Sveiki Lietuva! | How to Party in Central Europe…

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 2.51.34 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-26 at 2.49.30 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-26 at 2.49.06 PM

It’s almost the end of a long and cloudy January and, despite there still being about five weeks until spring, I’m firmly looking forward to a new season. However, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom this January. In fact, we kicked off the year in a spectacular fashion by heading off to snowy Lithuania.

I’d never been to Lithuania before, and I’ll shamefully admit it had never crossed my mind to even think of going there, but now having been for a long weekend I definitely want to go back. We braved ice, snow and -20 degree weather, but with such pretty architecture and historic castles, this meant the wintery setting seemed somewhat fitting.

We were there to celebrate the engagement of Jasmine and Karolis – a truly lovely couple who my boyfriend has known since school. I had only met them once before, at the wedding of Alexis & Romin, but they’re the kind of people you instantly warm to. Funny, welcoming and just so completely right for each other; both J & I didn’t hesitate when they invited us to join a group of friends and family out in Karolis’ home country of Lithuania for a party to celebrate their engagement.

We flew out on a painfully early flight to Vilnius on Friday morning for a long weekend, returning Monday afternoon. What followed was three and a half days of laughter, dancing and a LOT of vodka. Since the main event was a fabulous party in the town of Trakai on Saturday night that’s what I’ll focus on, however there’s a short guide to our stay in my new travel writing style (Stay, See, Eat) below for those interested.

After a whirlwind of a Friday, involving a lot of hugs, late night drinks and snowball fights, Saturday morning was spent lazing around the Margis hotel’s pool & spa area. I indulged in a massage (highly recommended) but wasn’t quite brave enough to try the outdoor sauna in -20…

When the afternoon rolled around, we all retired to our rooms to prettify ahead of the evening’s big event in Trakai (only a 10 minute taxi ride away).

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 2.50.28 PM

[Quick outfit note – Oxblood red dress of dreams is from ASOS. Smile is courtesy of a large vodka.]

1462983_10153774523411145_1206148068537147860_n12549091_10153942848409162_9133254611893709250_n

[The gorgeous venue!]

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 2.54.05 PM12439210_10153774523511145_2323479206739931985_n

The party was held at the gorgeous BONA Lounge in Trakai, with a stunning view across the frozen lake towards Trakai castle. Jas & Karolis and their noble team of decorators had done an incredible job of dressing the venue.

12484734_10208763928721290_6204626209466067354_o

[The happy couple!]

12494745_10153774526266145_8805461237019254819_n

As the champagne poured, the night went by in a flurry of hugs, toasts and dancing. Heels were kicked off, bodies were dragged to the dance floor and dance-offs ensued.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 2.52.21 PM12540867_10153774530031145_3916024650382525174_n

Whilst my memories of the night as it progressed got ever so slightly more blurry (I *think* there were shots), it was plain to see the love for the happy couple radiating from everyone. Both J & I are in agreement that it was definitely one of the best nights we’ve ever experienced – Jasmine & Karolis, you guys are a fantastic couple and you certainly know how to throw a party. Bring on the wedding!

Stay

We stayed at the Margis Hotel, some 35 minutes outside Vilnius, in the region of Trakai. Rooms are comfortable and spacious, despite being almost unbelievably cheap, and the food there is genuinely delicious. One of the best hotel restaurants I’ve ever experienced… There’s also a lovely spa, pool and outdoor sauna experience for those of you brave enough…

See

We didn’t get much of a chance to check out Vilnius (any excuse for a return trip) but can highly recommend Trakai castle which was close to our hotel. With an almost fairytale style, it’s the perfect place to stomp around through the snow and pretend to live up to your secret princess-y aspirations.

We also hit up the slopes in Liepkalnis much to my delight. You can hire pretty much all the gear you’d need – ski boots, skis and poles, plus the equivalent for those rebel snowboarders out there. Pricing is decent so if you’re looking for something unusual and fun to do in winter I’d certainly recommend it. There’s also a nice chalet style bar for those of you who are too stubborn reluctant to try skiing…

Eat

You need to try Cepelinai (a dumpling style dish) which is apparently the national dish of Lithuania and available pretty much everywhere. Also, Lithuanians are pretty hot on their beer snacks, and we tried delicious fried rye bread with cheese which made an excellent pre-booze snack. On the whole, the food was just amazing which really surprised me – if in doubt, ask the restaurant what they’d recommend and you won’t regret it. Don’t forget, in -20 degree weather it’s practically health and safety to eat (and drink!) as much as you can. Promise!

Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Instagram | Follow me on Bloglovin

Gutentag Berlin

BERLINberlin nighteat

Back in December, I hopped on a plane from Stansted to Berlin to visit my other half who’d been out there working for a few weeks. I did a very similar trip last summer and had fallen in love with the relaxed atmosphere of Berlin, so I was intrigued to see if Berlin in December would live up to my memories of that trip.

Now, obviously Berlin in summertime with 30-degree heat (and in the midst of a victorious World Cup) was something special, but I’d heard so much about Christmas markets that I really wanted to go.

So, I packed my bags, had a quick glass of champagne and hopped on a flight.

Stay:

My boyfriend already had a room at Hotel Casa Camper, which is I think a chain of Spanish hotels and was a really great choice. It’s in a good location, right in the heart of Mitte, which is the most central borough in Berlin. It meant we were only a short walk away from the very buzzing Alexanderplatz, and the massive Christmas market right underneath the TV tower. There’s also a pretty well stocked honesty bar, open 24 hours a day (ahem).

See:

Now because we’d only been to Berlin just a year ago, we’d pretty much done all the touristy, necessary sights that you really have to see: Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, the Berlin Wall… I did however manage to score free tickets to go up the dome of the Reichstag building with a fabulous view across all of Berlin. In typically efficient German fashion, you need to fill out an online registration form (here) and submit a booking request, giving some dates and times that you’d like to go. It’s an incredibly quick process and I received confirmation back within an hour so it really is easy.

The dome itself is beautiful, designed by Norman Foster and built to symbolize the reunification of Germany. If you get the chance, I’d definitely recommend it.

Also on the list was Charlottenburg Palace, which I’ll happily admit I only insisted we visit because it has my name in it. There was also a pretty dreamy Christmas market there too. With gluhwein which is way more fun to say than mulled wine.

We also got the chance to see Sebbi & Rike, friends of my boyfriend’s from university, and their seriously cute baby, who I basically held for the entire night and didn’t let go of, even when she punched me in the throat. Ouch. She was still adorable though.

Eat:

Obviously you have to eat German food at some point during your stay – I ended up getting a bratwurst from one of the Christmas markets – but some of the best restaurants we ate at were not typically German at all.

For the best burger I have ever eaten, I’d recommend Shiso Burger. It’s like a Japanese version of a burger, which I’ll admit sounds weird but it was absolutely amazing. I didn’t take any pictures because I ate it all within a few seconds. #NOREGRETS

We also went to Transit, an Asian restaurant right next to our hotel that was delicious and convenient.

On my final night there, my boyfriend and I went to an Italian restaurant, Vino & Basilicio, which made some of the best pasta I’ve had outside of Italy and made me very happy that I’m in a relationship with someone who lets me share their food.

But of course if you are looking for serious German eats, there’s a restaurant in Hackescher Market that does a sausage platter (I think it’s called Weihenstephaner). My boyfriend managed to persuade me last year that this was an acceptable breakfast although I’m pretty sure my arteries disagreed… Either way, it’s delicious.

Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Instagram | Follow me on Bloglovin

Greek Island Dreaming: the Wedding of Alexis & Romin

theviewflag

Last week we packed our bags and hopped off to sunny Santorini for the wedding of Alexis and Romin. Jonny, my boyfriend, has known Romin since he was a boy at school, and we were so excited to see him marry Alexis in the most stunning of settings.

Top tip up front for you couples out there – always book your flights together. As we discovered when we rocked up at the airport at 4.30am to find Jonny had been bumped from the flight as we’d booked separately. What followed was an agonising two-hour wait to find out if anyone who was booked on the flight wouldn’t turn up. Thankfully, the (Greek) gods were smiling on us and we were rushed through security just in time to make our flight.

second pic

However, our travel stresses were quickly forgotten as we arrived in Santorini. We stayed a little out of the way, near the archaeological site of Akrotiri, in a hotel/apartment complex named Apanemo. I’d recommend the hotel in a heartbeat. Run by the very friendly Spiros and family, beautifully decorated, and with a view to die for…

Firstpic

The wedding itself was on the Saturday, the day after we’d arrived. A traditional Greek ceremony, held in the utterly incredible cathedral perched up high in Fira, the capital of Santorini.

Church1church2

Alexis arrived in truly traditional style: on the back of a donkey to the sound of Greek music, clapping and cheering. She looked completely stunning and certainly more at home than I think I’d be in her place! Jonny and I went for a donkey ride the next day and our transport certainly wasn’t as well behaved as Alexis’s!

manydonkeysdonkey

After a Greek Orthodox ceremony at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santorini, Romin and Alexis were pronounced husband and wife, much to the cheers of the wedding party and the mesmerised crowd of tourists who’d gathered outside the church. The bride and groom had certainly timed the day well – their first entrance as husband and wife was to a backdrop of an amazing Santorini sunset.

sunsetweddingThe beautiful bride & groom!

wedding2weddingparty12096263_10153068573401922_2949877761217445589_n

[You’ll see I went for this ASOS dress, from my previous post all about it here…]

Following on from the photos, the bride and groom departed, and the wedding party followed on to the reception venue. This was a genuine jaw dropper. Over 1,000 candles created an overwhelmingly romantic atmosphere and the detail that had gone into every piece of the décor was evident.

tableee6table6

Now, given the open bar situation, it’s understandable that my photos after this point went a bit haywire… But believe me when I say it was truly a gorgeous wedding, full of love and emotion. Alexis & Romin, we wish you a lifetime filled with happiness – and thanks for throwing such a fabulous party. Opa!

Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Instagram | Follow me on Bloglovin

My Dream Luxury Lifestyle…

IMG_1217-2

I was recently contacted by VanDutch yachts, who are running a competition to win dinner at the amazing Aqua Shard restaurant up on the 31st floor of the Shard. Being the ultimate in luxury, VanDutch have asked me to describe my ideal luxury lifestyle to be in with a chance of winning. My mother always said I had delusions of grandeur so this was completely up my avenue!

On our recent trip to the Amalfi Coast, a private boat trip around the island of Capri was something my boyfriend and I dreamed of doing. But, as we only had a day in the gorgeous town of Positano, it didn’t leave much time for daytripping around the islands, much to my disappointment.

If I was to dream of my ideal luxury lifestyle, it would definitely include a holiday of island hopping around the picturesque Amalfi coast in a gorgeous yacht – very much in the style of Beyoncé who was staying on Capri whilst we were there. (The locals even pointed our her helicopter to us!)

My dream day would include sailing around the Li Galli islands, browsing the Missoni boutique in Positano, and picnicking on a private beach in Capri – sipping flutes of prosecco and indulging in shots of delicious icy cold limoncello. We’d stay overnight at the jaw-droppingly gorgeous JK Hotel on Capri, with a stunning view out across Vesuvius.

Beach

All this luxury living would have to be in done in style naturally. By day, I’d rock this gorgeous fifties style bikini by (who else in Italy) Dolce and Gabbana. I’m kinda in love with the matching towel as well! I’d wear my bikini under this white crochet maxi dress by Melissa Odabash to cover up.

Gladiators

And of course every girl with aspirations knows heels are murder on a yacht so I’d wear these gladiator sandals by Valentino.

evening

For a night-time outfit, I’ve fallen in love with this dress from Lanvin, naturally accompanied by this truly fabulous necklace from Susan Foster. Well, as Mae West put it, “I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.”

I’ve also opted for a pair of Jimmy Choos because, well, a girl can dream! Suitably stylish for a dream dinner in Capri. 

Check out VanDutch yachts here, and if my dream luxury day sounds like a winner to you, don’t forget to like my post or leave me a comment below!

Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Instagram | Follow me on Bloglovin

What to Wear to a Greek Island Wedding?

On Friday I’m heading to the Greek island of Santorini. One of my boyfriend’s oldest friends from school is getting married, and they’re opting for an early October wedding to make the most of the late summer sun.

Having had a quick gander at the weather (26 degrees!) I suddenly panicked as I realised I had nothing warm weather appropriate. I’ve never attended an overseas wedding before, and certainly not in anything approaching 26 degrees.

With only two days before the wedding and with no time to go shopping, I did the online equivalent of a trolley dash around ASOS and came up with three beauties as options. Whilst I won’t keep all of them I might opt to keep two so I have one as a back up – just in case!

image1xxl-5

The hard part will be picking which dress to send back! The first option is a stunning bandeau ASOS maxi dress. I opted for burgundy as nude dresses tend to wash me out and I felt navy was a little too wintery for 25 degrees and sunshine. I can add a lace kimono over the top to keep it church appropriate, and I would probably team it with nude heels for ease.

image1xxl-6

The next option is this gorgeous ASOS Wedding tea dress. I love the neckline on this dress and think it’s really flattering, and the fluttery sleeves look really flattering. I think this will probably be the most comfortable option too. Perfect for a long day of dancing, dinner and drinks!

image1xxl-7

The final option is a bit of a show stopper: this amazing maxi dress in red. With a fishtail hem, and cut close to the body, this is probably the most glamorous of the three. It might not be 100% comfortable for a full day in the Greek sun (and with a meal!), but I could seriously see myself wearing this for the family & friends dinner the happy couple are hosting the night before the wedding. If I can get away with not wearing heels I could see these Aldo sandals or these lovely woven tan ballet flats pairing beautifully with this dress.

Choices, choices. Let me know your favorites in the comments!

Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Instagram | Follow me on Bloglovin

Buongiorno Roma

12003885_10153027032581922_2452311108573010639_n

After spending three gorgeously sunny days on the Amalfi Coast, and one slightly cloudy day mostly spent eating in Naples, we made our way back to Naples Central station and onto one of the superfast, clean TrenItalia trains going back up to Rome. I may make it sound like I’m sponsored by TrenItalia but I promise I’m not, I just really appreciate a good train. NERD ALERT.

Anyway. We arrived in Rome quite early and our hotel wasn’t quite ready for us yet but given the blazing sunshine that wasn’t a problem. We decided to kill a couple of hours on a bus tour whilst we waited for our rooms to be ready.

Whilst in Rome, we stayed at the lovely Welcom Piram hotel which is a stone’s throw away from Termini station, the Baths of Diocletian and Via Cavour, which is a 15 minute walk away from the Colosseum. Location-wise, it was perfect. The hotel itself was very nice, well-priced and spotlessly clean. I’ve stayed in Rome quite a few times and this hotel impressed me. The staff were also lovely and could prepare a gorgeous Bellini too.

IMG_1321

The winning attribute for me was the fact they had a lovely roof terrace where you could enjoy your nicely mixed Bellini or Martini Royale Bianco looking out across Rome.

I have a separate post coming up later in the week on the food in Rome (trust me, it’ll be worth it) as that deserves its own space on this blog, so in this post I want to talk about the highlights from the sights we saw.

If you’ve never been to Rome before and if you only have a few days, then you naturally have to see the top sights. You might manage to see the Colosseum, the Forum and the Vatican (the museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s).

But for me it was my fourth trip back, and so we were able to see a little bit more of my favourites. I have a very easy-going boyfriend whose priorities were mainly around pasta so he was quite happy to follow my lead.

IMG_1411

11998874_10153028483321922_3924591417545040471_nIMG_1450

Highlights for me were a night-time walk past the Pantheon, exploring the Palatine hill and of course, the Scavi tour.

IMG_0212

I’ve talked about the Scavi tour before on this blog. It’s a tour underneath St. Peter’s which takes you down to the original Roman necropolis and shows you the tombs which have been amazingly preserved including, the Vatican believes, the original tour of St. Peter, with the bone fragments from his skeleton on display.

Going on the tour gave us a sense of superiority as we looked over the crowds queuing for hours around St. Peter’s square. We waved off hopeful tour guide operators with the words “We have the Scavi tour”, which they couldn’t really argue with given it takes three months to book!

IMG_1378

IMG_1393

[World’s most comfortable jumpsuit from H&M]

Going on the Scavi tour means you get to go ‘behind the scenes’ of the Vatican. We had our tickets and bags checked by the police and by the Swiss Guard before being ushered to wait outside Ufficio di Scavi. We were then met by a representative from the office who took us on the tour.

[Heads up: you aren’t allowed to take photos of the necropolis for obvious reasons so the photos below are from the Ufficio Di Scavi’s website.]

cq5dam.web.1280.1280-2

The map above shows you where you go on the tour – the top layer is the ‘modern-day St. Peter’s (completed in 1590), the second layer which is where the crypt is now is where the Old St. Peter’s was built by the Emperor Constantine between 319-333 AD. And the final layer is the Roman Necropolis where St. Peter was believed to have been buried in the year 64 AD.

cq5dam.web.1280.1280

After the tour as you’re in the Vatican already you are free to explore St. Peter’s Basilica at your leisure, which we hadn’t realized so that was a lovely bonus!

12006112_10153027021751922_6705535939831778745_n

IMG_1367

You have to email the Vatican (scavi@fsp.va) at least a few months before you want to go, telling them your dates that you’ll be in Rome, how many people are in your group, and what language you’ll need on the tour.

They only let 250 people down a day so it really is the tour of a lifetime. The Vatican are surprisingly quick at confirming your booking, and for €13 euros each I would completely recommend it.

My next Roma post will be all about the food we ate, and how I’ve immediately purchased a pasta machine upon returning to the UK…

Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Instagram | Follow me on Bloglovin

Highlights of the Amalfi Coast: Sorrento & Positano

sorrento bay

After our travels from Rome, we finally arrived late on Sunday evening at the gorgeous seaside town of Sorrento. We used Sorrento as our base to explore the sights around the Amalfi coast, and despite only being there for three days, we managed to see quite a lot!

Our first few hours in Sorrento were spent washing off the grime from our travels, and hunting in search of a perfect cocktail with a view.

IMG_1295

Sorrento is typical of many towns you can find along the Amalfi coast – perched high up on rocks, with a staggered layout with tiny narrow roads winding down to the beach or the harbour.

bay of sorrento

We found dinner and drinks in a restaurant with a wonderful view across the bay of Naples, and with Vesuvius looming ominously in the background. You can see the clouds rolling in across the bay – there was a brief but brilliant thunderstorm which happened whilst we were eating dinner. An incredible experience!

car

The next day we awoke early to beautiful sunshine and the sound of many Vespas and Fiat 500 cars beeping at each other on the tiny, crazy roads. We decided on our first full day to visit Positano which ended up being one of my highlights from the entire trip.IMG_1217-2positanoIMG_1210

Positano is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Just like Sorrento, it’s laid out in a staggered approach from high up in the rocks, but with the houses and buildings painted in gorgeous pastel colours.

The winding roads all lead down to a sparkling sea. We bought flutes of prosecco, negronis and a sunbed for half a day, and spent the afternoon alternating between jumping into the sea and drying out underneath the sunshine.IMG_1215-2

Walking through the promenade back up to catch our bus back to Sorrento, I spotted this chap capturing the scene perfectly.

painter

I was sorely tempted to take a picture back with us! Sadly Ryanair’s luggage restrictions are a little too harsh for this trip…

Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Instagram | Follow me on Bloglovin