Category

lifestyle

This travel post is coming to you with love from London. Each time we visit London, we’re always in awe of how beautiful the city is. It makes for a nice city break away from Manchester which I can say is very similar to London without the hustle and bustle which can sometimes be draining especially if you live there. Funny enough, the latter is what most of my friends who live in London love about the city. We arrived in London this time to enjoy a short weekend break where Craig got to attend a concert at the Royal Albert Hall by one of his all time favourite composers. We stayed at the Green Rooms Hotel, an arts hotel that fit right with our aesthetics. Hence why we didn’t miss a chance to take a self portrait.

We did a lot of walking as that’s how we tend to discover hidden gems. We didn’t fail to go on the tube too every now and again as we always enjoy a ride on the underground. This time we found a CD on a chair left behind by an artist with the words “THIS IS MY ART. TAKE ME. GIVE ME. FIND ME. LEAVE ME…”. I of course opted to take it which turned out to be a good decision as I can’t stop listening to his song titled Last Page. His name is Sam Way.

I got a chance to spend some time with my friend, Simi. We talked out the blogger lifestyle and had some really positive brainstorming sessions. It’s always good to be in the company of folks who get what you do. As we didn’t get a chance to do our usual coffee diaries series, so we decided to stop for coffee just before catching our train back to Manchester. We ended up at TAP Coffee, which was 15 minutes walk from Euston Station. There we enjoyed a nice cuppa in what looked like an American cafe. Afterwards, we headed to the train station where our train was delayed for at least 3 hours. We had to find alternative routes back home. Still, we had the most amazing time and look forward to visiting again. To see what we got up to, be sure to catch up on our latest vlog.WITH LOVE FROM LONDONTAP Coffee London***If you want to edit like me, you can! Get my Lightroom preset or grab a copy of my eBook here.***

November 12, 2017
1 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

I’m a strong believer in using your mind to create the things you want. Recently, I’ve been craving a beach holiday almost every passing day. Let’s just say scrolling through the feed of other travel bloggers ins’t helping as well, lol. I’ve had this swimsuit for a couple of months now and haven’t had to chance to wear it cause all I could think of was wearing it on the beach, at least not until yesterday. While doing one of my weekly tasks which happens to be watering my plants, I decided to turn it into a summer vacation. I’m currently working on transforming my bedroom into a jungle. I managed to keep most of the plants alive but ideally I need more to achieve the look I’m going for. Since my bedroom is where I spend most of my time working and getting creative, I thought it best to let nature in.

To create the mood, I ripped out pages from an old book titled “Make Life Beautiful” (which I thought fit with the message of creating beautiful memories) and spread them on the floor. I got some of my plants together to get the feeling of being outdoors. I pulled together some summer appropriate items. The first was a postcard of a beach and palm tree which I got over the weekend from Paperchase. Since my set up was by the window, the sunnies came out too and so did my straw hat. I always take my camera everywhere I go so it had to make an appearance too. Thanks to my recent campaign with Bacardi, I was able to spring up a homemade mojito to get this holiday going. It really felt like I was somewhere exotic and all it took was my mind. Sometimes we have to reach within for the things we want without. Life could be the dreams we have and that is something worth holding on to. Imagine if you could dream of a beautiful life and live that beautiful life. That’s why I choose to be a dreamer. Welcome to “Onyi Island” is what I say. Hopefully my next travel posts comes from a very sunny island just like I’ve dreamed it.

***If you want to edit like me, you can! Grab a copy of my eBook here.***

August 29, 2017
3 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

Going meat free means I’ve been on the look out for places to eat that accommodate my new lifestyle. I solicited the help of my friend who’s been on this journey for some time now and she gave me some useful tips. She said you can never go wrong with Mexican and Indian food as there’s plenty to choose from. Barburrito happens to be a Mexican restaurant that specialises in making burritos. Last Friday, my friend and I made a quick stop at one of its restaurants located in the city for our occasional catch up. It had a lovely atmosphere with a choice of indoor and outdoor sitting. The open style kitchen plan allows you to see all the ingredients and make your preferred selection.

Not being one to love a wrap, I opted to have mine in a bowl without the wrap while my friend had the wrap Mexican style. The service was quick, almost like street food which I loved about it as I never like waiting for food especially when I’m hungry, lol. This is perfect for those having a quick lunch break from work. I had the Mexican rice with mushrooms, hot tomato sauce, beans and salad. My friend went for the classic burrito wrap with some guacamole and we were all set to go. The portions were very decent and filling. It was definitely a hit in my books as I enjoy spicy food. All the ingredients compliment each other well. Definitely a spot I will be revisiting soon. 

July 21, 2017
1 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

Italian food happens to be one of my favourite food. I love pasta and pizza any day. Having recently transitioned to being vegetarian, I’ve been on the look out for spots to eat out that make a tasty veggie meal. Our last experience at Vapiano, inspired us to book a holiday to Venice where we had the most amazing time. We decided to pay it a visit again last Sunday to see what a vegetarian like me could enjoy from their latest menu.

Location

Vapiano is located right in the heart of Manchester city centre, in the Corn Exchange building.

Atmosphere

Spread across two floors with outdoor sitting good for a hot summer day, Vapiano is a spacious spot to relax in. With nostalgic black and white photographs hanging on the walls, it gives you the Italian experience. The open plan kitchen allows for some entertaining viewing as you watch your food being prepared by seasoned chefs.

Food

For the the starters, we had some green olives. We then moved on to a bowl of vegetable salad which came with cheese and black pepper. Garlic bread followed. You can’t go to Vapiano without indulging in some good old garlic bread. Next on the menu was Risotto ai Funghi. This was my favourite meal by miles. I love rice and the mushrooms gave it a really good taste. A meal I would highly recommend even for non vegetarians. For dessert, we had the New York Cheesecake, which melted like butter and tasted divine. We had a lot of water and pineapple juice that tasted quite refreshing. To see more of what Vapiano has to offer, you can view their menu here.

Service

Upon arriving at the restaurant, you’re given a card which will be scanned each time you place an order. The staff will talk you through how the process works if it’s your first time visiting. You are responsible for going to the kitchen to place your order where you get the chance to see your meal being prepared. The maximum amount of time we waited for a meal was 5 minutes. You have an option to take a timer back to your table which beeps when your meal is ready. At the end of your meal, your card gets scanned and your bill is produced, ready for payment. The staff are very friendly and professional.

We had an amazing time dinning here again and look forward to revisiting.This meal was complimentary of Vapiano. All opinions are my own.

July 15, 2017
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

Last week I shared that I was taking a short trip to Hamburg, Germany. Suitcase packed, Craig and I were ready to hit the road (or should I say, catch our flight). We left Manchester around 6am on Saturday morning and arrived in Hamburg in less than 2 hours. Hamburg is a beautiful city with many canals and a youthful vibrance. It was very easy to see why it is fast becoming a popular tourist destination and knowing we only had 48 hours meant that we had to use our time wisely.

Where we stayed

We checked into our hotel, The Grand Elysee which is located in the heart of the city. Being a 5 star hotel we wanted to make sure we got a good deal so we booked it a few weeks prior to take advantage of the early booking offer through hotels.com. We paid for our stay upon arrival using my new Starling Bank card which allows me to spend abroad but doesn’t charge transaction fees. The hotel was dreamy, full of amazing paintings that make you stop and think and what seemed to be an indoor forest. The room was big and beautiful, stocked with apples and bottled water to welcome new guests, along with a view overlooking the city. We were also allowed to use of the hotel gym, sauna and swimming pool.

During our time at Hamburg airport, we discovered a cheaper accommodation option. If you find yourself wanting to travel on a very low budget, you can use the Sleeping Pods, which are currently free of charge as part of a special promotional campaign. The sleep capsules, as they are called, are installed at the airport and enable passengers to get some rest, away from the hustle and bustle of the terminals.

Travel

Hamburg has a great tram system and this is what we used the most when getting around. We also reached out to a Hamburg tourist company who provided us with 2-day travel tickets to get around the city. Hamburg is well known for their bike friendly streets, so of course we hired a couple of bikes ourselves which we  booked online at €9 each for 4 hours. There are other flexible hire options available, but If you plan on just looking around the city, walking is also a great option. We did a lot of walking while capturing photos, as walking allows you to pay more attention to your surroundings and discover new spots. We came across so many cute stickers stuck on traffic posts and bins which we may not have seen without walking.

Where we ate

I must say we got a bit lazy with our eating options, which was to be expected given that we had very little time in the city. One of the new features on the Starling Bank app Spending Insights, showing you exactly where you money goes by merchant and category – this showed our second largest spend while in Hamburg was at McDonald’s right after our accommodation. We ate quite a few burgers, fries and, of course, strawberry milkshakes.

We also discovered a hot chilli burger which was very fitting  for the cold weather we experienced while in Hamburg. As we were mostly out and about shooting, we got some ready- to-eat food supplies from a city supermarket to eat while exploring, which came in third in our expenditures in the Starling Bank app. We came across so many lovely outdoor restaurants which we hope to try out when next we visit.

Places we visited

We went to The Roncalli Circus which was less than a minute walk from our hotel. Tickets cost €13 per person but we saved 15% on entrance fees by using Groupon. We got to see some really amazing talent — I highly recommend the 8pm show as it just looks so beautiful at night.

We spent a lot of time walking through the city and came across many canals, our favourite one being a canal that had a building in the middle. In the evenings, we sat by the bridge among the other folk and watched the magical lights. We took a trip to the Parliament Square where we saw the beautiful parliament structure, adding history and charm to the city. We watched the pigeons potter and peck by the bridge, while the swans and ducks swam together, it was truly a lovely sight to behold.

Feeling pressed for time, our last stop was a beautiful botanical garden called Tropengewächshäuser Des Botanischen Bartens. There we got to see unique and exotic plants. The cacti was my most favourite and it’s made me want to turn our apartment into an indoor garden! We also encountered a white parrot who must have been a movie star as he was being shot by a film crew. What made the experience even better was that it is free to enter, which is just great if you’re looking to cut costs.

Expenses and Starling Bank

I said I was going to share my experience using my Starling Bank account abroad in previous blog post, and here it is.

Thanks to the Starling Bank app, we were able to track our spending and we managed to stay on budget with over €3 left to spare. Our budget, of course, was in Pounds Sterling and the Euro equivalent offered by Mastercard’s competitive exchange rate, met my expectation as our accommodation ended up costing £1 less than we reserved it for.  

Starling Bank offers a current account that you can use overseas with no fees – that means there are no transaction fees and no ATM withdrawal fees for spending abroad, hurray! And because it’s a current account, it means you are able to earn interest on your balance just like you normally would at home.

I found the app to be an effective tool to manage costs as it displays a percentage split of transactions based on categories e.g. Holidays, Eating Out and Groceries, and merchants e.g.  Grand Elysee Hotel, McDonald’s etc. The app is also cool as you receive instant notifications every time you spend money, allowing you to track your spending in real time, so if you happen to be charged the wrong amount this allows you another chance to double check!

When traveling it’s super important to be careful with where you spend your money —, Starling are big on security, so much so that there’s this really cool card locking feature in the app. If you misplace your card you can simply lock it in the app so it can’t be accessed by anyone else, but if you happen to find it again, you can  easily unlock it!

Although I didn’t really need to take any money out, Starling allows you to withdraw up to £300 (or equivalent in foreign currency) which is the same as in the UK unlike some restrictions you may have with some travel cards.

Because the card is a Mastercard, it was accepted for all our transactions. It is a card I plan to use more often even when not on holiday, mainly to get an overview of my expenses and identify ways in which I can cut costs. So If you’re interested in trying Starling Bank, they have kindly given me a Starling Pass for my readers to skip the queue. If you download the app, simply input this pass CNLALET1 to apply for a current account.

Overall, Hamburg is a very beautiful city which I believe is currently underrated in the tourist scenes. I’d say pay it a visit when you get a chance and enjoy all it has to offer. We hope to visit for a longer period sometime in the future.

This blog post has been sponsored by Starling Bank. All opinions are my own.

 

July 4, 2017
1 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

My upcoming trip to Hamburg has come about in an attempt to find a new and cost saving way to travel. I was initially going to visit Paris, but after being faced time and time again with travel tickets that cost more than my budget, I decided to take a different approach.

Flexibility

One of the things I picked up as a travel blogger is that if you want to be cost effective when it comes to travelling, you have to be very flexible. This could either be with your travel dates or location. I opted for the latter in this instance seeing as I couldn’t budge on my travel dates. To go about finding a new and less expensive location on my set dates, I turned to Google Flights. All I had to do was put in my exact travel dates, select my departure airport and the continent I was most interested in visiting. It didn’t take long to get the results I needed. Hamburg was the obvious choice, not only in terms of cost but also what the city had to offer. A quick search on Google showed some of the things that make Hamburg a place worth visiting. From its maritime history to its art and museums to its architectural structures and youthful vibrance not to mention the outdoor lifestyle with parks across the city. It is also very accommodating of bike riders as many residents use bicycles as their main mode of transportation. I haven’t had a chance to ride my bike all year and this seems like the ideal place to go bike riding. When it comes to booking an accommodation, I usually try to take a collaborative approach with hotels. In this instance, as it was very short notice, I was on a mission to find discounted hotels. My search led me to Hotels.com where you get given additional discounted rates on some hotels if you register on their website. Another good thing is that after you’ve collected ten nights, you get one free which could come in handy when booking future holidays.

Packing and what to take

When packing for a short trip, I like to keep it very simple. My go to suitcase is a piece of hand luggage. Because flights across Europe tend to be fairly cheap, there are add ons which could easily double the costs. Most flights tend to have one item of hand luggage allowance with hold luggage for an additional charge. Travelling with hand luggage not only saves me money but also saves me time at the airport. Having no hold luggage to check in means I can go straight to board my flight plus I’m only responsible for looking after one item, which reduces my chances of losing it. Downloading the airline app to access my boarding pass is a must as it costs to have it printed at the airport.

As I’m going with one piece of luggage, taking only essential items is key. I tend to go with outfits planned for the number of days I intend to stay. A pair of jeans is always a must as I can wear them a few times with different tops. Only one pair of shoes as I’ll already be wearing a pair for the journey. I tend to pack shoes using a shoe bag so they stay protected and don’t ruin any other items. Makeup and skincare products not exceeding 100ml are put together in a see-through bag as per the requirements set-out by customs. I like to take my journal with me as it helps me document my thoughts and feelings on my trip. Then last but not least is my camera, which I need to capture lots of moments.

Budgeting

One of the initial things I tend to do is set a budget for my travel. A number of factors determine what the final budget will be. I budget for my flight ticket based on the average cost of three low cost airlines (Ryanair, Monarch and easyJet). For accommodation, I always want to stay in a three to five star hotel with good reviews based on customer experience. With this is mind, I tend to reserve the cheapest with the most value to offer which locks in the price. The next most important thing to account for is my daily allowance. I usually set this after researching the cost of eating out and visiting certain places in my itinerary. This cost can sometimes go up if not careful. In the past I’ve always had to take money out of  my account to change it to the local currency before I travel, in order not to incur additional charges when making purchases on my card abroad. It isn’t the most ideal option for me as I like to keep track of my spending. It means making use of safes in hotels so I’m not wandering about with cash, with the downside that  I limit spontaneous purchases by not having enough money on me. This time, ahead of my trip, I managed to set up a bank account with Starling Bank. A bank that doesn’t charge any fees when you’re spending using your card abroad or taking money out of  ATMs. The account opening process was easy thanks to their efficient app. To set up an account, I had to download the Starling Bank app and input my personal details. I went through a number of checks to verify my identity, which the app does by scanning your relevant documents. It took me less than fifteen minutes to get set up and my card, which arrived in the post within a few days, had no delivery cost attached. To activate it, I scanned it using the app and it was good to go. The thing I love about the card is that it is a MasterCard which is widely accepted in many retail outlets across Europe, as well as the Pulse feature and detailed transaction feed in the app that will keep me on top of my spending — it’ll also handily show me the transaction costs in GBP and local currency via notifications.

And because the account is a current account with an overdraft facility (subject to approval, and interest rates do apply), you have access to additional funds which allows for a bit of flexibility. Finally, there’s 24/7 in-app support if needed. I’m really looking forward to going to Hamburg with my new card and app where I hope to spend and save money while doing so. And of course, I’ll share my experience in my Hamburg travel post.This blog post has been sponsored by Starling Bank. All opinions are my own.

June 20, 2017
2 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

After our trip to Mykonos, we found ourselves in beautiful Venice. Last year, I talked about how travelling to New York brought about a spiritual awakening for me. Well, it would seem that Venice had the same impact on me. This time, the message was to deliberately find an underlying cause for happiness. The answer turned out to be gratitude which is summed up in my Venice vlog. Venice took me to a happy place in my life. Much of which was around the time when I was in boarding school back home in Nigeria and being mischievous was my modus operandi. A time where we read almost every book Shakespeare had written with Romeo and Juliet being my all time favourite.

Travel

Venice is a very huge city with surrounding islands. The main mode of transportation within the city is walking. I never came across a car in the city. I seldom came across bikes and I suspect this might be due to some of the streets being quite narrow.  The second mode of transportation seems to be by private boats and gondolas. You can only travel to the surrounding islands by boat. We stayed in Venice Lido which happens to be very close to Venice and we had to take the public boat to and fro Venice. Daily ticket per person cost €20. We opted for a three day pass which saved us €20 each as it cost €40. And if you’re less than 30 years of age, the price goes down to €28 for a three day pass. Before you book a stay in a neighbouring island, be sure to factor in the cost of travel as this can become a lot depending on your schedule.

Where to Stay

When booking our accommodation, we opted to stay in Venice Lido as we wanted a quiet surrounding when we returned to rest for the evening. The hotels in Venice tend to be quite pricey. We found that the cost of staying in a low budget hotel would get you a lovely stay in Venice Lido even with the cost of our travel included. We stayed at beautiful hotel called Villa Tiziana. It was painted yellow in classic Venetian style and surrounded by beautiful rose gardens which I pretty much ran across almost everyday. Our breakfast was included in the price too.  In Venice Lido there were cars and bikes and beautiful restaurants to eat in too.

Places to visit

Venice is full of very colourful buildings and canals spread across almost every 200 metres. You’ll see a lot of folks sitting by the canal steps or stopping to take pictures and you can’t blame them as it is quite the sight especially when a gondola is passing by with the classic tune “That’s Amore” emanating from the lungs of the gondola man. You’ll come across really old bookshops that tell beautiful stories hidden in streets so be sure to keep an out for them. San Marco is definitely the district to be with St Marks Square located right at the heart of it where a lot of tourist gather to feed the pigeons and admire the wonderful architecture. Walking along the waters just past San Marcoyou’ll come across a number of contemporary museums which are all unique in their own way. You’ll also come across a lot of mask shops in Venice. The masks are extravagant in nature and almost make you feel tempted to attend a ball in one of them. There’s an island which is a cemetery that tourists tend to visit. It is covered in beautiful flowers and the architecture is that of an ancient nature.

Where to eat

There are so many places to eat in Venice. I found it to be very cheap compared to Mykonos not just when it comes to a meal but also with regards to shopping in general which was a plus. You’ll find a lot of pizza shops where you can purchase a slice of margarita for €2 and pepperoni for €2.50 which comes in very handy when walking all day. Eating in restaurants tend to range from €7 to €12 for a full pizza or a bowl of pasta dish which is good.

Our stay was quite short and sweet. Nonetheless, we tried to make good use of our time there and I look forward to visiting again sometime in the future.

***If you want to edit like me, you can! Grab a copy of my eBook here.***

June 13, 2017
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Newer Posts