Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Dublin {in pictures}

I often see accounts on instagram with photo after photo of pretty pastel houses, cars and flowers. I of course think the photos and accounts are pretty but for me photography is getting stuck in and getting the unique, quirky points of a city { perhaps I just don’t have enough will power to stick to a rigid theme}. This photo of the priest although slightly out of focus is one of my absolute favourites, I often think in film sequences and when I took this Hozier Take Me To Church was playing in my head. 



Posted by Alexandra Falleyn at 9:58 pm no comment

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Dublin

   TRAVEL

I booked my flights last-minute, I travelled with RyanAir on the way out and AerLingus on the way back. I had great experiences with both.STAY

The Westbury

My partner Tom was working in Dublin so I crashed his hotel room. It was an absolutely gorgeous hotel and I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s not part of the Dorchester hotel group but felt like it and for me there’s nothing better. I knew I’d enjoy it from the second I walked in, you see I’d spotted my House of Hackney palm cushions. Apparently the co-owner of House of Hackney is Irish.

EAT

{ I must say that I did find eating out expensive in Dublin, similar if not a bit more than eating out in London}

Industry & Co

I mentioned this in my shopping and coffee list but for light bites and pastries this was fab!

Fade Street Social

This was recommended by The Westbury concierge, we normally like to do our own research but this trip was a bit last-minute. Owned by Dylan Mcgrath {an Irish celebrity chef } we chose the tapas style food downstairs as opposed to the slightly more formal restaurant. It was a good choice and all the food was flippin’ great. It’s not traditional tapas – think more mini lobster rolls and crab toasties.

Fallon & Byrne

A grocery shop with a wine bar in the basement- need I say anymore?

Brother Hubbard

A bit off the beaten track this place gets rave reviews. I wandered past whilst exploring the North side of the river and grabbed a sandwich from it’s take out place – Little Hubbard.

Coffee Shop, George Street Market

I was a bit tired when I landed so unusually for me I couldn’t be bothered to traipse up and down to find Dublin’s best avocado on toast. I popped into this unassuming coffee shop because it was busy with grannies and I trust grannies to lead me to a good café. I had a fuss free Americano with a cheese and brown bread sandwich. I indulged in a bit of people watching and planned my sight-seeing route.

COFFEE

Arguably one of the most important parts of any trip is finding good coffee. I’ve banned myself from getting a coffee from those big ol’ chains though I needn’t have worried there’s plenty of amazing places around.

Industry & Co

I mentioned this in my shopping / eating section but I got the best mocha here and the tiles are ON POINT!

Danger Donuts

Three words; salted caramel doughnuts. #yourewelcome

Clement and Pekoe

I didn’t actually get a coffee from here but there was a queue every time I walked past which means a) the coffee is great b) the take out cups are really instagramable.

DRINK

I think I’m in a very tiny percentage of people who visited Ireland and didn’t do the Guinness experience. To be honest I just wasn’t that fussed, plus I spent the days by myself so I didn’t think getting tipsy alone was wise. That said I did drink a few Irish coffees – Baileys version.

Stag’s Head

Established in 1770 the staff are friendly and the atmosphere lively, if you’re going to have Guinness anywhere they it might as well be here. P.S It’s featured in a number of tv programmes and films so you might recognise the interior.

The Sidebar

This cocktail bar was in the hotel we stayed at but it was gorgeous, the bartenders wear white tuxedos and to me it reminded me of the Polo Lounge in Los Angeles { high praise from me as I love the BHH}. If you’re going on a romantic weekend this is a lovely place to stop by.

DO

Books Of Kells / Long Room, Trinity College

The moment you step inside Trinity College Campus you immediately regret all your education decisions why on earth did you not apply for this University; surely is the place to go. The campus was not only gorgeous but lively and musical. Students {or as I’ve started to call them – kids} were playing Bowie songs on saxophones in their tiny skinny jeans whilst supping what I imagine was artisan coffee with almond milk.

The Book of Kells exhibition was easy to find and well laid out. Dare I say it I found the context part  more exciting than the book itself though the book absolutely beautiful. My experience was hampered by what felt like 17,000 Spanish exchange children who pushed past and swarmed the perspex viewing box like bees. Mindful / frustrated / slightly scared of this army of kids I hurried toward the Long Room.

When you climb the steps to the spectacular Long Room the first thing you notice is the smell of old books and it’s heavenly. The Old Library {a Thomas Burgh’s masterpiece} holds thousands of rare and early volumes. In the 18th century, the college received the Brian Boru one of the three surviving medieval Gaelic harps which is on display here.

Christ Church Cathedral

The oldest of the two medieval Cathedrals it’s a pretty building with a synod attached. You’ll find the tomb of Strongbow in this church. I was going to look around but it didn’t look very welcoming and I didn’t fancy paying €6 get in and €4 for information #sorrynotsorrySaint Patricks Cathedral

Founded in 1191 Saint Patricks Cathedral is mostly known for its connection with Gulliver’s Travel author Jonathan Swift but I feel I should also point out that it’s spire at 43 metres tall means that St Patrick’s is the tallest church in Ireland because apparently size matters. Personally, I was glad to visit just to check out that tiled floor- talk about pinterest tile inspo. On a more serious note it was a friendly and welcoming church and I enjoyed their displays on Jonathan Swift, especially the part when he two-times his girlfriends.Famine Memorial

Located along the River Liffey, these statues together memorialize the Great Famine designed by Rowan Gillespie that Ireland endured between 1845 – 1849. Mass starvation and emigration, causing one million to die and at least another million to emigrate. The memorial depicts weary, emaciated forms marching towards the docklands in search of the promise of a better life in the US or Canada. It’s really moving and the starving dog make me well up.

National Library of Ireland

I’m not going to lie I went just to have a peek at the amazing reading room but I spent at least an hour totally immersed in the W.B Yates exhibition. It’s interactive displays use videos, poetry readings and artwork to show Yates’ childhood and controversial working practices. If you’re interested in poetry, literature or weird religious practices you’d love this. I sat and listened to the poems read by actors and even Yates himself for a good half an hour and decided how listening to poetry is good for our soul. After this I went to visit the reading room. You must leave your belongings and phones in a locker before entering the room so I didn’t take any photos but it had to be one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen. It’s no wonder Ireland has produced so many literary greats with sensational rooms like this to work in.

National Museum Ireland

Shamefully I just popped in here for 20 minutes, I had walked and walked and this was the last attraction on my list. I’d left it a bit late and the museum was shutting but I was so impressed I’d definitely pay a return visit. I loved the Egyptology section and was amazed by the large collection of Viking gold; I’ve never seen anything like it.

Saint Stephen’s Shopping Centre

Okay so this might not have the best shops in Dublin { that would be Brown’s Grafton Street} but it is worth a visit to admire the beautiful view.

CHQ Building

This place is worth dropping by after seeing the Famine memorial if want to warm up or get a coffee. This large glass building used to be the tram garage but now hosts many food outlets and a tech hub sponsored by Google, I guess the building was part of their incredibly low tax threshold deal 😉

Chester Betty Library / Dublin Castle

I honestly cannot stop talking about this place, I spent about two hours in there and took details notes on my iPhone, seriously. Chester Betty was a wealthy business man who collected lots of East Asian and Middle Eastern art and religious books and manuscripts including some incredibly rare Egyptian Papyrus. If you’re a fan of religious history, books or illustration this is a must do. It’s free and has a friendly café; it was the highlight of my trip. I must admit I didn’t go into the castle but I did walk around the grounds – they provide a great picture opportunity.

Drury Street / George Street Market 

As much as I love a good museum I naturally gravitate towards the arty places. I love that people care about producing beautiful things as much as me. Wander down this street and pop into the beautiful shops { particularly Industry & Co and Irish Design Company}Jam Art Factory / Patrick Street 

I walked down this road on the way for Saint Patricks Cathedral and popped into to Jam Art because of their gorgeous prints displayed in the window. I spotted one I’d love but Canadian tourists nabbed it before me.Powerscourt Town House

Another trendy road is William Street, on here you’ll find the Powerscourt Town House. This gorgeous Georgian building is home to independent interior shops {Article}, knitting and bridal shops, jewelers, café and the most beautiful florist called The Garden.

The Winding Stair 

I wandered past lots of lovely looking bookshops { inc Gutter Books – love the Wilde inspired name } but didn’t have time to venture in except this one. It was warm and cos y and I loved its little reading nook in the corner.

Overall I really loved Dublin – I’d love to spend longer in the museums and libraries but in the same way I’d love to go their for an international rugby match, Temple Bar just had such a great atmosphere. I found Dublin inexpensive to get around but found eating out quite expensive.

 

 

 



Posted by Alexandra Falleyn at 8:56 am no comment

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Budapest { in pictures }

As much as I love researching and lists of places to go, I often think a picture is worth a thousand words. Budapest is breath taking and I’m already dreaming about how I can shoot some sort of high end perfume campaign with a Hollywood star exploring the city. In the mean time look at some of the pretty parts of this city. 





Posted by Alexandra Falleyn at 10:56 am no comment

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Budapest

In the days I traveled across the wide Canadian prairies on the Via Train I realised just how lucky I am to live next to and near so many countries and cultures. I am also selfishly worried about what implications the Brexit vote will have on cheap, easy European travel so have declared 2017 the year of Europe. I won’t able to visit it all but I want to tick off a few places.
I expressed this wish to my friend Juliet and she said ‘when shall we go?’ We both had some time off so booked return flights to Budapest, setting off at 5am last Tuesday morning.

It was a short trip – we arrived Tuesday lunchtime and left Thursday lunchtime but being planners and absolute keen beans { is there any other way? } we packed a lot in. Budapest is often described as the Paris of the East but the gorgeous architecture, incredible bars, restaurants and coffee culture Budapest doesn’t need a Western Europe comparison. For the record I absolutely LOVED it.

TRAVEL

Wizz Air; We flew out with Wizz Air which I do not recommend. Their take-on luggage size is smaller than an average handbag and Juliet and I with our wheelie suitcases had to pay extra to board { this is painful to type}. We checked in online but as Wizz Air did not send us a PDF of our ticket, we thought we’d print them at the airport then Wizz Air charged us £30 for the privilege. After a small hissy fit Ju and I just decided to pay the money and put it behind us. I will be writing a very strong worded email to Wizz Air to make me feel better.

Norwegian Air: We flew back with Norwegian Air and they were great; friendly, helpful. When we had a failed take off and had to change planes the cabin crew were still happy and polite and gave us hot drinks for free. I would highly recommend.

Fo Taxi; Our Airbnb hosts recommended Fo Taxi and so does Budapest Airport. You queue up at the kiosk, hand over your address they give you a voucher which you hand in to your taxi driver. No language and communication difficulties and they can’t rip you off.

Metro; We travelled on the Metro twice, it was easy to use and was exactly like the tube.

STAY

Juliet found the most amazing AirBnB. Our hosts Viktor and Kata were excellent, we couldn’t have asked for anymore. The studio flat was in the Jewish Quarter and close to the Metro Station Oktagon, though we only used the Metro twice. Viktor met us outside the flat and talked us through the heating, how to work the shower and window blinds etc. Viktor provided a map of the city and gave us some recommendation’s as to where to eat and what to prioritise. It was my first Airbnb experience and it was fantastic, a completely different vibe from staying in a hotel.

EAT

YES! Trying local food is one of my favourite parts of visiting a new place and thankfully Juliet agreed. We tried about six or seven Hungarian specialities including Goulash, Dobos Torte and to my regret Palinka.

The Vintage Garden; not the most Hungarian sounding name but this was delightful. It was a recommendation from a friend who’d visited this city a few weeks before. It’s the epitome of shabby chic. After days of cake and carbs we opted for big salads and a bottle of Hungarian white wine. It was called Furmint and was pretty damn good.

Ket Szerecsen; a recommendation from our Airbnb hosts and a fabulous one. A friendly restaurant that offers Hungarian cuisine, we had goulash to start followed chicken paprika for Ju and beef cheek stew for me. We washed it down with Hungarian beer and planned our sight-seeing route for the next day #geeks

Stika; Don’t you just love it when you stumble past something achingly trendy? Ju and I walked past this place on the way to the Gellert Baths on our last morning; our time conscious minds said ‘grab a coffee and go,’ but our hangovers said ‘ you need bacon and eggs.’ Bacon and eggs is exactly what we had and it was served in a way I’ve never seen before. First you fry the streaky bacon and then you fry the egg in the bacon fat, YUM. Stika serves this dish with a fresh salad which helped cut through the grease just a little bit ;-).

Grand Market Hall; a gigantic indoor market. On the ground and lower floor you’ll find greengrocer’s, butchers and Hungarians doing their day-to-day shopping. On the second floor you’ll find vendors serving ‘traditional’ Hungarian food, I say that though it’s entirely geared towards tourists but fun to try none the less. We ate stuffed cabbage and mangos, neither of which I would rush to try again.

COFFEE AND CAKELemme tell you straight, the Hungarians LOVE their coffee and they LOVE their cake. Francophiles look away now, Budapest is no longer the ‘Paris of the East,’ when it comes to cakes cos’ it might just be the new Paris.New York Café; now this is a bold statement but I think this just might be one of my favourite places I’ve ever been. Don’t get me wrong, it’s touristy but I can see why. The café is just jaw droppingly { think I just made that word up } beautiful. It was built 120 years ago for The New York Life Insurance Company though sadly it was badly damaged in WWII. Thankfully the Boscolo Hotel group bought it and restored it to its former glory. It’s not the cheapest place in the city but the setting and cake were divine. A Quartet would come out and play every 20 minutes, much to our amusement the violinist looked like Shaun Williamson aka Barry from Eastenders.

Lotz Hall Café, Alexandra Bookshop; the entrance is not as grand as the New York Café but this place is still wonderful. What I loved about Lotz Hall Café and all these special places in Budapest is that locals were using them like Starbucks. When Ju and I visited people were tapping away on laptops and a group of grannies were having coffee in the corner.

Ruszworm Café; you’ll find this on the Buda side in Castle Hill. I’m saddened to say that next door has become a Jamie’s Italian and as much as I like Jamie, I don’t think Castle Hill is the place for one. Anyway this 200 year café was circled on the Budapest guidebook left in the Airbnb, when we turned to the information page there was a big tick next to it. We took this as a good sign and it was. Rozsworn Café offered us refuge against the cold wind that whipped around Castle Hill, we ordered pots of tea and shared the Hungarian Dobos torte. The staff were super helpful and wrote down directions back to our flat.

The Sweet; in District VII next door to Vintage Garden this is one of the prettiest cake and patisserie shops I’ve ever seen. Romantic and really, flipping great for instagram shots, I got some macaroons and Ju got some cookies, though if you’d let us we’d have happily bought the whole shop.

DRINK

Before you read any further, if you’re going to Budapest you need to know about the ruin bars. Ruin bars are bars / clubs / pubs that have been set up in the ruins of buildings in the Jewish Quarter, the buildings were abandoned in WWII. The bars are unlike anywhere else I’ve been; there are no neon signs or trendy fronts, you simply walk through nondescript doors into old home or apartment blocks. Corridors lead through to an inner courtyard or a car park where projectors might be projecting old films or dj’s might be mixing right in the middle of the room on a stool. What’s ironic is unlike many bars and cafes the exposed plaster and copper pipework is completely original.

Szimpla Kert; as well as owning the best café in the world, Budapest is also home to one of the worlds best bars. Szimpla Kert is that bar and it is extraordinary. Each room is a different bar and there is absolutely no logic in its décor or layout. In one room people were sitting bath tubs and old cars and in the next was a Parisian style cocktail bar with parquet flooring. This place needs to be seen to be believed.

Double; I’m not sure how complimentary I want to be about this place because this is where I sampled the dreaded Palinka that gave me one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever experienced. We did however also two Hungarian red wines, Ju went for a lighter wine and I went for a full-bodied, we tried to act knowledgable and discuss the ‘legs’ and what ‘notes,’ we could taste but then we were offered Palinka What’s App videos our friends until we were asked to leave at midnight { in our defense it was closing, not because we were dancing / singing wildly – for one }

Kisuzem; another recommendation from Viktor our host this corner bar is always filled with local artists. I would like to give you more information on this bar but we bumped into our host Viktor who bought us some sort of alcoholic beverage – after the Palinka the night seems a bit blurry and all I can remember is explaining Ju and I weren’t lesbians { he thought we might be because we had matching nail varnish }. That and meeting one of Hungary’s most popular DJ’s apparently!

EXPLORE

Gellért Thermal Baths and Spa, Hotel Gellért; These Art Nouveau baths are set in the Hotel Gellért, this area has always been home to a thermal spa since the Turks in 15th century. If you’re a fan of ‘ I have this thing with tiles,’ on Instagram then you’re going to love this place!Szechenyi Baths, City Park; we were recommended these by a few people. Located in city park it’s one of the spa complexes in Europe. It’s co-ed so great for families and mixed group holidays.  I thought the indoor pools were a bit tired and could do with an update. The outdoor baths were fun and I can imagine this being amazing when they host the Spring through Autumn pool parties on Saturday evenings.

Dohany Synagogue, Jewish Quarter; the second largest synagogue in the world and the largest in Europe this building was very impressive. Built in 1859 it’s Moorish style is said to represent where Israelite people came from. The synagogue was bombed in World War II and heavily damaged in the Siege of Budapest. It was restored in 1991 with private donations, one of which was given by Estee Lauder as her parents were Hungarian Jews.

St Stephen’s Basilica; this is largest Church in Budapest, it stands at exactly the same height as the Parliament building { 96 metres }. The purpose of this was to show that spiritual thinking was equal with democracy. It’s home to one of Hungary’s most sacred items – the right hand of St Stephen; not my thing but whatever floats your boat. I highly suggest walking up to the cupola to get one of the best views of the city.

Hungarian Parliament Building; on our first evening we walked across to Buda to marvel at this building by night. We also Lajos Kossuth Square in the day and saw the changing of the guard. Before it was built an international competition was held to find the design. Imre Steindl won but the two runners-up also saw their designs come to life; one became the Ethnographic Museum and the other Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. Ju and I saw similarities with the UK Houses of Parliament.

Shoes on the Danube; Sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay designed this incredibly moving memorial, I think it is the most symbolic and touching memorial I’ve ever seen. If you have time you should read up on the atrocities against Jews in Hungary, I just researched it for about an hour and cried a bit at the sheer horror. The cast iron period appropriate shoes come in all shapes, styles and sizes; no-one escaped persecution. Simple and incredibly moving, if you see one thing it needs to be this.House of Terror; speaking of terror, this museum has exhibits related to the fascist and communist regimes. Critics says that the exhibitions portray Hungary as a victim and does not fully admit its own responsibility. It’s proved popular with tourists but sadly was closed for most of January for annual renovations.

Chain Bridge; officially this bridge is called Szechenyi Chain bridge as Istvan Szechnyi was a big investor. The bridge opened in 1849 and had a huge impact to social, economic and cultural life of the city. It was designed by an Englishman and building works were overseen by a Scotsman. It bears a lot of resemblance to Marlow Bridge { for all you bridge spotters out there aka my Dad }

Liberty Bridge; Are we in Budapest or in Hammersmith, London. If you are remotely interested in bridges or you just fancy a great insta snap opportunity #bridges this is a good’un. One side is the Gellert Hotel and the other side is Great Market Hall.

Castle Hill and Buda Castle; You can get the funicular up but Ju and I decided to walk up through the castle ground. Once you reach the vast castle grounds you get amazing views of the river and Pest.

St Matthias and Fisherman’s Bastion; This important church is on the Buda side of the river and hosted many Royal weddings and coronations. Interestingly it was also used as a mosque by the Ottomans. Fisherman’s Bastion is a net-gothic terrace that sits behind St Matthias church looking out over the river. Tried to get some good Lex Chapter snaps at this place but it was too cold at that point.

Andrassy Avenue and Hero’s Square; we nicknamed this Andre Agassi, this boulevard is a world heritage site and is one of Budapest’s main shopping streets. You can also find the Opera House, Ballet School and several galleries and museums along this road. It’s often compared with the Parisian boulevard Champs-Élysées. Hero’s Square sits at the entrance to City Park and houses many memorials. It hosts special historic Hungarian events.Graffiti Art; a bit like Bristol or places in East London Budapest has some amazing street / graffiti art.  There wasn’t a specific area it’s just dotted happily around the city, so look up!

If I had more time or when I go back I would had up to City Park and take some photos of Vajdahunyad Castle and the ice skating rink. I would also take some guided walking tours of the city and of the museums and art galleries.

Costs; Ju and I were looking for a prices guide before we left and couldn’t really find one. So here’s a really rough guide to our spending, I’ve overcompensated a little and it’s worth remembering we didn’t enter any of the museums as they were closed for renovations.  I would recommend downloading a currency converter before you travel as the numbers can be quite difficult to work out { especially after 50% Hungarian plum brandy }. We took out 50,000 HUF { £140 ish } which lasted us two full days.

Our taxi was approx 14,000 HUF { £40 } return, it’s about a half an hour drive
Breakfast / Coffee / Cake 800 – 2000 HUF  { £2 – £5 }
Lunch approx 2500 – 3000 HUF { £6.50 – £8 }
Dinner 4000 – 6500 Huf { £10 – £16 }
Drinks; beer 500 – 900 HUF   { £1.30 – £2.50 }, cocktails 1500 HUF  { £4 }
Metro; single journey 300 HUF { 80p }
Thermal Spas; 5300 HUF { £14 }

To conclude 

Budapest isn’t just the political and religious capital of Hungary it’s a nexus of Hungarian culture, Jewish culture, music, art and food with gorgeous architecture to boot. Budapest is composed of three regions {Pest, Buda and Óbuda} which either side of the Danube river, a number of stunning bridges link them together and make this place truly special. With friendly locals, world-class cafes and bars and reasonable prices it’s an incredible place to visit.



Posted by Alexandra Falleyn at 9:31 am 3 comments so far.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Photos from California

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Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Verbier Photo Haul

Taking photos is one of my favourite things to do in the world. Here are some of my favourites.

The Lex Chapter Verbier Icicles The Lex Chapter Verbier Snow on garland IMG_1384 The Lex Chapter Verbier Clouds The Lex Chapter Verbier 2 Moncler The Lex Chapter Verbier Mistletoe The Lex Chapter Verbier Sunset The Lex Chapter Verbier Train The Lex Chapter Verbier 3 The Lex Chapter Verbier 2 TLC Verbier 1



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