A weekend in the Cotswolds

Spontaneous trips are my favorite. Especially to places like the Cotswolds. Although I have to admit that the Cotswolds, a huge area – almost 800 square miles – that runs through five counties (Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire), was never really on my places to go list. In fact many of the places I want to visit are located outside of the UK. But with limited holiday remaining and a free weekend with no plans, my husband and I decided to plan a spontaneous trip somewhere in the UK. We narrowed it down to the New Forest and the Cotswold. Both places are less than 3 hours drive from our home in Kent. In the end the Cotswolds with it’s cute villages made the cut.

So Friday night, after work, we set off and arrived fairly late at our cute little Airbnb. When possible we like to book Airbnb. It is a great way to meet the locals and also save a bit of money. The room we booked was actually a converted little annex, so beautiful and full of charm.

After a good night rest we set of bright and early the next morning. Our first stop was Burton-on-the-water which was approx. 15min from our Aribnb.

We decided to book a room within the Cotswolds and explore the north of this beautiful area. However, no real plans have been made, which was nice.

So the first stop was Bourton-on-the-water with their famous Bakery-on-the-water. We had a delicious breakfast which was also very reasonably priced. I wish I could’ve bought all the bread and pastries on display!

With full stomachs we were ready to explore. First we had a little walk around the village. We were glad we came early at around 9am, as the first buses full of tourists already started arriving. But we quickly found a little detour and saw some very cute cottages. Houses and cottages are made of the famous Cotswold stone, a yellow oolitic Jurassic limestone. The color of the stone varies according to where it was quarried. In much of the northern part of the Cotswolds the stone is a rich honey color, which, as you go south towards Bath, becomes creamier and greyer.

The Cotswolds is best explored by car, especially when you are only spending a weekend there. Unless you are a keen cyclist, which we are not 🙂

So, we moved on to the next village which was Chipping Campden, a small market town in the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire. At the center of this charming village stands the Market Hall with its splendid arches, built in 1627. Another attraction worth seeing is the early perpendicular wool church of St James.

The next stop was Broadway Tower, a folly on Broadway Hill and the second-highest point of the Cotswolds. We weren’t particularly interested in going up the tower, so instead we admired it from the outside and walked along the fields nearby.

Near the Tower is also a cute little cafe with outside seating. So we sat down and ordered a cheese platter and some cream tea, could it get any more British? 🙂

The last stop on our day out was Stow on the Wold. Another stunning Cotswolds village with plenty of little shops, cafes and pubs.

After a day of exploring all the lovely villages the Cotswolds had to offer, we retreated back to our Airbnb for a rest and to fresh up.

For the evening, we decided to stay local and walk to the nearest pub, which was the Hare in Milton-under-Wychwood. We sat in the beer garden and enjoyed the last rays of sunshine as well as some amazing food.

On the way back we walked through the fields and made some friends 🙂

This pretty much concluded our weekend in the Cotswolds. Sunday was spend enjoying a lovely breakfast and then heading home to Kent.

I think my husbands and I will add some more English destinations to our ‘places to go list’. The Cotswolds are truly beautiful and worth a visit – we sure be back!

Advertisements

New York in Pictures

The streets will make you feel brand new. 

Big lights will inspire. – Jay Z

So I am finally getting around to share my pictures and travel diary from New York with you….it’s only been two month. Oops.

It will be a long one, so grab a cup of tea and get comfortable…

We set off on an early morning flight from Heathrow. Being a nervous flyer I preferred plane-ticketthe early start, just get it done and over with.Plane But to my surprise it was a lovely and fairly quick flight.

We arrived at Newark at about midday, but didn’t leave it until about 2pm due to the long queues at passport control. But we weren’t in a rush, so all was fine.

We decided to save some money and take the train into Penn Station rather than getting a cab. This was super easy. The airport provides a free shuttle to the station and from there it was maybe 30min into the City.

As the city is expense enough we decided to make this trip as cheap as possible without compromising on the experience. Therefore, once we arrived at Penn Station we purchased a MetroCard from the subway station. You can get it at any of the machines at the station and it will definitely save you some bucks. Despite only being there for 5 days, we opted for the 7-Day unlimited MetroCard at $32. With all the things to do and see on our agenda it still worked out cheaper than buying individual fares or day tickets. By the way we still ended up walking loads, which I definitely recommend if you want to soak in the City and see the neighborhoods.

Transport sorted, we made our way to the ‘Hotel’. I say hotel, but really we actually stayed in a hostel. Don’t dismiss this idea. It is a great option as most hostels nowadays offer private rooms and bathrooms, which is what we went for. We stayed the YMCA West Side right next to Central Park. Try and find a hotel that is less than a £1000 for 5 nights, that location and that time of year….impossible. So the hostel was a great option and served our needs completely – a safe and clean room with a bed.

Despite being tired, we decided to pull through and have a wonder around town before heading to Brooklyn for dinner. As we were close to Times Square we made this our first destination. This place can blow your mind with all the lights and people.

 

We were hungry of course, so we opted for one of New Yorks specialties: Pizza! This turned out to be a re-occuring theme during our trip, the 99c and $1 pizza’s in town. You can find them everywhere and they are seriously yummy and well within budget!

 

After exploring times square we made our way to Brooklyn to have dinner at Emily’s. My husband found this place through extensive YouTube research watching hours and hours of ‘Best Burger/Pizza/Fast Food in New York’.

Emily’s didn’t disappoint. Because we were still full up from our 99c Pizza we decided toIMG_20170928_180620 share a Burger, and oh my, that was yummy. Definitely worth the trip!

After that we headed back to the hostel to catch some much needed sleep.

The next day the jet leg has hit us hard and we woke up at 5am. We were out of the hostel by 6am. I am not complaining, as we had the whole of Hyde Park to ourselves…well apart from the joggers and people walking their dogs. It was a beautiful, sunny morning. So we grabbed some coffee and started walking through the park.

 

Then we decided to have breakfast. There wasn’t much around, but we stumbled upon a little cafe serving everything you could possibly want for breakfast. We went for waffles and french toast…of course. 20170929_105454

We decided to stay around the midtown area as we had the ‘Top of the Rock’ booked for 10.30am. I think we chose the best day for our trip up the Rock. It was sunny and the views were breathtaking! Have a look yourself:

 

The rest of the day was spent walking around town, eating more pizza and a bit of shopping. Because why not?! 🙂

 

In the evening we went on to have some southern BBQ food. No pictures, as the place was simply too dark. But trust me, the brisket, wings and ribs were mouthwatering. Dinner was followed up by drinks in one of the coolest bars: Barcade!

 

Make sure you stop buy for a drink and a play on one of their machines.

The last stop was the Top of the Rock again, to see the never-sleeping city at night. Still breathtaking.20170930_015031_LLS

The next couple days were spent exploring the city more. It included a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, walking around the financial district and visiting the Twin Tower Memorial, a visit to China Town and and an early morning walk over Brooklyn Bridge. Here are a few snapshoots:

 

Our last day in New York was pretty uneventful and chilled. A bit more shopping, a bit more coffee and doughnuts (try Dough) and a bit more fast food (try the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park).

 

To finish off our holiday we got tickets to see Katy Perry at Madison Square Garden. The show she put on was epic, including oversize lips, a baseket ball court and floating on a planet.

 

Here are a few more to-do’s you should add to your list:

  • Make sure you have a Hot Dog from one of the street vendors. Warning though: They will charge you a fortune. My husband fell for it and paid $16!!!
  • Check out Chelsea Market for all the food options you can think off. We had the Los Tacos, so so good and so so hot!
  • Visit Dumbo for the famous Insta Shot of Manhatten Bridge. Top Tip: Come early, like really early.
  • Go and see a show on Broadway. We saw School of Rock, which was amazing. Another tip: Buy it via the ticket lottery. So much cheaper. You apply the day before/on the day, and will be notified on the day whether you got the tickets. If you’re flexible this is a good option and will save you some serious money.
  • Check out the flag ship Microsoft store on 5th Avenue. Not only do you get to play with the latest gadgets, every hour they do a tour of the behind the scene’s of the store, which includes trying the Hololens, which layers digital images onto the real world using holograms! What an epic experience. The tour takes an hour, is absolutely free and definitely worth it.

I hope you find this post helpful. It is mainly touristy things we did, as it was our first time in New York. What an amazing City.

Until next time New York!

Isabella x

An evening at the Shard

“Nothing is certain in London but expense.”
William Shenstone, 1743

This couldn’t be more true when it comes to this blog post. But once in a while you just have to treat yourself – am I right?

So for this post I thought I share with you my experience at the Shard. I was able to visit the Shard a couple of weeks ago as part of a Hen Night.

The night actually begun a couple hours prior when we, the hen and her entourage, hitIMG_20170729_174648 Dirty Martini at Liverpool Street for a couple of pre-drinks. Dirty Martini is a great place to start of the night as their drinks are awesome and the happy hour even better – two for one martinis? YES PLEASE. Only downside is the wait for your drinks – but good things take time. So order at least four at a time.

So after a couple of martinis it was time to make our way to the Shard. We took a cab and so glad we did. There are multiple entrances, but the cab driver dropped us of at the right one: the entrance for the Oblix restaurant. 

After passing through an airport style security check, we made our way up to the 32nd floor where the restaurant is located. The elevator trip couldn’t be quicker, but shame there was no way to look outside, as you can from the lift at Sushisamba

Once there the friendly hostesses take you to the table – reservation is key as this place gets busy. We had a lovely table near the window. The interior is chic but relaxed – no white linen. 

Straight away a waiter attended our table and introduced us to the menu – short but sweet. We worked our way through it and started off with some rosé, flat breads and cheese. How delicious does that look? 

 

This was followed by our starters. The bride choose lobster & scallop ceviche, I went for the crispy squid with chilli & lime.

Then it was time for the main….and OMG. This was one of the best steaks I have ever had. Mouthwatering.

And just to make sure we were really full, we shared a small dessert – chocolate truffles. 

As the quote suggest the night wasn’t cheap. The meal set me back approx. £75 but I’d say it is worth it for a 4 course meal including wine, view and excellent service.

We stayed for a couple more drinks which are also amazing but shortly made our way onward as there was one last surprise for the bride-to-be: SILENT DISCO!

The silent disco takes place on the 69th floor of the shard – and yes it is as high as it sounds. But before you go up you unfortunately need to make your way down first. There is no direct lift from the restaurant to the silent disco.

So down we went to find the separate entrance to the silent disco, which was just around the corner and a good opportunity to get some fresh air. 

Once you are up on the 69th floor you receive your headphones and you are ready to go. You can choose between three different DJ’s that are playing that night – each of them has their own color: greenn blue or red. Their equipment is also illuminated in their color. This way you can match the DJ with the music you listen to. 

The dance floor area is not large – it is a square with a staircase in the middle. You can walk around and admire the view whilst you listen to your favorite station. And the views are incredible. 

You can even go up to the 72nd floor via the staircase and you are literally at the TOP of the highest building in western Europe. Pretty amazing!

And while you’re up there don’t forget to visit the loo, I promise you will never have a better view when using one 😉

loo

 

See you next time,

Isabella x

My top 5 views in London

As you know I lived in London for many year. Nine to be precise. Time is flying when you’re having fun! And I certainly did have a good time living in London. I mean how could you not? With all the restaurants, bars, museums, galleries and events going on. Do you see how I put food and drinks first? I got my priorities right…

Over the years I visited some lovely bars, restaurants and venues and some of them had stunning views over the city. I thought I share my top five views that I got to visit and also include some I’d still like to try. So here we go:

  1. Duck & Waffle: The highest 24/7 restaurant in London and famous for their – of course – duck & waffle breakfast. I visited the restaurant, which is located on the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate, twice over the years. It offers ‘traditional British cuisine with broad European influences emphasizing local, rustic, seasonal and sustainable ingredients.’ And while you tuck into your breakfast, brunch, dinner or lunch you get to enjoy this stunning 360 degree view:
  2. SushiSamba: Also located in 110 Bishopsgate, just one floor below, is Sushi Samba. Sushi Samba offers a fantastic menu combining  a ‘blend of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine’. And same as it’s neighbor it offers a 360 degree view of London. While Duck & Waffle is popular for their breakfast and brunch, Sushi Samba is popular for dinner and drinks – even offering an outside terrace for drinks. Same as Duck and Waffle, I visited Sushi Samba twice and wouldn’t hesitate to visit again for their amazing cocktails. So make sure you check out their menu and book a table plenty in advance.

     

  3.  Emirates Air Line: It’s a short ride but with some beautiful views over East London, The O2 and the Thames – the Emirates Air Line. The Emirates Air Line is a cable car that ‘crosses the River Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks’. The ‘cabins arrive every 30 seconds and flights are approximately 10 minutes each way’ – usually shorter during rush hour. As part of London Underground tickets can be purchased via cash, card (including contactless) and Oyster Card. Definitely worth taking a ride to see these views:
  4.  Sky Garden:  Sky Garden is located near Monument Station and is therefore located in the heart of the City. 155m up it offers stunning views which can be enjoyed over three floors. ‘Visitors can wander around the landscaped gardens, observation decks and an open air terrace of what is London’s highest public garden.’ As well as that Sky Garden puts on different events, including Sunrise Yoga and live music sessions. Make sure to check their events calendar.And apart from several restaurants and bars the venue also offers a limited number of tickets to visit Sky Garden free of charge each day. Tickets can be booked via their website and are high in demand. Because I had a specific date and time in mind I actually set myself a reminder approx. three months beforehand to book my place. Have a look at my visit here:
  5. Debenhams Roof Garden: Located conveniently on Oxford Circus the Debenhams Roof Garden overlooks the busy streets and shops of the City. So if you are looking to escape the sometimes maniac and crowded shops, stop by the Debenhams Roof Garden. It offers a variety of drink and food outlets including cute bunting and a flower garden. Similar to to Sky Garden it also puts on regular fitness and beauty events as well as a gardening workshop every month!

 

So there you have it: my top five views over London. What are your favorite spots to watch the busy world (or City) go by?

On my to do list are still: Altitude located in Millbank Tower near Pimlico Station, Vista at The Trafalgar which as the name suggests overlooks Trafalgar Square, Aqua Spirit overlooks Regent Street and is a really popular venue at the moment,  and last but not least Madison Roof Top Bar  on the top floor of One New Change with ‘supreme views across the City of London skyline’ and St.Pauls Cathedral.

Thanks for stopping by guys,

Isabella.