Portobello Road Market

Today I want to share one of my preferred places with you: Portobello Road Market. It is one of the largest markets in the world and it has food, fashion and numerous antiques and collectibles.

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It is open every day, however Fridays and Saturdays are the best! Starting with fruits, vegetables and amazing food, further down the road you can find amazing vintage clothes, new fashion, antiques and the most breathtaking accessories.  The best way to end the day is at one of the local cafés and patisseries!

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My favourite bit of the market is the corner with military equipment. Geoffrey Walsh sells World War I and World War II items such as medals, badges and even used gun cartridges. It’s an insightful stroll in time and I never get tired of exploring it!

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One tip though: the earlier, the better! On the busiest days with most of the stalls, the crowd can be pretty tiring and overwhelming.

Market opening times

09:00 – 18:00 Monday To Wednesday

09:00 – 13:00 Thursday

09:00 – 19:00 Friday and Saturday

Hope you’ll check it out!

With love,

Raluca

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The French braid

My talented friend, Tonia, always takes the time to upgrade my look. So we decided to share with you how to make a French braid bun.

I. Make a French braid

II. Roll the braid up like a cinnamon bun

III. Secure it with pins and fluff it up

And here are three tips she was lovely enough to share:

I. Begin from the crown of your head rather than from your forehead.

When we were talking about the hairstyle, Tonia recommended that we start the braid at the crown of my head rather than from my hairline since I was looking for a more elegant look. My hair has some layers and this meant a sleeker look from all angles.

II. Flatten and pull back strongly your hair for a sleek finish.

In order to get the put together look, Tonia had to ensure all the strands of hair were aligned towards the braid and I did not have flyaways so she brushed the strands in with her fingers and pulled hard enough to obtain a tight braid.

III. Plump it up or keep it small.

I wanted to keep it small and elegant especially since it was a rather windy day so Tonia rolled the braid into a small and sturdy bun which she pinned in place. To cover some bobby pins, she fluffed up the edges of the braid over them. You can take this further to have the bun size to your taste.

Luckily enough, she did most of the job. Check out the video!

And some bloopers, we had a blast filming it!

With love,

Raluca

Afternoon Tea at Leonard Hotel

Enjoying an Afternoon Tea is a long-standing British tradition and a perfect way of replacing a coffee date with a tea one. One thing I have always said since I moved here is that you cannot properly experience London without the ‘Afternoon Tea’. Having some friends over for the weekend, of course it was a must!

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Where?

Our choice this time was Leonard Hotel which is centrally located in Marble Arch. The hotel is as British as it can get, with a classy, elegant and specious restaurant. The ‘Afternoon Tea’ is available from 1:00 to 7:00pm everyday.

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What?

We had the traditional ‘Afternoon Tea’ that is delicious and generous. We started with freshly made finger sandwiches with cucumber and dill, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise with cress, ham and mustard. The warm scones with clotted cream and gem followed. We finished with a selection of cakes, brownie and carrot cake, without being able to try the cupcake as we were too full. All this yummy things were accompanied by a tea that felt bottomless and was perfect.

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What else?

The traditional ‘Afternoon Tea’ was £19.50 per person. However, another option is available for those who want step things up a bit. The ‘Royal Afternoon Tea’ comes with a glass of bubbly, three-tier cake stand, mini desserts, finger sandwiches, tea and coffee. It costs £32.00 per person and it’s appropriate for a bigger celebration.   

The staff

The staff is courteous, nice and checks quite frequently is everything is all right. Although any allergies or preferences need to be communicated before the day of the reservation, we were able to switch some of the sandwiches on the spot which was were nice and appreciated.

Smoking Area

At the Leonard Hotel, they have the cutest outside smoking area. It is small but a wonderful alternative to smoking in the street.

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I strongly recommend Leonard Hotel for having a perfect ‘Afternoon Tea’ experience. 

With love, 

Raluca 

#MarchAgainstRacism in London

Today, 18th March, thousands of people united in the fight against racism, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism and in support of refugee and migrant rights. The critical moment to take a stand against all the injustice has come. It started at noon in Portland Place and peacefully marched to Parliament Square.

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In face of injustice, there are no age gaps and no division between classes. Toddlers, youngsters, adults, they were all present today, showing support against the growing racism.

The march was organised by the UK campaign group Stand Up to Racism, was supported by TUC, Unison, UNITE, NUT and many more and is part of a series of demonstrations taking place across Europe.

Just like in every year since 2012, speakers took the stage today and inspired the public. Speakers included: Shami Chakrabarti – Shadow Attorney General, David Lammy MP, Catherine West MP, Clare Moseley, Maz Saleem and many others.

Some of the messages on the banners were: Refugees & Migrants Welcome No to the Muslim Ban No to Racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism Stand up to Trump Black Lives Matter Defend Free Movement •

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With love,

Raluca

Hot Chocolate – one spoon away 

Instant hot chocolate and coffee are ruling my life these days, so I decided to step things up and go for home-made hot chocolate. The Hot Chocolate Spoons are easy and fun!

All you need:

Milk Chocolate , White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate

Instant Coffee

Spoons

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So here we go!

Step one:

Melt all three types of chocolate for a few seconds in the microwave. Stop and stir in 30-second intervals until melted and smooth.

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Step two:

Black Hot Chocolate

Fill the spoon with the melted milk chocolate and place it on the plate to set and dry.

White Hot Chocolate

Fill the spoon with the yummy melted white chocolate and let it set on the plate.

Mocha Hot Chocolate

This is the trickiest! Mix half of the melted milk chocolate with instant coffee until almost solid. Fill the spoon with the mix and level off. Let it set in the fridge for a few minutes until set.

Submerge the filled spoon into the remaining melted chocolate and place it on the plate next to the others.

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Step three:

Decorations

Place the melted dark chocolate and the white one into two separate sandwich bags and make a hole in one corner. Now drizzle the spoons in any manner you want! You can play with the chocolates any way you want. I have used dark chocolate on the Mocha Hot Chocolate spoon and white chocolate on the others!

Step four:

Stir in hot milk and enjoy!

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Hope you try them, they are absolutely delicious.

With love,

Raluca

Eat and party in Milan

Moving on from the touristic part of the trip, it is my pleasure to share the best places to eat, drink and party in Milan.

I. Mag Café

“Where a cocktail isn’t just a drink, but an art.”

On one of the Navigli canals you can find the most original and yummy cocktails. Mag Café is an amazing antique spot where you can find great food, original drinks and meet new people. Until 5:30pm, you can enjoy a good coffee, a light lunch, plenty of plain drinks and it all comes with a beautiful view of the river. As the sun sets, it slowly turns into a bar.  We had a blast on our night out, as we sat at the wooden bar mesmerised by the art of making of the cocktails and enjoying the music.

II. Dahlia Lab

If you are looking for a cozy place to have lunch and enjoy some fresh and tasty sandwiches, you don’t have to look further than Dahlia Lab. Situated near Bocconi University, it has some great comfort food, very friendly service and the best overall atmosphere. It is a wide-spread restaurant with three eating areas. You can choose to sit completely indoors, on the covered patio with fans and coolers or outdoors.  Depending on the weather, they have live music on Saturday nights and I would definitely recommend it!

III. Volt Club

After having a great dinner and some pre-drinks, Volt Club is the perfect place to dance and let loose. With hip hop nights on Thursdays, electric ones on Fridays and Saturdays, Volt is one of the best contemporary dance music clubs in Milan. It has an international feel and awesome underground vibes. The best this is the DJ booth located in the middle of the dance floor in a cage, yes a CAGE. Dancing in the cage made our night, as the entrance is selective and you have more room to show your moves. Volt should be on your party list for sure!

IV. Le Trottoir

“A new site that wants to take up the legacy of human and artistic identity.”

If big parties are not really what you want, Le Trottoir is a meeting place for intellectuals and artists in the heart of the Piazza XXIV Maggio. It offers concerts and quality live music every night with both national and international artist. The vibes of the place are priceless, with a small dance floor, not very expensive drinks and outdoor seating area. 

Feel free to share your opinion below, hope you enjoyed it!

With love, 

Raluca 

Tourist in Milan: four stops

On my 20th birthday I found myself happier than ever when my best friend surprised me with tickets to Milan. It was an amazing experience and I have been dying to share it with you guys.

So to kick things off like a proper tourist, here are four things that are absolutely must-see touristic stops in Milan.

I. Piazza del Duomo

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Piazza del Duomo was the first thing I saw. Breathtaking both during the day and the night, the main attraction of the square is the Milan Cathedral, the Duomo. The imposing church was built along six centuries and is one of the biggest in the world.

Once I took in the view, I was immerse in the milanese vibe. People coming and going, groups chatting joyfully and smiling faces were everywhere. The moment reached perfection when three artists started performing. The piazza is overwhelmed by art, may it be architecture, street performances or fashion.

II. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The streets of Milan then lead us to The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. As one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, it is an important spot for meetings, shopping and dinning. Inside can be found haute couture shops such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Armani and exquisite restaurants such as Ristorante Galleria and Savini.

From an architectural point of view, the gallery is definitely a touristic attraction. It is a double arcade that connects the Piazza del Duomo to the Piazza della Scala and has a marvellous iron-and-glass roof.

III. Navigli District

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The area that I loved most was the romantic district of Navigli. It is perfect for both night and day strolls along the river. During the day, in between shopping and visiting the numerous art galleries, you can enjoy a yummy gelato or an espresso in one of the hidden italian cafés.

Luckily, we caught the superb vintage fair that is organised only on the last Sunday of each month. Vintages stalls with books, antiques and art were lined along the banks of the Navigli and the surrounding streets. It was heaven as I am in love with vintage clothing and jewellery.

IV. Sforza Castle

The Sforza Castle was a defence castle located in the extension of the Duomo. The moats for its defence were designed by the talented Leonardo da Vinci. Nowadays, the imposing town castle is the home of several museums and art collections. It is definitely worth checking it out.

Hope this got you booking your own trip to Milan! 

With love, 

Raluca 

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