What comes to mind when you think about Budapest? Is it the copious number of ornate spas on offer? The opulent and iconic statues or buildings? Or is it the trendier 'ruin bars' that come to mind? All of these things are on offer in this grand and historic city, but what really caught my attention during my recent stay was the street art on every street and corners. This wasn't just the odd graffiti-style name scrawled on a wall, these were huge, stunning works of art covering entire walls or decorating sides of buildings throughout the 'Pest' side of Budapest. What I hadn't realised was that these colourful works of art were put there just before our arrival, literally. Budapest is home to street artists who are very clearly passionate about their work, as much as they are about their home city. So, what really struck us, without even knowing this, was just how much they want to brighten up the streets and create something that is not only pleasing to the eye, but that puts a smile on the person walking around the corner and taking in their street art. We noticed the odd tag on walls or on the floors, sometimes even on park benches, some decorated beautifully and made you want to stay and sit a while. But, we couldn't help but stop and admire each and every (enormous!) piece of art work we spotted as we explored the various neighbourhoods Budapest has to offer. Each piece was so different, each with its own message behind the beauty. Some were in parks, on walls looming over children in the playground. Some on crumbled ruins of historic buildings, clinging onto the crumbling brick work. Some were nestled within ruin bars, full of tourists and locals alike enjoying a cold drink in the sunshine and connecting with friends, new and old – such a different vibe everywhere we looked. There is even a street art tour in Budapest, I didn't realise until I returned to the UK, but this could be very interesting if you get a chance to try it. Ten walls around Budapest were decorated with these oversized paintings around Central Pest throughout August and September, alongside an arts and music celebration called the Színes Város Festival. I truly hope they keep doing this over time, it was so much fun stumbling upon these works of art and it really helped to make us feel at home as tourists exploring Budapest for the very first time. To find out more about each of these creative designs, click here. Read my "About Me" page here! See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note – I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this event, brands associated to it or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I wish to do so. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:email@example.com All images © 2016 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.
Monday, 14 November 2016
Amsterdam is such a fun destination for a quick city break and the food is most certainly worth planning for, there simply too much choice when it comes to, well, everything. I spent a few days in Amsterdam with some friends recently and here's a roundup of our favourite finds whilst treading the streets in the late summer sunshine. CT Coffee & Coconuts. One of the food places on our hotlist was a very fresh & funky cafe in a former cinema built in the 1920's - it was a good 55 minute meander from our house boat, but we found it and so glad we did. The coffee was beautifully smooth and the breakfast menu was fantastically healthy, a great start to the day. We cosyed up on beanbags around a low dining table, nestled high up in the rafters of this loft-esque space, it was buzzing with trendy locals and it gave us some time to geek up on our location and plot plans for the day. We all chose the full CT breakfast - feta cheese with scrambled eggs, avocado on sour dough toast and a side of berry compote and granola with coconut pancakes, as well as a mini melon basket. Delicious and wholesome brunch. Great food, very hipster. Loved it. www.ctamsterdam.nl De Nachwacht. If you fancy a quick drink, then head to this Dutch bar in Rembrandt square. We enjoyed a beer sat outside overlooking the statues in the square on arrival in Amsterdam, it's a relaxed pub with a mix of travellers serving - our waiter was a Scottish guy willing to help point us in the right direction for our various destinations. Great little place to watch the world go by. www.de-nachtwacht.nl/en De Foodhallen. This is Mecca for any food and drink lover, an indoor street food market, packed to the rafters with the classy, high-end pop-up bars and street food vendors of this fine city. Home to the Filmhallen art house cinema, a boutique hotel and a maze of independent creative and vintage outlets. Whilst visiting, we enjoyed sampling our first Oedipus pale ale, as well as superb food from Maoz for great falafel, The Butcher for juicy burgers, Petit Gateau for beautiful patisserie and Godfather's Kitchen for sweet melt-in-the-mouth Cannoli. Food heaven. www.foodhallen.nl Trattoria Caprese. Sometimes all you fancy is a good bowl of pasta and after a solid day of walking around Amsterdam, we stumbled upon this little Italian restaurant by one of the many canals in the city. It was chucking it down with rain and so we hopped in to get warm, enjoy a few glasses of wine and some really creamy, moreish dishes. I had the tagliatelle carbonara and we ripped into the most buttery garlic bread in the world. What had us in stitches that night was when we noticed the group of 3 men sat on the table behind us, all sat bolt upright, but fast asleep, one of them occasionally about to face plant into his bowl of spaghetti - hilarious. www.restaurantcaprese.nl Bagels & Beans. There's a few of these bagel shops around town, but there was one literally just across the road from our houseboat. We had passed it several times whilst out and about, thinking of nothing better for our last breakfast in Amsterdam. The choice of bagels was insane, so many different types, grains, variations even with chocolate or cinnamon, all sounded amazing. I went for a "Mushroom burger" on seeded bagel, served with sour cream and salad - slow service but worth the wait, really fresh & tasty. www.bagelsbeans.nl/en The Butcher. One burger venue we had really fancied trying looks like a launderette from the outside and requires a secret password to get inside - of which you have to contact them to reserve a table to gain - who wouldn't be intrigued by this?! We had tried to book a table, but heard nothing back in time for our visit, so we made sure to head to their stand at De Foodhallen instead - tastiest burger I have had in a very long time, amazing! I went for "The Daddy" - BBQ sauce, onions, Edam and bacon . If you're a burger lover, don't miss out on these bad boys. www.the-butcher.com Dutch Pancake & Waffle Houses. Sweet lazy brunches and smooth coffee... This is an experience not to be missed. After a thought-provoking visit to the Anne Frank Haus, we stumbled upon a Waffle House in a trendy shopping district called 'Sugar 'N Ice'. The service wasn't particularly friendly, but there are so many dotted around the streets of Amsterdam to try, you'll forgive us for being far too busy nomming on waffles with puddles of warm, melty Nutella to care. It's as good as it sounds, believe me! Café De Sluyscwacht. The cutest, lopsided little pub you ever did see, nestled between buildings on a bridge just a few steps away from our AirBnb houseboat. This place had not only the cutest barmen the girls had ever clapped their eyes on, but a great selection of beers, wine and friendly locals surrounding the place... You couldn't move for bodies in this teeny tiny, quirky little inn. On our second night we enjoyed al fresco drinks through to the early hours of the morning under the heat lamps, playing uno (a card flew off in the wind and a lady caught it and shouted "Uno" at us before handing it back with a smile - everywhere we went the people were super friendly, I love this city. www.sluyswacht.nl Food Related Notes: Mini Nutella jars - everywhere! Amsterdam seems to be the "home" of the stuff. We even spied a little girl lugging a giant bucket of Nutella down the street at one point, this turned us green with envy! Colourful cakes and beautiful looking waffles in windows everywhere you turn. There's no getting away from your sweet tooth on a visit to Amsterdam, sorry! Wisest Lesson Learnt In Amsterdam: When it comes to getting a tram in Amsterdam, prostitutes are fine, drugs are fine, dogs they are absolutely fine. But a coffee? You can sod right off! The coffee at CT Coffee & Coconuts was so good that we took a second cup away with us. A great idea, until we crossed the street to grab a tram to get us to the Anne Frank Haus on time.... No eating or drinking on the public trams. I repeat. No food or drink on the trams.... The driver tutted at us, waggled a finger and left us in panic on the platform. Bugger. Read my "About Me" page here! See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note – I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this event, brands associated to it or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I wish to do so. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:firstname.lastname@example.org All images © 2016 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.
Tuesday, 1 November 2016
I recently enjoyed a week off work, with nowhere to go but home. A "staycation", with plans to enjoy a sleepover with some younger visitors, as well as a few days in rural Norfolk for some relaxed country air - perfect! "The bearded one" had family visiting, so we took advantage of the sunshine and enjoyed showing them around my home town of Cambridge - I always love showing it off! The term "staycation" has become a popular one for people wanting to holiday, but may not have the time or budget to take in overseas travel. It basically means enjoying a holiday, even if simply exploring your own back garden - the UK has so much to offer, who needs tropical climates?! So, if you've been meaning to take a break, but have nowhere to go... Start in your own home town or village and put yourselves on the shoes of a visiting tourist. It's more fun than you realised! You could visit your local nature reserves, museums, colleges/university buildings/libraries, relax in a spa or be bold, go to the cinema to see a trashy flick with a big bowl of popcorn or enjoy lunch on your own with a good book - these are all favourite things of mine to do and not as scary as you might think! I did just this in Cambridge, here are my top tips when visiting my home town as a tourist: ♦ Parking in Cambridge can be A) a nightmare waiting to get into the car parks on a busy day and B) expensive - be prepared to remortgage your house to park for a full day in Cambridge! Instead, take the Park & Ride for less than the cost of an hours parking or better still, park at Llamas Land car park in Newnham (open between 10am - 10pm) for free and enjoy a beautiful riverside walk into the city centre (approx 15 mins to walk to central town from here through cow fields). ♦ Book yourself on one of the more obscure/interesting-sounding/slightly unusual guided tours - avoid the tourist trap tours that will charge you a fortune for generic information! My fave tours are Black Shuck Ghost Tours (£10 for a 2 hour ghost tour, different themes/different days) or Cambridge Food Tours - eat whilst you explore, a winning formula! ♦ If you're looking for luxurious accommodation, you could treat yourself to a night in a top hotel such as Hotel Du Vin or Hotel Felix, but my ultimate fave when it comes to city retreats is Duke House B&B - this is stylish, peaceful (even though just a hop from the bus station!) and they serve a delicious breakfast! ♦ Ask a friend to meet you for a coffee or light bite, maybe even an ice cream from one of my fave parlours (try Benets on King's Parade and sit on the walls of King's College or Aromi for delicious gelato from their window on Peas Hill!) - there's nothing better than exploring with a local resident - they'll be full of secrets & ideas! ♦ Of course, no visit to Cambridge is complete without attempting a tour of the river in a punt - alongside the colleges, it's what we are most famous for! Book yourself in with Scudamores Punting for a guided tour (approx £18 pp) and not only will you avoid the embarrassment of wobbling yourself up the river in your own punt, you'll also learn a heck of a lot of history about the bridges and colleges as you take some of them in gliding past much more elegantly than you (I) could ever achieve! These guys also offer "Bat Safari" punting tours, taking you out towards Granchester to spot bats and listen to them with sonar - I want to go!! ♦ Try a pop-up supper club (there's a few in Cambridge!) for a different food vibe. Food Park is a street food collective that pops up regularly across the city - be sure to check them out! (If I HAD to pick one fave here, you really must try Jay Scrimshaws food at Guerilla Kitchen - it's divine!). ♦ Make sure you visit some of the cheesy tourist hotspots that you'd normally stride right on past. That weird lit-up clock on the corner of Benet Street and Kings Parade is in fact an amazing sight to behold when you stop to appreciate its weirdness for a few moments - just be safe and remember you are stood on a road here... Unlike most tourists who stand there and step into the path of oncoming traffic on a daily basis! ♦ Look up... A lot! There's lots of cute little roads with rows of terraced cottages, adorned with flowers, creepers and even the old hanging iron signs above doors. Did you know that the "old hangmans" house can be spotted with a sign above it depicting the hangman himself just around the corner from the world famous Fitzbillies bakery on Trumpington Street?... Go spot it for yourself and let me know when you've found him! (Kids in my life love this game!) ♦ Spot the sinking house! Close to the "old hangmans house"/Fitzbillies, this is a large White House that is slanting slightly to the left as you look at it. But why is it sinking? This house is said to be stood over an old plague pit and it's sinking down into it - grim and intriguing in equal measures! ♦ Enjoy a pint sat on the wall outside The Mill or The Anchor. With cows in the meadows around you, tourists-a-plenty grabbing a ride on the punts, drunk punters falling into the water on occasion... this is a place to enjoy a good beer and watch the world go by! I've enjoyed this very spot on my first "Cambridge date" with my bearded manfriend in October previously, so it's great fun at any time of year! ♦ If you are a "chain snob", then read no further. There are so many independent shops and restaurants in Cambridge, in fact check out "Independent Cambridge" for the best indie guide around! But, if you're looking for a quirky building, I highly rate Jamie's Italian or the Pizzeria above (it has its own secret entrance to the side by the market square) for grand architectural surroundings - this used to be the old Guildhall. Or try Zizzi on Peas Hill, an old bank, now an Italian with some of the original features still present - I love that. ♦ Talking of food... Just some of my favourite places to eat and drink in Cambridge: Aromi, Afternoon Tease, Novi, Pint Shop, Benets, Smokeworks (and the newly opened Millworks!), The Cambridge Brewhouse, Nord, Rockers Steakhouse (Mill Road), The Gog Magog Farmshop, Byron Burger, Chocolat Chocolat, The Botanical Gardens, Fitzbillies, The Mill, Butch Annie's, Hot Numbers, The Punter or The Blue Lion in Hardwick of you want to pop out of town and take in the American Cemetry at Madingley on the way through. ♦ If you are looking to splurge a little, try Midsummer House for a Michelin Star restaurant or The Hole in the Wall in Great Wilbraham for a more special meal - I haven't yet made it to Midsummer, but it's on my hotlist! ♦ You could also try a cookery class if you fancy getting stuck into an activity. The Cambridge Cookery School is a great place to try your hand with the professionals - tell Tine and her team I sent you! ♦ If you want to be outdoors, give Geocaching a go, there's tons in Cambridge and some require a lot of patience to wait for a quiet moment to grab them. If you have no idea what this is, where have you been?!... you've been missing out! ♦ Enchanted Cinema offered a variety of al fresco movies at a selection of specially picked venues around town this summer - I got to enjoy "The Grand Budapest Hotel" just before I headed to Budapest at the Gonville Hotel gardens from the comfort of a deck chair, watching bats fly over us at dusk... if visiting in summer, go along! ♦ Watch some Roller Derby. The Romsey Rollerbillies are our local team (I trained with them myself for a while back in the day, but I wasn't made for skates!) - this is a sport not for the faint-hearted - girls bashing the crap (ok, not quite!) out of each other on rollerskates... it's a fun game and well worth checking out a local game, usually on a Saturday, but check them out for fixtures. ♦ If you love cake, then check out the Clandestine Cake Club! (There's one close to every major city in the UK and even some overseas!) - The Cambridge bunch are a super friendly lot and all you need to do is take a cake along to a meet up, in return, you get to chat about cake to cake-loving individuals... it's a dream club that everybody should be a part of. I founded the Cambridge CCC personally and am thrilled to go along every once in a while when I can make it - I've made so many good friends over cake here, it's fab! ♦ Enjoy the sunset from many high church towers or the rooftop bar at The Varsity hotel - a view to kill for! Or why not take a walk up Castle Street towards Shire Hall and climb the winding hill where the old castle used to stand for a stunning view of Cambridge. ♦ Whatever you do, don't forget your camera or a charger for your iPhone! Cambridge is a very Instagrammable place and you will want to show it off to your friends! In fact, I'm about to launch a new meetup group in Cambridge - you'll find more details here if interested - follow HYGGE CAMBRIDGE on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for more info! ♦ Enjoy a stroll along "the backs" - you'll find the iconic shot of the back of Kings College, my favourite college here as my grandfather used to be a gardener here, so it brings fond and happy feelings every time I walk past or visit. In the summer there's a great event called "Bridge The Gap" which allows you to walk through (and sometimes inside) some of the Cambridge colleges across a 5 mile walk of the city centre - well worth doing! Have you got anything to add for Cambridge as your own home City? What are some "tourist-y" things around where you live that are actually pretty cool and worth checking out? Share in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you! Watch my video from my day of being a tourist by clicking here. [youtube height="HEIGHT" width="WIDTH"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zel_T6xURs[/youtube] Read my "About Me" page here! See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note – I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this event, brands associated to it or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I wish to do so. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:email@example.com All images © 2016 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.