Posted on Leave a comment

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.

7F9E7927-3362-425F-AD7E-030C6D26D2F2

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.

7B81557D-99AF-4271-81A0-1A9A061314D5

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.

73B38B52-28B8-47F9-93F9-FBEA05EBF700

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!

E22CA987-EDB2-401F-91C3-A88BE367B76E

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!

C41F7623-E469-496E-9683-A1A1109A0177

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

Have a great weekend all.

IMG_4374

CityGirl x

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

IMG_4374

  • 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.

A8D70310-1BF0-4F78-A3FD-3F6AB58F8622

Enjoy, CityGirl

Posted on Leave a comment

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

img_0353

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

copypasteimage-1

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.

copypasteimage-11.jpg

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

Posted on Leave a comment

My first wanderlust

A trip to Thailand was the first time I packed a backpack and before this I’d only ever visited Europe and America. I was giddy with excitement when I arrived in Bangkok and armed with my list of top things to do I set off to Khao San Road. If there is one defining moment that installed my desire to travel and see the world it was probably here. I was in love with the way Thai culture blended with that backpacker chill out scene, pure chaos yet so calm! I look back and think of how naive I was that this place was such an outrageous experience for me, especially after another 8 years of travelling the globe and hearing how Thailand has westernized since. I was met with so many different experiences all at once, the smell of rubbish and dirt on the streets, alongside street food sizzling on the woks close by, a bob marley playlist pumping from a bar coupled with the urgent demands of street sellers.It was reassuring how easy it is to adopt the backpacker lifestyle, whether you have come from  a backpacking escapade across the globe, or like me a three week break from the city grind. In that moment you all have the same experience, the same agenda and that’s probably why the first sensible thing to do was to grab a Chang beer and a Pad Thai and simply get stuck in. I look back at lots of things I’ve experienced over my years, travel, fitness, challenges I’ve faced and I realise that everybody has their own unique experience that should be acknowledged, appreciated and admired by all. Every marathon runner has to start somewhere! I look back at this time in Thailand and remember how proud I was to achieve such an amazing experience and even though it might be considered almost tame to the travelling world these days, that doesn’t mean I’ll forget how incredibly rewarding it was at that time and what a special place it will keep in my heart.And with that I pass onto you a message from my yoga class yesterday.

‘Nobody is better than us, Nobody is worse than us. In fact nobody is equal to us because we are all  unique’

Make yourself proud and love yourself always.Citygirl xx