Food & Drink

Budapest

Smiles all around

Smiles all around

Last week I was lucky enough to visit Budapest with my Mum and Nan for my Nan’s birthday (I am not allowed to say what birthday, but it was a big’un). I would be lying if I said my first desire to go to Budapest was not inspired by George Ezra, however since then a number of close friends and family have recommended it as a great city break without the extortionate price tag = WINNER.

My first problem was what the hell do you pack for a boiling hot city break? The words Cool & Chic come to mind, but easier said than done if you have a huge mane of hair and big boobs. Anyway I managed to pack and off we went!!

So I have made a little list of all the things I would recommend and my favourite activities in Budapest which I hope might come in handy if you are planning a trip  or you’re on the look out for a cool city to visit….

We stayed in the Eurostars Budapest Centre Hotel which was very roomy considering all 3 of us stayed in one room, very clean and very comfortable (apart from the two short power cuts we had due to the freak lightening storm).

They even had 3 little pieces of birthday cake with candles waiting for us on arrival!!

When we arrived in Budapest safe to say we had no clue where we were or where to go and I truly think when you only have a few days to explore a new city they best thing to do is to jump on a hop-on / hop-off Bus Tour. This way, you can get to grips with your surroundings and figure out all the most important places to visit. If you visit, I recommend the Big Bus Tours as they were very regular, with a good guide and you receive a free boat tour as well. Make sure you haggle fro a good price (my mother is the queen of haggling and managed to get us a 48 hour pass for around £13 each).

Free boat tour with the bus tour - love a freebee!!

Free boat tour with the bus tour – love a freebee!!

A few of the places we visited included the:

The Hungarian Parliament Building

The Hungarian Parliament Building, also known as the Parliament of Budapest for being located in that city, is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary, one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings.

Buda Castle

Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest. The castle is a part of the Budapest World Heritage Site.

Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest. The castle is a part of the Budapest World Heritage Site.

Szechenyi Baths.

No holiday is complete without a cheeky sunbathe and dip in the pool!

Budapest is well known for its Baths and there are many to choose from, however Szechenyi was recommended to us and we were able to take the tour bus there which was great. For one day entry to the Baths with full use of the thermal baths, sauna, swimming pools and a locker it costs less than £5 per person. The decor and the building was very traditional, however the facilities felt very modern and clean which was a great combination. There are places on site for refreshments and food. If you would like a sunbed then I recommend going early and being quick!!!

Matthias Church

The current building was constructed in the florid late Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century and was extensively restored in the late 19th century. It was the second largest church of medieval Buda

The current building was constructed in the florid late Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century and was extensively restored in the late 19th century. It was the second largest church of medieval Buda. It is a really breathtaking building.

The Liberty Statue

It commemorates those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary. The original inscription upon the memorial translates as  "To the memory of the liberating Soviet heroes [erected by] the grateful Hungarian people [in] 1945".

It commemorates those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary. The original inscription upon the memorial translates as  “To the memory of the liberating Soviet heroes [erected by] the grateful Hungarian people [in] 1945”. No one knows why she is holding a palm leaf!

Amazing view from the top!

Amazing view from the top!

Stunning view!!!

Even though it was actually thundering and lightening it was still beautiful!

There are many places to eat and drink and we found many gorgeous spots for a beer such as the Kiosk where we sat on a few bean bags and ate a watermelon bigger than our heads (which is saying something because I have quite a large head).

Kiosk bar.

Kiosk bar.

I was not going to let the watermelon defeat me!

I was not going to let the watermelon defeat me!

On one evening we strolled along the river and found the most amazing restaurant with an incredible view overlooking the River Danube. There was also a string band who were playing some great tunes!

View from inside of the restaurant.

View from inside of the restaurant.

Red sky at night!

Red sky at night!

Mum and Nan enjoying the band!

Mum and Nan enjoying the band!

We enjoyed our last night in a great bar called Buddha Bar, which is possibly the trendiest bar in Budapest. We only meant to have a quick Shisha and get going, but we ended up staying for a bottle of champagne, food and then went upstairs to the main bar where there was a cool DJ and we had a couple of G&T’s (Tanqueray 10 and Fever Tree obvs). It was a fabulous evening and close enough to our hotel to stumble home.

MUMM is the official Champagne of the Grand Prix. As the Grand Prix was taking place in Budapest whilst we were there - it seemed like the right thing to do?!

MUMM is the official Champagne of the Grand Prix. As the Grand Prix was taking place in Budapest whilst we were there – it seemed like the right thing to do?!

Casually hanging out in Buddha!

Casually hanging out in Buddha!

TOP TIP: As soon as you get to Budapest get to grips with the 5 main bridges and their names. This way if you do not know where you are – head for the River Danube and look for the bridge which is closest to your destination – it works a treat!

Personal Sat Nav!

Personal Sat Nav!

All of the bridges!

If you can’t remember the names just remember the colours!

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One night in Paris – what to pack?

bonjourJust thought I would do a little post before I fly off to Paris for one night with work (I feel pretty cool typing that – such a loser!) We are all very excited in the office as all three of us are going, Bryony, Hannah and I. Office conversations over the last few days have definitely revolved around “What dress are you going to wear?”, “Boots or heels?”, “How do you say, I do not speak French?.” Hannah has also managed to find slots within our timetable for us to hunt down the closest patisseries and satisfy her croissant craving.

Anyhow, I thought I would write a little post before we go about what I am going to pack. I have tried to pack light, which I think has been quite successful and I hope to look professional, yet fashionable – success yet to be determined!!!

Clothing – Obviously I will be taking more clothes than this, but these are the main parts (not sure you want to see pictures of my pants…)

River Island Tank Top

River Island Tank Top

River Island Tank Top Around £16 (Last season). Not sure who says Tank Top anymore, but this is what RI call it. Looks quite cool with jeans and comfortable for travelling. It also says Paris on it which you will either think is lame or cute!

Awful picture - definitely better on!

Awful picture – definitely better on!

Topshop Drape Front Tunic Dress £40 (Available now). I have been saving this dress to wear for Paris as my lovely Mum picked it out when we were shopping a couple of weeks ago and then she even bought it for me because it “looks lovely on me” (what a result)! This picture is a bit dodgy and definitely does not do it justice. It is lovely,comfortable and classy and I LOVE IT!!! I hope with a pair of tights and heeled boots it will complete my professional, yet fashionable look.

My No.1 winter wardrobe item

My No.1 winter wardrobe item

River Island Cream Textured Relaxed Faux Fur Jacket £50 (Available now). This has been my absolute favourite purchase this winter. The fur can be removed, which is brilliant because you can dress the jacket down with a scarf and a hat or if you are feeling glamorous- keep the fur and strut around like a character from Game of Thrones. It is warm and cosy and for Paris I will definitely be keeping the fur!!!

Accessories – Again I will be taking more than these, but I wear the same jewellery most days.

All the accessories...

All the accessories…

Michael Kors Black Medium Tote Bag – This was my 2014 guilty present to myself which I purchased whilst I was on holiday in Florence with my family. I do not know if it was the warm weather, the beauty of Florence or just the fact that I wanted a designer handbag, but it is the best bag I have ever purchased. I have used it every day since and it is still in pristine condition. As I am going to one of the fashion capitals of the world then I think it will fit right in!! All bags and goodies from Michael Kors here if you dare.

Accessorize Green Fedora Hat (No longer available, but something similar here). My brother bought me this hat for Christmas and on my recent trip to London I was brave enough to wear it. It went down so well, that even a couple on the escalators at Paddington stopped me and told me how much they liked it (huge confidence boost). It is especially handy if you are having a greasy hair day, providing you do not have to remove it. I think the hat and the fur from my coat might be a bit too much, but you never know Paris might make me crazy.

Accessorize Super Chunky Hat (Now on sale at £5.10 from £17). I have received many compliments for this cosy number. It keeps your head lovely and toasty and looks quite cool too. Also if you are like me and have a large head then it fits perfectly and does not highlight this unfortunate problem.

Fake Ray Bans. I bought these in Italy for 10 euros which was a bargain. They have UV protection and everything. Not much else to say about these other than they are perfect for me as I always lose/break sunglasses.

Electricals

Electrical goods...

Electrical goods….

My trusty travel hairdryer that is really useful because of its size and deceiving power (My mane takes a good 20 minutes under this bad boy to dry!!) I have also packed a cool adapter that I may or may not have accidentally ‘stolen’ from a hotel I stayed in before. It is really useful as you only need to take the lead part of your phone charger. Obviously need a normal adapter for the hairdryer.

Reading Materials

So studious & prepared!

So studious & prepared!

Both Hannah and I are taking our Wine Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 3 course this year and this is our bible. Our course starts in a few weeks time, so I am trying to get ahead of the game with the reading (so far I have read the first page). I have also packed my custom made notebook to take notes during our very important meeting with our client, along with a posh pen (probs also stolen) and business cards because that is how an international jet setting business woman rolls (I presume)!

So small and travel friendly!

So small and travel friendly!

I also just want to share with you my super cute mini OPI nail varnish. It is a lovely shimmery purple colour which goes with everything and the bottle is adorable!!

The Dream!!

The Dream!!

All I really want is to take a picture with a croissant upside down (replacing my smile) with the Eiffel Tower in the background – too much to ask? I think not. Check my Instagram for updates!!

I will 100% writing a little post about Paris on my return.

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VALENTINE’S DAY: GIFT & OUTFIT SUGGESTIONS

Valentines-Day-Tumblr-4-300x194Whether you like it or not, Valentine’s Day has arrived in a BIG way – every year it seems to get bigger, better and more Americanised than the year before.

I am one of those annoying girls/women (I never know where girl ends and woman begins) that say things like, “OMG It’s so over commercialised, I think people should just celebrate days that mean something to them” and then I would be genuinely quite upset if I didn’t receive a card (one of those classic problem solving situations for my boyfriend).

So I thought I would suggest a few Valentine’s gift ideas for your loved one or for yourself and include a couple of cheeky Valentine’s outfit suggestions.

GIFTS                                                                                                                                                                                                          

I do not think Valentines Day requires big extravagant gifts and expensive dinners; small token gifts to show someone you are thinking about them is plenty, whether thats for your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or best friend. Here are a few ideas.

Home made gifts.

Vouchers that are much better than mine!

Vouchers that are much better than mine!

This year I have decided to explore (find) my creative side and I have made Matt a little voucher book which entitles him to things such as ‘the ability to trump my dinner suggestion with a Bolognese’ and ‘the final decision when it comes to choosing a film’ – do not worry I have included a terms & conditions page. I would include a picture, but don’t want to ruin the whole thing if Matt reads this. Other ideas for homemade gifts – bookmark or a coaster?

Home baked goodies.

I would be pretty pleased with these...

I would be pretty pleased with these…

Baked treats are always a winner when it comes to creating a relatively cheap present that shows how much you care. My housemate Sophie is a cupcake queen, the Mary Berry of a beautiful sponge and swirly icing! Unfortunately I am more like the first contestant Mary throws off in bake off, so I may go for something simple. BBC Good Food has a great page dedicated to Valentine’s baking recipes which look amazing!!! I will let you know how it goes if I take on the challenge!!

Flowers.

I would prefer a bunch of Daisies.

I would prefer a bunch of Daisies.

I am not a huge fan of roses, however I do know that both Aldi and Lidl are selling gorgeous bunches for under £5. I know Waitrose are also offering a good flower delivery service for under £20. I cannot speak for womankind when I say this, however if I were to receive flowers, I would also really appreciate a nice vase. Nothing posh, just something cool such as an old milk jug or jar with a ribbon around it – just me?

Beauty Treatment.candle

I always think a gift should be something that the recipient would not purchase for themselves and for many women this can sometimes be time to let someone pamper them. This is why a voucher to a beauty salon is a great idea as they can sit back and relax whilst they are having a manicure/pedicure/massage or facial. I may be biased, but any Bristolians out there I do not think you can beat my wonderful mother’s beauty place – The Beauty Retreat. You are taken care of from the moment you walk through the door. With a cup of tea/coffee in hand you cannot help but feel relaxed with the soothing music, gorgeous scents from oils and candles and warm reception from all of the therapists. Exclusively for Valentine’s Day The Beauty Retreat is offering a number of special therapies such as a 40 minute massage to unwind the mind and soothe the muscles with custom blended oils to suit your mood for just £30. If you can spare two minutes take a look at the Facebook page for all the latest promotions. 

Dining In.

Dining In AKA making a mess...

Dining In AKA making a mess…

If you are looking to make a 3 course meal for two, but cannot really be worried about cooking or do not want to give your loved one food poisoning then I have had a little scan of the best supermarket offers. Mark & Spencer’s is my favourite with Gourmet dining in for 2 for £20 this includes a starter, main course, side, dessert, box of chocolates and bottle of Cava or wine (individually this would cost £36+)!!! Let me tell you the options are also divine – take a look for yourself!. Both Tesco and Morrisons have also put on great deals for Valentine’s which will also save you money.

Miscellaneous.

Don't panic there is more...

Don’t panic there is more…

If none of the above are appealing to you then I have spotted a few little gems which I absolutely love and would make gorgeous little gifts, such as a Lily-flame scented tin (They are my absolute favourite and I have mentioned them before in a previous post) or the Primark cushion below which is so fitting for anyone who loves cake as much as I do.

Lily-flame Rose Petals Scented Tin £8.50

Lily-flame Rose Petals Scented Tin £8.50

Primark Cushion £4

Primark Cushion £4

Outfits for the perfect Valentine’s Date – day & night options (sorry the pictures are so blurry, you can see the individual items better if you follow the links):

Day:

The perfect outfit for a daytime date...

The perfect outfit for a daytime date…

Sheinside Green Batwing Long Sleeve Cable Knit Sweater SALE £18.48 

Topshop MOTO Black Joni Jeans £36.00 

Primark Camel Trench Coat £25 (out now)

River Island Black Felt Fedora Hat £25.00 

Urban Outfitters Circle Triangle Double Pendant in Silver £12 

Topshop Leather and Suede Shopper Bag £42.00 

Topshop MERIBEL Ankle Boots £75.00

Night:

A feminine and chic look for an evening date or night out with the girls.

A feminine and chic look for an evening date or night out with the girls.

River Island Black Textured Bardot Bodycon Dress £35.00 

Topshop **Blige Duster Coat by Another 8 £75.00

Accessorize Small Hammered Hoop Earrings £10.00

Accessorize Grace Embroidered Ziptop Bag £29.00 

M&S Stiletto High Heel Platform Court Shoes £25.00

So whether you are out with your friends, on a romantic date or just having a cosy night in, I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day. Even if it is a money making, marketing ploy; it is an excuse to receive a present, drink nice wine & eat nice food and I will never turn down any of the above!