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If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram then you’ll know that I recently travelled to Rome. I honestly had the best time and I managed to fit a helluva lot in 3 days! Check out my travel diary for more pictures and what I got up to, but I wanted to write up this post because there are a few things I wished I’d known before travelling there.

P.S. Sorry in advance if some of them sound quite obvious!

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1. Do be wary of traffic. There is a sh*tload of traffic, like any other city in Europe, but it’s just something to be wary of because the Italians don’t really care much for traffic lights! We always just waited for the locals to cross the roads, and sort of ran across the road with them!

18789719_10155087903126357_1377867196_o2. Don’t buy water. Rome has water fountains all over the city and the water is so cold and actually really tasty, so don’t waste your money on water bottles! I did plenty of research and there is nothing wrong with the water so you won’t die – don’t worry! Also the big fountains are called ‘nasinis’ which translates to ‘big noses’ – how cute!

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3. Do travel on foot. Before heading to Rome, we did research on whether it was best to do a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, but we decided to walk around the city and let me just confirm that Rome is definitely a city best seen on foot. We walked around 25,000 steps everyday that we were there and it was just amazing stumbling across little roads that were so typically Italian, or discovering cute coffee shops or gelaterias. I wore my Converse but I would definitely recommend you pack your comfiest shoes/trainers/sandals!

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4. Don’t forget your ID. I know many people leave their passports in their hotel rooms for safety reasons, but I took my driving licence with me because you can get discounts off certain places if you can prove that you’re under 25 and living in the EU. Whilst we’re still in the EU, we might as well use the benefits! I know you can definitely use discounts for the Colosseum, and some museums as well, so try not to forget it!

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5. Do be respectful. If you do research before visiting Rome, which you probably will, you’ll know that you will have to take a cardigan or scarf with you when you visit certain places, such as the Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica, but there are also other churches that have beautiful interiors, and you’d feel pretty annoyed with yourself if you were refused entry. The general rule is ‘no knees, no shoulders, no midriff’ so just bear it in mind. The rule also applies to men, just in case you thought Italy was being sexist!

The other major rule is the no photography rule at the Sistine Chapel. You are warned plenty of times not to take pictures there and to be honest, the interior is so mesmerising that I didn’t even think of reaching for my camera!

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6. Don’t be attracted to restaurants near the big attractions. I know that when you get hungry you will most likely look for the nearest place and that’s totally understandable, but you will end up paying more. We always carried around granola bars and fruit so that we could snack if we got hungry whilst we were queuing or around the touristy areas, and then waited for lunch/dinner until we got further away from those areas.

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7. Do learn basic Italian. I do try and do this everywhere I visit, I find that it’s such a great thing to do because it makes life easier if you are able to order coffee and ask for directions. It’s also quite respectful and brings you closer to the culture. I found that it helped me so much, especially when solo travelling.

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Have you travelled to Rome before? Would you agree with my do’s & don’ts?

Day 1 - 13

Writing this post whilst it’s currently storming and raining in London is making me super sad that I’m not in Rome anymore, because let me tell you, I fell in love with this beautiful city. I was so excited to share all my photos (a disgusting 225 in 3 days), so I thought I’d do a photo diary and show you guys what I did in the 3 days that I was there, and then a do’s and dont’s post, sharing what I learnt, which you can read soon.

Enjoy!

|| Hotel ||

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\\ Hotel Twenty One //

We landed pretty late on the Saturday so we went straight to the hotel, to wake up bright and early for the next day. Our hotel was located on the Via Cola di Rienzo, and it was in a great location for us. It was walking distance for everything, but the Vatican was especially close, around a 10 minute walk. Every major tourist attraction was around 20 – 40 minutes away, so the location was perfect. The room was exactly what you need for a city break – clean and decent-sized. The staff were also really helpful, something that is very beneficial when you want locals’ knowledge.

|| Day One: ||

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Since the Vatican is closed on Sundays, we decided to visit the next thing on our to-do list for Rome: the Colosseum. On the way there, we walked past some beautiful buildings that I had to Google the names of (FYI, Rome is full of beautiful buildings and architecture that you could just stare at for days!), which was the Museo Sacrario delle Bandiere and walked up steps to another beautiful church, which after Googling was the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli.

 When we finally reached the Colosseum, we decided to stand in the longer queue because we didn’t really trust the guided tours and they were fairly expensive for what we wanted. The queue that we stood in took around 1 hour, so if you have a lot more that you want to do during the day then I would suggest paying extra to join the other queue.

I did enjoy the Colosseum, it was a very culturally rich experience, but I am glad that I didn’t pay extra for the guided tour because everything is fairly self-explanatory. The Colosseum only took around 40 minutes for us to look around and take our pictures, so we decided to leave and check out the Forum which I loved. Unfortunately, my camera decided to play up so none of my photos from there were anywhere to be found on my memory card *boo-hiss*.

After lunch (a gorgeous diavalo pizza), we had a lot of time until the evening so we decided to go and visit the Trevi Fountain. Now, if you have seen the Lizzie McGuire movie (lets be honest, who hasn’t?), you’ll know that the Trevi is where Lizzie first claps eyes on the infamous Paolo, so it was a must to visit. I can confirm that it really is as lovely as everyone says, it was just super crowded, but according to locals it always is! I threw my coin, and made my wish, but alas no Paolo was staring at me afterwards so I guess it wasn’t meant to be!

|| Day Two: ||

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The Vatican. The first thing that was on our list and possibly the most popular tourist attraction in the whole of Rome. For this, I would definitely recommend getting a guide, because standing for around 2 hours in a queue that stretches as far as the eye can see, in the blistering heat, does not look fun. We paid around €55 and that included an English tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica Church. We also climbed to St Peter’s Dome, which cost us an extra €8.

It was breathtaking. If you only do one thing in Rome, I would definitely recommend doing this. You won’t regret it!

After the Vatican, we decided to walk towards the Pantheon, which was another thing on my list. This is free too, and can get quite busy at certain times of the day so be careful because it’s not ideal to queue in the middle of the busy square. It’s beautiful and somewhere that you can gather your thoughts. Be mindful that you should be quiet and respect the fact that you’re in a place of worship. You can also take photos here but I wouldn’t overdo it because of the reasons above.

We had enough time to visit the Spanish Steps as well, which was actually a really lovely place. Once we climbed up, we took a few pictures and sat down and just people-watched, which I have to admit it was one of my favourite pastimes, especially in different cities!

|| Day Three: ||

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Our flight was in the evening so after we checked out of the hotel, we left our luggage and set off exploring. I had been told numerous times about Piazza Navona, so we took the scenic route, and checked out some beautiful buildings on the way, including the Palace of Justice and Castel Sant’Angelo. Apparently you can see a beautiful view of the whole of Rome from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo which is free, so if you don’t want to climb the Dome at St Peter’s then you should definitely check it out.

Once we reached the Piazza, we picked a seat at one of the many cafes and ordered iced coffees and a beautiful croissant stuffed with ice-cream (INSANE). It is such a beautiful location and I can see why people rave about it so much. It’s great to people-watch, and there are loads of street performers so it’s very entertaining. There are also a lot of beggars and people selling toys etc, so also be mindful of that because they can become quite forceful. Pretty soon after that we made our way back to the hotel, filling up our water bottles on the way and enjoying our last few hours of beautiful Roma.

So that was my trip to Rome!

I would 100% return to Rome, it was honestly one of my favourite cities in Europe. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Have you been to Rome? What did you think of it?

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Photo Credit: Amelia

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This post is a bit late considering I attended this event a few weeks ago now, but better late than never right?

So I attended the #bloggerswhobrunch launch event a few weeks ago.

I had said to myself that I really wanted to attend a bloggers event this year and even though it was a real push, I am glad I did it.

It was in London so I really wanted to make the effort and attend because I live and work in London so really I should have zero problems getting to and from the event.

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The location itself was stunning, it was a penthouse and the views were pretty good, even if it was a pretty dreary rainy day!

But I didn’t have the best time, I personally felt really quite lonely. I know loads of people met up beforehand but I didn’t know about that and plus I was a bit late getting to the event so I think that would’ve been pretty annoying for people to have to wait for me.

I generally felt like there were cliques, now don’t get me wrong, I love the blogging community and I have always been met with nothing but support and love, but on this occasion I didn’t really feel a part of it. It perhaps was my fault too because I didn’t know anyone and I could’ve spoken to people and made some effort, but it was a hard time because I was in a room with so many people and it was overwhelming.

I think perhaps there should’ve been more ways of interacting and getting to know people better, maybe with start-up games etc? I don’t know and I’m not criticizing, I have never organised this type of event before so I don’t doubt that it is a lot of hard work but I have to be honest and this is genuinely how I felt.

Some of things I did enjoy were the talks from LexiLife94  about YouTube and from Katherine who is a photographer. And of course I enjoyed the popcorn!

I didn’t want to write this post because I didn’t want to come across negative but I did want to post my pictures somewhere and even though I want my blog to be a positive place, I will always be true and honest to myself and my readers.

Have you ever been to a bloggers event before? Did you enjoy it?

Darren Kuppan and Danny Ashok in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner. (1)

Credit: Marc Brenner

As a London-based blogger and someone who works and lives in London, I think it’s so important to unwind after work and immerse yourself in the many cultural activities that London has to offer.

So I was very excited to be invited to the Bush Theatre for their production of Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph.

Darren Kuppan and Danny Ashok in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner. (2)

Credit: Marc Brenner

Walking into the Bush Theatre, you can definitely tell it has had a makeover. The building itself is very accessible and it now has an outdoor terrace decorated with flowers, definitely one of my favourite parts of the refurb. You can imagine yourself discussing thoughts on the play you’ve just watched, glass of wine in hand, soaking in those last few minutes of the evening summer sunshine.

Anyways, back to the play.

Guards at the Taj starts off quite slowly; for some, this may be dullingly slow, but for me it was needed as a way for the main characters to involve the audience into the background of the story. The two main characters Babur (played by Darren Kuppan) and Humayan (played by Danny Ashok) are guarding the beautiful and world-famous Taj Mahal. They speak about many things (despite the fact that they are supposed to be silent), and this is where we get to see the difference of the two characters. Babur is a fun-loving, perhaps simple-minded sweet-natured person, whereas Humayan is a more serious, strong and silent character.

The story gets more serious here, when the myth of Shah Jahan cutting off the hands of 20,000 workers so that they could never recreate such beauty again, comes into the story. The two characters are employed to carry out the unthinkable actions, and the effects that it has on Darren is heartbreaking.

Danny Ashok and Darren Kuppon in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner.

Credit: Marc Brenner

The friendship between Darren and Danny is truly beautiful to watch and they convincingly bounce off each other. The set was astonishingly simple and it worked so well because you focus on the character and the story, which is where the true beauty lies.

Darren Kuppan and Danny Ashok in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner.

Credit: Marc Brenner

The lighting is also something I noticed a lot, especially in the final heart wrenching scene, perhaps it was because the set was so simple, but the orange hues of dreams contrasted with the bright lights of reality were really effective. Bright lights were also used to signify the beauty of the Taj Mahal, which I thought was used really well.

This was also the first play that I’d seen directed by Jamie Lloyd, and I was thoroughly impressed. The play itself is darker than I thought and honestly, 80 minutes wasn’t enough – I really thought I’d struggle with not going to the bathroom / checking my phone / getting hungry / getting thirsty (yes I am clearly a 5 year old), but the play completely had my attention. Big sign that I was engrossed.

Danny Ashok and Darren Kuppan in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner.

Credit: Marc Brenner

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the play and I didn’t read any reviews beforehand as I wanted to form my own opinions, but I was very pleasantly surprised by what I watched.

I would highly recommend going to see Guards at the Taj, it is really thought-provoking and heartwarming, with dark themes conflicted with occasional streams of lightheartedness.

Have you seen any good plays recently? I’d love some recommendations!

Guards at the Taj, at the Bush Theatre, until 20th May

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Spring has beautifully sprung in London, and even though I am most definitely an Autumn/Winter lover (more like obsessed-with), there is something really refreshing about the crisp air when the sun is shining (a rare but delightful moment) and cherry blossoms (the ultimate blogger cliche).

I read somewhere that Spring signifies rebirth and rejuvenation – not that you need a new season for a reason to start again but I think there is something really special about that.

I also wrote a similar post for Autumn and I thought it would a good idea to do it for Spring too, and also there is something super satisfying about ticking things off a list.

1. Book a spontaneous weekend trip.

I truly envy people who can book a flight the day before, I overthink and spend way too much time on TripAdvisor and end up talking myself out of it, so this season I really want to try and not think too much and just book.

First on my list is Vienna – watch this space.

2. Have a picnic.

This is probably the easiest and best way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. Whether you make your own snacks or pop down to Tesco’s (sausage roll anyone?), all you really have to do is a pack a blanket and perhaps a frisbee and that’s your afternoon sorted! Easiest date ever!

3. Visit as many rooftop bars as possible.

I’m very lucky in the fact that I live in London and there are endless rooftop bars! I have been a few, but there are so many more on my list, and spring is the best time to try and visit because I think summer is going to be mad busy (not that I won’t visit in summer but spring is a better time to take pictures #bloggerlife).

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3. Wear a flower crown.

I blame Louise for this, she rocks flower crowns better than anyone I know and I’ve always been super jealous because I think they would look ridiculous on me. But this year I don’t care and I will be trying to make them look effortlessly cool. I’ll let you all know how it’s going but you can always follow me on Instagram if you want to be the first to see (shameless self-plug).

4. Take pictures with cherry blossoms.

Like I said before, cherry blossom pictures are probably the biggest blogger cliche, and it’s literally all I have been seeing on my Instagram timeline, but I still want to join in on the fun! Cherry blossoms are absolutely beautiful and one day I will visit Japan for their amazing season, but for now London will have to do.

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5. Do yoga outside.

I’ve recently become obsessed with yoga. I started doing it a few months ago and I love the feeling it gives you. I leave the class feeling energised and alive, super invigorating and I fully recommend it. I sometimes go to classes on the weekend or before work and as much as I love it, I would love to do yoga outside in the fresh air and (hopefully) warm sunshine. There are so many lovely parks as well, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to organise.

6. Have a garden afternoon tea party.

I love afternoon tea, I mean I think all British people do, it’s kind of in our blood. So combining a classic afternoon tea, with scones and jam and clotted cream, with the beautiful backdrop of a garden is just music to my ears. Have to admit, I’m getting super excited just thinking about it – eek!

7. Go on a bike ride in London.

I have done this before when the Santander bikes in London were Boris bikes, so a pretty long time ago! We also went to Hyde Park which I do love, but I think sometimes can be a bit too touristy so I’d love to ride bikes somewhere a little more low-key. If you have any suggestions in London, do comment below and let me know.

8. Take a cooking class.

I’ve said this before that I would love to take a cooking class. Cooking is something that I really enjoy doing – it relaxes me and I love learning new recipes, even though I rarely stick to them. I’m more of a chuck-it-all-in-one-pan-and-hope-for-the-best kind of gal! Even so, I’d love to learn some new techniques and flavour combos, so I will definitely be looking into this.

So that was my Spring Bucket List!

Do you have a bucket list? What kind of things are on it?