Thursday, 3 September 2015

Suitcase. Berlin, Germany - Travel Guide

When I told people I was off to Berlin for Bank Holiday weekend they all had a similar response “You know it’s really grungy right?” Yes it’s true I’m definitely more of a classic girl but despite this I was really excited to visit a city that had such a story to tell… Grungy or not…

With London forecast to be rainy and 15 degrees and Berlin said to have sunshine and 30+ days, I figured I’d made the right move and I had, the weather was glorious.

I stayed in a fab hotel by Potsdamer Platz. Inspired by Scandinavia, the aptly named Scandic Hotel provided a peaceful place to rest my head away from the hustle and [grungy] bustle of the city. I even had a lovely view of the square and if you choose a superior room you’ll get unlimited use of the mini bar – win! Book here or via Expedia.

The thing I was most looking forward to was undoubtedly the history of Berlin; the endless wars, the ruthless dictator and the wall that divided a city for nearly 30 years. Truth be told I have a fascination with the World Wars like that of a 65-year-old-man #noshame. I found myself wandering the streets thinking if walls could talk imagine all the stories these ones would tell… The city’s Free Walking Tour provides a great place to start, I got the lay of the land and some valuable details about Berlin’s history. I even stood above the space where Hilter’s bunker used to be. There’s nothing there now to remember him which seems like a fitting ode to an evil little man.

Berlin does seem a poor city yes [in fact, it’s the poorest capital in all of Europe] but it also has plenty of character. Pieces of the Berlin Wall are still scattered around the city acting as constant reminders of the sad history, yet the locals are smiling, happy and largely a very artistic community.

There are plenty of spots about town to get your dose of history like the Jewish Memorial, The Topography of Terror museum and the various chunks of the Wall that still stand in the capital.

Some of the originals messages that people sprayed on the wall are still there. It's very poignant. This one says: To Astrid. Maybe someday we will be together.

Whoever you are, I hope your wish came true.

Then when you’re feeling sombre from the stories of war that tore this city apart, a walk through Tiergarten is the perfect place to clear your mind. Over 5km of greenery and winding paths can certainly have that affect.

If you make a trip to Bikini Berlin hotel, their rooftop bar provides a great viewing point.

Museum Island is also not to be missed with its iconic buildings framed by the River Spree.

And if you fancy wandering or biking through the neighbourhoods then the upper reaches of Mitte and all of Kreuzberg are great spots to check out. The architecture of the city is certainly unique and a direct result of the city’s communist occupation. Bare, minimalistic and a bit space-like, but interesting all the same…

As far as cities goes, Berlin is rather sprawling so it can take some time to get around… If the weather’s nice and you’re up for it then I would suggest getting a bicycle. Some hotels have them for free or otherwise you can hire them from a range of shops for €12/day. It was the only method of transport I used in 3 days, no need for taxis, buses or subways, plus you’ll certainly have earned all those beers and schnitzels, and you’ll sleep well at night.

And who knows what you'll see when you're riding, you might even come across a little piece of NYC on your travels...

If public transport is more your thing then the subway network across the city is very extensive and runs much like London’s tube. A single trip will cost you €2.70.

The food of Berlin was quite possibly my favourite thing about the city. So much choice and it’s all so great. If you’re not a fan of German fare then never fear because you’ll find every cuisine here and if you do your research there’s a hotspot for everything!

Chipps is a great spot for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Their menu is deliciously simple with eggs, pancakes, muesli and the like.

Burgermeister officially takes the cake for the best burger of my life. A humble little shack-like setup under the railway line, they're a bit ugly (have you ever seen a beautiful one though?) but totally delicious. Be prepared to queue a little but I guarantee the wait is worth it.

If Japanese is more your style then Dudu in Mitte is incredible. A quaint little Japanese garden, it serves some incredible sushi and rice dishes. The seafood bowl was incred.

I simply had to try the local speciality; Berliner Weisse. Pink beer! I really loved it and wish I could find it here in London (do let me know if you have!?). It’s like a tangy limey beer that fizzes more like champagne and then combined with a special pink flavouring it ends up with a tangy raspberry taste. Yum!

And of course, I needed a schnitzel. This one from world-famous Lutter & Wegner was INCREDIBLE, definitely visit these guys if you’re after a nice dinner and it’s a fair price too.

Finally, the chocolate! I didn’t realise but Berlin has two very famous stores: Ritter Sport and Fassbender & Rausch. Ritter Sport is more like your Willy Wonka store, it’s bright, fun and has every flavour you can image. Fassbender & Rausch is more like the Harrods of chocolate with these incredible chocolate statues on display and elegant boxes that make perfect gifts.

To give you an idea of scale, this little guy was about 4ft tall

Both have cafes attached to them and I can highly recommend the treats on offer at both. When it comes to the actual blocks of chocolate though I think I fell in love with Ritter Sports more, can you tell?...

See, I told you Berlin was a food haven, all of that in three days! Lucky I was riding my bike everyday to burn it all off!

So what are you waiting for, book a trip (return flights from London are available from just £70) it’s a great place for a long weekend and I guarantee you’ll return historically enriched and with a very sated stomach.

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Photos by Krissie.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Style It. August Celeb Street Style

This month’s street style round up almost became an ode to Emily Ratajkowski. Her looks have been so on-point throughout August I feel like I’ve seen her in an incredible outfit every single day. To keep it interesting I thought I better find some other babes to round it out, but full props to Emily – I’d love to raid your wardrobe…

Here she is in what I think is my favourite look of hers this month. The golden girl of the moment, Emily Ratajkowski looks so chic in a ‘60s inspired white Zimmerman dress and she’s rockin’ those over the knee boots with flair. Lust-worthy.

Miranda Kerr does transit in laidback luxe style. If only we could all have a limited edition Saint Laurent tote. Sigh. Loving the ribbed knit and cool, casual jeans; she makes a trans-Atlantic flight seem effortless.

Surprise surprise, Olivia Palermo is in my round up again. Love this ‘summer in the city’ look on her complete with the hottest bardot top silhouette and colour pop accessories. The girl sure knows how to do day-to-day understated elegance.

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Photos via Pinterest and retailers.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Style It. Ways To Wear 60s

We all know the fashion-world is in the midst of an infatuation with revivals; the flare, sequins, suede, lace-ups and fringing. When it comes to style it’s never about the decade you’re in, it’s about one of the past. Shock horror but I’m not a huge fan of ‘70s style dressing, it’s just not really my thing. The ‘60s however is a totally different story. This I love.

If you’re not sure how to channel it I have one easy suggestion for you, imagine you’re Alexa Chung. This girl is the queen of ‘60s sass, from A-line minis to Victoriana blouses, lace-up flats and plenty of Parisian-inspired ‘it girl’ attitude. I’ve rounded up the style staples you need to get the look…

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Photo by Krissie via retailers.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Plate Up. Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

In my book, brownies trump both cakes and muffins. There's just something about their tacky goodness that will always make me choose them over their baked compatriots. Hence I'm always in search of a good chocolate brownie recipe which is exactly what I have for you today, and, it's dead easy! Get a load of this...

What you'll need
Butter for greasing
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg
100g milk chocolate, grated
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 tablespoons water
A few dollops of your favourite peanut butter

What to do
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and grease a rectangular slice tin.

Combine all your ingredients in a bowl, aside from the peanut butter, and mix well.

Have a little taste just to errr check everything's good... [Chronic batter eater over here I'll admit.]

Pour into your tin and distribute evenly. Then plop a few dollops of your favourite peanut butter around the place. It's all in the wrist motion here.

Swirl these through the mixture and stick it in the oven. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Whilst it's cooking ensure you lick the bowl and the peanut butter spoon because it would be sacrilege not to, right?

Whip that baby out of the oven when it's looking nice and tacky. Leave to sit and cool for 10 minutes - I know it's tough but you have to wait - and then cut a slice to have with your cuppa and enjoy.

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Photos by Krissie.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

One Day. Carsten Holler: Decision

Ever since I was a little girl and my mum took me to the Brisbane Science Museum I've had a love of interactive exhibitions. Getting involved in galleries and art is far more interesting to me than just standing back and observing...

Hence why I was so excited when I heard Belgian artist Carsten Holler was bringing his biggest ever show to London complete with 6-storey slippery slide.

One for those who want to fully immerse themselves, this exhibit is like an action-packed theme park with a side of art. Come prepared in comfy clothes and shoes.

Upon entering the first thing you'll find is Decisions Corridors. You open the door and find yourself in a dark metal tunnel that once you've rounded the corner becomes completely pitch black.

When you've found your way out you'll emerge into the Flying Mushrooms - it's like something I imagine you'd find in the home of Lewis Carroll; straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

In the next room there's the Pill Clock where thousands of pills drip silently from the roof into a huge pile on the floor.

In the Forests room you'll find everyone lined up mindlessly watching on these headsets. What you're in for is a strange immersive experience that will play tricks with your eyes and your mind.

Meanwhile there are these robotic beds that roam around the room like they have a mind of their own. You can even book to stay in them overnight as they roam the gallery. Just think, you'd wake up in a different place - eerie.

The Pinocchio Effect is a rather strange exercise. Holler asks you to hold your nose and run a vibrator up and down your arm to see how your nose feels like it "stretches". Strangely enough it does. Who even figured this stuff out!?

There's a giant die. Dice? For those who want to roll with it... Get it!?

Now all this was certainly fun, but things were about to get a whole lot funnier. Enter the upside down goggles...

Not for the faint-hearted or those with a sensitive stomach... They really will make you feel like you're in another dimension and provided endless giggles while we stumbled around like toddlers learning to walk.

We look like something out of a low budget sci-fi movie...

Then when you've seen it all you can exit the gallery in the best way possible - via the 6 storey slide. Honestly I wish my flat had one of these... A quick slippery dip and you're back at the bottom.

Honestly it's a fab day out, book your ticket before the show ends next month.

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Photos by Krissie - forgive the lesser quality, I couldn't take my camera so it was all up to the humble iPhone 5.