Monthly Archives: May 2016

Awesome Things I’ve Seen & Done In London That You Should Do Too

31st May 2016

london tipsNow the weather gods are smiling down on us Tea has emerged from hibernation and is actually doing things, here are some favourites you should try – on your next visit to London!

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Kikki K – I love Paperchase, but their collections are always a bit hit and miss, which has always been good for my wallet. But then Kikki K landed in London, and I loved the store when I lived in Melbourne. Kikki K has a range of beautiful stationary and organisation items with a minimalist and Scandi vibe. And whether you are looking for a travel journal or wedding guest book, you will find it. They have this Scandi background story, but it’s an Australian brand really. Now can someone bring Typo (another Aussie brand) to the west?

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Cereal Killer Café – I know you can make a bowl of cereal at home for 24p, but then again you can make a pizza for £1 at home too (or get it at ALDI!). I recommend you ignore the price and throw a few coins (£3.50) their way to be surrounded by kitsch 80s cereal boxes, a range of special milks in cute bottles and more cereals than you can shake a chocolate coated stick at.

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Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising – the refurbished museum in Notting Hill is great place to dive in for a few hours. Whereas most London museums are free, this one charges £7.50, but this isn’t too bad. So don some nostalgia shades and go stare at the 12,000+ items on display- you’ll get to see inappropriate war-themed marketing, toys from your childhood (and your mother’s/grandmothers) and there was even a wall of One Direction merchandise (RIP!). And most importantly – you’ll be able to answer the million dollar question – were chocolate bars way bigger when I was a kid?

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SMUG – this quirky concept store hidden in Camden Passage in Islington is the place to find beautiful things for the home. They have stuffed their store with must have homeware, stationary and accessories. Make sure you can hold yourself together because this place will make you want to buy everything.

Shake Shack – the New York burger chain made its way to London 3 years ago which means Londoners don’t have to queue up in New York and waste 4/5 hours for one of their delicious burgers. I’m personally not a big fan of their crinkle-cut fries as they tasted like something you can get at Iceland (the store, not the country) but the juicy patties with the shake shack sauce and their milkshakes make up for that. Although the line (at the Convent Garden location) is almost always long, it does move quickly and is worth the wait, though the queing system (with a special plastic fob) did make it feel a bit like Argos or waiting for a doctor’s appointment.

What was the last thing you queued up for?

LONDON HOOD YOU’LL LOVE: KENTISH TOWN

24th May 2016

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So, what’s next in my Hood You’ll Love series? Well, I’ll give you a clue…N5. No, it’s not a coordinates on a board game, but it’s the post code for Kentish Town. It might be close to the tourist-fly-trap that is Camden, but it’s far far from it in style, atmosphere and stuff to do. So next time you want to escape Cyberdog, Stable Markets and the remaining punks all you have to do is head north.

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KENTISH TOWN ROAD

The Abbey Tavern is one of my favourite pubs in London and I reckon I spent 1/3 of my time there when I lived in Kentish Town. If that’s not a great selling point, it’s their outside terrace garden that is the ideal spot for enjoying jugs of Pimms/beers, some food and a board game on a long, hot evening with the gang. Who can say no to a drunk game of Operation??

The Oxford is an ok pub and lunch spot, but what makes it worthwhile are its Puz Quizzes with a twist, clothes swaps and other fun events in their upstairs area. Just follow Wonder Woman and you’ll be in for a surprise.

Craving a bottle of craft beer, or possibly a crate? Well the main street, the imaginitively titled Kentish Town Road is home to two places to get your craft on. Of the two I prefer Clapton Craft, mainly because their logo has a bear, yes sometimes life decisions are very easy for me. And they also do two of my favourite beers from Netherlands. Wish that their location was a little more convenient because I would like to live there and look after the bear they must be keeping in the back room.

And because I haven’t mentioned enough places to drink on Kentish Town Road I have to add cocktail bar Ladies & Gentleman you might fall into at the Y Junction (yes it’s underground). And if you thought ‘HA, that sounds like a toilet.’’ You’d be right, it’s housed in a former underground toilet, but don’t worry, it’s been completely redone so no need to wash your hands, but it’s still chock full of cocks though … cocktails that is.

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HIGHGATE ROAD
Carrots + Daikon is the perfect lunch (and on weekends) brunch spot and my pick for the best Banh Mi in the city. You can’t go wrong chomping on their lunchboxes and pho with perfect flavour (though I can’t compare it to the real deal) which doesn’t drain the wallet. All in all: Carrots + Daikon pho the win! (Don’t tell me you didn’t see that pun coming).

It’s a bit of an odd location, tucked away in Kentish Town, but that way it feels more like a special secret when you find it. If you haven’t been able to get a table at Pizza East in Shoreditch, why not try the Kentish Town location for a slice of Italy? Fed up of dough? Well, there’s a bunch of antipasta dishes and salads too. Warning – be prepared for food coma.

If you look up as you wander around you’ll likely spot the gorgeous art deco Forum venue, that used to be a cinema in the 1930s and is now a live music venue, sadly the quality of bands there isn’t as reliable as the decor.

Right near the Forum is Dirty Burger, which, you guessed it, serves ‘Murican Style burgers. So if you appreciate a good, quality slice of meat with buns, you won’t be let down if you park yourself here. Their ethos is the patty as headliner and the toppings as a support act- the best combo. I know this sounds like a copy and paste from a press release, but trust me.

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FORTRESS ROAD
SK Vintage is a hidden vintage gem of discovery. It’s not extremely pricey like many other vintage places, and it has a large selection of items, though as with any vintage store, it’s hit or miss. What I’m trying to say that it’s basically that dream closet from your old aunt Mildred, but you don’t feel obliged to listen to her story for 100th time and eat stale biscuits.

Cinnamon Village is an organic bakery slash café that’s a healthy lunch spot…or so they try to make you believe. When in doubt go for the scrambled eggs on toast, trust me … they are hard to beat. The downside? The place is popular with young families, so if you want a bit of quiet to quell that hangover, it’s probably best to be avoided on weekends.

You know when as a kid you and your squad tried to keep up with the way cooler girls, but couldn’t? I’m being a bit dramatic, but that’s my take on Rustique, but like just like then you realise being the cooler girl isn’t everything and your squad is all you need in the end. But do give it a shot, if not just to see a coffee table shaped like two giant books – take note IKEA!

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STAMP THIS! TRAVEL BLOGGERS’ PASSPORT STAMP STORIES PART IV

17th May 2016

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For the fourth edition of Stamp This!  I asked a few of my favourite bloggers and vloggers to share the stories behind their favourite passport stamp/visa. Enjoy their more than stamp-worthy tales.

01

Coat + Coffee | Emily
My favorite stamp has to be my most recent one from Germany, where we flew in to before we reached Poland. My mom and I made an ancestral journey to Poland in April. I had been deep in genealogical research for the last year preparing for this trip. We stayed in Krakow for a few days and ate our weight in pierogi, then we made the two hour car ride journey to Dobrzechow where my family has lived for over 200 years. It was an absolute surreal experience to be in a town of 1,600 people and meet with the headmaster and priest. We dug through records from the 1800’s and got to visit the possible graves of my ancestors.

The next day we drove to Auschwitz-Birkenau, a place I’d never thought I would get to see in my lifetime. The day was emotional, but eye opening. What they teach you in school and what you read in text books was nothing like being there. I got to experience all this with my mom, and it’s definitely a journey I will never forget. I also got this beautiful ring from a flea market in Krakow that dates back to between WWI and WWII. And I may have forgotten my camera (yes I really did), but the memories I made here were better than any photo I could have taken.

02

Dignifiable |  Natalie
My favourite passport stamp does not relate to my favourite country that I have visited. Rather, it is the first stamp that I received in my current passport and is the stamp that made me fall in love with travelling. I received this stamp when I flew to U.S.A in 2012 which was my first overseas trip by myself. It was the start of a wonderful semester abroad and has irrevocably changed me. This trip challenged me and it made me realise that there is a wonderful world out there and I want to experience as much of it as I can. This stamp represents the start of my journey of exploring and travelling the world and all of my subsequent stamps are in my passport due to this one stamp.

03

EnterpriseMe TV |  Ivana
It’s not called Incredible India for nothing. It took me 6 months of traveling to finally get the courage and land with shaking knees. Turns out India loves me just as much as I love India. They say India is a teacher en shows you a reflection of yourself. Whatever you put in you get back. It can be quite painful and causes some people to leave within hours. For me it was like coming home. Within 30 minutes of landing I completely surrendered to India just like you would with a love at first sight. Traveling in India showed me being the control freak that I am is pretty much useless. Control is an illusion. Seeing people be happy no matter if they have a lot or no means at all is incredibly humbling. Letting go, adapting to a much slower pace (so relaxing!) and seeing so much beauty still keeps me grounded. The nature and food is mind blowing but the best part are the people. I have never encountered so much hospitality, kindness and generosity. I also love the boldness of the Indian people. It really suits my curious nature. Seriously can’t wait to return in fall this year!

04

Mintnotion | Eden
My favourite passport stamp is the one I got when I went to South Korea. This county was not even on my travel radar until I started my TEFL course and learned that this was a popular destination for people to teach English. However, after finishing my TEFL course I got a job promotion at work and decided to pursue Business School part-time instead of teaching.

It wasn’t until two years later when I saw a seat sale to Seoul that I knew a trip to South Korea was meant to be – I booked without regrets and it turned out to be one of the best trips of my life. There was a lot that I didn’t know about Korean culture, so I did a lot of research before my trip to help ensure a smooth vacation.

I live very multicultural city, so it was a big change to travel to a country that is primarily one race. I stood out like a sore thumb everywhere I went, but everyone was so kind and hospitable to me, even though I didn’t speak any Korean. Some of my favourite memories include shopping in Myeong-dong in Seoul and walking along the boardwalk at Haeundae Beach in Busan. As my first trip to Asia, it exceeded my expectations and I would love to visit again someday!

05

Travel The Globe 4 Less |Anne
The familiar sound of my passport being stamped was greeted with a huge sigh of relief. Mainly because it almost didn’t happen, so engrossed were we in gorging ourselves on the heavenly, Argentinian cuisine we failed to realize we had missed the last bus.

We had popped over to Argentina for the day to check out the other side of the magnificent Iguacu Falls. (In my opinion, the Argentinian side is way cooler!). Long boardwalks lead you across fast flowing waters until finally you are met by the roar of the torrential cauldron of water flinging mist into the air to drench all who stand gasping in awe at mother nature’s fury.

The best part of the trip though was that visit to the steak restaurant. After the desert of healthy food in Brazil the tantalising aromas of succulent, juicy steaks washed down with ice cold beers were so appetising that we lost all track of time. The bus left without us and we had to beg a hastily found taxi driver to drive like James Bond. He deposited us at the border just in time to pass before it closed. Even a night on the pavement would have been worth it though for that steak!

   Thanks for sharing your stories. 

What is your most precious passport stamp or visa and which one would you like to add?

Yes, No, Maybe: What (Not) To Do in Dublin

11th May 2016

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Thinking of dabbling in Dublin? Do it! Tickets are often cheap and it’s a great city for a quick weekend getaway. Plus, I have some things you should do, some things I do not recommend and some things that I missed out on or weren’t for me, but that might be for you…

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YES
The only place for breakfast and lunch you need to know is Brother Hubbard. I usually love to try different places in a new city, but I went to Brother Hubbard and tried 75% (not even exaggerating here) of their menu at the time. It’s pretty much everything you want and need from a café: it comes with delicious breakfast, great service and a gorgeous interior. The menu offers a wide range of salads, toasts, sandwiches and hot pots. And if you just feel like coffee and cake … don’t hesitate and go try them all. There’s nowt they don’t do right, except maybe giving me food for free…but nobody’s perfect right?

Got time for a day trip? About 15 minutes from Howth’s East pier, you can get a little boat to take you across and spend as long as you like taking in the scenery on the uninhabited island of Ireland’s Eye: a bird sanctuary, and if birds don’t get you squawking with excitement, well it’s also the perfect spot for a summer picnic (if you get lucky with the sun that is)

Like anywhere else I highly recommend you start with a (free) walking tour to get a general idea of the famous sites of the city and which ones you’ll want to visit during your stay. They cover everything from Trinity College to Dublin Castle and even the origins of U2 – sadly my theory that Bono is a space alien with no eyeballs was disproved.

Oh yeah, it may be tourist destination number one, but the Guinness Brewery is an absolute must. The tour is done beautifully and best of all, you have the option of finishing your tour with either learning how to pour the perfect pink or having a drink at the Gravity Bar upstairs. Though you can kill two birds with one stone and sneak your freshly poured pint upstairs to the Gravity Bar and enjoy the view – though I don’t advise trying to kill any birds on the rooftop, regardless of how drunk you are.

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NO
Generator Hostel great and the Dublin location is fab, but they were so rude there, I know everyone can have a bad day, but I don’t know what they are doing to their staff as everyone was miserable. Furthermore it was dirty, the sheets was full of stains, the bed made SO much noise with the smallest movement, I can barely imagine how loud it would be if someone was actually rocking the bed, but maybe that’s how the stains happened…

If there is one place I would avoid it’s Temple Bar, really, avoid it like your life depends on it, there are way too many places there that only survive on attracting tourists. Skip, skip, skip!

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MAYBE
Not sure if it was the fact I had a free ticket or that I had a whiskey tasting at 11 AM but, the Old James Distillery tour was actually interesting and the guide was really really passionate. You get some history background and are shown the different processes involved in creating the whiskey. And at the end, you get to taste the difference between different types of whiskey. I’m not sure I learnt much beyond ‘this one feels stronger than this one’ though.

Book lovers probably already have The Forty Foot on top of their list. The most famous swimming spot in Dublin is immortalised by Joyce in Ulysses. Dare devils (aka crazy folks, not to be confused with Matt Murdoch’s alter ego) traditionally take a dip at the Sandycove institution on Christmas, but visiting it any time is as charming. And, yes the name refers to the depth of the water. That’ll save you a Google session.

Kilmainham Gaol is well worth a visit to this place learn about its grim history. It’s one of those places I wish the walls could speak, but thankfully the guides were able to tell some stories. Don’t forget to go to the museum upstairs after the tour.

Have you been to Dublin? And do you have any additional recommendations or things to avoid?

Hej from Copenhagen part II

9th May 2016

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I couldn’t cram everything I wanted into my first post on the city, so hopefully this one will tick all the boxes!

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Copenhagen has great bike culture, one where you can safely cycle all over the city, which haven’t seen outside the Netherlands. Aaaah listen at me … sounding like some kind of bike ambassador, but I only wanted to show you this endless wall of bike stalls.

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A little As Seen In: not sure if this is in all buildings, but above the doors it says which floor you are on. Comes in very handy for the first/ground floor discussion. I’m mainly focused on if this is the floor for food, or sleep??!

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And the Danish krone looks and feels like Monopoly money. 150 can get you a breakfast, one bottle of water and a zone 1 bus ticket. Sadly I didn’t get to land on the “collect 200” or get to wear a top hat!

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The Danish know how to do breakfast! At most bars you’ll be able to get a morgensmad on the weekends, which means you get to order 6-10 different things from the menu. Mad and Kaffe topped a lot of lists as the place to go and it happened to be around the corner from the Airbnb but it was raining and there were about 8 groups waiting outside and that’s where I draw the line. I ended up at Sweet Surrender that did a breakfast buffet with mini cinnamon buns and come on … who can say no to that?

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I have never seen so many prams outside, they weren’t even locked. And I swear I saw a sleeping kid in one ‘parked’ outside a cafe.

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You might have spotted this style murals if you’ve been to Brick Lane in London, Brooklyn in New York or Kreuzberg in Berlin and now also available in Hendrik Haven in Copenhagen. It’s by ROA, who is known for this mural street art and in case you were wondering, yes a crane had to be called in.

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If you walk straight on from the mural you’ll get to the place to be, the Meatpacking District in Vesterbro. It’s basically Copenhagen’s answer to New York’s Meatpacking District, which used to only be the go to place for butchers and Dexter like types, but is now full of food and drink spots for the hungry and the thirsty.

And that’s where my Copenhagen adventure ended, but I’ve already decided I need to go back to do the rest of my wanderlist. Is there anything I shouldn’t miss on my next visit?