Tag Archives: travel

Commuting

london underground tube train on platform

Some people love commuting, some people hate it. You probably enjoy commuting more if you love your job. It also helps if it’s not too long. And apparently those that commute by bike are pretty happy regardless.

One thing is for certain though, and that’s that our commute looks a lot different today than it did just a decade ago.

Commuting today is a bit different than it used to be not very long ago. (And with the rise of working remotely, there is an increasing number of people who don’t commute at all.) Between 2004 and 2010, the number of British commuters who took the train reporting that they were wasting their time traveling fell by a little more than a third—a drop that researchers attributed to a sharp rise in the number of commuters using their phone to check email, browse the Internet, or listen to music or podcasts. Today, workers interested in further reducing their angst, then, can at least take solace in the fact that their forebears had it worse.

CityLab

P.S. how I spend my commute

Cologne Christmas Markets

image

After an amazing few days in Rome (full post coming soon) I’m so excited to visit Cologne with my mum in a few days time. We’ve been talking about visiting the German Christmas markets for many years and this year it’s finally happening!

We chose Cologne for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are seven Christmas markets dotted around the city (seven!) which should keep us entertained. Secondly, the cathedral is meant to be incredible – and we love a good cathedral. Thirdly, my brother went over the summer and said it’s a city worth visiting.

Another bonus of choosing Cologne was the fact we could take the train there. We’re both train travel fans and after visiting Bruges and Ghent by Eurostar in the last 18 months I’d always choose a train over a plane.

We’re in Cologne for three nights which gives us plenty of time to see the sights, enjoy some quality mother and daughter time and stock up on Christmas gifts, decorations and gluhwein at the markets.

We’re planning on wandering lots and just seeing where our feet take us, but if you’ve been to the markets before I’d love to know your top tips! Similarly if you’ve visited Cologne before please do share any places to visit you loved as well as the usual restaurants, cafes and bars.

Image: Ghent in the summertime

Tune Hotel Canary Wharf review

I spent some time working in Canary Wharf a few years ago. I hated it. I’ve always found it cold, corporate and a capitalist dream. Which is why when I was contacted about reviewing the new Tune Hotel in Canary Wharf I was tempted to say no.

But who says no to a staycation? Not me, so last week we packed an overnight bag and headed off for a night away in Canary Wharf.

canary wharf station

Tune Hotel Canary Wharf review

There are Tune Hotels located all over the world with five in London and plenty in Asia and Australasia. Their concept is to offer a great night’s sleep at a great price, which means there’s a basic room price and a menu of extras you can add depending on your needs. The idea is that you pay for what you need and then add on extras only if you need them.

The hotel is a ten minute walk from Canary Wharf station, round the corner from lots of restaurants and bars and across the road from the Museum of London Docklands. Canary Wharf is surprisingly pretty at night by the river and we loved this church!

canary wharf church

Tune Hotel Canary Wharf is incredibly modern and minimal. The reception area is bright and the staff that helped us were fantastic. Reception is manned 24/7 and the reception staff were cheerful and helpful. Check-in took all of one minute and check-out took even less.

tune hotel canary wharf review

Everything is digital at the Tune Hotel. There’s a control panel for adjusting room temperature and for changing the light – we had a lot of fun playing around with the lighting…

tune hotel lighting

After playing around with the lights we popped out for dinner nearby. As we were on the full amenities package (towels, toiletries, television, Wi-Fi) I had the worlds longest shower when we came back. The shower was amazing. I literally stayed in there for thirty minutes slowly warming up from the cold Canary Wharf breeze!

tune hotel canary wharf toiletries

The next morning we checked out which involved handing back our key. Quick, simple and perfect if you’ve got to head off to a meeting or work. We stopped for coffee at Taylor Street Baristas before getting on the tube to work which definitely beat Starbucks.

The Tune Hotel Canary Wharf is a fantastic place to say if you need accommodation in the area. I’d definitely stay in another hotel in the chain again in an European city. The hotel is reasonably priced, exceptionally clean and the shower was amazing – my only requirements for hotels in a city as I hate spending time inside unless I’m sleeping!

I was a guest of Tune Hotels. All opinions are, as usual, my own.

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The best piece of advice for nervous flyers

advice for nervous flyers plane

My friend Katie has been scared of flying for years. I’ve held her hand (and her sick bag) on many flights and tried to be as good a friend as possible. In recent years she’s got a lot better and handles flights like a trouper.

Before I headed off to California I told her how scared I was about flying. I’m okay until we are up in the air and then I freak out. She recommended I settle my nerves with Rescue Remedy and gave me this great piece of advice:

When you’re on a plane and think something bad is about to happen, imagine you’re seeing your mum for the first time after your holiday and picture telling her about all the amazing things you did.

Obviously you can substitute your mum for your dad, partner or your best friend, but for me this worked perfectly. I love seeing my mum after a trip and telling her about all the places I visited, and visualising this happy reunion moment where I’m safe and sound after a flight really worked for me.

Do you have any advice for nervous flyers?

P.S. What your airplane seat says about you

Downtown LA Guide

Los Angeles was the first stop on our California road trip, and if I’m honest, the bit I hadn’t even thought about. I’d done loads of research for San Francisco and Big Sur, but barely looked into what to do in LA.

We ended up staying in Downtown LA by luck. Although Downtown LA was fine, it’s probably not the best place to stay when you only have two days in the city. Essentially it all depends what you want from your trip, so just make sure you research everything beforehand. Nothing is nearby in LA so you really do want to find a base location that’s close to some of the things you want to do.

Downtown LA guide

hollywood sign downtown la

Where to stay in Downtown LA

We only had two days to explore the city, so after landing at LAX in the afternoon we got a cab straight to our downtown hotel to dump our suitcases and freshen up. We got a great deal at Hotel Luxe, a hotel I’d recommend if you just need a base in the area. The rooms are large, clean and the showers are amazing. Plus you can see the Hollywood Sign from your room if you’re into that kind of thing.

If you’re looking for a hotel you can hang out in try the Standard up the road instead – although expect to pay a lot more. The Westin Bonaventure is the stuff of modernist dreams, but it caters more to the business traveller than the average tourist. Plus you can always just pay it a visit for free…

westin bonaventure

Where to visit in Downtown LA

The Westin Bonaventure Hotel
The Westin Bonaventure is a must. As long as you don’t get too geeky about it they don’t mind letting you in for a look around. Take a couple of the escalators on the outside of the building for great views over LA.

Los Angeles Convention Centre
If you can, try and get down to Los Angeles Convention Centre on a Naturalization Ceremony day. On our way to the metro we stumbled across many people leaving the building after the ceremony, posing proudly for photos with their certificate and mini American flag. It was a privilege to see what citizenship meant for them and an emotional moment of our trip.

grand union market

Where to eat in Downtown LA

Grand Union Market
A visit to Grand Union market is a must. Purchase punnets of berries for a dollar each (a dollar! That’s 62p!) and then head to Eggslut for brunch.

eggslut grand union market

Eggslut
According to a local DJ we got chatting to, Eggslut is the most popular spot for brunch in LA at the moment. Queues are often an hour long so we were pretty lucky to get a seat at the bar immediately. My friend Shula loved the coddled eggs but for me it was all about the Fairfax – scrambled eggs made with cream cheese in a brioche bun with sriracha mayo. The best thing about LA? So. Much. Sriracha.

kitchen table downtown la

kitchen table

Kitchen Table
On our first night we settled on this healthy restaurant after a walk around some of Downtown LA. Four hours after landing in the city we headed here to stock up on salad and detox after a day of heavy plane food. We toasted the start of our trip with a beauty booster shot (bee pollen etc, we felt ever so LA) and I demolished my chicken and avocado salad in true LA fashion.

press brothers juicery grand union market

Where to drink in Downtown LA

Press Brothers Juicery
It’s all about the juice in LA, and we loved the range on offer at Grand Union market. The guy behind the counter was super patient with us, giving us samples of everything before I settled on the green Balance Juice with apple, cucumber, celery, kale, parsley, lemon and ginger which tasted a lot better than it looked.

The Standard
For something a little harder the bar at the Standard is probably the place to be seen in Downtown LA. However after a long flight and busy days we were in bed both nights by 10pm!

There are more things to do in Downtown Los Angeles but we wanted to see as much of the city as possible, so we spent the rest of our time in galleries, at food markets, on the bus (a lot of time on the bus) and in Venice / Santa Monica. All totally doable in two days.

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Sunday Selection: San Francisco

golden gate bridge san francisco

San Francisco… worthy of way more than a few rambled thoughts, so instead I present a list of internet goodness about the city for you to consume…

Image: unsplash

Sunday Selection: Los Angeles

venice beach los angeles

In a little while I’ll be flying to Los Angeles! I’m looking forward to touching down in the City of Angels and exploring what the area has to offer. I’ve never had a burning desire to visit LA but the more I read about the city the more I want to see and do. Blogs like Cupcakes and Cashmere have shown me that there’s more to being a local than a desire to work in the film industry and I’m totally addicted to Curbed’s LA mansion tours.

Like New York, Los Angeles is a city I have learnt about and experienced through film and television. From The OC to Californication I’ve always wondered whether the reality lives up to the fantasy.

Popular opinion states you need a car to get around LA, but we will be exploring the city how we explore London; on foot and by public transport. Everyone I’ve spoken to thinks we’re mad, but then everyone I’ve spoken to doesn’t spend much time on foot or on public transportation in the UK either. I’ve done a bit of research and it seems LA is more accessible by public transport than ever before, so I’m hopeful we will get around just fine.

For now I’ll leave you with a few interesting articles about Los Angeles that I’ve read recently:

  • A fun push to highlight that the LA metro system has the second best transit coverage in the nation
  • Restaurants like AXE make me think I’m going to love LA (we’ll save the burgers for Vegas)
  • How the Mojo Robot created a place a fun public space in Los Angeles
  • Political street art in LA
  • Guess what I’ll be doing in LA? A ‘Clueless’ map guide to Los Angeles

As ever, any tips about what to do in LA (or California in general) would be most welcome. Thanks for all your suggestions so far!

Image: Gratisography