4 days in Cologne: A Christmas market adventure

Well hello to you my reader chums! 

The festive season; a time for heart-warming tunes, Christmas markets and good food. To experience something different in the run up to Christmas, a group of my friends and I headed to Cologne for the weekend just gone to visit the Christmas markets. If you've been reading for a while, you'd know I love nothing more than exploring a new place so hopped onto the chance of going. We went for four days and three nights, packing in Cologne's best features in the process. I have to say, I was blown away by the calmness and charismatic appeal the city brought, it was unlike anything I've seen before. The colourful buildings, twinkling lights and picturesque scenery were beyond words, a city I'd definitely recommend to everyone, especially in the festive period.

Day 1

We ventured on our journey at around 2am on the Friday morning, driving to London Stansted for our early 7.55am flight. After a food stop and security checks, we were off on our way to Cologne, Germany, bursting with excitement for the adventure ahead.

Upon arrival, we dropped our bags into storage as the apartment wasn't ready for us yet. Then we took to the streets of Cologne for a gander, browsing round the Christmas markets and eating some of the local treats. Afterwards, we retreated back to the apartment and were amazed by the accommodation. The two floor, open planned and contemporary style apartment was beyond incredible. There was enough space for everyone, including 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a living area, two dining rooms and kitchen. Dinner out and Christmas markets came next, with a chilly festive frost in the air. The markets looked even more glorious at night, twinkling under the sky. Crafts, decorations and food stalls galore, the two main markets showcased some astonishing goodies, located only a short walk from our accommodation.



How to see Cologne in 4 days
Carousel at the markets

Cologne Christmas markets
Christmas markets at night

How to see Cologne in 4 days
Me, Danielle and Chloe at dinner

How to see Cologne in 4 days
Cologne Christmas markets with all the girls

How to see Cologne in 4 days
Rooftop view of the markets from our apartment

Day 2

The second day was a late start but featured one of my highlights of the trip, the cathedral. Despite being incredibly tired and claustrophobic walking up the 500+ steps, it was so worth it. The panoramic view of Cologne was mind blowing, you were able to see the entire city and all the Christmas markets that lay below. Like when visiting other cities, cathedrals and churches are an attraction which really impress me and Cologne was no exception. It's a definite must see! I would advise however to take a gym class or two beforehand because we were all crazily unfit and couldn't cope with the exercise! Before and after the cathedral, we visited two separate markets. A quaint, tucked away one which served up crepes and all the breakfast foods we wished for plus a much bigger one, surrounding the cathedral grounds. Here, they sold Christmas decorations, artwork, chocolate strawberries (the best I've ever tasted), mulled wine and more! We then dined in a classic German pub style restaurant with a few drinks, that evening.

How to see Cologne in 4 days
Side shot of the cathedral

How to see Cologne in 4 days
Key hole shot of the city

How to see Cologne in 4 days
Front of the cathedral

Cologne Christmas markets guide
The girls at the cathedral grounds

Cologne Christmas markets guide
The squad in front of the cathedral

What to see on a Cologne Christmas break
Danielle, Chloe, Molly and I in the skylight room

Day 3

The third day commenced with even more Christmas markets, located nearby to the river Rhine. Before heading to the chocolate museum that day, we took a look around the quirky markets on offer, soaking up the local delicacies they had in store. After much anticipation, it was time for my chocoholic-self to enter the chocolate museum, 'Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum'. All of us absolutely adored it. The aroma lingered throughout and not only did you get to learn about the chocolate's history but you could see the yummy treats being made and even got to try it! The place was like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory brought to life, I was in sugar heaven.

When evening came, we headed back to the apartment to get ready for ice skating. I was worried initially about skating but eventually gave it a go and had a whale of a time. I'm thrilled we opted to go at night because there was better atmosphere; festive songs were playing and with the lingering scent of mulled wine, Christmas had been amongst us. We had a chilled evening afterwards, purchasing a few snacks and drinks to enjoy at the apartment.

What to see on a Cologne Christmas break
Entrance to the markets

Cologne Christmas markets
Café stall in the markets
'Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum'
Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum


Must see - Cologne chocolate museum
Inside the chocolate museum

What to see on a Cologne Christmas break
The markets nearby the chocolate museum

What to see on a Cologne Christmas break
Ice skating rink

What to see on a Cologne Christmas break
Molly and I on the rink

What to see on a Cologne Christmas break
Me, Molly, Danielle and Chloe on the rink

Asos matching pjs
Me and Molly in our matching pjs

Day 4

The last day, we embraced all of Germany's highlights once more, tasting the fresh food served up on the markets, walking around the city one more time and goofing around, appreciating the sensational location we called home for the past few days. I got to eat the freshly made waffles and have to admit they were the best I've ever tasted. I had a true foodie day, trying pretzels, strudel and of course the famous sausages; not being a big meat fan I finally found one I enjoyed. It had a slight spice to it and reminded me of a classic saveloy. Overall though, I couldn't fault the cuisine, every dish or snack I purchased was freshly made and tasted divine; if you're a foodie, get yourself down to Germany at Christmas time.

What to see on a Cologne Christmas break
Danielle and I with our waffles

River Rhien in Cologne
The River Rhine

What to do on a Cologne Christmas vacation
Having a laugh with the girls at the apartment

What to do on a Cologne Christmas break
Molly and I at Cologne airport

Danke Cologne, you were a true pleasure, I'd love to visit again one day.

I hope you enjoyed this adventure style post. Have you ever visited Cologne?

For more city break posts, check out my adventures to Barcelona, Rome and Athens

Thank you for reading <3

Creative Christmas gift guide

Well hello to you my reader chums! The holiday season has truly began - Christmas lights are brightening up every town and festivities underway with that rush of present shopping commencing everywhere. This season makes my heart fuzzy; the good will towards others, cosiness of nights in and memorable moments with your loved ones, gives us time to reflect. Present planning for Christmas is my favourite thing to do as I love nothing more than giving and sharing my adoration for others.

Gift guides are some of my favourite posts to read, a Lush cosmetics stocking filler or the latest Urban Decay palette is what every blogger wishes for as a gift under the tree. However, I wanted to my gift guide to be a bit different this year, sharing diverse, creative gift ideas you give or make for your loved ones this Christmas. Lets take a look:

Christmas gidt guide


An experience day

Whether it's a trip to the theatre, spa day or the afternoon tea bus in London, there's plenty of experience days and vouchers on offer. You can arrange a day of paint balling, trip to Harry Potter Studios or even a photoshoot, the list is endless. For theatre tickets, I always use Love Theatre for the best deals and seats ( sign up to their emails as they're constantly sending through the latest offer.) Wowcher, Groupon, Treatwell and many more sites provide a constant stream of different experience day out ideas. For a present on the more expensive side, you could book a weekend away or even a hot air balloon ride; go wild this Christmas time!

Photo album

Christmas is a time for loved ones to get together so what better gift than a photo album? If for your partner or best friend, you could compile all the photos of your recent holiday and put them in a album, then get a bit crafty sticking on letters 'Italy 2016' for instance. Hobby Craft is the perfect shop to buy any arts and crafts stickers or trinkets to personalise a gift with. Alternatively, you could make a family album for your parents or siblings and fill it with your favourite snaps over the years; the personalisation is for your creative freedom to run wild.

Hamper

Many high street and department stores sell stunning hampers consisting of food, pampering or makeup but why not be creative and make your own? It'll be an enjoyable activity and you would have put your personal stamp on a gift. There's loads of different hampers you can do, but my favourite idea is the 'ultimate movie night'. Buy a few DVDs, favourite snacks, comfy socks and wrap them all up in cellophane. You could be even more creative and make your own cinema tickets or themed accessories to go alongside the gift. A self care hamper is also another lovely idea. Fill it with candles, face masks, lip balm, hot chocolate and food goodies for any perfect pamper night in.

Personalised gifts

There's many other ways to give a personalised gift. Blow up your favourite image together on a canvas, purchase a piece of jewellery engraved or make a scrapbook of your best moments together. With many websites personalising items for you, design your own t-shirt, mug or teddy bear, options are widely available.

The happiness jar

Christmas is all about the happy moments so why not spread that love with some positivity? This is where the happiness jar comes into play. It can be a small or big jar filled with quotes, memories and chocolates to show the recipient how much you mean to them. Either a stocking filler or for a main gift, the gesture is one anybody would appreciate.


I hope you enjoyed this different style Christmas gift guide. What other creative ideas do you have?

Thank you for reading <3

Brand focus: Sephora

Well hello to you my reader chums! When in Rome and Athens, I had to take a trip into Sephora as I've never visited a branch before. Being my first and second time in the store, I was overwhelmed with excitement to what they had on offer. As it was the European chains, they didn't stock all the American brands I'd liked to have tried, so decided to pick up a few of Sephora's own branded products. I didn't want to go too wild as I had a limited amount of Euros on both trips which I'd already invested into other activities. However, I wanted to try out their renowned face masks and picked up some shadow sticks as I love trying out new eye looks.

Here's a look at all the products:

Sephora face masks and eye shadow sticks
Sephora face masks and eye shadow sticks
Sephora face masks and eye shadow sticks

Face sheet masks - I picked up two face masks, the Avocado, for nourishing/repairing skin and the pomegranate which helps tackle fatigue. As they were for different purposes and scents, it gave me a chance to see how both worked. Initially, putting on the mask I was a bit taken aback. I typically use your generic face mask, that's applied, left onto the skin and washed off, never a sheet one so a new experience for me. I pulled it out from the packaging, took of the excess layer and placed onto my skin, which felt a bit strange at first. Once settled, I got used to the soft and wet texture, allowing the product to sink into my skin and allowed myself to unwind. I left it on for the recommended 15 minutes and after peeling it off, my skin felt like I'd revealed a new layer. It was soft, moisturised and revitalised. The avocado scent for me personally smelt a lot better than the pomegranate which lingered much more.

Eye mask - As I got on quite well with the face mask after the initial new experience, I couldn't wait to give the eye mask a go. These were a bit trickier to put on as my eye area wasn't large enough for the design so I had excess mask that I ended up folding over. Despite this, once on and left to sink into my skin, the eye masks felt like a refreshing dream. The gentle texture of the material and soothing product were the perfect blend to awaken my under eyes. I can't wait to give more of these a go in various scents! (Hurry up and come to the UK Sephora.)

Sephora face masks and eye shadow sticks

Shadow sticks - A product I love trying out are eye shadow sticks, to test new colours, consistencies and how long it stays under shadows. I have two different shades, the champagne colour, ideal for an everyday look and a khaki colour, something unusual to vamp up the eye look on an evening out. The creaminess of these sticks is unreal, they draw on and blend seamlessly. Pigmentation is slightly toned down to the product on the tube, yet still intense enough to wear as just that on its own. The wearing power is great, I'll pop it on in the morning and it'll last throughout my working day with minor creasing, pretty fab considering I have quite oily eye lids. The champagne colour holds golden and nude tones running through mixed with a lot of shimmer, making it an ideal base for an easy, day to day look. I like the khaki as it's not too vampy and dark, yet more like an olive toned, emerald green which can easily be smoked up with some black shadow. To sum it up, they're incredible. I can't wait to try out more shades!

Sephora face masks and eye shadow sticks

Now I've tried out their shadow sticks and face masks, I'd love to give all the other products a go. Sephora has certainly impressed me, I wish there was one right on my doorstep!

I hope you enjoyed this overlook at a few of Sephora's products. What's your favourite item of theirs?

Thank you for reading <3


October favourites ❤️

Well hello to you my reader chums! The month of falling leaves and autumn vibes has come to a close with an even colder season truly amongst us. October, I have to admit was an incredibly busy few weeks! Something was always going on, from my getaway to Athens, London trips to parties and all the small activities in between, November arrived before I knew it. I didn't really try out many new products the past few weeks but dabbled with a few golden oldies.

Here are my October monthly favourites:

October favourites

October favourites

Garnier Micellar water review

Garnier micellar water

For years now, I've been using Garnier's micellar water to take off my makeup as I've found it to be the most effective and easy method. I wanted to give it an extra shout out this month as I've loved using the mini bottled version. As I mentioned, I've been on a lot of adventures lately, so find the mini bottle easy to pack for sleepovers or weekend breaks. However, it's not under 100ml so you can't use this for hand luggage on a flight. The product itself is very gentle on the skin, wiping away all the excess makeup with hardly no effort whatsoever. It doesn't hold a scent so the lack of perfume is ideal for those with sensitive skin. After use, your skin feels completely clean and like the majority of your makeup has been swept away, even waterproof mascara; a must essential for every makeup wearer.

Mac's amber lights eye shadow

Mac's 'Amber lights' eye shadow

Autumn for me means the warmer and darker colours come into play, from burgundy, berry to copper tones especially for makeup. I love to get out my trusty copper toned and warm brown eye shadows at this time of year as they pair so well with my favourite autumn fashion pieces. The staple being 'Amber lights' by Mac. It's the perfect shade with enough gold and that pinch of orange tone to give a rich copper colour. As I have blue eyes, its the one eye shadow I put on that truly makes my eyes pop! The shadow itself is very soft, intensely pigmented and blends well, I couldn't fault it.

Maybelline's colour drama 'Berry much' lip pencil
Maybelline's colour drama lip pencil in 'Berry Much'

Berry, burgundy or purple lip colours are my favourite to wear when the autumn months arrive. I love pairing them with warmer toned eyes and bronzed, glowing cheekbones. This berry lip product in particular was one I used to be obsessed with and took it out for a few uses these past few weeks. I can see why I fell in love with it, the consistency is creamy, pigmentation strong and colour a stunning purple toned berry. Even though in a pencil form, application is still soft and doesn't tug on the lips.

Bath bombs

With the consistent cold weather, I've found nothing better than a bubbly Lush bath to warm and relax me after a day at work. I've been using a mix of my favourite bath bombs from Lush cosmetics and Zoella Bath Latte to create an endless amount of sweetly scented bubbles.

Tartan scarves

Autumn is my favourite season for fashion. I love layering up, the colours on trend and tartan scarves, it's certainly my cup of tea. I'm a tartan scarf hoarder, I constantly buy them whenever I see a new one in the shop; my favourite being the blanket style scarves you can purchase in Primark. They're thick, cosy and totally inexpensive, the best way to stay in budget and look stylish this winter. Out of all the scarves I have, the one I've been wearing the most is a tartan print with burnt orange, khaki, white and blue tones running through it, something a bit different to your typical red and green ones.

Adventures 

Visiting new places and having different experiences are my favourite activity to delve into. I'm lucky this past month to have flown to Athens on my own, went on a few London ventures to see Fifth Harmony and Harry Potter World plus the random, fun-filled moments with my best friends. I feel so bless everyday to do such sensational things and be surrounded by a group of loving people.

I hope you enjoyed my October favourites. What products have you been loving this month?

Thank you for reading <3



The three musketeers' London adventures ❤️

 Well hello to you my reader chums! 

London, the centre of England's hustle and bustle is one of my favourite locations to visit. Whether it's for a theatre trip, shopping day out or spot of sight seeing, there's nothing more thrilling than being in the depth of the city's excitement.

The weekend just gone, my best friends and I headed down to see some of their family members, joining in the adventure fun! From Oxford Street, the River Thames to St Paul's Cathedral, we spent the weekend having a ball, witnessing some of London's best sights.

Three musketeers London adventures
Me, Danielle and Chloe

Trafalgar Square London

Being the inner kids we are, when vising Trafalgar Square, we climbed onto the statue where the famous lions stood and posed for a picture!

Trafalgar Square London
Me and Danielle

Oxford Street London

Blue skies and spaced out fluffy clouds filled the air as we passed through Oxford Street. The shops, blaring with the latest tunes and festive vibes throughout brought all the excitement, ready for the heart-warming season.

Oxford Street London

We had a browse round a few shops on Oxford Street and went to dinner that evening in Frankie and Bennies (one of my favourite places), chatting along with a glass of wine.

Oxford Street London
Me and Chloe

Carousel rides at Embankment

After dinner, we headed to Embankment, letting our inner child out on the carousel and taking a walk along the River Thames. London looks even more striking at night with the glistening lights bouncing off the river waves. Big Ben stood out, shining over the surrounding buildings. Its incredible to witness the city's change in atmosphere from day to night as a wave of calm overtakes the usual ongoing loudness.

River Thames at night
River Thames and Big Ben

River Thames at night
Chloe, Danielle and I by the River Thames

Oxford Street London

The next day was packed with even more sightseeing, crepes and shopping! Sunday Funday definitely fulfilled its title with a whole load of laughs, great company and a stunning city.

St Pauls Cathedral
St Pauls Cathedral

I'm lucky to say I only live a few hours away from the city of London, a place a few years ago terrified me because of the packed tubes, crowds and loud noise, yet now has become a location I'm excited to see over again. The array of shops, fine dining and hecticness it brings, fills my heart with the rush it needs. Till next time London town - thank you for a grand few days with my best friends!

I hope you enjoyed this London insight. What's your favourite part of the city?

Thank you for reading <3