Visiting Budapest

Over Easter myself and my boyfriend travelled to Hungary for a 4 day city break.  We had not been there before and were bowled over by the city.  

a stunningly clean and tidy city…

So what to do when youve got time on your hands, no kids, a centrally located hotel room and some holiday cash?

Well firstly Hungary is not an expensive country! Food and drink is cheap and many of the attractions were free (or only a few pounds). We arrived with Euros but quickly changed them to HUT as paying in Euros works out very expensive (plus a lot of places wont take them). Be ready to feel like youre spending loads though as 1000HUT is worth about £2.50!

My top things to do… 

Cruise the River Danube – the river splits Buda and Pest and is breathtaking. Take a romantic stroll or a riverboat cruise.  We did both – a cruise works out about £15 a person and really lets you see the city along with learning the history too. We loved it!

Top Tip – book your cruise ahead at one of the tourist information points instead of being hassled at the waterside by the many different reps who may try and overcharge you.
 

artwork on the river bank remembering jews killed during the war. Budapest suffered terribly during WW2
 
the famous chain bridge

 

Be in awe of the architecture – Budapest is a visually stunning city. Out of all the amazing buildings the Parliament buildings are iconic and usually what you see on postcards etc. 

Top Tip -it is a working building with armed guards to the front as well as sculptures and fountains but it looks best viewed from the water. 

that building youve seen in all the photos…
 

Get sporty on St Margarets Island – Ok, we are a bit annoying as we are both regular runners and like to do a 5k in cities that we visit…its a bucket list kinda thing. I know, I would hate us too if I didnt think we were awesome!  St Marys Island is a car-free purpose built island in the middle of the Danube for sports and leisure. You can bike around it, canoe around it, play sports, visit the petting zoo or like us run round the 5k running track. It was full of locals when we were there and Budapest seems a very healthy city generally.

Top Tip – if you have room in your case pack some sports clothes – whether its a run, the hotel gym or finding somewhere to swim, its great to have the option to exercise available.

runners gotta run!

Get steamy at the Széchenyi Thermal Baths – A bit further out of the city (we had to take a short bus ride) is probably one of my favourite things I have ever done. A huge purpose built stunning building thats over 100 years old – you can swim in the thermal springs, get a massage, enjoy hydrotheraphy, sauna or just chill out on sun loungers. 

Top Tip – book a cabin for a private changing room experience and pay to put your valuables in their safe boxes for extra peace of mind.

the beautiful outside pool area
 
taking a dip in the thermally heated water
  

Ride the Castle Hill Funicular – so everyone wants to pretend theyre in a Wes Anderson movie dont they? This just sums up the whimsical charm of Budapest. The views as you go up and down are stunning too…

Top Tip – at the top discover the Hungarian National Art Gallery and see the changing of the guards outside the Presidents house 

picture postcard cute

Explore the unique Buda – 

Budapest really is a tale of two cities. The old town on the Buda side is unlike any place I’ve visited – very medieval feeling, quaint and unusual. It gets busy with tourists but we loved it. 

Top Tip – if you visit St Mathius’ church book the cheaper bell tower tour rather than the full church tour – the climb will tire you out but the views are great. 

St Mathius Church
 
the view of Pest from Buda
 
pretending I’m a princess outside my castle at fishermans bastion
 

Visit St Stephens Basicila Cathredral – this is one of THE landmarks of the city and the ornate interior has to be seen to be believed. Entrance is by donation but spend a bit more and climb the 363 spiral steps to the dome balcony – the views are fabulous and theres even an art gallery on a hidden level!  

Top Top – Afterwards, chill out on St Stephens Square where there are lots of pavement cafes and bars…


the front of the stunning cathedral
  
inside the ornate dome
   
on the roof
  
i have this thing with floors…
  

Ride on the trams – public transport in Budapest is cheap and relatively easy to use – we travelled on a bus and metro transfer from the airport (for about £4.00 each) and then used the metro and trams when things were a little too far to get to on foot. 

Top Tip – the older yellow trams on the Pest side are adorable and you feel like youre in a 1950’s movie riding them. Buy a daily travelcard and enjoy!

the cutest public transport Ive experienced so far

Buy a rose shaped ice cream delight – there are lots of great food in Budapest but my favourite of the trip? It had to be these beautiful handmade rose ice creams made from 3 flavours of ice cream from Gelarto Rosa. 

Top Tip – avoid the queues of the main shop which is nearest St Stephens Square by heading further down the street where you will find a second branch!

ice cream perfection
 

Dress up and eat out – when on holiday it has to be done! I’ll be honest, as a fussy eater I struggled with the hearty Hungarian food – however for lunch Goulash in a bread bowl made an interesting change and theres plenty to choose from. Food and drink is very reasonably priced with a 2 course meal with alcohol for 2 in a good restaurant easily managable on a budget of £50. 

Top Tip – a 12.5% service charge is always included in the final bill in Hungary so dont add anything else on.

dress by boohoo boutique, attitude by me
 

Leave a Love Lock – this has become something of a traditional for us.  After a romantic break its lovely to think they’ll be a part of you left there after you leave – last year we left one in Copenhagen at the spot where my boyfriend proposed to me. In Budapest they have metal ‘trees’ created for this purpose in Eserbet Tér (a large park in the centre of the city) so you know youre not vandalising anything or they’ll just be cut off a month later!

Top Tip – plan ahead and make one before you go using a cheap brass padlock. My boyfriend engraved it himself creating a lovely personal touch.
 

leaving a bit of our love behind
 

Budapest is a definitely ‘recommend’ from me! We flew to Budapest via Ryan Air from Stansted and stayed at the President Hotel in the centre of the city. Flights start from around £60 each way.

M&Co. Blogger Style Challenge: Beach Break

M&Co. have just launched their new summer catalogue and I’m already starting to plan my summer wardrobe.  As you might remember I’m a big fan of M&Co. and blogged my top buys for spring 2015 here and now I’m ready to do the same for summer! I’ve already been through the new catalogue and created a wish list of summer buys for myself…

Untitled

…so when M&Co asked me to pick my favourite items from the new range and create a great fashion look for under £100 for either a beach or city break I was super excited. I do love a city break but with the sun shining and the heat rising, I’m dreaming of lazy beach days and hot summer nights. So here is my ultimate look for feeling stylish, cool and fashionable this summer during a beach break…

Petite floral print multi-way maxi dress – £29

Why it HAS to be in my suitcase this summer: I’m 5’2″ and adore wearing dresses so finding a dress in the right proportions is very important to me.  I love the flattering shape of this petite range dress, plus the removable multi-way straps makes it really versatile. Straps marks? Not for me this year!  The bold print is fun and summery but not too busy if you’re curvy like me.  A dress you will wear again and again.

M&Co petite maxi dress via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

buy it here

Trilby straw hat – £10

Why it HAS to be in my suitcase this summer: A sun hat is an essential for keeping cool in the midday sun (and avoiding sunstroke etc) and a trilby shape is fashionable with that edge of cool.  Styling wise a hat adds an edge to any outfit and this one could be worn with jeans and a t-shirt as much as it can a dress.

M&Co straw trilby hat via Always a Blue Sky Girl blogbuy it here

Set of four bangles – £8

Why it HAS to be in my suitcase this summer: Adding a small amount of jewellery can make all the difference when you are styling an outfit.  Bangles are great in summer, you can wear as many as you want and gold works perfectly with a tan.

M&Co bangles via Always a Blue Sky Girl blogbuy it here

Gold oversized sunglasses – £14

Why it HAS to be in my suitcase this summer: Oversized sunglasses just ooze glamour and the gold again accentuates a tan and look great with anything. Plus if you don’t want to wear make-up every day they can hide weary looking eyes from the night before!

M&Co oversized sunglasses via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

buy it here

Leopard Print Halterneck High Waist Bikini Set – £28

Why it HAS to be in my suitcase this summer:  Firstly a beach holiday is not a beach holiday without some glamorous swimwear!  Many of us can feel a bit insecure in swimwear so a great fitting suit will make you feel your very best. This 1950’s inspired one is underwired giving great support with a retro halterneck tie fastening and the high waisted bikini briefs with side ruching are so flattering particularly if you are like me and like to cover your tummy. Glamorous, flattering and will contour my curves – I call that perfect!

M&Co leopard high waist bikini via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

buy it here

And this is everything together…what do you think?  I love a relaxed yet stylish summer look and I think this is a perfect beach holiday choice for me.  And to top it off, it all came in at just £89 leaving me enough money left over for some suncream too!  See you by the pool….

outfit build M&Co.jpg 1

What’s your beach holiday essentials?  Find the rest of the range at www.mandco.com or pop into a store near you.

Visiting Copenhagen

My partner and I have made a promise to ourselves to see a new city and do a new thing every year and this Easter was the turn of visiting a new place. 

I’ve wanted to visit Denmark for a while.  Its one of the most stylish places from a design perspective, is a totally different experience from travelling in southern Europe, embraces English as a language and is said to be one of the happiest place to live.

I instagram’ed A LOT while there so let me share with you what I saw, discovered and felt…

The airport – yep, Denmark scores high in the design department, even the airport is stunning.


Tourist attractions – theres so much to choose from but heres a few I loved…

There are a lot of royal palaces to visit as various ones were built, burnt down or replaced since the 1700’s. The current royal family live in two modest palaces (similar to an English stately home size) protected by Bearskin wearing guards not unlike ours. 

The Little Mermaid has to be THE thing to visit while in Copenhagen.  It can be reached on foot and is quite amazing to see in real life. Hans Christian Andersons legacy can be seen all around the city and gives it a magical air. I have to say I got quite emotional seeing it in real life.  There is also a ‘Big Mermaid’ to visit further up the shores edge where you can also do watersports and sail.

Copenhagen is quite unique as it has a theme park right in the middle of the city. Tivoli Gardens was founded in 1843 and has become one of the cities biggest attractions. Hans Christian Andersen visited many times, as did Walt Disney who was said to of used it as inspiration for Disneyland.  Part of Tivoli Gardens’ secret is that there is something for everyone – the scenery is beautiful with exotic architecture, theres fantastic food and drink, it has historic buildings and of course the famous gardens. At night, thousands of coloured lights create a fairy tale atmosphere that is completely unlike anywhere I’ve ever been to. It is quite expensive if you want to go on all the rides and eat dinner but its definitely worth it.  I will never forget how magical it was.

  

For a great view of the city visit the Rundetårn (The Round Tower) which is a 17th-century tower built as an astrological observatory. It is most well known for its corkscrew style path instead of stairs leading to the top, and for the great views over Copenhagen.  We liked the glass floor where you could look down and see how high you were plus we got to do one of our holiday traditions of kissing at the highest point we can find in the city!

  

  Food and drink – 

Denmarks food is fresh, simple and tasty. Copenhagen is expensive to eat and drink so it was great to have a good breakfast at the hotel before we started our day. Hot breakfasts arent really a thing in Denmark so expect boiled eggs, breads, meats to make sandwiches, yoghurt and many types of pastries.  Open sandwiches with variations of salt beef, roast beef, fried eggs, beetroot, herring, liver paté and rye bread should definitely be tried for lunch.  And for dinner?  Well I loved their steaks…

  Nyhavn – 

If you picture Copenhagen you will probably picture the postcard prettiness of Nyhavn (New Harbour).  Bright coloured buildings line the side of the canal with lots of beautiful boats moored there.  Its a great place to eat and drink or take one of the sightseeing boats round the city – we did both.  Absolute holiday perfection.

 
Love Locks – 

Last year we visited Barcelona and left a engraved padlock there and it has now become a holiday tradition to do so.  This years padlock is now happily amongst the others on the bridge at Bryggebroen where you will find hundreds of other peoples padlocks too. 

If you don’t know the idea, also seen in many other big cities, it is that couples come and lock their padlocks (decorated with their names, dates and other messages) to the wires of the bridge, then throw the keys to the water below as a sign of unbreakable love. Pretty romantic, eh?  See our love lock below…

Modern Architecture – 

As well as the old, Copenhagen also has some amazing modern architecture.  It really takes your breath away as it is such a stylish place. My favourite was the ‘Black Diamond’ building (seen below with us reflected in it) built to reflect the water all around so ever shimmering like a gem and close second was the Opera House (seen after). 
Shopping – 

I did some shopping of course!  Strøget, the main shopping street in the city is Europe’s longest pedestrianised thoroughfare, running for well over 1,000 yards.  The selection of designer homewares is amazing with recognisable Danish brands everywhere plus lots of antique shops.  There’s also a real ‘healthy’ feel to shopping with the biggest selection of fitness clothing across different shops that I’ve ever seen including specific departments just for kids.  Clothing wise, H&M rules the high street and its not hard to see why.  Look out for further blogs on what I bought there!  My partner loves Lego and he was not dissapointed either.  Made in Denmark its presence is strong in department stores, toy shops and its own stores and it looks great.

  

Bikes – 

Continuing the healthy feel, there are so many people riding bikes.  It is a very ‘green’ city and you can hire bikes and park them pretty much anywhere.  This leads to a very laid back vibe, with the streets clean and quiet. 

We found everything really easy in Copenhagen. You can fly there cheaply (our flights only cost us around £50 each return and that was during the Easter break), the people are very friendly, everyone speaks English and signs/announmcements are all in both languages. The weather in April was warm and not that different to the UK.  Its easy to get from the airport to the city centre (about 20 mins on the train) and the city can be navigated easily on foot or by metro/train.  It has definitely become one of my favourite places and I would highly recommend a visit.

Its the perfect city break!