31 May 2015

Suitcase. Zurich, Switzerland - Travel Guide

Ah Switzerland; land of clear waters, rugged mountains and picturesque valleys.  I first came across pictures of this beautiful country as a little girl, and since then I’ve been chomping at the bit to get there. My first 4-day sojourn into the German part of the country didn’t disappoint, particularly since it was my birthday weekend so there was extra cause for celebration.

Despite that fact that it was my birthday, this was a solo trip, which is actually a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine because I like being a free agent to do what I wish… I had about 24 hours in Zurich to cram in all the sights before I would be heading onto Lucerne. Challenge accepted.

To be honest, I hadn’t expected too much from Zurich, people had told me there wasn’t much to see or do there and I generally got an “ehh, it’s ok” vibe from previous visitors. Not so! I loved this city. From the picturesque church towers dotted all over the city, to the river running through the centre, it had a very European kind of charm which I adored. Then of course there was the lake which I found spectacular; crystal clear and full of birdlife. In 24 hours I think I walked back and forth along it 4 separate times!

Didn't want to interrupt their nap time but I had to get a photo!

The city is divided by the river into the Old Town and the New Town. Both sides are worth a stroll, although I loved the cobblestoned alleys of the Old Town.

Thanks to plenty of advertising all over the city for Edelweiss (the airline) I had the song stuck in my head the entire trip, you know from The Sound Of Music. Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me… Adding to the musicality of my visit was the bells of the four churches which chime out frequently and for up to 20 minutes at a time. Annoying perhaps for the residents but I thought it was lovely.

Whilst you’re in the city, make sure you take a stroll up to Lindenhof for the great view...

...then make your way down along the lake towards the Chinese Gardens, which make a great picnic spot.

If you’re lucky you’ll spot a family of baby swans on the way.

Zurich itself isn’t overly large. I managed to walk everywhere I needed to, although there is a good network of trams around the city if you so desire. In terms of when you first arrive, I recommend taking the train from the airport to Zurich HB in the centre of the city. It’s the quickest and cheapest method. I found Switzerland to be an extremely expensive country so I would avoid taxis if you can. With its lake and waterways, it’s a great city for strolling.

I can’t really claim to be too much of a connoisseur here because due to my budget I didn’t eat out a whole lot. I did, however, shop in the supermarkets in Zurich (Coop is a great one) and had my own little picnics by the lake. The produce here is really top notch; everything tastes fresh and is superior quality particularly the cheese and bread… Great cheese and bread!

One place you must go whether for lunch, afternoon tea or just a sweet snack is Café Schober. This little venue in the Old Town is Zurich’s most well known café. I indulged in a delightful strawberry tart and glass of prosecco whilst listening to a trio of buskers playing flamenco-inspired music across the square. Cheers.

Around the Opera part of town, I saw some beautiful lakeside restaurants and cafes so I’m sure these would also be worth a visit. Hotel Eden Au Lac also has a delightful rooftop brunch but sadly I was a bit slow on the uptake and it was booked out… You can tell me how good it is when you go!

24 hours in Zurich was a whirlwind but I did feel like it was the perfect amount of time to spend in the city, and a great introduction to Switzerland. I was thoroughly spoiled by my hotel, The M Gallery Hotel Continental. They upgraded my room and delivered me cake and a card for my birthday the following day. It was definitely a great start to my weekend. Next stop Lucerne…

Photos by Krissie.

28 May 2015

Style It. May Celeb Street Style

Ah May… Thank goodness because for us in the northern hemisphere it means it’s nearly summer (I know, I know I've been going on about it forever but it's finally nearly here!). As usual the fash’ pack has been out in force what with The Met Gala Ball, Cannes Film Festival and the BAFTAs, not to mention Dior’s amazing cruise show set in that crazy bubble house in the south of France [so jel.]. Here are the beauties whose style I’m coveting this month, can you sense a monochrome theme?

Asymmetric Ribbed Knit Top by Stella McCartney £645 || Slim Crepe Trousers by New Look £18 || Tote Bag by Kurt Geiger £199 || Cat Eye Sunglasses by AJ Morgan £15 || Lipstick by MAC £15

Whether she’s channelling a gypsy queen or the mod’ squad, Sienna Miller never puts a fashion-foot wrong. Love this monochrome look she used for her transit to Cannes Film Festival. Who else could look this chic getting off a plane? Full marks for the sassy cat eye shades.

Sleeveless Knit by Gentryportofino £70 || Leather Mini Skirt by Karen Millen £299 || Suede Court Heels by Office £65 || Mini Tote Bag by Rebecca Minkoff £125

With a body like that why wouldn’t you wear a mini skirt? Love the pairing of leather with the textured knit, plus Miranda Kerr's pins look extra long thanks to the pointed court shoes. A soft blow-wave and minimal make-up equals 10/10 style.

Polo Neck Cape Top by El La £169 || Leather-Look Jeans by Five Units £80 || Gold Cuff by Aurélie Bigermann £220 || Peep Toe Heels by Kurt Geiger £60

The lesser known Olsen sister, Elizabeth, has certainly made a name for herself in the fashion world. Love this striking high neck, cape-style top on her, combined with the leather-look skinnies. Well done little Olsen, you did good.

Photos via Pinterest and retailers.

24 May 2015

Must Have. Summer Lust. Want. Have.

I can’t tell you how ready I am to bare a little flesh. After 8 months of being rugged/wrapped/covered up, I’m chomping at the bit to wear a summer wardrobe. All I need is some 25+ degree weather and sunshine (come on London, work with me here).

There are plenty of trends on the radar this season, some of which I like and others I don’t. In my opinion you can’t really go wrong with boho, although I’m not a fan of the gladiators that go right up the leg [shock horror but I don’t think they’re flattering]. And when it comes to 70s I’m not sure it’s for me, although I am keen to give the suede tasslling ‘a whirl’ – literally. My summer style is definitely more classic and timeless; plenty of whites in breezy shapes, blouses, palazzos, hints of subtle soft colours, nautical stripes and delicate jewels. There are the pieces I Lust. Want. Have.

Photos via retailers.

I'm currently tripping around Switzerland for my birthday so don't forget to follow me on Instagram

21 May 2015

Eat Me. The Joint, Marylebone

Last week I had a very successful evening, not only did I have the best burger of my life to date, I also found the area of London I want to live in. Marylebone. Talk about a productive Friday night.

Walking up from Bond Street towards Baker Street I fell in love with the endless restaurants and cafes, regal red brick homes, quaint little streets and vibrant bars. What a fabulous neck of the woods.

Aside from my significant real estate discovery, I had a significant burger joint discovery, literally. It’s called The Joint on New Cavendish Street. [Not to be confused with Tommi’s Burger Joint around the corner, I don’t know what his burgers are like, so I can’t vouch.] Not only do they serve up 2 for 1 cocktails every night of the week until 7pm, they also serve up the best burger I’ve ever laid eyes mouth on. BBQ pulled pork. Sure's she's not the prettiest but I tell you she was delectable.

Inside their warehouse-y interior is nothing fancy, in fact with its mismatched cement and brick walls it reminded me a lot of a Melbourne venue. The burgers are served on paper plates [no pretence here] and the sides comes wrapped in paper and string with an Alice-In-Wonderland-like label.

A great hotspot for after work drinks. I’m warming up for round two.

Where: 19 New Cavendish Street W1G 9TZ, London
Bookings: a good idea on weekends
Phone: 020 7486 3059

Photos by Krissie.

The Joint on Urbanspoon

Don't forget to follow all of my fashion, foodie and travel adventures on Instagram and Facebook. I'm off to Switzerland this weekend for my birthday so I promise to share plenty of picturesque photos!

17 May 2015

Must Have. Greek Islands Summer Wardrobe

As a self-diagnosed heliophile (read: a person adapted to and attracted to sunlight) you could say I’m a little bit overexcited for my summer holiday in Greece. [Only 68 days and counting!] So much so, that I have already mentally packed my suitcase, and anything remotely summery that I’m purchasing at the moment is with the intent to wear on the islands.

Oooo that will look lovely in Greece!

This one’s perfect for beach-to-bar.

This is my Santorini sunset outfit.

That will be ideal for the Mykonos beach parties.

You get the idea. But don’t deny it, I’m sure plenty of you can relate to this level of excitement.

Considering the fact that I’ve only got carry-on luggage, I’m already anticipating a slight packing problem. Between the several bikinis, dresses, sarongs and shoes; I’m not really sure it’s all going to fit… Let alone the tanning oil, beach bag, good book (or two) and the excessively large floppy hat.

But who cares? I’m excited!

Check out all these beauties that I’ve already got my hands on. It’s going to be a [hopefully] long, hot summer.

Shoes by Forever New (sold out) || Bikini Set by Cos here and here £34 || Denim Shorts by Zara £20 || Lace Crop Top by Missguided £15 || Sandals by River Island £35 || Dress by Zara (sold out) || Sarong by Kookai (sold out) || Lace Top by River Island £25 || Bikini by Billabong (sold out) || Shoes from Atmosphere (sold out)

Photos via Pinterest and by Krissie.

14 May 2015

Suitcase. Amsterdam, Netherlands - Travel Guide

I had wanted to visit Amsterdam for a really long time. A city known for endless canals, blooming tulips, clogs, bicycles and, of course, illicit activities… I was excited and more than a little bit intrigued…

It didn't let us down. It was 'dam' good. [Get it!?]

This city was everything I hoped it would be and more, with friendly people to boot. Walking along the streets and by the water, I thought to myself this is definitely somewhere I could see myself living for a little sojourn at some point in my life. So who knows, I may be back…

Bag by River Island here, shoes here [Converse are a travel essential], trusty leather jacket here, and jeans are a Sportsgirl old faithful

After heading to the Keukenhof Gardens when we first arrived, we spent the rest of the first day dreamily wandering the miles and miles of canals. We walked with no real purpose or destination because we quickly figured out it was very easy to get lost, but it didn’t really matter; we were just soaking it all in. It seems the inhabitants of the city appreciate the canals just as much as the tourists; every second house we walked by had a resident downstairs with a chair by the waterfront; sure 95% of them were smoking (and most often NOT cigarettes!) – but they were soaking in the sunshine all the same.

Yes indeed that is a clog that is a boat. Wow.

Day two saw us up and at em’ early to beat the queue at Anne Frank’s house. The house opens at 9am so my recommendation would be to queue from around 8.15am. We did so and were in the door by 9.30am – I call that a success (often the line is over 3 hours!). I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was just a little girl and I never forgot it. Neither will I ever forget my experience in that house. The stories, the images, the cramped rooms, the steep steep stairs, the darkness and the recorded interviews with Otto Frank; Anne’s father. It was a truly sobering experience and one that you mustn’t miss.

Despite everything, the Frank's had a prime piece of waterfront real estate, this is the view from outside their house.

Next, we headed for the centre of town to do the free walking tour. Most of you know by now that I’m a real advocate for these! They are such a great way to see the sights of the city, learn your way around and hear the guide’s local knowledge. He took us through the Red Light District which was a surreal experience. It’s exactly how you think it will be, but at the same time you can’t believe it is: women openly selling themselves in their own shop window. The world’s gone mad. Not only that but there’s different “malls” if you will: Elite Avenue (supposedly the best of the best) and Big Mama Lane (no explanation needed), to name a few… Then we walked through Dam Square, the Jewish District, by the canals and back towards Anne Frank’s house. In 3 hours we learnt so much which really shaped the way we experienced the city.

My friend and I went to Amsterdam with an intent to experience it all, so that night after dinner we found ourselves back in the Red Light District and heading to a sex show. Amidst giggles and "are we really doing this" stares we had a very memorable evening. Amsterdam has a funny way of maintaining the law, referred to by locals as “looking through the fingers”. There’s a whole lot of illicit activities going on in this city but as long as it does no harm to anyone and is good for the economy [which it obviously is!], the police turn a blind eye. Interestingly enough, it seems to be working for them!

No photos allowed in the Red Light District so here's a beautiful waterfront home to compensate.

Our final day saw us taking to two wheels: bikes! We road the many leafy streets and laneways, through the beautiful Vondole Park with the Amsterdam sign, and onto the picturesque Jordann District. It was a beautiful way to see a beautiful city.

Bicycles. Bicycles. Bicycles. That’s all you need to know. And watch where you’re walking! They come at you from all angles here; the cyclists think they rule the road.

I highly recommend hiring a bike and spending a day riding around the city (approx €15/day). It’s a great way to cover ground and riding by the canals is very relaxing. Just watch out you don’t actually fall in; apparently 16,000 bikes are pulled from the water every year!

If you’re looking for another mode of transportation then the trams are also a great way to get around the city. And, when you arrive at the airport, take the train to central station – it’s speedy and cheap (€4).

There’s a great variety of restaurants to choose from in Amsterdam all with their own niche. With only 3 days we didn’t have a chance to try them all but I heard stories of cafes in greenhouses, restaurants in old car show rooms and even an elegant dining experience in an old ship warehouse by the water. Cool. We had a fabulous dinner at Bocinq where their main cuisine is a melange of French-African. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was great too.

If you’re heading to Amsterdam soon then you’ll be just in time for the city’s Magnum pop-up store where you can create your own flavour. I had vanilla ice-cream with a milk chocolate coating, white chocolate flakes, nougat, caramelised hazelnuts and a white chocolate drizzle. It was the best ice-cream ever. Seriously.

Forgive the quality of this one, it was hastily snapped on an iPhone before I devoured it!

Bakers & Roasters does a fab breakkie/brunch. The bacon and eggs were nearly as good as my mum’s and that’s really saying something! Plus there's plenty of delightful places to dine by the water.

And of course, you can’t visit Amsterdam without buying a packet of Stroopwafels to take home! These delightful waffle biscuits are joined together with a layer of caramel. I left mine to sit over the top of my mug of tea, as recommended by a local, and they were even better!

Whether it’s relaxation or party-party-party you’re looking for, Amsterdam has the best of both worlds. Adopt a slow pace with long walks by the water and lunch in the cafes set on the canals. Or go wild and take in the illicit nature of the city’s centre with clubs, bars and shows. Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a ball.

Photos by Krissie.

10 May 2015

Suitcase. Keukenhof Spring Tulip Gardens, Netherlands

WARNING: if you’re not a fan of flowers then this post isn’t for you. Prepare for many MANY photos of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, lilies; the list goes on…

Last weekend I found myself at the second largest flower garden in the world. Keukenhof; just outside Amsterdam in the Netherlands.  This spectacular spring garden is open just 8 weeks of the year and is home to 7 million hand-planted flowers. To say I was in awe of the beauty would be a huge understatement.

There were giant tulips

pointy tulips

multi-coloured tulips

endless daffodils

and a funny upside down flower that I’d never seen before.

I’ve always found a bouquet of flowers to have the power to brighten up any day, so you can imagine how joyous I was feeling surrounded by all these beauties. Walking around the garden, the rows of blooms were endless. Some colour-blocked, others mixed together, all beautiful.

Honestly it was like stepping into one of Shirley Barber’s fairy books – magical colours everywhere, and I’m sure there were plenty of fairies too. Look there's one! Oh wait, that's me.

After wandering the entire grounds, past the streams, over the bridges and by the windmill, it was time to set off for Amsterdam. Read more about my adventures in “The Venice Of The North” next week.

To reach Keukenhof you can take the 858 bus from Schiphol Airport. A return bus journey and entrance ticket (Combi Ticket) is approximately €23. Be warned that around holidays or on long weekends the wait time to board the bus can be well over an hour. The journey is then 30-60mins depending on traffic. The gardens are open each year from mid March to mid May. This is definitely one for the bucket list – I would encourage everyone to make it here at least once in their lifetime.

Photos by Krissie.