B U D A P E S T || H U N G A R Y

Budapest is one of the most interesting cities i’ve been to. From impressive buildings to quirky backstreet bars there is so much to do, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard more about this place before I went.

We stayed in an Air Bnb right opposite the Parliament buildings which was an ideal location to explore the city from. We were there for 3 days and managed to squeeze (hopefully) the best things things to do in that time. IMG_3467-Edit copy

Fisherman’s Bastion

When you look over the river from the Buda side the whole Pest side looks packed full of insane buildings and it can be hard to know where to start. Also just a bit of advice, everything looks like its about a 5 minute walk away from each other. It isn’t. It’s a lot more walking than you think. So if you don’t have time to visit all of them then you must make sure you go to Fisherman’s Bastion, it really is the prettiest place. It’s like a genuine fairy tale castle! Great for photos too… if you’re into that kind of thing.

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Szchenji Thermal Baths

So what can I say about the spa. Firstly let me set the spa scene for you. Budapest has many thermal baths and I think each one might be good for different things. You also may or may not be aware of the ‘sparty’ phenomenon in Budapest, but it is essentially where people get drunk listening to music packed into 38 degree heated water. I had been warned about these and advised not to go near a spa anytime during or after a sparty night as things could get pretty wrong in there (can you see where this story is going..)

But despite this I was adamant that the pretty yellow spa I had researched wasn’t like that, I’d seen the pictures, it was far too classy for that… SO i made a big fuss about this being THE spa we should go to and not listen to what people’s friends has been saying…IMG_2576

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To be fair I still enjoyed myself despite the fact that several people I was with stepped on a CONDOM. It was just floating around chilling in the pool. I thought it was hilarious at first (I mean it wasn’t me who had stepped on it) until I realised i’d actually been rubbing the water all over my face thinking it was ‘healing water’. I definitely had strangely flakey eyelids for the rest of the trip thats all I’m saying

Anyway take from my story what you will, I’m sure other people have gone and not stepped on anything but if you want a guaranteed classy spa experience I have heard subsequently that the Gellert Baths are very nice! (And obviously everyone decides to tell me this AFTER I’d been so thanks guys!)

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St Stephens Basilica

I was worried this was going to be too touristy and full of people but we were actually really pleasantly surprised.

The inside was very beautiful but also very churchy. I can see why people love it but personally it’s not my thing. What I did love however was climbing the (million) stairs up to the most stunning views across Budapest. You could walk around the whole top of the building at get views at every angle.

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(Sorry about the lens cap in my pocket!)

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Ruin Bars

I’d heard alot about the ruin bars before I went and I’m pretty sure if I went again I would spend alot more time in them. They are just so random! I mean in one of them you actually sit on a toilet seat for your actual seat (who doesn’t want that!?). One I can definitely recommend is Szimpla Kert which is pretty much the original one and a definite to go to. It’s full of crazy telephone boxes, electric jungles, giant plants and strange memorabilia, it’s pretty great!

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In the electric jungle we were surrounded by creepy TV’s and crazy wires AND you could press random buttons and a hairdryer hanging from the ceiling would come on and blow in random peoples faces. I mean I didn’t know I was in to being generally annoying to strangers but it’s like once you’re there you just can’t stop yourself.

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There’s also so many random sections for you to drink and explore! I am obviously a massive plant fan so all the crazy plants upstairs made me very happy.

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The New York Cafe

This is allegedly the most beautiful cafe in the world so we kinda had to go. It really is insane, the outside looks pretty normal but as soon as you get in it’s like you’ve stepped into a different time. Every part of it is intricately decorated and there was classical music being played live off a balcony just because why not!? My first thought was oh god my ripped jeans and dirty trainers are going to stop me getting into this place, but actually it was just full of normal people in normal clothes much like any other cafe.

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In fairness it isn’t my usual kind of place – seemed maybe a little bit over the top but then apparently I like toilet seats and hairdryers going off while I drink so you probably shouldn’t listen to me. It is definitely worth going though, especially as their Bloody Mary’s were great. (and that’s always a win for me).

Another thing is that the cafe is actually attached to a hotel which I didn’t realise at the time. On our way out we got a bit ‘lost’/ we were just being nosy and came across the most beautiful hotel lobby. I was going to just walk on by inconspicuously but the concierge man saw my camera and was like ‘go upstairs you’ll get a great picture’. So thanks concierge man!

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Budapest at Night

One of the best things about Budapest is that is equally as good in the night as it is the day. All of the buildings are lit up so you can see them perfectly and obviously the ruin bars are ideal for a night out. We actually got a boat trip along the Danube which took you past all the famous buildings. If you know me you know i’m just not really a boaty person but I took one for the team and once I’d embraced it (had a few wines) then it was actually quite fun.

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Sky note bar

Like probably every other person in the world I have a thing for rooftop bars. I just love being able to see the mix of city rooftops, a sunset and drinking!

This one had such a great view of Budapest and the sunset was epic. Again, the Bloody Mary’s were amazing (I promise I drank other things as well).

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The Jewish Quarter 

One thing you have to do if you have time is walk around the jewish quarter. It’s full of the best quirky bars and restaurants and full of streets lined with fairy lights. Plus you can find beers for like 82p (we did have to search for that one.) You can wander round little market stalls and find somewhere to sit and drink. It’s pretty chilled.

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The Parliament building

This bad boy is a pretty impressive building! It’s also huge! We were staying right by it and with my terrible sense of direction it really helped staying next to one of the most famous landmarks! What was even better was crossing the river and seeing it from the other side. It’s genuinely really impressive.

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Basically Budapest is one of the best cities I’ve been to, so much to do there! I would definitely recommend it!

I T A L Y | L A K E C O M O

 

ITALY \\ LAKE COMO

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LAKE COMO \\ BELLANO

Lake Como is somewhere that I had wanted to go for years so I was very happy that it didn’t disappoint.

We actually ended up staying in the town of Bellano which is one of the least touristy towns on the lake. We stayed there only because we found this absolutely incredible Air Bnb and I just decided to base everything around that.

When we arrived, at first I was so heat stroked from a crazy train journey (don’t ask) and felt mild distress that yet again there were so many stairs to climb to get to our apartment (I swear I had legs of steel by the end of this trip). But once we’d had a chance to recover we looked around us and literally couldn’t believe the scenery, it was crazy beautiful! And I guess having an apartment with a glass front, it’s own wine cellar and infinity pool always helps.

Below: Wearing a plunge lace swimsuit from Zara.

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Even though Bellano doesn’t really have the tourist vibe, the one thing they do have (and seem very proud of) is this rock thing called Orrido Di Bellano…it was basically these scary caves with water running through them really quickly and loudly. Oh and I think it’s linked with mythology and some folklore tales. It was quite interesting but also a bit creepy. But then again it doesn’t take much to creep me out…I did like the waterfall though!

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LAKE COMO \\ BELLAGIO

 

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What can I say, Bellagio is so dreamy! We got the ferry across from Varenna and even the ferry was a great experience (and I’m not normally the most boaty person).

I had heard so much about this place, I was mainly excited to get see some of the iconic cobbled streets and get some really amazing food and wine in me.

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Below: Wearing an example of when Monsoon get it right. 

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I was so keen for a good meal that we had the classic deliberation of where to go for about an hour. We ended up taking our own advice from our Amalfi time and found what looked like a pretty decent hotel for lunch. Oh my god it was AMAZING! The pic below is the view from where we were eating. I had this lake trout in a lemon dressing and it is honestly the best thing I have ever eaten. Probably. I still think about it now and get sad that it’s so far away for me to eat again. The hotel was called the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. Go there you won’t regret it!

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Due to some crazy all night storms we didn’t actually get much sleep here. This meant that on some days we decided to just spent our time chilling by the pool and doing as little moving as possible (apart from a bit of photo time obviously).

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Above and below: Wearing colour block swimsuit from Zara

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The sunsets were unreal here.

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LAKE COMO \\ VARENNA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove: Wearing vintage Levi’s. They get me through every summer.

So we couldn’t leave Como without getting a boat out on the lake. We had been told that the weather was going to ‘turn’ so we were pretty keen to get out there and not miss our chance.

To get a boat out, going to Varenna is defiantly your best bet. We got the train from Bellano (for like 5 minutes) and then walked through the cobbled streets to the little bay where the boat men are sat chilling. It was ridiculously easy to get a boat out, if they gave one to me they will definitely give one to anyone. I mean, I can barely ride a bike.

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Once we were on the water I would like to say we had the most relaxing time but because of the predicted weather turn (that we kept hearing about) we had to go to all these places we wanted to see in about an hour. This meant that we had to drive the boat super fast and when you weren’t the one driving it you literally felt like you were going to get thrown off. I genuinely had bruises from where I had been flung about so much. Not as glamorous as it looks I’m telling you.

Obviously it was still worth doing and I would still recommend it. Just maybe give yourself a bit more time than we did.

Below: Wearing bikini from Sober and Naked – a sustainable swimwear brand where the fabric is made from recycled materials such as old fishing nets etc. yet feels just like normal swimwear! Definitely worth checking out. 

Overall my top tips for Lake Como are:

  • Pick your accommodation wisely. Obviously goes without saying but actually it makes the experience so amazing when you have these epic views from wherever you are. Because our place was so good, most nights we ended up going to the local supermarket and just cooking fresh food and sitting on our balcony just eating, drinking and being at one with our surroundings. Seriously recommend Air Bnb for the less touristy hidden gems.
  • Go to Bellagio, even if you don’t stay there, just going for the day was such a good experience. The cobbled streets, iconic signs and beautiful tree lined tavernas make it such a dream to visit. As previously mentioned if you can go to the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni on the front for lunch or dinner I would definately recommend it. The food was so good.
  • Explore Varenna and get a boat out for the day. Again as I said before…give it some time, don’t drive the boat like a crazy. It took me ages to get over the bruising (mentally and physically…to be fair I don’t really love boats).
  • Find a good sunset spot. The combination of lake, mountain and the sun setting is too good. Make sure you experience it.

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A M A L F I C O A S T | I T A L Y P T . 1

 

Back in June I spent a couple of weeks exploring some of the best parts of Italy, starting in the Amalfi coast. It is one of the best things I have ever done and secretly feel like I should be part Italian by now. The Amalfi coast is insane! It is full of sketchy bus rides, incredible food and ridiculously beautiful scenery.  It was the perfect place to put my not-so-secret photography obsession to use.

 

A M A L F I   T O W N | A M A L F I   C O A S T

Amalfi town itself is such a unique and beautiful place. The funky trees, striped umbrellas and turquoise water genuinely made me happy. On our first day we went straight to the Silver Moon Pizzeria and although I’m sure they do great pizza – all I really wanted from them was to sit under one of their stripy umbrellas and pretend I was in an old italian film. I mean that’s what everyone does right?

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In Amalfi Town

  • Have a beach day. One that involves some sort of umbrella – not only because it looks great but if you’re on a sunbed that is owned by a bar then strange shouty people actually come round and bring you cold beers. I mean you have to pay for them but at least you don’t have to move.
  • Drink. I would definitely recommend watching the world go by with a drink in the Marina Grande on the beach front. Great for people and scenery watching.
  • Get a gelato. This probably goes without saying but you can get some really nice ones in the square behind the sea front. Just a warning however, they melt FAST. Mine disappeared in the time it took for me to try and get my camera out to take a classic ‘look at my gelato pic’. I ended up with mint choc chips (yes that is the best flavour) all down my leg, clothes and in my hair. This felt quite unavoidable so I don’t really know why I didn’t see this happen to more people.

 

P O S I T A N O | A M A L F I   C O A S T

Positano is in a league of its own in terms of how beautiful it is. So many interesting back streets and gold domes. Well there’s actually only one gold dome, maybe two, but one big one that everyone looks at. It is genuinely amazing. Oh and its actual name is the Church of Santa Maria Assunda.

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As you arrive into Positano it does become pretty obvious this must be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The beach and the architecture is just all stunning it’s hard to believe it’s actually real. What I loved most was exploring the backstreets where you can get lost in a maze of quirky streets and coloured houses away from the crowds

In Positano

  • Don’t wear heels. This is a very vertical town, lots of stairs and climbing uneven floors. I did wear heels so I can speak from experience here. Blisters for days.
  • Go to the hotels. We weren’t actually staying in Positano but one of the biggest lessons learnt in Italy is that if you find the amazing hotels (that the average person can’t afford to stay in) just go there for drinks or dinner! You get to experience some of the best food and best views in Italy. I can recommend Le Sirenuse and Hotel Palazzo Murat. We stopped in the latter for lunch and found ourselves in an oasis of foliage and flowers complete with a view of the Santa Maria Church creeping out from behind the plants. (Honestly everyone wants a piece of this Church – if you can see it from where you’re sat you’re in the right place.)
  • Backstreets. Explore them! You get a lot more of a feel for the place when you’re away from the crowds. It’s amazing that even once you’ve walked far into the depths of Positano you can still find such incredible views.
  • Shopping! Although unfortunately I couldn’t fit this in to our itinerary the shops you see walking around are pretty on point – It’s definitely something I would do next time!

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F U O R E | A M A L F I   C O A S T

This beach is so cute it deserves its own heading! You would never know it was there unless you knew to look for it. Luckily, as i’d been obsessively researching this trip months in advance, I had spotted it online and made it my mission to find it. Right in the middle of Amalfi and Positano this little gem is one of the reasons I love Italy.

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R A V E L L O | A M A L F I   C O A S T

I don’t even know where to start with Ravello. We were staying about 20 minutes from the centre of Ravello but that 20 minutes was ALL stairs. Every night the leg cramp was real. Every evening we would make this journey into the town for dinner and although in 30 degrees it killed us it was also so worth it. Ravello is BEAUTIFUL.

We had amazing dinners, saw incredible sunsets, made actual friends with a cat (who walked the 20 mins home with us one night) and saw the most impressive lemons you’ve ever seen. They are very proud of the lemon thing as well.

In Ravello

  • Watch the sunset in the square. The views are amazing and you can sit at and enjoy it whilst having a drink and also some strange snacks at Duomo Caffè Ravello Costa di Amalfi. Honestly every evening they would bring us our drink accompanied with something slightly random to snack on. I LOVED it!
  • Dinner at Ristorante Rossellini’s. Incredible views across the whole of the Amalfi coast line. The food is epic and the garden is amazing especially whilst enjoying a couple of Martinis. Eating here was genuinely one of the highlights of the whole trip.
  • If you’re up for a bit of DIY eating go to one of the corner shops (are they even called that in Italy?) and get some of the best balsamic and olive oil, then get tomatos, mozzarella, bread and fresh basil. And obviously wine. Make yourself a salad with these amazing ingredients and just be amazed by how good it is.

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CIAO!