Gin time at Mr Fogg’s!

Gin Tucked up above Mr Fogg’s Tavern in central London, and hidden behind a secret door, sits Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour.


Ben and I headed there on a warm Friday evening prepared to sample as much gin as we could muster. We found ourselves in the right place, as Mr Fogg’s is home to 300 varieties of gin! (Well that was my drinks for the night sorted – I don’t know what Ben was expecting to drink!)


The parlour is decorated like Phileas Fogg’s front room; with trunks for tables, foliage, adventurer hats, tusks, and items that could have been collected anywhere in the world.

There was lots to look at, and the overall effect was homely, cute, and cosy.


Ben and I settled down on a chaise longue by the window, and were rewarded with our first drink in a chunky orb-shaped glass from a bartender dressed in a wenches costume.

It was Mr Fogg’s signature gin, which was Tanqueray and tonic, with ice and botanicals. The botanicals looked like floating potpourri  to me, but the gin experts said that they were specially selected botanicals to enhance the flavours of the gin.

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Gin bigger than his head

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In the ‘spirit’ of things

After our first gin, we were handed the ‘Encyclopaedia Gintonica’ listing all the gins kept in Mr Fogg’s cellar for us to choose from. Some of these were recognisable brands, such as Gordon’s and Henrick’s, and others were rare and preserved gins that cost £80 a glass!

Ben chose a gin called ‘Broken Heart’ from his homeland New Zealand, and I courageously opted for a ‘Warner Edwards’ coconut infused gin.

The coconut flavoured gin had a slightly perfumey taste, and reminded me of a pina colada. It was the first time I’d come across coconut gin, and I’d say it was refreshing – even though I might never order it again.

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Feeling adventurous!

Our chosen gins were then matched with special botanicals by the Mr Fogg’s staff and served in large glasses.

I’m not quite sure what my third and final gin of the evening was, because by this point I was feeling pretty smashed! But I think it was lavender flavoured because it was dyed lilac and had a sprig of lavender balanced on the top of the glass. I usually don’t like egg white in my drinks, but in my new adventure-seeking state of intoxication, I went for it anyway – and it must have tasted great because I finished the whole thing very quickly!


We then explored Mr Fogg’s gin collection…

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-Two for the way home…

The toilets were cute too!


Mr Fogg’s was a great experience – and I definitely had my fill of gin! I already want to go back.

Getting Ruined in Budapest 

They don’t call Budapest a ‘late-night’ city for nothing, and Ruin Bars and Ruin Pubs are the main culprits for keeping people out late.

A firm favourite of both locals and visitors, Ruin Bars are set up in the ruins of abandoned buildings, stores or lots, and many of them are open air. These quirky bars are all decorated with fairy lights, graffiti, plants, and mismatched items of furniture that have probably been scooped up from a junkyard.

You can find the Ruin Bars in the Jewish Quarter, in Pest. This is the most lively side of Budapest where there are just as many people out on the streets at night as there are in the daytime!

Get carried away in Budapest

When Ben and I visited Budapest, we were keen to drink in as many Ruin Bars as possible. On our first night in Budapest we ventured out on a Ruin Bar crawl. Here is where we went…

(The photography gets worse and worse as I became more intoxicated!)

Ruin Bar #1: Szimpla Kert


This is a good starting point for a bar crawl, as Szimpla Kert is the best known Ruin Bar. It is huge and has multiple areas and bars for drinking, including an old car in the courtyard which has been converted into a booth with a table in the middle!


Ruin Bar #2: Füge Udvar

We stumbled across this bar. The main area was dissected by three long tables running along the length of the bar. It was good for meeting people and making friends with who you were sat next to!

There were arcade games in the rooms to each side of the main drinking area, so you could challenge someone to a game of air hockey or pool if you wanted to!


Ruin Bar #3: Mazel Tov

This Ruin Bar was easily the most beautiful one we went to. It was decorated like a garden with ivy hanging down the walls and cute fairy lights dripping down from the ceiling.

They serve food here too, so we earmarked it as a place to come back to.


Ruin Bar #4: Fogas Ház

We weren’t sure whether Fogas Ház was a Ruin Bar or a youth hostel! The main bar is in a courtyard overlooked by Cupid and a mermaid who were floating in the treetops and surrounded by twinkling lights.

Off the courtyard there are large rooms with DJs playing music, and a smaller room which looked like it may have been someone’s lounge before it got Ruined!


Ruin Bar #5: Kuplung

I think we only scratched the surface with Kuplung as we stumbled into the entrance-way, five pints in!

All I remember is the lights that looked like jelly fish floating above the tables, and a band were playing in the venue at the back of the bar.

Kuplung may look like your standard ruin of a bar, but there is more than meets the eye; they also have film screenings, performances and exhibitions here.



Ruin Bar #6: Liebling

I don’t really remember Liebling – it was the last one of the night!

Did we even go here?


Ruin Bar #7: Púder Bárszínház

Púder is a few blocks further south than the other Ruin Bars, so we went here the next day for lunch (and another beer.)

It’s slightly different to the others because it is right on the road with seating and tables out the front. (The other bars were all reached by going through a tunnel-like long entrance way to a courtyard at the back.)


Ruin Bar #8: Ellátó Kert

Ellátó Kert was predominantly open-air with a bar running round the perimeter. It was really cute with its different coloured lights, and the parasols overhead it felt very cosy.


Ruin Bar #9: Kőleves

Kőleves was the final Ruin Bar we made it to!

Kőleves is completely outside, so great for a warm evening. It was a quirky, ruined version of a pub garden!


Szia Budapest! 

Szia = Hungarian for hello and goodbye

Ben and I had a wonderful time in Budapest. It’s a brilliant place to visit for a long weekend, to take advantage of the cheap wine and beer, and for relaxing and taking in the sights.

Saturday

We rented an apartment in the Jewish Quarter in Pest. Pest is the younger, hipper side of the city which is overlooked by it’s calm and hilly counterpart, Buda from across the Danube River.

Pest has been compared to Vienna, whereas Buda is said to be more like Prague.

Two cities in one!

We woke up in Budapest ready for the weekend ahead and raring to go.

We made a beeline for Milnar, a bakery/ coffee chain on our way into the centre of town for a chocolate pastry.

Can’t wait to get stuck into this!

We then went on a walking tour of Pest, where we were navigated to the Opera House, St Stephen’s Basilica, the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial, and up to the Chain Bridge.

 

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St Stephen’s Basilica

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Shoes on the Danube Bank – a memorial to Budapest’s Jews

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The Parliament Building

We stopped at Hold Utca Market, which is a great spot for lunch. It is a food market selling meat and groceries, and also ready-to-eat meals. There were lots of locals here having lunch so it felt very authentic.

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Pastries!!!!!! Each one cost less than £1

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Hold Utca Market

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Drinks by the Danube

Next we walked back up to the Jewish Quarter and to The Great Synagogue. This is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. Behind it is a Jewish Museum.

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Dohány Street Synagogue – The Great Synagogue

The street leading from the central swimming pool (a swimming pool randomly in the town square!?) up to St Stephen’s Basilica has loads of bars and restaurants along it, and according to our walking tour guide, it isn’t overly expensive for tourists.

There is a wine bar called DiVino, and opposite, the High Note Sky Bar. This rooftop bar was one of my favourite spots in Budapest. It overlooks St Stephen’s Basilica, and you can get a cocktail and enjoy the view.

In my opinion, it’s a much better option than paying to climb the Basilica for the same view but minus the alcohol!

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The back of my head gets the best view

We had been recommended to visit Belvarosi Lugas Restaurant for dinner and to order the deer stew. It was a super recommendation because it overlooked the back of the Basilica and the food was delicious!

We think it was one of the best meals we ate.

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Traditional Hungarian deer stew with dumplings – YUM

In the evening, I navigated myself and Ben on a Ruin Bar crawl. Ruin Bars are a major attraction in Budapest – and as we discovered – a magnet for anyone on a stag do!

The bars have been established in run down courtyards and dilapidated buildings. Most of them have mismatched furniture, graffiti on the walls, and are decorated with fairy lights to jazz them up.

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Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden)

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Szimpla Kert is the best known Ruin Bar in Budapest

Some of the Ruin Bars are hard to find if you don’t know they’re there. Most of them are set back from the road with a long entrance leading into a neglected building.

Here is where we went: Szimpla Kert, Fuge Udvar, Mazel Tov, Fogas Haz, Kuplung, Liebling.

Not a bad effort for our first night!

N.B. For more detail on the Ruin Bar crawl, another blog post will follow!

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Getting a bit carried away… 

Sunday

The morning after the night before – we woke up with very sore heads!

Luckily there are loads of places in the Jewish District serving brunch and all-day breakfasts. We went to the sun-drenched courtyard of Most Bistro for a late breakfast, and sat in the shade and ordered water and fry-ups.

There was no time for napping, so we shook off our hungovers and made our way across the Chain Bridge to Buda, to take the Funicular up the hill to the Palace.

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Across the Chain Bridge

We strolled around Buda Castle, up to Matthias Church and along the Fishermen’s Bastion.

Standing at the Fishermen’s Bastion gives you one of the best views in Budapest.

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What a great view! (Of us)

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Matthias Church

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Having a stroll

From here, we walked back down the hill and across the Chain Bridge to 360 Bar on Andrássy Avenue. The tree lined boulevard Andrássy Avenue is modelled on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and it’s one of the most exclusive streets in Budapest.

From 360 Bar, you get another lovely view of the rooftops of Budapest. Ben and I had cocktails and relaxed in the sun.

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Mojito o’clock! And before my shoulders got burnt

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360 Bar

Getting to know the rooftops of Pest

In the evening, we went to a lively square near where we were staying which was full of restaurants and cafes. It was called Liszt Ferenc Tér and was a great place for al fresco dining.

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We went to Menza, a canteen-style restaurant serving traditional Hungarian food. It was full of locals, so I knew we’d picked a winner!

So far, we’d enjoyed lots of Hungarian dark lager, but no local wine. So we decided to change this by heading to Doblo.

Doblo is a cute wine bar decorated in a shabby chic style. We were fortunate enough to be serenaded by a clarinet player, who was accompanied by two guitarists.

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Doblo

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Getting serenaded

Monday

Today we explored the northern side of Budapest, by promenading up Andrássy Avenue to Heroes’ Square and City Park.

Heroes Square is the largest and most symbolic square in Budapest. The Millenary Monument rises from the centre of the square, and the Museum of Fine Arts and Palace of Arts stand on either side of it.

The grandeur of the square is outlined in it’s history of being host to many Hungarian political events, such as the reburial of Imre Nagy in 1989.

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We could be Heroes…

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…For ever and ever

My favourite building was Heroes Square’s neighbour: Vajdahunyadvár Castle.

I’m not ashamed to say that the castle reminded me of the Disney castle in the Shrek films (didn’t you know I was cultured!?) It is designed in several Hungarian styles, each part mimicking a different landmark building from around Hungary.

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Looking for Shrek

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Can’t see Shrek anywhere…

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Found him!! Hey Shrek 😉

After a stroll around City Park, and trying a Guinness flavoured ice cream (it was grim) we walked all the way down to the Great Market Hall.

We were expecting to have lunch here, thinking that it would be a larger version of Hold Utca Market in the centre of town. However, it was mainly meat, pastries, groceries, leather goods and souvenirs. With the exception of sample nibbles offered by stalls, it wasn’t an ideal spot for a meal.

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The camera was shaking with hunger…

Luckily we found the nearby Puder Ruin Bar on a buzzing street called Ráday Utca to stop for a beer.

On the way to find yet another rooftop bar, we stumbled upon a busy intersection of bars, restaurants and cafes where people were eating outside under quirky decorations and coloured fairy lights.

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Gozsdu Udvar

Keen to try as much Hungarian food as possible, I ordered Goulash Soup, and Ben opted for a third round of Hungarian stew.

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More traditional Hungarian munch


Around the corner from here, we went to Ellàtò Kurt, which was a romantic Ruin Bar in a garden setting.

Across from this was another one called Kőleves.

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Kőleves

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Ellàtò Kurt

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Making an entrance

Tuesday

On our last day in Budapest, we grabbed pastries from a local bakery, and walked up towards the 100-year-old Széchenyi Thermal Baths in City Park. It was around 5000ft (£14.60) for entrance and a locker for the day.

The baths were beautiful. The city of Budapest sits on a maze of caves and naturally warm spring waters, so there are various baths that you can go to around the city. The Széchenyi Thermal Baths are the most famous baths, and the pool water is supposedly so clean that you can drink it – although I wouldn’t recommend doing that!!

There are 18 different pools to have a dunk in at Széchenyi, all with varying temperatures. The largest and most photographed ones are outside, and inside you can find a maze of smaller baths.

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Széchenyi

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Swimming hats only in the lane pool

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Inside the Palace

My favourite bath was one of the outside pools which had a rapids section and water jets to play in – I’m only 25 years young!!

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Suns out, abs out

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Water babies

For me, Budapest is up there as one of the coolest cities in Europe.

It is undoubtedly a late night city with its labyrinth of Ruin Bars, rooftop bars, wine bars and late night clubs. Fortunately, we were able to visit our fair share of these!

Spending four days in Budapest allowed us time for sightseeing interspersed with relaxed al fresco lunches and dark largers.

Beer is really cheap there – I lost track of the number of stag dos we saw! And I want to go back already!

Szia soon!

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Hungary for more!

Sketch: Afternoon Tea of Dreams

There are plenty of options for places to go for afternoon tea in London, but for my birthday in January, I chose to go to Sketch. Having heard of its quirky and artistic interior and elaborate food, it seemed like a great place to celebrate my 25th year milestone with my family.

Sketch looks like it’s flown straight out of the rabbit hole and landed in its location on Conduit Street, Mayfair. There are five different bars and restaurants, all designed in a different wacky style, so you could be confused into thinking that you’d come out to an art gallery rather than out to dine.

Afternoon Tea is held in the Gallery, which is the showstopper of all the arty rooms at Sketch.

The Gallery


Fit for a Queen

The Gallery was playfully designed by artist David Shrigley. The luxurious room is sugar-coated in pink, from the blush pink walls down to the curvaceous velvet-covered chairs, it sets the scene perfectly for a quaint but fancy Afternoon Tea.

The candy-coloured walls are the backdrop to the largest display of original drawings that David Shrigley has ever exhibited. The black and white cartoon drawings line three of the four walls in the Gallery, and add to the playful nature of the place.

Afternoon Tea

When we sat down we were presented with a two-page tea menu to choose from – listing more teas than I ever knew existed. You could order as much tea as you wanted to try, so I went for a pot of the Darjeeling 2nd Flush from India, followed by the Taiwan Red Jade. They were both excellent.

We were then presented with tiered stands filled with neatly prepared sandwiches and delicate cakes.

Eat me!

The sandwiches weren’t your average picnic-style sandwiches – they all had a modern Sketch twist. For example the egg mayo sandwich had a tiny quails egg on the top of it, and a sprinkle of caviar – delicious!

You could order more of anything you wanted, which was lucky because the mozzarella and pesto paninis went down a storm, and so we ordered another round of them. They were individually wrapped in paper and tied with a ribbon. So good!

They look good enough to eat


Pistachio and banana choux buns

The cake and sandwich stand was accompanied with a choice of pistachio or banana choux buns, and freshly baked sultana scones, clotted cream, and a selection of jams.

And this was all washed down with a bottle of birthday bubbly.

Happy Birthday to me!


An opera birthday cake

The toilets next to the Gallery are a hot talking point, because just like the food served at Sketch, there is more  to them than meets the eye.

Inexplicably, each toilet cubicle is egg shaped! And the shiny white eggs protrude from the ground beneath a disco light ceiling overhead.

The eggs were supervised by two attendants in French maid outfits holding feather dusters (let’s not ask why!) The toilets were bizarre, and they must be the most photographed toilets in London…

Space eggs

Visiting Sketch was a great birthday treat, a fun experience, and one of the most photo-worthy meals I have had.

I would definitely recommend going there for an afternoon tea to remember!

Birthday gang

Copenhagen city-breaking

Copenhagen seems to be a popular choice of city break for my friends recently, and I’ve had two close friends who have gone there in the last month.

Luckily, Ben and I had also booked a weekend away there – which happened to coincide with our anniversary! (N’awwww)


FRIDAY

The flight to Copenhagen takes less than two hours, so we woke up early on Friday morning to travel there.

I had packed thermals and extra layers in preparation for the cold in Copenhagen, and when we arrived, it really was bitter!

Designed like Amsterdam!

We dropped our bags off at the hotel, and headed straight out towards the town centre. Our first culinary experience of Copenhagen wasn’t the most sophisticated – we ended up in some sort of fast food burger joint. It was quick and we were starving.


At 3pm we joined in with a free walking tour. We hoped this would help us with our bearings of the city and give us some ideas of other things to do.

The tour led us around the south side of the town, and down to Christiania.

Christiania is a hippy commune on an island which is known for its history of criminal gangs and hard drugs, arty cafes, the invention of a tricycle bike with a cargo box on the front of it, and its ‘green light’ street where weed is legal.

Good news for Londoners!?


Off to the commune!


The main street is called Pusher Street, and this is where all the weed action happens. There are three rules for this area: have fun, don’t run (because this causes panic that there is a police raid) and no photographs (obviously).

There are some quirky cafes in the area and some really groovy street art to see, so it’s a funky place to visit.

Welcome to funky town

We were hungry again after all this city snooping, so we zipped across to a big street food market inside a warehouse. Edgy edgy. It reminded me of a bigger and more pricey version of Dinerama in Shoreditch.

Paper Island

Next we crossed back over the river to Nyhavn. We found an Irish pub (it wasn’t a hard job – they are everywhere!) and had a couple of drinks, and then both ordered lamb shanks and a dark larger in a restaurant nearby.

‘Where are we again?’


Half a baby sheep

We went back into the centre of town to another Irish pub in one of the main squares. We had been told that today was J-Day, which is a celebration of the start of Christmas in Denmark. I later learnt that this is when Carlsberg employees drive around to bars and cafes singing a traditional Christmas brew song and handing out free beer.

But we didn’t really know this at the time so we were in for a surprise!

The calm before the strange

All was revealed at about 9pm, when a truck pulled up outside the pub and a crowd formed around it.

The doors at the back slowly opened to reveal people dressed in blue Santa outfits blowing whistles and banging instruments.

The truck full of Santas

They danced through the crowd, handing out beers and spreading Christmas cheer to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’.

Inside the bar, they formed a conga line and danced about to Christmas songs, handing out even more beer and blue flashing Christmas hats! After a few different Christmas songs, they made their way back out to the truck, climbed in, and it slowly pulled away.

Ben and I were left dumbstruck about what had just happened, watching with a beer in each hand and flashing hats that had been placed on our heads! Then the bar continued playing Christmas hits for a bit… including the Christmas anthem: Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’.

Happy Christmas!

It was bizarre, but memorable – and really fun!

SATURDAY

We woke up on Saturday with a bit of a hangover, but this was soon cured with a trip to Lagkagehuset Bakery.

The chocolate and cinnamon twist from this bakery was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It was food from the gods.

Nice buns


Check out my twists

We then covered the day’s cultural sightseeing by walking back over to Nyhavn. It was much more impressive during the daytime when we could see the colours on each of the buildings.

Copey cuties!


We then carried on walking east, and up to Copenhagen Castle and barracks towards the Little Mermaid sculpture.

The Little Mermaid sculpture was commissioned by the brewer Carl Jacobsen as a gift to Copenhagen after he fell in love with the Little Mermaid character when watching a ballet performance based on the fairy tale.

Ariel?

Making a pilgrimage to the bronze sculpture is one of the top things to do in Copenhagen – but I wouldn’t get your hopes up about it if you are visiting Denmark. It’s a nice sculpture, but you only need about 10 minutes to look at it to make the visit complete!

The Mermaid isn’t that little – she is the life size of a grown woman.

We had already done 10,000 steps by this time and it wasn’t even midday. So we decided to get extra culture points and join in with another walking tour.

This one focused on the centre of Copenhagen, its history, and what is noticeable about it today.

It ended in Torvehallerne, which another big market in Copenhagen. Where I compared Paper Island to Dinerama in Shoreditch, I thought that Torvehallerne had more in common with Borough Market.

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Trendy people

It was covered (thankfully, because it was raining) and sold not only ready to eat food, but also had shops such as a butchers, a fishmongers, and a grocery.

We sat at stools on the side of a pizza place and shared a freshly prepared pizza with a thin and crispy base. Yum!

Image result for Torvehallerne pizza

After this, we mooched back towards the main square and the shops, and had a look inside some of them. We went to HAY House, which is a shop showcasing a designer and manufacturer of contemporary furniture, accessories and rugs.

It was nice to have a look around, and the Danish minimalist approach to interior design and furniture gave us a few ideas to take home with us.

Glurging down some gløgg

After all this walking it was time to find a cosy bar and order some Gløgg – the Danish version of mulled wine!

Saturday actually marked mine and Ben’s second anniversary. So in the evening we took each other out for a steak and a few drinks.


The highlight of the evening was visiting Tivoli, which was arguably the best thing we did in Copenhagen!

The Tivoli amusement park and pleasure garden is where Walt Disney found inspiration for Disney World – and it’s not difficult to see why.

Tivoli


Rides


Tivoli is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world.


It’s best to visit Tivoli at night time because everything is lit up. There are lights everywhere, so it’s quite a spectacle. The rides there don’t have the same wow factor as their Thorpe Park and Alton Towers counterparts, but the beautiful setting brings them to life.



Every hour in the evenings there is a light show across the lake. This was really pretty to see, with lots of lights, water and music. This was amazing and definitely worth seeing.


There are bars and restaurants inside Tivoli, but I think the rainy weather had put a lot of people off going there, so most places were empty. Instead, we chose to go to a nearby locals bar.

Huset KBH is a hostel, music venue and board games bar that sells much cheaper drinks than anywhere else we went to. We went straight to Bastard Cafe, which is the board games bar.

Not bored in here!

There were stacks and stacks of board games to choose from and take one back to a table to play. Most of the games were unfamiliar (but all in English luckily!) We tried one out, which had far too many rules to learn whilst drinking at the same time, so we went back to the games wall and settled on Jenga.

Jenga getting tense!

It was really good fun – they need to start one up in London!

SUNDAY

Sunday was our last day in Copenhagen. Boooooooo.

We started off by getting the bus from outside the hotel to the Jaegersborggade street area. Jaegersborggade is one of the hippest and most buzzing streets in Copenhagen. It is home to art galleries, organic produce shops, vintage clothing, wine bars, coffee shops and bakeries.

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We made a beeline for Meyers Bakery, which is one of the best in Copenhagen. It is a small and cosy shop where there is just enough space to queue up to purchase a freshly baked pastries. There is also a porridge restaurant on the street called Grod, but it was too bonkers (or trendy) to lure Ben inside!


Next, we crossed the street to the Coffee Collective. In all honesty, if this hadn’t been recommended to us or marketed as having excellent coffee, it just looked like any other coffee shop. Coffee here is also quite expensive (around £6 a cup) and so after stepping inside for a nose around, we backtracked and went back to our favourite bakery: Lagkagehuset.

Assistens Cemetery

A stones throw from Jaegersborggade lies a beautiful cemetery. We learnt that the Danish enjoy multi-functioning spaces, and Assistens Cemetery is a good example of this. There are graves, but the area is also used as a park.

There were lots of dog walkers there when we visited, and in the summer people are known to chill out on the grass, sunbathe and picnic amongst the headstones!


Nestled in the middle of the park is Hans Christian Anderson’s grave, so we had a quick look while we were in the area.

Our final destination of the weekend was back to Paper Island for some street food. Ben and I both settled on pulled duck burgers in brioche buns and had a pint each. And then it was time to go!

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The trendiest OAPs in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a delightful city to spend a weekend exploring, and the cold and rain didn’t stop us from doing anything. There is a good mix of history, culture, and quirky modern things to do such as getting street food or finding a niche bar. It is an expensive city, but it didn’t leave us feeling poor, as we left having eaten great food, trying new experiences and taking wonderful memories with us. And the randomness of J-Day was a bonus!

Bon voyage

Oktoberfest 2016

F.R.I.D.A.Y

12:00

Becka, Vicky, Gemma, Ceri and I arrive at Heathrow Terminal 2, all set for our flight to Munich.


17:00

Touch down in Munich, and head to our hostel. There are people dressed in lederhosen and dirndls everywhere!

19:00

After a quick pit stop in the hostel, we head straight out to find somewhere to get a beer (and dinner).

We found a traditional German restaurant called Lindwurmstüeberl (catchy name), and ordered five steins of beer – ladsladslads. The waiter had to help us translate the menu, and in the end we all ordered schnitzel and French fries, which went down like a treat.

Stein #1

23:00

We had intended to have a quiet evening of dinner and drinks, but sadly for our livers, our hostel happened to be next door to a bar playing cheesy music! So we ventured in, had a few more beers and partied the night away to Justin Bieber.

S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y

08:30

Our alarms went off.

11:00

After a *slightly* delayed start (a shower rota, lots of plaiting, and a McDonald’s breakfast) we finally made it into Oktoberfest.

We managed to get to a table inside a tent where everyone was up dancing on the tables. The only place you could order beer was inside the tents from a waitress at a table, so getting to a table this late in the day on a Saturday was a stoke of luck! Saturdays are the busiest day in Oktoberfest, and some people queue for entry outside the tents from 7.30am!

12.15

Unfortunately, the table we were on was reserved from 12.15, by a group that were prepared (…unlike us!)
Luckily, it was a beautiful warm September afternoon, so we headed straight outside and sat down at a table in the sunshine. The outside tables don’t have quite the same crazy atmosphere as the inside tables, but music is still fed outside through speakers. There were a few more children outside – remember that Oktoberfest is meant to be a family festival! We made friends with some Germans and drank the afternoon away, trying to avoid talking about Brexit.

The Löwenbräu tent

New friends!

My and my beer friend

19:00

We had an impressively long day outside, but were ready to get moving around again and get some circulation to our numb bums after sitting stationary for so long. So we went outside to try out some of the theme park rides. Fun fact: as well as being the world’s largest beer festival, it is also the world’s largest travelling funfair!

The fun fair


First we went on a waltzer ride which was fairly cheap and lasted ages… And the beer managed to stay down which is a plus!

Next we went on a Wild Mouse ride which was more expensive and lasted less than 60 seconds. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Hands in the air like you just don’t care

Survived the ride!

20:00

And then we went to a bar inside Oktoberfest that didn’t serve steins! And pint glasses felt so small and inconvenient without a handle. It reminded me of one of the pop up bars inside Winter Wonderland in London. I think the beer was Hofbräu Beer, and it tasted much fruitier than the lager in the tents.

21:00

Our guilty-pleasure-pure-cheese bar next to the hostel was actually a pizza restaurant during the day! So we popped back for a pizza (and another stein). As it got late, the benches and tables were cleared away to make way for the dance floor, and we were coaxed onto it by a group of mum’s and dads who had left their children at home and felt it appropriate to get frisky with each other. Fun!

00:00

Bed time. (And Vicky threw up a sausage in the sink)

S.U.N.D.A.Y

07:30

Today we were far more prepared! Alarms were set for 7:30, and we were up and showered very quickly. Ceri went on a coffee run to McDonald’s, and then we set off straight away, with Gemma and Becka’s hair still dripping wet from the shower and ready to plait when we got into a tent.

Wide awake…

We got to our chosen tent at 8:30, half an hour before it opened! But it was worth the wait as we got a table in pride of place – right in the middle of the tent next to the stage! We were able to order steins as soon as our bottoms touched the benches…. So I ordered my first beer at 9am!

One more song! One more song!

Down it down it down it

10:00

Gemma had a TC. I ran outside to get a sausage. There was a choice of red, white or long sausages; I chose red.

German sausages and sauerkraut

11:00

We were joined by another group at our table, who turned out to be the Fanatics, a tour group that Ben and his friends had gone away to Greece with two years ago! What a very small world it is.

International friends

Ben’s BFF

12:30

Finally the band started up… And the rest of the day is a bit of a blur.

16:00

The last photos that we remember being taken were found on our phones at this time.

Slayers


17:00

Ceri fell off the bench and (quite literally) knocked some people (or their beers) out with her killer dance moves. She sent all the steins on the table behind us flying, handed them €20 euros for the damage, and carried on doing her thang.

21:00

I went to dance on a different table with some people who thought I was German.

23:00

The music came to a crescendo and the band finished. It was time to leave… Booooo!

The girls with their traditional gingerbread necklaces


23:10

But party didn’t stop there! Ceri and I both made our way back to the cheesy bar independently of each other, and had a little reunion when we got there.

24:30

Time to call it a night!

M.O.N.D.A.Y

10:00

We checked out of the hostel, and managed to resist going for a McDonald’s breakfast.

Today was our sightseeing day, so we started to walk towards central Munich, looking out for a cafe to stop in along the way.

We found somewhere and most of us ordered currywurst.

Lunch spot


11:30

Gemma ordered an apple studel and sneezed it across the table.

12:00

Next, I had a hangover-friendly itinerary planned out of places for us to see. We walked through the city to Marienplatz, (the main square) and took some happy snaps and had a nose in the town hall. It was a beautifully sunny day and lots of people were out and about.

Marienplatz

The cathedral

13:00

We hopped on the U-Bahn (underground train) to Englischer Garten. Englischer Garten had been recommended to me as one of the main places to see in Munich and described as the Munich version of Hyde Park. I had been told that there was a nudist section, but I thought this was only one little area of the park.

Little did we know that as soon as we entered the park, we would come face to face with a few too many old men with everything on display. One man had even thoughtfully decided to wear some sort of chain thong, drawing more attention to ‘himself’.

The only fully-clothed section

We found a part of the park where people had their clothes on, and sat for a bit soaking up some rays and letting our hangovers wear off.

14:00

Next up, we marched back into the city centre in search of the Hofbräuhaus Brewery. This is one of the oldest breweries in Munich – dating back to the 16th century – and is known for it’s pretty interior, upbeat atmosphere with a band, and of course, it’s beer.

Hofbräuhaus

Cooling down

After all this excitement, it was finally time to return to the hostel, collet our things, and catch our flight. Boooooooooooo.

It was a great and very memorable weekend: a cross between a boozy city break and a crazy festival.

My advice is: if you get the chance to go to Oktoberfest… definitely go! The prolonged hangover/ recovery period/ holiday blues lasting the whole week when we arrived home and went back to work were 100% worth it; it was amazing. We met people from all over the world, learnt some German, drunk twice our body weights in beer, and got to wear fancy dress for a whole two days. What more could you want from the world’s largest beer festival!?

Goodnight and goodbye Munich. We’ll be back!

Cahoots: boozy cocktails and vintage charm

Cahoots (noun): acting together with others for an illegal or dishonest purpose. Synonyms: conspire, collaborating, conniving.

‘Secrecy’ seems to be the name of the game with Cahoots, the vintage-themed underground bar off Carnaby Street which is set in a tube station. And this is probably what makes it so popular, well-known and sought after.

Vintage babes

I went to Cahoots for Ciaras birthday. Ciara had mentioned that the bar sounded cool, so I made sure that we make a reservation for her birthday back in March so that we could definitely go!

Both the website and the email booking confirmation explained the theme of the bar, and also swore us to secrecy about its existence (So I’m breaking all the rules with this blog…)

Read all about it

Cahoots is tucked away in a nook just off Carnaby street. If you didn’t know it was there, you could easily walk past it without spotting it – the only thing that might give it away would be any people waiting outside to go in.

The bar is underground, so the wartime bunker/ tube station theme ties in well with the setting. There are shiny tiles leading downstairs to the bar which felt like a very clean and narrow tunnel down to a tube platform.

Mind the gap

At the end of the tunnel, I half expected to turn the corner and walk onto a platform with the bar inside the tube carriage – was my imagination running away with me!? – but it was fashioned more like a waiting room/ train carriage/ cluttered bunker.

The bar

In the tube

Drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll

We were a large party and we had booked, so we had quite a good table that was enclosed in a sort of cage structure that could have been used to hold luggage over the seats in an old train. I think if you walked in without booking (after, of course, waiting for at least an hour outside first) you could sit at a small table in the middle of the bar, or stand up at the bar.

Under cover


The website states that 40s vintage dress is encouraged. But we didn’t pay too much attention to the dress code, thinking that nobody would really adhere to it. But how wrong we were!

Men and women had gone all out, with women in 1940s tea dresses, victory curls and bright lipstick. Some of the men had donned a white shirts with braces – some of them even looked like they had curled their facial hair for the occasion. Luckily my friends and I wake up looking glam, so we just dressed as our stylish 2016 selves.


The cocktail menu was enormous! It looked like a newspaper and every column and ‘article’ listed all the different drinks you could choose. There were so many that it took us a while to decide what we wanted, even with our waitress sitting down with us to talk through the menu. There are different sections and categories of drinks listed in the menu/paper, and at around £10 a cocktail, you need to make a good decision!

Tea with a twist…

Cocktails or cockfails?

My first drink was called Keep Marm’ and Carry On. Adhering to the prohibition theme, it came in a cute teacup and saucer and was served with a biscuit layered with lemon curd and a berry… How cute!

A good selection!

The birthday girl

In our group of eight we ended up with a good selection of cocktails on our table. Luckily none of us had one of those moments where you take the first sip of cocktail and grimace and question what an earth you were thinking when you ordered it… Because they were all very tasty!

Half way through the evening, conversations were brought to a halt by the wail of an air raid siren. There didn’t seem to be much significance to this, apart from maybe to reinforce the wartime theme in case you had forgotten for a second what bar you were in.

God save the Queen

There was a mix of couples and groups of friends in the bar and everyone looked equally excited to be there.

This could have been because they had been waiting for hours on the door, or because (like us) they had booked the table months ago and had been counting down the days in anticipation ever since.

Which way to Cockfosters?

Move down inside the carriages!

When we emerged from the underground, a chunky queue line had taken over the narrow street outside, and people were glammed-up and huddled under umbrellas in the rain waiting to come in. Cahoots can ask its patrons to keep mum about the bar, but the constant hoard of people outside it speaks volumes.

It’s a great place to visit for something different, and it’s worth booking it five months in advance, or even getting dressed up to wait in the rain to go in!

I spy…

Good slurping action there Matt