• THINGS TO DO IN MARRAKECH

    This post has been a long time coming. It’s been quite a while since I was actually in Marrakech but I still wanted to share because I love these pictures. I went with my friend and his cousin, and we had a great time! It was particularly helpful that my friend’s cousin is fluent in French (sidenote: I would definitely recommend picking up a few French phrases in preparation for heading to Marrakech). It was an incredibly interesting city, so different from anywhere I’d been before.

    Here is an overview of my favourite things that we got up to:

    JARDIN MAJORELLE

    This is probably one of the most iconic places in Marrakech. Well, it’s definitely one of the most iconic on Instagram anyway. It’s where the designer Yves Saint Laurent lived for years and there’s a memorial for him and his partner in the garden. The gardens are simply beautiful. They were very busy but there was still an element of calmness and serenity as soon as you walk in. There’s a large variety of flora and fauna, and the blue house is truly striking.

    QUAD BIKING

    This was hands down my favourite thing I did while in Marrakech. There are a bunch of different companies that do quad biking but we went with Dunes & Desert. They were absolutely great and I would highly recommend them, they were just really friendly and just made us feel so safe. We were picked up from near our hostel and taken out into the desert. We were given a safety talk, suited up and started practicing on the bikes. We then had a photoshoot (you could buy the photos after if you wanted, they were pretty cool so we did end up purchasing them), and then we headed out on our adventure. One of the staff members led up in a line, with another staff member at the back. We stopped twice, once was just a quick break to take a few pictures, and the second time we were given tea and bread. It was so much fun and a really cool experience, I would definitely suggest it to anyone heading to Marrakech.

    SOUKS

    The souks are the markets. They are probably what Marrakech is most known for and they are insane. They seem to just keep going and there is a constant hustle and bustle. I’m not really a haggler so I found the experience very overwhelming but it was very interesting to see. I would definitely recommend going further into the markets, as the ones at the front are very touristy, more expensive and I found the people were pushier. I would also suggest having a bit of a google to see roughly what prices you should be paying for things and tips on how to haggle.

    LE JARDIN SECRET

    This wasn’t a place I had heard a lot about but my friend and I had a few hours to kill and wanted something that was relatively close and relaxed. We did a bit of a google search and ended up at Le Jardin Secret. It’s easy to pass and not even realise it’s there, being near the centre of the city and with the entrance along a narrow street. You can’t tell from the outside that there is a hidden oasis of calm just behind the door. We walked around for a bit and then just sat and enjoyed the scenery and the serenity. It’s smaller than Jardin Majorelle, but it was a lot less busy when we were there. There is a cafe/bar and a tower you can go up (for an additional cost) to see an amazing view of the city. It’s not the most impressive place I’ve ever been but something about it made me fall in love. I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re looking for somewhere to escape the chaos of the city and just breathe for a few minutes.

    WHAT TO WEAR?

    I wanted to finish up with a quick note on what to wear if you’re a woman, as it’s something I struggled with before going. It’s going to be quite hot so keep that in mind, but I did find that I was more comfortable when I was more covered up than I normally would be in a hotter climate. It’s really annoying to have to do it, and honestly I didn’t do it out of respect for the culture; if I was going into a place of worship or something like that, I would understand having to cover up and abide by their rules if I chose to enter, but on the streets, sorry no, I don’t care; it should be my choice what I wear. HOWEVER, I personally felt it made me feel safer and more comfortable to be a bit covered for a number of reasons. I didn’t feel like there were boundaries when it came to my body, if I’m honest. On the first night, we were out quite late getting food since we had gotten in late and a guy came right up behind me and properly grabbed my ass. As you can imagine, after that I was a bit on edge. Because of how people are dressed around you, you draw more attention to yourself the more skin you show. And there are people waiting to take advantage of tourists; some of the guys there do this trick where they act as if they’re helping you and then, regardless of whether or not you even accepted their help, they ask for money. Once we refused and the guy tried to start a fight with my male friend. Thankfully some local woman stepped in and helped us. We genuinely did met a ton of nice helpful people, but there are also a small number of shitheads who are just looking for their next victims, so it’s best to try and stay off the radar as much as possible.

    So, having said of that, what did I actually wear? I didn’t show my legs, I had some very light linen trousers and a flowy midi skirt. I then wore either a t-shirt or a tank top with a scarf (that I bought in the market). When we were inside the tourist areas and restaurants, I felt okay with my shoulders out. And I did wear shorts when we went quad biking because I knew we were going to be with tourists and people who are used to tourists the whole time. I did get told to put on a jacket by a random man in the souks when I was wearing a high neck tank top with a scarf over my shoulders. I definitely saw people wearing less clothing on the streets and in the souks then me, and they seemed fine, but I just didn’t want to have to deal with the additional attention. It’s frustrating but it’s a personal choice, I guess.

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    Marrakesh was a crazy place. It was such a different culture and honestly I think it took me a few days to adjust. I did start to love it though once I had gotten my bearings. I think my main tip would be to do lots of research when you’re looking for a place to stay and consider paying a bit more for somewhere nice. I didn’t like where we stayed and I think that impacted how I felt mentally, not having a place I felt safe and relaxed to come back to after the chaos of the city. Also, I would suggest going in a group, even if it’s small. I would not have felt safe on my own (and I travel by myself a good bit). Other than that, I would definitely recommend visiting Marrakesh and I would like to go back some day.

    Jane x

  • VISITING COPENHAGEN

    Towards the end of last year, I visited Copenhagen for the first time and fell completely in love. One of my friends from my masters course is from a town about 45 minutes away and she came into the city to be my personal tour guide for the weekend, which was absolutely amazing. It’s a very walkable city and my favourite part was just wandering streets and taking in all the pretty building and incredible street style.

    NYHAVEN

    Nyhaven is the area surrounding the canals where you will find those colourful old houses that Copenhagen is famous for. There is a great buzz to soak in around this part of the city; when I was there the canal was lined with Christmas markets but I imagine it’s also great in the spring/summer with people hanging out in all the restaurants and cafes.

    CHRISTIANIA

    Freetown Christina is a commune that is open to visitors. There’s some shops and galleries in there, along with Pusher Street, which is exactly what it sounds like. There’s no hard drugs, but weed is freely available. It should be noted you’re not supposed to take pictures, particularly near Pusher Street (we did get in trouble for taking the picture above) but it’s a super cool place that has an interesting history and ethos. I had heard about it because Lukas Graham is from Christina and it does seem to be a fairly popular spot. It is safe but probably best to visit during the day.

    THE KING’S GARDEN

    The King’s Garden, also called Rosenborg Castle Gardens, is the oldest park in central Copenhagen. We didn’t actually go into the castle but we had a wonder around the garden (which is free). The Palace is beautiful and even in winter it was so nice to stroll around the garden and stare at the pretty building.

    TIVOLI GARDENS

    Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park that is beautifully lit up at night. I was there at the end of November so they also had Christmas markets set up. Unfortunately my friends weren’t up for going on the rides so I can’t tell you how they are, but I loved walking around and seeing the different displays.

    THE ROUND TOWER

    We decided to do the Round Tower because it wasn’t that expensive, and I thought it was great. You do have to walk all the way up, most of it is sloped hill with some stairs at the end; but the view is worth it!

    Right beside the Round Tower, you will find a hotdog stand and oh my! They have a vegan dog and it was SO GOOD. I got the French bun (which is circular) with ketchup, and while it looks interesting, it was actually delicious. And so genius! I’ve never had a bun that went the whole way around. It was perfect for someone like me who doesn’t like toppings, just give me plenty of ketchup and I’m a happy bunny.

    I absolutely LOVED Copenhagen. The people where all so nice and the street style is so inspiring. It was genuinely one of my favourite cities I’ve ever been to and I would highly recommend it. It was so nice just wondering around and I would love to live there for awhile at some point in the future.

    Jane x

    Check out these other travel related posts:

    THE PERFECT 48 HOURS IN BARCELONA

    AMSTERDAM TRAVEL GUIDE

    THINGS TO DO IN LONDON: UP AT THE 02 REVIEW


  • AFTERNOON TEA AT SKETCH

    For my birthday last year, my best friend Aoife treated me to afternoon tea at sketch. Anyone vaguely familiar with sketch will know it is the Mecca of Instagram, the social-media-influencer’s millennial pink field of dreams. And it’s easy to see why, the aesthetics are really dreamy. The setup is classic, yet edgy, with art by David Shrigley’s lining the walls. And let’s no forgot the dome ceiling and those geometric floor tiles *drools*.

    I went with the vegan option and was pleasantly surprised with how everything tasted. Not that I expected it to be bad, but you just never know when people create vegan versions of things (I usually prefer to stick with things that were made to be vegan from the beginning). You start with caviar (or cauliflower “caviar” if you’re veggie), brought by the Caviar Man. Yes, that is how he introduced himself to us and my understanding is his sole job is to bring people caviar. He was wearing a delightful pink suit. Then they bring you sandwiches and cake (you can ask for more sandwiches if you want, which we did, of course). After all that, they bring you a scone with jam. And then some chocolate torte to finish things up. The only thing that wasn’t so great was the vegan scone, it was just super dry. But everything else was delicious and I felt they had put thought into the vegan alternatives.

    You also get to choose what tea you want. I went with lemon and ginger and it so good. I also LOVED the teapot and cup. Even though the vibe cool, but it is a definitely a fancy place; I mean, there was even some people playing violins in the corner. And did I mention there is a Caviar Man? There isn’t a dress code but I would suggest dressing up a little, nothing over the top, just not something super casual. I will also note that the staff were super nice to us, which I’ve found isn’t always the case in fancy places.

    I don’t know if it’s weird to include a picture of the bathrooms but they are INSANE. The toilets are in these pods and it’s all very trippy. The ceiling is stained glass so all this colourful light bounces around the place as you wondering through the pods trying to figure out which ones are empty and how to get into them.

    All in all, it was a great experience. I know it’s pricy (£59 per person for the classic afternoon tea), but I do think it’s worth it if you have the money and love some Instagram interiors. I would love to do it again next time I’m in London! 

    Jane x

    Other posts to check out: 

    EATING VEGAN IN LONDON

    THINGS TO DO IN LONDON: UP AT THE 02 REVIEW

    HOW TO PACK EVERYTHING YOU NEED (AND STILL HAVE SPACE)

    THE COOLEST BAR IN LONDON – COMING SOON!

  • THE PERFECT 48 HOURS IN BARCELONA

    I started this post back in November after I spent 48 hours in Barcelona at the end of October. However, November and December ended up being some very rough months for me for a number of different reasons and it’s only now that I’m getting back to blogging. I still wanted to share some posts from my trip because I had such a good time. its actually quite nice to look back on it now and remember everything that I did. I know people can be a bit scared of travelling alone but if you’re going through a hard time or just need a break to give yourself more space and time to think, I would highly recommend it. I did a bit of research before I went and lined up a few things I knew wanted to do but I also gave myself a lot of time to just wander and explore the city. This post runs through all the spots I visited, as well as where I stayed and how I got around.

    DAY 1

    Park Güell

    This was my first stop in Barcelona and honestly I could spend so much time wondering around this park. It’s a public park composed of gardens and architecture elements designed by Antoni Gaudí. There are free parts you can look around, as well as a part where you need a ticket to get in. I would highly recommend buying a ticket so you can see it all. I decided to do the English guided tour and I’m glad I did. My tour guide was great and it was interesting to hear the history of the park. There was also some other solo travellers in my group so it was a great way to meet people and make friends. There’s just so many interesting pieces and bits of architecture and design, topped off with an amazing view of Barcelona. I think this is a must-see for anyone visiting Barcelona. I would highly recommend getting a taxi or a public bus to the park as it’s at the top of a pretty steep high (I took a bus and was very glad I did!).

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    Magic Fountain of Montjuïc

    After wondering around the park for hours, I walked back down to the city and found somewhere to eat. Then I headed towards the Magic Fountain. This was truly one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen. It’s a water fountain display, where the water moves in different ways with different colours and music. The show lasts for an hour and they go through multiple different types of musical; pop, rock, classical, jazz etc. I stood there for the whole hour and watched every single moment. It’s just so cool!

    Something to note: the show happens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and has a different start time depending on the season. They also add an additional night during the summer, but you can check out all of that here if you’re interested!

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    DAY 2

    Casa Batlló

    For day 2, I started at Casa Batlló, a house that was redesigned by Antoni Gaudí in 1904 and it was a pretty cool building to wonder around. I haven’t been to the other Gaudí designed houses in Barcelona so I can’t compare them, but I really enjoyed my time at this attraction. Barcelona is filled with Gaudi architecture, and it was cool to see how his style translated to interior decor. It’s a self guided tour, so they give you a phone and headphones, and there’s different numbers around the house which correspond with numbers on the phone, explaining the history of the house, as well as how different rooms where used or other bits of information. You can actually hold the phone up as you walk around and it shows you what the rooms would have looked like furnished. I didn’t really use this that much, as I found the design of the rooms interesting enough without any extras but it’s a cool feature.

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    La Rambla, Mercado de La Boqueria and The Gothic Quarter 

    After looking around Casa Battlo, I walked down to La Rambla and I would highly recommend doing that. It took about 20-30 minutes, but the Barcelona streets were made to wonder. La Rambia was very packed so I quickly made my way to the food market called Mercado de La Boqueria. It’s such a cool place to walk around and find something delicious. They have an amazing section of juice, smoothies, fruit, chocolates and so much more. But the juice. Oh the juice. It was SO GOOD.  I bought some and continued walking and strolling into the Gothic Quarter, which is a bunch of narrow streets full of random shops

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    The Marina and Beach

    When I needed a break from all the walking, I headed down to Barcelona beach and just chilled out on the sand. It was really nice and relaxing (except for the multiple people coming up to me asking if I wanted a drink, a massage, a towel etc). I love people watching so sitting there with the waves and watching (aka creeping on) everyone was right up my alley. I then got something to eat (food post coming soon!) and wandered along the marina as the sun was setting. I continued to walk towards my hotel and stumbled upon a wine festival. I think that’s the great thing about walking around European cities, you never know what you’ll find!

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    HOW I GOT AROUND

    To get around, I used a combination of walking and public transport (and if i’m totally honest, I did take a couple of taxis when I was just too tired to get home any other way after walking all day). But other than getting tired, I didn’t have any issues walking. The streets are just so beautiful, and it was so nice strolling around. When I was trying to get somewhere a bit further away, I used the public buses. To figure out what buses I needed to take, I simply used google maps. I bought a 2 day unlimited trips ticket for €15 at the machine at the airport station (this included my trip from the airport into the city). This made life easy because I could jump on the bus as much as I wanted and all I didn’t have to worry about anything.

    WHERE I STAYED

    I booked the BarcelonaBB B&B through booking.com and I loved it. The decor was so interesting and the couple who owned the place were very friendly and helpful. They gave me recommendations and booked a taxi to take me to the airport. The breakfast selection was nice, but very limited for a vegetarian/vegan. However, my final morning I left too early for breakfast so they made me a bag with breakfast to-go to take with me and left it on my bed the day before, which I thought was such a lovely touch. I had to share a bathroom with another room, but that wasn’t too much of an issue for me, and I thought the location was great.

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    That’s about it! I would recommend everything that I saw, as well as where I stayed. It really was a great 48 hours. I fell in love with Barcelona and can’t wait to go back. It’s such a beautiful and colourful place.  One of the things I didn’t get to do was take the cable car from the marina up to Montjuïc Castle, so that will be top of my list next time. I will also be heading straight back to the Mercado de La Boqueria for some juiceMy next post I’m going to talk through where I ate while I was there, including some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, so check back for that!

    Jane xx

     

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  • ALL ABOUT BED OF NAILS ACUPRESSURE MATS

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    I know the spikes look scary. They look like they hurt. And they do, a little bit. But you do get used to it very quickly, I promise. You can always put a layer of fabric between you and the spikes to ease yourself into it if you want. But honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary. I wouldn’t say I have the biggest pain threshold and I can handle it. Now that that’s out of the way….

    What are acupressure mats and how do they work?

    The mat is based on the theory that the body is lined with pressure points which, when stimulated, release the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, similar to acupuncture but this doesn’t involve breaking the skin. The idea for the mat comes from the bed of nails concept which originated in Asia over 1,000 years ago and was used by gurus in the practice of meditation and healing. These gurus would lie on sharp metal nails with heavy blocks stacked on top of them and while this idea can be a bit shocking, it’s not as painful as it may seem as the weight of the body and the blocks is distributed evenly across the nails. The same is true of this modern day equivalent, which is made up of a thin foam mattress with more than 8,000 non-toxic plastic spikes, harmless to the skin, but boosts the same numerous healing benefits, inducing deep relaxation.

    In fact, the Bed of Nails website states that if used regularly for a long enough period of time their products can:

    • Improve circulation
    • Increase energy level
    • Reduce blood pressure
    • Reduce stress and anxiety
    • Alleviate headache
    • Relieve tension and muscle aches
    • Improve sleep and relieve insomnia
    • Relieve chronic neck and back pain
    • Activate the parasympathetic nervous system
    • Benefit weight loss by reducing cortisol levels
    • Improve heart rate variability
    • Revitalize and rejuvenate
    • Improve skin complexion
    • Relieve constipation
    • Alleviate malaise

    That’s a hell of a lot of benefits. I haven’t used my consistently enough to see all of them, but I’ve found even occasional use can help. I got my mat over a year ago because I was having trouble sleeping. I’ve had sleeping problems on and off for years, so I’m always looking for things that can help. And this definitely helped. It’s a weird sensation at first, not quite painful but you can feel the spikes. After a few minutes though, I always start to relax. I would love to be someone who meditated but I struggle with being able to shut off, however this mat helps me feel more at peace and allows me to just lie still for a while.

    After about 10 minutes, I can feel my circulation start to increase as my back starts to heat up. Honestly, the experience is hard to describe but I really enjoy it. Although the sensation when you sit up after lying on it for a while is so bizarre. I’m still not sure if I love it or hate it; it’s pain and pleasure all in one! Speaking of pain, I’ve also found the mat really helps when I have a sore back. My boyfriend’s job involves manual labor and he’s also used it to help reduce tension and pain in his muscles.

    I only recently purchased the neck pillow because I’ve been experiencing pain and stiffness in my neck but I hate massages (weird, I know…). After using it 3 tries, I’ve already noticed a difference. I really do want to start using both the pillow and the mat as frequently as possible because I don’t doubt that their products can produce all of those benefits they state on their website.

    Note: Both my pillow and mat are from the company Bed of Nails. I haven’t done a ton of research but I think you can find cheaper options out there, I just like the quality of their products.

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    Jane x

  • MISSOMA JEWELLERY HAUL/REVIEW

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    LARGE SILVER HORN NECKLACE
    I really love this piece. This type of necklace seems to be very popular with bloggers at the moment, and though it might be a bit over-saturated right now, I still like the look. My favourite thing about this particular necklace is actually the chain; the little silver balls are subtle but add more texture. It feels sturdy, luxurious and perfectly completes an outfit. This necklace, and the fang one below, are part of the collection designed by the blogger Lucy Williams. I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of her before seeing this jewellery pop up everywhere in the YouTube/blogging world. I must have been living under a rock or something, but now that I know who she is, I’m obsessed. I love her laid back and easy style, and I would highly recommend stalking her blog and Instagram if you haven’t already.

    MINI FANG NECKLACE 
    This is my favourite pieces. It’s very versatile; it’s delicate yet still makes an impact. The only thing I dislike is the clasp. I don’t know if it’s just me but I find it difficult to open it. In spite of that, I’ve worn the necklace with lots of different looks and I think it adds a something to every outfit. I’ve always loved pictures of layered necklaces but I’ve always found it difficult to achieve the look. They look so good on Pinterest but they turn into a weird knotted trying-to-hard mess on me. But I’ve actually been able to layer necklaces with this one. I do wish it was slightly longer, I know I have a large neck but I can only wear this necklace on the longest length.

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    STAR CHARM NECKLACE AND CITRINE CHARM
    These are the pieces I’ve struggles with the most to wear.  I like the star but… okay this is going to sound ridiculous, but it’s so small and dainty, it makes me feel like I look bigger. Like I think it might be too delicate and dainty for me. Ridiculous, I know. I’m not sure how I feel about wearing the two of them together, which was my original intention. I’ve started putting the citrine charm on another necklace I have and I’ve been enjoying that.  I think I just need to play with them more to figure out the best way to wear them.

    Over all, I was really happy with my purchases.  The pieces are a bit over-priced but I do think I will get the wear out of them! I also have the bracelet that matches the fang necklace; I’ve worn it a lot (not taking it off for showers etc) and it hasn’t tarnished yet, so I am impressed with the quality of Missoma’s jewellery pieces. The website has a nice variety of pieces, though being a silver gal, I wish they had a few more silver options. They have a really great variety of gold pieces though, so if that’s your thing, definitely check them out!

    Jane x

    P.S. If you want to see some more jewellery content, click here to check out my Daisy London jewellery review/haul 🙂