16 July 2017

Travel: A weekend in Lisbon



First and foremost before I begin, as some of you who already follow me on instagram will know that life has somehow turned upside down (rather quickly) in the last few weeks, and whilst I will touch upon it in due course - I figured it would be perfect time to finally fill you in on my snazzy little getaway weekend in Lisbon!

Embracing my bridesmaidly duties, I planned a long weekend city break hen-do in Lisbon for bride to be Tanya. Topping the list of hen-do destinations, Lisbon most certainly has it all. As the capital city of Portugal, it's actually one of the oldest cities in the world. With rolling hills, picture postcard views, jam-packed full of history and culture, delicious food and rumbling trams - as well as offering a few hen-do antics thrown in for good measure, it had the lot!




Travel

With a quick hop across the Atlantic ocean (2hrs and 45 mins to be precise), we flew from London Gatwick on an early afternoon flight with Monarch airline, who did a cheap as chips deal with luggage thrown in. Side note: packing for a hen do is not light work, so instant WINNER.

Accommodation 

Upon touching down, we took a taxi into the city centre and made our way to our very swish apartment. Located within the Baxia district, the heart of the city, our super instagramable Fanquerious apartment was serious #interiorgoals. Honestly, take a look here.

With three bedrooms, a plush living room (with an added sofa bed), full kitchen and dining area, marble bathrooms, wifi aplenty with scenic balconies that had the most heart emoji shutters, it was snip coming under under £100 per person for two nights for the seven of us! If I didn't already have plans to return to spend longer in the city, it would be to snoop out the other apartments on offer for major interior inspo on offer!


Adventures to be had

My absolute guilty pleasure when booking a trip is the prep work. Having been lucky enough to road trip along east coast of the US a few times, when it comes to nailing an itinerary - I take it very seriously. After reading what feels like every trip advisor review and nerding out over the pocket Lonely Planet guide, and creating a Lisbon google map (told you it was srs business), I decided to make a shortlist of places to visit and simply see where the weekend took us.

With only two full days (one with a hangover may I add), we certainly discovered the city exploring on foot and soaking up the sunshine, however a few highlights worth noting were:

Santa Justa Lift

Quite simply, the Santa Justa lift is an elevator that takes you from one part of Lisbon to the next. Without the hard slog of walking up a very steep hill, the elevator has fast become a tourist attraction in it's own right. A sight to behold in it's self, it's gothic design is similar to that of the Eiffel tower. At a snip of 5 euros for a ticket, you can also access the lift's observation deck that has magnificent views of the city to take in! Then all that's left to do is explore your way back down the hill, stopping at the many bars below for refreshing aperol spritz in the open air bars.



Cinco Lounge cocktails workshop

What's a hen do without a lil drunken frivolity? Enter the Cinco Cocktail Lounge, seven girls, take out pizzas and a hella lot of tequila - and you've got yourself a recipe for a the perfect hen celebration.

With it's sleek dark velvet sofas and sophisticated interiors, this trendy cocktail bar plays host to mastering the art of cocktail making. Mixing up three to four delicious (yet bloody strong) cocktails, you've got the whole place to yourself as you order in pizza, make full use of the boomerang app and come to realise that you've been over pouring the rum all evening. What's not to love?

You can pre-book a masterclass by emailing the bar directly.


Tuk Tuk tour

What better way to see the city than a guided tour? Albeit not what I was expecting in a tuk tuk (having avoided those in London and NY) but in Lisbon, with the steep hills and winding roads, the six seater tuk tuks are a genius way to suss out the city. For 10 per person for an hour and a half, our tour guide whizzed us around the city talking us through the history of Lisbon before stopping off at different sight seeing points / instaworthy grams.

The nearest tuk tuks to us were parked up at Rossio Square.

 


Praça do Comércio 

For a lazy long afternoon on Sunday before our flight, we headed over to the Praça do Comércio square that looks over the river Tagus. One of Lisbon's biggest plaza's, we took the opportunity to soak up the sunshine and people watch on the outdoor terrace of the beer museum. 

Places to eat

On our first night we stumbled across the CR7 hotel which was a few doors down from our apartment. They served up a delicious trio of burger sliders, homemade bread with garlic butter and kept the wine flowing - all under 20 each - and nope, who knew Cristiano Ronaldo served up such delish burgers?

A slightly less - er - random but delightful discovery was the Pizzeria Mezzogiorno tucked away from the main road within an open air courtyard full of fresh bloom, we took shade from the sun on their patio under big umbrellas, then sipped bellinis, ate endless parma ham, burrata, bruschetta and pizza!

 
 

Top tips

Uber - if you're travelling to another part of the city and the trams are too full, you can rely on Uber to get you here and there. We took Ubers to and from our night out and it worked out as little as 3-4! With hills that steep, with the combo of heels, download the uber app fo' sure.

Super cheap - With the euro exchange rate seriously dire, I was still so surprised as how affordable it it is to eat and drink out in Lisbon. You can eat delicious food without being budget conscious, and enjoy a cold beer at a mere few euros. SOLD.

City Mapper app - The app that is otherwise affectionately known as my London bible, as soon as you touch down the City Mapper app will switch to Lisbon. Your guide to sussing out how to get anywhere, with tram and subway journeys listed.


I've got a few more place on my list to visit when I return (next year hopefully) - any suggestions?



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18 June 2017

Wishlist: Anthro style sale picks



Well, would you look at that? As June gets the summer time memo, it's almost as if a switch flicks and BOOM, the high summer sales starts and then, BAM! all hell breaks loose with my debit card. Sorry not sorry bank account. 

One place that's often overlooked when it comes to sale snips is Anthropologie. And whilst I'm first in line to snap up all their winter interior goodies in the new year sale, it's their style section that's really where it's at. 

Their jewellery, whilst yes admittedly on the pricier side, is a treasure trove of gems and jewels just waiting to be discovered. I especially adore their earring sets and dainty gold pieces, but slightly out of my everyday budget - the sale make it a treat worth the splurge. Also thrown into the mix are a few fashion pieces, sometimes reduced from silly amounts to start with! 



Astrid hoop earrings (£17.95)  Tie front tank (£23.95)  Bobby Pin Set (£21.95)  Cold shoulder dress (£39.60)  Earring set (£26.95)  Ribbon Keychain (£9.95)  Monogram Pearl Necklace (£21.95) ∙ Trinket dish (£7.95)  Pinstripe blouse (£38.95) ∙ Starlet Earrings (£13.95)  Peplum blouse (£39.95)  Charm necklace (£33.95)  Off the shoulder blouse (£33.95)  Shimmered Monogram Necklace (£24.95)  Turtle dish (£9.95)  Gia hoop earrings (£16.95)

Have you overlooked Anthro's style section?

(the turtle dish had to make the edit, just because)





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15 June 2017

5 things: The reality of saving for a first home







I mean it's the twenty-something crisis right?

Fresh into my early 20's I was ready for the get-go in life after graduating with my top notch degree, then the doom 'n gloom of the middle twenty crisis happened where I was stuck in a dreadfully paid job and endlessly questioned myself if this what my life was going to be - and then, when my career slotted into place and everything seemed like it was plodding along, I decided to move on to the next task: buying my first home. 

Here's five ways to beat the impossible:


1.  You need to be realistic with yourself. 

This is both literally and mentally. 
It feels like we've been saving for a house forever. When in reality it's only been in the last year that we've really buckled down. In that time we've really accomplished a pretty darn chunky deposit that's growing steadily each month.

But after a pretty disappointing meeting with our bank advisor, we were knocked back by how little this would get us due to the crazy house prices in our area. It took a while - and a lot of whinging on my part - to get over the fact that we could buy a four bed house up north with the savings we already have, but have to settle for a flat down south. Grumble aside, whilst our forever home might be further off than expected, it's all about being realistic and not beating yourself up about it.


2. Be in the know.

With shit getting real, we decided to #adulttheshitoutoflife and set up a meeting with a financial advisor at our local bank. Turns out this was completely pointless and they were in no hurry to help unless we were ready to buy a mortgage. Le sigh. 

Buying your first home is a minefield, navigating what is on offer (there are so many different government schemes on offer such as the Help to Buy ISA and part buy ownership), let alone how much you should be saving and what is within your reach.  What you do need to do is throw yourself into the deep end and educate yourself.

I started with the handy online government guide that dishes all the need to know on everything help to buy, explaining all the nity gritty to weigh up your options. Then I unashamedly became Martin Lewis (yep, the tv guy behind Money Saving Expert) newest fangirl after reading his impartial guide to buying a home as first time buyer - it's actually genius.


3. Set a goal.

Whilst it's important not to pressure yourself, it makes sense to have a goal in mind. We have a savings tracker on the go, an understanding of what position we will be in this time next year and what the next step should be. 

There's no rush, even though it feels like there should be. Buying your first home completely depends on what position you are in: Are you currently in the cycle of renting? Is a family member able to help you? Are you going it alone? Do you live at home?

Above all it may just take a little longer in certain cases - but that's ok. I personally live at home, and whilst I may not be handed everything on a plate, I am in the best position to save.


4. Ignore everyone.

Whilst my friends back home are navigating their next step on the housing ladder and probably questioning all my life choices, my London friends laugh at the very thought of having a mortgage. The best bet is to ignore everyone. Unless of course when they are offering you sound advice. Comparison is the thief of joy: you should neither feel guilty for lack of not having a house or even wanting one.



5. It's not the be all and end all. 

This is something I regularly have to tell myself. I will buy my first home next year, but in the mean time there are other things on my agenda too - which are just as important. Like pinning my dream house on Pinterest, yup.




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