Friday, 28 August 2015

Interrail adventure #2 | AMSTERDAM

This was one of the cities I was most excited for. I'd heard so much about Amsterdam (one of my besties is dutch) and couldn't wait to explore it myself. We only had one afternoon and one morning in Amsterdam since it isn't absolutely packed with sights. Surely you could spend days exploring the beautiful small streets, but we were happy with the time we had.

When we first stepped out of the train station, my sister and I just started laughing because of the sheer amount of bikes absolutely EVERYWHERE. People on bikes run you over nearly every few steps and there's certainly more bikes than cars or pedestrians. Anyway, after the initial shock we found our accommodation, which was situated really close to the red light district, so right in the centre of Amsterdam. This was by far our worst accommodation of the whole trip, the room was tiny and a bit mouldy and only accessible by insanely steep stairs. When I climbed them with my heavy backpack I almost fell straight down again. I am honestly not exaggerating!

Anyways we started exploring straight away. Amsterdam is just SO photogenic, like all the little streets with the canals, bikes and flowers everywhere are adorable.

We had planned on hiring bikes, but sadly they were quite expensive and everything in Amsterdam is in walking distance anyway. So first we went to the Albert Cuypmarkt which is a flea market. You will find tons of little markets all around Amsterdam, each selling a collection of vintage clothes, shoes, souvenirs and everything weed. Weed lollipops, weed pipes, weed flavoured gum - you name it. I used to think people exaggerated when talking about Amsterdam and the amount of weed there but it really is true. Trust me.
Then we made our way south to the Rijksmuseum to see the famous I AMsterdam letters. They were pretty impressive, although it was so busy there you couldn't get a proper picture. The area there was also beautiful, food stands everywhere (which is always a plus) and a big park surrounded by the museums. Again, we didn't go into any, but they looked really pretty from outside :D

It's harder to get onto these letters than it looks...
Amsterdam waffles rating: 10/10
Lake in front of the Rijksmuseum.

Okay cue pictures of cute house facades:

In the evening we went back up towards the red light district (cause you have to have seen that at least once in your life). The dutch seem to looove their steakhouses, so that's where we got dinner. It was delicious! We also found a posh truffle shop...

And then the sun went down and the red light district came to life. I don't know how to describe it, but I just found it disturbing. You could take part in lots of tours through the district, if you're interested in the history of it.
That was the end of the day, although I think I slept a total of four hours because of the extreme noise level outside of the hostel till about 4am.

The next day we had planned to visit the Anne Frank House. I had researched it a bit and thought it would be enough to be there half an hour before it opens. Definitely wrong. When we got there, there was already an insanely long queue. The security said that from where we were standing we'd have to wait 4-5hrs. It was ridiculous. So important tip: Buy your tickets online 2-3 days in advance! You will get to skip the queue and not have to wait 3 hours like we did. It was worth it, but queueing just isn't fun.
The house from outside isn't spectacular and inside I wasn't allowed to take photos. We were told to walk through the house at our own speed and there were films and stories everywhere. It was a pretty emotional and surreal experience which you just can't miss when you're in Amsterdam.

That was our last stop in the Dutch capital. After, we hurried to catch our train. It's an amazing city that I'd visit again anytime. Have you been to Amsterdam? What was your favourite thing about the city? Stay tuned for the next interrail post, guess where we took the train to ;)

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Monday, 24 August 2015

Interrail adventure #1 | PARIS

I'm honestly so excited to finally be able to share this with you guys. The whole year I'd been looking forward and planning my interrail trip, so it feels really strange to have done it. It's been 3 of the best weeks of my life and I've seen some of the most beautiful cities. Of course, I will be sharing the whole journey with you, which might take a while due to the extreme amount of photos I have to go through and edit. I hope you're as excited as I am about this, let's get started with the first city: PARIS.

Before even getting there my sister and I had decided not to go into any of the museums due to our limited time there. We had booked a hostel 3 minutes away from Gare de Nord, where we arrived on the Eurostar, which was quite nice considering the weight of our backpacks. So we dropped off our stuff and started going exploring, walking all the way to the city centre to save some money. Not sure if it was the best idea in the extreme heat but we did it anyway. It enabled us to get to know a different side of Paris, walking through the side streets where you will find more locals.

Our first stop was the Louvre which is located within a beautiful palace, so if you don't know where to look, it's pretty hard to find. I've been to Paris before and been inside the Louvre, so we skipped it this time. To be completely honest, as great as the Mona Lisa might be, it is a very small painting that is hard to see at busy times, so I suggest to research the best time to visit the Louvre.

Spot the Louvre :p

After we just explored Paris' riverside, which by the way has lots of drinking fountains alongside so make sure to bring a refillable water bottle. It will be a lifesaver if you're there in the summer.

Not a drinking fountain

I had written down before the trip everything I wanted to see in each city, so we just marked the sights on the (free) map we got from the hostel and it was super easy to find everything. Anyway we crossed over the Pont Alexandre III which is one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris and made our way to the Notre Dame. On our way there we passed the former love bridge, which they sadly rid of the padlocks due to their weight. However we still found quite a few on a view plateau near the Notre Dame, which I sadly can't find the name of anywhere.

View from the Pont Alexandre III

Love locks on the plateau

Notre Dame
At that point we'd been walking for at least 5 hours so decided visit the Luxembourg Gardens and then finally get dinner in the Latin Quarter, which supposedly had cheap food (just we couldn't find it). On the note of food, be prepared that Paris' restaurants are very expensive almost everywhere! We tried to research cheaper options before but were left without solutions. Oh also, if you don't like mustard, don't eat salad in Paris. I was taken by surprise and was starving so had to eat it. And finally, if you want good, cheap ice cream, don't go to Paris :D

Salad of doom ;)

Super picture worthy road
The next day we first walked up to the Sacre Coeur, which I didn't think it would be worth it (I'm so ignorant) but it totally was! Just a heads up that there will be people trying to sell bracelets which they try put straight onto your arm but you have to pay as soon as it's there. So however hard they try (which is very hard) DO NOT let them put it on. Anyways the view from the top of the hill was breathtaking and worth the terrible walk up the stairs in the blazing sun!

If you walk down the streets from there you will even catch a glimpse of the Eiffel tower.  Next was the Moulin Rouge, which wasn't half as impressive as I had thought.... Maybe at night. We then went to see the (as impressive as expected) Arc de Triomphe and took a look at the very posh shopping streets around it. Seriously you cannot miss those streets when in Paris, if just to laugh about the ridiculous expensive shops, cars and restaurants there (We went past a street filled with Mercedes and Lamborghini). Make sure to look out for macaroons and buy some (if you can afford it). Or just take to take a picture of them as I did.

Arc de Triomphe

Didn't buy them but still - how cool do they look?!

And then FINALLY we made our way over to the Eiffel tower. Make sure to visit the Trocadero on the opposite side of the river for the best photo opportunity of the Eiffel tower. The view was amazing and there were people swimming in the fountain lake underneath due to the heat. We then walked over to the Eiffel tower just to realise the queues were stupidly long, especially the ones for the lifts. Hence we had dinner first (warning: restaurants near the Eiffel tower are obviously even more expensive so it'll take a while to find a reasonable one). In the end we ended up just taking the stairs to the second platform and not go all the way up. Me having a phobia of heights played into that decision. Unfortunately we waited a bit too long to start to queue as we wanted it to get dark so the Eiffel tower would light up, so in the end the queue was super long (1.30hrs). The best time to go up seems around 6-8pm. Anyway we went up, it got dark, we saw the city all lit up - it was one of the best experiences ever. So beautiful and breathtaking. I actually felt alright on the first platform but the stairs to the second one were surprisingly long and I had a panic attack due to the height. Not a fun experience, trust me. Still, I'm glad I made it up there. It was worth every second of the effort it took to get there!

I think I'm so cool.

That view tho.

The never ending stairs.

On top of Paris.
When we finally got down, the tower started sparkling as well and it was a sight I'll never forget!

Anyway that is the end of our Paris trip. After that we just went back to the hostel and caught a train early in the morning to Amsterdam. All in all I think the time was enough and we saw everything we wanted. An incredible start to an amazing journey. Stay tuned for the next part, I already gave away where it would be ;)

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Thursday, 20 August 2015

My hair transformation

I'm a tiny bit more tanned on the right cuz I just came back from interrrailing in Europe.
I've had long hair basically my whole life. When I was growing up, my mom would cut my sister's hair into a bob, but mine was growing so fast that she didn't want to cut it. So I was always the one in the family with the longest hair. Fact is, I loved my long hair and couldn't imagine any other haircut. However when I was about 12 and got into makeup and stars and stuff, that changed. It started when Emma Watson cut off all her hair. Might sound weird but I swear that that was what set off my wish to get a really short haircut. I went to a hairdresser and told them, but both my mom and the hairdresser suggested to cut it into a bob first. I hated the bob. I was too young to really know how to style it so it just hung around my face looking incredibly boring. Therefore I never brought up my wish to have short hair again, although it was always there in the back of my mind.

At around 14 I started dying my blond hair all kinds of colours (from red to blue to brown), which I loved but by 2015 it was completely ruined. Dry, thin and dull. This year, it started bothering me more and more, it was just so heavy and took ages to style and it also kept falling out due to being so damaged. My sister and I had planned to go interrailing this year, which was the final straw. I knew I DID NOT want to travel around Europe with that long hair which, when it is warm, is just inconvenient and hot.
So about 3 weeks ago, before we set off on the trip, I went to the hairdresser (with my sister as emotional support). I had my favourite pictures of pixie hair cuts with me, which I highly recommend as it gave the hairdresser an exact idea of what I imagined (mine was Kristen Stewart's pixie cut). After that it went so quickly I couldn't have stopped it if I'd wanted to - which I didn't. She tied my hair at the back and just cut it off so it was a bit shorter than shoulder length. The cut off part was given to me to keep, which was kinda weird and surreal.

Anyways she continued cutting off a lot more which left me wondering if I'd even have any hair in the end. However she did an amazing job, I am literally so happy with my new haircut. It took me a while to get used to it, but it was a lifesaver in the heatwave that went through Europe. No hair stuck to my neck, no extra weight. People have asked me if I miss my long hair and I honestly don't. One day I probably will have long hair again, but healthy and strong. I can already feel the difference in the thickness of my hair. So yeah, that's literally why I cut off all my hair, starting with Emma Watson over damaging it and then to travelling. I'm so excited for it to grow and being able to explore all kinds of different lengths and styles.

I hope you enjoyed this personal insight into my life and maybe it has inspired some of you to think about a shorter hair-do ;) I do highly recommend it...

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