Travel Diaries | Bruges, Belgium

It must not be a big surprise, but I went on another city break! Hurrah!

This time, I visited the beautiful fairytale town of Bruges, Belgium.

Now I’ve visited Brussels before on a Law trip from when I was 17 from college, and it was mainly visiting the European Courts of Justice so it was basically a barrel of laughs.

Visiting Bruges however, was just a whole ‘nother story. I know that people say Bruges is boring, but it is just so very pretty. You could just walk here for hours and hours.

We travelled on the Eurostar from Kings Cross St Pancras to Brussels, where we took a train to Bruges. We had booked our hotel weeks ago and I tried not to look at too many reviews about it because I just end up worrying that it’s gonna be a shithole even though it very rarely is. The hotel ended up being amazing, it was very charming with high wooden ceilings and had a very Victorian feel about it. The management weren’t around as much as I would have liked though, as I have mentioned in all of my travel blog posts that I love to ask the hotel staff for their recommendations for places to eat and drink and visit, so it would have been nice to be able to do that.

Our hotel wasn’t too far from the main town square, so that was the first place we headed. The town square was buzzing with people and it was a such a good atmosphere. One of the main tourist attractions which is located in the town square is the Bellfry Tower, which you can climb up (366 steps!) and you’re greeted with a beautiful city view. The walk was certainly worth the view!

After that, we walked around the city for hours (I did 20,000 steps – go me!), and we soon realised that it doesn’t take too long to walk around the city and you sort of get to know the streets quite easily (something I really love doing – not only does it help you stop getting lost, it also makes you want to re-visit because you feel like you know the city).

We ended up going for dinner in the a beautiful little restaurant called Reliva, which turned out to be the most amazing little place. Even though we didn’t have a reservation, luckily there were tables available, but I would recommend calling ahead if you were to go during a busy season or a weekend. The food was amazing, it was well-presented and very fresh tasting. I think the menus change quite frequently which I think is really cool but if they have guinea fowl on the menu, I’d highly recommend it! From what I remember they also had a great choice for vegetarians/vegans too!

The next day, we decided to visit the beer factory. I’m not a huge beer lover (but when in Bruges and all that!), it did also actually turn out to be very interesting. I have also visited the Heineken Factory in Amsterdam, so I thought it might have been similar but every factory has a unique story so it was very cool. We also got a free beer at the end of the tour and even though I don’t really like beer, it was actually quite nice!

After the beer factory, we decided to do a lil’ canal tour just because it looked so cute (and we were bloody knackered, I barely do 10,000 steps in London!). We’d seen most of Bruges on foot, so it was actually quite nice to see the city from a different view!

We found the coziest restaurant way off the beaten track, not even sure how we ended up there but that’s why I love getting lost in strange cities! It was literally like being in my grandma’s kitchen, the restaurant is called Ganzespel, and the food was very homey and very cheap! I had the salmon pasta which was lovely and they also served soup as an entree which was included. It’s definitely somewhere unique to visit in Bruges.

Obvs picked up gifts for friends and family in the form of chocolates (can you imagine coming back from Belgium empty-handed?!), we decided to visit the Chocolate Factory, because why not? Similar to the beer factory, it was actually super interesting and included a bar of chocolate and free samples of chocolate buttons on every floor!

The Belgians are famous for so many things so I just had to try everything! Next on the list was the infamous Belgian waffle. There are hundreds of waffle places in Bruges as you’d imagine, but I did some research and I’d seen a few people speak about Oyya, which turned out to be a little waffle take-away place and it was just magic. I got the caramel waffle with vanilla ice-cream, and it was insane!

The last thing on my list was to visit the Lake of Love and Lovers Bridge (because I mean how could I not?). They say that if you walk over the bridge with your lover, and kiss your amour that you’re destined to live a long and happy life together, awwww! It was such a picturesque area, and a bit of a walk away from the main town square so it was nice seeing a different part of Bruges.

The last and final thing that I wanted to try was the famous Belgian fries! We went to a place called the Potato Bar, and it was bloody lovely! I ordered the bacon, cheese fries and they were beautiful.

So that was my trip to Bruges! If you are thinking of visiting, I would highly recommend it, and please let me know if you end up going to any of the same places I went to and how you found them 🙂

Travel Diaries | Hamburg, Germany

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I think it’s pretty obvious by now that I am a huge lover of travelling. Whether that it is a week away in an all-inclusive resort or a short European weekend break, I love hopping on a plane and exploring. So when my sister and I booked a lil’ spontaneous trip to the second biggest city in Germany, I was so excited!

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Now, I have visited Berlin (my first ever solo trip, ah the memories!), I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hamburg. I’d heard that it was a super chilled place, and that definitely rung true! We didn’t have a lot planned either, so I was excited to get exploring!

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We booked fairly last minute so we ended up staying in an Ibis near Hamburg Airport, which wasn’t ideal; if we’d booked earlier or had more of a budget, I would’ve preferred to stay more in the central part of Hamburg, but it turns out that you don’t have to stay in central Hamburg to be close to it! The airport is about 25 minutes away from central Hamburg and has direct links to buses and the underground system, so it wasn’t a bad shout at all!

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The Ibis hotel was very lovely, especially the reception. The room was decent, everything you need for a standard one evening! But the thing I really loved about it was the staff, I can’t even tell you how helpful they were!

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We headed out to central Hamburg and went straight to the Museum Dialog Im Dunkeln which is a museum for the senses. They basically have two different tours: Dialog in the Dark and Dialog in the Silence. The dark one is basically an experience as if you are blind, so it’s in total darkness and you get to go through a course of everyday activities. We really wanted to do this one but unfortunately the tickets were sold out, but instead we decided to go for the Dialog in Silence, which was a similar experience except with it being total silence as if you were deaf. It was such an incredible thing to experience, we learned how to sign and how to communicate with our hands, and the whole thing was run by a lady who was deaf herself – so incredibly eye-opening.

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After the museum, we walked around the city and ended up going out to eat at such an amazing restaurant called Die Gute Botschaft which had the most amazing food. It was a Japanese fusion restaurant that offered 3 types of meals: 3, 5 or 7 courses which were totally random and absolutely delicious. Couldn’t recommend this place enough! The service was also amazing, the waitresses were super attentive.

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The Miniatur Wunderland had been on my list ever since I knew I was visiting Hamburg. It was annoying that we got such late admission tickets, but the museum itself was so interesting, and nowhere like I’d ever been before! So much time and effort has gone into making this place, it’s definitely somewhere to visit if you are ever in the city. It is a bit annoying to get to though, it’s on the river but we found it quite a far walk from the nearest tube station, about a 20 minute walk. To be fair the weather was really nice so it was good walk but just be prepared if it’s not as nice weather!

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The next day, we made plans to visit a place that used to be an energy bunker called Vju that offered thousands of people protection in 1943 from the air raids. It was an incredible place, full of history and I’m so glad we got to visit it. We had a coffee at the top (well hot choc but same same), in their cafe called ‘room with a vju‘ which made me chuckle!

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All in all, Hamburg was a lovely city break, with not too much to see so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Plus the people are so friendly so you don’t feel nervous to go out and about by yourself.

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Have you visited Hamburg before? Did you enjoy it?

 

Travel Diaries | Tignes, France

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Whilst I was in France, I was thinking constantly about how to begin to write this post, about what I would say, how I would explain that this trip was the strangest one I’d be on in a while. I guess I should start at the beginning…

So this trip was organised by my work, which was great because it meant that everything was organised by someone else *hehe*. The flights, transfers, accommodation, two meals a day, my ski pass and ski and boots hire were all included in what I paid – so it was such a relief knowing that all I had to pay for out there was just lunchtime meals and drinks!

The flight was at 6.45am on Saturday and it was a killer, but I was kind of glad to know that it was early so that we would get there early and just be able to chill. We arrived from London Gatwick to one of the smallest airports I’ve ever visited: Alpes Isere Airport. The transfer from the airport to our chalet took what felt like forever. In reality it was probably only around 3 and a half hours, but I couldn’t sleep and it was downright painful considering the taxi had picked us up at 4am UGH.

Seeing as I had never been on a skiing holiday before, everything was totally new for me (I am planning a blog post of what first-time skiiers need to know, don’t panic!), but the chalet was so nice! The room was fairly small, but it literally had everything you needed and the balcony had gorgeous views of the mountains.

Now I have never skiied before, unless you count a half-hour session at Chel-Ski which was really fun but nothing like the actual thing. So we had two lessons booked for the first and second days. There was 18 of us in total and 7 of us were beginners.

To be honest, I was so down after each lesson.

It felt like everyone else who was a beginner was so much better than me and even though my Mum has always told me not to, I compared them to me. Honestly, it might sound so pathetic, but it was so upsetting.

H-o-w-e-v-e-r, like the bloody trooper that I am (lol), I wiped my tears off, got back on my skis and persevered. I won’t sit here and type out that it was easy. It really wasn’t. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Mentally and physically ~exhausting~

I did end up having an amazing few days, and actually managed to ski a blue run ~eeeeeek~ by the end of the week hehe, and regardless of how I felt at the beginning of the week, I feel like I have done really well and I actually want to try and go ski every year to try and hone what skill (?) I managed to pick up over the week.

Enough of my sob story (‘Kim there are people dying’) oops – please enjoy some of my pretty pictures from the magical Alps.

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Have you ever gone skiing before? Did you enjoy it?

10 Reasons I Can’t Wait For Summer | AD

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Now for those of you who are long-time readers of The Dizzying Heights will probably be slightly confused with this title, as I am a huge fan of the winter months and the colder climate.

H-o-w-e-v-e-r, even I have to admit that on occasion that I am prone to a ~teeny~ bit of that ever so special Vitamin D. Honestly, I don’t have a split personality or anything, I promise! Basically, I associate the winter with getting shit done, and the summer with doing nothing and just relaxing. Soooo, after what does feel like the loooooongest winter ever, I cannot wait to get on a beach and eat and drink and relax and swim and just chill the eff out!

As if my own reasoning wasn’t enough, here are 10 more reasons for you to get booking your very own beach holiday this summer!

Vitamin D

Yes, as already mentioned Vitamin D is fabulous for you! Of course, too much of anything is bad for you but sunshine is a great source of Vitamin D, which helps your body gain calcium and allows your bones to grow stronger – basically all the good stuff!

Exercise

Now I know exercise isn’t the first thing you think of when someone says ~summer~ but I do think the warmth gives a great excuse to go for a swim. Swimming is one of my favourite activities, but in the winter it’s so bloody cold that I can’t motivate myself to get down to the pool. If I lived closer to a beach, I’d also love to go for a morning run on the beach, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking!

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BBQ’s

O-M-G, I bloody love a good BBQ, please show me someone who doesn’t! First off, the food is always incredible, I love burgers and hot-dogs and chicken wings and potato salads and cocktails! Secondly, there is something about being with family and friends in the gardens on a nice warm day, playing games and having fun! My family like to have an annual BBQ where we play giant Jenga and giant Connect-4 – it’s the best time of the year I tell ya!

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De-stress

Being at a beach or on a summer vay-cay, forces you to unplug from your phone, your emails, your current life. Sure, you will probably want to snap a few pictures of the beach for your Instagram, but when you realise you’re in the midst of summer, you (hopefully) won’t be glued to your phone!

Longer Days

Okay this is a super selfish one from me, because in the winter time I can’t take blog photos without good natural lighting, which means that I have to wake up early on the weekends to capture all my photos. I just can’t wait to finish work and it still be lovely and light outside!

Beer Gardens

This is one of my favourite things to do in the summer. I love having a few drinks in the sunshine and spending time with friends. Some of my local beer gardens have dogs as well, so as if I needed another reason to love them?!

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Ice-Cream

I mean, not one person is saying that you can’t eat ice-cream when it’s not summertime, but with the warmth, it does make a lot more sense! I love ice-cream, Viennetta is one of my favourites and I love ice lollies too – yum!

No Exams!

This is such a selfish one from me, and I do apologize if you have exams, but the summer makes me so grateful that I no longer have to take exams in the summer. I used to hate having to go to the library everyday when it was nice and warm outside to revise for exams, and it was so much worse when you had exams later than everyone else so you had to still study whilst everyone else was enjoying their summer. Now I get to work in the summer, so who is the real winner?! All jokes aside and as much as I love my job, I slyly miss Uni, enjoy your time there whilst you can!

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The Beach

Now I’m not the biggest fan of the beach, I like it and everything and yes I do look forward to visiting when it’s summer, but I don’t think I could go there everyday! Having said all that, there are a few things I do like about it. Apparently, you get a better night’s sleep after spending the day by the sea, which is great news! Also the colour blue of the ocean helps us to relax more, and the sand is a natural exfoliant so you can get rid of the dead skin from your feet and your hands – #winning!

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Booking a Holiday

Speaking of beaches, booking a summer holiday is definitely one of the best things about summer! I know England can get warm on occasion too (!!!), but getting away from everything and not having to worry about cooking or cleaning for a week is just heaven. For this year’s holiday, I’ve been using Holiday Gems to find a great deal. I’ve heard lots of good things about Holiday Gems but the best thing I know is that you can find the cheapest holidays from Holiday Gems.*

What are your favourite things about summer?

*THIS POST WAS KINDLY SPONSORED BY HOLIDAY GEMS BUT AS ALWAYS, ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN! READ MY DISCLAIMER HERE TO SEE HOW I WORK WITH BRANDS.

 

Travel Diaries | Edinburgh, Scotland

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When someone suggests for me to travel around the UK, my reaction is generally like ‘ummm yeah one day, but I’d rather go to Paris!’. I think I forget that the UK has some incredible cities and there are some amazing sights to behold. That’s why when my Mum asked if I’d like to go away with her and my sisters for a little pre-birthday trip, I suggested Edinburgh.

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I have always wanted to visit Edinburgh, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit. We only went for the weekend, and even though it didn’t seem as though there was an insane amount of things to do, it did feel like we needed longer!

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Our flights were actually good timings as well, none of us wanted to take any days off (those extra days really come in handy in December hehe), so we caught a Saturday morning flight from London at 8.30am to land in Edinburgh at 9.30am and the return flight was at 8.30pm on the Sunday evening to arrive in London at 10pm!

Getting There

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From the airport, we got on a tram directly to Princes Street and from there it was around a 3-4 minute walk to our accommodation. I love getting trams, they’re just so cool and because I very rarely get trams, it makes it extra special when I do! For an open return ticket, it cost us £8.50, which I thought was decent, I think a taxi would have been the same price but we felt like the tram was a lot easier. They also come every 3-5 minutes, so very easy to simply hop on the next one if you miss one!

Hotel

We stayed at a beautiful apartment on Hanover Street simply called Hanover 71 Suites, which was a road off of Princes Street and in an ideal location. Very close to the Royal Mile which was around a 10-15 minute walk, and there were lots of great restaurants and bars too – The Dome was just around the corner!

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It was such a lovely space, we had a ~beautiful~ bathroom (if you saw my Instagram story, you will know it was literally bathroom goals), and a big old bedroom with a sofa-bed and the comfiest bed to fit the 4 of us in. I’ve never stayed in an apartment before but it was so lovely and so cheap compared the hotels. Next time I visit though, I want to stay on the Royal Mile!

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Day One

As the flight arrived in Edinburgh pretty early, we dropped our bags off in our room and set off towards the Royal Mile. Part of the Old Town, the Royal Mile (as the name suggests) stretches a mile and a Scotch mile long, with Edinburgh Castle at one end and lots of other attractions with bars and restaurants along the way.

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The weather let me down, as it usually does in the UK. I don’t mind the cold as much as others do, in fact if you read my New York Travel Diary, then you will know that I actually prefer the cold to being too hot! But one thing I don’t enjoy, especially when trying to explore a new city, is the constant blooody drizzling. It was the most frustrating thing ever!!!

FYI: The first picture is day one and the second picture is day two!

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The first place we visited was the Real Mary King’s Close which was a tour of the 17th century streets of Edinburgh, it was so interesting and such an insight to the way people used to live with the Plague and how many people from all kinds of social standing lived in the smallest rooms! We actually went there early to get some tickets for a later tour at 5pm – it was very chilly as it’s all underground, so if you go when it’s cold, don’t forget to wrap up!

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Next, we visited Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. I know this is a gimmicky place but it was honestly so much fun! It is a quirky museum and you could literally spend all day in there, no matter how old you are! There are 6 floors full of cool illusions and parts of Edinburgh history to learn about, and your ticket also includes a 15 minute show right at the top of the building. I won’t ruin the show for you, as I found it so cool, but what I will say is that you should definitely try and visit here when it is a bright clear day!

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After Camera Obscura, we went to lunch at a beautiful restaurant called Witchery by the Castle that was literally opposite Camera Obscura. We ate in the Secret Garden and it was one of the prettiest places to eat ever! It is definitely pricey, but they have set menus which have tons of choices, and my Mum doesn’t eat meat and she didn’t really like the veggie meal that she had so they actually took it off the bill for us, which I just thought was a lovely touch!

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After doing the Mary Kings Close tour at 5pm, which lasted an hour, we were absolutely knackered (and bloody freezing!), so we decided to head back into the warmth of our apartment and just chill before dinner. We had dinner at a lovely restaurant called Mother India Cafe, which was like Indian tapas and it was well worth the money! After dinner, we went for a drink at the Dome, which is the nicest place to have an after-dinner cocktail. It reminds me of a London hotel, it’s very fancy and just generally quite a nice place to visit if you’re ever in Edinburgh.

Day Two

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The second day, the sun was shining and we woke up in a bloody great mood (except the fact that we had to check out at 10am, but that is by the by). We decided to have breakfast at a place that was quite literally next door to us, a relaxed restaurant called Grand Cru and even though we wanted to go to somewhere more blogger-esque (and by we, I mean me, obvs!). It kind of felt like a Wetherspoons or something, but hey the food was good and coffee was included and they did caramel + hazelnut lattes, so who is really going to complain?!

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I know that there have many a controversy around J.K. Rowling ~but~ I will forever and always be a Potterhead. It’s just the way it is, I’ve accepted it as should you. It was such a huge part of my childhood and even now when I’m feeling a bit down, I will read one of the books or watch the films. So when I did some digging and found that a lot of sights in Edinburgh were used as inspiration for the book, I knew I had to visit as many as I could.

But before I could start my Harry Potter mission, we had to visit Edinburgh Castle. It is a beautiful building, I mean it’s a bloody castle so how could it not be? We didn’t actually go inside, and I think next time I go, I would want to take a tour inside, but this time around I didn’t feel like we had that much time and didn’t want an hour (or more) to be spent in a castle when the sun was actually shining.

We walked the 10 minutes from Edinburgh Castle to Victoria Street, where it has been said that J.K. took inspiration from to invent Diagon Alley. Okay so there is also a street in York that she supposedly took inspo from too, so who knows? But this street is super pretty, with lots of coloured buildings, and cute shops. Even if you’re not a HP fan, I’d definitely walk past here if you find yourself in the area!

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A little bit further down from Victoria Street, there is the infamous Elephant House. This cafe claims to be the ‘birthplace of Harry Potter‘ (in the most horrific font, I might add!), because J.K. Rowling used to come to this cafe and wrote her earlier books. Apparently there are a few cafes that claim this, it feels like every cafe claims that she wrote a page of Harry Potter in it!

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A graveyard wouldn’t really be the first thing on my list of places to visit in a new city, but when I learned that there was a grave for a Thomas Riddell, I thought it was only right to have a ‘lil nosy. Now, I may a be a huge fan, but even I know that this person’s grave *probably* has very little to do with Voldemort, but even so I had to admit it was kind of cool! There is also a grave of a William McGonagall but I couldn’t find it!

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For lunch, we had booked a table at Makar’s, which is a gourmet mash bar. The food here was so good, very comforting and exactly what you need on a chilly day! For a starter, we ordered a traditional Scottish meal of haggis, neeps and tatties. Haggis is a Scottish speciality so I knew I wanted to try it, and I was actually pleasantly surprised! Neeps are turnips and the ones in the starter were a mixture of turnip and swede mashed, and tatties are just mash potatoes. For my main, I ordered a sausage and mash (kid’s portion was a £5er, get in), my sausage was ~slightly~ too salty for me, but the mash was delightful.

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After lunch, I wanted to see the handprints of J.K. Rowling, and they were just a 5 minute walk away by the City Chambers. To finish off the day, we walked past a Harry Potter shop so I took a few snaps, and played with some wands and basically pretended I was shopping for a new year at Hogwarts. A gal can dream right?!

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So that was my trip to Edinburgh! Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Did you do any of the same things?

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