Wednesday, 26 August 2015

On Top Of Europe. The View From The Shard London.

The Shard London

The weather has been so horrible in London lately, but rain and cold have not stopped me from exploring the vibrant city. My recent discovery brought me to The Shard* where I had an incredible time sightseeing together with my friend Serene.

If you wouldn’t know that The Shard is London’s latest addition, you would assume it has always been a part of the magnificent city skyline. The impressive building with its shiny, flawless glass front blends in so smoothly into the capital’s history that you wouldn’t believe that it has only been at London Bridge since 2012. In fact, the view from The Shard is one of the most memorable and enjoyable experience I’ve ever had and I’m going to tell you why.

The View From The Shard: A Different Tourist Experience


I was invited by Talented Talkers to pick a London attraction for review. The digital agency looks after Avios, a website that helps customers to turn their everyday spending such as on groceries, petrol or wine into travel rewards thanks to their attractive loyalty point system. 

Instead of using collected points for products, Avios offer the chance to experience London attractions such as the Zoo, Madame Tussauds, London Dungeon, the Aquarium or the Eye. During my 15 year relationship with London, I’ve visited all of these attractions several times, so when I spotted The View From The Shard on the list too, my decision was made very quickly.

The View From The Shard

On Monday, I made my way over to London Bridge where I met Serene. Finding the entrance to The Shard was super easy, as it is located directly by the exit of London Bridge station. The moment we stepped in, it became apparent that The Shard is different to any other London attraction and high-end experience. 

The entrance welcomed us with a sleek and stylish design but didn’t lose its touristy touch. There are ticket queues, a shop bursting with overpriced merchandise and a photographer who will shot a picture for your souvenir collection at home. You’ll be given an audio guide shortly after a security check similar to airport procedures. 

The entrance to the shard
The elevator at The Shard

The Shard is not a typical family attraction which isn’t a surprise given the fact tickets start from £25 onwards. The ticket prices gave me stomach aches but looking back once you’ve experienced the attraction, you can totally get why. 

Everything is very classy and of high quality to give a stylish experience to the visitor. The exclusive atmosphere is not designed for children but for the sophisticated adult that appreciates sightseeing in style. The staff is friendly and discrete, the place is polished and the elevator runs so smoothly, you don’t even recognise how fast it takes you up to the top. 

Infographic The Shard London

On Top Of Europe: The Shard in London, Level 68


We went shortly after lunch so the place was less crowded and busy. The lift which played classical music in the background and amazed us with a changing ceiling took us first to the 33rd level – the same height as Sky Garden. The trip didn’t end here and we took a second lift to level 68. 

When we stepped onto the first viewing platform, the wow-effect was less exciting in comparison to Sky Garden. The space to move around at The Shard is due to its angular shape awkward and tight. It felt less airy but we could fully appreciate the view, as there are no fancy architectural constructions limiting the view.

In fact, the sight had something very calming and relaxing. It was peaceful and tranquil up there with busy life going by down in the streets but this time without the noise of sirens and car engines. Even though it was raining, London looked stunning. Because we were so high up in the sky, we could see clouds creating the most dramatic effects. 

panorama The Shard london
Please click on the picture to enlarge the panorama.
Canary Wharf from The Shard
The Streets of London from The Shard
The South View. The Shard London
View From The Shard.
  
When we weren’t mesmerised by the view, Serene and I listened to the audio guide which we were given. The interactive guide provided additional information to the building and a detailed map of the view and sights to see. Additionally, there are interactive telescopes on the platform to spot famous landmarks and to provide entertainment and engagement with the view. 

audio guide the shard
audio guide the shard london
telescope at the shard
the viewing platform the shard

On Top Of Europe: The Shard in London, Level 72


But you can go even further! A few steps would take us to level 72 and we were literally in the sky. The proverb 'on top of the world' gets an entirely new meaning once you've reached The Shard’s top level, which is open plan. Occasionally raindrops would drizzle down on my skin, I could feel the summer wind and nearly touched planes heading east to land at the city airport. It was an incredible atmosphere up there and there’s also the chance to enjoy a Fortnum & Mason afternoon tea. Something to consider for next time.

panorama level 72 the shard
Please click on the image to enlarge the view from the shard.
Bloggers go The Shard. Review
The Shard Top Floor
The Top Floor of the shard london

My Final Thoughts On My Visit To The Shard in London


I always thought the free view from Sky Garden would be enough, but the view from The Shard is exceptional. Though I still have mixed feelings regarding the ticket price, I would recommend the attraction. Unlike the assumption it would be like Sky Garden, where after the initial excitement has flattened down you’d like to go back downstairs to Fenchurch Street, The Shard is an attraction that makes sure that the visitor takes the most out of the experience. Overall we spent 1 ½ h up there in the sky on top of Europe’s highest platform and I’m more than excited to come back one day. 

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time,
Carolin
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Monday, 17 August 2015

Life Lately In London 1

London Attractions

This month I'm in London as I'm considering moving back here permanently. It's kind of a trial and testing period really and between applying for zillions of jobs, I had the most amazing time in the capital lately. Here's what I've been up to.

My Visit To The Ice Bar London In Heddon Street


Having heard fantastic stories of the ice hotel in Sweden and being completely excited by the chance of seeing a similar attraction in London, I invited my friend Izas to come along. We went to Heddon Street after lunch and I was so happy she joined me for the ice bar experience. I've seen and read a lot about it and Alex wasn't really up for it so you can imagine how excited I was to bring Izas along. 

It's hard to describe the ice bar, as it is more an experience rather than an ordinary cocktail bar. You'll have to book tickets in advance and I would advise you to do so online, as there's a discount on the tickets. I paid £13.50 including one drink per person for a 40-minute session which is ok. It feels a bit 'weird' to pay for entrance to a bar after all but I've never been to a place made out of ice before, so my curiosity and expectations were high.

Before we walked into the bar we were given some fancy capes to keep us warm from the cold temperatures. The bar itself is a small room with the walls made of ice and some sculptures. The counter is made of ice, so are the glasses and there's a little seating area. The ice is imported from Sweden and it feels like glass rather than frozen water. When touching the sculptures, there was no melting of the ice and it was a surreal experience. 

A completely different story with the glasses that hold our drinks. The ice melted in seconds and you had to keep your gloves on, otherwise, drinking was impossible. The time flew by and overall the stay of 40 minutes was a good amount of time. The bar is quite small and after you've taken your pictures and the initial excitement has flattened down, there's not much you can do there. Overall we've enjoyed our time but personally, I would only go again if a bigger group of friends would join me for another time. 

Magnum Store in Covent Garden


Do you remember my Instagram post from a while ago? Since I upgraded to an iPhone 6 and discovered Whitegram, my account has improved so much. I'm still not 100% addicted to IG but with all the recent improvements and massive follower increase, I've also taken part in a competition held by Magnum. As you know, the brand has currently a pop-up store in Covent Garden

There's also a promotion accompanying the experience. Magnum has teamed up with fashion designer Holly Fulton who created a very special piece of jewellery. The ice cream shaped necklace allows the wearer to enjoy unlimited ice cream at the pleasure store. This is a very limited edition piece and hard to get as Magnum was only given these away to a handful of big bloggers and in rare competitions on IG.

Well, to cut a long story short, I WON A NECKLACE in one of their IG comps! The necklace is not only a stunning fashion item, but it is also the 'key' to 'unlock' the store which means I can have free ice cream until it closes at the end of the month. Be prepared for some more ice cream pictures on IG.  

A Visit To Sky Gardens in Fenchurch Street


I booked us tickets to visit Sky Garden and I was so happy to return. It was a wonderful sunny day and we went shortly after lunch, so the venue was less busy than on my first visit. We took pictures and enjoyed the scenery. It is a wonderful place to hang out and you simply can't beat a stunning view over London when it comes for free.  Keep your eyes open for an upcoming Sky Garden fashion post.

Fly With The Emirates Air Line Cable Car In East London


On Izas' last day, a flight with the cable car was on the agenda and we made our way over to Royal Victoria in East London. The cable car is quite an impressive experience and it connects the ExCel to the Greenwich peninsula. From up there you have an incredible view over East London including Stratford, the City Airport, the Flood Barriers, Greenwich and of course the O2 and Canary Wharf. The fact that you can use your Oyster, get a discount and don't have to queue for extra tickets is a big plus. However, there's a ticket office and the staff might try to talk you into one of their expensive deals (tourist trap alert!).

The staff wanted to charge me £8.40 for a return when two singles came £6.30 which was displayed on a massive price list next to the ticket office. I've just checked online and the fares haven't even been updated. I asked the ticket guy why he wanted me to charge more when the two singles were obviously cheaper. You should have seen his face, I don't think he expected that. He let us pass through the Oyster ticket barrier and Izas and I had a good laugh.

The flight itself made me feel uncomfortable. I'm usually not scared of heights but in the cable car, I felt massively insecure. The car was rocking and I simply couldn't enjoy the flight over the Thames nor the amazing view over the O2 and Canary Wharf. Cable cars are definitely not my thing.  

Thanks so much for reading, there are definitely more London adventures coming!

Till next time,
Carolin
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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Summer In Germany. And What It Means To Me.

sunflower field

It is the middle of summer and I keep seeing fashion bloggers posting autumn outfits over on Twitter. No, no, no! That is sooo wrong. I know the UK tends to be rainy and colder than central Europe but I will not accept autumn fashion posts in summer. It is July and some of my British friends even told me the other day, that they’ve lit their fireplaces! Unbelievable when you're boiling in 35 degrees! Time for me to get involved and to hopefully warm up everyone with today’s post and bring back summer (virtually).

My parents' house in Germany is located in the south of Berlin, Lusatia, which is one of the driest regions of the country. I’m used to long and hot summers with degrees of up to 37. The evenings are long, there are barbecues nearly every day and to cool you down you cycle to the nearby swimming pool, beach or lake. Usually, all I wear is my natural tan, some shorts or light blouse and my bikini - even if I pop quickly into town. The air is far too hot to wear anything heavy or thick, so light summer clothing it is. Ice cream in my hand is also a part of the picture.

Summer starts in Germany at the end of April. The last week is usually really warm and sunny. Throughout May, the weather stays dry and warm. June can be a mixture of dull but humid weather and July and August are scorching hot. There’s no need really to book a holiday to Spain during these months. There’s nothing more relaxing and enjoyable when you feel the warm wind on your skin, listen to the soft whisper of wheat fields when a summer breeze rushes through and the hot sunshine. I tell you, this is something I’ve been missing for the last two years living in the UK. A proper summer with the certainty the sun will come back the next day for the following six weeks in a row. 

sunflower fields in Germany
sunflowers in Germany

For nearly two years I haven’t seen any sunflowers either. As they belong to my summer cliche, I packed my camera and iPhone into my car the other day. It was another lovely warm evening. I took my CD with my summer hits* and drove off for a little photography safari (Yes I’m the kind of person who puts the window down, has loud music on and occasionally sticks one arm out just for the sake of it and to feel alive).

Sunflowers are an agricultural crop in my region so there are entire fields of the yellow plant spread across the region. The sight of a blossoming sunflower field is an indescribable experience so I first stopped outside our village where there are usually hundreds of them. The field looked rather dreadful with some flowers having hanging heads and they were not closely planted. It was hard to find a sunflower that looked fresh. I spent a while taking pictures and when I realised this was getting nowhere, I moved on. After a fifteen-minute drive around our countryside, I saw a bright yellow spot in the distance and knew I had to go there. 

Cause your beauty burns through the darkness, crystal and clear, from here to eternity. 
Paul Van Dyk - Eternity

sunflower field
fox in nature
millions of sunflowers
sunflower field near forest
sunflower field close up
sunflower field in Germany spreewald

It was exactly what I was looking for. A wonderful field of strong and fresh sunflowers. It was away from the main road and I had to go along a bumpy field road but there it was in its glory! The evening was fantastic. Still very warm, so peaceful and very quiet. All you could hear was the sound of nature - buzzing bees, chirping crickets, summer breezes rushing softly through the fields. I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot and even spotted a little fox shortly before he vanished into the sweetcorn field.

snflower close up with bee
summer in germany
beautiful sunflower field endless
sunflower field in bloom Germany

I’m not a flower girl as I feel flowers are pointless and make a lot of work, but it is different with sunflowers. Though they are a crop planted with a purpose, their bright colours spread instant happiness and positive energies. They look pretty, they give us healthy seeds to eat and oil for our cars.  Sunflowers are the ultimate sign of summer and I love their simplicity and versatility.

After a while, in the evening sunshine and a little run away from the boar (they came out of the field and I didn’t see them first!), I drove home with some fantastic pictures which you have seen in this post. I hope I was able to bring some sunshine back on your screen and you’ve enjoyed reading today’s post. What does summer mean to you?

Till next time, 
Carolin

* Just in case you wondered what I listen to in my car, my CD features e.g. DJ Sammy- Boys of Summer, Loona – Mamboleo, Edward Maya – Stereo Love, Oceana – Endless Summer, The Love Committee – Music Is The Key, Nalin & Kane – Beach Ball.
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