Wednesday, 4 April 2018

One Day in Dubai

Last month, I had the chance to visit Abu Dhabi for 10 days, and go to Dubai for one of them. My boyfriend has family living in the Middle East, so it was the perfect opportunity to escape the English rain and spend some quality time with them. There will be a full post on Abu Dhabi following this one, but for now I simply couldn't withhold my photos from Dubai - particularly from the Instagram-famous Miracle Gardens - a minute longer! Without further ado, here's what we got up to in our one day in Dubai...

The Dubai Miracle Garden
I first stumbled across the Miracle Garden on Instagram, and upon finding out that it was in Dubai, I knew we had to go during our time in Abu Dhabi (Travel Tip: Dubai is just an hour's taxi from Abu Dhabi, costing around £40 each way, so definitely more affordable than spending a night there). The Miracle Garden was like nothing I've ever seen before. We beat the heat and went first thing in the morning, which was lucky as the place was filling up by 11am and would have made the below photos much trickier to take. The Garden is easy to navigate and doesn't take long to get around, but they have the most magical selection of floral monuments, from divine heart and butterfly archways, to giant bears and even an Emirates plane. 

Top - H&M | Skirt - Vintage Gerry Weber | Handbag - Topshop | Trainers - Zara

The above photo is a particularly special one for me, as my late Nanna whose vintage skirt I'm wearing here was a real garden enthusiast, and I know she would have loved the Miracle Garden.

Downtown Dubai
Just as the day began to heat up, we drove over to Downtown Dubai, which if you're a visitor with a limited amount of time, is the perfect spot. Downtown Dubai plays host to the Dubai Mall (slightly terrifying aquarium included), the Dubai Fountains, and of course, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. We took a stroll through the Mall and paid an obligatory visit to the Cheesecake Factory (obvs) then caught the Fountain show (Travel Tip: the Fountain Show only happens twice in the daytime, at 1pm and 1.30pm, lasting around 5-10 minutes. I assumed it would be every half hour as it is in the evening, so I was very glad that we checked!) With full tummies and slightly damp feet - thank you fountains - we took to the top of Burj Khalifa to see the spectacular views of the city, the ocean and the desert.

Jumeirah Beach Resort
With limited time left before our ride back to Abu Dhabi, we took one last taxi over to the Jumeirah Beach area. We had originally intended to see the Marina, but thanks to a slightly rogue taxi driver and a bit of a miscommunication, we ended up on a lively beach front next to a bustling piazza. The Marina will just have to wait until next time!

I hope you enjoyed this look inside our day in Dubai, and keep an eye out for The Abu Dhabi Diaries post coming soon. There are a tonne of places in Dubai that we didn't manage to get to, so please let me know in the comments below where you would recommend if we were to go again.

Until next time,

Lauren x

Saturday, 10 February 2018

24 Hours in Milan

There's something very special about a 24 hour citybreak. The pace, the excitement, the sheer novelty of being in two countries on both days; all things we relished in when we spent 24 hours in a city that rivals Paris for stupendous Gothic architecture. 

Excuse the grand sweeping statement here, but I don't think it's a secret that boyfriends are often notoriously hard to buy for, and that experiences tend to be much more memorable than a physical gift. With that thinking in place, my birthday card to my boyfriend last October said 'Happy birthday David, we're going to Milan next weekend!' (Followed by some romantic chatter, obvs.) 

Keep reading until the end for my Top Tips on 24 hours in Milan!

2 hours on a plane, a short train ride and a few stops on the metro later, we came up from the underground and out to the most glorious blue skies, and the Duomo herself. I can't quite explain the surprise or the sheer grandeur that we were greeted with upon popping out of the metro like a pair of whack-a-moles, just to see THIS immediately in front of us. She's a beauty.

Sunglasses - Stella & Dot | Jumper - Primark | Skirt - Boohoo | Bag - Accessorize

Now you may be wondering, what's all that on the floor? My answer for you may not satisfy: from what we could gather, our first day in Milan seemed to coincide with some kind of plate festival. If anyone can enlighten me further on this, please do.

A short stroll to find a pizza (of course) and a hefty bit of queueing later, we found ourselves on the roof of the Duomo. We'd been blessed with the most glorious sunny day, but being mid-October, is was a chilly one. However the moment we got up to the top - which by the way involves some fairly sketchy staircases that don't have very high walls to stop you seeing the plate festival up close - we were bathed in warmth and beautiful views. 

For an architecture fiend, this part of the day was absolute heaven, but what made the visit to the top of the Duomo even more grin-inducing were these two things: 1) the fact that Italians were literally using the roof as a sunbathing spot, lying down with music on and soaking up the vitamin D in October, and 2) that a busker down on ground level was playing Eddie Vedder - Guaranteed, a song from my favourite film Into the Wild that I have never heard outside of that film, let alone in this kind of set up. Needless to say, it was a special twenty minutes on the roof.

T-shirt - H&M | Skirt - Boohoo | Bag - Accessorize | Boots - River Island

Next we took a stroll to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is barely a stone's throw away from the Duomo, to take in some more gorgeous architecture (the Italians really know what they're doing with some bricks and a paintbrush or two don't they?), admire Prada's window displays and take a spin on the lucky bull (a painting on the floor that you have to spin on with one leg, three times. I didn't have the coordination for it.)  

Blouse - Topshop | Lipstick - MAC, Dubonnet

For dinner, we left the centre of town and took an Uber to the Navigli district, having been told by several friends and colleagues that this was a must-see spot outside of the centre of Milan. A nightmare journey later (more on that below), we arrived at the most lively canal, teeming with people and streaming with incredible restaurants and bars. We spent the best part of half an hour looking at every possible option on one side, crossing over the canal on one of the adorable bridges, and assessing the other, just to eventually go back and revisit an earlier find. We found our home for the evening in Ristorante Bellariva, and took it upon ourselves to devour every carb and last drop of wine available to us. From the bread and the steak to the pumpkin ravioli and boozy dessert truffles, everything we indulged in was a delight. When in Milan, eat everything, right?

Top - Zara | Jeans - Miss Selfridge | Boots - River Island | Bag - Accessorize

The morning rolled around, and though the plate festival had ended, the centre of town had been taken up with another event - some kind of Milanese fun run that suddenly explained to me exactly how the locals ate so much pasta yet stayed so svelte. Our flight was in the early afternoon, so we checked out of our hotel first thing and visited the inside of the Duomo (not before battling through a sea of Italian runners - the whole thing was rather tricky). Just before leaving, we found a doughnut place in one of the arches lining the square. How better to end a fantastic 24 hours than by soaking up the city's atmosphere with a sugary snack?

Top Tips for 24 Hours in Milan:

1. Ubers here are a little bit of a nightmare. There aren't many of them, and they're incredibly expensive, which we discovered on our way to the Navigli District. Half an hour wait whaaaaat? HOWEVER, if you walk as little as five minutes away from the hotspot you're inevitably ordering an Uber from, the price drops enormously. When we ordered a car from Navigli, the estimate back to our hotel (which turned out to be less than a 15 minute ride) was close to €40. We walked less than 10 minutes away from the main road, and got one for €12.

2. Queuing for the Duomo. The tip here is that if you want to see the inside and the roof - which I would recommend - buy the ticket that allows you to see it all within a certain amount of time (I think its 2-3 days). And definitely do not get into the enormous snaking queue outside of the Duomo without your ticket - the ticket offices are surrounding it instead - see this link for more info. As we arrived around midday on day one, we found the best option was to buy our pass, then queue for the roof (which if you're only doing one, make it this one), and return to the inside of the Duomo at 9am the next day for no queue at all. The queue for the inside in the middle of the day can be anything between 2-4 hours, which takes up a hearty chunk of your 24!

3. La Terrezza is a rooftop bar in La Rinascente department store. The store itself was magical, though we were only in it very briefly. Milan is the city of shopping, and this made me see why - Selfridges, take note. The rooftop bar is beautiful and is right next to the Duomo, but it does get incredibly busy. Our plans for an early breakfast there on Day 2 were scuppered by the street closures for the marathon, but I would definitely go back.

4. Logistics were much easier than anticipated. We flew into Malpensa Airport (MXP) and it was around a half hour train away. Hotel-wise, we stayed in NH Collection Milano President, which was a beautiful 5* (but relatively affordable for one night) hotel around a ten minute walk from the centre square. In all honesty, we were barely in the hotel, but the staff were incredibly helpful and the entire hotel was beautiful. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. 

I hope you've all enjoyed this recap of our flying visit to Milan!

Lauren x

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Best Dressed: The Met Ball 2015

The 2015 Met Gala's dress code - China: Through the Looking Glass - seemingly gave the most stylish women of the industry two options; sleek chignons and figure-hugging, statuesque gowns as seen on Behati Prinsloo for example, or theatrical, operatic Madame Butterfly-like ballgowns inspired by oriental dress, as seen on Poppy Delevingne and Lily Aldridge. May we take note of the pregnant Jaime King in beautiful custom Jason Wu. Her gown and beauty choices dressed her bump in understated elegance; a far cry from Kim Kardashian's floral natal turn in Givenchy in 2013. But of course, we love Kim for her extravagant glamour, and so her custom Roberto Cavalli dress was one of my favourite looks of the evening. You may notice an absence of Beyonce's striking Givenchy Haute Couture gown that has flooded Instagram since the small hours, however there was a little too much skin and not enough tumbling curls to take the overzealousness down a notch for my liking. Speaking of tumbling locks, although I adored the Geisha-inspired slicked back low buns sported by many a star last night, these looks seemed to only make Gigi Hadid's flowing golden waves look more beachy and goddess-like than ever. Overall, my winning looks of the evening go to Diane Kruger, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Miranda Kerr and Lily Donaldson - do these ladies ever not impress?

Amanda Seyfried - Givenchy | Diane Kruger - Chanel | Kim Kardashian - Roberto Cavalli
Lily Donaldson - Topshop | Poppy Delevingne - Marchesa | Rose Byrne - Calvin Klein
Behati Prinsloo - Tommy Hilfiger | Imogen Poots - Alberta Ferretti | Karlie Kloss - Versace
Naomi Campbell - Burberry | Claire Danes - Valentino | Kate Beckinsale - Diane von Furstenberg
Ellie Goulding - Marchesa | Miranda Kerr - Louis Vuitton | Lily Aldridge - Carolina Herrera
Gong Li - Roberto Cavalli | Joan Smalls - Roberto Cavalli | Jourdan Dunn - Burberry
Julianne Moore - Givenchy | Jennifer Lawrence - Dior | Carey Mulligan - Balenciaga
Gigi Hadid - Diane von Furstenberg | Hailee Steinfeld - Michael Kors | Jaime King - Jason Wu
Candice Swanepoel - Michael Kors | Emily Ratajkowski - Topshop | Rosie Huntington-Whiteley - Versace

(All images have been taken from the internet and belong to their rightful owners)

Who was your best dressed of The Met Ball this year? Tell me in the comments below!

- Follow me on -