Thursday, 2 March 2017

lisbon | portugese adventures

Rossio Square fountain and a nice absence of tourists

I need to stop writing blog posts like half a year after I've been on holiday because I keep forgetting everything I did... Anyway, our 5-day getaway to Portugal (in the Autumn!) was full of sporadic sunshine, typical tourist ventures and Portugese tarts. It was a surprisingly quiet capital and a lot more vacant than I had expected, with a certain quaint vibe that European cities always have (and London is kinda devoid of). Lisbon was fashioned with cobbled sidewalks, grand and intricate landmarks and old buildings.

We stayed at the contrastingly modern Sheraton Lisboa, with its atmospheric lighting, dark, sleek rooms and very naked, glass-paned bathrooms. We also lived off Lidl baguettes and pâté in the mornings because who pays 30 Euros for hotel breakfast?

The best lobster bisque I've everrrrr had | The best bacauhal of the trip | Smoked salmon with capers and Charcuterie board at Artisan Wine Bar

Food is always the highlight and quest on a good holiday. Our ventures included Salsa Rosa Bistro, Artis Wine Bar, Pastéis de Belém, some amazing lobster bisque and bacalhau in I-can't-remember-the-name-of-the-restaurant (but it's on the same Belém road), Manteigaria and probably a few others that I might have remembered the name of if I had only bothered to write this post sooner. And my favourite dinner place Frade dos Mares, a little seafood restaurant tucked off a main street.

Belém | Lagareiro style octopus at Frade dos Mares | Manteigaria

And if there's a Pastéis de Belém vs. Manteigaria debate, Belém wins hands down. Manteigaria wasn't even close. Belém was the perfect amount of sweet. It is Portugal's number one after all. I remember the first time that I had a pastel de nata was in the Venetician Macau and it tasted so good that I'd been nostalgic ever since, and Belém satisfied that completely -throws confetti-

Praça do Comércio | Tram 28 | Jerónimos Monastery

Our checklist:
  • Rossio Square - a huge, ornate fountain with Cirque de Sardine across the road (a tinned sardines emporium)
  • Praça do Comércio - very picturesque, but I almost died from the heat and Attack of the Flies. One flew on my lip, FYI
  • Castelo De São Jorge/St. George's Castle - also land of wild peacocks
  • Jerónimos Monastery
  • The aquarium Oceanário de Lisboa
  • Tram 28
  • Rua do Diario de Noticias - trekked around this ambient area for some restaurant hunting

And that concludes our relaxing, little city break. Next stop: Rome.

Sardines anyone? 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

hello 2017

My 2016 was a whole loada fluctuations of ups and downs. Bad health was ongoing, private healthcare was expensive, a lot of physical pain, some emotional, and continual struggles with inner demons, but I also had a lot of highlights and special moments which flew by far too quickly. It's a shame life has no pause button.

A recap of the good:

• Landed my first proper Marketing job which I love
• Saw Queen Bey on her Formation World Tour
• Visited the bucket list ultimate Santorini
• Went pastel de nata hunting in Lisbon
• Scored the Friday Forty and watched Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
• Lost the title of cat lady heh heh

And because it's the new year, I'm going to attempt some resolutions:
• Exercise at least 3 times a week (not to lose weight, but because I'm unfit af)
• Read a book every month
• Blog at least once a month (quite optimistic this one is)

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

harry potter and the cursed child

After two months of dedicated Friday Forty participation, the prospect of winning tickets for the sold out Cursed Child play seemed pretty bleak. But then after an overdose of Felix Felicis and a bout of luck, we won.


Now most of my friends assume that we got the tickets for free when I say that we won the Friday Forty, but winners actually just get the best seats at reduced rates. £130 seats for only £40! "Oh, wtf. That's not really winning though..." Yes. Yes it is. Bloody muggles.

Sneaky pic. This is how close I was to Voldemort.

We went to Saturday 5th November's showing at the luxe Palace Theatre. Sadly missed Matt Lewis by a day, but hey, can't complain when we got front row seats (and next ticket release is for December 2017, wut).

Without spoiling too much (because #keepthesecrets), I can only say that it was everything and more. Personally, I loved the story because J.K. Rowling is basically my hero and I love anything she writes. Think moving staircases, return of the time turner, flying dementors, spells shooting out of wands and 5 hours of pure magic.

Secretly, I would've liked a Goblet-of-Fire-sized novel and a movie, but after seeing it, a play format makes sense. Can she just keep making sequels forever? I'm just drowned in nostalgia anytime I read or watch HP. I need help.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

santorini | beachy kamari

Working the Xiaomi Yi and Bardot dress code at Kamari's Black Sand Beach

Embarking on a new adventure and much-needed break, I finally visited one of the bucketlist ultimates: Santorini. As a hater of sunbathing and deep water, beach holidays kinda aren't my thing. But Pinterest is good marketing and an exception was made for the quest of white buildings with blue roofs.

Nestled on a bitch of a slope was our quaint, open-plan Epavlis Hotel. Our sea-view room on third floor, right next to the swimming pool and bar, perfectly faced sunrise. We set an alarm for 5:45am, and I feel like that was the first and last time I will ever make an effort to wake up for sunrise again, because I've decided I'm more of a sunset kinda gal. But we did have a pretty postcard-perfect scene right outside our window. We opted for Kamari because it was one of the better deals with the travel agency (considering Santorini isn't your cheapest European destination) but in hindsight, I wouldn't have wanted to stay anywhere else.

Bedroom views: Egg yolk

The bustle of Thira and the views of Oia were nice, but I loved the placidity of Kamari most. And the beach front is pretty by day and dreamy by night. There's just something really romantic about dim lighting when waves are lapping in the background.

Kamari is seafood heaven and has the longest strip of restaurants overlooking the sea, and whilst devouring Greek Salad every single day (of course), we also decided to hunt down 3 of Tripadvisor's top 4 restaurants. I primarily wanted to go to Santorini for the white buildings, but food was probably the best part. Shoutout to mah faves:

The most vibrant lunch at Captain's Corner Taverna / Octopus salad at CCT / The best everrrr veg-stuffed calamari and a grilled tentacle the size of my face at Almira

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

beyonce formation world tour

To commemorate the day I saw Queen Bey slaying and basking in all her vocal/dancing/physical perfection. Seriously, she is so flawless is she even for real. Lemonade album favourites include Formation, Don't Hurt Yourself and Sorry because Queen Bey is just so cool and empowering when she's angry. Half the setlist were older songs like Yoncé, Partition, Diva plus a medley of old old songs and Destiny's Child.

Acapella version of Love On Top (Can we also note my very stable video-taking skills)

And whether the cheating rumours are true or not (Solange and elevator tho...) Dear Beyoncé, you don't need no man.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

it's ok not to be ok

So I've reached an age where I've been pondering the meaning of life, feeling the pressure of not living up to everyone's expectations of me and suffering from post-freedom depression after moving back home.

I think life would actually be quite satisfactory if I were, well, healthy and unimpaired. But life's a bitch and that's not the case. So whilst I am waiting patiently everyday in desperation and lacking sanguine for the stem-cell therapy that still doesn't exist, anxiety also decided to pay a visit this year and accumulate to my many other inconveniences.

As someone who generally grins and bears it and doesn't like talking about their deepest feelings and emotions, for once, I want to talk about it.

Anxiety is like an unexplainable weight on your shoulders and heart, suffocating your respiration and tormenting your mind. Like a typical anxiety prey, hot flashes, trembling, sleepless nights, sudden tears, heavy breathing and heart attack-like palpitations are the bane of my life. Being alone is the worst and I have not yet mastered the art of dealing with a panic attack and deciding whether I should suppress the pent-up feelings or let it all out. But so far, luckily, I've conquered public situations in remaining composed.

Talking about it to friends who listen actually makes me feel better, like I am alleviating the burden by sharing it. Like by saying it out loud, I am diluting the feeling of suffering alone. Sometimes I feel like I can't talk about the anxiety because not everyone around you will understand why you have a fear of leaving the house on your own or why you feel anxious when people look at you in public or how you're fine one moment, and then you feel like you're having a heart attack the next. ('Get a grip' springs to mind, no?) I'm not crazy though, I swear.

Well, if there's one thing I've learnt is that life goes on. And Instagram is not the true portrayal of someone's life. I'm not ok, but I guess that's ok. Putting on a front is what I do best. And after everything, I've still made it out alive. Appreciate good health, guys - some of us are less fortunate.

"And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have" - Stephen Chbosky.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

vietnam adventures | hanoi

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
Hoàn Kiếm

A throwback to when I visited the capital of Vietnam with my travel buddy. Our weekend getaway involved becoming millionaires (in Dong, not GBP unfortunately), spontaneous sightseeing, learning the art of crossing roads, lots of pho and experiencing the coffee culture. We stayed at a hotel called BOSS LEGEND (hell yeah) in the Old Quarter. Our room was massive (although dark wooden interior usually gives off a kinda haunted vibe, no?) and we also made use of the hotel's disco jacuzzi.

The Old Quarter is a hub of motorbikes, markets and cultural landmarks. We were 5 minutes away from Hoàn Kiếm Lake and immersed ourselves into some Vietnamese culture via the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. Although I couldn't tell you what the show was about because, if there was a plot, it was all lost in translation. The weather started turning cold and murky, so the photos turned out quite grey, but thanks to the little kid who livened up our photos at the lake with his continuous photobombing.

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
Photobomb 1 | Photobomb 2 | Photobomb 3

The Temple of Literature was also on the agenda, although we didn't make it very far after realising we weren't adhering to the dress code rules plastered over the entrance and decided to past on possibly awkward or disrespectful encounters. No shorts or short skirts, guys! We also had a spa day at La Belle Spa, entailing the best full-body massage I've ever had and also, to balance it out, the most painful body scrub I've ever had too.

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
The Temple of Literature | Tuk tuk mania in the OQ | View from spa

Night-time Hanoi is pretty enchanting - the Huc bridge at Hoàn Kiếm lights up red, lights are strung on trees and motorcycles still rule the road, even at late hours. We toured around the Old Quarter's night life on a tuk tuk/xe lam and also taxi-ed to other parts of Hanoi for dinner. En route to Tràng Tiền, which is kind of down the road from the OQ, it transitions from hipster bookstores to the likes of Diors and Cartiers.

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
Sightseeing on the tuk tuk

Funky B on Tạ Hiện Street was another random find on a bar-hunting mission. Tạ Hiện seems like Hanoi's version of Hong Kong's LKF; apart from whilst everyone stands/drinks/dances/throws up on the streets of LKF, Tạ Hiện is a little more sensible, albeit equally as crowded. Hanoi has a very prominent street culture where the Vietnamese sit on mini plastic stools outside to drink or eat and Tạ Hiện is lined with street food and beer places.

Because of my ongoing issues with hyper gastric acidity and 99 problems, we opted out of trying street food, though I wished I tried bánh mi. And since the currency conversion meant we were loaded with hunnets, we had gourmet every night for dinner instead. If only life was that affordable in the UK...

vietnam, hanoi, hoan kiem lake, old quarter, pho, spring rolls, thang long water puppet theater
Gia Ngu Restaurant | The Gourmet Corner Restaurant | Funky B

1080p, woooo