October 11, 2017

discovering bordeaux by train

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Train to Bordeaux from Paris
Train to Bordeaux from Paris


For the last few days of September, I took a trip to Bordeaux and was blessed with weather reminiscent of mid-summer. It was the perfect pick me up for my post-holiday blues after returning home from two weeks to Croatia at the end of August. The new high-speed TGV train line from Paris to Bordeaux means it now takes around 4 hours in total from St Pancras to Bordeaux, with some added time to change stations and grab a croissant in Paris.    

Train to Bordeaux from Paris


 Places to shop 


Librairie Mollat, the largest independently owned book shop in France, is filled with every book from every genre, making it a compulsory stop on a wander through the city. There's a huge Hay store,  Cos, and of course many of wine and cake shops. 

48 Hours in Bordeaux


 Where to eat in Bordeaux 


Just a few years ago, asking for a dish without seafood, meat and dairy in France was near impossible. Times are starting to change and even Michelin star restaurants are beginning to cater more to animal free eating. I was blown away by Le Gabriel, both for the fantastic food and romantic atmosphere. 

48 Hours in Bordeaux


 Taking a day trip to Arachon 


Home to the tallest sand dunes in Europe, Arcachon is a 50 minute train ride from Bordeaux. This time of year it's free of swoops of tourists, and is still bathed in warm sunshine. I completely fell in love with the chic seaside town and have vowed to revisit sometime.   

Arcachon
Day Trip to Arcahon

Boat trips that take you on a tour of the bay go out from the pier regularly, or there's private cruises on traditional Pinasse boats if you want to make it more special. 

Arcahon Boat Trip
Arcahon Pinasse
Arcahon Boat Trip
Arcahon Boat Trip

Arcachon is home to the Dune of Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe. It's unlike anything I've seen before in my life and deserves a firm place on everyone's travel bucket list. Running down the steep side, barefoot, just as sun is setting is a glorious experience. 

Arcachon Dune du Pilat
Arcachon Dune du Pilat
Arcachon Dune du Pilat

Fares from London to Bordeaux with Voyages-sncf.com start from £111 standard class return, which is incredibly good value and makes the trip well worth considering for a midweek or long weekend break. 

October 08, 2017

skincare sunday (01)

Current favourite skincare products.

Since ditching my beauty blog, I've missed typing up my skincare sunday posts and have been compiling a collection of favourites to share. I've somehow managed to feature three cleansers in this one post, but as I've been interchanging them through the last few weeks had to give each a well-deserved mention. 




FOREO LUNA MINI - £85

I often find myself switching back and forth between my clarisonic and foreo luna, but have recently been favouring the luna. Used alongside pixi glow mud cleanser, my skin gets a deep clean like never before. As there's no swapping brush heads, it's more hygienic than the clarisonic and in the long run is much cheaper too.


Whilst on holiday in Croatia, I used this each and every night after a long day in the sun. It instantly cools down the skin and soothes any slight burns. My tan ended up looking the best I've ever had and I'm convinced it was down to the hydration that this gave to my skin. It's a gel-like light cream texture and sinks into the skin instantly, leaving only a silky veil rather than a greasy layer. I'll be taking a bottle away with me each and every year from now on. 

NEAL'S YARD ROSE & GERANIUM ALUMINIUM FREE DEODORANT - £8 


Recently I've been looking more and more into the ingredients of products that I'm using, which all started with hours worth of research on aluminium in deodorant and it's connection to cancer. We sweat to release toxins from the body, then aluminium comes along and harbours those toxins inside the body by blocking pores. I can't stress enough how important it is to ditch deodorant containing aluminium, you'll also notice your underarms feeling much softer and less dry as a result too. I used to opt for a 24hr extra strength version but now find that this Neal's Yard alternative does the trick instead.     


If I could only take one skincare product to a desert island, it would be this. Built with 12 forms of hyaluronic acid compounds, the serum delivers the most intense form of hydration to my skin that I've ever found in a skincare product. After applying this before I go to bed, I wake up with skin that looks as if I've just come back from a facial. Anything that makes me look less of a zombie in the morning is a winner by me.


You can put whatever you like on your skin, but if what's going in your body is out of whack then you'll get nowhere. If you have problem skin, consider giving up meat and dairy and limiting sugar intake. After researching hours into the night on probiotics, and since I've been taking them for the last month or so, I'm convinced that anyone and everyone should be taking one a day. They boost the good bacteria in your gut and will help to improve your immunity and to clear up your skin.


Since ditching dairy, I rarely get a breakout and I can now get away with a light wash of foundation without concealer. On the rare occasion that a spot crops up, I reach straight for this cleanser and notice that it does away with any excess oil or angry skin right away. 

OMOROVICZA THERMAL CLEANSING BALM - £48

If I'm feeling extra fancy, or I'm staying in a cosy hotel for the night, I'll go for this cleansing balm over all others. It's a mini-facial in a jar and gives a deep and thorough clean to make-up laden skin. This is the steam cleaner of the cleanser world.   

PIXI + CAROLINE HIRONS DOUBLE CLEANSE - £24 

The thought of double cleansing always seems like a faff and too much of an effort when all you want to do is jump straight into bed. That being said, having two cleansers raring to go in one jar is a genius move and has got me into the habit of using both every evening. The cleansing oil whips off even waterproof make-up in a flash, while the cream finishes the job and adds back moisture.

September 23, 2017

mljet island, croatia

Being back in drizzly England whilst editing holiday photos always gives me major post sunshine blues. I'm already mentally planning next summer to get me through the winter.

Mljet island takes just under an hour to reach on a speedy catamaran from Dubrovnik, with boats going every day and to both ports at each end of the island. Whoever reads this post is being let in on a close guarded secret, as the island is completely unspoilt by tourists and you're left feeling more like one of the locals. The island is said to be the greenest in Croatia, and by some the whole of Europe, which I can absolutely get behind.

We stayed at Boutique Pine Tree Apartments, run by a traditional Croatian family that make you feel as if you're being welcomed into their home from day one. I ended up making best friends with their little girl and wolf-like dog which kept me entertained on most evenings at the beach.

Boutique Pine Tree Apartments, Mljet Saplunara Beach, Croatia
Saplunara Beach, Croatia
Boutique Pine Tree Apartments, Mljet


Boutique Pine Tree Apartments, Mljet

As the apartment is set up for self-catering, we stocked up on vegan essentials at bio&bio in Dubrovnik beforehand. This made the stay a trillion times cheaper as we cooked rather than eating out for most evenings. We even made the genius move of cooking up hotdogs and getting fries to go with them from the cafe bar up the road. 


Hiring a car is essential if you want to explore the island properly. There's just one main road that goes from one end to the other taking around an hour or so, and you barely pass another car along the way. We hired a Suzuki Vitara jeep from Mini Brum, the only car rental place on the island, for five days which came in at around £220. There's no extra deposit fees or insurance costs to pay which is ideal if you're short on cash. 

Mini Brum Car Rental, Mljet
Mljet Island, Dubrovnik
Pomena, Mljet
Pomena, Mljet
Mljet National Park, Croatia

POMENA

Mljet National Park, Croatia
Mljet National Park, Croatia
Mljet National Park, Croatia

MLJET NATIONAL PARK 

Boutique Pine Tree Apartments, Mljet


Boutique Pine Tree Apartments, Mljet
Boutique Pine Tree Apartments, Mljet

Until next time Croatia!
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September 20, 2017

hotel kompas, dubrovnik

Close proximity to Dubrovnik, check. Next to the beach, check. Chic minimalist design, check. Indoor spa and outside pool, check. I bring to you Hotel Kompas. At check in, we were treated to a room upgrade and spent the first evening indulging on truffle pasta, french fries and beer. That's when you know you've arrived. 

We'd booked a classic room at their lowest rate, and ended up with a superior sea view room instead. Kaching. The room has a spacious yet cosy feel and plenty of storage to keep two week's worth of clothes in. The beds are soft and doughy, which in combination with the blackout curtains make for a glorious mid-afternoon, too much sun and over indulged on pizza nap. 


The rooftop bar serves delicious cocktails throughout the day and night, and is the perfect place to chill out watching sunset. There's also a bar area on the ground floor if you like to watch the world go by. 


I would most definitely visit Hotel Kompas again and recommend checking it out if you're thinking of taking a trip to Dubrovnik. We paid around £240 per night as the weak pound ended up boosting up the price by 10% from the time we booked earlier in the year to when we arrived. I'd still say that's pretty good value and would be happy to pay that same rate again, room upgrade aside. 

My final holiday post all about Mljet island is on the way soon! 
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September 08, 2017

dubrovnik, croatia

Earlier on in the year, I had decided that after not going on holiday last summer I couldn't let another pass by without a trip away. If only for the sake of a golden tan. Back in 2015, I visited the north of Croatia (blog post here) for the first time and fell completely in love with the country so returned to the south this time around. I'll pretend my Game of Thrones obsession had nothing to do with sparking the idea to visit Dubrovnik, and that I'm far too cultured to be swayed by a tv series. 

I booked with Expedia earlier on in the year and as I'd saved to pay up at the hotel was stung by the weak pound, to the tune of around £200 additional costs just for accommodation. Now I know to always work conversion rates into my budget. 

We spent five nights in total at Hotel Kompas in Lapad, a short bus journey from the city centre of Dubrovnik. It costs a mere £3 to hop on the bus and back and as they run constantly we never had the need for a taxi. This gave the option of either having a chilled day by the pool and beach, or heading into the city to explore. 




FRANCISCAN MONASTERY | VEGAN NACHOS AT NISHTA


An hour before sunset is prime time to visit the cable cars, the crowds have died down and the heat goes from uncomfortable to soft and warm. If you're trying to up your step count, you can get a one way ticket and opt to walk up or down the mountain, on either side of the trip. 




On one of the few hazy mornings we encountered, we hired a private yacht with crew for four hours. It came in at £180 but as we split the cost, worked out at really decent value and meant we could pick where to go and for how long. I've been on my fair share of booze cruise type boat trips so was more than happy to eat cheap here and there to make up the difference. 





Have you ever visited Croatia? Let me know!