Sunday, 7 July 2019

3 DAYS IN NEW YORK | TRAVEL GUIDE



"Spotted at Grand Central, bags in hand: Serena van der Woodsen"

That's the one line that started my love for New York. It was 2012, and I have been dying to walk around the Upper East Side since. 7 years later, I finally got the chance to go to the city that never sleeps and oh my god did it leave up to the expectations.

We were there for only three short days sadly, but it was more than enough to 1) make fall in love with the city (cliché) 2) make me want to go back ASAP 3) make me spend all the money that I don't have. 

Here's a run down of what we got up to in the Big Apple.





DAY 1 - UPPER EAST SIDE

We started off our first day by consuming a ginormous bagel with cream cheese (because you must when in New York). It was honestly shocking to see the variety of bagel and cream cheeses they have. 

After eating a bagel as big as my head in Bryant Park, we headed to Grand Central Station - where a big old photoshoot was due. And I low key expected to bump into Chuck Bass, sadly it didn't happen. The station was exactly what I was expecting and what I had seen on numerous films throughout my life. And I feel like that was a recurring sensation in New York - everything I saw, I felt like I had already seen it before. Because I had. But never in person. 




We then made our way to Central Park going via the Rockefeller Centre. It was a very warm and sunny day so we decided to spend a good few hours walking around the lower side of Central Park, sitting on the rocks to try and get some sort of tan for a bit.  We walked up Central Park up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we had a much needed photoshoot on the steps (please notice all the Gossip Girl references). 

After walking around the Upper East Side for a bit we ventured back into Central Park making our way down whilst eating a surprisingly food New York hot dog. 

It is honestly mind   how big the park is - you could very easily spend the entire day exploring. But we had tickets to go up the Top of the Rock during sunset so we quickly walked back to our hotel to freshen up a bit.



Top of the Rock was the only skyscraper we went up, as everyone told us it was the best one to do. If I remember correctly, the ticket was a good $45 (they charge you extra if you want to go during sunset) but it was so worth it. The views were spectacular, specially at that time of the day. The only annoying thing was how busy it was but I guess that's inevitable. 

We quickly grabbed some dinner at Chick-fil-A (classy, I know) before taking an Uber to SoHo. After all, it was Saturday night and we were in the city that never sleeps. We found a decent bar with a terrace where we got some drinks (I can't remember the name of it for the life of me) and then we ended the night at 1 Oak, because where else would you go during your first trip to New York. 

DAY 2 - BROOKLYN 


We started our day quite late on Sunday, by eating yet again another big bagel and a huge (and much needed) coffee in our hotel room to recover from the night before. 


Once we felt human again, we got on the metro and made our way towards the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. If you go to New York and go to the bridge, my tip is to walk all the way across it and only turn around to admire the views when you're at the very end. They're breathtaking. 

Only about 10 mins away is the very famous street in DUMBO: Washington Street. It was surprisingly hard to get a good photo though as the street was packed - but we still tried of course. 

After sitting (and trying not to get heat stroke) in Brooklyn Bridge Park admiring the views, we decided to walk around Brooklyn and we stumbled upon a great vintage flea market where I got a really cool (in my opinion) t-shirt from the VMAs for just under $10. 

After doing enough damage, we got the metro back to Manhattan and walked along the High Line - one of my favourite spots in New York, where I had (randomly) the most delicious cinnamon ice cream sandwich.



We were meeting a friend for dinner, so we headed to Murray Hill to have a drink on her building's rooftop before dinner. That's the one thing I wish London had more of: rooftops. It was so nice to sit there as the sun set having a beer and chatting, with the New York traffic and the sirens as our background noise.

We ended our Sunday with a very delicious dinner at a random Italian restaurant in her neighbourhood. 

DAY 3 - 9/11 Memorial AND SoHo


We started our final day in the Big Apple by having a big and delicious American breakfast at a diner called Brooklyn Diner, just off Broadway. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day,  I decided to start off strong by having a huge plate of buttermilk pancakes and a fat slice of cheesecake on the side - and a skinny cappuccino because #health.



As if that breakfast wasn't enough - I decided to stop by the famous Levain Bakery in the Upper West Side to try one of their giant cookies. It did not disappoint - easily the best cookie I have ever had. On my way from the diner to the bakery I spotted the Empire Hotel (I essentially went to New York to live my Gossip Girl dream) which got me very excited. 

With a very full stomach and basically unable to walk, I got on an Uber and made my way towards lower Manhattan to see the 9/11 Memorial - which was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. 



I then walked towards Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange which was also one of my favourite things I did. Not exactly why because I am not really into finance or stocks but I found it very cool. 

The last half of our final day was, obviously, dedicated to shopping. We headed back to SoHo to explore all the stores I had been dying to go to (i.e. Aritzia, Reformation and Glossier). I am very glad I don't live in New York, because I would be beyond broke if I did. SoHo ended up being my favourite neighbourhood I visited, it was such a nice vibe and it kind of reminded me of the Covent Garden area in London. 

To finish off our trip strong we had our final dinner at Ellen's Stardust Diner, where all the waiters are Broadway singers and they randomly break into songs whilst serving your food. 

It was such a happy and incredible way to end such a wonderful trip! 


WHERE WE STAYED


We stayed at The Martinique Hotel on Broadway The hotel itself was really nice, with a big spacious room and all the staff were beyond friendly! But the best thing about the hotel was its location, a 5 min walk from the Empire State, right next to a metro station and 20min walk to Central Park. 

It was honestly ideal, and we could have not asked for a better hotel! 





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Tuesday, 9 April 2019

THAT TIME I WENT ON HOLIDAY WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA


As 99% of this planet's population, I love going on holiday. Unlike 99% of this planet's population, I am not a fan of beach holidays, but that's a story for another time. 

Today, I want to talk about the role that social media plays when we go on holiday. 

The sentence "Instagram or it didn't happen" is not far from reality. How will your friend's cousin's ex-girlfriend know that you went on a fabulous holiday to Bali if you don't share every single second of it on social media? You know, a few funny Insta Stories and a perfect yet candid slightly edited photo.

It almost seems like we go on holiday to have new backdrops for our photos. I have had enough of the streets of London, let me get a flight to Japan so I can get some cool content for the gram. I actually feel like if I said this to some of my friends they wouldn't think twice about it. Documenting your entire holiday (except the shit moments) has become a thing and it seems impossible to go away without feeling the need to share how much fun you're having with anyone. 

I will admit, I also do that all the time. Every single holiday I have been on in the past few year, I have taken a few thousand photos - ya know, need to make sure I have options. That was, until recently.

I usually travel with my sister or some of my closest friends, who like a good Instagram as much as I do, so it is kind of a given that we will be spending a few hours a day taking photos of each other in front of cool walls and famous landmarks. However, I recently went away with a friend who doesn't even have Instagram. Now, in the past, this hasn't stopped  me from still turning my holiday into a low key photoshoot, but this time I decided to take this opportunity and just enjoy the few days off work I had in the sun and in a new place.

It was life changing.




Of course, I did take some photos. I still wanted to document my experience for my future self and be able to look back at those memories. But I only took a total of 3 photos of myself, everything else was of the places we visited and it was mostly videos to be able to re-live that moment. 

It felt so liberating not giving a shit about whether or not I had the perfect photo to share on social media. My only concern was to enjoy myself and have a good time. And I certainly did. 

Now, I am not going to sit here and pretend like I will stop showcasing my next holiday because, let's be honest, I probably will. But now I know that 1) it is possible to go away without social media 2) it happened, whether it goes on Instagram or not.
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Sunday, 24 March 2019

THE BEST WORKOUT CLASSES IN LONDON



Up until recently I thought I didn't like workout classes. I hate to be told what to do in general, so the idea of being told how many burpees I had to do or how fast I had to run made workout classes very unappealing to me. 

In January, Classpass was offering a one month free trial and, because I love  free stuff, I decided to give it a go. 

Well... let's say their marketing worked because it's now two months later and I am hooked. 

Turns out, I actually love classes - specially morning classes. It gets me out of bed and wakes me up before work. It also means I have all my evenings free to do whatever I want! Since getting Classpass I have tried a few different classes around London so I thought I would share some of my favourites with you so you don't miss out.


1. RUMBLE AT 1REBEL



I am obsessed. 

This is, by far, the best class I have ever been to in London. It's a 45 minute boxing class with some HIIT exercises in-between sets.  

The studio is really cool - think dark room, strobing lights and loud music. All the instructors I have had have been really good but there is one that stands out - his name is Luke and, if you can, try to go to one of his classes! It doesn't matter if it's a 6:30AM class or 7:30PM - he always makes me go above and beyond and work extra hard. 

2. EXPRESS AT BARRECORE



I was very skeptical about the whole barre craze. I knew loads of people who swore by it but to me it just sounded like some sort of pilates - and I hate pilates.

However, I decided to give it a go and I actually quite enjoyed it and now try to go every so often as it is great to tone your muscles and get a really lean looking body. 

From the outside, it looks really easy but, trust me, it is some of the hardest exercises I have ever done. It absolutely kills you - I think I was sore for a good 5 days the first time I did it. It's essentially a lot of reps of the same ballet-inspired movements which kills your muscles but makes them look real good. 

The reason why I prefer their Express classes to their Signature ones is because they are a bit more fast-paced so they are more challenging as you don't get as much time to rest! 

3. BEAT AT DIGME FITNESS



I was about to write "this is the best spin class in London" but then I realised this is also the only spin class I have ever been to so... but it is really good, like really good. 

They make the class really fun and I love that you actually work your entire body by doing push ups and other movements on the bike. The playlists are also always on point, and the instructors make it so fun and they really motivate you! 


4. MATRIX AT DIGME FITNESS


Right so I have very mixed feelings about this class.

Whenever I go all I do is think of going home. It is by far the hardest class I've ever done and I always feel like throwing up by the end of it - which I am not sure if it's a good thing or not to be honest. 

During the class you alternate running on the Skillmill and HIIT exercises which, let me tell you, it will absolutely defeat you and leave you on the floor. Unless you are ridiculously fit. 

But you know, it is definitely a good workout and if you are looking for a good sweat - this is it! 
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Sunday, 17 March 2019

THE THREE PRODUCTS THAT CLEARED MY SKIN



I love cream, oils, serums... anything that I can put on my face and that it's meant to help my skin glow and look healthy. 

Over the years I have tried every product imaginable and from every single brand - some have worked, some haven't and some have made my skin break out like crazy. However, the one thing I am quite rubbish at is consistency. I love new shiny bottles with cute labels on them. Whenever a product runs out I am running to buy the newest, shiniest replacement I can find. Therefore, I never really had a strict "skincare routine" as it was constantly changing and I never really knew what worked or didn't work.

For the past 6 months or so, I have been pretty consistent with the little few products that I use and my skin has never been better. 

And I mean it, never. 

It is soft, clear, and I barely get any spots (even if I exercise with make up on!). It is a miracle. And the best thing is, the products I use are all very affordable and accessible! 


1. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2%Solution


I originally got this to replace my Mario Badescu Drying Lotion but ended up liking this more! It feels more gentle than the drying lotion and it has the plus that you don't have to rinse it off in the morning (laziness at its finest).

I use it once or twice a day - I just use two drops and rub it on my face focusing on my cheeks as that's where I get the most spots. It's very gentle and not super drying, specially if you use a moisturiser after, which is exactly what I do.

This product is honestly amazing at preventing spots, ever since I started using it I barely get any! 

2. L'Oreal Triple Active Night Cream

Right so, I got this by mistake. I used to use a really good night cream by L'Oreal but I could never remember its name for the life of me. So one day I went to get a replacement and I just guessed which one it was by looking at the packaging. I got it wrong. 

But thanks to my mistake I discovered this amazing product. It is simple yet effective - which is exactly what I want. It doesn't have any fancy properties or claims to change your skin. It is just a very thick moisturising night cream that actually works and doesn't make your skin oily. 

3. The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil


Initially, I got this for my hair as it was feeling very dry but I found that it didn't really work - if I used more than three drops my hair became too oily and looked dirty but if I used a couple of drops it didn't really feel like it was doing anything. 

I was watching some Victoria's Secret model skincare routine (think Sara Sampaio's?) and saw she was mixing her oil in her night cream before applying it and thought I would give it a try. 

At first, I did this once a week on Sundays to treat my skin and give it some extra moisture but then slowly started doing it more and more often as it made my skin feel so good. Now I do it pretty much every day - I just add one drop of this oil to my night cream and massage it into my face. This will change everything. 

I am actually pretty sure this is what has made my skin look so good recently, so I would definitley recommend you give it a try! 

Honestly, the best part of this entire routing is how easy, quick and also inexpensive it is! It takes me a total of 2 minutes to do it and each products costs max. £10 so not a bad price to pay for glowy clear skin! 



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