30/08/2019

Is Blogging Dead? My Thoughts on Blogging Today


Not to sound like a bitter old lady, but...

Any blogger out there that has been active online for years will tell you: blogging is just not the same as it used to be. Which is totally normal after all, because with time everything changes - trends, people, interests and media. However as someone who creates content and shares it online, the effects of those normal, unavoidable changes can be a tad frustrating. For some time now, like many of you I am sure, I can clearly tell that blogging isn't as popular anymore. I can see it even at my (very) small level, in my views and engagement. Personally, I still enjoy blogging, though I have considerably less time to put into it now that I am not a student anymore. Lack of time aside, I can't help but be affected by this change in the world of blogging, and here are my thoughts and ideas about blogging today and how we can make the most of this hobby still.

WHY ARE BLOGS NOT PERFORMING AS WELL TODAY?
There are many reasons why blogging isn't as popular as it once was, but there are two main reasons I will highlight here. All of this is of course my own opinion, not proven fact, so feel free to disagree or add to the conversation in the comments! 
The first (and I think main) reason for me is the rise of instant social media blogging. By that I mean outlets such as Instragram and Snapchat, which have both been rising through and through over the years and are now on everyone's phones. It's easy to see why users would consume more Instagram content than blogs: it pops up on your phone, it's mostly photos so you can go through more content is less time. I for one am totally falling in that category: I love Instagram because you can have beautiful and creative pictures, meaningful captions that basically are shortened blog posts, and - another things that blogs can't do as well - you can interact with bloggers so easily, via DMs and comments in one tap of the finger - much easier than sending an email or filling in name/email/site boxes to send a comment. 

In this day and age, we're always running around to get stuff done, be productive and successful, and for a lot of people that means less time sat in bed with a laptop to check out on bloggers and online content, and more time to do so on their phones, during their commute or on their lunch break. Online content creation is forever evolving, and though there are still people like you and me who still enjoy reading blogs and taking the time to leave comments to support other bloggers, it's easy to see why social media is overtaking the creative space.



The other main reason I see as to why blogging isn't so attainable anymore is profit. Let me explain: blogging started out mainstream online content creation, way before Instagram gave us the words 'influencer' and 'content creator.' Bloggers created their blog posts from A to Z: ideas, text, photos, and so on. Today, content creators on social media do the exact same thing. And the growth of blogging and content creation has brought in monetization, profit, collaborations and marketing, which is great because it almost legitimiszes the craft. The thing when money is involved though, is that content creation largely becomes a race: who will get the most followers, who will take the most incredible pictures, who will collaborate with the most prestigious brands, and so on. Thus social media platforms have become more profitable than old-school blogging, because as I mentioned it's easier to reach out to people and to have a wider audience. I do not thing this is necessarily a bad thing, however I do think this is one of the reasons why blogging isn't what it used to be anymore - for small bloggers who write as a hobby, but also for bigger names who used to blog a lot but have now turned to more profitable platforms, i.e. Instagram, mainly. I would love to hear any thoughts on this as I truly find the topic fascinating!

DO I STILL LOVE BLOGGING?
Yes, even with all these changes going on, I still love blogging no matter what. After all, I've had this blog for years and years and this is not gonna change any time soon. What I like about blogging and that I can't find in social media, is the ability to use words more thoroughly than in the caption of a photo. I also love taking the time to read blog posts, instead of scrolling through a social media feed waiting for a photo to grab my attention. I am sure whoever is reading this and is also a blogger feels the same - if it's for you, you just know it and you carry on through and through because it makes you happy!


WHAT CAN I DO TO REVIVE THE BLOGGING WORLD?
We may not be able to reverse the social media revolution, but there are many ways in which you can keep the flame of blogging alive, whether you are a blogger yourself or just a reader. 
Supporting the bloggers you read. This is what you can do best of course! Commenting, interacting, and showing that you enjoy their content. I love going through my Bloglovin' feed and reading what's new, and I really like posts recapping a blogger's favourite recent reads, because they help me discover new blogs and new people.
Writing the blog posts you love. As a blogger, people can tell when you're writing because you love it, or just as a mechanical action to keep up with your schedule. I personally choose to post less often than I used to, but I love all the posts I write and I hope they are all helpful to those who read them. 

Think positive and spread the blog-happiness! If you're still an enthusiastic blogger, sharing your interests with your friends and family can only shed a positive light on blogging. Your excitement and dedication will show others how great blogging is, and it is thanks to this dedication that blogging will keep being an amazing way to create content online and connect with others.

What are your thoughts on blogging today? Do you think blogging will survive the popularity of social media?
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29/07/2019

How To Be More Fashion-Conscious Without Breaking the Bank


Promote ethical choices through your wardrobe.

Recently I've been thinking more and more about sustainable fashion and how to make the most of my fashion choices while limiting my impact on the planet and the people working at making the clothes. There are more and more brands deemed sustainable that offer an alternative to fast fashion. Over the past few weeks I've enjoyed reading Deborah's posts on the matter over at Coffee, Clothes & Pretty Clothes - she goes straight to the point and addresses several relevant issues on the topic of sustainable fashion. As I have been thinking about my own consumption, I have found that I am at a tricky standpoint - between wanting to make an impact, but also not ready to invest in more expensive clothes.
Personally, I am very strict in my budget and where I put my money, and at this moment clothing is still not a priority when it comes to spending more. There are many reasons for that, one of them being that I am not sure which clothes I would like to invest in (Am I still gonna like that dress in two years' time?) So instead buying - just yet - in sustainable brands, I found some ways in which I, in my own little way, can be more fashion-conscious. If you would like to make a change at your own level too, please read on!

1. Stop buying new clothes every season.
Let's start with the obvious, shall we? The more you buy, the more you tell the industry "make new clothes, I'll buy them all". Sounds silly, but the big brands that produce fast fashion answer a demand that keeps growing, in an era where people buy loads to display their style on social media and keep refreshing their wardrobe to keep up with the trends. There is no need to buy a new coat every winter, or a new swimsuit to add to your collection every year, or to go to the shops every month or so just to see what's in. Check out your wardrobe: everything you need is there. Nowadays, I almost only shop when I need to replace something, or to buy an item that has a purpose, i.e. i need a pair of trousers for work. Instead of buying pieces from a thousand different trends, curate a style that looks like you, with a selection of clothes that you will keep throughout the years. Which leads me to... 

2. Shop your wardrobe.
Although it's always fun to experiment with different styles and trends, it's also great to grow into your own style and have your signature outfits. For that, nothing better than shopping your wardrobe - keep rummaging through your clothes, and I guarantee you that you'll find some that you have never worn before, or rarely so. There are plenty of fashion challenges that you can take, to style what you own in lots of different ways. And if you're looking for a *new* outfit, why don't you shop another friend's wardrobe? (With their consent, of course.)


3. Take good care of what you already own.
Another obvious one, but if you don't take care of your clothes, the turnover will be high and you'll have to rebuy staples every so often. Avoid synthetic fabrics and cheap materials, especially for shoes and bags, and always make sure you wash and store your items carefully. No matter whether it's fast fashion or high end, really: I've got some clothes from New Look and Forever 21 that have lasted me years (not kidding, some stuff in my wardrobe dates back to when I was in high school seven years ago!).

4. Shop second hand.
I know second-hand shopping is not always accessible, but there are more and more of charity shops everywhere, where you can browse and find some good deals. There are plenty of websites too, like Depop to only name one, where you can buy clothes for less. A lot of people use second hand as a way to avoid fast fashion and to stop giving money to those big firms and brands. An ethical choice to make a statement!

5. ... Unfollow those excessive buyer bloggers.
Harsh maybe, but you need to surround yourself with those who will inspire you in your personal choices. We always say unfollow whoever makes you unhappy, right? Same thing applies here - I still see so many bloggers and social media creators who keep on buying, buying, and promoting new products all the time, and although there was a time in my life where I totally loved this content, I've grown out of it now and I get very tired of bloggers-turned-advertising boards, especially because it pushes you to buy more, or makes you feel like you'll be so happy and sophisticated if you buy this and that. Thinking forward, I think our society needs to slow down in these tendencies to buy and consume more than we actually need. So once and for all, be the change you want to see - and get away from those who don't promote the values you're after. 

Are you becoming more fashion conscious? How do you shop responsibly?
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17/07/2019

A First-Timer Guide to Vienna, Austria


A budget guide to the Austrian capital.

Vienna is a beautiful and rich city. There are many things to see and do, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed when planning a trip there. Unlike London where most museums are free, you have to pay for everything in Vienna. It can add up very quickly, especially if it's your first time there and you want to experience a lot of the city. So keep on reading to find out the best things to do in Vienna!

HOW TO SEE VIENNA FOR CHEAP
1. Take the Tram along the Ringstrasse
You'll read it on many guides: the best way to see the landmarks of Vienna is by travelling on the tram line D. This tram goes around the Ringstrasse, a road that goes around the historical centre of Vienna in a circle. From inside the tram, you can see the most famous buildings of the city: the Rathaus (town hall), the Volksgarten (Garden of the People), Hofburg Palace, the Vienna State Opera, the Museum Quarter... One tram ticket gets you around all these places, and you are free to exit where you like and visit the places you want.
Churches are also accessible free of charge, and I would recommend seeing St Stephen's Basilica in the town centre, though you have to pay to access the nave, the view from the main entrance of the cathedral gives you plenty to see already. If there is one church you shouldn't miss, it is the Jesuit Church, tucked away at the corner of a street. It's high facade is beautiful, but really it is the inside that will have you go 'oooh' and 'aaah' at its precious beauty.


From top to bottom:
- Horse drawn carriage around Hofburg Palace
- Maria-Theresien-Platz, in the Museum Quarter
- The Jesuit Church


2. Visit the parks of the city
All parks in the city are free of charge and beautiful. My favourite was the Volksgarten, which is full of blooming roses that the Viennese have dedicated to their loved ones.
The gardens of Belvedere Palace and Schönbrunn Palace are also free to visit, and beautiful in their grandeur - especially Schöbrunn gardens, with their wall of red roses and impressive greenhouse.
My favourite park area however was Kahlenberg. It is a mountain on the outskirts of Vienna, and to get there, you need to take the bus around narrow, uphill streets lined with beautiful houses and restaurants. This spot was recommended to us by a local, so you know it's a good one! The view over Kahlenberg is beautiful: you can see the whole of Vienna and the Danube. There is a small cafe up there with indoors seating facing the panorama, as well as an open terrace where you can sip on your coffee with the best views.

From top to bottom:
- The view from Kahlenberg
- The roses of the Volksgarten
- The foutain of Schlöss Belvedere 

MY TOP ATTRACTION PICKS IN VIENNA

1. Schönbrunn Palace
This is probably the Versailles of Austria, and for a good reason! Although I find that Versailles could never be compared to any other palace, Schönbrunn is a beautiful piece of history, and so are its gardens. One thing you need to know about Schönbrunn is that you should always book tickets in advance. If you show up and buy your tickets there and then, you will not be able to go in straight away - you will be given a time of entry, around two hours after you buy the tickets. My friend Julie and I got caught off guard by this and as it was our last day in Vienna, we ended up not visiting the interiors of the palace. We had plenty of time to explore the gardens though, in all their beauty.



The view from up the hill is beautiful, and on a clear day you can see Vienna from above. Some parts of the garden are only accessible with a ticket to the palace, but all the free areas are already worth seeing.

2. Walking the town centre (churches, cathedral, walking tours)
If you don't have so much time to spend in Vienna, make sure to walk around the city centre to get a feel of the city. There are many beautiful churches, cafes and museums you can pick and choose from. I would recommend stopping by St Stephen's Cathedral, the Albertina museum and the Sacher Hotel, where you can sachertorte, the original recipe invented by the son of the owner - no less! My friends and I also followed a tour off the beaten track, which led us through picturesque courtyards and medieval streets - so always check walking tours online, or ask the locals for their favourite sights.



3. Prater Park
Prater Park is a fun fair that you can visit all year around. You can easily spend a summer evening there, with lots of food options and fun rides. We picked the chair swing ride, which is one of the highest in the world and gives you beautiful views of Vienna and the landscape around - though it gets a bit chilly up there! The prices of the rides differ, it can become a costly activity but if you really like theme parks, it's a fun way to experience the Austrian capital differently. I would say this is definitely a spot you shouldn't miss, even just to soak in the fun atmosphere and have a cheeky greasy dinner.


4. Schnitzel
This one is for those of you who eat meat, of course - schnitzel's, Austria's dish of choice, is unmissable. You can find it at every corner, and actually I am pretty sure you can find vegetarian and vegan alternatives now. There is one place I would recommend for good schnitzel and a very Austrian atmosphere, recommended and approved by one of our friends there: Schnitzelwirt (Neubaugasse 52, 1070). The choices are incredible, the dishes affordable, and one dish of any of their schnitzel is big enough to feed three. A tip: it is a popular spot and expect a short waiting time to get a table. 

THE DOS AND DON'TS OF VISITING VIENNA

1. Do
- Use public transport. You can get a weekly pass that allows you to take unlimited underground, bus and tram. Vienna's public transport service is amazing and it will basically take you wherever you need - even at the top of Kahlenberg moutain!
- Look up bars and restaurants in advance. Vienna is a big city, but I found that picking restaurants or bars last minute was a hastle, unlike some other capitals I've visisted. Make sure you've got your restaurant sorted before you head out. Booking a table is always advised, especially for popular spots!
- Speak English. The Viennese are great at English and everyone we met could speak the language. It's always good to know your greetings and key phrases in German out of politeness, but don't panic if you're not a languages person - the locals will still be able to communicate with you.
- Book tickets in advance for popular attractions. If you don't plan ahead, you may end up queuing for ages to visit places, especially the palaces. Buy tickets to skip the queues!

2. Don't
- Show up late for touristic places. Vienna has a lot of visitors, and of course everyone wants to see the amazing castles and musems. The earlier in the day you go to the attractions, the better your experience will be. There's nothing better than having a museum or a castle to yourself and avoid the noisy crowds.
- Visit every single church, museum, gallery. This piece of advice is highly unusual for me as I would always say you should see everything in a city, especially when it comes to its cultural and historical side, but in Vienna there is literally so much that you can afford to skip a few of the less interesting places. Pick two or three spots that inspire you, and spend more time enjoying those, rather than rushing around to fit in every single museum in the area. Make a connection instead of ticking a travel list.


Have you ever been to Vienna? Is the city on your travel list?
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28/06/2019

My Best Tips To Eat Well (+ Simple & Healthy Meal Ideas!)


Eating healthy can be a challenge sometimes. Here's how you make it easy!

Although my diet is far from being perfect, since I have embarked on my health journey I have changed my eating habits a lot. I could actually scream in horror at how bad my diet was a few years ago - lots of processed food, no consistency, and a lot of alcohol. Needless to say I am now an actual grown up, so it has kind of helped. But I still find that no matter how old you are, eating healthy can be very difficult. However, it is achievable by anyone - no, you don't need to be a fitness guru to eat healthy! This post is here to give you advice on how to start eating healthier, so keep reading for my best tips and meal ideas! 

DON'T BRING UNHEALTHY FOODS AT HOME
When you go food shopping, don't buy the unhealthy things that you could live without, but that you would usually still buy because why not. Say no to the fizzy drinks, the crisps, the industrial brownies full of sugar, and the ready meals. If you don't have all those things in your house, you simply won't eat them! If it's there, you may eat it just for the sake of it. Get rid of those foods that make you unhappy, and you won't eat them anymore. 
If you're anxious about feeling deprived, you can always buy some healthy snacks to have around when you crave something. Dark chocolate, nuts, granola bars (sure they've got lots of sugar, but still much better than industrial muffins!) or sorbet. Just leave out the stuff that's bad for you. After all, if you know it's bad, why have it when there are so many delicious and healthier alternatives?

COOK EASY MEALS WITH SIMPLE INGREDIENTS - IDEAS BELOW!
I'm not a cooking person, but I do enjoy preparing healthy meals for myself. My rule is this: I buy staple ingredients in three big categories: protein (meat or meatless), carbs (potatoes, rice, bread) and vegetables (frozen veg is great, but I also buy tomatoes, peppers, cucumber every week). With a few simple ingredients, you can create a variation of recipes that take very little time, and that are stripped off the nasty processed stuff. The simpler, the better - see all the photos in these posts for recipe inspo. 
Sticking to simple, whole food ingredients will make meal prep easier, faster, and you will monitor more easily what you are having each day, whether you are having enough protein and fats, whether you are having too much salt or not... It's all down to you, because you know what's in your plate. 


THINK ABOUT HOW DIFFERENT FOODS MAKE YOU FEEL
Eating healthy is also about knowing how food makes you feel. You are nourishing your body, and your body will tell you what it needs and wants - and what it doesn't agree with too much. If you sometimes feel bloated or uncomfortable after certain meals, think about the possible reasons for that. It may be a food you ate, or maybe you have lunch too fast when you are in front of the computer at work, or maybe you don't digest milk as well and haven't realised it yet. I would suggest keeping a note of the days when food doesn't make you feel as good: write down what you ate, at what time, and after a few days a pattern may stand out. 
Because we are all so busy all the time, eating becomes such a small part of our routines that we don't pay attention to it anymore, and thus you may miss out on why your body doesn't feel well sometimes. The more you listen to your body, the better you will know what to eat to feel your best.

HAVE A ROUTINE
Although this may be controversial (I may be a control freak...) I do think that having a routine really helps if you're getting started on a healthy diet journey. More and more people meal prep these days, and there are very little downsides to meal prepping! Although I don't have the time and space at home to prep meals for days and days ahead, whenever I go shopping I think about the meals I want to prepare that week, and write down a list of exactly what I need to buy. That is part of my routine, and it helps me buy the right foods.
Another routine you could have is to think about a typical day to plan what and when to cook. Do you eat more for lunch or dinner? Which days do you need to eat more generous meals because you work out or have a longer day at work? When do you need to prepare snacks because you're having your meal later than usual? Plan your meals in your timetable like you would plan tasks on your to-do list, and it will help you feel more in control of your stomach - and what goes into it!


FORGET THE IDEA OF CHEAT MEALS
I hate cheat meals. The whole concept of it makes me so angry! Not only is the phrasing of it conductor of guilt, but it also suggests the idea that you have to restrain yourself all the time, and go all out on that one meal - which is a pretty unhealthy thing to do in itself. Eating healthy doesn't mean restricting yourself or eating foods you hate. Eating healthy means finding the diet that's good for your health and body, but also for your mind. The diet that makes you happy and gives you the fuel you need. If you implement the idea of cheat meals, you will find yourself mindlessly craving foods just because it is cheat day, and your mind will tell you "now is the time to go crazy and have all the bad stuff, because that's what cheat meals are for." But to be healthy *and* happy, you have to find the routine that allows you to eat well, but eat what you like. 


BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: YOU GOTTA WORK FOR IT
The truth is, eating healthy is difficult because like most things, it needs to be work for. You don't wake up one morning craving vegetables and hating sugar for the rest of your life. In the end, it all comes back to how willing you are to put your health first - put it before the tempting McDonald's burger, before the ice-cream-for-dinner, before the daily can of coke. Invest in your body and save yourself some expenses too! 
The sooner you realise that you are in control of your body and it is your lifelong job to take care of it, the better. A healthy body, along with a healthy mind, are just what you need to move forward, be confident with yourself, and take on all the challenges that will come your way. So work on healthy eating like you'd work on a job!

What are your tips to eat healthy? 
Do you have any healthy meal ideas to share?
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16/06/2019

An Ode to the Unknown: Why You Can't Plan it All


Feel like you don't know what's next? It's ok, the universe will tell you.

Last month I visited Slovakia. I saw the capital, Bratislava, and also travelled to Dechtice, a tiny village which I had never heard of before and would never have known in my whole life, if it wasn't for my good friend Denisa who just got married there. If it wasn't for us meeting and becoming friends four years ago, and keeping in touch with the distance, I would probably never have been to Slovakia. 
There are different ways of seeing this: some will say it is fate, others will say it is just an opportunity that arose because that is what happens in life. But I can't help being fascinated by the idea that the things I do now, younger me had no idea that they would happen. I am not one of those people who have a long-term plan, who know where they want to end up and know how to get there - which is strange, considering how I love planning and organising! It is just a wonderful thought that no matter where you are now, the universe will take you places you would never have imagined, and experience things you would never envision.

This post, I guess, is for all the worried souls that sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by life and where it is taking them. I also feel like that, more often that I'd care to admit, but taking a step back reminds me that life has its own of way of guiding you through. So here are my reasons why it's alright to let go and embrace the unknown:

EVERY LITTLE THING IS SHAPING YOUR TOMORROW

In the grand scheme of things, your future is not really defined by the 'big choices' you make. When you turn 18, it feels like the path you take will define the rest of your life. We put a lot of pressure on finding the right studies or the right job, when we aren't yet the adults we are preparing to become. You may well start studying at 18 thinking you've got all your career thought through, but realise at 25 that actually, you really want to do something else. You may settle somewhere and think you would never want to move, but somehow realise over the years that the only reason to stay is because it's comfortable. 
These big decisions we take, or plan years ahead of time (when am I gonna get a permanent job? when am I gonna buy a house? when am I gonna get married? do I want to have children by the time I'm 30?) traditionally shape your life, but I feel like it is actually the smallest things that change the direction of your life. To me, these little things are mostly the people you meet (never did I think I would be in a committed relationship with someone who lives on the other side of the world!) but also the hobbies you take up, your solo projects, and your relationship with yourself. You may decide to go out one day on a whim, and meet your future partner. You may start a friendship online, and find your best friend with whom you will travel the world. You may decide to get a gym membership and years in, realise that exercising has become a defining part in your life. 
It's all about the things that you wouldn't even notice at first, but looking back, they made you who you are. So don't fret about the big plans, and don't panic if you don't have one: it doesn't mean that your life is empty. Things will happen, no matter what.


SOMETIMES THINGS JUST FIND YOU WHEN YOU ARE NOT LOOKING
It's easy to stress about reaching milestones in life. We all fall in the trap of comparison, and soon you realise that some people seem to have it so easy, all figured out. You can run around trying to tick all the boxes, to follow the expectations of society, or of your family, but you will most likely be stressed and unhappy, always chasing for the next big thing. Instead, why don't you let things go? The puzzle pieces always fall into place eventually. If you widen your horizons, you are more likely to be happy with who you are and what you do, as long as you do it with purpose. Don't get me wrong, it is ok to know what you want and fight for it, but sometimes, it may just be that the time hasn't come. I am not a spiritual person at all, but I do like the idea of fate. Things happen for a reason, and they also don't happen for a reason. I feel like this is especially true with relationships - friendships, love, any relationship you may have. Around me, I see so many people craving to be in a relationship, but somehow it never works out. In those cases, I feel like it's just not meant to be. If you look, and look, and look, but don't find anyone with whom it clicks, then stop for a minute and focus on giving yourself the love you so crave in someone else. And in time, and probably by chance, you will find that person who completes the puzzle. But instead of spending your 'waiting' time miserable and stressed, you will have spent it looking after yourself and finding the other things that make you happy. Sometimes, fate is all about timing and accident. Spend your life enjoy each step, not resenting them when you feel like you're not reaching your end point.

DON'T STARE AT THE CLOSED DOORS: LOOK FOR THOSE THAT OPEN
There are so many situations in life that end up not working out. Or maybe you find yourself at a crossroads, not sure of which direction to take. This has happened to me more times than I can remember. And though you may feel lost, as everything in life, it is temporary - there will be an opportunity, a door that opens, and months in, you will look back and realise it was only a passing moment of uncertainty. You may end up in a situation different than what you'd planned, but if you make the most of it, you will grow and learn. And that's the most important thing. Things will work out somehow, they always do.

Do you believe in fate? Tell me about one thing life brought you when you didn't expect it!
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01/06/2019

Easy Sustainable Habits To Help The Planet Every Day


This planet is the only one we have. Let's make an effort to keep it.

Recently, and as I am becoming more aware of the world around me (it was about time, I should say!) I have been noticing how badly we are treating our planet. There are many articles and documentaries that can educate you about pollution and how it affects the fauna, flora and ecosystem around us. Did you ever realise that every day thousands of q-tips are thrown in the sewers and end up in the stomach of fish and other sea animals? Yep, me either. That was until I started really looking into this matter, because I decided, almost overnight, that I could make some changes in my lifestyle to leave a less damaging imprint on the planet. 
I am far from perfect and I still have a lot of wasteful habits, some of them that I cannot change just yet. However, even the smallest things can help a great deal - and this is why I have written this post, so you can join me in these efforts. We can accomplish great things with these little steps.

SUSTAINABLE HABITS TO TAKE UP AT HOME

- Buy a steel water bottle instead of using plastic bottles.
- Use washable cloths instead of paper napkins at the dinner table.
- Don't use cotton rounds for makeup and skincare, instead cut out rounds of fabric in an old t-shirt to create reusable rounds.
- Use solid soap instead of shower gel and liquid hand soap.
- When recycling at home, always check you are disposing of your items in the right way. Not all plastic is recyclable!


BEING SUSTAINABLE ON THE GO

- Say no to straws in cafés, or bring your own metallic straw with you.
- Always bring a reusable water bottle and/or coffee mug on your errands.
- Bring a little set of cutlery to avoid using plastic cutlery in cafés.
- Always have a tote bag with you in case you go shopping. That way you won't have to use the shops' paper or plastic bags.
- Whenever you can, buy fruit and vegetables without packaging.
- Use public transport instead of the car as much as possible. Saves you the pain of finding parking too!

What are the little things you do to help the planet?
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18/05/2019

Tips To Visit Los Angeles, California


The do's and don't's of visiting Los Angeles.

Last time I visited my boyfriend, we dedicated two days to vising L.A. The trip was only supposed to be a visit of the Aquarium of the Pacific, which was my Valentine's day present for my boyfriend, but we extended it into a two-day adventure to see different parts of the city.
However, Los Angeles is intense. I don't know what people who live there think, but as an outsider, the city can feel quite overwhelming, because of how big and busy it gets if you stick to popular areas. So if any of you plans on visiting L.A. in the future, read on! Here are my tips and thoughts about travelling to L.A.

FACT N.1: LOS ANGELES IS BIG. 
Do: dedicate a half day to each area
Don't: plan to do it all in one day
When you research what to do and see in Los Angeles, it's easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many cool places, must-see museums, restaurants, cafés, beaches, hikes, shops... And it would truly take days and days, in my opinion, to make the most of the city if you want to see it all. However most people don't always have a lot of time, so if you have a short trip planned to L.A., my advice is to pick carefully the places you want to see, and organise your days by location. For example, for a nice beach day I suggest exploring Santa Monica and Venice beach in one morning or afternoon, and then head more inland for the rest of the day. Break down your day in two chunks, and in each chunk, plan two or three main sites that are close to each other. That way, you spend more time exploring, and less time driving around.

FACT N.2: TOURIST HOT SPOTS WILL BE CROWDED.
Do: get up early and book tickets ahead when possible
Don't: turn up to popular areas in the afternoon if you know you don't have a lot of time to explore
Luckily, we did not experience this so much this time, but generally speaking, expect a lot of people in the tourist areas like Santa Monica (I've seen it twice, and both times it was crowded as hell), Hollywood Boulevard or the Griffith Observatory. It's easy to know which are the most popular spots, and whenever possible, visit them early. If you visit a museum which charges an entrance fee (some museums are free, so have a look at those first!) check if you can book tickets online to avoid queues. Booking for restaurants is also a good idea. You can never be organised enough! 


FACT N.3: L.A. IS EXPENSIVE, SO BRING ON THE $$
Do: Decide what you are willing to spend on and how much you need to save up.
Also do: Compare prices before you arrive (aka research the coffee shops where you won't pay $6 for a latte.) 


I find the US incredibly expensive in general. Everything from petrol to groceries cost so much more than the European capitals I've lived in. And in the middle of a hype city like L.A., you can expect costs to be even more considerable. There are so many temptations, like cool coffee and donut places, but I'd advise to be reasonable and don't spend it all on little things. Depending on where you go, parking can already eat up a good part of your budget, so be mindful of the types of expenses that you'll have. Whenever possible, calculate how much money you can dedicate for different things: food, attractions/museums, petrol, parking, and so on. I know holidays are a time to splurge a little bit, but always be prepared for the true cost of things to avoid unecessary stress and do the most with what you have!

FACT N.4: TRAFFIC IS MAD. PLAN AHEAD TO AVOID IT.
Do: Travel early in the morning to get there.
Don't: Travel long distances or busy areas during the day.

This one's from my boyfriend! As the designated driver for the whole trip (I don't have a driving licence) he was very conscious of traffic. Especially because he lives around there and knows how bad it can get! So if you're driving around L.A., make sure to always use a GPS app to find out what the best route is for each destination. The city is crammed all day, and it is rare to have smooth traffic at certain peak times. Remembering this when you plan your days will help you out, so that you don't make too many plans for one day and realise that travelling between places is making you late for certain things. Although we have not done it ourselves, if I were to stay in L.A. for a good few days I would probably look into hiring a bike (for short distances) or use public transport to go from one place to another. That way, you don't spend all your petrol slowing down in traffic. And it helps with pollution too, so that's a double win!


WHAT WE DID - FUN THINGS TO SEE IN L.A.


THE BASIC INSTAGRAM SPOTS: VENICE BEACH (& SANTA MONICA)

One spot I definitely wanted to see in Los Angeles was Venice Beach. I won't lie, I mostly picked it because I saw pictures of the area on Instagram, and it looked awesome. Not that I would workout on the beach or eat overpriced avocado toast (although the latter, maybe...).
Finding parking around Venice is a bit tricky. You do have quite a few parking areas, but they are small and fill up quickly (and you also have to pay for them) so it's something to keep in mind when visiting. Once you're all set, it's easy to find the main hub of the area, with its little cafes (special mention to Eggslut, which was unfortunately closed the day we went.) and shops. The beach promenade is a must-see, and quite a sight to behold. The tourists mix up with the locals: people working out, dog-owners having a walk, loud shops selling questionable clothing and ice cream parlours. I feel like it's the kind of place where it would be hard to fit in if you don't relate to the whole vibe, but it's a fun spot to watch from an outside perspective!


IF YOU LOVE FISH: AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC, LONG BEACH

Granted this is pretty niche, but it's one of those places, a bit like Universal Studios or Disneyland, which you visit if you really like the experience. I've been to a few aquariums in my life, and this is one of my favourite. The species are very diverse, and I love the life size whale in the main hall. They have an incredible variety of jellyfish. Like, really impressing. One tip I would have is to bring your own snacks for the visit, as food there is super expensive and not really appealing. 


CLASSIC L.A.: THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN

Ever since I first visited my boyfriend, I've always wanted to see the Hollywood Sign. It may be cliché, but it is a dreamy sight! This time, my wish was finally granted and we drove to the Park Hollywood viewpoint. Our original plan was to hike to the sign (although it is forbidden to go near the sign, there are multiple walks that take you on top of the hill all around it.) However, my boyfriend had a terrible flu while we were in L.A., so we took the car and got as close as we could. 
The Park Hollywood viewpoint is accessible via car. You will meander through dozens of uphill streets filled with beautiful houses and villas, probably belonging to those lucky people who made it in the cinema industry. There is a street to park right across the park from which you can see the sign, but make sure to go early as it can get crowded. We headed there at around 11am and found a spot. There is a big green space overlooking the hill and the sign, so plenty of opportunities to take photos that will remind you forever of that iconic moment!


Have you ever been to L.A.? Or is it on your bucket list?
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