Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Architecture in Helsinki

Greetings from Helsinki!

I'm a bit biased, but I've always thought that Helsinki was one of the most beautiful cities I've seen. Sure, it doesn't have an old town per se, and the whole city is relatively new, but what it does have is a plethora of gorgeous architecture, such as the many art nouveau buildings dotted around the city. The Nordic version of this architectural style is called Jugendstil (a word also used in Germany) and it dates back to the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries.





There are certain areas of Helsinki that are more dominated by Jugendstil than others. If you're visiting the city, I would recommend visiting the districts of Ullanlinna, Eira or Katajanokka, to name a few, which conveniently are all very close to the seaside as well. Whenever I wanted to have a really nice walk or just head somewhere beautiful to take some pictures, one of these areas would generally end up as the winner. Seaside and beautiful architecture - what's not to love?





Not all of the buildings in these pictures are Jugend - I just chose pictures that I think showcased the beautiful side of Helsinki you might not have realized existed. It's a bit of a hidden gem and I have no intention in just keeping it to myself! (If I'm right, some of the buildings above are Neoclassical architecture - correct me if I'm wrong though!)





Hope you enjoyed this post - I know it's a bit different than my usual ones but I thought these pictures spoke enough on their own without needing too many words. Helsinki tourist board, hire me?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Pizza in Chelsea

Last Sunday really surprised me with its lovely weather - I had already crawled into my little negative hole thinking the sun will never shine again and we'll live in rain forever.. Super depressing, right? I should've known that you can never trust the weather forecast in London, and that sometimes the sun does come out even if it hasn't been predicted. Can you tell that I've lived in the UK for too long now as I've just rambled on about weather for an entire paragraph?! Oh dear...

Anyway, now onto more important things..




..aka pizza! What could be more important? Having said pizza in a sunny rooftop restaurant perhaps - which is exactly what we did on Sunday with my friend Sandra. I basically basked in happiness the entire time...

We were wandering around Kings Road, hungry, trying to find somewhere nice to eat when we saw this little Italian restaurant, aptly called Made in Italy, with a cute little roof terrace dotted with flowers. We didn't really even have to look at the menu after seeing the terrace - the decision had already been made.




We came to the restaurant straight from a makeover photoshoot we had booked through Groupon in The Face studios on Kings Road. We do this together every year (have a look at last years pictures here!) for our birthday and it's always such a fun experience. Our package included makeup, hair, mini manicure and a photoshoot where we could choose one picture to take home with us (this is always so hard as the photographers really do such a good job!).

After the photoshoot finished we were already super hungry and wanted to take advantage of our current glamourous look and go somewhere nice to eat. That said, you don't really have to be dressed to impress to go to Made in Italy - the atmosphere is really relaxed and it had the feeling of a family run business. You could actually hear Italian being spoken all around you - that's how you know the food will be good!



For the second time in a row I've gone for the Marinara pizza whilst in an Italian restaurant, and you know what - I think it's my new favourite. It's such an Italian classic - if you have fresh quality ingredients, all you really need for a great pizza is a nice crispy base (baked in a wooden oven of course!) and a tasty tomato sauce. That's it. The Marinara in Made in Italy didn't disappoint either - I devoured it to the last piece. Sandra opted for the seafood pasta and loved it as well, so it's definitely two thumbs up from us to this lovely place! If you end up going, make sure to ask for a table in the roof garden if the sun's in the sky - it really is worth it!




We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the beautiful streets of Chelsea and Fulham and I found quite a few houses I'd like to live in when I get older... You can always dream, right? My current favourite is that little green one with the red door - isn't it cute?

What's your favourite pizza place in London? I'm thinking of compiling a list soon - I've found quite a few good ones lately!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Eat: Helsinki

Long time no see! I got back from a holiday in my hometown Helsinki a few days ago and I'm still missing it quite a bit. I have a lot of pictures to share with you though and I obviously thought it would be best to start these posts out with a food related one first. First things first, right?! I picked out three lovely places I visited on my holiday that I would really recommend to anyone going to Helsinki, so, without further ado:

AHORITA

Shopping centre Kluuvi, Aleksanterinkatu 9, Helsinki




I'm sure you've noticed my obsession with Mexican food already - I think I love it more than any other cuisine! Mexico is definitely up there in my top 3 travel destinations (other two being Cuba & the Caribbean in case you were wondering..!) and I can't wait to one day trial the authentic cooking by travelling there. Before that happens though I will have to make do with the (luckily many!) restaurants you can find on this side of the world.

As my friends and family know my food preferences pretty well, I was recommended this lovely little restaurant called Ahorita that had opened in Helsinki quite recently. It's more of a (quality) fast food place than a dinner restaurant, but this means it's absolutely perfect for lunch. They had 3 vegetarian options - cheese, crumbled tofu & veef (=vegetarian beef) from which my favourite had to be the cheese one, but all of them were really good. At lunch time you get 3 tacos with nachos and dips with a drink for only 10€ - a pretty good price for all of that if you ask me! As far as I know two out of the three veggie options are also vegan which is really good for a street food place!

LEVANT

Bulevardi 15, Helsinki




Ever since I became a vegetarian I've been more and more into Middle-Eastern food which is a very new territory to me since I used to be really picky when it came to different types of cuisines. If you had told past me two years ago that I'd be eating vegan mezze platters and actually loving them, I would've never believed you (and neither would have my mom for that matter..)! So now that I have finally admitted I was just being scared of trying out new things I've especially fell for the yummy world of falafel, hummus and, of course, halloumi, and I'm eager to try out as many restaurants as I possibly can.

Levant is one of these restaurants, and it's also yet another great lunch option if you're in the central Helsinki area. The food is cheap but very tasty and the service was really friendly and efficient. Their main menu is pretty affordable as it is, but they also serve a few different lunch options for a cheaper price every day from 11am to 2pm.

OFICINA

Kaivopiha, Mannerheimintie 5, Helsinki




Okay, so now that you have two great lunch options at your hands I thought I'd throw in a great dinner place too. Oficina is a Latin American restaurant in Kaivopiha, close to the central railway station and it serves super flavourful food in a quirky & colourful setting. I have to say that I wasn't entirely convinced I was going to enjoy my meal that much as even though the place isn't a chain, it's part of a bigger firm that owns a lot of bars and restaurants in the area, and I was suspicious of the food being a bit bland and boring. Luckily I was wrong and they really pleasantly surprised me with the food!

I ordered the quinoa steak with guacamole, roasted peppers and mango salsa and I enjoyed it so much that I have to say I think it was one of the best restaurant meals I had during my entire trip. The guacamole was amazingly chunky and proved to be a perfect companion for the spicy sauce and all the side dishes were wonderful too. I wouldn't usually recommend big chains like this but as my own preconceptions of it were proved so wrong I thought they deserved a mention. It's not gourmet food or worthy of a Michelin star, but if you're looking for simple and tasty food in a fun envinronment, I would definitely recommend Oficina. And hey, who knew Quinoa steaks were actually really good?!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Snippets from Glasgow

I bet you're sick and tired of me going on and on about Glasgow by now but I just can't help it! This post will be a bit different though as it's not as clearly "curated" as my two previous guides. The photos below didn't clearly really fit into either my See & Do category or the Eat & Drink one but as I still really liked them I decided I would just share them on their own and let the pictures speak for themselves. Mostly. I'll probably still ramble on a little bit in between..



I love the contrast between these two buildings - modern & old living peacefully next to each other.



I'm not even sure what this is supposed to be but it's really cool! Any guesses on what it represents?





I feel like Glasgow was equally gritty as it was beautiful and sophisticated - the perfect combination. I always lean more towards beautiful grittiness and I've never been a big fan of anything being too polished. This is probably one more reason why I really liked Glasgow - I feel like it had just the right balance.





My beautiful travel companion Sarah. We're already planning our next city break - any recommendations?!




I felt it was important that I end this post with this picture. I feel like I need to come back to this one every now and then and read the quote in capital letters, just to remind myself of it's importance. It might serve as a valuable reminder especially in the more difficult moments of life.

Enjoy your weekend all you lovely people - hope it's a one to remember!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

May highlights

Glasgow





If you've read my last few posts you'll already know I went to Glasgow with my friend Sarah in the beginning of May. I've wanted to go to the city for many years now and so when an amazing Secret Escapes deal revealed itself to us we decided that now was as good a time as any. I honestly had so much fun on this little mini trip and its really awoken my love for short breaks - you don't always have to go that far or for a very long time to get that sense of freedom and relaxation of being on a holiday. Glasgow was a perfect choice for a weekend break as its full of beautiful architecture, lots of cool eateries and bars and sooo many shopping opportunities. Check out my eating & drinking guide here and my general city guide here.

Picnicking





Remember that ridiculously hot weekend in the beginning of May? That tiny little heatwave was seriously so ridiculous that it actually has made me think it's already actual summer on more than one occasion. A few days ago I was thinking that "I haven't had time to do any of those summery things I wanted to do this summer!" before actually realizing it wasn't even June yet.. This is what a bit of sun does to me! Anyway, on that lovely sunny weekend me and my colleagues met up on Saturday at 1pm in Hyde Park and didnt't leave before the sun started going down. It was the most glorious warm and stress-free day and if the rest of the summer turns out to be a bit crap I will still always have that one day (so dramatic..). Definitely one of the top highlights of the last month!

Sunny Sundays






The only downside of the picnic mentioned above was that if you start drinking prosecco in the sun at 1pm you will feel absolutely horrendous the next day. Luckily for me the following Sunday was super sunny and beautiful as well which always helps, so I dragged myself out of bed and headed to central London. I hate Oxford Street with a passion but there are a few really nice places super close to it so I find myself on Oxford Circus station cursing the whole mankind a bit more than I would care to admit. Carnaby Street especially is great on a nice weather - buzzy, full (but not too full!) of people and just full of that great atmosphere you get when people are sitting on terraces drinking and eating and everyone is just in such a great mood! Also, Carnaby Street has another great colourful wall I like to take pictures of (such a random thing to love, I know!) - my other favourites can be found here and here. I just really like colourful stuff!

Orange & lemon juice





You have to try this! Buy a citrus squeezer (you can get them for pretty cheap, mine was only about £20) and for one (big-ish) drink squeeze 3 oranges and 1 lemon. If you like sour stuff you will absolutely love this - it was so refreshing and tasty! And I really, really want one right now. Might need to pop to the corner shop for some citrus-y goodness.

The Shard & a girly weekend





My good friend Hanna was visiting London last weekend so my it was a bit more special and more active than normally. The weather was pretty good, aside from a gloomy morning on Saturday, and we just basically walked around Brixton shopping and sipping cocktails the first half of the day. The second half was when the specialness really begun - we went to Aqua Shard on the 31st floor of, you guessed it, The Shard! We were really lucky and managed to get seats right by the window where the views were absolutely magnificent. I was so happy and in awe that I actually forgot to take proper pictures so all I really have for you is a picture of the bathrooms.. But in all fairness they were one of the nicest toilets I've ever been to so it's not too bad at all. Just look at that pretty view! London, I love you.

Here's to June and making even more lovely memories!