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Paris, France: Gastronomy, Galleries and Gare du Nord

Paris in the spring is one of the best trips you can take! Here are some recommendations for the coolest places to check out.

It has been about one year since I last revisited Paris. This time it was going to be more like my old life there. I was staying with my friend and I hadn’t packed my schedule with too much sightseeing. Despite the Eurostar having its difficulties this week I managed to arrive in Gare du Nord relatively unscathed by the trials and tribulations of travel.

One of the first things I did was to have a mooch down Boulevard Beaumarchais which if you haven’t been has got some super funky shops such as Merci and BonTon. Although for me I was pleased to find that there are lots of camera shops there so I spent some time looking in windows lusting after lenses and tripods.

I’ve waxed lyrical about the Big Mamma group before but honestly La Felicità in Station F is genuinely incredible. A food market with a difference in the 13th arrondissent, it has a site map on entry so that you can find exactly what you want to eat. From hamburgers to freshly made pasta, you can take the fussiest of eaters and not one of your party will be dissatisfied. Another good place to eat is Bouillon Pigalle which you may have to queue for but it’s worth it. I had my favorite French food: steak tartare and souple à l’oignon.

The sightseeing I did do consisted of going to slightly off the beaten track places that I had been meaning to go to for AGES! One of these was the much Instagrammed Musée Gustave Moreau. The artist’s apartment and studio are open to the public and well worth a visit. I had seen the infamous spiral staircase on my social media feeds but to my shame I’d never been. This museum is much more than just a photo that will get you lots of likes. Equally Sainte Chapelle is an awe inspiring nook on île de la cite next to Palais de justice. My other half and I had tried to go to a concert there before we relocated back to the UK however we didn’t have the time. I did feel slightly guilty but that feeling disappeared when I made it up the narrow spiral staircase as all I could feel was complete and utter awe.

Good coffee shops I went to include KB coffee shop up on the des martyrs and le peloton in the Marais because let’s be honest I can’t survive any length of time in Paris without caffeine!

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Travel

Paris, France: Where They Fight for Their Bread

Another Parisian post for you! This time about another of my favorite pastimes – eating!

It is super easy to get really fat in Paris. When there are sweet smells coming from every bakery you come across then it is rather hard to resist. With a sweet tooth like mine, I end up finding myself frequenting bakeries quite often in order to try all of the delicious items they have on offer. French patisserie is the best in the world. In my unbiased opinion. They do everything, from gorgeously savoury bread that is perfect for cheese to sticky pastries that feel like your calorie consumption for a whole week, they really know how to do it all!

Pain Pain

If you make it up all of the steps of Montmartre to see the Sacré Coeur then you will need a little pick me up on your way back down to reality. Funky wallpaper, great coffee and even better desserts make Pain Pain on Rue des Martyrs a great little spot to take the weight off you in. I had only ever walked past at night until just a few months ago and I must admit it definitely did not disappoint!
Pierre Hermé 
I think I’ve told this story before but it’s a good one so I will tell it again. In my first few months here I received a strange message from Mum telling me to go to a certain address after a particular time. It turned out she had ordered some breakfast treats for me to ease the awkward first few months of living alone in a foreign country. I seem to recall the croissant being my favourite item in the care package. Weirdly, I’m not the biggest fan of croissants as they can be too flaky and messy for me but this one was top notch.
Aki 

Yuzu flavoured écalir? Why not?! A Japanese/French bakery in the heart of the 2nd arrondissement, Aki is a great local treasure. If you want katsu curry followed by a green tea mille-feuille then you need look no further. The hustle and bustle of this shop adds to its atmosphere and they get through customers at an astonishing rate by serving you at lightening speeds. 

Maison Privat

Now we come to the pièce de la résistance of French baked goods. This one won’t be in the travel guides but by all accounts it should be. Try everything. No seriously, you have to. I lived around the corner for over a year and I made a jolly good stab at trying to eat my way around the counter. The Kouig’ Aman (a Breton pastry that is basically sugar and puff) is to die for but impossible to pronounce and their pissaladière with anchovies, onions and olives is incredible. The efficiency of such an immaculate establishment is only bettered by the warm, delectable baguettes they have on offer. Don’t expect to just walk in though, there is always a queue. 


Comme À Lisbonne

You may think that you have to venture all the way to Portugal to taste a pasteis de nata however you can try this delicious Portuguese sweet treat in the French capital! I stumbled across this bakery/cafe on my Sanders through the Marais and I highly recommend you check it out. You can sit in or take one to go. I always have mine with a dusting of cinnamon and a cheeky espresso to help wash it down.

Boneshaker

If you have had your fill of continental delights then full your stomach with a sugary donut from Boneshaker. I’d been meaning to go for years but always arrived just as they’d run out for the day! Luckily though when I went back at Easter I made it there in time to try their festive offering.

There are many more spectacular boulangeries and bakeries in Paris, I have no doubt about that. However, these just happen to be a few of my favourites. There is something quite personal about patisseries and bread in France. Everyone likes something different. Some people ask for a well cooked baguette, others like their pain de campagne sliced. I pretty much just like it all, but I will never pass up an opportunity to eat chouquettes! I’m feeling rather hungry now that I’ve written that. Anyone for cake?
Travel

Paris, France: Bookworm’s Paradise

The team at More Native Than The Natives are big readers! If you want to make us happy then give us a good book and a cup of tea. The only thing that could be better is visiting bookshops..

Paris had been the inspiration for many writers throughout the years so there are no surprises that the city boasts dozens of bookshops that you can lose yourself in. I’ve just booked a trip to go and visit a friend in my favorite city which led me to thinking about some of the best bookshops in the city.

Shakespeare and Co

This is the one that everyone knows. Located in the shadows on Notre Dame, this bastion of literary delights is as good as everyone says it is. I lived just up the quai from S&Co for a short while and I loved to just nip in and browse the titles. They hold regular events in the shop itself so definitely check out their calendar for a truly local experience of the city.

Abbey Bookshop

A stone’s throw away from Shakespeare and Co, the Abbey Bookshop is a bookworm’s heaven! Books are stacked from the floor to the ceiling and even down in the basement there are piles and piles of books just waiting for you to search through them for your next literary endeavor. I found this place thanks to a friend who was shocked that I had never been. The books are mostly in English and much cheaper than any of the others on this list!

Librairie Galignani

I can never spell this one! LG holds the accolade of being the oldest English language bookshop in France. If you prefer your bookshops quiet without lots of tourists then check this one out. When I first went in I was drawn to the way they ordered some authors by nationality. This led me to read my first ever book by an Icelandic author (Under the Glacier by Halldor Laxness if you’re interested!)

I’m sure there are many others that I just haven’t got round to visiting yet. Maybe you have a favorite that isn’t on the list? Let me know in the comments!

Travel

Denmark: Happiest Country in The World

If you haven’t had the chance to visit Denmark yet then this post might just make you want to book a plane ticket! Thanks to Cilla for this fabulous tribute to her country. Follow her blog here!

So I’ll start this post with telling you a bit more about myself before quickly sketching out reasons to visit my home country Denmark. When I was very young, my family and I moved to California. We lived there for 3 years before moving back to Denmark. I’d say my cultural understanding of other countries is pretty good. My father is married to a Brazilian woman. I’ve had an exchange student from Latvia living with me. I’m curious and openminded. I’m especially interested in the innovation part how do we do something even better or getting a better value? What can we learn from other cultures or countries?

Why visit Denmark you might ask? We’re lucky of we get one month of really good weather during the summer. The living-expenses are high. Getting a cheap hotel in Copenhagen is almost impossible. When visiting the countryside, you’re pretty much left alone withoutanything to do. Danes? All pale and wearing black. Taxes are insanely High.

Well besides all that. Denmark has a lot to offer. The Danes are well known, as being polite, happy and helpful. Oh yes, the happiness. Danes has been voted the most happy people in the world over and over again. You can hardly hit a bar without making new friends – might be short-term, but I ensure you, they’ll help making one hell of a night out.

The old architecture in the different cities, especially Copenhagen is just stunning. Copenhagen has for example being voted the most livable city in the world several times. There’s a lot of culture in Denmark. There are actually still living viking villages, fortresses, castles and art museums.

While travelling with a younger audience, I’d highly recommend Legoland – everybody is familiar with Lego right? Did you know it was founded in Denmark? I’m going be honest with you guys. I’ve visited Legoland even without my kids as well. I’ve been there with grownup members of my family, just to ride rollercoasters, dig out my inner child and have fun.

Tivoli is another great and historical place to visit. During the different seasons, specially Christmas it is almost even more magical than Disneyland. I know you are wondering – and the answer is yes, I’ve been there without my kids as well. Tivoli is also used for concerts, events and restaurants.

Okay, I think I made my point. I could go on about fun outdoor Activities, biking all over the entire country, danish design and stuff like that – but here’s what matters. Here’s what all of us want to know. NEED to know. Food.

Oh yes, the New Nordic Cuisine. Seriously – it is remarkable. I promise you, you will fall in love with the danish food. I’m not talking about chain restaurants here – yeah, you can find a McDonald’s here as well. No, I’m talking about those restaurants, which in using local products, everything is freshly produced and authentic. Noma, a restaurant in Copenhagen, was even voted the worlds best.

Let’s talk about fashion then. Scandinavian pieces has been dominating the catwalk the past through years. Danes know style, period. You can find everything, from fancy-clothing stores to exclusive second-hand shops with unique items. I even find myself, sitting on a bench in the middle of Copenhagen, just getting inspiredby the thousands of fashionistas passing by.

The scandinavian style is here to stay. Both in fashion, but also in interior. The raw materials. The black/white/grey-colors. The boom in green plants. The minimialistic, but yet cozy way. The luxury danish design chairs. Go check for yourself. Brands like Nordal and House Doctor are gorgeous with affordable prices. I’ve seen tons of interior pictures on Instagram and Pinterest from allover the world inspired by the scandinavian style. Look it up and be inspired too.

Allthough it’s cold – I wouldn’t want to live any other place. It’s safe for my kids here, free medical-care, they are secured a good education. And I simply love the danish way of sarcasm used everywhere. I love Denmark and I’m sure you will too. Feel free to reach out, in case of comments, questions and so on. I’d also love to hear from “foreigners” moving to Denmark.

Behind the author; Living in Soenderborg, Denmark – which is pretty close to the German border. Approximately 300 km away from the Capital city. New blogger mamma. 29 years old. Coffee-loving, shopping, beauty and dog-enthusiast. Owner of Cillaes.dk

Travel

Manchester, UK: More Than Just Oasis

The North of England is experiencing a boom in trendy restaurants and funky art galleries. Take a journey with Kate to one of the coolest cities in the UK…

My other half recently moved to Manchester to start a new job which had given me a great excuse to explore a new city as often as he and his flat mates will put up with me staying over. This city has so much to offer in terms of art, culture and most importantly fantastic food!

One place that I’d really enjoyed visiting even before I started going to Manchester more often was Oklahoma. No not the musical or the city in the United States but a funky shop just off the main Manchester shopping streets that will fill you with whimsical joy and help you to buy a gift for that person that is really difficult to buy for. If anyone is struggling buying me a Christmas present, I’ll take the cactus Christmas tree decorations!

Shopping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but do you know what is? Pizza. That’s what. Manchester has possibly the greatest Italian restaurant in the UK that specializes in classic Neapolitan pizzas made from fresh ingredients and served in a convivial and relaxed setting. I’m talking about the one and only Rudy’s. The currently have two locations in Manchester and have just opened one up in Liverpool that I am so eager to try!

After the inevitable food baby you might want to go and pontificate over some art. Manchester has plenty of that for your delectation. My personal favorite is the Manchester Art Gallery which has a fabulous permanent exhibition as well as lots of temporary ones. If you follow me on Instagram then you will know I’m also a big fan of the architecture of the main lobby.

Feeling hungry again? Look no further than Mackie Mayor. Permanent food markets seem to be all the rage and the moment but that’s fine with me as I can never really choose where to eat for dinner so they allow me to sample bits and bobs from lots of different culinary establishments. I tried the delicious cod bao from Baohaus and the boy had a steak sandwich. Mackie Mayor used to be a meat market and is continuing he glorious tradition by welcoming several different vendors to sell their gastronomic delights in this stunning industrial building.

No doubt I will have more to tell you about Manchester wise in the near future but these are my current obsessions. If you try any of them I hope you enjoy!

Travel

San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles: Instagram Hotspots

When Honey approached me with this blog post I jumped at the chance to publish it! I’ve been wanting to go to California for a while now and this awesome article has made my wanderlust even worse…

Instagram. Even if you aren’t a blogger or an influencer, sometimes you still want that perfectly lit, frame-able, centrepiece worthy image to stick on your social media, your office desktop, or as a large print for your gallery wall.

So, here you are in Los Angeles. You could be a local, an import, or a visitor, who now has a myriad of local attractions and walls to choose from. Where do you go? Sure, you could follow as much of the walls and wings scattered all over LA – and I think you should – but you could also add a little bit of mystery and excitement to your photos with a location that makes people say:

“Where WAS that?!”

Or, “So pretty! I forgot about that place – let’s go!”

Try Somewhere New

Most people these days know a little bit more about San Fernando Valley than they used to. As the red-headed stepchild of Los Angeles, it usually got a bum rap for being a worthless area of the county with nothing to do in.

There are a lot of misconceptions about this area known simply as “The Valley” even though there’s a minimum of 3 other Valleys within an hour’s driving distance from the LA city centre. The main one I’d like to address here is the misconception that The Valley is not worth visiting.

These days, one of the reasons to visit a spot is its Instagram worthiness. Many places are worth visiting for the experience, but points are added if you can take a great photo there, whether it’s the food, the walls, or the scenery.

Lake Balboa Park

A large park in the Valley that boasts plenty of activities ranging from archery, golf, Japanese gardens, and a lake you can ride a swan paddle boat in, just to name a few.

Because of those, there are plenty of areas and activities in this park that can provide you with some great Instagram content. This single location can provide you with all sorts of different scenery in a day’s worth of shooting.

The Village at Topanga Canyon

A relatively new open plaza in the San Fernando Valley, The Village opened about 3 years ago giving this corner of the valley new retail life.

Built much in the spirit of other open plazas like the Grove and Americana, this place is designed for strolling and shopping, as well as sitting for hours enjoying your coffee, your dog playing in the various textures of dirt, grass, cement, and floor fountains, reading a book, or people watching.

The walkways are lined with a variety of decorated walls, from vertical gardens, floral backgrounds, fake swings, and light up text, there is a beautiful Instagram wall for you and your feed.

Malibu Hindu temple

Not so much an attraction, but an actual temple, this place welcomes visitors of all kinds. Details are best obtained directly from the website, as hours can vary by season and special occasions.

The temple is hidden between the hills and valleys of Mulholland drive. Easily missed if you’re not looking for it, it’s a beautiful glistening white building with statues of Hindu deities inside. You are free to take photos, walk around, or simply sit down to breathe in and meditate in their presence.

Victory Trailhead

One of many trails in the West Valley, Victory trailhead is a favourite of the locals for its easy parking, easy paths, and perfect views of the sunset.

There is a particular spot I often visit when entering from the Victory Trailhead entrance that often reminds me of The Lion King when viewed at sunset.

Note: For those that aren’t local, there are snakes and coyotes in the area. Be aware. Summer hosts a lot of rattlesnakes, so stay on the path. Be cautious of coyotes, especially if you have a pet with you. While a lot of people do hike alone, it’s best to hike with a friend.

Vasquez Rocks

A rock formation located towards Santa Clarita Valley, this is a perfect place for some creatively costumed shoots, active, and family photos.

Many families and teenagers show up here to hang out, hike, or climb the rocks. According to trivia, this place is also known as Kirk’s Rock for being heavily used in Star Trek as a variety of planets.

Venture out further and explore

San Fernando Valley may just be the beginning for you. It was for me when I first moved out this direction.

What initially felt like an empty area devoid of most active life suddenly became a treasure trove of places rarely any of my friends in LA had any idea about. Living here is how I found these places and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

When in the San Fernando Valley, those of us that don’t care to plunge into the busy areas of LA are able to drive towards the coast of Malibu, head further inland into Simi Valley or Sylmar, or cross the border into the next county of Ventura.

There are a lot of places here not covered by the usual Los Angeles itinerary that could be worth a day’s drive or a weekend visit. I encourage you to take the 101N or the PCH. Stop by the little-known places along the way and find some of your own little Instagram treasures.

Honey Reyes works in fashion and runs a personal travel blog at thatdamnhoney.com that includes posts on travel advice, Los Angeles events, and journal entries about her life – with a debatable amount of swearing.

Travel

Naivasha, Kenya: The Floating Rock of Hell’s Gate

Have you ever wanted to make a trip to the inspiration behind the opening scene in the Lion King? Karis from Don’t Dream Just Travel has been kind enough to take you on a journey with her through this incredible landscape!

If you ever find yourself in Naivasha, Kenya, one of the places you should definitely visit is Hell’s Gate National Park.

Hell’s Gate is located in Naivasha, around a 3 hour drive from Nairobi. Entrance fees for non-residents are currently set at $26, with an added fee for a car or a bicycle.

One of the great things about Hell’s Gate is that you are allowed to rent bikes at the entrance to the park and bike through. It is one of the few parks that is probably safe enough to do so, although you must stay on the road and not wander.

You can also camp overnight on one of the cliffs overlooking the park. I often made a weekend trip to Hell’s Gate to camp, hike, bike, and look at the wildlife.

It is a little known fact that Hell’s Gate inspired the Lion King (see the actual “Pride Rock” here!), and Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie was also filmed here. I actually personally know the local videographer that got to work with the team for this film and taught both of his sons in one of the schools I worked at in the Rift Valley.

Another neat feature of Hell’s Gate is that it has a beautiful canyon that you can hike down. Because it is prone to flash floods it can be quite dangerous and the entrance is monitored by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

I lived and worked in Kenya for 9 years and Hell’s Gate has always been one of my favorite places to camp and hike, however, one day things did not go to plan.

I went on a day trip with some friends and we hiked down into the canyon that had recently been filled with flood waters, so the going was tough in the mud. We had quite a few small waterfalls to climb up and down, and at one point, we had a giant, stillwater mud puddle to figure out how to get across. We couldn’t walk through because after pushing a stick in we realized it was probably waist deep, and the canyon walls on either side were absolutely vertical with no way of climbing over them.

Right in the middle of the puddle, however, was a relatively large, flat rock. The first guy in the group decided to try and jump for it, took a running start, landed on the rock, and promptly went completely under the water.

The rock was not what we thought it was – it was a porous, floating, volcanic rock! It was literally floating in the middle of the water and wouldn’t sink. We had never seen anything like it!

The rest of the guys I was with decided to muscle their way across by putting their feet on one side of the canyon wall, and hands on the other, and shuffling across the puddle. They were all over six foot, and all five feet, eight inches of me (which I thought was a fair height) decided to do the same.

I got about halfway before I realized that being four inches shorter than the guys wasn’t going to work as I slipped on the rock and went straight in! Thankfully, this was before the days when we carried smartphones everywhere, so no equipment was lost – only my pride!

The only other girl in the group decided to save her dignity and charged straight through the puddle, which ended up coming up to her chest at the deepest point.

After half of our party emerged from that hike dripping and muddy. We were definitely looking forward to going home that evening and showering off the mud of Hell’s Gate, wishing that the floating rock had actually been solid so our hike wouldn’t have been so wet!

Whenever we drive by Hell’s Gate, we remember that crazy floating volcanic rock and wonder how it got there, many miles away from the closest volcano in Kenya … I think if it were alive, it’s probably still laughing at us.

Follow Karis and her adventures over on her blog and social media!
Travel

Worldwide: Festive Friday 2!

We have had some incredible feedback following our first post in the #FestiveFriday series. Today we take you to two countries that are miles apart with different traditions. The things they have in common however are the passion the two writers have for their respective countries and the festival they celebrate! 

We loved learning about Guatemala from Ale’s last blogpost, now we get to indulge in her Christmas traditions!

One of my favorite things of Christmas in Guatemala is the sense of unity and family that is created in the environment. All throughout December, Guatemalans host different types of events in order to spend quality time with people they love. A very common event is a “convivio”, which is basically a party where friends, family, or co-workers (depending on who hosted it) gather and celebrate that the year is almost over and simply spend a fun time together. Most of the time, convivios have different types of games where you can win prizes, food (of course) and/or a gift exchange.
Ale Xmas.jpgSince Guatemala is still a predominantly Catholic country, one of our traditions is having a “posada”; an event symbolising the pilgrimage of the virgin Mary and Joseph on their departure from Nazareth to Bethlehem, awaiting the birth of Jesus. This tradition consists in leading a procession through the streets and at the end, stop by some houses to receive a snack; traditionally, people should offer tamales or chuchitos, sweet bread, and punch (fruit punch is prepared differently in Guate). The procession is accompanied with candles, carols and instruments.
Some big local companies also host free events where everyone is invited. There are two big events in my city; the inauguration of the biggest Christmas tree in Guatemala, the Árbol Gallo (Gallo is the name of the beer company who is hosting the event), and a fireworks show called Luces Campero (sort of like Macy’s 4th of July show in NYC). Both of these events have some acts before the main spectacle begins, such as ballet, national artists, etc.
Apart from events, we also come together by decorating our homes. In Guatemala it is rare to buy a real pine tree; we mostly have the plastic ones sitting in the garage waiting to be decorated. However, one of the traditions is commemorating the birth of Jesus by placing a representation below the tree these are called “el nacimiento”. Nacimientos are decorated with a layer of moss, pine leaves, sawdust of all the colors you can imagine, and little clay characters to represent everyone that attended the birth of Jesus. Personally, this was one of my favourite memories when I was little, since my sister and I had the freedom to decorate it however we liked!
Kathleen thrilled us with her tales of German joke books, now she has a festive story to tell! 
Kathleen Xmas

As some of you might know, I went to Kiel in 2015 as part of my year abroad at university (and those who don’t, I don’t know how because I haven’t shut up about it since). Christmas in Kiel was one of the most magical things I’d ever experienced. There was a huge market by the central station – admittedly, a rat once ran over my foot there, but I was feeling very festive and chose to consider it as more of a Christmas rat – and I was struck by the amount of camraderie and happy feeling around all the people there. No one actually seemed to buy anything from the many little huts around the square, but the Glühwein was flowing and there was almost always some kind of local band playing a Christmas tune or two. When Kate came to visit (namedrop to the editor), we went to Lübeck and marvelled at the marzipan towers on the main square. When other friends came, we went to Hamburg to try the Christmas rides firsthand.

I feel like I should give a short introduction to my former landlady at this point. Her name is Renate, she is the most spritely 67 year old I’ve ever met and she spoils me absolutely rotten. Because there aren’t any young people in my village, she has taken me under her wing. Are we best friends? I don’t know, but we exchange excellent WhatsApp chain mails and she insists on bringing over dinner in a Tupperware every Friday night so I don’t have to cook over the weekend. When I get a call from Renate asking me to go with her on a coach trip to a historic Christmas market, what’s a gal going to do? Obviously accept. So she signed me up with her (other) best friend, Barbara, for a Christmas market tour.

Kathleen Xmas 2The coach came to pick us up from our village centre and we went, via Cottbus, to our destination. I was the only person on this bus under the age of 64. I know this so precisely because Barbara is 64. The bar opened obscenely early on board the coach; the woman next to me had three half bottles of wine for under a tenner and all before midday. The journey took us about three and a half hours, but I was ready; this was going to be the best Christmas market I’d ever been to! A medieval town in Saxony, on the Elbe, totally off the beaten track for non-Germans! There was a distracting interlude in the afternoon which involved eating half a goose and going on a boat trip with the Saxon equivalent of John Bishop, but we eventually got there at quarter to four. Remember this, quarter to five.

“Right everyone, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Time to go and explore the Christmas market! Remember, everyone needs to be back on the coach by ten to six!”
Ten to six? Maybe I’d got the devilish German time telling wrong (who says three quarters eight when they mean quarter to nine??) and they meant six to ten? Oddly specific, but not unheard of in the land of punctuality. But no, she said ten to six. I didn’t really understand why we’d driven for nearly four hours and been subjected to such John Bishopry for two hours in order to stay there for an hour.

I soon understood why. The stalls all fit one of four profiles: Glühwein, baubles, gingerbread, candied nuts. They were all ever so slightly expensive for what they were. The light sleet in the air was making everything damp, but at the same time not damp enough to feel wet. Renate, Barbara and I only actually spent 20 minutes at the market – there was absolutely no Christmas feeling whatsoever. A man was telling me on the bus about how he came a few years ago and there were Czech craftsmen making ornaments for people to take home with them – where were they now?

Unfortunately, this seems all too prevalent in the New Bundesländer (former East Germany). The markets are full of aging adults, with children too old to come to the Christmas markets but not old enough to have grandchildren of their own, and who aren’t willing to shout about how much they love Christmas. That said, I was in Bautzen a few weeks ago and there were children and young people filling up the main squares of the town. But the stalls were all the same, everywhere I went. A true German Christmas experience you’re looking for? Head north. Try out the Lüneborg or Lübeck markets. Say hello to the Christmas rat in Kiel, wherever s/he may be. And bring the enthusiasm with you! Don’t expect the market to do all the Christmassing for you; drink as much Glühwein (or Apfelpunch! Great non-alcoholic alternative) as you can stomach and bully your friend into trying a Feuerzangenbowle – hot wine with a sugar lump balanced on top and set on fire!

Follow both of them on their travels via their social media:

Ale:  http://marialevasquez.wixsite.com/doslunares  http://instagram.com/doslunaresgt/

Kathleen: https://twitter.com/_mrsbruhl  

Travel

Manchester, UK: Not So Grim Up North

Some may say it’s grim up north but they’ve obviously never had a night out in Manchester!

Bear with me. I’m going to bang on about Manchester again. I really don’t think I can stress enough how much I love the North West. We have some of the best restaurants, museums and nightlife in the county. Of course, I’m biased but honestly one of the factors that made moving back from Paris easier was the knowledge that I wouldn’t be missing my culture vulture wanderings.

My first recommendation from grey old Manchester has to be the Cathedral. I’m not a religious person however I think a lot can be gained from spending a few quiet moments in peaceful contemplation. If that doesn’t tempt you then they have a fabulous tea shop across the courtyard which serves gorgeous cakes and a wide selection of hot and cold beverages.

Usually, whenever we go out we like to try somewhere new so we know a restaurant must be good if we keep going back. The Patron is one of those restaurants. They do a cracking Sunday Lunch as well as inventive small plates. My advice would be to not miss out on the shawarma fries!

Gin has become such a popular drink that it isn’t surprising that bars dedicated to the stuff have popped up all over the place. Allotment is a stone’s throw from my other half’s flat and he has been meaning to take me for ages. Luckily the last time I was over we had a chance to go. They have dozens of guns; many of which I had never heard of but was keen to try. We didn’t try the food there as we had already stuffed our faces at the Patron!

If you’re also a milennial then you are probably on the lookout for great brunch places just like me. Well, you can’t go wrong with Ezra and Gil. Part café, part general store, this place serves up fantastic food and coffee in a buzzing, friendly atmosphere. There may be a slight wait but it is totally worth it!

Have you got any recommendations for Manchester? Let us know in the comments!

Travel

Melbourne, Australia: Live Like A Local

If the cold weather in the northern hemisphere is making you feel down then let Caitlin transport you to Melbourne!

As a student who has pretty much lived her entire life in Melbourne, you do find your own secret (or in most cases not so secret) gems around this city that only the locals know about. And bonus – I know a thing or two to suit any budget!

South Melbourne Market

A hop, skip and a tram’s journey away from Melbourne’s CBD, the South Melbourne Market is a foodie’s dream. It sells everything from fruit and veg to cakes and pastries, dried fruit to cheeses and antipasto. And it also has lots of hand-made goods.

It is open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 8am – 4pm and bonus, the market is open for an extra hour on Fridays 8am – 5pm! What has really caught my eye this year is that the market has gone completely plastic straw free which is amazing news as it was once a bit overrun by plastic.

It is also super easy to get to the South Melbourne Market on the Corner of Coventry & Cecil Streets in South Melbourne with 2 hours free parking on market days if youre in a car. Just make sure you leave early enough to get a spot. I’ve been caught out a few times and had to park in the paid parking zones or had a long walk!! So, I now often go by tram from Melbourne CBD. The easiest route is to get the No. 96 tram from Bourke St and get off at South Melbourne at Stop 127 or you can take the No.1 from Federation Square to South Melbourne at Stop 25. It’s then just a quick walk up to Cecil St. (Quick thing with the trams, make sure you have money on your myki card and touch on and off, the same for trains as well).

If you like the look of this sophisticated Melbourne market and are a visitor to this city that I call home make sure you check out the Market to Market Tours which happen on every third Saturday of the month. It is $15 AUD for 1 ½ hours from 10am until 11.30am and includes food samples (which are divine and I’d do it for this alone) and a market bag. The only downside is that you need to make a booking but you can find all of that and more information on their website https://southmelbournemarket.com.au/

Shopping

Right in the heart of Melbourne are the best shopping strips. You can look to Bourke Street Mall, Emporium andMelbourne Central for student budget friendly shops. They are all a tram’s journey up from Flinders’ Street Station along Elizabeth Street. AND they are all within the free tram zone – whoop whoop!! – so you don’t have to worry about a myki card and touching on and off to get between them all!!

If your shopping budget isn’t so student friendly, make your way down to Chapel Street where you can find all of your high street brands. This area is extremely famous for itsfashion, food, coffee, vintage stores, coffee, street art, markets and did I mention coffee… 😉. It’s even worth a visit if you don’t have a high-end budget just to get a feel of the Melbourne vibe!!

Unless you’ve got a car, the two easiest ways to get to Chapel St are tram or train (remember your myki card)! For the train, get on a Sandringham Line train at Flinders’ St Station to Prahran Railway Station then it’s just a quick walk up. Or for a tram, get on at City Square/Swanston St tram No. 72 for Camberwell. Then after about 20 mins jump off at Chapel St/Commercial Rd (Stop 31) and you’re there. Make sure you do some shopping for me!

Sport

It has been said that Melbourne is the sports capital of the world and it is easy to see why!! Any sport you can think of, there is a place to either watch it or play it! Watching sport is a main part of Melburnian and definitely Australian culture!

In January, head to Rod Laver Arena and the Australian Open. A good tip that all the locals know is to just buy general admission tickets and go and watch the matches in the first week. You’ll be able to see some good names playing on the outside courts. I guess that this happens at all tennis events, but Melbourne is definitely the place to do it!! And make sure that you have a hat and sun cream and drink heaps of water – IT IS HOT!!

Definitely go and watch a game of the Australian Football League (AFL) in the winter at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It’s our national sport. And don’t stress – the rules are very confusing – even for someone who religiously watches Friday Night Footy! It is easier to drive to the MCG and Rod Laver Arena because it’s out of the city a bit however parking is hard to find and quite expensive in the grounds. So, once again train and tram are your best bets. Richmond or Jolimont Train Stations are the closest or alternatively take the No. 75, 48 or 70 trams into this area.

Or if you are in Melbourne in the summer still nip down to the MCG to watch some test cricket and the Boxing Day Test. Or even have a wander around the MCG museum (although I haven’t done it and don’t know what it’s like). If the MCG doesn’t take your fancy, there is always the Big Bash League and Twenty20 cricket down at the Docklands and Marvel Stadium which is always entertaining!! I love watching the Big Bash League, it’s fun and exciting and a lot cheaper. You can find prices around the $20 AUD mark for adults and $5 AUD for kids!! If you get yourself to Southern Cross TrainStation it’s a quick walk across the footbridge to Marvel Stadium.

Now if cricket, AFL and tennis aren’t your cup of tea then there’s always Albert Park for the Grand Prix in March. But if you are visiting outside of this time you can drive your car around the track – it’s a part of our road system surrounding Albert Park – just please don’t drive at the speeds that the professional drivers do, you will most definitely be arrested!! 

Head to Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre (MSAC) for all swimming, diving, badminton, table tennis, pilates and more. You can even swim at MSAC and access to all swimming facilities costs $11.10 AUD for one adult. I’ve often had swimming competitions here and it gives a really nice atmosphere (somewhat similar to an Olympic Games 😊). Driving once again is the easiest option because the centre is out of the city a bit. However, you can take a tram from the city centre on Route 12 towards South Melbourne and St Kilda and hop off at Stop 131.

Or alternatively, head down to AAMI Park, Hisense Arena or Margaret Court Arena for everything soccer, rugby, netballand basketball. You can have a look on www.ticketek.com.auto buy tickets to see some of the games!

St. Kilda

For everything involving fun, head down to St. Kilda. It’s common to see people running and cycling along the promenade in one of Melbourne’s more well-to-do suburbs. If you are shaking your head at me and saying ‘well that’s no fun’ 😂, St. Kilda is also the home of Luna Park, a typical seaside amusement park. So, have a walk through the mouth(the entrance 😊), into this park and go wild!!! Entry is a $5 AUD fee to preserve the park because it is heritagelisted with the scenic railway around the outside. But, its $49.95 AUD for unlimited rides for anyone over 13 years old (definitely worth it!!) and check out the website here for more information https://lunapark.com.au/. 

You can go and have a swim at St. Kilda beach. If you go early enough in the morning and in the winter, you can see some of the AFL players doing a recovery session in the water. Beware, the water temperature is freezing at this time of the year!!! Then after a morning of running, cycling and swimming, have a wander up into the streets. There are some amazing cafes for brunch or even just coffee and cake in the afternoon 😊. You’ll find some really quaint ones that I probably haven’t even been in yet 😉.

St. Kilda market is a definite go-to if you’re in the area. Along the beach front you’ll find all sorts of handmade arts and crafts as well as gorgeous foods 😊. It’s open every Sunday from 10am-4pm and until 5pm in daylight saving times – it’s along the promenade and you can’t miss it!!!

Lygon Street

The home of Italy in Melbourne!! Some say that you don’t need to visit Italy in order to try the food because it is all there in Lygon St (me, personally I’d still go to Italy to see everything else and try the food in their home country). It also brought coffee to Melbourne and integrated it into our culture. I am greatly thankful for that 😉.

Brunetti’s is a must-eat if only for the pastries alone!! But they also serve pizza, gelato, pasta and COFFEE!! Even so definitely check out the other awesome restaurants and cafes here in the area!!

To get to Lygon St from the CBD, youll want to hop on a tram at Federation Square/Swanston St (opposite Flinders’ St Station) Stop 13 towards East Coburg and get off at Albert St/Lygon St Stop 123 and you’re there!!!

Thank you all for making it to the end (I know – it was a long one 😊) but I am truly grateful and really passionate about my little gem of a city, Melbourne!!

You can find me at overthenextwave.com and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @overthenextwave, but for now until next time, let’s see what’s over the next wave.

Caitlin