Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Latest Blogger Events in London

Blogger Events London 2017

With Halloween and Christmas just around the corner, Q4 is one of the busiest seasons events-wise. London has never seen so many blogger events popping up: from private Halloween screenings to Christmas-themed parties, I had the pleasure to work and deliver two very fun and interesting events lately.

London Events: Mira Celebrates Special Moments at Six Storeys

Mira is a luxury brand of bath and shower equipment – think shiny stainless steel showerheads and sleek glass shower screens. With the colder season approaching, we wanted to show bloggers and press how to enhance their everyday routine and integrate a much needed pampering Me Time to relax and unwind after work.

I’ve started working on the project back in April with a first draft of the idea, including some data-led research and five suitable venues that fit the client brief. However, after the research was presented, I never heard back if the idea was going to be realised and the project was suddenly put on hold. It wasn’t until later in the year, when the project came back slightly tweaked onto my desk and I was given a six-week turn-around to deliver the idea.

Mira Showers Blogger Event London

Thursday, 14 September 2017

David Clulow Style Event

ClulowStyle event

When I got back from my last holiday in July, I had four events projects waiting for me in my inbox. Hence why blogging had to take a bit of a backseat these past few weeks but I'm excited to share the latest event with you that I've organised and delivered for David Clulow. 

David Clulow is a luxurious optician with branches all over London. They are specialists in eye care, offering comprehensive eye tests and selling mostly frames by high-end labels such as Ray-Ban, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. 80% of medical eye conditions can be detected by regular checks, so it is vital to have your eyes tested every two years. It was, therefore, a core theme at the event to raise awareness for precautionary eye care and to introduce the stylish brand to influencer. 

Planning And Organising A Luxurious Fashion Event For David Clulow At Southplace Hotel In London

david clulow fashion event 
goodie bags at david clulow event


Friday, 14 July 2017

Exploring Brussels In A Day

brussels day trip travelling in europe

City breaks have never been as popular as they are now. Our world is so well connected these days that it is easy to get on a train after work on a Friday and just leave for the weekend. Come back on a Sunday relaxed and with a bag full of lasting memories. The little escape usually takes no more than three days and is a welcome break from the mundane routine of a 9-5pm workweek. 

Having been on a city break to Amsterdam and Paris this year already, I was keen to explore another European capital and tick off my travel list. I always wanted to go to Brussels as I've never really visited Belgium properly. 

One of my colleagues visited the city not so long ago and said that you could easily view the sights within a day. Perfect, as there was no need in booking accommodation for the trip: wake up in the morning in my bed in London, spend the day in another country and fall back asleep at home in the UK - simple!

Said and done - I booked myself a ticket mid-week and ventured on a day trip to Brussels.  

Eurostar London To Brussels: When Is It The Best Time To Book Tickets?

Luckily the fastest way to get to Brussels is by the Eurostar high-speed train which takes you over to Europe in no time. I already enjoyed their comfortable way of travelling earlier this year and going to Brussels seemed the ideal occasion for my city adventure. 

I have to warn you, the Eurostar is pricey and not for the spontaneous who like to travel on short notice. Deals are rare, sometimes at the most random times and my colleague told me, she got a £40 return ticket in the first quarter of the year. The best opportunity is, therefore, to book far in advance.  

For Brussels, I selected the time frame of three months in advance. Thanks to the neat and organised website which provided me with a weekly overview of options and prices available, I was able to check and compare different times and days. 

I then opted for the cheapest fare available which fell on a Tuesday in July. In total, I paid £60 return which was the lowest fare for the month of July. Weekdays are generally cheaper than Friday's after work. The weekends are ridiculous, no matter how far you check in advance and don't get me started on the prices in December for a Bruges trip!

Enough moaning, I decided for a Tuesday mid-week, booked off the day and couldn't have been more excited. The Monday of said week went quickly and it was an early bedtime for me as I got up at 4:40 am the next day to catch the train at ridiculous o'clock (8 am) from St Pancras International. 

The Eurostar has different fleets and this one came with a modern and clean design. The seats were spacious and super comfortable with generous legroom and a plug to charge my phone. The high-speed train can reach up to 330km per hour and it ran so smoothly that I fell asleep on the spot and woke up 2h later in Brussels. 

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Balenciaga's Shaping Fashion Exhibition

Balenciaga Shaping Fashion exhibition in London review

After Burberry's Henry Moore Exhibition at Makers House and Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty, a new fashion exhibition has made it to London town: Cristobal Balenciaga's Shaping Fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum is an absolute must! 

Shaping Fashion marks the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga's first fashion house in San Sebastian and the 80th anniversary of his famous second one in Paris. With a focus on the designer's most creative period, the 1950's and 60s, the exhibition opened officially a few weeks ago in May and will run until February 2018.

Shaping Fashion Exhibition At The V&A In London

Shaping Fashion is the first-ever UK exhibition showcasing Balenciaga's work and highlighting his influence on today's fashion industry, e.g. designs by Hussein Chalayan are on display, too. The reason to put emphasis on a later stage in Balenciaga's career was mainly as he produced a significant amount of bespoke designs for high-end clients. It was also the time in which Cristobal introduced iconic shapes to the fashion world that we can't live without today, such as the baby doll shape, the tunic, the shift dress and the sack.

Shaping Fashion exhibition at the V and A

Balenciaga Shaping Fashion: The Structure Of The Fashion Exhibition

Shaping Fashion is hosted at the V&A's specifically designed temporary space right in the middle of the lower ground floor. The round, two-tiered space has been used for the Undressed - Underwear Exhibition before and particularly stands out through its narrow aisles and many glass displays. 

This might not work for everyone at first sight, as visitors love to see fashion without the glass barrier. However, this time, the exhibits have been curated in a way to engage the visitor and draw them fully into their world. 

On display are more than 200 pieces including 20 hats which have never been shown publicly before. They are accompanied by archive sketches, patterns, photography, runway footage, samples and two interactive sections in which visitors can try on a Balenciaga cape and get their hands on crafting a one-seam coat in paper form to take home.

Whilst the lower floor explores Balenciaga's craftsmanship, his workrooms and the experience of being a client, the upper floor showcases contemporary designs which have been influenced by the iconic designer's style. Later generations of fashion designers sharing the same values as Balenciaga, have taken inspiration from his styles and impacted today's fashion industry with a more eccentric approach.

Balenciaga fashion exhibition london
shaping fashion balenciaga dresses

Balenciaga Shaping Fashion: History & Exhibits Of Balenciaga's Most Productive Years

At first, I wasn't too happy to see the exhibition hosted in the narrow gallery as it didn't work well for the Undressed exhibition - especially for popular exhibitions, the display space is way too uncomfortable as it overcrowds very quickly and you can't spend too long admiring the pieces as there's a constant visitor stream flowing in. Be prepared for some disappointment if you've booked yourself a time slot for after work or the weekend.

I had a ticket for a Friday late afternoon and was lucky as the exhibition was well visited but not super busy as in you've-got-pushed-through-all-the-way. 

The exhibition is classically curated - pieces are displayed behind glass and there are labels to read. Not very interesting and engaging, however, I had a bit of time to have a proper look at the pieces and read a few labels. Before I walked into Shaping Fashion, my knowledge of Balenciaga was reduced to the fact that Kristen Stewart used to model for the luxury brand. 

Though the exhibition is structured in a classic way of display and read, I took a lot of information away. Did you know, the luxury label has a sister brand called Eisa in Spain which is much more affordable?

balenciaga designs displayed at fashion exhibition london
balenciaga dress sketches exhibition
exhibits at balenciaga shaping fashion exhibition london

A woman has no need to be perfect or even beautiful to wear my dresses. The dress will do that for her. - C. Balenciaga

Balenciaga Produced Wearable Fashion For The Modern Woman

Throughout the exhibition, it became obvious, that Cristobal was a highly-skilled designer, who was an absolute expert in his field. Not only was he a master in designing and crafting, but in the actual dressmaking process itself. 

He was a firm believer that "it's the fabric that decides" which reflects pretty much his approach to his work. Balenciaga used to source and choose materials first and would then work his sketches and designs around it. This approach was very fascinating, as it is usually practised the other way round and it just further underlined Balenciaga's passion for the trade of creating and dressmaking, rather than designing.

His passion came through in every exhibit. The majority of dresses came in every colour possible. The shades were mainly in their purest form with barely any hybrid or pastel colours used. Cristobal was obsessed with sleeves and would work on those until pure perfection was achieved. 

Whilst admiring the beautiful dresses, it became apparent that Balenciaga created wearable fashion for strong, independent women. Barely any design was massively over the top, which usually happens when designers approach fashion as an art form such as the destructive work by McQueen.

Cristobal experimented with fabrics and used embellishments, volants as well as pleat and oversized materials to create architectural pieces. All of his styles are minimalistic and look at first sight simple and basic. However, the V&A used innovative X-ray technology to prove the myth that Balenciaga did use sophisticated structures inside his designs to make them work. 

The designer has worked with dress weights strategically to determine the exact hang of a skirt in one of his minimal creations and boning in bodices dispelling the myth that he didn't use these structures. The forensic approach looking at the hidden details was captured by X-ray artist Nick Veasey and prints are available from the museum's shop at £50 each.

x-ray technology in fashion balenciaga exhibition london

Cristobal Balenciaga, the father of contemporary fashion, is dead, but his influence remains. - Women's Wear Daily, 1972

The second floor boasts with contemporary designs which have been inspired by Balenciaga's work and values. Amongst the exhibits are many eccentric pieces which celebrate fashion as art. My favourite pieces were a white gown with subtle flowery elements and a pink cape and hat combo.

contemporary fashion influenced by Balenciaga
designs influenced by balenciaga shaping fashion
balenciaga exhibit shaping fashion london
fashion exhibition london balenciaga influence
Balenciaga influence on contemporary fashion

Balenciaga Shaping Fashion: Is It Worth Going To See The Exhibition?

I spent 1 1/2 walking around admiring the pieces. I found it less engaging and wowing than the Savage Beauty exhibition, but that's partly because the space was different and many pieces by Alexander McQueen weren't kept behind glass. I would advise you to book a time slot for a quieter time in the day as it gets crowded in the narrow aisles leading around the exhibition. 

The upstairs space is a bit more spacious allowing the exhibits to get "room" to fully develop their effect for the visitor to appreciate. The exhibits on display are magnificent and manifold in so many ways and tell a story of their own. You can literally feel Balenciaga's passion for the craft and industry and take away some inspiration for yourself. 

Tickets for the Shaping Fashion exhibition cost £12 and can be purchased via the museum's website.

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time, 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

My Trip To Paris

My Paris Holidays

I've recently had the chance to spent two weekends away from London sightseeing the beautiful capitals of Europe. I went on a holiday to Amsterdam and then my travels took me to Paris for the very first time. The trip was mainly to support my friend who participated in the Paris marathon and whilst he sweated and ran half-across the city, I went off by myself exploring.

A big part of this great holiday experience was the incredible weather, as I think Paris is not really "my" city. Similar to Amsterdam, Paris didn't wow me much at first sight. Even after a few days, I couldn't warm up to Paris and felt it was a bit bland and characterless - but this didn't stop me from exploring its streets filled with cafes, delicious cakes and its historic sights, bursting with culture and art.

1. The Prestigious Louvre Museum In Paris 

The art museum is impressive inside and out: arriving at the famous pyramid and stepping into a whole new art world was an exciting experience in itself. The collection is perfectly curated and I wandered around for 4.5h, admiring the treasures of the European art scene (and also fought with some ruthless tourists over the best spots). 

I saw the Mona Lisa, The French Revolution and the Venus de Milo and it didn't stop there. The museum's wide spaces are filled from bottom to ceiling with incredible pieces and the rooms are an artwork themselves which I would compare to equally rich in detail and presentation as the rooms at the Vatican Museum (less busy though!). The main attractions are very busy but the rest of the museum is wide-stretched and hence why very relaxed.

I was glad to have bought a 17 EUR (£15) fast-lane ticket in advance as my visit was worth every penny. Did you know that you can get free admission if you're under the age of 26 and are an EEA resident? Plus, under the pyramid is an atrium and the main visitor centre from which you can choose the direction you'd like to explore the treasures first. 

This area can also be reached from a second entrance, which is less busy than the common route via the pyramid. Try to access the museum through the shopping centre entrance on the Rue de Rivoli. The side entrance allows you to skip the long queues at the pyramid, plus shopping inspiration....you know ;)

tourists around the mona lisa louvre paris
treasure chest islamic exhibition louvre paris
painting and art at louvre paris
venus de milo louvre paris

2. The Sadness of Paris: Run Down Streets & Poverty

Unpopular opinion coming your way, but I found Paris scruffy. Unlike Rome, it is not picturesque at all and in some parts it reminded me heavily of London. Where there was once glamour and elegance, are now dirty streets with houses that lack interesting features. 

Street after street looked the same. You may find some of the enchanting glamour around the Champs-Élysées, but apart from that the French chic and elegance that so many people told me about, have seemed to be completely gone. Heavily neglected areas, police patrols and constant controls dominate the picture and still, you don't feel 100% secure. In Rome, you had streetsellers which were a bit annoying but in Paris, you see entire families living on the street - an intense and absolutely heartbreaking picture which occurs with consistency on the streets of Paris.

3. For Your Sweet Tooth: Eat Your Way Around Paris And Try French Pâtisserie & Cakes

Paris won me over with its diverse and extensive variety of cakes - it is a paradise! There's a pâtisserie waiting for you at every corner with delicious cakes, colourful macaroons,  fancy profiteroles and fluffy pastries. Top addresses for exquisite Parisian treats are Café Angelina and Café Pouchkine. 

Both serve top-notch quality delights and Café Angelina has the most indulgent hot chocolate I've ever tasted - thick and creamy, with a rich but not overpowering chocolatey taste and a smooth milky finish. The average price for the cakes are 10 EUR but there's enough to share and the quality is out of this world.

I had a chocolatey treat with a heavenly filling which was handcrafted and presented stunningly.  Café Pouchkine can be found with a few branches all over the city and they serve gorgeous cakes. Did I share? Erm...I don't think so :)

Angelina cafe cake in Paris
Cafe Pouchkine Paris cakes

4. Food In Paris Is Pricey...

Whilst the food prices in European capitals seem to be similar, the quality of food varies tremendously. 25 EUR on average per person seems to be common. Whilst I treated myself to a 23 EUR dinner at a Michelin-guided restaurant in Amsterdam, for the same price I got an average and small pasta meal in Rome. 

Wherever you go in Paris however, you get really nice and tasty food from an international food scene. There are Italian restaurants, street food, French cuisine, the usual fast food establishments but more importantly small cafés and hidden-away restaurants serving quality food. I was surprised how diverse and manifold the food scene was and you don't have to worry to be starving in Paris. There's literally food for everyone, which leads me to my next point:

5. ... But Parisian Casual Dining Is Phenomenal 

I found two little gems in Paris for my favourite food: Burger Joint near the Centre Pompidou is a very small place that serves goats cheeseburgers. The combination of the dominant goat's cheese and the sweet savoury taste of a medium-rare cooked beef medallion was heavenly. The prices are very moderate as you can get a massive burger with fries and a drink for 12EUR (£9). 

Next on the list is Pizzeria Popolare on the

Restaurant Popolare Paris

6. Walking Around Paris Feels Like A Marathon

Paris is spacious and there seems to be no clear structure. The sights are wide-spread in all directions, some are in random places like the Eiffel Tower, so you should be prepared for very long walking distances. I made it to an impressive 75 miles over a 5 day period on top of my Amsterdam mileage. After a while, you're just knackered so you decide to use the tube system which is...

Paris view from the louvre

7. Pure Chaos: The Parisian Tube System

..... extremely confusing and chaotic. The map is all over the place and I felt lost a few times. To me, the lines made no sense and it took me a good while to figure out where everything was and where to go. 

I heard a lot of people raving about the incredible art nouveau style of the Parisian underground but I felt most of its charm and glamour had gone. The stations felt monotonous and uniform. There are long distances to walk when interchanging (similar to the Bank/Monument walk) and there are barely escalators to speed things up. 

A quick trip to the Eiffel Tower becomes then a ten stop journey, which is half of my daily commute in London and keep in mind you're still in zone 1 of Paris! The tickets are cheaper though. A single one-way fare came 1.45EUR which is not too bad given the fact it is valid for one hour after validation. 

8. Cause Your Beauty Burns Through The Darkness: The Eiffel Tower At Night

The highlight of the trip was seeing the Eiffel Tower at Night. The building is alright in the daytime, but it becomes impressive as soon as it gets dark and all the lights come on. When I went to see it, it was a warm (summer) night with no breeze but a clear sky and the moon to its fullest. Some stars shone brightly and the view from the Seine was spectacular. It was a great atmosphere standing there and just taking it all in. A beautiful moment and I can only imagine how stunning the Tower must look from afar. 

Eiffel Tower at night Paris

9. The Must-See-And-Explore Areas Of Paris: Cemeteries & Neighborhoods

My journey through the city brought me to different areas which showed me a diverse face of Paris. The north is worth exploring. My hotel wasn't too far away from the Moulin Rouge, so one day I walked past it and visited the Montmartre Cemetery. This is one of the big four cemeteries of Paris were famous physicians, composers and scientists rest in peace. 

It was a beautiful sunny day and exploring the grounds gave you a little chill down your spine. The cemetery is free to visit and wandering through the old mausoleums and crypts was a unique experience. The place itself is impressive and atmospheric. Whilst you wander around you'll find inscriptions or plates and learn more about the people who are buried here. If you have the chance please don't miss out on this unique and haunting experience.

Cimetière de Montmartre Paris
Cimetière de Montmartre North Cemetry Paris

Just a short 15 minute walk uphill to the north-west, you'll find the impressive Sacre Coeur church. The area with its narrow streets is filled with life: there are cute little cafés to sit down on the street and watch life go by. 

It is a bit touristy but it has flair as if you found one of the long-lost Parisian boroughs that still maintained their French vibe and character. There are street sellers, artists and handcrafts to purchase. You walk past little vineyards and chic French houses before you can walk up the many stairs of the church and appreciate the magnificent views of the city.

Another area that I liked, but is located in the touristy part of Paris is the area Les Halles. This is an area popular for shopping but very nice and full of life. The Rue Montorgueil is a food mile with lots of restaurants and unique little places which I can recommend strolling along. 

Near the station, Les Halles is the church La Pointe Saint Eustache which is equally as stunning as Notre Dame. There's also a big underground shopping centre hosting a Sephora and two of my recent discoveries, NafNaf and Oysho.  Only a little walk to the west you'll find the Centre Pompidou (stop at Burger Joint) and walk afterwards towards the south to pass Notre Dame. It is a very nice area, especially on a sunny day with an ice cream in your handmade for a treasuring memory.

Notre Dame Paris with cherry tree in blossom

That's pretty much my visit covered. I've seen lots, ate lots and walked it all off. As I've mentioned earlier I don't think Paris is "my" city but I wouldn't mind coming back. In fact, my friend will be running the marathon again next year so the trip is pretty much booked. Let's hope the weather then will be as equally stunning so I can climb up the Notre Dame and eat more ice cream strolling along the Seine. 

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time, 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Amsterdam Holidays

Amsterdam Holidays

After Copenhagen and Rome, Amsterdam was one of the top city break destinations in 2016 which sadly, I couldn't squeeze in, as I had taken up most of my annual leave. With the new year, visiting The Netherlands was top of my list and I couldn't have chosen a more perfect time at the end of March to see the beautiful city of Amsterdam. 

I jetted off after work and spend four days, including lots of sightseeing, walking along the canals and enjoying the magnificent weather. Amsterdam has definitely left me with a great impression which I'd like to share with you in today's post.   

My First Trip To Amsterdam & First Impressions

I have to confess whilst strolling around the canals on a gloomy morning on my very first day, Amsterdam didn't charm me much. I couldn't warm up to it nor "see" what others have told me I should. I barely noticed the narrow canals, appreciated the unique houses or paid attention to the little shops spread here now and there. I guess I was knackered from the workweek and a short night of sleep. 

Add in a one hour walk from the hotel into the city on an empty stomach and you get me. Luckily, my friend and travel companion Mille suggested to head straight to the Pancake Bakery in Prinsengracht and after a massive breakfast consisting of a crepe loaded with sweet William Pears, ice cream, whipped cream and a good splash of chocolate sauce, my world was restored and I gave the city a second chance - and suddenly Amsterdam's awesomeness slowly unfolded in front of my eyes.

1. Amsterdam Is A Treasure Trove For Food & Pancakes

One thing is for sure: Amsterdam is famous for its notorious coffee shops and the red light district, but the city has so much more to offer - and the food is one of the many beautiful things you should discover for yourself in Amsterdam. It is a breakfast heaven if you, like me, LOVE pancakes. Pancakes in every form, with every filling and topping you could imagine - and they also come in every price range. 

The Pancake Bakery (Prinsengracht) renowned for being the "best pancake place in town" doesn't disappoint. The Dutch version of a pancake is basically a French crepe that comes with a lot of toppings. I decided on an English themed pancake which came with William Pears, ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce at a hefty price of 15 EUR (£12). It was delicious and the fact I had ice cream and whipped cream before lunchtime was just so unreal (but soooooooooo good).

Luckily the density of pancake houses in Amsterdam works out on every two meters so for another day we breakfasted at Pancakes! which has three branches spread around town. I fell in love with their American pancakes which I ordered twice. My first time included maple syrup and whipped cream whilst on my second visit I had American pancakes with chocolate and coconut flakes. At a price of 9 EUR (£6.50), these were absolutely amazing and I would say the best breakfast deal in Amsterdam.

Pancakes Amsterdam chocolate with coconut flakes

Beautiful Little Cafes And Michelin Star Restaurants Along Amsterdam's Canals

It's not just breakfast, Amsterdam has beautiful little restaurants hidden away in the labyrinth of canals. One evening I discovered the Michelin-guided restaurant De Belhamel (Brouwersgracht) which served top-notch food on the night. 

I'm usually super picky with food and I would normally not touch any of the vegetables served, but the restaurant served high cuisine so I could rely on the high quality of the food and that it would taste great - and it was incredible! 

I had fresh homemade gnocchi, with vegetables, fresh mushrooms and roasted cherry tomatoes with a light basil pesto sauce. It was divine and at 23 EUR (£20) an amazing culinary experience. The intimate atmosphere and ambient of a 1920's salon further contributed to an unforgettable evening and I'll definitely return to Amsterdam JUST to have dinner at De Belhamel.

De Belhamel gnocchi with basil pesto

2. Amsterdam Comes With A Heavy Price Tag

I started drafting this post before I went to Paris and I thought Amsterdam was pricey. Especially the taxi journey from the airport burnt a hole in my wallet. I arrived late at night, was hungry and needed the bathroom so you can imagine I wasn't in the mood of working out a foreign language how to get to the station and then to the hotel (which was a bit outside of the centre and I didn't know the area). I went the way of least resistance and took a taxi. The 15-minute ride cost me 40 EUR (£35) which would equal one tank load for my car and cover me for 300 miles easily. At first, I thought this might be because it was an airport taxi, but even on the way back, it came to the same price. Not impressed but learned a lesson for the next time.

3. Let's Get Lost Part 1 : The Canals of Amsterdam

Once you look closer, the canals reveal unique features with an irresistible charm and character. You can easily get lost walking around for hours in the canals and over my entire stay, I made it to 70km (40 miles). There's so much to see and to discover. Every bridge is photogenic, the small streets are quiet and peaceful and the wharf houses are all built differently with unique features and details.

Amsterdam canal houses the musicians

4. Let's Get Lost Part 2 : The Shiphol Airport

The airport is massive, I would say it rivals Heathrow. Too big, too confusing and simply too massive. The entire structure is overwhelming, segregated into sections which are widespread and do not have the same stores, f.ex. if you fancied a Mc Donalds but where in section B, you would have to walk a good 20 minutes over to Terminal 2 into section D. The walk then from your section to the actual gate was equally as long and to be honest, I felt lost on several occasions. 

5. The Quiet & Neat Streets Of Amsterdam 

Amsterdam is less stressful than London. Due to the narrow canal streets, there's barely any traffic. It is a quiet and peaceful atmosphere with the occasional soft sound of swashing water. During my stay, I heard an ambulance and police car twice. The town is still packed with people but it is moderate and you don't get squished and squashed around. You can still walk into a restaurant without queuing endlessly or if you have to, it's not that long of a wait. Nothing really disturbs you, the canals are also regularly cleaned and as they are artificial and filled with fresh water the city doesn't smell at all.

Amsterdam bridge
Amsterdam boat trip

6. Even Amsterdam Has Tourist Traps

Any capital city has tourist traps and Amsterdam makes no exception. I was pretty disappointed by Amsterdam central station which looks impressive from the outside but inside there's not much, bar a few shops and it is rather small in comparison to other European cities. 

Next to mention is the Rijksmuseum which I found bland and boring. Apart from Rembrandt's Night Watch, there's not much you actually want to see. The entire collection stretches over two floors and though there are some cool pieces exhibited it's not worth the money of 17.50 EUR (£15). Instead, I can highly recommend paying the Museum for Handbags & Purses in the prestigious Herengracht a visit.

Rembrandts night watch at the rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum Library Amsterdam mini break

7. The Accessible & International City Of Amsterdam

The city is very easy to navigate around and even if you end up off the beaten tracks, you never get totally lost thanks to the regular structure and the three main Grachts of the city structure. The city has a cosmopolitan and international flair. The Dutch are all very friendly, bar their strange habit of staring, and speak fluent English and German so you can communicate easily. In general, I felt welcomed by the Dutch and they seem to be a pretty relaxed nation.

8. Bad Habit Of The Dutch: Staring

During the first two days, I noticed people tend to stare lots which made me a bit uncomfortable. My colleague mentioned later that staring is a "Dutch" thing and common.

Amsterdam Canal Houses at Night

9. Motorbikes Will Run You Over In Amsterdam's City Centre

Amsterdam is known for its rich cycling culture but there are equally as many motorbikes and scooters on the roads - and on the pavement! More than once I found a motorised bike cutting me off on the pavement and nearly running me over. It seems they can use cycling lanes too which is very strange to watch and to experience. 

10. Open Boat Tours Are Ideal To Explore Amsterdam's Canals

Most canal tours start in the area around the central station and last for around 1h, which I find is a bit short. There's so much to see when you're on the water streets and the experience should last just a bit longer. Some boats are roofed and offer afternoon tea or you can rent a boat at 15 EUR (£12) per person and have unlimited drinks for the tour. Mille and I opted for an open boat tour which lasted for 75 minutes. We had a very knowledgeable and funny tour guide, plus the weather was magnificent so we enjoyed the sun and got the most out of the canal tour experience.

Amsterdam canal tour
Amsterdam sun set
Please click on the image to enlarge the Amsterdam panorama

I had a wonderful first time in Amsterdam and I've seen a lot more than just the points mentioned. I visited the Anne Frank house, went shopping, relaxed in the Botanical Gardens and also enjoyed the most beautiful sunset ever over the roofs of Amsterdam. The city's lovely charm and character have convinced me to come back one day and I can't wait to do so and explore more of this versatile place. 

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time, 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Fitness First Blogger Event

Fitness First Blogger Event

With two city breaks and an exciting blogger event to organise in between, Q2 of 2017 started promising. This time I worked for Fitness First and organised an evening of spinning and athletics at their newly refurbished gym in Fenchurch Street.

Located very conveniently in the Aldgate area, the Fitness First gym in Fenchurch Street is easily accessible from Sky Garden or Tower Hill. The gym had recently had a total revamp and now has a classroom for body combat, a spinning box and an athletics track added to the usual workout facilities. To spread the word about the brand new additions, I invited eight fitness blogger along for an evening of spinning and athletics with a competitive twist. 

Fitness First Blogger Event At Fenchurch Street London

The evening started with a 20-minute spinning class and our Fitness First instructor Rachel made sure our bloggers got their heart rates up. After a short warm-up period, there was pumping club music, multi-coloured lighting, lots of sweat and motivation filling the room in no time. Rachel prepared a full-on action-packed choreography and soon the room burst with a high energy atmosphere.

This time I hired my friend Ben Kapur as my photographer for the night. He kindly shot the event and made sure no one had to worry about missing out on taking photos whilst working out. To be honest the lighting in the spinning room was challenging and Ben did a fantastic job in capturing everyone in great shots. I've shared my favourite pictures from the night including Clare preparing for the running session and Rachel motivating the bloggers during the spinning class. He even cheekily caught me in an unattentive moment!

Fitness First Fenchurch Spinning
Fitness First Event Fenchurch

Getting Our Bloggers Out Of Breath At The Fitness First Blogger Event

After the spinning, Rachel ran a 30-minute athletics class with the bloggers including a variety of exercises including running on the track and small functional training sessions. This time though, we spiced things up a bit with a competitive element. As a special treat, our top three performing bloggers would go home with a FitBit Charge Two to further support them in their fitness regime and workout. 

Around 8pm we finished the event with a post-workout salad and a chat which was great as I met some of the bloggers during my John Lewis MyWellbeing event back in February and it was a lovely occasion to catch up with everyone - especially as I don't have much time these days for blogging, I love that my job provides me with the opportunity to still engage with the community and contribute actively to it.

Fitness First Fenchurch Blogging Event

And of course, we did an obligatory group picture :) It was a lovely evening and I had a lot of fun being a part of the event and making it special for our bloggers. 

Thanks for reading, 

Till next time,

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Burberry x Henry Moore At Makers House

Burberry Exhibition London

For this year's London Fashion Week, Burberry impressed the industry with a very special treat. Like Louis Vuitton displayed its Series Three collection to the public for free in 2015 or the legendary Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition, the British Luxury label showcased its brand new collection in an arty display at the uber cosmopolitan Makers House in Soho. The fashion exhibition was open to the public for one week only and completely commission-free. 

In the midst of London's trendy Soho area, unnoticeable and blending perfectly into the surrounding brick, glass and edgy buildings, is Makers House - the key location for Burberry's Henry Moore Inspiration & Process exhibition. The warehouse with its stunning interior was perfect to celebrate the iconic style of Burberry which was inspired by the dynamic artwork of Moore. Its rough, industrial space underlined perfectly the composition of art and fashion, both arbitrary to each other but still so closely intertwined.

Burberry Teams Up With Henry Moore And Showcases Fashion At Makers House

I personally have never heard of Moore and a quick research revealed why Christopher Bailey chose to work with the Henry Moore Foundation on this special project. As a child, Bailey was inspired by the artist's sculptures which can be found around the world in parks and at the most random locations. It also happens that Burberry's trench coat production began in Castleford, Yorkshire, Moore's birth town. Bailey also mentioned that he felt inspired by Moore's work all of his life and wanted to incorporate the three-dimensional forms into the current collection.

The pieces were first shown on the LFW runway and afterwards made accessible to the general public. Even without models, the exhibition came very much to life. The first room was plastered with posters of Moore's work. 

The main room, an open-spaced airy atrium was filled with the latest pieces. In between the stunning exhibits, Moore's harmonic concave sculptures all dynamic, flowing and curvy to represent the human body added a sophisticated touch. It was very easy to see how the artwork has been influenced by the body and the collection focusing on body image and consciousness. The aesthetical perfection of his bronze sculptures was simply magnificent and sophisticated to the very last detail.

Henry Moore Burberry Exhibition

Capes & Opulent Designs Featured In The Latest Burberry Collection

The fashion exhibition then highlighted "The Cape" in 78 limited editions. All capes were elaborate versions, featuring any known material from seashells to wire, sequins and diamonds. Lace hugged generous volants, tassels and extravagant ruffles. Layers upon layers of fine linen teamed up with bows created chic and timeless styles. Shiny pearls, feathers and beads sparkled from every corner. There was literally so much to see! Each of these were handmade and are available to purchase on special order.

Burberry feather cape
burberry cape pearls and feathers
Burberry collection cape with pearls
Burberry cape close up
Burberry diamond cape
Burberry tassle cape
Burberry the cape exhibition

Clean Cuts & Sleek Designs To Represent Henry Moore's Influence On The Burberry Collection

Visitors were allowed to get close up with Burberry's latest outfits which included clear lines and cuts, lots of wool, linen and gorgeous handbags. Rows of mannequins presented the styles, giving a lively impression of what the actual show must have felt like - a proper throwback to the exclusive atmosphere at London Fashion Week to be experienced again. The entire exhibition was executed on a high professional level and I loved how engaged the audience was by the way the collection was designed and presented.

Burberry Makers House London
Burberry Moore collection London Makers House
Burberry Moore collection
Burberry sketches and materials

The second floor hosted more incredible artwork by Moore and also told the story of the clothes making for the collection. Both, fashion and artwork, were reflected from different angles and perspectives and gave fantastic insights into dressmaking and the general process from inspiration to processing the ideas into actual clothing. Again the dressmaking in combination with art conveyed the powerful message of fashion being an art form and recognised as an expression of such.

Burberry collection makers house
Inspiration and process burberry exhibition
Henry Moore sculpture

Though a luxury label, I welcome Burberry's approach. The brand which has in recent years underwent a drastic image change makes the right steps towards a more open approach: fashion is a consumer good that needs to be wearable and has a market value, but it is also an expression of oneself, a creative outlet and strong display of human craftsmanship. To produce fashion that is consumer-friendly but still of high quality and reminiscent of its arty nature in a stylish, classy way, is something that Burberry definitely have achieved.

Following the success of the collection at its first introduction during Fashion Week and the enormous interest, the exhibition will also travel to Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles.

Thanks so much for reading, 

Till next time, 
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