Friday, 13 May 2016

chanel classic double flap review (chevron edition)



Dear all, I know this review has been awaited by some of you for a very long time, after some sneak peaks leaked on my instagram. I've dedicated this blog to lots of travel diaries and tips lately, but I cannot miss on the opportunity to share this new and lovely bag with you. Saved for a whole year of work when I was back in Sydney, I decided to splurge some of my savings on this bag I've been craving for the past five years.

The structure of the bag:
The bag is exactly made with similar shapes and features to the all-time-classic double flap: the external pouch (or mona lisa smile) is featured, as well as the secret compartment inside and the lipstick holder. There are still two pockets on the inside and of course, a double flap as you can see in the photo above. The only big different I shall say, is that the chevron edition is first, a limited edition but also, it does not feature the burgundy inside. I should admit it's a bit of a shame, since I absolutely adore that burgundy shade and find it easier to find little lost items in your bag. However, overall, the chevron pattern has convinced my heart and it was love at first sight. Note the embossed CC is also present on the inner flap in this bag as well. 

To be honest with all of you, when I said I had this classic flap in mind forever, I meant the quilted one. A few years ago, I got my hands on the jersey jumbo -a lot cheaper back then as I could not afford the leather version- and loved it although I find it way too big for my frame. I did try the medium quilted classic flap over and over again but was never truly convinced. I wanted it because it was such a classic piece, but something was not just right to be perfect. And when you invest in something like this it needs to be perfect. I finally realised what was 'wrong' when I came across this chevron classic: the quilted version was not right for my age. I felt older, looking like an old lady. This version is much more versatile, modern and young! It suits my personality and style so much better... it's the perfect one for me. However, note that I own an extra mini flap in quilted gold and that one is just right! Why? Probably the size makes it contemporary and does fit my style. 

The size: 
The medium classic is 25.5 x 16 x 7.5cm. Not I can fit the following without stuffing it too much or taking a risk to damage this beauty: a long Chanel classic wallet (flap), a cardholder, my iPhone 6s and a lipstick with earphones. So technically, you cannot fit too much but remember, it's not meant to be a cabas or a Neverfull, it's meant to be a concise day bag or evening bag so what I've mentioned above is more than enough as being my essentials- I never carry more than this to be honest, apart from sunglasses (but no make up pouch, etc.)

In comparison the jumbo is: 30 x 20 x 10cm. 

The leather: 
Caviar calfskin! The lambskin quilted looks so much softer and it existed in chevron as well... but I purchased this bag to use it, and get it out of my closet. In no world I was going to leave it behind closed doors and wanted to use it as a day bag so the more robust, the better. As you can all see, I have opted for the silver chain and thus, silver embossing inside the bag. 

Where? 
I purchased this bag in the London flagship store, and it's made in France! The SA was a lovely man and he knew what I needed straight away. The staff at that shop is not usually super friendly and I was a bit badly welcomed at first but then he saved the day. 

The packaging: 
As all Chanel classic flaps, it comes in the same white dust bag- dedicated for this model only. I was also lucky to have it in a magnetic box. I find the paper box very cheap and not classy at all. This one is a lot more resistant and provide the perfect storage for your bag when not in use. Feel free to ask for a magnetic box if you are unsure! It also comes with a bag cleaning cloth and stuffing paper. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

planning a couple of days to helsinki

If you're planning to visit Helsinki for a short period, this post is for you! I visited the city in 48 hours last September and absolutely fell in love with it! People in Helsinki are friendly, transportation is great and it's by the water.. The epitome of the perfect Northern city. 


Visit the Finnish National Gallery 

This is the symbol of Helsinki, or else the gate to Northern land. I haven't personally been inside, but strolling around will already blow your mind. 

Helsinki Market Square

Whether you are craving souvenirs or looking for some local food, the Market Square is a place you can't miss on your Helsinki visit. It's opened Monday to Saturday from 8am to 4pm and on Sundays during summer from 10am to 5pm. You can easily walk down from the National Gallery to the Market Square and stroll around the waterfront!

Eat the best Finnish meatballs in town 

Ravintola TORI has been qualified to be one of the best restaurants offering delicious meatballs for 14 euros. I was absolutely bluffed by the quality of the food, yet so simple. If some of you dare, there are lots of Reindeer meat specialities all around the city. I did try some on the streets, and now that I am being vegetarian, I'm glad I tried it before! It does not taste bad at all and to be honest, it's part of the adventure. 

Visit the beautiful historic island of Suomenlinna

I was about to do the river cruise, priced at 20 euros+ when I saw a local ferry with its destination to this mysterious island. I thought it would still take me on a cruise, and at least I'll be able to discover something different, perhaps less touristy. The ferry will take you there is about 20 minutes for 5 euros return and the place is stunning! I was so lucky with the weather and could have stayed longer but the day started to darken. Ideally, go there on a beautiful day and have a picnic on the hills. It's a true bliss and real getaway; not that Helsinki is hustle and bustle hub. 





Couple of days may be short but this city should definitely be on your next bucket list. I'll be back myself for sure, and can't wait to discover the rest of Finland as well. 


Hyvää matkaa!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

a day trip from copenhagen: malmö

























Malmö is the perfect day trip destination if you are out in Copenhagen for a while. Even if you only have a couple of days in Copenhagen, Malmö is definitely worth it. From the central station, it is about 40 minutes train ride and cost around 150SEK one way (roughly 16 euros).



Malmö day visit checklist: 

  • Stroll around the City Hall and Little Square 
  • Have a look at the Turning Torso 
  • Eat some Swedish meatballs for lunch 
  • Visit Malmö Castle 
  • Sit by the river with an ice cream or a chokladboll (Swedish protein chocolate unbaked balls with butter, coconut, cocoa and coffee) 
  • Shop at Lagerhaus for some Swedish design home decor (they have the best hand soaps and candles) 





Saturday, 5 March 2016

48 hours in copenhagen


DAY ONE 

Grand Canal Boat Tour

  • cost: 80DKK (or 11eur, A$16, GBP8, US$12)
  • departs from: Gammel Strand 
  • how long? 1 hour 
  • when? morning is usually better 
Boat tours in general are absolutely amazing but this one is one of my favourite amongst all. Every waterfront city that I go to, I always make sure there is an amazing boat tour to do because you can't get closer to the beauty of such cities, but by boat. There are a few companies doing the tour, with several pick up locations. I went with Stromma, so I will recommend it. If you get on at Gammel Strand the tour will last longer and you'll have a very nice seat, although a lot of people tend to start from Nyhavn. During one hour, the large but very low boat will take you around the canals of the city and under very very low bridges - contrast this from Paris! They will also take you out of the city, where canals merge with the sea and you'll be able to have a look at the famous little mermaid. Morning are better, especially if the weather is nice so then you have the whole day to explore the city!


New Harbour (Nyhavn)

This is fast and foremost the 'popular' and 'touristy' area if Copenhagen. Yet, it did blow my mind when I got there. Touristy does not mean trashy, this area is beautiful. You'll easily be amazed by the colourful houses and majestic sail boats. Postcard landscape guaranteed! There are loads of places to eat, but I would simply recommend a romantic picnic by the harbour, especially if you can't afford it. Just soak up the sun and live the life. I would strongly suggest visiting this area on the first day, either before or after the boat tour as both location are fairly close to one another.

Strøget

I would easily, in between those two activities, walk around the main shopping street. The latter is said to be the longest pedestrian street in the wolrd! You'll encounter Strøget on your way to Nyhavn but should you be short on time, you can always stroll around on your way back. The streets are lovely with old school pavements that reminded me like Provence. Do buy a belgian waffle on the way because they are delish and cheap! Definitely quite a bit of a walk, but worth the boutiques and hidden churches on the way. 

DAY TWO

KBH Market (Torvehallerne
  • cost: free
  • where? Nørreport station 
  • when? 10am-7pm Mon-Thu, 10am-8pm Fri, 10am-6pm Sat, 11am-5pm Sun 
Depending on the time you get up and how hungry you are, get your directions to the KBH Market, aka food paradise. You can discover a bunch of different food ranging from local to international but I would definitely try anything local that appeals to you because you won't find it anywhere else. My personal recommendation is the infamous Smørrebrød (Danish tartines) - there is only one stand that sells them and you can't miss it. You won't because you you have to eat at least one of the those beauties. Also, there is a delicious juice bar right next to it.

Botanical Gardens (Botanisk Have)
  • cost: free
  • where? København K, Nørreport station will do 
  • when? 8.30am-4pm Mon-Sun  
Another beauty of the city: the botanical gardens. You can both visit the park surrounding the covered gardens, and the gardens itself. The inside will have all the tropical plants, which is my favourite part of any botanical gardens, simply because you can have a journey around the world at no cost. The outside area will probably be a lot more interesting in the summer! If you love botanical gardens that reflect the faune and flora from all over the world, do check the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

Rosenbord Castle (Rosenborg Slot
  • cost: 105DKK for adults, 60DKK for students 
  • where? same district as the botanical gardens, København K 
  • when? time will vary depending on seasons but currently 10am-2pm Tue-Sun 
A must see, especially if you like museums and royal history. It was built in the 17th Century and represents the epitome of Danish royal family lifestyle. You'll also be able to see the jewellery of the royal family. As you go there, or as you come out, make sure you do so via the park that surrounds the castle. It beautiful and open to the public. 

Tivoli
  • cost: 100DKK to get in, plus 220DKK unlimited rides tickets 
  • where? København V
  • when? from Apr-Sep, 11am-11pm Sun-Thu, 11am-12am Fri-Sat 
If you're the type of person that like rides, finish off the day at Tivoli! You can go there to simply visit the gardens, in which case you'll only pay for the admission fee or you can also add up an unlimited rides tickets if you wish. Don't buy rides on a single ticket as you'll end up paying more- the multi ride ticket will be the best option if you plan to ride twice or more. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: 
  • from the airport: train is cheapest and fastest but there are other modes available, have a look here
  • getting around: most people cycle in Copenhagen, but I walked around the whole time! Perfect exercise. Be careful with the cyclists, though, they have the monopoly!
  • bakery for on-the-go breakfast: Lagkagehuset, my favourite 'chain' bakery I've seen everywhere in Copenhagen. Their pastries are priceless! 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

açai bowl recipe

Hello everyone and all my apologies for not having been on this blog for ages! I did have a lot going on but I am finally back at it and hopefully you will still enjoy my posts. I do promise you all my post on my Scandinavian travels in September are on their way. Today, I'm sharing with you my very first homemade açai bowl. Whilst in Sydney, I was a huge fan of this and I could never get enough. However, they were a bit pricy and my eating habit has gone through hell ever since I got back to the UK. Not that I don't like British food but uhm... variety is not as great here where I am at the moment and the lifestyle is very different. I missed eating clean so much I thought I'll just make myself the stuff I would buy in Sydney. 

For one bowl:
- 1 cup of almond milk or coconut milk (unsweetened)
- 1 cup of frozen mixed berries (I like to combine raspberries & blueberries) 
- 1 frozen banana 
- 1 teaspoon of açai powder
- 1 teaspoon of honey to sweeten (optional)

Toppings:
- 1 fresh banana
- chia seeds 
- coconut chips 

Directions:
Simply put the milk in the blender and add the frozen berries the açai powder and the honey. Blend everything until smooth. You don't want to have a liquid mixture so that is the reason why I freeze my fruits. Add toppings to your wishes and in quantities you like. Serve in a bowl and eat! Yum! 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

things to do when in bali


Last destination of my Southeast Asia trip: Bali. I loved the culture and the food but I had to admit that I was very disappointed by the beaches. Bali has a paradise type of image across the world and yet, Manly beach next to Sydney CBD is 10 times prettier. I understood beaches such as Kuta and Seminyak would not be as attractive but when you take a day trip to Nusa Lembongan and have a dozen of empty bottles floating in turquoise water, you know something is wrong. I am not saying do not go - but I am just warning those of you who may think Bali is a paradise type of escape. If you live in Australia and look for a holiday by the beach - do not bother, unless you want to immerse yourself in Balinese culture. Here are however, a few things you should do if you are planning to go to Bali...

Ubud Rice Fields 



Ubud - also known as Bali's cultural place is very vast. People think it only resumes to the rice fields but it is not true. I haven't done it myself but I have heard you can do intensive yoga course and see a healer. Practice can be strange but should I have more time on my next trip, I will probably do a 'haling' trip with intensive yoga, massages and healing therapies. 

As famous as they are, the rice fields are, of course, a must do when in Bali. Ask your hotel for an external driver (if you book directly your hotel's driver prices will be double) to take you there as it took more than 2 hours from Nusa Dua. Once you get to the rice fields, they will appear smaller than expected or than whatever you have previously seen on photos, etc. Depending on the time I recommend you go for a lunch at the restaurant on the very left of the iconic rice field photo spot. They serve the best saté I've had! Get the mixed saté plate with a whole coconut and seat in front off the fields - the view is a real bliss. If you are courageous enough, take a walk into them and enjoy! Allow approximately 2 hours to take your time to tour around the rice fields. 

Sacred Monkey Forest 

If you're in Ubud then you cannot miss the Sacred Monkey Forest! The forest has hundreds of monkeys all around and it is part of Bali fun to go there. Entry fees are about 20,000Rupiah (A2$) and you can buy bananas for 200Rupiah. If you decide to feed the monkeys however, make sure to be careful with your belongings! Monkeys will enjoy stealing your phone and jewels. I have to admit that for the cost, it is worth going and the forest in itself is also very beautiful. You'll definitely take unforgettable photos. 

Beaches & Temples 

  
Obvious or not, you can't go to Bali without going to temples or walking on a few beaches. As I previously said, beaches have disappointed me so I'll name a few but none of them convinced my heart after having spent a year in Australia. Here's a few you could go but don't expect too much out of them: 
  • Seminyak - probably one of the cleanest. Go to the Potato Head Beach Club or La Plancha, for a colourful experience and cocktails by the beach
  • Padang Padang - great for surfer, I had a very good banana pancake on the beach but that's about it 
  • Nusa Dua - they claim is at resort beach but I could not even swim.. 
  • Kuta - the worst but I had to go, they have a nice shopping mall and a few markets around 

Temples on the other side are fabulous. Always remember to cover your shoulders. For your legs, you will be given a sarong to wear and a donation is usually appreciated. I have visited a few temples on my way to Ubud.  No entrance fees are required for most of them but they appreciate a donation as well. The one I strongly recommend is Uluwatu Temple. Go there, visit it and you HAVE TO sit and see the traditional dance, held everyday at 6pm. 100,000Rupiah (A$10) is required for the entry to the performance. Very unusual but interesting as it depicts traditional balinese men dance. I loved it!

Ayana Resort and Spa - Rock Bar 

For a fancy escapade, head to Ayana Resort and Spa in Jimbaran. Unless your budget allows it don't stay there - although it's absolutely fabulous with incredible sculptures and countless infinity pools. Instead, head to the Rock Bar for an amazing drink with a view. Make sure to arrive early. The bar only opens from 5pm but the queue will start around 4pm and they will prioritise hotel guests. Arriving there at 4:30-5pm, I had to wait an hour and a half!!! I did stay because I wanted to see and have a drink there and I was already at the place but if I had  to do it again I may not wait this long, as I sat when it was almost dark. The view is stunning. Compared to Le Bua in Bangkok, prices are not overrated and the food is nice, especially the tacos and fries basket. The overlooking beach was probably the prettiest I have seen in my whole Bali trip!

Mount Batur 

Last but not least, something you shouldn't miss about Bali is trekking Mount Batur. Finding a trekking tour when you are alone may be difficult and very expensive as they often charge US$30 more than the original price. My driver kindly proposed to drove me and find a guide all for A$90 on my own. He came to pick me up and dropped me off - and I also had to guide to myself. The reason is because although I had my driver's guide, an official guide from Batur trekking association is compulsory. Therefore, it is safer and you have less risks of scam. I was picked up at my hotel at around 2am, started the trek around 3:30-4am and waited for the sun to rise up until 7am. I was definitely tired but the view was so worth it! Although clouds were present, you could still see the sunrise with a cup of Bali animal coffee (traditional coffee), toasts and eggs. The guides are very helpful and friendly. The trek wasn't easy and you should prepare yourself physically and mentally. Make sure to bring good shoes and a jacket as it will get very cold once at the top. 

Where to stay? 

For about 500€ for 5 nights, I stayed at Courtyard by Mariott in Nusa Dua - a resort place. Compared to Europe I found prices affordable and safer to stay at a hotel when on your own. The hotel has a wonderful pool (very useful when you don't like the hotel's private beach) which I had a view of from my room, a spa and many other facilities. One of the nicest place I stayed whilst in Southeast Asia! 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

the temples of angkor


After Bangkok, my second destination was Cambodia. Believe it or not, I flew on the Monday morning and came back on the Tuesday night to then fly to Bali on the Wednesday morning - so hectic! Siem Reap is an amazing cultural city. Only an hour or so away from Bangkok, change of scene guaranteed. Or as we say in France, a total dépaysement!



Getting organised

Visa and currency:
When you arrive at the airport, the whole process is very easy. Have a few American dollars with you. Unlike Bali, you will not be able to pay for your visa on arrival in other currencies. The tourist visa is $30 and business visa is $35. They will charge you an extra $2 if you don't have a photo to provide, but no big deal.

To see if you are eligible for a visa on arrival, follow this link:
http://embassyofcambodia.sg/index.php/visas/visa-arrival

Also, note that apart from the visa most things in Cambodia can and are paid is $US. No need to change your money in the local currency, but make sure you have small notes, especially those $1 bills.





Getting around:
Not sure how you planned your trip - but there is no way you can walk around all temples by yourself. Some people hire a car and drive, whilst some other will cycle. To be honest, I think the easiest, the cheapest and the most local is to simply hire a tuk-tuk driver. I have contacted Polin prior to my departure and upon recommendations on Trip Advisor. He is sweet, adorable, reliable and honest! He took me everywhere I wanted in such a short time and even proposed to do/see more things but I was too tired to do so. For $30 (including all extra charges such as sunrise and sunset), he picked me up from the airport, let me visit a few temples in the afternoon and took me to sunset on the first day. Then on the next day, he was up as early as I was and on time for sunrise, half day of exploring and took me back to the airport, offering to go  and see the local markets. Amongst my personal desires, he took me to hidden places and temples less common to tourists. He also knows his culture really well and will explain to you anything if you have any questions. If you are planning a trip to Siem Reap, here is his email: polinangkordriver@gmail.com
PS: Polin always carries a few bottles of cold water for you!





Passes:
1 day pass - $20
3 days pass - $40
7 days pass - $60




Must see/not to miss: 
  • Sunrise at Angkor Wat 
  • Sunset at the Hill - be there in at least 2 hours in advance, or queue and miss it ... 
  • Angkor Thom (also known as Bayon Temple)