Second to Stockholm.

Back in September I headed to Gothenburg, to some Stockholm’s lesser sister city. We mainly headed there in the quest to tick another country off the list for one of my friends aiming to get to 30 countries before turning 30, but it didn’t disappoint. I’d heard mixed things about both Gothenburg and Stockholm, either way IKEA style meatballs factored in the lure of Sweden. In the end we decided Gothenburg was something a bit different.

IMG-20160910-WA0039It’s quite a low key city in many respects and one where you need to want to seek out places to go and probably not one for a lone trip – food and drink will power you round alongside good chatter, not plentiful new backpacker friends.

It was a great little escape and we trooped through the chill to;

  • Eat great meatballs – We found Smakka to perfectly satisfy our need for an elevated IKEA delight – IKEA won’t taste the same again and there was definitely no horse meat at Smakka.
  • The boat tour – for those of you who have been to Liverpool this brought back fond memories of the Duck tour…without the sinking. It was a great way to take advantage of the sunshine and the sights and history surrounding Feskekôrka, Liseberg and the floating museum of Maritiman
  • The delightful district of Haga provided a great cafe and beer combination, great for a little jaunt that had a more local feel

Overall it’s a cool uprising city with a more local feel – Forbes had it down as a one of its 15 most innovative cities in 2015, it’s probably true that it just has a ‘feel’ about it, it’s one of those great places that isn’t as much about what you see but being there and experiencing a new place. A cliche but sometimes places just remind you why travel is great.

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Love letters to Lisboa

imageTo set the tone, Lisbon is one of my favourite cities. It’s an utter delight; a food and drink market of dreams, a UNESCO heritage site that lets you be a princess for a day, intricately tiled houses, alcohol dispensed through the wall…all in the warmth and by the sea. I apologise in advance of the below comes across as a brag rather than a blog.

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We stayed in a great little air b n b at the entrance to the castle, perfectly situated in the heart of Alfama. Alfama, as countless guides will tell you is a hub for non touristy, touristy goods and has some great little cafes and vantage points over the city. Other great areas include Baixa (good shopping), Rossio (where the main square is) and Chiado (more good shopping).

Belem is also great, not only for the highly rated, and rightly so, palais de Belem custard tarts but also because strolling along the riverfront with a glass of Ginjinha is pretty close to the dream. Sellers of this cherry liquor are a plenty by the tore de Belem, the heat of the day makes it a much better accompaniment to the tarts than coffee, in my expert opinion.

Since I went to Lisbon with a couple of girl pals a more than average amount of time was spent seeking out great bars – we really nailed it. Park Bar is a must, if you live in London think Franks bar goes on holiday, a really nice holiday. The views were insane and the drinks matched, aperol spritz a plenty and gin in massive goblets with a side of a non tradition sangria, there wasn’t anything not to like. While Park Bar was our daytime haunt of choice, Pensao Amor captured 90% of what I like in a evening. Formerly a brothel this bar offers something different, yet great – decked out like an old, glamour heavy dining room in one room, a DJ playing a cracking mix in the next room and a slightly more brothel fitting themed room as you head further in. The cocktails are unrivalled, I’d rather say no more, just go get an espresso martini and love life.

Whether post dancing food is needed or you are looking to break up your day, the Time Out market is quite the treat. The many stalls surround the indoor market and the whole place has a buzz about it, in the back right hand corner they have a stall reserved for an up and coming food stall (the rest are assured restaurant standard), when we were there it had a croquette stall. Squid ink to Parma ham stuffed versions, they were great little morsels. At weekends the markets open to 2pm and they have a band on until one, worry not, dancing can continue.

 

The final must do to note is Sintra; a magical UNESCO site under an hour away from the city. Granted, we spent too much time eating lunch and guzzling prosecco in the cute streets above the park but we still made it round to Pena castle. Worth it in itself, although if you do have more time there’s a bus that stops off at the various sites.

Enjoy, you can’t but really!

 

Dubai – it’s ladies night and you’ll feel alright.

20161127_161227UK November climes offer up the obvious reason to head to Dubai, the 30°c average. Whilst you won’t find hoards of culture vultures you can’t help but feel like you can revert back to your fresher days, all be it with a bit more class (hopefully!) and a great backdrop of lights and the odd rooftop pool: Dubai definately matches up to NYC in its reputation for never sleeping.

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Ladies Nights sweeten the deal (although it doesn’t feel that was the day after) – originally only on Tuesdays they are now on every night. Lethally, certain bars give you upto 5 drinks vouchers or endless prosecco. It’s a hard life. the best places we went for ladies night included the Jumeriah Beach Hotel (Tuesdays – free flowing bubbly and conveniently next to the Burj al Arab) and Maya at Le Royal Meridien Resort (three cocktails on a ropftop with a slightly too cool DJ). If you actually want to pretend you’re a fresher again Rockbottom also hold a ladies night with a luminous blue version of an ice tea, at Liverpool uni we had fat frogs….here blue bullfrogs. (Expect a very blue tongue and potentially hangover induced mood the next day).

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A daytime version, and particular highlight, was Zero Gravity Beach Club – aptly described as an ‘instagram sensation’  by one of my pals. On Tuesday you get to go in free (usually approx. £35) with large round beds and an infinity pool by the beach it optimises why dubai is a ‘go to’ destination. Unicorn inflatables just sweeten the deal, and make the number of posers skyrocket (a great sport – watching unicorn posers).

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Dubai is also great if you like to embrace your inner big kid, as I do, daily. the Aquaventure water park at Atlantis The Palm is well worth a trip with its vertical drops made so much more fun when 8 of you are in a dingy; 6 times later it’s still great. Quad biking is also amazing, and a speed demons dream; best when you know someone there though that can drive you out to the desert though.

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If you are looking for a bit of culture though the Abu Dhabi grand mosque is just a few hours drive from Dubai and is incredible. One of the most awesome places I’ve been, curated by architects across the world it looks beautiful and tells a great story about the UAEs past and future.

If you head to Dubai, enjoy! Especially if you’re a lady!

💙💙💙

Punch in pink, not pretty in pink.

Barbie (not Barrie as autocorrect tries to tell me) is the main reason pink is seen as cutesy, girly and in the hierarchy of smart colours it sure is getting low (and not in a good way). If in fact Barrie or even instagram’s urban barbie had been at the conception of pink clothing it’s likely that pink could have taken a different turn.

Autumn’s fashion swings pink back into debate, the colour is like marmite. I don’t like marmite, I do like pink, if handled the right way. The feminist in me likes it best, it’s previous resurgence hasn’t done it justice but the key pieces this season make it a workplace gem. Part of it is mental, a well tailored pink sleaveless jacket in the right tone can set the right tone. The glass ceiling debated has been argued to a painful point. Lagard in one of this seasons staples may play into the ‘why does fashion have to define women’ argument as a stereotypical female foot forward, I don’t think that has to be the case.

Pink is an attitude and like Hepburn, I believe in it. These jackets are to be believed in too:

The tones of gray, pale turquoise and pink will prevail.
Christian Dior

I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.
Audrey Hepburn