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Showing posts with label city guides. Show all posts
Showing posts with label city guides. Show all posts

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

What to pack for a short city break

in-flight essentials

I'm sure you haven't failed to notice that we've been on our anniversary minibreak in Oslo... It's not like I've been posting about anything else! Anyway, as I mentioned in my airport fashion post, as far as I'm concerned, the holiday begins when I'm packing my bags. There's something so exciting about the anticipation involved. What will we do? What will I need?
So I thought I'd share just a few of my favourite things to pack for a very short "city break" - this is by no means all that I brought with me - just a few bits and pieces that I thought would be worth sharing! I took these photos as the morning sun streamed through the window of our attic hotel room, and Dan was shaving his face in our tiny ensuite. At the very end of the post, I'll let you know where everything came from, so stay tuned! And don't forget to watch our Oslo vlogs, if you haven't already!

minibreak packing list
holiday pyjamas
minibreak beauty kit
holy grail holiday project
Headphone tidy - Yesstyle - Cute if not super useful...
Portable eyelash curler - MUJI - Use this very carefully as it is quite different from a normal eyelash curler!
Hairclip - Boots - Useful in-flight and for putting on makeup.
Tea dress - Dorothy Perkins - See previous post! This is a great casual date dress.
Plastic travel pouch - MUJI - All my liquids were in here because we only took carry-on luggage.
Analogue camera - Pentax - This used to be my mum's camera!
Light pyjamas - Primark - The top has one of those useless 'built in bra' things, but if you can get past that ridiculousness, it's great. And the trousers are super comfy. I'm wearing them right now.
Makeup wipes - Boots - makeup wipes are perfect for short breaks and carry-on luggage holidays.
Eyeshadow duo - Bare Minerals - Again, this is tiny and great for a 'basics only' approach to packing!
Dehydrated sheet masks - MUJI - OMG these are amazing. A splash of water or toner and they unfurl into sheet masks to refresh your face. Dan and I both used these in the evening before our little dinner date.

What are your packing essentials? What should I take with me next time I go away? Let me know in the comments, and I'll be sure to respond! :)

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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

London levelled up


summer london bus

Tourists in London have it rough, I think. In addition to the overwhelming number of overpriced ‘must see’ attractions of the city, they have to navigate a vast underground train system with no numbered routes, more different bus routes than seems necessary, and a sprawling network of streets populated by busy, disinterested commuters who find them a nuisance. Of course, it’s the same in most big cities – But tourists who come to London are also confronted with the stark disparity between the London presented by the worldwide media, and the London of reality.

look up in london

Personally, I like real live London a whole lot more than the London presented in Doctor Who, Sherlock and even EastEnders. Probably the most obvious thing about real live London is that Londoners aren’t this homogenous group of white, tea-drinking socialites and cockney fruit-salesmen. On any London bus, you’ll encounter a range of spoken languages and accents.
London isn’t Big Ben, London isn’t Trafalgar Square, London isn’t £6 pints of beer in a ‘traditional English pub’. Sure, all of those things are integral parts of London’s culture and history, but so is linguistic and cultural diversity! London has a rich (and troubling) history just like any other economic hub in the world. In my opinion, London does itself a disservice by marketing itself the way it does. London has some well-known, historical architecture, but it is only if you turn around, look down, or look up, that you’ll find London’s uniqueness.

glass buildings in london

I’m definitely guilty of seeking out the well-known monuments and landmarks of a place, only to take a disappointing photograph that didn’t look as good as the postcard I purchased to send home. It’s an attractive notion, to see something famous for yourself and to take your own photograph of it, but these days I’m much more interested in preserving the bits of a place that speak to me the most directly. I love photographing London because it’s stuffed full of little corners that someone crafted, or built, or where someone lives.

waterloo sunset

Now, I’m not saying you should abandon central London and head to the nearest council estate for some sick photo opportunities – what I’m saying is that the grey estates, the polished office blocks, the graffiti on the wall, the greasy kebab shop… these are just as much London as the Natural History Museum and Oxford Street. They have beauty and relevance, and shouldn’t be maligned. You don’t need to head to Peckham, or sample a Chicken Cottage dinner if you don’t want to – you can find London’s hidden treasures everywhere. The photo above is actually Waterloo station. I love how the sun shines through that weird frosted glass – what is behind the glass?
london estate at night

So I’ll leave you with my tips for visiting London:

- Set aside two full days to “see the sights”. Book your tickets to things in advance, and use a map to help you work out the order in which you’ll visit various attractions. Research how much time each thing will take. For example, the Globe Theatre is right next to the Tate Modern, and depending on how long it takes you to look at each piece of modern art, you could do both of those things in a morning.

- Get some kind of travelcard or Oystercard to cover your whole stay in London. It takes a lot of the stress off when you realise you can hop on and off of tubes and buses at your leisure, and if you get it wrong, you don’t have to pay to fix your mistake and end up back where you were.

- Most of central London is actually accessible on foot. It's not as big as people think! You can walk from Trafalgar Square to Covent Garden in about ten minutes, and you get to see a tonne of great cafes and little shops along the way. If walking is something you're able to do, definitely give it a chance in London.

- Take the bus. Yeah, the tube is faster, but you don’t get to see anything and you never get sense of where things are located in relation to one another. Get on a bus, go onto the top deck, and travel for a few stops or until you see something you like the look of – get off at the next stop and walk around a bit. Usually, you can find the bus stop that gets you back to where you came from just across the road! Oh, and another thing - the buses in London are a heck of a lot more accessible than the tube if you're disabled or need assistance with mobility.

- Central London has all of these great information boards planted on street corners, with big ‘You Are Here’ signs marked on the map. They are very useful and even born and bred Londoners use them all the time.

- Ask people questions! If you see someone waiting at a bus stop who looks approachable, ask them their favourite spot in London! Ask them whether they have a favourite cafĂ©, or what their favourite thing about the city is. People in London are often startled to have someone talking to them – we keep to ourselves on public transport and mostly avoid eye contact, but with a friendly manner and an open mind, you’ll definitely find someone with some pro tips, and you might make a friend!

south london at night
If you have any inside tips for London-novices, please leave them in the comments. Or if you’ve never visited London, feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer. Let’s start a conversation, guys!
You may also want to see some London attractions I've blogged about before. The Seoul Bakery Korean restaurant, The House Gallery Cafe in Camberwell, and The Electric Elephant Cafe in Elephant and Castle.