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My favourite Yoga studios in London…

Namaste my beautiful adventurers..

This week I’ve been recovering from the triathlon and enjoying a few yoga classes in the city.

These are my favourite choices in London whether you’re in need of a work de-stress (usually me!), fancy trying something different (also me) or spending some time here as a tourist. Enjoy!

Blue Cow Yoga – Moorgate

Tucked away underneath an office block you could easily wander past without knowing it’s there but when you venture downstairs it’s quick to notice that this is a well equipped yoga studio (also offering Barre classes). In the city it’s my ultimate favourite. The yoga teachers are on another level when it comes to class structure. I prefer the dynamic class which is both challenging and relaxing. And if I’ve had a long day at the office I feel incredible and zen.

Yotopia – Covent Garden

I am often in meetings in the west end so usually when I am I like to take advantage of being able to drop by the Yotopia studio. Some of the classes are 90 minutes long which makes them great value for money. Every teacher creates a different class, and offers beautiful words of mindfulness. They are often on ClassPass which makes them even cheaper.

Fat Buddha Yoga – Ministry of Sound

On a monthly basis I try to get to the Fat Buddha Yoga class at Ministry of Sound. It is truly unique and Jessica is my ultimate fave! She is also a DJ and offers such a fun, enjoyable class. Being in this epic nightlucb with it’s lighting and atmosphere just makes it  a real bucket list yoga experience. She has lots of other yoga classes popping up around some of the coolest parts of town so check her website for more details.

Yoga in the walkways – Tower Bridge

One of my favourite yoga experiences has to be an early morning session on the glass floor of Tower bridge’s upper level performing yoga poses with a suspended view of road and pedestrian life, all moving at pace 42 metres beneath me. The sun was rising, and everyone was rushing by on their way to work, whilst I pondered in downward dog above. The yoga was fantastic aswell so not just a gimmick. I’ve tried the yoga at the Shard too – great to try once too but this one I’d go back to again definitely. If you’re in London for a short period of time this is a great and unusual place to try.

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Reykjavik Travel guide

Now I’m not self proclaiming that I’m worthy of hipster status but I can appreciate an 80’s bomber jacket, graffiti as art and smashed avocado as a brunch staple so I think I can offer a thing or two about Reykjavik and what it has to offer.

It’s a cool place (excuse the pun!) that isn’t trying too hard. That’s hipster in itself right?!

Pretty streets, cool shopping boutiques and cafes in abundance, it’s a great place to stroll around and not doesn’t have to be a stopping point en route to the wider country. Here are some top tips for your stay..

View Point…

The Church of Hallgrimur is the icon of this city. Walking towards it along the vibrant streets will take some time as you will want to stop for lots of pics! You can head inside and walk to the top tower to see beautiful views of Reykjavik’s colourful rooftops and further out to sea. The design was intended to resemble the natural landscape or Iceland with its ice caps, volcanoes and basalt columns. It’s a must see landmark in the city.

Insta Shot…

This was an easy decision and it just has to be the Harpa, the striking Concert Hall and Conference centre and recipient of the prestigious Mies Van Der Rohe award for architecture. It is situated in the heart of the city and features stunning views of snowy mountains and across the Ocean. Wander inside and take a good look at the different light that the centre draws to it. There are shops that offer Nordic designed crafts and gifts. We didn’t watch a concert but I’d love to check out the listings if I was heading back.

Something different…

For a population of just 320,000 people, Iceland has produce chart topping music from well known, respected artists Björk, Sigur Ros and Of Monsters and Men to name just a few. Reykjavík feels like the beat of the country and is home to a buzzing live music scene. Café Rosenberg was our favourite evening choice playing live jazz and some of Iceland’s breakthrough bands. An awesome stop during the daytime has to be Kaffe Vinyl, a new bar/cafe and record store. It wouldn’t look too out of place in Dalston and also hosts live performances in the evening.

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Something active..

So Iceland is renowned for its hot water springs but what about its cold water swimming! Not to be put off by ‘ice’ being the former syllable in the country’s name and being quite used to a cold lake or sea swim training for triathlons in UK’s great excuse for a summer I was quite up to the challenge. Close to Reykjavík town is the Nauthólsvík geothermal beach, where the sea temperature can reach minus 2 degrees in the winter. After a very short swim attempt, when actually deemed a terrible time of year to try it we committed ourselves to the hot springs close by. All year round, people enjoy the use of the geothermal beach’s hot-tubs, steam-bath, changing facilities and showers, even when the water drops below freezing. Whichever you choice it’s a great addition to a stay in Reykjavík.

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Something to eat…

So when we think of a hipster, what culinary choice often comes to mind is street food, or pop-up style, cheap and inventive food in a minimal setting. This could not be a better choice for a pricey country. We tried Icelandic Street Food, considered the first fast food concept in Iceland with traditional Icelandic food. It is a family owned business with recipes made from the owner’s Grandmother. He was in attendance on the evening we visited and pointed out that his Grandmother had made the cakes, which meant we just had to try them! I tried the seafood soup, and ordered a can of beer. This came to less than £20 so still expensive but much more reasonable than other options, and a lot more tasty than an overpriced spaghetti Bolognese.

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Something to drink…

Named after two Icelandic words for birch, Birkir (birch schnapps) and Björk (birch liqueur) are a fantastic showcase of native Icelandic ingredients.

Birkir, the stronger of the two at 35%, has a boozy and earthy aroma and mixes well with soda water or tonic for an easygoing cocktail. We bought some at the airport to take advantage of cheaper prices. Most of the rest of the team we enjoyed a beer or two!

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Something interesting…

I’d recommend a city tour with I Heart Reykjavik. They take you to their own favourite places in the city centre and teach you a few words of Icelandic. This is a great tour to get an overview and introduction to the city. I was amazed to see so much awesome graffiti art dotted around!

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My next post will share some of my favourite stops along the Golden Circle.

Have a great weekend all.

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CityGirl x

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Ice Cold in Iceland

Iceland – Tips for a Golden Circle adventure

Flying over Iceland felt like arriving on the moon. We were told there had been a ‘dump’ of snow overnight, yet the flight landed without a glitch. Heaps of snow were simply pushed to the sides of the runway. We are not in the UK anymore, in Iceland – it snows and they know how to handle it. We visited in March so not deemed the height of Winter, so if you’re reading this and planning a trip At any colder month – these tips will be useful.

IMG_1653Here are some ways to help you plan an awesome adventure:

  • Take some loose change for some toilets and parking – sometimes it can be unavoidable to miss the spots that charge and we fell into the trap at our first stop – The Thingvellir National Park.
  • Pack gloves that you can use while using your phone. It is too cold to take photos without them on – especially waiting for an exploding geyser!
  • Pack a lunch – it is very expensive on the trail. We chose to hire a car which also meant we avoided crowds. We could take our time and stop for longer at our favourite places. The supermarkets are also a little pricey but we had some gorgeous tuna sandwiches and snacks on the go at much cheaper prices than the tourist centres.
  • Wait for a Geyser – The Strokkur geyser at Haukadalur erupts every 15 minutes or so!!
  • Layer on and layer off – The coldest place on the trip was the breathtaking Gullfoss waterfall and you will want to spend some time exploring.

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  • Just stop to take photos whenever you can. Although there are some obvious highlights on the trail, the views are breathtaking so take it in turns to drive, admire this beautiful country and just stop along the way.
  • If you’re lucky enough (like me!) to not be a designated driver, a tipple of a traditional Icelandic vodka is quite nice to keep you warmed up. We bought a few mini bottles at the airport and also some wine to enjoy in the apartment in the evening – a much cheaper option.

I’ll be sharing my top tips and information guide to the Golden Circle and Reykjavik soon.

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Enjoy, CityGirl

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Four things I’ve learned from my first triathlon

A triathlon is such a great way to get fit. It is also so easy to train on holiday. I love swimming in the ocean, running across the mountains and exploring a city by bike. I’m so proud and happy to have completed my first tri taking part in the sprint challenge in London. Here are some tips if you’re thinking of signing up..

The swim is a different kind of beast

 

As runner and a cyclist the swim was always going to be my toughest challenge. It differs to the other disciplines because to me it felt like a real test of mental strength, me against the elements, the beast of the open water. And technique is absolutely crucial for efficiency! I realise now that I should’ve got to the lake more for training as there really is no other way to get to grips with the murky waters, the claustrophobic rubbery wetsuit, the crowded free for all and the lack of any ledges to catch your breath.

 

It’s really difficult to hydrate 

 

After the swim, I struggled out of my wetsuit feeling lightheaded and flustered. There’s a lot to think about and it’s hard to adjust your mindset. I find it difficult to grab my water bottle on the bike and it’s difficult to hydrate sufficiently during those manic transitions. I already want to sign up to another one so I intend to spend a day on my bike with the sole purpose to practice a cycle – grab water bottle – drink – put water bottle back routine

 

The run feels kind of strange..

 

It’s something every expert warns you about but it’s really easy to underestimate how different your run is compared to a normal training run. The cycle can lead you into a false sense of security. You’ve got your rhythm and just the run left to tackle. After dropping off your bike you notice a feeling of slow motion, it’s takes a while for your legs to respond, like running through treacle, slow and sluggish. I noticed that my muscles eventually got back into the swing of things and I could’ve tested the waters a little earlier! I intend to try a spin class next week and run home afterwards to get used to the sensation and to know my limits.

 

And one last tip for us ladies.. 

 

After spending the day amongst a range of ladies of different ages, shapes and levels of fitness I noticed a pattern when it came to hair style. There were a lot of plaits! Let’s be honest it’s really not an attractive look, the rubbery wetsuit that you can never quite get on properly, the butt padding, the goggle marks (say goodbye to waterproof mascara in these conditions!) and the compulsory helmet! How are we supposed to feel feminine and confident. It was great to see so many ladies with different styles of plaited hair. It’s very versatile for a post swim and it doesn’t interfere with head gear. I now feel like I’ve ‘got the note’ regarding triathlon uniform and will be embracing this feminine touch. After all, we should all be very proud to be female triathletes

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Cheers to Champagne – Travel Guide

Champagne is the closest wine region to drive to from London so what better place to enjoy a sophisticated road trip with friends. It took us 8 hours on a leisurely drive and watching the French countryside pass us by was all part of the adventure. Champagne houses and the pretty French towns of Epernay and Reims were a delight to witness and the whole weekend felt like a chic, giggly and tipsy getaway. Where else in the world can you walk along the Avenue de Champagne and sample some of the greatest fizz on Earth.. So I say cheers to that. Here are some top tips..

View point…

Not only does the Notre Dame in Reims boast an amazing view as you walk towards it, a climb to the top of the Tower gives a beautiful view of the city. All of the steps to get there are well worth the effort. It’s a great view and a unique chance to see the architectural details and superstructure up close.

Insta shot..

There are lots of opportunities to take photos of thousands of bottles stack up in the champagne caves. These cellars are miles long and have existed for centuries which makes them remarkable to observe whilst learning about the process of champagne making.

Something different..

We noticed that although Reims has a quiet small-town feel, the evening plays host to quite a few rock music bars and events. For a great experience meeting the local crowd here I’d venture to Meltdown. Serving traditional saucisson as a bar snack which I’d recommend trying with a  Liqueur de menthe which is also a popular regional beverage.

Something active..

There are a few tour operators that organise bike rides between the champagne cellars in Epernay, along Avenue de Champagne, and further afield along country roads and past pretty vineyards. Just be careful to not drink too much Champagne before riding back.

Something to drink..

This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise but I think we’d have to choose Champagne! My favourite tour and champagne in the region was Tattinger. We thought the tour was the most informative, and personally thought the champagne itself offered the best taste to cost balance. We ended up taking some bottles home with us  – and enjoyed quite a few with dinner.

Something to eat..

A beautiful restaurant that I’d recommend booking in advance is Le Millenaire. It has a contemporary setting and an inventive menu. It’s a chance to feel glam and enjoy champagne in a perfect setting. this michelin starred restaurant is an ideal way to celebrate an evening in Champagne.

Something interesting..

The Villa Demoiselle is neighbour to the Pommery cellars and it’s an incredible sight – and well worth taking your camera for.  As the flagship of a blend of Art nouveau and Art déco, Villa Demoiselle was built in the early 1900’s by the architect Louis Sorel. Stop off here for a glass of champagne and marvel at the beautiful surroundings.

Enjoy, City Girl

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Beautiful Bruges – Travel guide

Bruges has to be one of the prettiest places I’ve visited so far. Cobbled streets and horse drawn carriages follow pretty canals and it’s hard to find an area that doesn’t provide a beautiful photo opportunity. Chocolate shops and delicious food are just an additional bonus to what can only be described as a piece of art in itself.

View point…

Climbing to the top of the Belfy Bell Tower gives you sweeping views of Bruges and the walk up the winding staircase (366 steps!) gives you a great sense of fulfilment and a guilt free excuse to eat more belgian chocolate. It’s in a great location and is a must see place to visit in Bruges. Avoid queues by getting there early or as the sun sets.

Insta shot..

Sometimes th best photo shot is unique but with Bruges I’d argue that the city in itself is a hidden gem. It’s stunning and just walking around presents an abundance of photo opportunities. I would stick to the iconic shot of the canal close to the fishermans square for the best addition to your instagram feed.

Something different..

The weather can sometimes be a little miserable and for that reason you can find lots of great things to do on a rainy day in Bruges. Apart from the obvious, the Chocolate and Beer museums also check out the Torture museum and the Friet Museum. We really enjoyed the experience and opportunity to learn about something we love (Fries!) and something we might look to avoid (Torture!). Both were fascinating though.

Something active..

I would argue that walking, walking, walking is the best opportunity to be active in this city. It’s beautiful and there are lots of great atrractions on the outskirts of the city. A walk to see the windmills and the nuns home is an unforgettable experience. Map it out and put some comfortable shoes on. There’s a good chance you’ll stroll past a perfect pitstop for gorgeous hot chocolate and belgian fries

Something to drink..

We were so excited to stroll past ‘The Beer Wall’ and inside we had the chance to enjoy a beer tasting. 4 samples of beers in great flavours including coconut and cherry are on offer and served with nibbles. The place has a great atmosphere and with 1,721 different brands of belgian beers on display it’s a great place to stop off and enjoy the boozy part of Belgian culture.

Something to eat..

It would be rude not to mention the classic cuisine on offer here, beautiful chocolates presented so perfectly, and belgian fries available throughout the city. For an occasion dinner I’d recommend Quatre Mains for gorgeous sharing food served in a modern setting and Mosselkelder for fresh mussels and seafood. If you want to try a warm flemish stew check out ‘T Walpoortje. It goes beautifully with a raspberry cider.

Something interesting..

Bruges is currently home to 3 impressive art exhibitions, Pablo Picasso, Savador Dali and Joan Miro. You can buy a ticket for all three at a discount and they are not too huge or overwhelming. A great opportunity to enjoy the cultural and arty side of Bruges.

Enjoy, CityGirl Xx

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Edinburgh .. Travel Guide

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View point…

This has to be Arthur’s Seat which is the main peak found in Holyrood Park. It provides excellent views of the city and is relatively easy to climb

Insta shot..

If you walk towards Grassmarket along Victoria Street you have a great shot of the old town. This street is lined with mutli coloured traditional shops and pubs. Perfect!

Something different..

Check out listings before you visit for comedy stand up events. The Scottish have a great sense of humour and this city is home to the Fringe comedy festival in August

Something active..

Hire a care and spend the day out of town to visit the beautiful countryside and if you’re feeling super adventurous you can have an exhilirating experience in Killercrankie, home to the UK’s first static bungee jump. They offer quad biking and other activities aswell (Highland Fling)

Something to drink..

Well where do we start. With pubs on every corner Edinburgh is friendly, lively and perfect for a few beers, or whisky tasting. For an inventive evening cocktail in a grand, ornate setting check out the Voodoo Rooms.

Something to eat..

Timberyard is a very special spot on the Edinburgh restaurant scene. It’s a family-run business, who operate a team of local growers, breeders, producers, suppliers and foragers to create a unforgettable meal and experience.

Something interesting..

It has to be Edinburgh castle, the most beseiged place in Britain providing sanctuary for many of Scotlan’s kings and queens. The fortress has dominated the skyline for centuries and with crown jewels to marvel at it’s difficult to think of a more interesting experience.

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San Sebastian – Foodie Heaven!

Today’s mini travel guide takes us to San Sebastian. I have a piece specifically just about the amazing food locations here but here’s some key highlights to introduce you to this beautiful city.

View point…

Monte Urgell, after a gentle climb you are rewarded with an old fortress and beautiful views across La Concha Beach.

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Insta shot..

If you take the coastal path from Hotel Maria Cristina towards the harbor and La Conch beach there are beautiful views of the fishing boats, the historic buildings and Santa Clara Island. A great panaromic photo opportunity.

Something different..

Check out the success and life story of a famous seamstress, at the Balenciaga museumn just a short drive from the city centre.

Something active..

If you have time I’d book in for a surfing lesson at Zurriola Beach. Such a great way to fit in something active in a great spot for it. You can also earn yourself some more pinxtos!

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Something to drink..

Txakoil, a light sparkling wine is a must here. Even just to witness the impressive way it is traditionally served. They pour it from the bottle at height to release its flavours as it splashes into the glass. It’s worth a try too!

Something to eat..

The food here is simply incredible. There are so many places to try. We booked on to an incredible walking food tour – more on this coming soon!

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Something interesting..

The charming old city center, Parte Vieja is famous for having the highest concentration of bars in the world!

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Enjoy, CityGirl Xx

 

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Nepal Packing List

Packing for Nepal is not an easy task. I started months in advance and was determined to be as cost efficient as possible. I borrowed some pieces from my auntie, trawled through summer sales and took advantage of having Amazon Prime.

After camping for 14 days and trekking across completely different terrain there are a few items I really couldn’t have enjoyed the trip without.

⁃ Merino wool layers – I’m so impressed with how well suited merino wool is for hiking. It wicks away sweat to keep you warm and the more layers the better as Everest base camp approaches!

⁃ Trekking trousers – the ones with the ability to un-zip into shorts! It can be surprisingly warm at times, especially once you reach mid-morning so it’s great to quickly change them into shorts. Within the team they were quite an enviable part of my wardrobe.

⁃ Buff Neck Warmer – the dust is quite intolerable at times, and it’s important to try to avoid the infamous ‘Khumba cough’. If I could do it again I’d buy a patterned one as I noticed lots along the way that were much nicer than my plain one!

⁃ Hats – there seemed to be a constant need for different hats. Whether it’s hot, whether it’s cold or whether you just want to cover up unwashed hair. Bring a few for all weather conditions! I bought a cheap baseball cap at the Thamel market in Kathmandu.

⁃ Sunglasses – the sun combined with the thing air calls for sunglasses! Think of skiing and keep sun lotion on to avoid sunburn!

⁃ Hand Sanitiser – the most useful item. A necessity in this region! There’s rarely any running water for washing.

⁃ Lip balm – my lips were very dry along the trip. And dare I say it so was my nose when we reached the colder parts. I’d probably take one with SPF and some Vaseline or tea tree products for that too!

⁃ Bpa free water bottle – our tour provider gave us boiled water each day and it’s essential the bottles are BPA free when you use the warmer water. I bought one out there but I’d argue if it was BPA free even though there was a label on it.

⁃ Battery pack – it gets very expensive to charge your phones in the remote regions. And they limit the usage to an hour. They didn’t always allow camera chargers either so it’s great to have extra battery packs!

And also some home comforts I really wish I brought with me..

Herbal Tea Bags – although plenty of coffee and tea on offer we wanted to avoid caffeine at high altitudes. A camomile tea would have been perfect!

Granola Energy Bars – as much as were so incredibly grateful for the chef’s cooking on our trek it would have been so nice to have a fruit and nut granola bar to replace the odd out-of-date date snickers bar in between meals!

Mini Face Cream – it’s fantastic to be make up free and give the skin a much needed break from city living. Vitamin D and no alcohol really gave my skin a glow but the high UV levels and dusty paths took their toll too. I really wanted to have a decent eye cream to hydrate!

I’ve handpicked some particular brands that I think would be ideal. I’ll have this with you all next week.

CityGirl Xx

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Nepal – 8th wonder

On 27th May 2017 I marked the end of my twenties and joined the ’30’ club. Instead of giving into society’s pressure I asked myself how I would like to remember this milestone and with that I decided to follow my dreams. I love being outdoors, I love a fitness challenge and I felt an urge to travel somewhere different, somewhere epic. That’s where the idea came from to travel to Nepal and trek to Everest Base Camp.

I didn’t know it at the time but I think I might have made the best decision of my life! I want to share with you my adventures and hopefully inspire you to visit this beautiful country.

To start with I want to share with you some photos. Enjoy, CityGirl

I have never felt so beautiful, sitting amongst the stunning scenery make up free and care free.

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As much as I hate to admit it, I hadn’t used a shower for a week in this picture. I have never been so grateful for a fleeced headband. Look at these mountains and the blue skies. So beautiful.

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These trekking shorts were the most useful item I purchased for this trip. Although not the most fashionable!

I have lots more to share so keep checking back!

Xx