Sophia-Jane

Thursday, 5 July 2018

A Day In Havana

"Havana, oo na-na" .. ok, that had to make an appearance sooner or later. Tick, let's move on! 

Yay, I've finally got around to writing this up for you guys! For those of you who follow my Insta you'll know that I recently went on holiday to Cuba. First things first, Varadero is where you wanna be for that relaxing beach holiday - think white sands, clear blue sea.. dreamy right? Well, the only downside is that it is a good 2 hour drive from the capital - Havana (I knew I took Geography for a reason -lols). As soon as we booked the holiday I was so excited to see Havana and the 50's vintage American cars that this wasn't really a deal breaker for me. Queue Havana photos:
Any of these will do!
Yep, that is a Dachshund wearing glasses (hehe)
 Havana is the political capital - full of history, colonial ruins and museums. All that being said..if you're after a historic run-down on why that was built, who lived there..then I'm not ya girl. My priorities stem from food, picturesque cobble streets.. and, well food. So huge apologies to our tour guide who dished out so much info.. it did really just go in one ear and out the other (oops). 

That aside, I fell in love with the character and culture of this city - it really is nothing like I've seen before. The crumbling, colourful buildings and vintage cars made me feel like I had time-warped to another era. You can easily spend hours strolling the streets, brought alive by the music of the Cuban buskers. This is also where you will find many of Hemingway's famous spots - one of which we popped in for a lil visit.

Say Hello to Hotel Ambos Mundos -
The views from the roof terrace
 Keith in that tropical shirt tho #WhenInCuba
That awkward 'my skirt just blew up and I flashed my buttocks to everyone' look

Ok ok, I hold my hands up.. I didn't put this on the 'to-visit list' because Hemingway stayed here - I was already sold at rooftop bar and cocktails! And if cocktails aren't really your thing - a) are you ok? and b) not to worry, the view itself is worth a visit alone. I'm still a bit sad that I didn't go for a Pina, I've heard they come in coconuts and, lets be honest, even if they are horrible - you got yaself a coconut for a cute pic #WinWin. I did, however, go for a Mojito..
Ok, so it weren't as 'instagrammable' but it was definitely refreshing. I was kinda put off a bit by how much sugar they used though *. I know I know, I'm cringing at myself even  saying  typing it. Yes, it's a cocktail and I'm on holiday and all that jazz but I get more than my daily allowance in ice cream as it is so.. more rum less sugar please :)

*note to self: don't watch your cocktails being made

If I'm being totally honest - I don't feel like I saw (ate) all that Havana has to offer.. I was unfortunately ill for pretty much the entire holiday *cries inside* so I couldn't take full advantage of the cocktail menus and glorious food as much as I would have liked to - which, lets be honest, is one of  the best thing about holidays. So, as much as I would love to sit here and recommend the best ice cream parlours, cocktail bars and brunch spots - I can't, I'm sorry </3

I can, however, recommend Restaurante La Casa - a cute lil family run restaurant which has been quite the popular spot for celebrities. I mean if it's good enough for Jude Law..
Sadly, he wasn't at the table next to us (that's my night ruined) but Jude Law or no Jude Law, this little gem is well worth a visit! The staff were so friendly, I can easily say it was the best service we experienced all holiday. We had a set menu but, no matter, the Chef went out of his way to whip up a bespoke dish for Keith's little nephew - including some hand-cut crisps that were a winner all around! I didn't get any food snaps so just trust me when I say that the seafood is bloody delicious. And if the food and service doesn't win you over.. there is a cute little pond that flows around the back with turtles - turns out, they are quite the friendly little fella's!

As it was an early dinner, and still daylight, I feel like we didn't experience the true beauty of this converted house - the trickling wall fountain and fairy lights are sure to be a winning combo when the sun goes down. Never-mind, we had a show to get to!

Hola, Club Tropicana!

 The show was included as part of the Havana trip which we booked through our rep. Heads up for those of you with kids - they aren't allowed to watch the show (I soon understood why)..lets just say the boys had a great time! In this case you can pay 5CUC to the Cuban man outside to watch them whilst you're enjoying the show.. ok ok,  just kiddin' - you'll need this if you want to take photos during the show (totally not kiddin')
On arrival the guys got a cigar and us ladies received a flower (cute!) I, being me, decided it was a great picture opportunity to do the whole 'look at me I'm cute with a flower in my hair' look..
Yeah, turns out a girl trying to get a flower that's tangled in her hair isn't so cute after all. The good news is, we also got a bottle of rum on our table - now the party had really begun!

Luckily the rain held off (it was an open-air theatre) and we enjoyed a night jam-packed with crazy, bright outfits, energetic Latin dancing and singing. Granted, the songs weren't really to my taste but it was just a feel-good vibe all around! I'm sure one of the costumes involved a lamp shade as a headpiece.. as I said, crazy but entertaining. It was also handy to have table service throughout the show- it is 2 hours after all .. dangerous but handy!

This was our last night of the hols, waa, and it was definitely my favourite! What I would say is, if we were to go back to Havana, I would not get a tour guide. I'm not into the whole history thing (not sure if you've noticed?) and I'd just like the freedom to explore. I'd also go later in the year, turns out June isn't the best time for sunshine - lesson learnt!

Right, I'm gonna wrap this one up cos, well, Love Island. Thanks Cuba, it was a pleasure <3



SJ






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Friday, 11 May 2018

AMSTERDAM BABY!

HALLO! (Lol, I wanted to greet you guys in Dutch.. to then find out it's just 1 letter different from our Hello.. which now just looks like a typo). IT'S NOT A TYPO, I'm glad we cleared that up..

So those of you that follow me on Insta will know that it's been quite a few weeks since I went to Amsterdam. I'm sorry for the delay, my laptop blew up (not literally, slightly dramatic there) and I've not long had it back! HOORAHH, I'm back :)

So as soon as I booked this lil weekend trip away for my boyfriends birthday, I just knew I had to blog it for you guys. It was my third time visiting and I absolutely love this city! We had already done the main tourist'y bits during our previous trips so here's a quick summary of my must-dos (that we didn't re-do on our third visit) that you just NEED to know about:

- Visit the Ann Frank House
I don't think I've ever seen a 'must-do Amsterdam list' without this being on it - that's gotta count for something right? Well, I personally love a bit of World War 2 history - I think it's something that has rubbed off on me from my ole' man. The first time we actually under-estimated the queue and didn't get a chance to go so BOOK YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE GUYS. This actually is your only option at the mo anyway (due to some reconstruction work) but hey, just always buy them online, ok? 

- Rent bikes and cycle everywhere
We were super lucky the second time visiting, it was actually my birthday weekend (early April), and the weather was lushhh. We hired a tandem - lol, legit the scariest thing ever..(in a fun way) - and cycled everywhere. Not only is it bloody good exercise but everywhere is so beautiful and by cycling you really can see it all..especially if you're short on time! I say exercise but I definitely just sat with my feet up at the back whilst Keith done all the work (lol, soz babe). Not only that but I feel like you really are in Amsterdam, if that makes sense? Like, this way you really are experiencing their culture. So guys, join the locals and hop on ya bike!

- Picnic in Vondelpark
So if you are as lucky as we were with the weather, cycle up to Vondelpark - the largest in Amsterdam - and enjoy a picnic, pimms & ice cream (dream combo) in the sunshine! In the summer they put on outdoor live concerts so deffo check that out too! 

- Visit Bloemenmarkt
Tulips are a symbol of Dutch culture so it wouldn't be right to visit Amsterdam without feasting your eyes on the beautiful Bloemenmarkt - the worlds only floating flower market, pretty cool huh! And guys, every girl likes to be bought flowers... #justsaying!

So now I've got those out the way.. let's take you to my third visit!
Sadly, we weren't so lucky with the weather this time around. When I say it was cold, I mean it was bloody freeeezinggg (-6 to be exact). I'm not usually put off by the cold, I'm more of a wrap up warm and suck it up sorta gal - but blimey, I struggled. Luckily, as we had done all these incredible things listed above already, the focus quickly shifted to food (I mean, it wasn't far off anyway) and the best places we could eat. So if you're hungry, I'd grab some snacks cos there's a lot of good food coming your way...don't say I didn't warn ya!

MAMMA KELLY'S

Our first evening I had pre-booked Mamma Kelly's - a chicken & lobster restaurant whose all pink everything interior I fell head over heels with. It's not particularly central so you do need to get a taxi but it's well worth the ride! Reservations can be made 3 weeks in advance and, lil heads up for ya - I received an email just before our booking date asking me to confirm that we were still coming.. in Dutch. No confirmation, no booking! I deffo just thought it was a 'looking forward to seeing you' aka junk mail but hell no - translate them emails!


In true Sophie fashion, I went straight to the bar for a cocktail - I mean, can you blame me? The bar is pretty snazzy! So it turns out the 'all pink' doesn't stop with the interior.. my cocktail was pink too! I can't remember the name but I feel like you wont go wrong with any cocktail you order here. 

Now, let's get into the food..I'd re-eat this all over again right now if I could. For my starter I went for a bbq chicken salad and it really was the turning point for me when it comes to salads. I've always had the opinion that they were boring, flavourless and would leave me unsatisfied. Oh how I was wrong! The chicken was so soft, cooked to perfection and the watermelon added the perfect sweetness to contrast the bbq sauce - ok, not quite a Masterchef description but hey, you get the idea. Keith opted for the Calamari (his personal fave) and there were no complaints his end either! 

We couldn't decide between chicken or lobster for main so we opted for both to share with a side of chips! I love the whole sharing agreement but there's always that one dish that wins you over just that little bit more. For me, this was the lobster. Maybe it was because I had chicken to start or maybe it was because the sauce was to die for but either way I did not want to share that lobster (still regretting that decision today - can you tell?)

Luckily for me, I did not have to share my dessert. Oh. My. Goodness. My first ever Blondie and it has set the bar high! I even contacted them after we left to check what exactly it was (I had no idea a Blondie was a thing) just to make sure I could tell you guys.  Well I can confirm it was their white chocolate brownie with caramel and sea salt and it is bloody amazing (picture above) <3 <3

METROPOLITAIN

Ahh Metropolitain <3 So, we did not stumble across this little gem either - I had a sort of restaurant bucket list going on and this was straight off it (what can I say? I take my food seriously!) GO FOR BRUNCH! The end. Just kidding, well kinda.. because it really is the perfect place for brunch. It's so cute and chilled, you really could sit in there for hours! I had my normal brunch dilemma of do I go sweet or savoury? The outcome always being the same - both, duh! When in Dam eh..

NOOCH

Ok, I confess.. another one on the list! This was actually super last minute so we were so lucky to get squeezed in - I always take it as a good sign when a restaurant is fully booked! An Asian kitchen that fuses Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian & Thai - now if that's not spoilt for choice then I don't know what is. To be honest me and Keith were totally out of our comfort zone here - me being an Italian cuisine sorta girl and him a steak/burger sorta guy. But if there was one place that surprised me the most it was Nooch. Bloody delicious! For starters we had the Duck Pancakes *best duck pancakes ever* and for main I went for the Curry King Prawn *best curry ever*. Those words literally came out of mouth after every dish. I now have a new found love for curries but am yet to find one that can compete with this!


THE DIRTY CHICKEN CLUB

Now this one was a find! Ok, I confess.. I did have a cheeky little google before stepping inside (reviews are important ok) but it was not pre-planned - I know, I'm so wild.
If you're looking for good cocktails, street art & dirty chicken - ta daaa! We sat in these really cool converted carriage booths (picture below) giving some serious NY underground vibes. I'm such a kid when it comes to sitting in something a little different to your average table and chair - like c'mon, lets change things up a bit. Ok you got me... I didn't read the reviews at all, I saw the cool chairs and I was sold.

To start off we went for the 'Dirty Chicken Nachos' to share. Chicken on nachos? I know, this was new for me too but omgaddd they were dreamy! Literally everything you'd expect from 'dirty' nachos and more..Move aside pulled pork - there's a new combo in town.

For main I went for the 3 Pulled Chicken Tacos.. yes yes yes! One thing I would say is, if you've got a big appetite or haven't stuffed your mouth with nachos beforehand (#sorrynotsorry), it is on the smaller side. But even so, definitely worth an order. I need to go again, not only because their burgers look insane but also because I didn't get dessert - who even am I?




PLUK AMSTERDAM

Ok guys, I've saved the best til last.. my personal fave - Pluk Amsterdam. I may have been swayed by their Unicorn smoothie bowl and their homemade cakes (yum) - but can you blame me?




I would recommend visiting on a week day, as it gets super busy over the weekend and it is quite small inside. And if you're not already convinced, they sell the cutest bits for your home, kitchen and food-related products - so you could just pop in for a cheeky shop. Of course I couldn't leave empty handed (and by 'empty-handed' I mean with 1 smoothie bowl, 2 cakes and 2 coffees) - so I took home a mug as a little souvenir. Truth is, I could have taken the whole shop if I had the suitcase space. 

So there we have it folks! I told ya to grab some snacks didn't I! 

If you've got any recommendations of your own, I'd love to hear them for next time. Also, if you do happen to take my advice on any of the above, lemme know what you think! <3 

Until next time Dam,


SJ


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Sunday, 11 March 2018

Nasty Gal Haul

STRIPES
Because a stripe T/denim combo is always a winner! Did I mention that this baby has ruffle sleeves too? Cuutteee! It's these types of tees that you can never have too many of (or so I tell myself when I'm shopping!) 
£20

NUDE DRESS 2 WAYS
Casj V Glam - what's your winner? I'm a casual sorta girl so that's an easy choice for me! But it's always nice to have a piece that you can mix it up with, get ya moneys worth eh! I'm obsessed with nudes/pastel colours, they look great paired with denim or even just with a tan! (Hurry up summer!)
£20

FLORAL FEELS

Ok I might be a little obsessed with layering.. but c'mon, it's super cute with a denim and lil tee underneath! Oo and I love the scalloped neck line - the perfect lil dress for spring paired with some converse, and soo cheap!
£14

PINK LADIES


What to do when you need to iron your shirt but you're too lazy? Ta-daaa! It actually looks just as cute tucked into high-waisted jeans (in case you didn't fancy getting ya belly out!). I lurvv this colour though, lately I have been buying pink a lot more - who even am I right now? Lol. Anyway, oversized shirts are everythingg.
£12.60


TROPICAL VIBES


I saved the best till last! I don't know if it's because it gives off some serious tropical vibes (I feel like I need a margarita in hand to complete the look), but this is my winner! The mustard/brown tones really compliment gold accessories and would look beaut with a golden glow on hols!
£17.50

So there we have it, all £20 and under - not bad eh! Let me know your fave <3

SJ
  
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