one last london kiss… (part two)


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with the changing of the seasons i’d be treated to my very own change of backdrop outside my window. summer brought with it knees kissed by the warmth of the sun and tanned shoulders, beers drunk outdoors and pimm’s. autumn a  rainbow hue of coloured leaves turning from green to orange to yellow and hair-tucks under cosy scarves. spring a promise of hope, fresh air, and renewed life for blooms and buds. finally, winter the frosty mistress, a blanket of pure white snow, covering all our sins.


overlooking a dlr station was very, very convenient. we could always time when to run out to catch the next train. win! one day i came across this special carriage…


and sometimes i’d walk to the nearest tube station…


liberty – every bit a london institution as…. eton mess? you can’t miss the infamous liberty prints!



one day our friends wanted to visit the tower of london, so we shamelessly self-invited ourselves and crashed their date. they lived in the borough of tower hamlets (i think) so we scored tickets at one quid, compared to a bajillion pounds £24.50. ONE QUID! (eveything seems like a million pounds compared to one quid).






the walkie-talkie – which completes the iconic trio (the other two being the gherkin and cheesegrater from my previous post) that makes up the City’s skyline





decadent window displays at fortnum & mason. i could get lost in there for hours.


nope, never had a problem crossing the roads in london!



snow crystals on my plane window, always a welcome sight cos’ justlookit’ssopretty!

and a preview to my next (and maybe final) post on london, where i show you a few of my favourite tube stations….can you guess this one? it’s elementary, my dear readers😉


one last london kiss… (part one)


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feeling a teenyweeny bit more inspired to write (finally!). spotify playlist on fleek. headphones on. air-conditioning turned up. come on, ready, LETSGOOOO!

(also because i was literally stru-g-g-linggg to remember where i’d gone on my trips last year. true story. i have the pitiful 5-second memory of a small goldfish, as if it wasn’t bad enough having cheeks that looked like one. so i thought i’d better document my holidays somewhere, and was one of the reasons why i set up this blog in the first place).

for someone that loves hibernating at home i really made a conscious effort to check off some places on my list (in between travelling, cleaning the apartment and packing), so let me show you what i would call, humbly, my version of the Big Smoke. as i was out and about, sometimes even walking up to hours on end, i usually traveled light and snapped away on my trusty, broken, second-hand iphone 3gs. mm hmm. i know. but i don’t like buying new things when my old tech stuff are still working! think of all the landfill! so please excuse the grainy photos which i’ve tried editing to make them less horrible.

there was nothing more peaceful than walking through hyde park on a beautiful autumn’s day, sitting on one of the benches during the heatwave of summer or jostling with the crowds at winter wonderland (ok maybe this last one isn’t peaceful at all). i like how this place transforms with the seasons – from hues of oranges and reds in autumn, with leaves that crunch underfoot, to skimpy sunbathers lazing on the green, green grass in summertime. 




the annual winter wonderland which opens from november through to january each year


one weekend in particular was so misty that it was unbelievably eerie and out of this world. i was in canary wharf working out some tax stuff and this was my view when i looked out the 40th floor? obviously just guessing the floor, because, uhm you know, goldfish.


it was just before lunchtime and look, you could still see the moon


as i worked through my last role in london which was based in the City instead of canary wharf, i’d go for walks during lunch, making my way along little alleys lined with cobblestones, some smelling of a mixture of piss+smog+dust (as you do), going this way and that, popping into tesco or liverpool station, and generally just absorbing and taking in the heart and soul of the big old city. and was she Grand.



old spitalfields market – where many lunch hours were lost😉



bank, which is close to my first work place in london. yes, it all comes full circle.


the gherkin and the cheesegrater




my office in the City – which overlooks an ice-skating rink in winter. pretty!

one day i was walking around at lunchtime (as usual) and heard a loud bang! followed by loads of noise. i turned to look and saw a scene from a popular tv show being filmed. i later caught a glimpse of this scene, which was aired as a teaser to the particular episode on tv, but sadly never saw it again after that first time. it involved a famous actor, but maybe not famous enough since i can’t recall his name lol.



liverpool st station


london tube strike!


stratford westfield – where many of my weekends were lost. haha.


primark in oxford st. my favourite store on a saturday morning. not so favourite all other times of the week.

i’ve got my pictures selected for part two so stay tuned! 

london eats 2


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gosh i miss the food in london (i can say this now that i’ve been in asia for the past couple of months). if you don’t know what i’m referring to – this post picks up where this one left off. i have this rule where i don’t bother with cafes or western restaurants when i’m in asia, because hey – hawker food please!

and because no matter what the reviews say, i find that western food tastes better overseas due to the availability of locally sourced produce and a shorter lead time between Harvest to Table. so i really do miss my brunches and salads and health foods that don’t cost a bomb!

i don’t know if it was just me (being plain Lazy, as usual, due to living in the east and a good 40 mins from central london) but i found good, decently-priced japanese food hard to come by in london. i’m aware there’s an itsu or wasabi around every corner, but these McDonalds of sushi do not count! hee.

one i really enjoyed was atari-ya and we travelled to the restaurant located at swiss cottage for brunch one sunny sunday. you know a japanese place is bound to be good when it’s frequented by japanese AND run by japanese. win!


salmon chasuke


chirashi – £16


deluxe chirashi – £22

another place which i really liked was andina in shoreditch – they serve up a mean peruvian cuisine. love that they had gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options on their menu. their ceviches are TO DIE FOR. and also the sole reason i went. i was so excited i over-ordered and ended up with too many plates of super-filling carbs. kids, never let me order when (as the saying goes) my eyes are clearly bigger than my stomach.

Cancha - Peruvian Corn

cancha – crunchy peruvian corn

Siwichi Yucas Papas a la Huancaina

yucas – fried casava with andean ocopa nut and herb dip // siwichi ceviche – seabass in amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, goldenberry, sweet potato, avocado, red onions // papas a la huancaina – new and purple potatoes topped with crispy fresco cheese and huancaina sauce


quinoa burger – red and white quinoa patty with maca, papaya, mint and kiwi yogurt, uchucuta herb sauce, thick cut chips and amarillo chilli mayo


er, don’t remember what these were…

La pâtisserie des rêves opened its doors a few weeks before i was due to leave london, so one day after work i wandered over to marylebone high street with the intention of checking out the neighbourhood as well as buying one of the limited sets of their best-selling grand cru cakes (absolutely delish, if you must know), fashioned into the shape of a heart in 2 flavours for valentine’s day.

i remember that evening as clear as day because it started pouring as soon as i exited the tube station and had to juggle a few paper carrier bags. i started walking down the wrong way even with google maps open right in front of me (as i always do!!) before realising and by then i was already sopping wet. when i stepped into LPDR i felt as glamourous as a drowned squirrel in a posh patisserie that displayed its pastries in futuristic bell-jars.

Grand Cru

have you heard of horlicks? do you like it? if you do then you will lovelovelove heston’s malted milk and marmalade ice-cream. not usually a fan of oranges and its cousins, i devoured this whole tub by myself. *not ashamed.


and my absolute favourite milk chocolates in the whole wide world have got to be charbonnel et walker sea salt caramel truffles. once you have tasted the oozy, gooey, slightly salty, slightly sweet caramel oozing from its chocolate shell you’ll know what i’m on about. you can thank me later.


another joint that i’d heard quite a far bit about was pitt cue co., so one day when we found ourselves in the vicinity of the area, we decided to grab a quick meal prior to watching phantom at the west end. we were literally the second customers in line LOL. get there early otherwise there’s always a horrendous queue, as the restaurant is cramped and a little tiny. the ribs are reputed to be Stellar, but are only available during dinner.

Pitt Cue Co

Green Chilli Slaw

green chilli slaw

House Sausage in a bun

house sausage in a bun

and finally, the pièce de résistance which i’ve saved for last – dinner by heston, which is housed in the beautiful mandarin oriental hotel located just opposite harrods.



meat fruit – look at the amazing dimpling on the orange skin. o-range you as impressed as i am?


lest you be fooled, it’s actually chicken liver parfait sitting inside the mandarin orange jelly skin. now are you impressed yet? i was astonished at how life-like the mandarin was and couldn’t stop poking it.


roast marrowbone – snails, parsley, anchovy, mace & pickled vegetables


frumenty – grilled octopus, smoked sea broth, pickled dulse & lovage


broth so flavorful that i still remember to this day how good it was. yum.

Iberico Pork Chop

iberico pork chop – spelt, ham hock & robert sauce


tipsy cake – spit roast pineapple


just look at that decadent sauce. totally makes me feel like licking my screen.

took me the better part of the arvo to draft this post – i sure am getting rusty. i’ve got a couple more pics to share of our last days in london so thanks for reading along thus far!


brick lane, london


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if you have some time to spare – even just a couple of hours – after visiting all the usual sights in london, i would recommend popping by brick lane in east london. just as the locals associate west london with all things clean and upmarket, let’s just say east london is synonymous with a certain grittiness. as the saying goes, ‘east is poor, west is posh, south is rough and north is intellectual.’

wanting my senses to be assaulted with creativity and colours one day instead of the usual Dulux White of knightsbridge, i decided to have a wander down brick lane (also quite famous for its curry houses that line the street) as well as feed myself some of that oft-talked about salt beef bagel. yum. as luck would have it- i wound up working within walking distance to brick lane during the end of my stint in london, so i would drop by during lunch for a poppin’ hot salted beef bagel with pickles and mustard. craving it right now, if you couldn’t already tell.

on our way to brick lane one fine sunny day, i passed by a school which had a rather odd name……..


on entering brick lane…


yep, we’ve arrived kids.


who remembers trolls from their childhood?


oh will you look at the moist, tender beef that just flakes away with every bite? Life Altering.


absolutely loved all the colourful graffiti splashed on the walls and art installations on every street corner. i didn’t spend much time checking out the stalls because let’s be honest here, by that time i couldn’t possibly afford to have to ship ANOTHER box filled with crap – but it’s a large, chaotic, bustling market filled with vintage/second-hand clothes, furniture, old toys and just your random bric-a-brac. worth a visit, if only for the pictures🙂

tips for visiting brick lane:

– shops, galleries and restaurants are usually open monday-sunday (check times)

– brick lane market itself is only on sundays from 9am-5pm

– brick lane beigel bake is the authentic jewish bakery you want😉 (open 24 hours) it’s an age old institution you don’t wanna miss!



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wow it’s certainly been A WHILE hasn’t it? apologies for the Radio Silence over the past *ahem* couple of months. i’ve been busy trying to get this thing called Life together (still unorganised, if you were wondering) and everything naturally fell by the wayside.

i have to admit that #1 – i had no idea how to log in to write a post and #2 – i’d totally forgotten my username and password when i did manage to find the login page. right, now let’s dust off the cobwebs and pick up where we left off, shall we? *cracks knuckles*

the last few weeks in london were Mad Crazy – trying to pack all my belongings into boxes (who would’ve thought that i had accumulated more stuff during my 2 years in UK vs. my 10 years in melbourne?), cramming as much local sightseeing as i could (platform 9 3/4 i’m sorry i forgot about you!) and eating at a few local hotspots before jumping on a plane and bidding goodbye to the Big Smoke.

one of the things i wanted to check off my to-do list was hunt high and low for a few banksy scribbles.


‘very little helps’ – located on the side of a pharmacy on essex road, opposite an old art deco cinema (which i thought was quite nice too)



‘falling shopper’ – located above street level in bruton lane on the side of a large, disused office building. i remember the walk to locate this piece of graffiti was quite dodgy eek


‘if graffiti changed anything’ – located by the garage at the BT tower end of clipstone street

ending it with one of my favourites so far – what was originally a drawing of a painter hanging graffiti wallpaper has evolved over the years to what we saw below (dated february 2014). the wall is no longer as depicted in the photos below – check out this timeline for more deets. so interesting!


‘graffiti wallpaper hanging’ – located on the canal on the opposite side to the path, in camden (also one of my fav places to have a wander on the weekends)


i hope you enjoyed this little post on one of the many, many things london has to offer – there’s nothing i love more than hopping on the tube and exploring on foot. thank you for still following my posts and for sticking around. promise i will be back with a couple more posts to round off my experience living in the uk!

the temptress that is iceland


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our airline overbooked our flight to iceland last year, and as a result of that we volunteered to extend our stay (not that extending a holiday is, like, the worst thing in the world, y’know). to ‘compensate’ us we were given free return flights to iceland, available for us to use anytime we wished. did i hear free? to one of my favourite places on earth? oh YES PLEASE!

last year we packed in some of the more popular icelandic sights and activities such as taking a dip in the blue lagoon, driving along the golden circle (which i keep calling the golden triangle), eating whale meat and lamb hot dogs and marvelling at the unique landscape of iceland during the entire duration of our road trip. *click* if you’re interested! 

this year, the marvelling continued as we explored other parts of iceland we didn’t have time to cover last year.

oh hello dinosaur egg (?) at the airport!


at last count we must’ve driven past hveragerði greenhouse village in south iceland at least 4 times. the greenhouses are heated by hot water from volcanic hot springs. what do they cultivate in there? i have no idea, but i can tell you that you can cook an egg in the hot springs and eat that with bread made by using the geothermal ground as an oven. *badatushhhh* fun fact of the day.


cute icelandic horses, which are closer in size to ponies, with their heavy coats and thick, flowy manes.


we made our first stop at seljalandsfoss, one of the more famous waterfalls in iceland with a drop of 60 metres. this waterfall is special because you can walk behind it! but not before having to traverse icy paths.


it may look like water, but i can assure you (with a penguin walk and flailing arms) that this is pure, solid, slippery ice. talk about Walking on Thin Ice….


along the way we visited reynisfjara beach with its black sand and basalt columns. and the waves crashing to shore? only about as tall as me!


our ultimate destination that day was jökulsárlón, a beautiful glacier lagoon situated on the edge of vatnajökull national park that just takes your breath away. there is nothing like it. we arrived just as the sun had set, and with no lights around us could not really take decent photos of the mighty glaciers.


a second visit the next morning was in order. do not be fooled by the calm and serenity of the striking blue glaciers. behind the scenes i was battling crazy wind-swept hair, watery eyes and frozen nose, ears and fingertips! thank goodness for heating in the car, but did i forget to mention that the fuel tank was almost running on empty? oh the stuff of memorable road trips. hah.

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during our 2-day road trip we drove along a few uniquely different landscapes- ranging from eerie out-of-this world black lava fields…..


… lush, green icelandic moss-covered lava plains and stone fields…..

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… hot steam escaping from snow-covered grounds…..


…..and lastly, water on both sides of the road almost as high as the road we we were driving on to get to dyrholaey (where puffins nest in summer).


i was craving fresh salmon for some reason and i found the BEST smoked salmon i had ever eaten in my entire life. so good that i ended up devouring one in a day and bought 2 more to take with me back to london.


having heard and read so much about how horrible fermented shark tasted, i tried some at the local market. verdict? bah- just like salted fish used in chinese cooking, but with a somewhat strong hint of ammonia. *flicks hair.

the lights of reykjavik from our apartment window.


so by now we were on the 5th day of our 6 day-trip to iceland and still no sign of the northern lights.

but it all came together in the end because the solar flare event that had been predicted to occur a couple of days earlier finally happened and off we went to Chase the Northern Lights. i almost felt like storm chaser. only the thing we were chasing wouldn’t have a chance of killing us.

on the night we were out the northern lights were so weak that we would not have been able to tell with our naked eye. however it glowed like a shining green beacon on our camera! we decided to stay out a bit longer and luckily we did because it paid off! the lights started to dance for us…..


for the briefest of moments the sky was swathed in green, fringed with pink. what previously seemed like a static beam of light now started moving, expanding and contracting, dancing and gliding across the northern sky. sometimes it was like the sun’s rays, but in green lined with faint yellow spikes peering from behind the clouds. it was the Most Spectacular Light Show i’ve ever witnessed.  


i cannot even begin to describe how bone-chillingly AMAZING it was to see the aurora borealis light up the northern hemisphere night sky in real life. having not had the best luck with weather whenever we traveled, i am ever so thankful that it all fell into place on the last day on one of our last trips in europe.

if you ever do decide to visit this part of the world i can only highly recommend iceland and its natural wonders.🙂

‘we’ll always have paris’


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two weeks ago we hopped on the eurostar in london and ended up in paris a mere 2 hours later. i love how easy and convenient the eurostar is, so much so that i’m contemplating another day trip to paris to *ahem* procure some last minute goodies and stuff myself full of flaky, buttery croissants. oh hellow Gluttony and Greed!

even though our last trip to paris was Short and Sweet, we managed to fit in the Usual Suspects such as the eiffel tower, basilica sacre coeur, montmartre, notre dame, louvre, arc de triomphe, tuileries garden etc. along the way we gobbled down some delicious pastries from sadaharu aoki’s pâtisserie and had the best ice-cream/gelato from berthillon. therefore it was apt that our recent trip this time rounded off our parisian experience, as we made a day trip to the magnificent palace of versailles, left our lock on the pont de l’archevêché, ate delicious french food, Shopped Till I Dropped and more.


‘see ya later london!’


‘bonjour paris!’


lovely view from my hotel window. i love how charming and romantic the whole setup is.

the first day was solely dedicated to shopping, given that most shops are closed on sundays in paris, so even though we only stayed a few blocks away from the arc de triomphe we treated it more as an underpass to get to the other side where champs-élysées is. hehe.


christmas lights were still up along avenue montaigne. i mean, it’s usually All Systems Go and christmas decorations are up in september during the period which i call a Commercial Christmas…and no one bothers to take them down till end january every year. no matter, they look so pretty and festive that they can stay all year round!


and then it was off to rue saint-honoré for even more wallet-emptying and gawping at hermes’ wonderfully indulgent window displays. Love at First, Second, Third (the list goes on) Sight.


contrary to Popular Belief, i do not shop very often, and when i do i usually Shop Like a Man. i have a list, i go in, buy the things i need and get out. so we returned on the last day for the final leg of our Shopping Treasure Hunt at chanel, hermes and city pharma (shhh- that’s where they sell french brands such as caudalie, bioderma, la roche-posay etc at rock bottom prices). needless to say, i stocked up!


élysée palace – the french president’s official residence

on this trip i was adamant on eating escargots and foie gras so was plenty happy when my boyfriend found a place close to our hotel that served both. if anyone is interested, the restaurant is called le hide and is small, cosy and non-pretentious with delicious food at affordable prices. i recommend calling ahead to reserve a table, otherwise there might be a wait at the bar on busier nights.


we had every intention of waking up early the next day to avoid the crowds at versailles, but as with all Best Laid Plans….they went awry. luckily we were visiting during the off-peak winter months so even though we got there close to lunch time there were no crowds! yay to winter travelling.

versailles is arduously majestic and grand. what first started out as a tiny, hunting lodge soon emerged as a sprawling estate with manicured lawns and well-kept parks. and let’s not forget the residence where everything is fringed with luxury and decadence.


king louis xvi gifted his wife queen marie-antoinette an estate where she could escape the pomp of versailles and retreat to her simple life.


the infamous gardens of versailles.


and finally, the pièce de résistance – the palace.


after a day of running around in versailles, we decided to indulge in some crepes and popped by breizh cafe for their popular crepes. uh-oh. seeing as it was a sunday night the place was full and reservations were required. you know a creperie is good if you need to call up in advance to book. luckily their sister shop a few doors down take walk-ins and the table had a spot for 2.

the crepes are made from buckwheat flour (which means that it’s actually called a galette) and let me just say that i will never look at another crepe the same way again. it is by far the BEST crepe galette i’ve ever had…and i only ordered the basic served with seaweed butter. one thing worth noting is that breizh cafe incorporates a lot of japanese ingredients in its menu. i bought me some yuzu caramels and they sure kick a citrusy punch. excuse me while i go have one now…


when asked to think of parisian food what pops into your mind? for me it’s croissants and pain au chocolats…so when the boyfriend wanted to have falafels for lunch the next day i was like WHAT. -_-

i eat my words.

BEST falafel EVER. you have NEED NEED NEED to try it. L’As du Fallafel – you can thank me later. or even better, send one my way please!



also had the BEST raspberry and passionfruit eclair from l’éclair de génie

i am so hungry now. why do i always seem to blog about food at night!

let’s move onto more beautiful sights of paris, shall we? *tries to distract self from having too many yuzu caramels



we left a lock on the ‎pont de l’archevêché. not just ANY lock, but one that was decorated and varnished and sticky-taped well in advance lol




and i shall end this post with a stunning shot of the gorgeous, incomparable lady eiffel shining bright at night.🙂


tips for paris:

– a single trip on the paris metro (subway) costs €1.70 whilst a book of 10 tickets costs €13.70 (there are many other options *click*)

– getting to versailles: by RER C on the Paris – Versailles Rive Gauche train (other methods listed here). the palace is open everyday except mondays *click*

– if you are visiting versailles in high season (april – october) i highly recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds

– and as usual, watch out for pickpockets, especially in crowded areas and on the metro

berlin, germany


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as i write about my last pitstop on our austria-germany trip i feel as though i’m desperately in need of another holiday. i know, #firstworldproblemsmuch?

the only reason why berlin was tacked onto the end of our itinerary was because i really wanted to see the berlin wall. after all, it was something that happened during my lifetime and i wanted to view a part of history, seeing as we were already in that part of the world. aside from the berlin wall, i really had no expectations for anything else, but what can i say? everytime i have no expectations i seem to like a place just that little bit more. i was definitely taken in by the eccentric charm of berlin.

our hotel was located near checkpoint charlie, so that was our first stop on this trip. i never knew the significance of checkpoint charlie, but it is/was the best-known crossing point between east berlin and west berlin during the cold war.


on the opposite side of this picture of a US soldier is an image of a soviet soldier. checkpoint charlie is now a tourist attraction, but the signs remain a somber reminder of the divide between east and west berlin only some 25 years ago.

i was reluctant to leave the  plush comforts of our 4.5-star hotel in munich, but was pleasantly surprised that our boutique hotel in berlin came with a sitting area, 2 giant televisions, korres toiletries and a selection of amazing teas (not your normal english breakfast/earl grey varieties).


for some reason the berlin i have in mind is bleak, gloomy, dark and dreary, but to my surprise some areas were amazingly modern! just look at this glass building…and it wasn’t the only one in the area either.


the building below with amazing architecture is the reichstag- home to the german parliament. i didn’t get a chance to enter as advanced registration is required (admission is free), but my boyfriend was keen and signed up for admission the next day (while i lazed in our hotel) and his picture tells me it’s quite shiny and modern inside as well. just like ironman’s home, no?

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brandenburg gate- a well-known landmark of germany



holocaust memorial, also known by its more eerie name of ‘memorial to the murdered jews of europe’

by the time we were finished with all of the above it was way way WAY past dinnertime so boy, was i glad to see a christmas market at potsdamer platz. this would be christmas market number 11 for us! it was so biting cold that i was craving hot, yummy food which i could not eat fast enough.


after taking care of our tummies we visited führerbunker prior to returning to our hotel as it was on the way. this was the place where hitler’s bunker was located during WWII, but has since been destroyed and is now marked in place by a plaque.

while i was getting ready to snap a picture of the plaque i heard a really weird, cackling sound but wrote it off. on closer inspection i saw a real life fox walk up to a pole right in front of my very eyes. my natural reaction was to stand still so it would not eat me! it then proceeded to cross the road and naturally stopped another pedestrian in his tracks too. i guess he didn’t want to get eaten either. foxes are usually depicted as cunning, sly and fond of trickery. how apt was it that we saw one at the ex-site of hitler’s bunker? Mere Coincidence or Divine Intervention?

there were so many variations on seasonal alcohol.


parts of the berlin wall that are still standing



original currywurst- skinless, naturally

lunchtime beckoned and we popped into a christmas market (no.12!) located at gendarmenmarkt square, where apparently an entrance fee was required, but we didn’t have to pay as i think we visited during a weekday, during the day where it was relatively quieter. if visitors had to pay then, i think the market would have to pay US to enter instead haha.



freshly baked bread topped with cheese, bacon and spring onions. simple but OH SO GOOD.



the fernsehturm (berlin tv tower), which is the tallest structure in germany and a symbol of berlin


red city hall

and finally- the infamous east side gallery which commemorates the gaining of freedom. some cliff’s notes on the berlin wall: on the stroke of midnight on 13 august 1961, police and units of the east german army began closing off the border and construction of the wall began on 17 august. many people were cut off from family on the other side without much notice and east berliners with jobs in the west were unable to go to work.

around 5,000 people were recorded to have successfully defected to west berlin, with the death toll hovering between 100-200 deaths. defectors did so by digging tunnels under the long wall, flying in hot air balloons or ultralights, or by simply driving a car through the wall (which you can see depicted below).


all too soon it was time to bid adieu to our holiday and return to london.


tips for berlin:

– registration for a visit to the reichstag is required *click*

– enjoy a currywurst, which originated in berlin in 1949

– most of our journey was either done on foot or via the berlin metro, more information available here *click*

i hope you’ve enjoyed e-visiting vienna, salzburg, munich and berlin as much as i’ve enjoyed revisiting my holidays by documenting them on the blog!

what’s to come, i wonder?

the stuff of nightmares and fairy tales in munich


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i was looking forward to putting my feet up and taking things at a leisurely pace in munich because we had allocated 3 days and nights there. i also may or may not have been biased by the fact that we were staying in a hotel that came with a big, comfy king-sized bed complete with fluffy doonas and soft, plush bedroom slippers. ahh, relaxation at its best. it was that kind of hotel that provided shoe horns, bath loofahs, more towels than you know what to do with and charged you €22 for breakfast, y’know. hahaha. 

having arrived in munich around dinnertime we quickly checked in (i spent a few minutes ohh-ing and ahh-ing at our cosy room awash in down light) and wandered out to munich’s medieval christmas market at brienner straße for dinner. it’s probably one of my favourite christmas markets of ALL TIME because there were so many local and traditional food choices. always a winner in my books! the stalls, cutlery and dinnerware were all fashioned medieval style. store owners and attendants were all decked out in medieval livery. we returned 3 times over 3 days for food😀. christmas market tally: 8.

let’s kick off then, shall we?



bread dumpling with creamy mushroom sauce and herbs



a traditional dish with sauerkraut and bacon. yum.


could not resist the medieval christmas mugs, so naturally i took a tinier version home.



roast suckling pig (which you can see in its entirety in one of the photos above) with crackling and potato salad


consuming more than our body weight in carbohydrates meant that some form of exercise was highly advisable, so we took a stroll through odeonsplatz.


theatine church

we stumbled onto christmas market number 9(?)- even i’m losing track! here i found the most Derriiiicious caramel-coated hazelnuts, which reminded me a lot of nutella…only crunchier! needless to say i returned the next night to buy more of them.



bavarian state opera

last stop on the itinerary for the night was something my boyfriend had been looking forward to- a visit to hofbräuhaus münchen. what makes them so special? well, history has them down as a royal brewery in the kingdom of bavaria….and they serve beers in 1L steins! this place was obviously very popular with locals and tourists alike, as there was not an empty table in sight (until we went up to the 2nd or 3rd floor which had available seating, but not the atmosphere of the beer halls on the lower floors). “In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus, oans, zwoa, g’suffa!” (“There’s a Hofbräuhaus in Munich—one, two, drunk!”)- wikipedia.


considering it was Daylight Robbery for breakfast at our hotel, this was our next best option. after whipping up a few sandwiches with the ingredients below, it was our best option for sure! kinda fell in love with the cheese and ham choices in munich. and aloe vera yogurt! why do they not have that here?


when in germany, you gotta check out the haribo selection.


after an undisturbed good night’s rest all i wanted to do was sink further into the covers and continue sleeping ala sleeping beauty, but the pull of going to see the inspiration behind her castle eventually won over and off we went to hohenschwangau. i’m so glad we went during winter because snow magically makes everything more beautiful, but if you’ve been following my posts you’d already know my thoughts on this!

Neuschwanstein 1

neuschwanstein castle (also known as the fairy tale castle) was commissioned by ‘mad king’ ludwig as a personal refuge, but he died before it was completed. the castle was opened to the public immediately after his death and now serves as one of the top tourist attractions in munich. this place is what fairy tales are made of and i felt like i was in adult disneyland, minus the mickey mouse ears.

to get what is widely regarded as the best view of the castle from the other side, we had to *ahem* ignore two ‘danger, do not pass’ signs and climb up a slippery ICY slope where i rolled around like a little bundled up krispy kreme donut. but we got to marienbrücke (mary’s bridge) in the end!

Neuschwanstein 2
Neuschwanstein 3

as neuschwanstein castle is situated high up on a hill, my advice would be to rug up if you were visiting during the colder months. i had layers upon layers of thermal and uniqlo’s heattech clothing. on that day itself the temperature went as low as -10°C and after a while i’d forgotten i owned a nose, 2 ears and 10 fingertips. but my toes were alright thanks to my awesome snow boots! haha.

the next day saw a change of pace as we visited dachau concentration camp memorial site. it was the first of nazi concentration camps opened in germany to hold political prisoners, but soon grew to imprison jews, jehovah’s witnesses, gypsies, homosexuals, german and austrian criminals and foreign nationals from countries that germany invaded. we had the opportunity to visit the actual barracks where prisoners slept, ate and went about their daily lives (whatever little freedom they were allowed), and also saw the crematorium and gas chambers, the latter which were supposedly never used at dachau.



remainder of a railway platform where prisoners arrived back in the day


everyone had to pass through this entrance to enter the camp


‘work shall set you free’



a gas chamber disguised as a shower


it was a sobering experience which will no doubt make you question how on earth humans could be so inhumane towards another. i cannot even begin to imagine the mental and physical pain and torture prisoners were subjected to, but applaud the strength they had to keep going without knowing if help was ever coming their way. there is no fee for visiting (although an audio guide will set you back a few euros) and i highly recommend stopping by for half a day. i believe education breeds awareness, which in turn leads to being more open-minded and understanding and that is something the world could do with more of today.

we returned to munich to finish the rest of our sightseeing, popping by christmas market number 10 at marienplatz and finally sampling some currywurst.


the breathtaking new town hall (neues rathaus)



cathedral of our dear lady (frauenkirche)

it had the most amazing stained glass windows.


the buildings and monuments in the surrounding area looked like they came straight out of a movie set.


viscardigasse – under nazi rule, people who showed passive resistance by refusing to salute the feldherrnhalle used this alleyway instead



at the victual’s market (viktualienmarkt)- munich’s most popular open air market and site of folklore festivals


and then it was off to the final stop in our multi-city trip across austria and germany. *waves goodbye to munich.


tips for munich:

– neuschwanstein castle is easily accesible by public transport. take the train (db bahn) to füssen and then a bus right outside the station takes you to hohenschwangau (which is where the castle is). *click* for more options.

– once the bus has dropped you off at hohenschwangau, you have 3 options to get to neuschwanstein castle 1) by foot 2) by horse-drawn carriage and 3) by bus (which was not in service on the day we visited as there was snow and ice on the roads, so we walked the 30 minutes up to the castle- which turned out to be quite a nice, scenic walk).

– a visit to the inside of neuschwanstein castle is only possible within a 30 minute guided tour. tickets can be purchased at the castle itself (not advisable as queues were LONG), so if you want to avoid waiting around for hours before your scheduled tour then prebook online! *click*

– for the best view of the castle make sure you go to marienbrücke (mary’s bridge)

– entrance to the dachau concentration camp memorial site is free, and an audio guide costs €3.50. individual guided tours are also available.

– getting to dachau is quite straightforward, we took an s2 train from hauptbahnhof in munich to dachau, and then a connecting bus (726 towards ‘Saubachsiedlung’) to ‘kz-gedenkstätte’. for other options *click here*

i’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my lovely readers and followers for reading and commenting – happy new year to all of you out there🙂

salzburg, austria


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phew. i finally get some time to properly sit down, edit pictures and reacquaint myself with wordpress! i’m scheduling this post so by the time you read it you may go ‘what the heck are these references to christmas and boxing day’, but if i don’t do my write up today it’s gonna be never! it’s been so long that i feel as though i’d gotten a little rusty trying to remember how to put together a blog post. but as the saying goes, it’s just like riding a bicycle….

picking up where we left off from vienna, our next city stop was salzburg- popular for either one of these, or both: birth place of mozart and the sound of music movie (which was based on the real life story of the von trapp family). growing up, the sound of music, along with mary poppins, was one of my Favourite Movies Of All Time, so it was quite nice being able to catch a glimpse of the hills of salzburg. it had previously snowed before we arrived and the hills were capped with snow, which only made everything 100% prettier. i wish the same theory applied to humans, where if i was having a Bad Face Day i could dump some snow on my head and look less of a fright in an instant.

as mentioned in my last post, we took a train from vienna to salzburg and the journey lasted approximately 3 hours. since there was wi-fi on the train i attempted some online shopping, but every once in a while remembered to look out at the gorgeous snow-covered countryside scenery that swept past us enroute to salzburg. you can take the girl out of the shops, but you can’t take the shop(aholic) outta her! i must confess that some of my best online shopping moments were done on holidays (ie. in the middle of the ocean between 2 greek islands etc.), because what else is there to do?!



surrounded by snow-capped mountains in the background

since we needed to catch the train the next day we chose a hotel located close to the train station and the lovely little lady owner told us about the traditional saint nicholas festival parading through the town later that night which we were really keen (and a little apprehensive, mostly me though) to check out. we walked into old town and it was a beautifully scenic walk in the cool, crisp winter air.


mirabell palace and gardens



mozart bridge in the foreground, which was featured in the sound of music


popped by a christmas market for a little late lunch, which also brings our running tally to 6.



christmas is always a good reason to overindulge in baileys. this was topped(?)/garnished(?) with a mozart ball (one of many numerous imitations!), which is basically a chocolate ball with nougat and green pistachio marzipan

once our human engines (a.k.a tummies) had been refuelled we visited salzburg cathedral, where mozart used to play the 4000-pipe organ. can you imagine going for mass and having mozart play for you?

Salzburg Cathedral 1

the old town was peacefully ethereal and romantic at night.


salzburg fortress perched majestically on a hilltop


this still functioning water wheel has been in operation since the 12th or 13th century and supplies water from the mountains to the citizens of salzburg. did you know salzburg never had the plague because its streets were always washed clean due to the water supplied by the water wheel? amazing huh?


during our walk we stumbled upon this restaurant which laid claim to being europe’s oldest, but then i thought hang on, didn’t we dine at sobrino de botin in madrid, which is the oldest restaurant in the world? if madrid is in europe and it lays claim to being the world’s oldest, doesn’t it mean that it’s also europe’s oldest? this is too confusing for my brain at 11pm on christmas day, after drinking heaps of hot chocolate laced with baileys, watching downton abbey’s christmas special.



the building where mozart was born, which is now a museum…and also a spar supermarket?


festive getreidegasse lane – the busiest street in the city filled with expensive shops, boutiques and restaurants

and then it was time for the saint nicholas festival. yearrgghhh!! i was half not looking forward to these because the krampus (a beast-like creature born from alpine folklore thought to carry naughty children away in his sack to his lair) features in the festival and you can literally hear them from a mile away with deafening huge bells and noisy chains strung to their waists. they also carry whips and don’t hesitate to lash out every once in a while. oh they were very convincing, walking down the street in huge groups, going very close to you and singling out people to scare! in contrast we have saint nicholas (whom you will also see in one of the pictures below), who then later on became the model for santa claus. because i really don’t like the pictures i’ll spam them in succession argghhhh here we go!!!


ahhh pictures of food are always non-threathening. a visit to another christmas market at night brings us to 7 now…..


the next day we went on a school excursion trip to hallein salt mine! i think the tour was meant for kids -_- nevertheless we still had fun, especially sliding down two long slides in the mine itself!


SO thankful i got myself some snow boots. last year in cologne i froze my toes off and it was ever so torturous that i definitely do not want to repeat it. best 10 quid spent on *ahem* functional apparel.



in the mine we crossed the border from austria to germany. no passport required. hey!





most interesting part of the tour i think- man preserved in salt


at the conclusion of the tour i was looking forward to head on over to germany! i need to go to bed soon to be able to fight the crowds at harrods’ boxing day sale tomorrow *excited* but i will be back next week with a post on haribos, beer steins as huge as my forearm, currywurst and more.🙂

tips for salzburg:

– you’ll need a ticket to visit salzburg fortress (hohensalzburg fortress) *click* for more info. alternatively buy a salzburg card which provides free, single admission to all of the city’s attractions, free use of public transport and other discounts! check it out *here*

– the salzburg cathedral is definitely worth a visit, the organ was mighty impressive

– walk around salzburg old town and enjoy taking in the sights and feel of the place

– interested in a trip down a salt mine? we easily caught a train and then a bus to hallein from salzburg hbf, which is the salt mine we went to. just enquire and buy tickets from any OBB office (which is easier then trying to work out which train/bus to buy tickets for!). more info *here*. whoa it was €19 for an adult ticket? i feel ripped off now.:/

– believe it or not there are many companies offering mozart or sound of music tours, so if that’s your thing then there’s no better place to do them😉

– and of course, visit mozart square, mozart bridge, mozart’s birthplace etc (entry to mozart’s birthplace and museum are free with the salzburg card)

not even midnight on a public holiday and my eyes are already watering from yawning so much. welcome to the Ordinary Life of a little Old Lady. i’m gonna go hug my little pony (who is my protector against the krampus) to sleep now.

auf wiedersehen! (wow i did not need autocorrect to spell that. thanks duolingo lol).