Friday, 7 December 2012

A little taste of Vietnam...

Phu Quoc Island - Mai House Resort

Southern and Central Vietnam

After 24 hours in transit Phu Quoc Island came into view. A bungalow resort on the beach, exotic fruit buffet for breakfast, the wind in our hair as we whizzed around on a moped; an ideal start to the trip.

But four precious days of the total twenty-four had melted away already: it was time get stuck into the mainland.

We set off for the ferry with just one flimsy receipt to show for the next three days of our journey, about to experience the confusing phenomenon of Vietnamese organisation; so seemingly haphazard that you constantly expect the worst, yet they always pull it off.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

London's Olympic flavour: Brazil and France


Carnival of colour. Source
If you can’t make it all the way over to Rio, the next biggest street festival is held right here in London. Notting Hill Carnival is big, bold and bursting with colour, just like its South American big brother. This year organisers expect to see record numbers in attendance in that crucial period between the Olympics and Paralympics.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Translating professionalism

Not long before I was due to fly out to Spain to begin an internship at an English language newspaper based on the Costa del Sol, a terrifying thought suddenly struck me; how on earth do you dress professionally in a hot climate? I took myself post-haste to the ‘office’ section of Primark in the hope of creating a respectable ensemble or two that would not leave me dripping with sweat. This was unnecessary for two reasons: Firstly, I seemed to have forgotten that Spain is in fact part of the developed world and was likely to have discovered air conditioning, and secondly, this was the first of many times that my British take on professional etiquette would be entirely out of sync with that of our fiesta-going Mediterranean amigos...

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

On yer bike: Cologne

Cologne, Germany’s fourth most populous city, is particularly attractive to the budget-aware visitor as the centre can be explored on foot and the whole city is easily accessible by bike. An extensive network of cycle paths and an all-round bike-friendly mentality mean that this really is an enjoyable place to cycle. I have always felt far too unsecure to cycle on the roads in the UK, but in Cologne I found myself happily whizzing from one place to another feeling like superwoman on two wheels. Actually, make that environmentally-friendly-Superwoman on two wheels.

Happy punters on our cycle around Cologne!

So, if you feel like going green and saving on public transport costs while you're at it, get on yer bike. It may be a case of beg, borrow or steal (although that last option is not advised - you probably won't be able to out-cycle the Polizei...), or there are various hire options available including Cologne's answer to the Boris Bike: Callabike. These silver bicycles with the red DB logo emblazoned on them are dotted around the city, and if you register online ( then you can enter your unique customer code into any of their bikes to use it straight away. There is a charge per minute (€0.08), but you will not be charged more than €15 in a 24-hour period. If you are intending on staying in the city for a while then you could always do as the locals do and head to one of the many flea markets (Flohmarkt) to bag yourself a bargain bike. I picked one up for €40 at the Kölner Stadt Flohmarkt just off Universitätstraβe (every Saturday).

Anyway, once you have got your hands on a bike one way or another, read on for a few places well worth a visit if you want to see the best of the city without spending a fortune...

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Top Ten Cologne - Food for every occasion!

Cologne is an extremely diverse city, which is reflected in its vast array of food outlets. Whether you fancy traditional or exotic, a quick nibble or a gourmet experience, Cologne's culinary establishments cater to your every whim. I have put together a list of some of my favourite places, all of which satisfy slightly different needs.

Breakfast time

A typical German breakfast will always involve mountains of fresh brötchen (bread rolls), cheese and cold meats. As tasty as these can be, I often found myself yearning for the cereal-based brekkie I normally had back home. Then one day my boyfriend told me he had a surprise for me. We went out, stomachs rumbling as I had been told I could not have breakfast first, and he lead me to Brüsseler Straβe to the cutest little muesli cafe, aptly named 'Yummy!'

Perfect breakfast

A pick 'n' mix style display filled with every type of cereal you could imagine, along with dried fruits and chocolate coated  nibbles, lies to the left of the counter. You take a bowl, help yourself to as much as you want, and then order milk, yoghurt or fresh fruit to go with it. Be warned though, the price is according to the weight, so don't go too crazy! An impressive selection of chai latte flavours is the final detail that confirms this cafe as one of my favourites in Cologne, and even my meat-and-cheese-obsessed boyfriend enjoyed his breakfast.