Hello Budapest

Get the bucket list out because this slice of Hungarian heaven is a MUST! I completely fell head over heals for Budapest and two days was most certainly not enough time here.  

The Hotel Gellert is something straight out of a fairytale. Think two story rooms, more space than any of our other hotels and a stunning view over the river Danube into town. Dreamy!

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The beauty of this city completing outweighed the negative 0 temps ❄️ we didn't get snow but there is some serious magic in a warm mulled wine from one of the sweetest Christmas markets I've seen!  

From The House of Terror to Saint Stephen's Basilica, there is some serious history in these streets. Everywhere we turned there was something to stare at. This city epitomizes chic European style and left me wanting so much more! 

 

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Until the next love affair Budapest... 

S xx

Mambo Italiano

This wasn't my first trip to Italy however I felt like this was an entirely new experience! My first trip was almost 10 years ago on a school excursion that saw us cram in about 8 cities/towns in only 2 weeks. This time we got to spend a good 2 days in Rome,  Florence and Venice with a pit stop in Verona.

To be honest, I was never a fan of Rome or Venice but this time round I saw a whole different side that was quite majestic. Once you look past the initial dirt and grime of these cities, they have so much culture and history to offer that you don't want to leave when the time comes! I was also pleasantly suprised by the abundance of gluten friendly restaurants in these cities. Italy has its own coeliac association so it's a very well known food allergy which made finding GF food easy! 

Florence has always been once of my favourite cities and this time round it didn't disappoint! It boasts a grand duomo and gorgeously quaint alleyways that you could explore for days on end. 

This colourful country is so vast, I don't think I will ever be done exploring it! 

 

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S xx

The Beauty of Engelberg

There is no doubt about it, Switzerland is simply breathtaking. Although we've only had the chance to visit one little ski town, it's easy to see why this little slice of snowy heaven draws so many people to its peaks.  

Engelberg is a quiet and cosy little town located in central Switzerland. We have been so lucky to have gorgeously sunny skies which has made the -5 temps just slightly more bearable! It has been perfect to really take in the jaw-dropping mountainous surrounds complete with snow covered peaks.

I would highly recommend staying at the very stylish and cosy Ski Lodge Engelberg if you come to visit this quaint town. Comeplete with breakfast including yogurt, granola, berries, juices, smoothies, fresh bread (incl GF!), eggs, cheese, cereals and the freshest of fresh butter, I can't fault it!

 

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As expected, Engelberg, you have been a magical winter wonderland dream ❄️ 

S xx

Croatian Escape

Croatia was magical and one of the best parts was being able to share it with some of my oldest friends! Words will not do it justice so here is my Croatia in pictures ...

There was a lot of sun, sand and breathtaking views. Thank you to the amazing people I got to share this adventure with, it wouldn't have been the same without you!

S xx

Best-Kept Secret Spots Around The World for Travellers

While there are some attractions in the world that can’t be missed, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, there are plenty of other places to see that go under the radar and are often known only by locals. The world has plenty of hidden gems that haven’t been explored and offer unspoilt majesty. Last year, the South Pacific paradise of Tuvalu was the least visited destination with just 1,000 foreign visitors – that despite playing host to some of the most vibrant wildlife in the region.

There are many destinations in the world that offer a relaxing atmosphere away from the chaos of more popular tourist traps. Who doesn’t love to have their own special spot? The Secret Traveller blog says: “You want to know that you have places, magical places, that you can go back to and be the only tourist there.” If you want to explore a few of these gems yourself, read on.

Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/30126125@N00/5361743366/">magicmonkey</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Ciudad Perdida, Columbia

A lost city similar to Machu Picchu in Peru, this Columbian hideaway in the mountains of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta epitomises the country’s historical background. Archaic stone steps are encompassed by lush greenery, as nature and manmade beauty collide into one.

Ciudad Perdida was only discovered back in the 1970s and remains largely undiscovered by tourists, thanks to the need to embark on a very long hike to witness this beauty. A 6-day return is no easy feat, with many tourists stating first timers should avoid the journey owing to steep climbs and dangerous river crossings. 

 Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Well-preserved and naturally beautiful, Lake Aitlan in the Guatemalan Highlands is considered a must for tourists looking for an escape away from the busy noise of the city. While very little is said about Atitlan in the guidebooks, the vast sparkling waters are not something to be missed.

These very same guides will tell you that the lake is only worth visiting for a few days, but there’s a whole host of things to do here; from trying the best Guatemalan food to visiting local towns and well-hidden sights where only the locals lurk.

Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/75834450@N00/111981608/">TED_KANAKUBO</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Appi, Japan

During winter seasons Japanese ski resorts like Niseko, Hakuba and Nagano all become flooded with tourists. Despite the high number of holiday goers flocking to the nation, one particular resort remains popular with only the locals. Located in the far north of Honshu, Appi offers 21 trails for adrenaline junkies looking to take to the slopes.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, this is the spot for you - with very few people able to speak English. Most people here are instead local farmers looking for work during off-season.  While Snow Japan claim it’s “one of the largest and well-known snowboard resorts in Japan,” the white frosty blankets of the Appi hills remain a hidden gem to the greater world.

 Zipolite, Mexico

Mexico is known for its stunning beaches and breath-taking sights, with millions of foreign tourists visiting the central American nation to experience the white sand and clear water of Cancun. Unknown to many, there’s a better Mexican beach that only a few foreign travellers ever visit.

The sleepy town of Zipolite offers a more relaxed coastal experience, especially for those daring travellers who want a more “open” approach to beach dress codes (if you catch our drift). The place is best known for hosting one of Mexico’s nude beaches and retains a hippie culture and atmosphere that fits those in search of a relaxing getaway. Whatever your choice of clothing, you will find a perfect sanctuary on the crisp sands of Zipolite.

There are many other hidden gems in the world worth unravelling, that may soon become your favourite secret travel spot. Continue to explore the world’s beauty and share your stories with us below.

 

The First Taste of the Motherland

Last week we had the absolute pleasure of spending 3 glorious days in the Santorini sun! Let me first say, if you haven’t already been to this slice of paradise, then get yourself there – you certainly won’t regret a minute of it!

Touching down on the small Island off the coast of Greece, we immediately felt the cabin of the airplane heat up – yes, warmth, finally!! You know that overwhelming feeling of stepping out of an intensely air-conditioned shopping centre into the heat of a mid January Gold Coast day? That was the exact feeling as the doors opened to the steaming tarmac of the Santorini Airport, I mean if you can call it that. It was more Bali International Airport circa 2002 but it did the trick! This little Island is small but it most certainly does not disappoint!

Going to Greece for the first time as a Greek/Australian I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect. It’s exciting to visit the country where your family is from and grew up in even if I wasn’t going to those specific villages. I was so incredibly excited to finally be here and I was not in any way disappointed! From the breathtaking views to the out of this world food, I can honestly say that I could have stayed forever. The island life would suit me just fine – cruising around on my quad bike, eating gyros everyday and just taking in that spectacular view from all angles. Bliss. It was also nice that locals appreciated another Greek. They were pleasantly surprised when I walked into their shop or restaurant and immediately greeted them in Greek. It also helped for getting a few cheeky discounts here and there.

We stayed in the main town of Fira on the west side of the island. You may know it for is breathtaking view …

We stayed in a cute little hotel called Summertime Villa. It wasn’t on the gorgeous Caldera view but it was only a 5 minute walk away with its own private rooftop pool. We ventured into the main town daily for food, shops and to see that beautiful view of the Agean. I think we stayed in the perfect, most central location. No where was more that a 20 minute quad ride away so we got to see pretty much everything.

I think what is great about this island is it really has something for everyone. If you want to relax under an umbrella all day on the beach, you can. If you want to explore every little crevasse, hire yourself some wheels and do it! If you love to shop, eat, drink and dance, there is somewhere different to enjoy every day!

The food was most certainly a highlight! You have the option of eating at the fancier more modern restaurants that put a fusion twist on Greek cooking but personally, get a tzatziki, mousaka and horiatiki salata in front of me and I am set! The best places were the Tavernas. Authentic and wholesome Greek food that packed all the flavour without a hefty price tag – perfection. The taverns are mostly family run so for me, I got a real sense of eating with my own family.

Another very well known part of the island for it’s spectacular views is Oia which is in the north part of the island. We went for a glorious sunset and of course a meal. We could immediately tell that this area was a little more ritzy than old Fira. With tiled walkways and freshly painted buildings, it was very obvious why staying in this part of town would cost you a bit more. Everything seemed to be a little more expensive here, from the fashion and novelty stores to the restaurant prices, you would need a bit more in the travel fund if you wanted to spend most of your time here. For an afternoon stroll and a sunset dinner though, it was very picturesque and well worth the short strip.

I cannot wait to get back to this gorgeous island. I felt so at home in the heat and amongst the Greeks, it was a much needed breath of fresh air from the wet gloom of the UK. This is definitely a tick off of my bucket list but if it isn’t already on yours, please do yourself a favour. Santorini is positively magical and will take your breathe away just like it did mine.

S xx

UK’s Food Festival Revolution

It’s summer time in the UK, the prefect time to get out and discover something new. With great weather and wonderful outdoor culinary treats, food festivals in the UK are now the places to chill and relax on a summer afternoon. The Telegraph states that in the past five years we have seen “an explosion in popularity” in terms of British food festivals.

The recent rise of food festivals is linked to our love of good quality affordable food. No longer do we seek out a cheeseburger from a van, instead we want a burger made with high quality beef put together by an enthusiastic food lover like ourselves.

Most towns and villages now put on a food festival during the summer months and they are a great way to learn about the local food culture. As a country the UK has grown more enthusiastic about food as shown through our love of food programmes such as The Great British Bake Off and Master Chef.

Celebrity chefs are a common feature at food festivals and offer guests a chance to see their favourite chefs live and taste their dishes. The Stylist has a list of the best food festivals this year, including one set up by acclaimed celebrity chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver.

Food festivals are also being used to support a good cause. The [Evening Standard reports that in 2015 Fork to Fork food festival raised £30,000] for an Open Air Classroom project. The project is raising money to create the UK’s first outdoor classroom. Like many food festivals Fork to Fork also features live bands and various other forms of entertainment.

Of course there is only one place to be at the centre of British food culture and that is London. Every kind of foodie passion is indulged in the city from coffee festivals to, beer, to the seasonal Christmas chocolate festivals. It is easy to see why London is considered the gastronomic centre of the world and attracts travellers and foodies from around the globe.

Eating out isn’t cheap in the UK, but there is a new way to try different cuisines, and meet celebrity and upcoming chefs. Food festivals are the most exciting development in the British food industry and each year they are getting bigger and better. So if you are looking for a new adventure be sure to check them out.

Travel information for foodies

Many of these food festivals are located in the UK’s main cities. Transport to and from these cities is easy with the British Rail network. Alternatively travellers who want to move around the country quickly can use one of the UK’s many airports. If you’re already based in the UK, budget airlines have made travelling considerably less stressful, affordable and airport parking amenities mean that vehicles can be left secure in facilities patrolled by security staff around the clock.

Instead of driving halfway across the country, the option of dropping your vehicle off at a busy airport such as Heathrow is sometimes the best option. For people in a rush, Parking4Less advises that the closest facilities to the terminals are the short stay parking or valet options. The longer stay parking options are generally located further away from the terminals and travellers will have to get a shuttle bus to their respective terminal.

New York, New York Part II

Manhattan – my happy place.

I love a fast paced city that is constantly on the moon, forever buzzing and always alive. I never feel like I’ve spent enough time here, I’m always left wanting more. It’s the sort of place you could live in for a year and still not have had the change to fully take in everything it has to offer.

The vastness of the island is overwhelming, the beauty of Central Park is breath taking and the speed of the people moving through the city can at times make your head spin. I love it! I don’t even know where to begin because there is so much to see and do but I’ll stick with what I can narrow down to my NYC faves.

Walk.

The best way to see this city is to walk it! The first trip here we jumped on a hop on hop off bus which was great to get our bearings but I feel that to really see everything to need to walk the streets. There is something to see on absolutely every street of this city which is why it is such a dynamic and colourful place.

Central Park.

This is a day trip in itself! There is so much within the park to see and it is that big that you really need to give yourself a day to see it all. I love the artwork hidden through the park, in particular the homage to Alice in Wonderland (I’m a little obsessed). Just walking around the park is the best way to make sure you see everything and when you’re in a city that spans concrete from side to side, it’s nice to go breathe in the greenery.

Times Square.

It’s exactly how you pictured it, but better. I’ll admit Times Square isn’t for everyone and yes it is constantly packed to the brim with tourists, promo girls and guys trying to get you to come see some comedy show, but if you can block all that out and just look up I promise you will be mesmerized!

Broadway.

I’m a musical fanatic but even if you aren’t this is where you want to see a show. This trip we saw Wicked and Book of Mormon. Both absolutely amazing and even though it was my third and second time seeing them, I would see them here again. Your long running shows are always on offer but there are also smaller shows which from all reviews are equally as stunning as the larger productions. If you’re in New York get yourself to a Broadway musical.

Eat.

The food in New York is amazing! (Maybe more so because Manchester doesn’t quite have it going on in the food department!) Do your research and I can assure you there will be something delicious in any cuisine of your choice. There are a number of Australians that have set up shop in NY and they are honestly killing it. The locals do have it in the bag though offering everything and anything and if you’re a foodie like me you’ll be in heaven here with somewhere different (and good) to eat every meal!

Art.

The galleries this city has to offer and out of this world and all worth a visit (if you’re into art that is). From the MET to the Guggenheim there are hundreds of thousands of pieces to see and I can tell you honestly that it would take years to see them all! Nevertheless get yourself into these galleries to see even some of the fantastic creations of so many wonderful artists. Also, for all you GG fans out there, sit on the steps of the MET and have lunch. It’s extremely satisfying.

Right so all of that is super broad but there is just so much to do that I feel you need to start broad then narrow yourself!

I cannot wait to get back to New York already and I’ve only just left! I truly love this city and know there is so much more to see and do. Hopefully I’ll be experiencing them soon!

 

S xx

New York, New York PART I

So incase you missed the memo, this has to be one of my favourite places in the world! New York City honestly gives me life and I am always so sad to leave.

The saying ‘the city that never sleeps’ could not be more accurate. What I love about this city is that no matter what hour, the noise of the streets is a constant. I know that’s not for everyone, but personally I find it comforting. I remember my first trip to the big apple, driving over the Manhattan Bridge into the city and just thinking, I’m home. Odd to have such a powerful connection with somewhere I’d never been before but I really do feel at home there.

We decided to mix it up a bit this time and opt for the slower suburban district of Brooklyn. Once known for being the rougher part of town, Brooklyn has scrubbed up quite nicely and gave us a completely different experience entirely from Manhattan. With Brownstones for days and a peaceful family vibe, this burrow has many hidden gems that are definitely worth exploring. We stayed in Park Slope along the gorgeous Prospect Park, which is not as well known as Central Park but equally as beautiful. We stayed in a basement AirBnB of a Brownstone. Just a word of caution here, basement means basement no mater the pictures or apartment description, so there will be no natural light and you will be able to hear everything happening above! I would definitely have opted for a ground level or higher apartment had I known this.

-       Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

-       Discover the beauty of Prospect Park

-       Explore the suburb of Williamsburg – it’s super trendy with plenty of shops, restaurants and drinking spots and on a sunny day it’s the perfect spot to be!

-       Stroll around Dumbo and take advantage of the stunning picture opts of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

-       The Bagel Shop: even though I can’t eat them, these rainbow coloured bagels are worth a visit!

-       Wander around Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

-       Brooklyn Museum and Library: although I didn’t get the chance to see inside, these buildings are quite striking and worth just going to look at 

Personally, now that I’ve stayed in Brooklyn, I probably won’t again. I missed the noise and the chaos of Manhattan but am happy I took a trip to explore this dynamic area of NYC.

More about our Manhattan adventures to come!

S xx

POP ART by Penelope

Wig: @rockstarwigs Dynamite Collection in Platinum Blonde Blast

Headpiece: Diamante Retro Phone - ebay

Top Lashes: @rockalash Lashing out Loud

Bottom Lashes: @rockalash Whiplash Attack

Lash Glue: @daiso - Clear drying lash glue

Foundation: @illamasqua - Skin base foundation 3.5

Powder: @maccosmetics - Translucent set powder

Facepaint: @mehron Paradise AQ - white, red. Face Paints Australia, FPA Essential - black, blue mid, blue light, yellow.

Eye contacts: @camoeyes - Blue Manson Contacts

Eye shadow: @masquerade_cosmetics - BM30 Matte Black, BM29 Matte White

Eye liner: @katvondbeauty - black ink liner

Mascara: @sephora Collection - Outrageous volume dramatic volume mascara

Brushes: Cassie Lomas Collection