York In One Day

Last month I finally made it to York for a short trip and loved it! It’s actually the first place outside London where I could see myself living long-term – the prices are great, the pace of life was just right and there is so much history. Walking through York city is a proper walk through time – a Gothic cathedral here, a Medieval city wall there and a Georgian town house around the corner. Here’s my take on the best way to spend a day in York:

Walk the Walls
Walk around sections of the grand stone walls that have stood the test of time for over 2000 years and the wind will whisper you their stories. The 2 miles / 3.22 km walk takes you around the edge of York, giving a different perspective of the city, and is a great way to scope out the sights ahead of time.
Clifford Tower York Clifford Tower York

Check out Clifford’s Tower
While most of York Castle, which dated back to the 11th century, is no longer with us – one main part still remains, Clifford’s Tower. The tower looks great on top of that hill, but not worth the £6.30 entrance as there is nothing much inside and you’ll likely spend a max of 15 minutes walking around. So look at it from the outside and spend the money you saved to climb the tower at the Minster and enjoy the best view of the city.

York Mansion House York Mansion House

Explore York Mansion House
This Georgian masterpiece was built in 1732 as a home for the Lord Mayor of York, and has been at the centre of York society ever since. Today you can explore it and see where all the banquets took place, dress-up and dance around in the ball room and even try to make a virtual meal in the Georgian kitchen in the basement.

Merchant Adventurers' Hall Merchant Adventurers' Hall

Check out the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall
Dating back to the 1500s, this stunning medieval guild hall is the home of The Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York. As my visit was in the middle of the Jorvik Viking Festival I ended up in a hall full of dressed up Viking traders selling all things Norse. It definitely gave the visit an extra touch of authenticity, and the attention to detail on the costumes was as good as any comic convention! Bakeshop York

Bakeshop York cinnamon bun

Take A Break At Bakeshop
The Bakeshop should be your go-to place for very good coffee and delicious freshly-made cakes and pastries. While my favourite was their cinnamon orange bun, their salads and sandwiches looked scrumptious too. The only downside is there’s not too many seats inside, but takeaway will taste as good!

York Castle Museum York Castle Museum

Visit the York Castle Museum
The York Castle Museum covers hundreds of years of York’s history with something for everyone: it has a recreation of a historical Victorian street, an area covering 1960s culture, a section on the Georgian Prison that was once on the place of the current museum and exhibits and stories spanning the First World War. As a historical ‘cultural’ museum addict, this was place was everything.

York Museum Gardens

Walk Around The Museum Gardens
Well… in Summer or Spring this park, which is also home to the Yorkshire Museum, is the go to for a picnic, but during Autumn and Winter you might want to walk around and check out the stunning stone ruins of medieval St. Mary’s Abbey and the well preserved Tudor house down by the River Ouse.

York Minster York Minster

York Minster Tower View York Minster Tower View

Go Inside York Minster + Climb up the Tower
If being the largest gothic cathedral in Europe doesn’t impress you, then the stunning stained-glass windows, grand architecture and general ambience will definitely do the trick. If you’re brave enough, climb the 276 stairs to reach an amazing view from the top of the tower. If you’d prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, the Undercroft underneath the cathedral has a fascinating exhibition on the Roman ruins and construction of the building. The Shambles York The Shambles York

Wander the Shambles
The Shambles is a small narrow medieval street in the centre that’s where butchers once plied their trade, which isn’t as glamorous as you might think – they also threw out the discarded bits of meat right into the street! Nowadays there’s no guts to be seen, and there are claims the street may have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley. You can judge for yourself – I give it 3/5 broomsticks (Nimbus 2000s to be specific!).

Spark: York

Spark: York

Eat and Drink at Spark: York
This social space and street food hub, pieced together with refurbished shipping containers is one of the best self-contained spots to eat, drink and relax in the centre, with street food, craft beer and cocktails! I can recommend vegan kebab at Doner Summer who also do a mean candy floss covered cocktail so perfect hideaway for when it rains.

York Cold War Bunker York Cold War Bunker

Visit York Cold War Bunker
If you find yourself in York on the weekend then head to Holgate for a tour of a Cold War bunker that was built in 1961 to monitor nuclear explosions and fallouts in the event of nuclear war. Guided tours start every hour and last for about 1 hour, where you’ll explore the different parts of the complex and hear stories about how the people who worked there lived.

How to get there
London to York by train is doable in a day and most of the main York attractions are within walking distance of each other. Trains from London King’s Cross take around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

The Elmbank Hotel York

Staying there
Stay central at the boutique Judges Court Hotel, opt for the Grand for their deluxe spa treatments, or if you want something more quiet go for The Elmbank Hotel.

Make it a weekend trip?
If you’re thinking of taking a weekend trip, combine a day in York with a day in nearby Leeds, which is only 20-30 mins away by train.


A Guide to Food Halls & Food Courts in London

Foodcourts, foodhalls or indoor foodmarkets…whatever you call them, they have been popping up like crazy in London! Food courts aren’t a new concept, but the trend has changed and instead of inside shopping malls you’ll more likely them in old and unused buildings that have been repurposed into indoor food halls.

Here are some stops for your London food markets itinerary that will cover you from the rain, provide you a seat and fill your stomach with lots of tasty treats.

Seven Dials Market – Covent Garden
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Situated in a former banana warehouse, the Seven Dials Market is a rather impressive looking food market, with eateries which make me want to come back again and again. Vendors include Club Mexicana (vegan Mexican), Pick & Cheese (British cheese) and Nanban (Japanese ramen and curry)

If you can only get one thing: get yourself a chair at the Pick & Cheese conveyor belt!

Mercato Metropolitano Elephant & Castle – Elephant & Castle

food hall london Mercato Metropolitano Elephant & Castle

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This massive indoor and outdoor complex contains an on-site brewery, Italian food shop and over 40 vendor stalls including Hermanos Tacos (Mexican tacos), Guasacaca (Venezuelan arepas) and Ze Spatzle Club (German spatzle). Mercato Metropolitano Elephant & Castle also offer a variety of workshops on their site, so make sure to check out the most recent offerings here.

If you can only get one thing: Try the German pasta dish from Ze Spatzle Club

Mercato Metropolitano Mayfair – Mayfair
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This central London spot is set in a former church and just looks amazing, plus it even has a crypt filled with wine and cheese!! The market consists of several bars, a speciality foods store and seven food vendors including Lala (Turkush pide), Steamy & Co (bao buns) and Fresco (Neapolitan pizza)

If you can only get one thing: Give the pide at Lala a go.

Market Hall Victoria – Victoria

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This food hall paradise is the perfect spot if you’re looking for a place to eat near Victoria Station. In addition to 11 vendors, there are also three bars, a rooftop patio and a coffee shop. Vendors include Soft Serve Society (soft serve ice-cream), Monty’s Deli (deli) and Gopal’s Corner (Malaysian Tamil inspired food).

If you can only get one thing: Go for Monty’s Deli egg and cheese bun!

Market Hall Oxford Street – West End
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The arrival of the Market Hall on Oxford Street introduced some much-needed life into the Oxford Street food scene that always felt a bit short on non-chain options. Hungry shoppers can indulge into a range of cuisines and vendors include Super Tacos (Mexican tacos), Goodbirds (rotisserie chicken) and Yatai (Japanese)

If you can only get one thing: Opt for the chicken katsu sandwich from Yatai.

Market Hall Fulham – Fulham

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This former Edwardian Underground station ticket hall is now a happening spot with a bar, a fitness studio and food vendors including Hotbox (Texan barbeque), Machan (Sri Lankan dishes) and Fanny’s Kebabs (all things kebabs).

If you can only get one thing: an oat latte from Press Coffee.


Hotel Breakfasts in Amsterdam via Too Good To Go

The Too Good To Go app lets restaurants, bakeries and hotels offer their daily leftovers to you for a very friendly price. Instead of having to throw away their products because they are out of date, they offer you the chance to ‘save’ a meal by buying a Magic Box that you can then pick up at the location in a certain time frame (usually around closing time). What you get will be a surprise – so if that’s not for you, then you might want to leave it. As a big fan of travelling greener, the whole concept is right up my street and I hope it can be for you too.

I got my first taste of the app in London where I’ve used them for cakes at Konditor & Cook and at two of my favourite coffee shops. But what I really really reeeeeallly wanted to try was a hotel breakfast. Sadly, I don’t live or work near a hotel that offers it so I’ve been waiting til the opportunity arose. Thankfully, a while ago I was stayed in a central place in Amsterdam and saw my chance to finally try some nearby hotel breakfasts.

Breakfast buffets are great, and probably everyone’s favourite part of staying at a hotel, but it’s often the case there’s too much food prepared and a chance for lots of food waste. At the moment there are over 1,261 European hotels who have joined Too Good To Go to fight food waste and give us non-guests the chance to enjoy it too.

Here are three Too Good To Go Hotel Breakfasts I picked up in Amsterdam

INK Hotel Amsterdam
This offering was a bit of everything – I don’t think there is a better combination! Bonus point for the cutlery in case you want to have it on the go. I recommend getting a coffee from Stock (bring your own cup of course!) and devouring it on a canal side bench.
Price: €3.99

Hotel Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam
In addition to pastries, muffins and other rolls there are chances you’ll get fresh fruit, fancy cheese and this delicious quinoa and aubergine salad – perfect for lunch. If you bring your own bottle you’ll get juice as well. This is probably the most boujee hotel in Amsterdam so even if you never get to stay at the hotel itself, you’ll be able to say you had breakfast at this 5-star landmark spot.
Price: €5.99

DoubleTree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station
At the DoubleTree by Hilton you get a box and bag to fill it up yourself! Everything you can image on a breakfast buffet is there from waffles to eggs and fruit. It can almost be too hard to decide how and what you are going to fit in. If you bring a bottle you can top it with one of their juices too. As you can see, you can fit a lot in the boxes and bag, and depending on with how many mouths you have to feed it can last you for up to two whole days!
Price: €4.99

Would I do a Magic Bo again? Yes! I’m practically looking forward to my next trip where I can try all the breakfasts along the way.

Are you familiar with Too Good To Go or a similar concept?


Places To Visit According To My Sponsored Instagram Ads

Generally it’s rather quiet on my Instagram in terms of adverts, but since January came alone its been non-stop travel/tourism adverts taking over my screen. Here’s the places I really should be going to according to my Instagram ads.

An actual contender for a culture-meets-beach-trip in Spring or Autumn. On my wishlist are: Rotunda of Mostra, the secret passage in St Gregorys, and of course the Pickly Pear Juice.

St Pancras Hotel
I’ve been wanting to go inside but I thought my only way was via Open House or Afternoon Tea. I haven’t made it to their Open House, and they only do raisin scones so that wouldn’t work for me. But the ad I saw was of the famous staircase and made it look like everyone could just walk in and go up the stairs? Is that how everyone does it?.

Meet van Gogh exhibition at the Southbank
The interactive exhibition allows visitors to explore the work of van Gogh works through a multi-sensory experience where you get to see, touch and listen to Van Gogh’s own thoughts. Sounds good on paper, but I’d much rather go look at the Sunflowers in the National Gallery.

The Faroe Islands
Yes, please! Honestly, if there was a boat from Scotland going I’d be packing right now.

Balkan Campers
Rent a Balkan campervan and drive around sounds like the dream. I actually have a very specific road trip in mind and it does require a campervan, so once I have my driving license and the confidence I’m heading that way.

The Globe
Been there, done that and would do it again. I would love to see the Tempest or A Midsummer Night’s Dream this summer. Just not sure I’m up for sitting on those rather hard wooden benches again.

Visit Wales
I went to Wales and managed to cram in a lot in my day trip, but I would definitely go back and to marvel at Snowdonia National Park, explore Conwy Castle and spot the Whiteford Point Lighthouse.

Eight years ago I spent about six months in Melbourne for an internship. And unfortunate turn of events meant I was stuck living like a local in Melbourne, not being able to explore the country as I had hoped. I ended up doing day trips from Melbourne and spent one weekend in Sydney, but didn’t see much else. One of my dearest friends moved to Australia and is expecting her first child aaaand Auntie Tea will need to make her way there sometimes and maybe see more of the country, because in this time and age I can’t justify flying halfway the world for such a short stay.

Visit Veneto
Venice is suffering from overtourism, but the Veneto region has so much more to offer. I want to go to Castel Brando, try the local Tiramisù and wander around Lake Misurina. Maybe I can combine it with that Balkan camper trip?

Clifford’s Tower
York’s Clifford’s Tower is actually on my list for when I visit the city at the end of the month. Will report back.

I’d love to! It was once on my go-to list and I even planned my own route that included everything from the rainforest to the Quilotoa loop and the Galapogas Islands. Maybe one day I can make it part of a road trip through South America…?

Royal Opera House
I’ve been to the Royal Opera House for the BAFTA Awards, but not for an opera extravaganza where I can wear one of my over the top dresses. I think I might add this to my London wanderlist.

Citizen M New York
Do I want to go back to New York? I do like Citizen M and as they have two locations in Manhattan, so they actually might be an option if I ever go back, especially as I still need to go to MOMA (it was closed when I went).


Things We’ve Lost In London

The streets and neighbourhoods in London keep changing. The recent closure of a fantastic restaurant and the upcoming demolition of the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre inspired me to highlight some of those forgotten places in London that we can’t visit anymore.

Long before streaming sites there was Blockbuster to pick up movies and TV show boxes. They also had ridiculously cheap Ben & Jerry’s and sweets and snack deals. Other places that fed my book, music and movie hunger were HMV and Virgin Megastore, which had massives branches on Picaddily Circus and Tottenham Court Road with listening posts to check out new music. RIP.

I’m also sad that The Heygate Estate is gone. It was a Brutalist gem that housed over 1000 families, but has since been flattened to make place for 360 new identikit flats, just one of the too many in London. It will live on in the memories of its residents as well as the movies and shows that it was featured on, such as Attack the Block.

Watching a football game in traditional stadiums has changed over the years. Arsenal’s home base Highbury and West Ham’s Boleyn Ground were scrapped and replaced by new developments and the holy ground is now much more modern, grand and generic.

While the Millenium Dome’s white shell still remains over the top of the O2 Arena – today known for its giant events space, cinema and countless restaurants – it was originally famous as the site of the Millennium Experience – a massive celebration for the year 2000 comprising interactive exhibits, art and music.

Then there is the London Astoria, a venue in Soho and a cinema and ballroom before that. It sadly had to go down to make way for the Crossrail train project in 2009. Other London venues that have closed have included the Hammersmith Palais (2007), the Mean Fiddler (2009), The Luminaire (2010), Earl’s Court (2014), Madame JoJo’s (2014), The Good Ship (2017) and the Borderline (2019).

Battersea Power Station is probably my favourite London building and my biggest regret is not getting in queue for Open House several years back. The former coal-fired power station is being re-developed as Apple’s European head office and I’m sure they’ll open up for Open House in the future again, so fingers crossed!.

Cantina Luredo had 7(!) different types of guacamoles on their menu and it was my intention to savour them all with nachos in hand. When I walked by the other day I saw place was permanently closed and I won’t be getting my guacamole fix after all.