lol) and finally (and very luckily) found a table with a view and ordered some wine straight away. Watching the sun set over the caldera was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. So stunning. No photos will do the Santorini sunsets justice!!! A perfect end to a perfect first day.

Oia sunset
Streets of Fira

Day two! Beach day! Ahhh Matt and I had been waiting a very LONG time to relax on a beach in the sun with some cocktails and finally the time had come haha. We headed to Perivolos, the side of the island with the best beaches and lots of beach bars, set out towels down on some sun loungers at Chilli’s Beach Bar and got the first drinks in. After spending the day laying in the sun relaxing and taking in some vitamin D we had a long 40 minute Vespa ride back to our villa to get ready for dinner and let me tell you with Matt driving I was definitely leaving us more time to get back slowly and safely haha! For dinner we headed to the famous and very beautiful Amoudi Bay (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants!). If you love seafood this is the place for you! Lady Luck hit us again and our booking turned out to be seafront!!

Amoudi Bay
Amoudi Bay

Day three, dun dun dun another beach day 😉 how could we not!! We got up super early and drove back to Perivolos to spend the day at another beach bar. This time it was JoJo’s. We really loved it here, the beach bar and atmosphere not to mention the huge sun lounger we scored on arrival! It was particularly hot this day and I think I spent a little too much time in the blistering heat because by the afternoon I was feeling a little light headed whoops). Before heading home we decided to check out Kamari and have a little wonder down the streets. I was feeling very unwell at this point so we sat down at a beach front restaurant and ordered a few litres of water to get down me haha. We loved Amoudi Bay SO much that for our last night we decided to head back there for dinner. We booked the Amoudi Fish Tavern and upon arrival, their seafront booking cancelled and we managed to snap up a table directly on the seafront, and I mean directly we were so close i thought one wrong move and I’m in the water. But by far the BEST views from the trip and the BEST restaurant of the holiday. The service was incredible and the food was even more incredible. I cannot recommend this place enough so if you’re heading to Santorini check out the ‘Amoudi Bay Fish Tavern’ and thank me later!!!

Amoudi Bay Fish Tavern

Last day noooooo! We were both absolutely devastated to be leaving Santorini but still had a full day ahead of us. We spent the morning tanning on our patio before heading into Oia to buy some souvenirs for our families and grab some coffee and lunch. Our last day of holiday tradition always seems to be wondering around towns very slowly going from coffee shop to coffee shop and this was no different! We even had the pleasure of watching newlyweds capture their wedding photos by the lighthouse. The poor groom was VERY hot in his tux but there is something beautiful about seeing a new couple in love whilst being on holiday in love, there was no shortage of that at all! Having spent our last day wondering the streets of Oia, with heavy hearts we headed back to the airport to come home.

Oia
Oia

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Daily Here & There

Hello October! How to celebrate Halloween this year.

I know we’re already a few weeks into October but hello October! Spooky month, my favourite!! So far, weather permitted, I’ve had my share of Pumpkin Picking, Autumnal walks, Drive-In cinema and some pumpkin baking!

Due to current pandemic restrictions in place, you might be wondering what you can do to celebrate spooky month or how to keep yourself busy, I’ve written out a list of my favourite Halloween activities that I will be doing and I’ve tweaked a little to follow current guidelines. Enjoy 😉

  1. Pumpkin Picking

An absolute favourite of mine! Hands down the best Halloween activity, find a local PYO / Pumpkin Patch (whichever saying floats your boat) and pick out your pumpkins for the season. My boyfriend and I always go all out with these, we each have a pumpkin to carve for Halloween Night, some mini ones for decorations and not forgetting, we pick the best ones for eating. Soups, pies, cupcakes – you name it, we LOVE pumpkin and this is the best time for it so we love to spend a little more on some great ones we know will be delicious in a soup or pie or even to roast!

PYO 2020
PYO 2019
  • Halloween Baking

Following on from Pumpkin Picking, Halloween baking! Use the insides of the pumpkins you’ve picked out from the PYO for some pumpkin bread/cupcakes/pie or for some delicious soup or pasta sauce! Putting the pumpkins aside, Halloween sugar cookies, toffee apples, some ‘scary’ cupcakes etc lots of ideas to keep you busy on a rainy day! Check out my recipe page for some ideas 😉

  • Decorate the house

This is so fun! I do this every October 1st to get myself in the spooky/fall spirit J Mini pumpkins, autumn wreaths, fake cobwebs, hanging skeletons etc Amazon, Home Bargains, Homesense, B&M – you name it – nowhere is short of spooky decor. Get creative in your living room, hallway, dining area/table, bedroom it’s fun to get into the spirit with a little extra decor.

  • Dress up / Make up

This is a yearly tradition for us. Every year my boyfriend and I dress up or paint our faces with something new (I do have to force him a little haha) but it’s a super fun way to get creative, try things out and dress up as a favourite movie character or something scary etc. I am in no way a make up artist or good at face paint so don’t let that stop you! I just find a photo of what I want and try my best to recreate haha.

Halloween 2019
  • Watch a scary film or Drive-In cinema

Scary (or not) movie marathon! There is a HUGE range of Halloween movies, some scary for those of you who love a thrill (like me) and some kid friendly for those who don’t like things that go bump in the night 😉 Grab some blankets, pillows, candles, popcorn and get cosy whether you’re at home or you have a local drive in cinema near you! We decided to go to our local drive in cinema the other week, put the back seats down and made ourselves at cosy as possible in the boot with some snacks! HIGHLY recommend!

  • Pumpkin Carving / Pumpkin Carving Party

Eeeeeee, it would not be Halloween without carving the pumpkins you choose so carefully at the pumpkin patch! Get a Halloween playlist on, dress up (or down) and get carving! There are so many designs you can go for, I love switching it up every year and testing my carving skills haha. If you’ve not got any plans for Halloween this year, why not invite some friends over and make a party of it? Drinks, music, snacks and carving – what more could you want?

Halloween 2018
Halloween 2019
  • Halloween Cocktail Making Party ( adults only )

This one is an addition from the above Pumpkin Carving Party J Why not Pinterest some Halloween cocktails and try making your own with friends? Nothing better than a little boozy punch 😉

Hope you all got a little something out of this blog post and you all have a Happy Halloween 😉

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Here & There

Weekend Round up- Coffee at the farm shop & autumn baking.

A few days late but I’m just sitting down and having a think about what a lovely weekend I’ve just had and wanted to share with you all.

Saturday morning I met one of my best friends at one of our local farm shops for a coffee and a PYO (we also did the Maize Maze – always so much fun getting lost in the corn!). We got there bright and early (the early bird catches the worm) and thankfully we did, because we just missed the rain. We started off with our buckets and headed straight to the apple orchids so I could pick some for my horses, followed by getting lost in the maze (literally) and an oat milk latte in the fresh crisp autumn air. It was quite windy BUT bundled up sitting with our coffees outside on the farm was just beautiful and the perfect start to the weekend.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without buying some organic fresh grown veggies: courgettes, sweet corn and my first pumpkin of the season! I am hoping to make a pumpkin pie or a soup from this so stay tuned for what I do. I’ve always bought my fruit and veg organic from the supermarket but lately I have been going to all the local farm shops around me and buying from there. You can really taste the difference and supporting local is so important.

Later that evening was dinner and drinks with another best friend, there is nothing better than good food, great company and a few cocktails with your friends, especially with everything going on in the world right now.

Sunday morning consisted of horses and more horses! Mum and I took the horses out for a VERY windy ride but always a good time on the back of a horse and quality time with your mum. I’m not sure if anyone can relate but I remember being 18 and never wanting to spend time with my mum/family and now she cannot get rid of me! Horse riding was followed by a super long walk in the countryside with my boyfriend and dogs, I feel happiest when I’m outside in the country with my animals and nature. We did end up getting a little lost so we were out much longer than expected (whoops!) but that was nothing some Sunday afternoon baking couldn’t fix!……..prepare yourselves for the most beautiful sweet potato pie made by yours truly 😀 (recipe for this is the previous blog post to this one) and an afternoon of sofa, films, blankets and eating our pie. A Sunday well spent!

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Here & There

Living my Buda-best life!

Hello my lovelies! Another travel post from me, ngl who doesn’t love a good holiday post to inspire some great holiday ideas, I am always watching holiday vlogs and reading holiday blogs to keep myself entertained between holidays haha.

Pre covid, literally JUST before the world went into lockdown, my boyfriend and I flew to Budapest for some March fun! I’d always wanted to travel there – a lot of my friends had been and my brother in law had gone and said how beautiful it was and very ‘similar to Paris’ and being Parisian I couldn’t resist, so we booked!

Holiday ritual, earliest flight possible and we landed in Budapest. A VERY frightening taxi ride later haha we had arrived at the very stylish and hip ‘Cortile Budapest Hotel’. I cannot recommend this hotel enough! It is an absolute bargain and super stylish, we paid something ridiculous like 300euro for a SUITE, yes a suite. They have a beautiful swimming pool on the top floor overlooking Budapest and prices include breakfast. I can’t say how shocked we were when we walked into our room I honestly was not expecting it, we had a huge super king bed, sofa, chairs, desks, huge wardrobe and the bathroom was enormous too, luxury for so cheap! Anyway, the first thing we did was change into our swimming stuff and head up to the heated pool and my, it was stunning! Budapest lit up at night time from a rooftop view is something else. We swam until we worked up our appetite and choose a Japanese 5 minutes around the corner from where we were and went in with the food! I think we accidentally ordered about £100 worth of food, dessert and drink but it was worth every penny. We ate and drank so much that we ended up heading to the local Lidl for some water and bananas and then back to our room to sleep and get ready for our first day of adventures.

The next morning! I booked us tickets for the hop on hop off bus (which I did a few years back with my mum in Rome, can’t recommend these bus tours enough so worth the money) so after dragging our hungover selves downstairs to our buffet breakfast (black coffee for me, mini croissant for Matt) we got ready and headed out, or so we thought, it was quite chilly so as we arrived at our pick up point and I realised how cold I would be, we had to walk ten minutes back down the road to the hotel so I could pick up my coat, and another ten minutes back to our bus pick up point only to find out we had just missed the bus and the next one would arrive in twenty minutes. A very windy and cold twenty minutes later (Matt was regretting not bringing his coat out haha) our bus arrived and we jumped on board. First stop was the Central Market Hall. We wondered around for a little while before jumping on the next bus to what we thought would take us over the bridge and up the hill, but a short 10 minutes later, we ended up at our starting point LOL! The tour bus told us it would be another 30 minutes before the next bus came so we decided to sit down at a lovely coffee shop and relax before trying to get our heads back around this hop on hop off! Believe it or not, we missed the next bus, which turned out to be a different route to what we needed to be on, so we walked to the Opera near us hoping to see some beautiful architecture and of course, it was closed for renovations! JUST OUR LUCK! Do we give up or continue, how hard can it be to catch a bus? Back again to our starting point, two very cold and grumpy tourists jumped on yet another bus and decided not to move until we had crossed the Buda Bridge (no matter how long it took). FINALLY we crossed the bridge and drove up to the Citadella.The tour gave us 30 minutes to get off and have a wonder before leaving for the next attraction/stop so off we jumped to take a look at the incredible view and get some photos.

Fast forward 30 minutes, we were back on our bus down the hill and desperate to visit the Castle and ride the Cable Car to the top, we jumped off another bus (are you sick of buses because I was at this point haha) and bought our tickets for the Cable Car. This is definitely a must do, the views on your way up to the top are so beautiful I can’t recommend enough! Once at the top, we took our time walking around the grounds and Castle making sure we were taking it all in. One of my favourite things about travelling is seeing all the different styles of architecture. At this point, it was 3:30pm and we hadn’t eaten much all day apart from a Banana and boiled egg and Matt was getting extremely hangry haha so we walked all the way back down from the top of the hill, found a little Cafe for Matt to fuel up and walked back to our hotel passing the Basilica on our way.

Dinner that night was the best pasta, bread, wine and more bread you could imagine. I have to add, the pasta I originally wanted had meat on the menu so I went for the gnocchi instead (which was insanely good) and Matt got the pasta I wanted, when it came out and I saw the meat ON THE SIDE and not in the pasta I was actually heartbroken haha. Great boyfriend, he split his with mine so I managed to get some anyway, but moral of this is always ask or you’ll never get. Continuing our evening, next stop was the 360 bar. We couldn’t believe our luck when there was a free igloo for us to get warm and drunk so we jumped straight in and got comfy! Little did we know, you need to book the igloo’s in advance , whoops, but we ended up meeting a lovely couple and enjoying many more drinks until early morning with them (turns out it was their igloo and they were happy for us to share!).

The next morning we were up bright and early for Pre Breakfast at our hotel (for hungry Matt) and for our breakfast at the New York Cafe. This is a must. You cannot go to Budapest and skip this because it is definitely the most beautiful cafe in the world. No photos did this place justice! We were positioned right in the centre by the stairs and turned out to be the best seats in the house as halfway through our breakfast, a string orchestra came out and started playing the most beautiful music. Romantic or what? Next on our bucket list, Fishermans Bastion. Another beautiful place and just as we arrived the sun came out and was shining bright. Lots of photos, some beautiful architecture and a chimney cake later, we headed into the little side streets of Budapest hoping to find a cafe along the river to sit down. We watched the world pass by in front of us and so did time, before we knew it, it was later afternoon so back to the hotel for a swim and to get dressed for dinner and drinks.

That evening, we spent hours at the Ruin Bars which is another must do when you’re visiting Budapest. The fun, eccentric, bright decorations to an old part of history is amazing and who doesn’t want to smoke some Sheesha and drink gin in a bathtub?! Matt drew a little crowd with his piano playing but sadly no free drinks for us.

Our last day was spent wondering the streets of Budapest from cafe to cafe. It was raining and gloomy but our moods were certainly the opposite. First stop was the Basilica. For me this is a HAVE to do wherever we go and I’m so happy we did, the high ceilings, the beautiful painted murals and architecture are so stunning. First cafe of the day, Vintage Garden Cafe. We had originally intended to have breakfast here but a later start than usual we missed it, so settled for a hot chocolate and oat milk late. This was a very instagrammable cafe, every spot, corner, nook and cranny was pink, floral and all for the gram haha.

Vintage Garden

We were starving by the time we’d finished our coffees and I was looking for somewhere that did Poached Eggs and we really hit the jackpot with the next place! A La Maison. (must be something to do with the name ;)) This place is the ONE. We were very lucky to get a walk in so book in advance but wow. They offer sweet and savoury waffles (and BIG ones too), sweet and savoury pancakes, crepes, all sorts of eggs, fruit, yoghurts, vegan/veggie options I’ve never had so many options. The next few hours were spent burning off our breakfast…..shopping! Hours were spent in Zara and H&M and boy did they deliver J After we shopped til we dropped (literally) we carried on walking along the river and to the Parliment Building. What a beautiful building it is! We still had a few hours until we needed to head back to the airport, so we grabbed coffee 1000 of the trip in (ANOTHER) cafe right outside Parliment. If you’re looking for a fun city, lots of coffee and a super chill vibe then Budapest is the place for you. We obviously went in Winter so a lot of the outside bars and pubs were shut due to rain and weather but now summer has come around and we can travel safely this is definitely one to put on your bucket list!

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Here & There

Long Weekend in Venice!

Hello everyone, apologies for the radio silence these past few weeks, life has well and truly got in the way! I’m hoping to getting back to weekly posting from next week 🙂

Now that we are starting to travel again, I feel like this post will give you a little inspo for your first post quarantine trip and one for the top of your bucket list! Last October, the boyfriend and I had a long weekend in Venice Italy and if you’re looking for somewhere with incredible food, unbelievable wine and beautiful sights, I cannot encourage you enough to get yourselves on the first flight to Venice!

As always, we had an early start – 4:30am for a 5:45am flight, you know what they say ‘the early bird catches the worm’! Few coffees and a three hour flight later, we landed in Italy. We both decided we wanted to save the water taxi (private can be quite expensive) for our way back, so jumped on the first bus we could and headed into Venice.

Water buses are a super cheap way to travel around Venice so I recommend buying a 2-3 day pass depending on how long you’re there for, allows you to jump from one place to another very quickly and easily/cheaply. For anyone who gets sea sick (like me) the ride is so smooth you’ll forget you’re on the water! We rented a little Air BnB directly opposite St Mark’s Square, perfect location, directly opposite the Basilics but away from the hustle and bustle of tourists and for half the price! We dropped our bags off in our flat, freshened up and ventured out to explore. Now Matt and I always end up doing this on the first day of our trips and always so unintentionally, but we ended up walking around pretty much all of Venice (21,000 steps) in 1 day! After stopping for a late lunch/afternoon snack, pasta and cheese of course, we carried on walking/trying to find our way back to our Air BnB. A few doors down from where we were staying was a hostel doing Happy Hour (VERY dangerous before dinner haha) ‘Generator’. Anyway, we ended up having far too many cocktails and ended up wasted (cocktails were 5 euros) and queue the ‘let’s sober and freshen up before dinner’, well we passed out as soon as we got back to our flat!

The best advice I was given about Venice and I give to you all now is to make the effort to wake up at Sunrise (5:30am) and get into the streets of Venice around 6am to see everything before all the Tourists wake up and flock together. I was not happy about our 5:30am alarm BUT we got to see St Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge and the beautiful streets of Venice without ANYONE there. The Pastel Pink/Bubblegum Pink Sunrise overlooking the water was absolutely stunning I’ll never forget it!

Around 7am it starts to get busy, all the influencers and early risers are up and out for their photos before the crowds (Venice crowds like nowhere else I’ve ever been too, you will never be anywhere more packed!) haha, so we found a quiet little corner and stopped for a morning Espresso, sitting outside to watch the world come to life around us.

Another great piece of advice, book your ‘attraction’ tickets in advance, but not too in advance. So basically, book them the day/night before you want to go visit a landmark or attraction to save yourself the queues of not booking one OR the possibility of no more tickets on the day. Matt and I have had that happen a few times – we learned our lesson the hard way. I am not one for booking my tickets weeks/months ahead of time, who is that prepared and you really don’t know how and what you’re feeling or what you actually want to see and do until you get somewhere. We’d booked our Dodge’s Palace tickets the night before so around 10am skipped the very LONG queue and went inside. I cannot recommend enough, the architecture is absolutely beautiful! Sometimes it’s hard to believe that another human created something so mesmerizing. Take your time in there, there are no time slots and there is so much to see and appreciate, take it all in instead of rushing through each room to tick it off the bucket list. Make sure you head underground to the dungeons it will take you across the Bridge of Sighs – another famous spot in Venice! For a bird’s eye view of Venice, after you’ve finished your tour of Dodge’s Palace, head straight for the Campanile di San Marco. Directly opposite the Basilica, it’s 5euros to go up and who doesn’t want to look at all of Venice from up high. After this, we wondered around the streets of Venice eventually ending up at the ‘Libreria Acqua Alta’ a quite little bookshop tucked away in a street corner – didn’t buy a book but I highly recommend visiting the bookshop, it’s vintage and unique decor is a must! -good photo spot too ;). Fast forward another day of exploring and eating, dinner was obviously going to be pizza! We decided to go to a pizzeria outside where we were staying, along the seafront opposite St Mark’s Square, ‘I Figli delle Stelle’, and it DID NOT disappoint. The view, the wine, the pizza, the service and sunset made for an incredible dining experience. We stayed for hours taking it all in. Nothing could top off dinner, or the evening, like the 360 bar at the top of the Hilton Hotel, another skyline view of Venice and so beautiful at night time. We had originally intended to go to a few bars but ended up staying all night drinking and taking in beautifully lit Venice from high atop.   

Dodges Palace
Dodge’s Palace

The morning of our last day, we headed bright and early to queue for St Mark’s Basilica. Thank goodness we were there early because you will be queuing for a good two hours once it hits late afternoon/further into the day. BREATHTAKING. By far our favourite place in Venice, the beauty inside is something everyone needs to experience at least once in their life. Once you’ve wondered around admiring the beauty, you will need to sit down for a coffee. Head over to Restaurant Club del Doge at the Gritti Palace and sit on the waterfront directly opposite the Basilica di Santa Maria. Now, this is quite an expensive place so another top tip – get a coffee only and you’ll still be able to enjoy luxury for a much cheaper price including the view! To finish our last day, we took a boat and headed to Murano, known for its glass making. What a beautiful little island and so much to see! If we had more time, we would’ve spent a full day, but we loved looking at all the beautiful glass and wondering around. An unwanted tradition Matt and I have every holiday, is always thinking we have more time than we do and rushing to the airport frantically – catching our flight with seconds to spare. This trip was no different. We went from cafe to cafe, wondering around to a seafront restaurant for dinner enjoying copious amounts of wine before realising our flight was a few hours away and wondering how we were getting from Murano to the airport (without heading back into Venice as we would miss our flights doing so). Fast forward sheer panic, catching the LAST ferry from Murano to Venice airport (PURE LUCK!), having the exact change for our ferry fare (no card payments accepted) to watching the most beautiful sunset over the water – what a way to end such an amazing trip, in typical Lucie and Matt fashion haha.

Murano
The Last Sunset