A Travel Resolution for 2016

amsterdam-rijksmuseum-travel-diary-3Travel Highlights from 2015

Part of the reason I’m so excited about the New Year finally being here, is thanks to some pretty awesome moments in 2015. Last year I made a resolution to visit as many new countries (ones I had never been to before) as possible. Well I don’t think I did too bad; I visited Germany, The Netherlands and Italy. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had, and it has spurred me on to work even harder in 2016.

I will be returning to Japan in March. It’s been almost five years since I was there last, so naturally I am already planning all of the things I want to see/do. Of course I intend to reunite with all of my friends. I also hope to eat ALL of the delicious food, and take plenty of photos. My inner photography geek is pretty excited about this, because when I was living in Tokyo I only took snapshots on my mobile phone/digital camera. Oh hey there, my name is: the annoying tourist in the corner with the DSLR.

I’d also like to take more long weekends away from London, and discover more European countries I’ve yet to visit. On my travel wish list this year? Denmark, Iceland and Sweden. I wonder if I can best 2015 and manage to do those alongside Japan… I’ll certainly try my best.

You can check out my 2015 travel posts here.
Send me your travel recommendations in the comments below.

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Berlin Travel Diary | The Barn


The Barn | Schönhauser Allee 8, 10119 Berlin, Germany | Website

Coffee. Until recently I was unable to drink this beverage of the Gods. Still, my love for it was unwavering. However it was working in an office at a computer all day that finally made it a necessity. So after a year back on the stuff (my favourite is Caravan’s at Brooklyn Coffee), I have become a bit of a fangirl. London has an amazing array of cafes and coffee shops, so I was eager to see what Berlin had to offer me. V.A is not a coffee fan however, so it took a breakfast meeting with Herz und Blut (who suggested the venue) to finally visit a “proper” coffee shop – The Barn.

As soon as I stepped in to The Barn, I knew I was back where I belonged. The smell of freshly roasted coffee beans filled the store, and sacks of the brown gold were littered everywhere. Odd contraptions were stacked along the counter, whilst two smiling faces greeted us from behind it. There was plenty of space so we grabbed a window seat whilst contemplating the menu. I went for an espresso, and a croissant. Whether it’s food or drink, I think starting with the basics is a good way of finding out how skilled someone is. Now even though I can tell good coffee from bad, and burnt from finely roasted, I can’t easily spot the finer notes. However with The Barn’s coffee I was able to taste each fruity, sweet note. It paired perfectly with my fresh, buttery croissant. I tried to drag it out for as long as possible. This was one espresso I didn’t want to throw down my throat. But ultimately I finished it. However I knew I couldn’t give up the opportunity to also try their espresso with milk. Slightly sweeter, this one went down easily too. At around €3 a cup, this coffee is every bit as good it’s London counterparts, if not better…and a lot cheaper! If you ever in Berlin, this is one coffee break you can’t miss!

Since returning from Berlin I have spotted several of my favourite London coffee shops stocking The Barn’s beans. It seems that I am not the only Brit to have discovered how awesome this German roaster is. You can purchase The Barn’s coffee beans online here, in-store at Craft Coffee, London and Bean and Bud, Harrogate.

If you want to know what a non-coffee lover thought of The Barn, check you V.A’s post here.

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Berlin Travel Diary | Neues Museum

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Neues Museum | Berlin, Germany | Website

Museum island is a must-visit for anyone in Berlin. As well as this, I’m a bit of a culture nut, so it was obvious it would appear in my Berlin travel diary. If I had been travelling alone, I would have visited every museum in the vicinity. However I wasn’t, and I wanted to be considerate to V.A (as having grown up in Berlin, the museums were known to her). So when she asked me of any “must do” items for the trip, I knew exactly what to answer – the Neues Museum.

Ever since I was a little girl I have had a fascination with Ancient Egypt, and it’s safe to say that my interests have not wavered in adulthood. A friend of mine visited Berlin last year and told me “you need to go, just to see the Ancient Egyptian artefacts”. Then just before our trip to Berlin I read Yasumi & Hiro’s post on the Neues Museum. The history behind the museum is moving; it was bombed during World War II and remnants of this can still be found today in the bullet holes that litter the walls. I was intrigued to see the restoration it had undergone, especially as Berlin is a city that chooses to remember its scars, and not paint over them.

What I received from the museum was so much more than I had been hoping for. The museum is home to Ancient Egyptian architecture and art, prehistoric objects, antiquities, and of course the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti. In fact it would seem that people had come from near and far to view the bust. As proven by one lovely old Italian woman who would comically shout “Nefertiti?” to her husband, every few minutes. The bust of Queen Nefertiti was a must-see on this visit for us also. To finally be stood in front of something I had longed to see since my childhood – it may sound silly, but it was a pretty big deal for me. All I can say is, it was as magical today as it would have been twenty years ago.


You can check out the rest of my Berlin Travel Diary series here.

Berlin Travel Diary | Taking in The Sights

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Living in a capital city, it can be easy to forget the joy of being a tourist. In fact “being a tourist” can have negative connotations. Case in point: when I visited Berlin I was eager to explore a new city, whilst desperately trying (and failing) not to seem like a tourist. This was partly due to the fact that I was travelling with a Berliner – V.A. I didn’t want to make her do boring tourist stuff. But at the same time I had a list of sights I wanted to see. She assured me though that she didn’t mind taking me to see the landmarks. This is true friendship.

The tourists sights in Berlin are so much more enjoyable than those in London. I was shocked at how spacious Berlin is. There were tourists everywhere, but it didn’t seem crowded at all. There was space to wander freely. I could take photos without having to wait for people to move out of the way. It was wonderful!

Being a foreigner in a new city can be quite daunting at times, but I felt comfortable in Berlin. Transport is easy to navigate, even alone. The people are helpful, and of course, most speak English. I did try to learn a little German, but it helped a lot when I was stuck.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is; Berlin is a great city to be a tourist in.


You can check out the rest of my Berlin Travel Diary series here.

Berlin Travel Diary | District Mot Review

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District Mot | Vietnamese Street Food | Rosenthalerplatz – Berlin, Germany | Website

Of course the first thing any self-respecting foodie will do when they get off a plane is go in search of food. So it made sense for the second instalment of my Berlin Travel Diary to be a restaurant review. We headed down the street to one of V.A‘s favourite lunch spots – District Mot. District Môt labels itself as Saigon street food. In fact this is Vietnamese food with a slight fusion twist. I had a Vietnamese coffee (the best kind of coffee), and we ordered the Banh Trang Bun Thit Nuong (DIY summer rolls with noodles, chicken and salad, which you wrap in rice paper), and a Bao Burger to share.

The Bao Burger, oh the Bao Burger. Where do I begin? A succulent patty encased inside a steamed boa bun, and topped with mango, herbs and chilli sauce. This is no ordinary burger. I could have easily eaten one of these by myself. However that doesn’t mean I wasn’t happy to share, especially when it meant I could follow it with several summer rolls. One of my favourite things about Vietnamese food is how light it is, and Summer Rolls are a perfect example of this. The clean, fresh flavours of DM’s offering were exactly what I wanted. Of course light food means more room for pudding. I can’t say I’ve had a Vietnamese dessert before, so when V.A ordered Thao Pho Nuoc Doung (silk tofu with a ginger syrup), I was eager to try something new. I love both tofu and ginger, so this is the perfect kind of pudding for me. I even nibbled on the ginger root, something I realised is probably a little odd…but I adore the fiery kick.

We paid €12 (around £8.50) each, with soft drinks. As a Londoner, this is amazing value. I was told that this is one of the more expensive street food restaurants in Berlin, but I would happily pay this again and again. V.A had waxed lyrical about District Mot and I can honestly say that I now share her sentiments entirely. If you’re ever in Berlin, make sure you stop by – you won’t regret it!


You can check out the rest of my Berlin Travel Diary series here.

OOTD: Greetings, from Berlin

ootd-outfit-style-warehouse-primark-nike-asos berlin berlin-ootd-outfit-style-warehouse-primark-nike-asos ootd-outfit-style-warehouse-primark-nike-asos 1 berlin ootd-outfit-style-warehouse-primark-nike-asos-berlin-1Jacket: Primark | Dress: Warehouse | Trainers: Nike | Backpack: ASOS

What do you wear when you go to a city known for it’s fashion? This particular question ran through my mind as I packed my suitcase for Berlin. I only wanted to bring 6 outfits for 6 days, so I knew I had to plan meticulously. Right down to the last midi ring on my little finger. This isn’t something I usually do when I travel. I’m a little haphazard and I end up throwing in half my wardrobe, as I want the freedom to “decide on the day” – but we all know how that goes. I end up annoyed with myself for bringing 5 jumpers and I only end up wearing 1 dress that I’m not even 100% happy with.

But you know what? I think I did pretty good for myself this time. With only a couple of key pieces (and a few accessories) I was able to put together several outfits that I was really pleased with.  This one in particular was comfortable enough to meander around museums for the day; but at the same time I still felt as though I had put an effort into my look. It probably isn’t anything new to most of you, but my mind has been blown by this little “life hack”. I will definitely be bringing a lighter, more stylish case next time I travel.

You can check out my Berlin Travel Diary series here.

Photos of me by V.A (chopstickpanorama)

Berlin Travel Diary | Let Me Take Your Bags

berlin-germany-travel-diary-mani-hotel-amano-bloomzy-1Mani Hotel, Torstraße 136, 10119 Berlin, Germany

Let’s start from the beginning. Having never travelled to Germany I had always wanted to visit Berlin. So when V.A suggested a holiday in the capital – with her as my tour guide – I could hardly say no…could I? They say good friends should never travel together, but we were confident that we wouldn’t be screeching at each other by the end of the holiday. So we packed our bags and hopped on a plane to the home of curry wurst.

The Mani Hotel had kindly offered to put us up for our first night in the city, and after a relatively short train journey from the airport, we dropped off our bags and freshened up. The hotel is located in Rosenthaler Platz, Mitte, which just so happened to be the area we had marked down for its variety of restaurants and shops. We explored the area a little (something I’ll go into more detail on in the next post), and it did not let us down. Later we caught up with a friend (and a heavy rain shower) before rushing back to the hotel for dinner.

I don’t usually “do” food at hotels. I prefer to explore the restaurants nearby, but we could hardly say no when the Mani so graciously offered us a dinner and breakfast package. After a 2am startwe were running on only 3 hours sleep, and the idea of only having to take a lift back to our cozy bed was glorious. Luckily for us the food at the Mani hotel is not an afterthought to a room, instead it elegantly compliments your stay. The sharing plates for dinner were a modern fusion of French and Arabic cuisines. However it was the breakfast buffet (which non hotel guests can have for only €15) that excited me most. It was like letting a child loose in a sweet store. The food here is prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and presented beautifully. If I were to visit Berlin again I would definitely visit the Mani hotel and restaurant. In fact I’m considering catching another flight back asap just for those breakfast meatballs!

You can check out the rest of my Berlin Travel Diary series here.

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