The arrival of spring in the Netherlands is made official by the bloom of hyacinths, daffodils and of course, the world-famous Dutch tulips. There’s something very charming and quaint about these vibrant flowers, and the pride the Dutch feel about them is hard to miss, especially in this time of the year. From wooden versions in souvenir shops and cellophane wrapped bouquets in supermarkets to postcards and their depiction on a multitude of renaissance paintings, it’s safe to say the once known as “tulip mania” is now a deeply rooted Dutch tradition.
My second visit to the Netherlands just over a week ago had a quick day trip to the tulip field filled countryside in store for us. Venturing a little further out of the city of Amsterdam, we finally made our way to Lisse to explore the most beautiful tulip garden in the world – Keukenhof! And honestly? I can’t believe it took us this long to get us out there.
When it comes to travel, one of my favourite things is familiarising myself with the trendiest spots, cultural musts and most exciting places to eat in whatever our next destination is. As someone who is constantly on the lookout for new places to add to my little travel book, I cannot bear lazying around and absolutely have to visit as many different spots as humanly possible. A control freak, I know.
There aren’t many cities that I fall head over heels for at first sight, but I have to admit Edinburgh won me over from the very beginning. Having never been to Scotland before, I was really excited to see bagpipers in person – something that had been on my travel bucket list for quite a while! Thankfully, they were far better than Ross’ bagpipe performance in Friends! That being said, how could I possibly not include a bunch of recommendations to make your time in the Scottish capital far more enjoyable? Shall we go ahead with my best things to do in Edinburgh?
If you know me well, you know I’m someone that’s pretty keen on the idea of shopping for plants, especially when this means adding personal touches to your home and making it feel more…homely. Adding a little somethin’ somethin’ to different spots of the house is always exciting and has an incredible effect on not only the decoration and feel of our little London flat, but on our everyday mood.
Our house is slowly starting to look like a jungle and most of our plants are now having little plant babies! I get a little extra excited when I notice them growing a little leaf, so imagine how happy and proud I feel when they’re creating babies of their own! Funnily enough, I feel like I’m now at a point in my life where I’m legitimately playing grown ups. Being the plant lady that I am and needing some extra pots, it was only a matter of time before Sam and I headed up to Lower Clapton, where a new Conservatory Archives plant shop had recently opened.
The unexpected (but very much welcome) sunny weather in London last weekend had me truly wanting to soak up every beam of sunshine. I couldn’t have been happier to have clear blue skies and the regrettable coat choice weather well above the usual crisp degrees this time of the year. So obviously, we did what every Londoner does when the sun emerges from behind the clouds – pack up a picnic and invade the nearest park, or in our case, Kew Gardens (aka Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
Coincidentally, the annual Kew orchid festival was on, this time showcasing the world’s most biodiverse country and bursting with surprises in every corner. From February 9th to March 10th, wonderful colours fill the Princess of Wales Conservatory in celebration of Colombia’s remarkable biodiversity and vibrant culture, where orchids represent a key part of the ecosystems of this South American nation. Naturally, walking into the conservatory was arguably the easiest decision I had to make (especially when the entry is included in your pass!).
Bath is one of the most picturesque corners in the UK. Located in the county of Somerset, in the southwest of England, Bath somehow evokes a mix between a metropolitan, urban feel and an idyllic English countryside atmosphere. Being an hour an a half train ride from London and an even shorter drive from Bristol, it’s become a preferred destination for those seeking a natural spa treatment, a short getaway from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke and quite charmingly, Christmas markets lovers.
From the Romans to its world class Palladian and Georgian architecture, honey-coloured Bath stone buildings and winding cobbled streets, it’s no wonder the whole city is a UNESCO Heritage site. Its rather small size also means it can be easily seen in a day or two…and yes, I mean by foot! Who needs public transport when you have 2,000 year old Roman Baths waiting to be explored?
It’s no secret that you can eat some of the best food in the world in New York. From $1 pizza slices to gourmet dishes at renowned Michelin-starred restaurants, the Big Apple offers meals for all budgets in every corner. There is, however, a common misconception that better meals equal higher prices. As bizarre as it might sound, you don’t necessarily have to spend most of your budget to eat well in the Big Apple.
In fact, you can find food markets filled with stall after stall of tasty meals all over NYC. Not only do you get to sample great food from a variety of cuisines, this actually comes at the fraction of a price of a restaurant. Sam and I are always up for a good food market and, luckily for us, London is teeming with them. As is natural, our American cousins across the Atlantic have the same idea and we were happy to find some incredibly delicious food halls among the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. Here’s a selection of some of the best food markets in New York City to grab a bite to eat.
More than half a century since its accidental discovery, the Terracotta Army is still one of the most important archaeological findings in history. And I am not surprised at all. Who would’ve thought that there was a hidden 76m tall underground tomb in a remote area of China? Sounds bonkers, right? Unsurprisingly, visiting the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor has always been on my travel bucket list. I often find myself astonished at this wonder. How is it possible to build an underground city filled with thousands of warriors to serve and protect the self-proclaimed First Emperor of China in his afterlife? The perseverance of humankind never ceases to amaze me.
Naturally, when I learnt that the World Museum in Liverpool was temporarily exhibiting part of of the collection of this archaeological complex, I immediately had to add it to my Liverpool itinerary.