7 Things I Learned In Budapest


Budapest they say, is the Paris of the east. Stunningly gothic and quirky, with tradition and a lot of history seeped truly into its core. It has been subject to stern conditions, through World War 2 especially, it was the home of brutal Nazi takeover, with thousands of Jews being lined up along the Danube and shot, falling into the river. The country has been battered and bruised, but their unwavering love for their country has kept them alive and thriving. I visited Budapest in 2011, although it doesn't feel like that long ago, in a chilly October, where I stayed at the Zara Contintental Hotel 4****, modern, stylish and highly recommended. All photos are slightly retro in my hairstyle, fashion sense and poses, but this was me as a much more energized and healthier feeling self.

Flashback 2011 (Budapest)

I spent four glorious days in the city, and I've put together a list for any newbie travellers to the city, that may be of some use, and things that I learned from being there, whether it's inspirationally, or physically, and even spiritually.

1. Speaking Hungarian Often Falls On Deaf Ears

If you want to practice your Hungarian, then it is of course worth a try, although having practised my Hungarian choice phrases to perfection, I decided to speak a few, in cafes, to taxi drivers. There really is no need. I had a few blank faces and then replies in English! Do not worry about the language barrier, as with all top European cities, English is widely spoken and they are a very pleasent race.

2. Drinking Water With Everything

In every restuarant or cafe I visited, a glass of water came along with it. Firstly this happened when we ordered coffee, and this was the first time I had realised why exactly the Hungarians did this. In the UK, we order coffee, and that is it, even if you're drinking an espresso. In Hungary, they take health a little more serious perhaps, and ensure that you stay hydrated whilst you dose up on those caffeine laced drinks.

3. St Margarets Island Holds Many Secrets

St Margarets island is a small island in the middle of the Danube, which is popular with tourists. It seems to attract many joggers, and bikers. However, the island itself had a particularly eerie feel to it. During the autumn months, it perhaps was a little more lonely than during its peak in summer, but there were many small abandoned buildings, lots of untouched places that seemed very primitive, such as old play areas for children. After researching it, I came to realise that it was used by German soliders in the war and a lot of unpleasent things occured during this time. The island is large, would be great for picnics in summer, but it isn't really worth a visit unless you would like to explore it's abandoned little pathways and buildings.

4. Live Slower And Be More In The Moment

This is something I've experienced throughout most of Europe and why I'm so heavily connected to it. Budapest has such a slow pace of living. People don't rush, there is no hustle and bustle in the way that we experience in the UK. The train station was particularly incredible, when I popped inside to take a look at the architecture, I noticed that at 9am in the middle of rush hour, the whole area was incredibly quiet, a very low hum and even barely. People are quiet, they go placidly with their business and it perplexed me at first, yet it also made me very aware of how important a calm, slow pace of life is. I try and adopt it now, yet it is not as easy in the middle of multi-cultural Leeds.

5. Taxis Are Very Plush

If you want to get into a taxi in Budapest, then you can flag them down on the street if they appear empty. All drivers were incredibly smart, with ties, and some taxis were Mercedes or BMWs. This didn't affect their price however, although taxis aren't really needed, everything is within walking distance. I would recommend the standard cliched city tourbus, just because it will take you to everywhere you need to go. If however you do need a taxi, get a quote first, it's a known fact that taxi drivers tend to pile on the costs if you're a tourist.

6. There Are So Many Incredible Hotels

If you are a hotel junkie and love fine hotels, then Budapest is the place. It has a long stretch along the river of incredible hotels, from the Four Seasons and Sofitel. The Marriott was especially nice with beautiful crystal chandeliers and a real modern but homely feel. I would love to go back to Budapest for the hotels alone.

7. It Is Geographically Desirable

If you're in town for a week in Budapest, then there are many reasons that this is the city to be in! In around 4 days you can comfortably take in all the large sights of interest, if you wish to. Budapest sits in the heart of Europe, so many nearby cities and countries are accessible by coach or train. You can easily take day trips to Vienna and Bratislava.

It is well worth a visit, perhaps a weekend trip if you're wanting to check out the sights and have a quick passing trip, it should be at the top of your city break list!

Scroll down for some retro flashback photos from this beautiful city in my mini photo diary.











The Beauty Of The Lake District: Why You Should Live There



The Lake District, is one of Britain's most beautiful regions. In the heart of Cumbria, The Lake District is home to 16 incredible bodies of water, that thousands of tourists flock to each year. It offers serenity away from the busy cities. Penrith is the largest city to the Lakes, which has all the big ammenities of any city. The Lake District is dripping with beauty, endless trails and walks, the prettiest tearooms and quaint gift shops. There is also no lack of stunning hotels in the best locations you can think of. Along the lakes, just waiting to be explored! It has oodles of charm and here are some top reasons why it is also high up on the best places to live in the UK.





With its clean, crisp fresh air, it isn't subject to the pollution in the cities. For your health, the peace, quiet and clear oxygen is brilliant for those suffering with any longterm health conditions; and it is a great place to keep active. So many walks, bike treks and even water sports, there is never a lack of things to do. Ullswater is famous for it's boating and camping grounds along the lake and it is the epitome of the area.

It has booming tourism. Although this may not be as prevalent during the winter months, it still attracts walkers and groups throughout all seasons, which means it is a wealthy area, good for businesses, new and old; perfect if you are wanting to try something new and create a new lifestyle for yourself. There are so many shops to browse in, either in shop and online, becuase some of the cutest gifts are made up in the lakes. Take a look at address verification if you're looking to start a new venture in this beautiful location.

The Lake District is in a surprisingly good location, it is not too far from three major cities, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds; and a few miles north, you can drive upto into beautiful Scotland and to the west, you have the Isle of Man.  There are plenty of places to holiday inn, especially if you are not bothered about traveling outside of the UK. You could holiday in The Lake District, even if you lived there, with a new location around every corner and something exciting to see, you will never get bored.

There are some stunning properties in the Lake District. From all price ranges, from flats, to houses, to caravans, to mansions! There is something for everyone and a style to suit each taste; every house has a different style, charm and there is a definite individuality. Imagine opening your curtains up onto the beautiful waters of the Lakes.

Where is your favourite place in the Lake District?
#PostcodePride

How to Make the Most of a Summer Weekend in London

If you’re heading to the capital for a weekend this Summer, you might find that you struggle to fit in everything you want to do! Making the most of your time, by pre planning, is key if you want to squeeze as much as possible in, We’ve popped together some ideas on how to make the most of a two day trip.  

Photo: Penhaglions

Pre-book

Not only does pre-booking save you money but it can also save you a lot of time too. You eliminate the need to queue for a table at a restaurant or in line for any attractions and it allows you to plan out your weekend more efficiently. If there’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to try when it comes to food, then it’s always worth booking as far in advance as possible as popular places book up fast, especially on weekends. If there’s a show that you’ve always wanted to see, then booking tickets in advance is crucial, as you don’t want to risk not being able to get seats when the time comes around. If you’re not sure on where you would like to eat then sites like Open table have a lot of options and they can even provide some inspiration on where to eat!

Stay Central 

Where you stay can make a massive difference to helping you make the most of your time. Staying in a central location or at least close by to the area you think you’ll be spending your time means you won’t be spending too much of your time travelling around. If you want to stay in the centre of it all, so you can easily reach different attractions and enjoy the nightlife then Thistle Trafalgar Square is the perfect central location. Booking direct through hotels means you can normally secure a discount or at least a free breakfast. Staying centrally also means you can walk to a lot of nearby attractions, giving you a different way to see the city!

Make the most of the views 

If you want to make the most of the great weather, then get yourself over to one of the many rooftop bars located all over the city. With something to suit everyone’s budgets and styles, you don’t need to pre-book if you just want to head up for a drink or two. It’s worth considering fitting in a visit as you’ll get to see incredible views overlooking London whilst enjoying food and drink. Rooftop bars such as Roof East and the John Lewis bar are both free to access and provide the perfect backdrop to enjoy London al fresco.


 

Why Gambling Shouldn't Frighten You

In today's society, we try everything we can to gain a little extra cash or save up but the ways in which we can do that can be limiting. We can work extra hours, we can take the time out to do a little bit of cash building from online surveys, but we also can look at other options, such as gambling. The word itself may strike a bit of fear into the hearts of many. We hear about online gambling, gambling on late night television shows or maybe having a night out with the girls at the casino.


Gambling

As long as you understand the risks of gambling (which are not for you to worry about if you are sensible with your money) and appreciating what your limits are, then gambling should be a fun way to increase your chance of winning some money. Casinos often are great places to socialise and there are plenty of games to play from Roulette to slot machines. Make sure you have a budget - spend no more than that no matter what. Be aware that you may lose it all. Also be aware that you may double it...if you're lucky! However, there are lots of other ways to play and gamble and it can be done from the comfort of your own home. Why not look at playing cards and games online. Bring over your girlfriends, get some wine and snacks and play online. You can even play online alone, for an hour or so after work. It's easy and simple and limiting yourself to how long you play and the money you're willing to part with, will make your experience much better.

What Games To Play

There are so many different games to play now and it really depends on what you love the most, what your hobbies are and what tickles your fancy! Roulette is more of a game of chance but cards are more strategic then there are fun playful games too such as King Kong Fury, Dream Catcher and many novelty games that incoporate a little more of an aesthetic element as opposed to the classic casino games. It can be a fun way to wind down also, gaming is much more fun if there is a chance of winning money at the end! So enjoy your time gambling, be responsible and find a new fun hobby to explore!



Summer Styling & WIN with Nordgreen

It's finally summer and I am taking a little time to revamp not just my wardrobe but also my accessories. The one thing that I do enjoy changing up throughout each season is watches. I like to create simple summer styles that I can play up or down with accessories. This beautiful timeless piece from Nordgreen is exactly the kind of style I'd been looking for, so scroll down to see how I have accessorised it and all about this beautiful piece to inspire you to add one to your collection.

Everyone knows the Danish trend of Hygge which took off last year, it was everywhere and it is still an ongoing lifestyle that I attempt to follow. Also, the Danish are renowned for their style and sophistication, so Nordgreen watches were an absolute gem of a find. Based in Copenhagen, they have a large range of watches for both men and women, that are both elegant and stylish.



The Watch

The Infinity watch is made of stunning genuine grey leather, which feels very durable and looks of very high quality. The rose gold hardware is a lovely touch, complimenting the grey very well. The white/cream face is stunning, with elegant 'Nordgreen' etched onto the face, it just is a timeless piece that would work well with many outfits. It can be played down for elegant office wear, day to day and also could be worn to more formal events, or styled up with a dress. The watch straps are interchangable if you wish to use another. There is free delivery and returns on your watch and their chief designer Jakob Wagner has had years of experience and creates only his best work to make sure that your watch looks and feels great! Inspired by Copenhagen, these watches are modern and chic! Copenhagen itself is a beautiful city which I have had the pleasure of visiting once before and it is no surprise that these watches really embody that beauty.



It can work lovely with a simple black or nude blazer, it really brings the grey to life and makes the rose gold pop! Or why not try it with a more dressy outfit, it can look just as lovely with a more fussy print.





If you would like to buy this watch or shop collection you can click here [not affiliated] - for more timeless classics which would make a perfect gift for him or her, or even yourself. Why not treat yourself to a new wristwatch which is the most perfect addition to your outfit and makes you incredibly Instagrammable! They arrive in white boxes, which look very elegant and generally are well packaged.



WIN

For a chance to get your hands on one of these watches from their new lookbook, this is what you need to do to ENTER

  • FOLLOW @nordgreenofficial on Instagram 
  • LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW - leave a comment of choice including your Instagram handle as proof of entry! 
*Winners will be chosen in ONE week's time and will be chosen at random! Good luck! EU & UK entrants only please. Thank you.


CHARITY: Giving Something Back To The World



Do you ever feel like you want to give something back to the world that has provided you with so much? Perhaps, your life has been going rather well lately, and you want to show the love to other people. This is totally understandable, and it is basic human nature to want to do something positive and give something back without expecting anything in return. But this can also be quite difficult. 
You might want to give to charity, but how do you fit that into your budget. It can be hard, particularly if you just about have enough money to get by yourself. So maybe you want to dedicate time rather than money, but again it can be tricky to fit this into a busy lifestyle. You might soon realise that if you search long enough, you will always find issues that will stop you from giving back to the world. But, if you keep looking, you’ll also discover the solutions. Here are a few of the best ways you can bring some positive energy back to the world and in doing so feel better about yourself. 

Holidays That Mean More

Photo Courtesy of: Flickr
We’ve just entered June and that means that a lot of people are probably looking forward to their summer vacations. Where are you off too this year? Perhaps you’re taking the kids to Disney World or maybe you’re exploring a beautiful paradise. But why not instead try and make your holiday mean a little more. 
When you’re a student, you’re always looking for ways to fill your summer vacation on a limited budget. You might come across the idea of volunteering abroad. Packages like this are often around four weeks long. You’ll spend two weeks doing volunteer work such as teaching English or building houses in Fiji. On the second two weeks, you get to explore this new location, appreciate it and have some fun. So, essentially, you get the best of both worlds, and you’ll love every minute of it. 
These types of vacation volunteer packages are available for people other than students too. So, you can easily fill a few months of your summer with a spot of relaxation and a good load of charity work. All that’s usually required is for you to pay your own way and this tends to be a lot cheaper compared to your typical vacation. 

Or, you can just organise a full three months of volunteering in a place that needs help. While this certainly won’t feel like a holiday, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience that gives you a brand new perspective of the world and the challenges that people face every day of their lives. 

Giving To Charity

Photo Courtesy of: Flickr
You might decide that rather than spending your summer helping people you just want to give some money to charity. But, as we have already discussed, you might find it difficult to fit this into your monthly budget. Particularly, if every so often you want to treat yourself. The best idea is to not to give any of your hard earned money away. Instead, you should raise other sums of capital for the charity that you want to support. Your first step should be finding the charity that you want to donate money too. This could be anything From Shelter to Save The Children to a charity that support veterans. However, you should look at the charities carefully. It’s fair to say that they do differ on how they handle money. Some only give a percentage of their donations to the actual cause because they have to pay their workers, marketers and other bills. 

You might be wondering about the type of ways you can raise money for charity. Well, there are options, and companies such as Cashfloat certainly provide some brilliant ideas. But some examples would be using your skill, hobby or passion. For instance, you might love baking. If that’s the case, you can make some lovely cakes and sell them for a profit. Any money you raised can then be donated to a charity. 
Alternatively, you can get sponsored to complete an activity such as running a marathon. You set yourself a big enough challenge you will discover that people are eager to get involved and support you in your endeavours. 

Helping The Planet

Photo Courtesy of: Public Domain
Of course, it is worth pointing out that it’s not just people who need your help. The planet does too, and with a reduced support from America to help protect it, you should certainly consider providing more of your support. The best option here is to make your daily life a little more green. For instance, you might not live too far away from your place of work. If that’s the case, rather than getting in the car, get your bike instead. Or, head out for a brisk walk. Not only will this do you a world of good, it will reduce your personal CO2 emissions.
You can also think about changing your home to make it more green. If you invest in new tech, you’ll find that it uses less power than your typical technology. As such, you can lower the amount of energy that you use on a daily basis. You could also think about introducing renewable sources of power into your home. For instance, you should think about getting solar panels for the roof of your home. With solar panels, you can make sure that you use less energy at home without changing the way you live in the house or altering your family's lifestyle. 

The biggest issue here is probably the expense. But you can get help with this from environmental agencies and the government. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and that’s why these days you see so many homes with those futuristic panels on the roof. 

I hope you see now that there are lots of different ways you can give back and make a difference to the world. Even if you are strapped for cash or running low on time, there is always ways to fit this into your lifestyle and feel a little better about yourself.

TRAVEL: Make the Most of a Trip to Venice




Ask someone what the most romantic city in the world is. A lot of people - most, in fact - will probably tell you that it’s Paris. (Of course, most of the people who answer in this way have probably never been on a romantic vacation in Paris! Spoiler alert: it’s overrated.) The rest will probably tell you that the most romantic city in the world is the Italian city of Venice. (You may get the occasional oddball who tries to tell you that the correct answer is New York City. As great as the Big Apple is, this is incorrect on many, many levels.)
Talks of Venice conjure up images of unique alleyways, world-class art museums, extraordinary palaces, clean and calm canals - it’s an absolutely beautiful city, one that is, in itself, something of a masterpiece. And if you’re going, you’ll want to experience the city to its fullest. While you may not be the kind of person who likes to travel somewhere and do the obvious, tourist-y things, the obvious, tourist-y things in Venice are genuinely some of the best things about the city, and you’ll be missing out if you decline them!
So here’s a quick guide to making the most out of your time in Venice.

First off: learn some Italian
Yes, it’s true that you can get by in Italy without learning any Italian. You’ll do fine at most hotels and restaurants, and a lot of the cities that are really heavy on tourists, like Naples and Rome, shouldn’t present you with much trouble, either. But the fact is that Italy isn’t a great place in which to be ignorant of the native tongue. 
Some of you may have experience of traveling to a few places in Europe already. Maybe you’ve been to Germany or Denmark. In such places, it’s easy to get the impression that most Europeans are pretty proficient when it comes to English; it’s really easy to get by in these places without knowing a single word of their language (although they’d certainly prefer it if you gave it a try). But as the Education First website shows, Italy only has a moderate average proficiency in the English language. This actually makes it one of the least proficient places for English-speaking in the entire continent. If you want to fully experience the magic of Venice, then it’s better to have a little bit of Italian under your belt.

Photo Courtesy of: Good Free Photos
Get on a gondola
When people imagine Venice in the context of romance, they’re usually imagining couples on a gondola ride. And if you were planning on going to Venice without going for a gondola ride, then you may need to seek help. The beautiful waterways of Venice deserve to be seen and experienced from the comfort of a gondola, rowed by a gondolier (who may or may not sing to you as they row. That’s mostly a romance movie myth, I’m afraid, though some will do it if you pay them enough euros.)
Gondola rides are beautiful whenever you want to ride, though a lot of people underestimate the thrill of a night ride. If you don’t want a gondolier, then you can actually hire a private gondola for you and your friends. Be careful, though - they expect those gondolas back in one piece, probably more than they expect you back in one piece. And gondolas are expensive beasts, so do take care!

Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia
Experience the food!
There’s an exclamation point at the end of that sub-heading, and for very good reason. It’s difficult to exaggerate just how good the food in Venice is - in much of Italy, in fact - and going out of your way to ensure that you try the best food you can is definitely worth it. Italy houses many of the world’s finest cooks, and its food is known worldwide for its quality. However, you should know that “Italian food” isn’t that helpful a category. The food in Italy is perhaps more regionalized than in any country in the world.
That means that the food you get in Venice can be worlds apart from what you’d get in Milan, Rome, or Naples. So people here don’t talk so much of Italian food as they do Milanian food, or Neapolitan food, or Venetian food. Thankfully, as a cicchetti tour in Venice (which combines the previous section with this one!) will quickly reveal to you, Venetian food is perhaps the most famed and delicious food in all of Italy. You’ve picked the right place!

Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia
See amazing art
A few centuries ago or so, there was this little thing called the Italian Renaissance, though it wasn’t really acknowledged as such until around the 19th century. It was one of the most glorious and creative artistic periods in all of human history, a surge of incredible achievement in the arts and intellectual pursuits that still grips and astonishes people to this day. Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello - all their works can be found in Venice. (And if you immediately thought of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead of the classic painters, sculptors, and writers, then get thee to Venice asap! Or, y’know, Wikipedia.)
If you’re not too big on all the classical art, then there’s no need to worry. Venice also has a bunch of world-class contemporary artists, and there are museums dedicated to their work. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Last Supper, it’s not in Venice. You’ll have to go to Milan (and book a 15-minute viewing!) in order to see it.
Off the beaten path
Of course, there are loads of great things to do in Venice that are difficult to find in any tourist guidebook. This is why you should take the time to get to grips with a little Italian (the language, not a small Italian person). When you know some of the native tongue, it’s easier to ask the locals for suggestions and directions to restaurants, museums, bars, and amenities with which they’re more familiar. These places have plenty to offer, and they also tend to be much cheaper - as well as not so filled with fellow tourists!