Thursday, 18 September 2014

Interrailing Part 2- Slovenia and Hungary



From Venice, we then moved on to Bled taking quite a long train journey through the Alps up to Austria and then back down again into Slovenia, despite Italy and Slovenia being neighbouring countries. From the main Bled train station, you then have to take a bus to the lake and thankfully our hostel wasn't far from the bus station as we were knackered.
We were cautiously optimistic about the weather. The forecast had said solid rain for the whole time we were there and apart from the first day, when we walked around the lake in the rain in some very fetching plastic ponchos, we were actually very lucky, with just a few showers in the day and then normally clearing just in time to see some spectacular sunsets. There was a great cafe down by the lake that faced the castle and where you can also eat the traditional Bled cream cake, which is to die for! So you can sit out on that terrace with a pot of tea and a cream just as the sky clears and the sun goes down.

The highlight for us was easily the day trip we did around the Triglav National Park. Myself, the boyfriend and six more Irish girls were bundled into a mini van and driven to some of the most beautiful spots in the park. Honestly, it was just stunning. Fresh green trees, sweeping mountains and amazing, crystal clear water that was so clean you can drink it. We also did white water rafting which I was a little apprehensive about but it was good fun. Apart from when we all fell into the freezing cold water. Seriously freezing.

From Bled, you can also get to Vintgar Gorge which is an easy walk through the cliffs on a snaking wooden pathway. It finishes with a huge waterfall at the end although you have walk down an extremely muddy path (at the time) to get a good shot of it from the other side of the river.

It's not hard to see why Bled is so popular with so many age groups and it's a great place for people who are really into their outdoor sports, be it hiking, cycling, any sort of water sport or fishing. There's plenty to do but just take good trainers!
The restaurants were also really good at a reasonable price but with huge portions! We were recommended to check out a pizzeria that did a famous burger with a cheese bun and it was honestly bigger than my head! It was enormous!
Our last and final stop was Budapest in Hungary. However, by this point, after all the long train journeys and getting caught in the Bled rain, I was full of a cold for the first two days. Buuut, at least, I was ill in the place where we had the most time and we didn't have to steam around Budapest in a rush and could take it at our own pace.

I really liked Budapest- it had a very modern and cosmopolitan feel in the centre which is amazing considering how recently Hungary came out of Soviet rule. I'd highly recommend the free walking tours that they do every day just off Jozef nador tér. There's a general walk, a communism orientated one and one that focuses on the old Jewish quarter. We went on the Communism walk which was hugely informative and it was great to have a historical explanation of the Communist left overs that are dotted around the city. The best way to see Budapest is really to have a good walk around the place and I'd recommend talking a walk up to Castle Hill for a good view out over the two sides of the city on the river and you can always get the metro back if you're too tired!

One of the biggest attractions in Budapest are the thermal baths. There are several dotted around the city but we went to biggest and oldest, Szechenyi Baths in the north east of Budapest. We arranged to have an half hour massage session which was a dream after 3 weeks lugging a rucksack around and then pottered around all the different temperature pools inside and then outside, making the most of the late afternoon sunshine. It was a bit like a hot bath, just shared between all the tourists and locals there. The best thing is that the exchange rate between pound and Hungarian forint only made it about £20 and once you're in, you can stay there for as long as you like. I definitely had a bad case of pruney fingers by the time we left.
The baths are also right next to Budapest Zoo if you have a big of time to spare and while it wasn't the best kept zoo in the world, and some of enclosures were a bit small in my pinion, it was nice to get up close and personal with a sloth, one of which had a baby!You can just see my excitement here.

The famous ruin bars are the best place to go for a night out, particularly Szimpla which I loved almost purely for its eclectic decorations. Budapest is also a great place to eat. We had a Thai place, a burger place, a Mexican place and a traditional Hungarian restaurant on our road alone, all of which we sampled and all of which we approved. Again, the exchange rate made it ridiculous cheap to eat and oh, did we take advantage of that!

And that was our Interrail trip! The three and a half weeks absolutely flew by and I was very reluctant to come back to reality. It's just made me want to travel even more and I'm keen to explore around the Austrian alps and a lot of Eastern Europe including Czech Republic, more of Slovenia, Croatia, maybe even Bosnia and Herzegovina. I'll have to put it on the back burner for now as I'm only a few days away from moving back to Southampton to finish my fourth and final year of my degree. Hopefully after that, the adventures can start again!

I hope you liked reading about my travels
Any questions, be sure to fire them to me on Twitter
xx 



Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Nina Ricci- L'Elixir


So, somewhere between moving back from Spain and now, I managed to lose my beloved Vera Wang Princess Night perfume.I have to admit I'm not a bit perfume person, I tend to stick to one at a time which is why I was gutted when my Vera Wang was no where to be found. Therefore, when I had a fair bit of time to kill in Budapest airport on my way back from Interrailing, I started eyeing up the perfumes. I knew the Nina Ricci perfumes were more up my street than the more traditional perfumes like Chanel and Dior and got sniffing. Nina Ricci L'Elixir is what I settled on.

Much like Vera Wang, it's quite a fruity and sweet fragrance that thankfully isn't too sickly or overpowering. Its top notes are lime and lemon making it a bit more citrus-y than Vera Wang but the familiar sweetness comes from the base notes of apple, jasmine and red berries. The scent settles nicely into your skin and that's when the sweetness come out.

Of course, it is housed in the iconic Nina Ricci apple glass bottle with a darker red at the top than the original Nina perfume, which make it very pretty to look at as it sits on my dressing table.

I snapped it up in the duty free and made use of some left over Euros I had so I'm not sure what price that equates to but it normally retails for around the £40 for  50ml bottle.

Do you have this perfume or something similar?
Send recommendations my way!
xx

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Interrailing Part 1- France and Italy

Well, Interrailing was probably one of the best experiences I've had in my life and I'm so glad and grateful I got to spend a month travelling through Europe. It all began in Paris as we shot over on the Eurostar into Paris Gare du Nord. Our hostel was St Christopers Inn right next to the station and despite it being suffocatingly hot due to an A/C unit that just couldn't cope with the heat and 10 bodies generating even more warmth, it was a great hostel with breakfast and was easy to navigate back to. 

Highlights: What you'd expect really! The Eiffel Tower, finally getting into the Louvre after 2 hours in the rain (seriously, book tickets in advance!), Musee d'Orsay and generally soaking up the Parisienne atmosphere and charm. We had some of the best food of our entire trip at La Cantine de Belleville- a 3 course meal of delicious food for only 14 euros, which for Paris is an absolute steal. It's a little bit out of the way but completely worth it and I'd totally recommend!

Our next stop was Marseille which we got to on the TGV high speed train and it only took us three and a half hours which is incredible considering the distance. However neither of us really liked Marseille. Apart from a few beaches along the coast away from the town and the port, where you can drool over dream yachts, there isn't really that much to do and we also found it quite expensive. We quickly discovered it was better to eat your bigger meal of the day at lunch when it was a bit cheaper and that became a habit throughout the whole trip.

Our last stop in France was Nice, which I much more preferred. The beaches were beautifully clean and relaxed and the whole town seemed to have a bit more charm than Marseille including the antiques and craft markets we found in the Cours Saleya. We were only there for two days as it was a stop point before we crossed the border into Italy but it was nice to relax and our hostel was in a great location, close to the train station and a supermarket so we could stop up on supplies before our 8 hours down to Rome!
Rome! It was a horrendously long journey down the coast of Italy to Rome with just one change in Ventimiglia at about 6am. However we had four days to enjoy ourselves so when we finally arrived, we gratefully dumped out bags, took some much needed showers and headed out for the evening.

Highlights: The Colosseum at night was beautifully illuminated and walking around the centre of Rome where many ruins are still exposed including one site that had become a impromptu cat sanctuary. Unfortunately, I was absolutely gutted to find out that the Trevi Fountain was undergoing restoration work and the whole thing was in scaffolding. There was however a walk way going across and up close to the sculpture and we still did the tradition of throwing a coin over your shoulder and making a wish!

A little tip for those of you ever wanting to go to the Colosseum- buy your tickets online first and then pick them up at the entrance to the Forum. The ticket is valid for both the Colosseum and the Forum and the ticket lines are a lot smaller for the Forum and if it's very hot, trust me, you don't want to be standing around in the Rome heat for an hour plus for tickets! Go visit the Forum and skip all the queues for the Colosseum afterwards.

The best places to eat are in the Trastavere region, on the other side of the river. There are plenty of nice restaurants and bars that all come to life in the night time and you can take a nice stroll along the river banks if you need to walk off your meal!

A warning though is mosquitos. I got absolutely eaten alive in Rome, the most being 10 bites, mostly on my legs, all in one night and if you're prone to getting bitten, definitely save yourself the annoyance of a itchy mozzie bite and put repellent on!

And finally, Venice. We only got 2 days here due to a mess up with the hostel bookings that meant we had to leg it to Slovenia a day earlier than expected. However, I loved what I saw. Venice is a truly beautiful and mesmerising place. We stayed in Mestre on the mainland because it was cheaper but only a ten minute bus journey away. Venice is an absolute maze to navigate so get a good map first! You'll think you're going in the right direction until you hit a dead end and have to go all the way back through the winding streets. Venice was a lot cooler than Rome which means you can enjoy strolling around leisurely a bit more and I always prefer being close to water. Despite what the rumours say, it didn't smell! I'd really recommend getting the combined bus and waterbus ticket, which can be valid for up to 72 hours if you're there for a few days because, trust me, sometimes it's easier to hop onto one of the public water buses than try and get around on foot!

One of my absolute highlights was visiting Burano, one of the islands that surrounds Venice. The brightly coloured houses are so eye catching and perfect for a little photo opportunity. There are a few shops and restaurants but everyone seems to come over for the houses themselves and it's totally worth it.

However, remember I mentioned those mosquitoes in Rome, well Venice is even worse! I got the two worst mosquito bite of my life in Venice, both on the ankles, and the whole area swelled up and was sore, itchy and painful for a good two days at least. Not pleasant at all so stock up on mosquito repellent and antihistamines!

Part two will be our stops in Bled, Slovenia and Budapest, Hungary!
Of course, these photos are only a glimpse of our trip and if you want to see more, check out my Instagram
And of course, any questions are welcome but fire them to me on Twitter to get a good solid answer!
xx

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Interrailing


Oh Europe, you big beauty. It is with great impatience that I can say I'm off on my Interrailing travels tomorrow! I'm so excited and proud of myself for fitting everything I need for three and a half weeks into one rucksack. Unfortunately, for the sack of weight and space, my beloved Nikon is staying at home, it's just too bulky to take with me and I'm going retro with some disposable cameras that I will get developed when I'm back home. That and my phone so if you are interested in my travels, be sure to check out my Instagram where I'll be uploading the most of my photos.
As for the route we're taking, our first stop is Paris <3 I've been once and it was a school trip in the middle of February, so I'm looking forward to seeing Paris in it all its sunny glory. Then, after that, we're hitting Marseille, Nice, Rome, Venice, Bled and finishing in Budapest so it's an action packed three and a bit weeks!

If you have any recommendations for these place, please let me know they're very welcome!
Apart from that, I'll see you in three weeks!
À bientôt!
x

Thursday, 24 July 2014

What I'm Taking Travelling- Cosmetics And Toiletries


Now that the boyfriend has officially graduated, I've started making preparations for our travels throughout the month of August. After mmm-ing and aah-ing about what to do during the summer months, we finally decided on Interrailing through Europe. So with only a trusty 25 litre rucksack, we're going on a big long train journey through France, Italy, Slovenia and Hungary. The real issue, however, is how do you maximise space when you only have a limited amount of space and it all come down to taking the bare minimums and the versatile items.

First off, we have my cosmetics bag, a little yellow print bag that I bought from Boots that is the perfect size for all my little bits and bobs. Inside we have-
1. Lush Grease Lightning- Hot weather, especially in cities, nearly always break me out and I've been lovely this natural remedy recently
2. L'Oreal Millon Lashes Mascara. A necessity, of course.
3. Maybelline BB Cream. I discovered this last year, when after a holiday, I discovered that I didn't match any of my then foundations and this BB cream was light and best shade I could find without breaking the bank for a new foundation that I only use for a month of the year.
4. Nivea Oil Free Moisturiser. My favourite moisturiser. It feels light and keeps your skin hydrated. Perfect for hot weather.
5. Collection 2000 Concealer in Dark. Again, this is used for when I have a tan but on the days when I just want to cover up a few blemishes rather than have a face full of make up.
6. Prestige Eye Shadow Palette. I've had this palette for donkey's year and I'm pretty sure it might not even exist any more. It has 4 neutral eyeshadow colours that you can use if you need to dress up a bit more and saves me taking my huge MAC palette with all my depotted shadows in it.
7. Vaseline. No one likes chapped lips.
8. A good Kohl pencil. The easiest way to do a smokey eye and can be used with the eye shadow palette.
9. NARS Orgasm blusher. My favourite blusher and the packaging has a little mirror which is always useful.
10. MAC Dipdown Gel. Because even my simplest day time make up rocks a good filled in brow.
In addition to this, I will also be taking my stippling brush, gel liner brush, blush brush and one eye shadow brush.


Next we have haircare and toiletries. I cannot live without my holy trio of haircare products so to save space, and the fact that a little really can go a long way, I've filled up little 100ml bottles, which can be picked up for very cheap in either Superdrug or Boots, with my cannot-go-withouts aka TIGI Bedhead Curl Creme and Spray to accompany my Argan Oil Spray. Next are travel friendly sized shower gel and toothpaste which can be thrown away once used and then purchased anew in the country you're in. Then, in the tub, we have a small amount of St. Ives Apricot Scrub which I use regularly on dry patches of skin... and when I'm peeling...


Aaand then a few other essentials. 
Make up wipes just for the sake of easiness but then can also double as a nice refreshing wipe after a hot sweaty day travelling. We then have the LUSH Jungle Solid Conditioner and Trichomania, both of which I've been loving using recently and both of which smells absolutely amazing. In fact, if I have the Jungle one in my bag, my whole bag will smell of it within a day. Might turn out useful in a rucksack...
And finally, ear plugs. An absolute essential if you're travelling on public transport and/or are staying in hostels. I know from past experience that you only need one heavy snorer in your room to ruin a nights sleep, so these are really, really worth it!

These are all things that I would like to have with me at all time. Of course, especially in Europe, you're never going to be too far from a supermarket and can always stock up or refill when you need to. However, for the sake of space and weight, it really is useful to decant favourite products into the 100ml bottles so you can travel with them and you'll be amazed at how far it goes. But most of all, it's about enjoying the travelling experience and at the end of the day, no ones really going to remember the bleary eyed girl with a scruffy top knot trudging through a train station at six in the morning. And you're never going to see them again either so there we go.

Because I love Boots, and let's face it, who doesn't, you can save yourself money a fair ole bit of money by using Voucher Codes so make sure you check out their deals!

Enjoy the sunshine!
xx
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