Krakow, an absolute dream of a city, where do I even start? I had two very jam packed days in Poland's former capital and my god I cannot wait to share it all with you! Whilst I only had a very short time wandering around the streets of Krakow, I got A LOT done!



So here are my Krakow recommendations...



Things to see


Wawel Castle - The most slapped together patchwork castle I have probably ever seen in my life, but one with such a unique beauty to it. I didn't actually have time to go inside but the grounds are free to wander and full of fantastic photo opportunities.

Smok Dragon - A dragon sculpture at the foot of Wawel castle near the river. No spoilers but hang around for 5 minutes and you might be pleasantly surprised. 





Oscar Schindler's Factory - Whilst I don't think going inside is a necessity (most of the original factory was gutted and no machinery or artifacts remain) I do think it's worth a trip just to see the outside of the famous office building.

If you do want to say you've been inside Oscar Schindler's factory however, and you are short of time or cash, the Museum of Contemporary Art next door is housed inside the actual former factory, just don't expect too much as it has been completely refurbished inside.

Cloth hall shopping arcade - This gorgeous vintage style shopping arcade can be found within the cloth hall in Krakow's main square. It is very touristy, but it's also very beautiful and totaly instagram worthy. 




St Mary's Basilica and Bell towers - The odd bell towers at the front of St Mary's Basilica are probably the most photographed thing in Krakow, but for a good reason. The unusual towers are really quite incredible to look at, day or night. If you do visit in the day however, you are likely to be treated to a short trumpet solo, every hour on the hour. Its tradition apparently. 

The Barbican and remains of the city walls - Walk 2 minutes north east of Krakow's main square and you will find, Florian's gate, the remains of the city walls (and lookout towers), and a beast of a building - the Barbican.



Things to eat


Try out Pierogi at Van Gogh's Cafe - It would be a crime to visit Krakow without sampling the famous Pierogi (stuffed dumplings). They come in a range of sweet and savoury flavours so there is something for everyone, plus they are incredibly purse friendly.

I chose to lose my Pierogi virginity at a tiny little Van Gough cafe (Pierozki u Vincenta) in the centre of the Kazimierz district and I'm so glad I did! I opted for the Russian Pierogi (potato, curd, and onions) as these are the originals and probably what I would recommend if you are trying Pierogi for the first time. 



Breakfast at Milkbar Tomasza - I ate breakfast each morning in this cosy little cafe and thoroughly enjoyed it every time. Not only is it dead central, but its cheap as chips, and the omelettes are cracking.

Snack on a obwarzanek krakowski (ringed plated bread) - When in Krakow, especially around the old town, you will find street vendors selling these strange bagel-like breads on every corner. It's just bread but its bloody good bread.



Things to drink


Try a Plum Beer at House of Beer - Ever tried a Plum Beer before? Nope? Well neither had I until I strolled into the House of Beer in Krakow's old town. Every type of Beer imaginable is on offer here so take advantage and try one of everything, you're on holiday after all...




Taste Marcowe at Bierhalle - A word of warning, I wouldn't recommend spending too much time in the Bierhalle, the food is average and it's a total tourist trap, that being said I wouldn't judge you if you nipped in for one drink. I tried Marcowe which is a Bierhall own beer. It's pretty strong, and has quite a perfumy taste to it, but bloody hell was it a cracking beer. 


Things to do


Climb the tallest bell tower of St Mary's Basilica - Got half an hour to spare? Climb the tallest of the two bell towers. For your efforts you'll be treated to a fantastic view across Krakow and the chance to take some great snappy snaps. 




Take a free walking tour - Pretty much every small to medium city in the world now offers a free walking tour (or 7) and Krakow is no different. During my time I hopped onto 3 free walking tours and I would recommend all of them:

1. Free old town tour - Exactly what it says on the tin,  2.5hr tour of the oldest parts of Krakow city.

2. Free holocaust traces tour - A tour of the Kazimierz quarter and the former Jewish Ghetto.

3. Free street art tour - A tour showcasing the best of Krakow's street art.

Wander around the Kazimierz district and Jozefa street - These areas are the life and soul of the city, and parts most tourists won't see if they stay in the old town. Jozefa Street in particular hosts a boat load of independent shops, cafes, bars etc and is well worth an hour of your time.



Whilst I'm sure there are a thousand other things to see, eat, drink, and do in lovely Krakow, these are just the recommendations I have from the two incredible days I had in this beautiful city.



Other Krakow tips:


- If Uber is your usual mode of transport you'll need to be aware that Uber doesn't have a licence to enter Krakow's old town. This is something I wish I knew before trying and failing to order multiple Ubers one morning. You can either try to flag down a registered Krakow taxi, or if you're feeling cheeky like me nip into a nearby hotel and ask them to order you one. 

- Eating or drinking in the old town will cost more than anywhere else in the city. Whilst this can still be incredibly cheap ,especially if you're from the UK, I would recommend feasting in the Kazimierz quarter if you can as it's the heart of Krakow city in my opinion. 

- As always I recommend learning a few basic words in Polish before you go. Everyone I spoke to on my short break spoke fantastic English however that shouldn't be an excuse for laziness. It doesn't hurt to say please and thank you in someone's own language when visiting their country now does it? Click here to learn the basics in less than 1 minute.





Have you ever been to Krakow? What would you recommend?


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KRAKOW - 14 THINGS TO SEE EAT DRINK & DO

Remember when empties posts were all the rage back in the day? The old blogging day's really were the beast weren't they!? Well I'm taking it back to 2013 with today's post as I'm talking all about the products I finished this month and what I thought of them. There's a good mix of higher end and budget beauty products as I like to try review bits from all prices ranges.



So here are the products I finished this month and what I thought about them...


TRESemme Care & Protect Heat Defence - I would be very surprised if I hadn't featured this on the blog before, but just incase I haven't here it is. This TRESemme heat protection has been a staple hair care product of mine since I first started using heat on my hair maybe 14/15 years ago (jesus am I that old??) and I've continued to buy it ever since. It's a non greasy formula that doesn't feel heavy in my hair and does exactly what it says on the tin. Plus it's usually pretty cheap, retailing between £3-£5 in most stores.

Victoria's Secret  Fragrance Mist in 'Secret Escape' - Everyone loves a good Vicky's Secret scent don't they? Although I'm not really on board with other aspects of the brand, I do like their smelly stuff. Yes it can be quite pricey for a body mist but they really are some of the best on the market. Would I repurchase? Yes I would, but I won't be squeezing my wobbly bits into any of their cheaply made, over priced underwear anytime soon. 


Clinique Take The day Off Makeup Remover (GIFTED) - This little beauty is without a doubt the best makeup remover I have ever used and I'm gutted I only had a travel sized version to try out. The solution is split (I assume half is water based and half oil based?) so you have to shake it to activate. It's very gentle on the skin and removes even waterproof makeup with ease. I'm not usually a fan of watery makeup removers however this one really can't be beat. The only downside? The price. As with all the Clinique products I've tried in the past, it's a little on the steep side of things coming in at £19 for 125ml of product. It's not something I could justify repurchasing at the moment unfortunately. 

Nivea Daily Essentials Moisture Boost - So I have two versions of this travel sized moisturizer because 1. it was on sale and 2. I thought it was trying both out to see which suited my skin type best. As it turns out I didn't pay enough attention to give myself a definitive answer of which one I should be using but I was pretty damn happy with both of them to be honest. The cream is a little thicker and heavier than I'm used to, but I'll assume that's down to the SPF within it which is the main reason I bought it in the first place. Although it is thicker, I do think it sinks into my skin pretty quickly and doesn't feel greasy once it's been absorbed. I have repurchased already and I will likely continue to do so in the future. 


Phil Smith Coco Licious Texture Spray - I have been searching for the perfect texture spray for what seems like an eternity, but I think I finally found it. Not only does this dream product give my locks lots of volume but it also smells unreal AND it's super affordable at just £4 (or less) in most stores. I actually siphoned off about 50ml of this to take on my holibobs with me instead of hairspray as I just love it that much!

Bioderma Makeup Removing Micelle solution - I can kind of see why everyone raves about this now that I've tried it out for myself. It's a great little makeup remover with a subtle scent that does exactly what it's supposed to, however it's not the best remover I've ever used (see above) and I wouldn't be in any great rush to repurchase. It was good, but it wasn't that good.


So those were the beauty products I've finished off this month and a pretty honest review of them! Let me know which beauty products you've been loving, or hating this month down in the comments! :)


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6 BEAUTY PRODUCTS I FINISHED THIS MONTH & WHAT I THOUGHT OF THEM

Well this is an overdue blog post if I ever did write one! A couple months ago myself and my lovely mother took a trip down to Solihull as I was invited to review* the new (well, not so new now) afternoon tea at the Village Hotel. Spending an hour or so chatting over a good cuppa and munching on miniature cakes is one of my favourite past times, this however was an afternoon tea with a twist...



The afternoon tea is actually inspired by Great British Bake off winner Candice Brown. Now I'll come clean, I've never watched bake off, nope not even once, so fans of the show might find that more interesting than me - I'm just here for the tea and cakes let's be honest.

So what's on the menu? As with all great afternoon teas you should expect lot's of tea (or coffee) and cakes. As I said however, this is no regular afternoon tea so you'll also be treated to bite sized quiches, teeny tiny egg mayo rolls, and some kind of prawn cocktail creation on a cracker, instead of the usual finger sandwiches. Now I'm not a fan of seafood so I didn't touch the prawn creation or the salmon quiche but I was told that alternatives are available for fussy eaters like myself. My mother and loyal afternoon tea taster did enjoy the little fishy foods however and reported back to me that they were in fact quite tasty. I'll take your word on that one mom.



Along with the little savoury snacks we were also presented with rocky road style cakes, miniature rhubarb & custard profiteroles, and posh cornflake cakes of all things. The cornflake cakes actually took me a bit by surprise as they are something you usually make with 5 year old and not something you would ideally serve up to paying customers, however it was more than your bog standard cornflake cake. The cake had a soft base, similar to that of a cherry bakewell and was filled with a sweet lemon filling, the cornflakes themselves were then topped with coconut which might seem like a ctrange combo but funnily enough it all worked really quite well together.

So what's after the cakes? Scones of course (or scoooones if you're posh). To mother and I the scones really are the make and break of an afternoon tea. Give us a good jam & cream scone and you're onto a winner. Give us a bad one, or one with, god forbid, butter and you're straight into our bad books. So did this this afternoon make our naughty or nice list? Well I'm still slightly undecided. The scones included in the Village Hotels afternoon tea were actually chocolate orange flavoured so they were pretty much written off straight away by my mom. If it's not broke why fix it right? Well I would be inclined to agree with her but I did actually quite enjoy these funny little citrus scones and although they aren't necessarily what I would chose, they were still pretty decent.


So what was my opinion of the whole thing? Well it was a different afternoon tea experience I'll give it that, but it wasn't too different, and actually it was nice to spice it up a little bit. The platter comes in at £17.50 per person which isn't too pricey for a 4 star hotel restaurant, but it probably is a little more than I would usually spend on an afternoon tea if I'm honest. All in all it was pretty damn decent and I enjoyed trying out an afternoon tea with a little bit of twist.



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* Our afternoon tea was complimentary however all opinions are my own!


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THE SOLIHULL AFTERNOON TEA WITH A TWIST*

It's no secret that spend a good chunk of my time travelling the world. Every chance I get I jet off somewhere new and exciting. I travel so much that I seem to get asked the same questions over and over again, so why not just do a Q&A I thought? I asked you guys to ask me anything about travelling and you delivered.

Disneyland Paris, France

So here are your questions answered...


What was your best holiday ever? - This is an impossible question. I've seen so many beautiful places and met so many incredible people that I can't possibly narrow it down to just one trip. I think the most memorable was when I went travelling for 3 weeks around Europe though. All I've ever wanted to do since I was young was see the world and that's as close to proper travelling as I've ever been before! In just under 3 weeks I visited 6 countries and 7 cities. It's a trip I will never forget.

Where will you be travelling next? - So I actually have a trip planned to Dublin in a few days! It's somewhere I've been a couple of times before but I don't think I could ever get bored of it. My plans for this break are; Jameson's Whiskey Distillery, Dublin Castle, and of course I'll be sinking a few pints around Temple Bar too! If anyone has some less touristy recommendations for the capital of the Emerald Isle, I'm all ears! 

Famous Grouse Experience, Glenturret, Scotland

Where is the best place for a female solo holiday? - Okay so I'm biased because it was my first solo holiday but Belfast is perfect for girls travelling from the UK. Its cheap, its close, and they speak English which is a bonus. If you're a bit nervous about your first solo trip I would definitely recommend travelling somewhere you can speak the local language. I've written a whole post on tips for solo female travellers which you guys might find helpful.

Where is good to go for a cheap city break? - As a general rule eastern Europe is always a good shout when it comes to affordable city breaks. Poland in particular is extremely reasonable for British tourists. If I had to pick one place though I would recommend Gdansk. Situated in the north of Poland its a beautiful little city, with lots to do, and can be visited at any time of year. Here are 10 things I would recommend doing in Gdansk.

Falls of Dochart, Killin, Scotland

Is Birmingham good for a holiday? - Ha I couldn't tell if this was a joke or not but I'm going to say yes. In case you didn't know Birmingham is my bustling home town which is only getting better with age. Shopping, drinking, sport, art, we have it all here. I reckon tourists could easily have a packed out weekend of fun in the second city.

What camera do you take travelling? - My photographs are generally a mix between my IPhone camera and my Canon G5X, more often than not they will be taken with this pocket sized point and shoot though.

Which is your favourite UK city? - This is really tricky because we have so many great cities across the UK but I would have to say Bristol. It's a city I'm still yet to really explore but I've been a good few times now and I always find something new to do. Bristol is a quirky little place with a great atmosphere and lots of history, I'd take a day trip here in a heartbeat!

Shrewsbury, England

Are you scared of flying? - Not at all. I've been a nervous flyer in the past but I'm honestly just more excited than anything when I board a plane. I could spend hours looking out of a plane window and I would probably even fight my own nan for the window seat.

Where is your number 1 recommended destination? - Another impossible question, so I'll split it into 3 parts. For a short city break I would recommend Amsterdam. Amsterdam has a great mix of history, nightlife, and culture, all whilst being around an hour away from most UK cities. For a beach holiday I would recommend Bodrum in Turkey. Again it's got the culture and nightlife as well as some cracking beaches and boat trips close by! For a first time girls/ lads holiday I would recommend Salou in Spain. Its where I had my first girls break and it was SO much fun. The bars were great, the beaches were gorgeous, and you have a lot of touristy things nearby. It's also pretty close to Barcelona so you can take a day trip in.

London Eye, London, England

Any tips for first time flyers? - Honestly? Just enjoy the experience, flying is the safest form of transport afterall. If you are really struggling with the thought of getting on a plan a little alcoholic beverage wont hurt but be warned, it's very easy to get drunk on a plane due to the high altitude. The last thing you want to do is be sick in the cabin, so take it easy. Talk to your doctor before you fly if needed as they might be able to recommend other medication that will ease your nerves. It's also a good idea to have a book or magazine to keep you occupied especially if you are going to be in the sky for a while. I also make myself a banging holiday playlist before each trip I take so I have some great tunes to listen to on the flight over! I actually have a whole blog post on keeping busy on long journeys which you can find here.

Where was the first place you went on a plane? - The first place I went on a plane was actually Lanzarote in the Canary Islands but I was 4 and I don't remember it at all. After that I didn't get on a plane again until I was 15 when I went to Crete for 2 weeks with my Aunt and Uncle. I will remember that trip forever and actually believe it's partially where my love for travel comes from! You can read more about that here!

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions over on Twitter and Instagram! I absolutely love answering questions about my travels and I'll be happy to give anyone recommendations about any of the places I've visited.

So now that I've answered all of my travel questions I have one for you. If you could recommend one destination, anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

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ASK ME ANYTHING - TRAVEL Q&A

Solo travel, scary right? Well it doesn't have to be. It's understandable that travellers, female travellers in particular, might be a bit wary jetting off alone, after all doing anything on your own can be a little nerve wracking.


With this handy guide hopefully you can reduce the risk of coming across any problems on your trips and put your mind at ease. So here are my top tips for female solo travellers...



Be aware of your surroundings - A pretty obvious one really but one that's easily forgotten when the holiday mood takes over. Always be aware of where you are, who you are with, and who might me lurking. Along the same sort of lines, you should never let on that you are lost or unsure of where you are, don't make yourself look vulnerable. I've always been told to walk with purpose and confidence when alone and it's served me well so far.

Share your location - Always keep your friends and family in the loop about your plans. When I travel alone I always ring or text my mom in the morning to let her know what I'll be up to. Having a chat keeps the loneliness at bay and also gives her an idea of my location. I also share my exact location with my friends using my phone, a feature I think most modern mobiles now have. I would highly recommend leaving this switched on continuously if you're in a country where you can use your data, and if not, switch it on whenever you connect to wifi. Now I know what you're thinking 'but that with zap the life out of my battery!' which brings me on to my next point.

Take a battery pack - I know they can be bulky, and heavy, and just a little annoying when travelling but believe me nothing is worse than being alone, needing your phone, and realising its dead. Chances are you won't need it for an emergency but it's nice to have even if you're feeling a little lonely at the dinner table.


Take a small tripod - Not a safety tip! Well unless you use it as a weapon to protect yourself from potential attackers but that's not something I would recommend. I would recommend however, using it to take cute photos of yourself when you don't feel like asking people/ there's no-one around. I've taken my little gorrillapod on all of my solo trips so far and it's come in very bloody handy!

Don't drink excessively - I know I know, everyone likes a little bev on their holidays and there is nothing wrong with having a couple of drinks, but when you're travelling alone you don't want to make yourself vulnerable and excessive drinking will do just that. Thinking along the same sort of lines, never leave your drink or accept a drink from someone if you didn't see it being made. 

Dress appropriately - I'm not one for telling women to cover up ever, but in certain countries, showing excess skin or wearing inappropriate clothing could get you in big trouble. You would think that by now women shouldn't have to second guess their clothing choices but unfortunately in some places that's still the reality. 


Join free walking tours - More of a general travel tip than one targeted specifically and solo female travellers but one I live by. Joining a free walking tour at the star of your trip is a great way to see the sights on a budget, get to grips with your surroundings, and make friends! I'll often go on to have food or drinks with people I've met on these tours and we will probably be lifelong facebook friends too ha!

Do your research - Have a rough itinerary planned before you go. It would be unreasonable to plan every minute of your trip but it's a good idea to have a list of things planned so you don't get bored. It's also worth getting an idea of the routes you might have to take to on your solo trip. 

Trust your gut - It sounds cliche but if something doesn't feel right pay attention. If you're in a dodgy area, or someone's looking at you a little off, leave. You're instinct is usually right. 

Split your money - I know most people are moving on to using travel cards now but if you're like me and take cold hard cash on your travels it's always worth splitting. Leave half in your safe at the hotel and take the other out with you. If the worst was to happen and your purse was lost or stolen at least you would have something to survive on. 


Stick to crowded areas especially at night - They say there is safety in numbers and my biggest tip for solo travellers, female or not, would be to stay with the crowds, especially at night. If you've read my solo travel nightmare you'll know that I ended up in a rather uncomfortable situation on an empty street late at night and although nothing happened, it's an experience I'll never forget.

Chat to locals - Now I don't want all my tips to be doom and gloom because that's not what travel is about! Make the most of your trip and meet new people. Talk to the locals, pick their brains about where to eat and what to see. I'd like to think I'm pretty good at this by now and I can safely say that I've got friends and acquaintances all over Europe!

Get your Bumble on - Not quite confident enough to strike up a convo with a stranger in the pub? Well there's always Bumble. Bumble started as a dating app but also has a bbf section (for making friends) and a business section (for networking). Whilst I'm quite happy to chat to away to people I've only just met I have used Bumble a couple of times on my solo trips to go for drinks with locals. As you should when meeting people in your own city, always tell a friend where you're going, and don't be afraid to leave if you feel uncomfortable at any point.

Learn key phrases - Going somewhere english isn't the official language? Don't panic. Learning a few phrases will really benefit you when solo travelling, and there is no excuse when you can literally google everything on your phone now days. Knowing the basics like, please, thank you, good morning etc. will help your trip go so much smoother and the locals usually appreciate the effort too.

So those were my top tips for female solo travellers, now get out there, have an amazing time, and most importantly stay safe!



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TOP TIPS FOR FEMALE SOLO TRAVELERS

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