Naples, Italy

Whilst we are in the middle of a global pandemic, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to write about the trip I took to Naples, Italy just before Covid-19 descended on the world. I hold such fond memories of this beautiful city and it was honestly like nowhere I have ever visited before! Still holding all the charm and glamour of a typical Italian city, I found it to be worlds’ apart from Rome, and in some ways, much preferred it. We travelled to Naples and stayed in a gorgeous Air BnB a stones’ throw away from the Via dei Tribunali. We had a beautiful, small balcony overlooking an Italian-style courtyard, made up of old stone floors, tiled stairways, overgrown palms and old, brightly painted front door ways. My favourite thing to do every morning was sit in the fresh air with a coffee and watch over the courtyard, as Italian grandmas left their quaint houses to collect their essentials: pastries, bread and coffee. We wandered down Tribunali, ever-busy with tourists and native Italians alike, with many relaxing outside of the pizzerias, coffee and cigarettes in hand. We wandered down to the port and took photos on the wolf statues, ate gelato next to the castle and even joined in with the Carnevale celebrations, throwing confetti in the main square surrounded by children in their favourite dress-up costumes! We had our first Neapolitan pizza at an amazing pizzeria recommended to us by our Air BnB hosts, at the top of the Tribunali, named Vesi. I couldn’t recommend it more – the pizza was incredible! We passed our nights in the Piazza Bellini, drinking Pinot Grigio and mingling with the locals. We were extremely lucky with the weather – despite being February, it stayed sunny for the majority of our trip! I honestly fell in love with Naples and cannot wait to visit again once all restrictions are lifted and we are able to travel again. If you’re looking for a city break weekend with amazing food and a relaxed atmosphere, Naples is the place for you!




Tolochenaz, Switzerland

‘For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others, for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.’

In 2019, I managed to tick off the number one item on my bucket list. I finally, after years of idolising Audrey Hepburn, took the journey off the beaten track to Tolochenaz, Switzerland, where she spent the final thirty years of her life. I’m still in a state of disbelief that I managed to visit the tiny little town, and can’t believe I am even writing this blog post. I can honestly say that Tolochenaz is one of my favourite places I’ve ever visited and can certainly see the charm it held for Audrey and why she chose to spend the latter years of her life there.

From Geneva, we took a train to Morges and visited the local Migros to pick up a bouquet of flowers for Audrey’s graveside: I chose a vibrant yellow bunch of roses. We then waited for the 703 bus toward Lussy-sur-Morges and took the 10 minute journey to the village, getting off at Place Audrey Hepburn. As we meandered down the windy road into Tolochenaz, I spotted the monument in the middle of the tiny square: a statue and plaque commemorating Audrey’s life, and I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to jump off and see up close. We ran over to the square and had a look at the plaque, with words from her son, Sean Hepburn-Ferrer. The statue of her face is scarily realistic, and such an amazing recognition of her presence in Tolochenaz. There was the loveliest little water fountain next to the statue, offering a peaceful soundtrack to the quaint town.


We decided to explore the town itself before heading to the cemetery, and there wasn’t a soul in sight. The whole time that we spent in the village, we did not see a single other person. Normally, I would find this slightly eerie but in this instance, it felt peaceful and relaxing. The village is quintessentially Swiss, with a range of charming terraced houses, small cottages and houses with thatched roofs. A rainy day, most of the local business were closed, however we passed a lovely coffee shop and the one and only restaurant in Tolochenaz that looked typically-Swiss and extremely cute! The town was extremely rural with gorgeous views of Lac Leman in the distance, framed by the snow-capped alps, one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen.

We wandered up the hill to La Paisible, the house where Audrey lived for the last thirty years of her life. Surrounded by high walls and greenery, the top of the house peeped over, giving us an insight into her home. With blue shuttered windows and a thatched roof, it was just as quaint and charming as the photos suggested. We were sure to be as respectful and quiet as possible, as there are now new owners of the house who live there, but it was so exciting to be able to see where she lived and raised her children! There is also a plaque on the outside of the house commemorating her time there.

Finally, we walked five minutes further up the hill and through the underpass to visit Tolochenaz Cemetery, where Audrey is buried. It offered beautiful views of both Lac Leman and Tolochenaz itself, and right behind the cemetery is the famous buttercup field where a lot of photos were taken of Audrey, so that was lovely to see. The cemetery is very small, no more than 20 people laid to rest there, so it was easy to find Audrey. Her grave is utterly beautiful, and adorned with photos, gifts and trinkets from fans of all nationalities. I honestly couldn’t believe I’d finally got to explore the town and see her resting place, it felt like a huge privilege and my roses looked lovely on her grave. Despite it being so rainy, it was an amazing day and one that I will never forget.




Geneva, Switzerland

From Italy (see my previous two posts about my Italian travels via my travel category), we went onto Switzerland, a country that has been number one on my bucket list for many years! Not least because it is where Audrey Hepburn spent the last thirty years of her life, but also because of the natural beauty of the Swiss landscape. I was so excited to finally visit, and it is safe to say that it did not disappoint. Visiting three different places in Switzerland was amazing, and I loved all three equally! But let’s start with Geneva. Flying over the alps from Italy into Geneva was utterly breathtaking, and from the moment we landed I knew I would love the city. The city breathes sophistication and elegance and is both quaint yet bustling. Every corner you turn houses a luxury fashion store or a chic boutique, a stylish coffee house or a bespoke jewellers. The city is also super multicultural and a variation of languages can be heard when wandering by Lake Geneva. The public transport is always punctual, though you scarcely need to use it as everything is within walking distance, the city being one of the most efficient I’ve visited. We walked around the lake at dusk and it was nothing short of beautiful, from the swans that sail by to the twinkling lights hung above. We visited the cathedral and wandered through the old town, visiting the most beautiful book store: Librarie Ancienne Antiques, housing the most beautiful second hand books. From Antoine de SaintExupéry to Simone de Beauvoir, from Albert Camus to Jean Paul Sartre, the store houses every author you could imagine. I picked up a beautiful copy of Le Petit Prince. It isn’t limited to only Francophone writers either, but writers from all over the world. If you plan on visiting Geneva, you should factor in at least a couple of hours to peruse the shelves and treat yourself to a beautiful edition of your favourite book. As it was close to Christmas, the city also had a Christmas market in the centre, with lovely trinkets and Christmas food available to buy: the ultimate festive treat. We were also lucky enough to be in Geneva during the time at which they celebrate the Fête de l’Escalade, a festival to celebrate the defeat of the Catholic state, Duchy of Savoy’s, attempt to conquer the city in 1602. We watched the parades of horses and reenactments of that historical night in Geneva’s historical old town. It was amazing to learn a little more about the city’s history and heritage and to experience a true, Swiss celebration. Whilst I found it hard to find vegetarian/plant-based food in Geneva, we had a lovely meal at Inglewood Eaux-Vives on the Avenue de Frontenex, the veggie burger was delicious and the staff were amazing. The place gave me Northern Quarter vibes for any of my fellow Mancunians out there, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. I can honestly say that there was no place greater to begin the festive season than Geneva, and now consider Geneva to be one of my favourite cities in the world.




Lausanne, Switzerland

Being in Geneva, it felt only right that we make a day trip to Lausanne. Only a couple of hours away on the train and with relatively cheap tickets, we decided to wake up early and make the journey. Unfortunately, we chose the rainiest day of our holiday to do this, so the photographs that we took don’t do the beauty of Lausanne any justice, but we nevertheless had a lovely time. A fleeting visit, we spent most of our time wandering around the old city centre and admiring the architecture, the narrow cobbled streets and the beautiful cafes where the Swiss weren’t deterred by the rain and sat outside with cups of coffee – we even stopped for one ourselves! We wandered through the different boutique shops and took the metro to the more rural side of Lausanne, with the intention of climbing the tower on the top of the hill, offering panoramic views of Lausanne. One thing I would advise everyone to do is check the opening times and conditions of any attractions you wish to visit – unfortunately, we spent 40 minutes climbing a hill to find that the tower was closed! What we did not realise was that in poor weather conditions, tourists aren’t able to access the tower for health and safety reasons and it was particularly windy and rainy on that day. Nevertheless, it was fun to wander off the beaten track. Our final stop was Lausanne Cathedral, where we were lucky enough to stumble across a Swiss primary school performing Christmas carols in front of a beautiful Christmas tree. It was lovely to escape the cold for a while and listen to the children sing. Lausanne is definitely worth a visit for anyone travelling to Switzerland, and is just as beautiful as Geneva!



Vatican City

A holiday to Rome meant one thing: of course, we had to pay a visit to the world’s smallest sovereign state! Accessible via metro and fairly easy to navigate, we hopped on the red line at Repubblica in the direction of Battistini and exited at Ottaviano, the closest metro stop to the Vatican and the easiest way to arrive. We wandered through the streets and through the walls into the Vatican, and it is just as beautiful as I imagined it would be. We paid 17 euros for an ‘Ordinario’ ticket, giving us access to the Musei Vaticani and to most of the monuments, including the Sistine Chapel, which was extremely reasonable! One piece of advice I would give to any one who is wishing to visit the Vatican: wear comfortable shoes! There is a lot of walking, so much to see, and it takes a long time to wander through each section, so comfy shoes are an absolute essential. The museum was of course hugely interesting, with Roman sculpture and gorgeous artwork alike, but the star of the show really was the Sistine Chapel. There is a lot to see and do before you arrive at the Sistine Chapel thus anticipation takes over as you turn another corner and say ‘are we at the Chapel yet?,’ but it is safe to say that it did not disappoint. Michelangelo’s work is truly breathtaking and whilst the chapel was full with tourists, it was largely silent in awe of the intricacies of each and every painting that adorned the walls and the ceiling. I unfortunately didn’t manage to take too many photographs, as in a large portion of the Vatican, it is prohibited (to preserve artwork, presumably). We visited the Vatican City in the early afternoon, and in hindsight if I could visit again, I would arrive in the morning. There was a tonne to see and do, and so it is worth accounting for this when planning your trip. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit the Basilica as we left at dusk and the queues were extremely long. However, the sun setting made for some beautiful photos. After leaving the Vatican, we went in search of a delicious evening meal, and as this was one of our last days in Italy, we wanted it to be as Italian as we could find! We stumbled across Marcantonio Ristorante and Pizzeria, about two minutes walk from the Vatican, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. The pasta was incredible, and (as mentioned in my Rome travel post!) I couldn’t get enough of their Caprese salads. If you’re ever around the Vatican, make sure to pay them a visit! Ending our day with a pizza and a view of the Vatican City was a great way to round off the loveliest trip to Italy. I can’t wait to go back (…very very soon!)




Rome, Italy

It’s been a little while since I last wrote a travel post, not least because I hadn’t done much travelling in 2019. That was until December, when I decided it was time for a trip; somewhere new, somewhere I’d always wanted to go. That place was Rome. Rome has been on my bucket list since first watching one of my favourite Audrey classics, Roman Holiday (1953). It’s safe to say that Rome was just as magical as I imagined it to be! Italian culture has a certain charm that I feel you may not find elsewhere: elegance and class yet quirkiness and character. Of course, we visited the most famous of monuments, including the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Spanish steps and much, much more. But we also wandered down small, almost unnoticeable side streets to sample some of Rome’s best pasta and ventured onto the Via di S. Giovanni for cocktails in the heart of Rome’s LGBTQ+ community. We climbed Palatine Hill and enjoyed the views from the top, we explored the Roman Forum and we wandered down some of Rome’s most expensive shopping streets. Every corner turned presented another scene from Roman Holiday, beautiful Italian women in incredible couture outfits and a pizzeria on every corner. For those of you interested in organising a trip to Rome, I could not recommend the hostel that we stayed in more: Hostel Freedom Traveller. Conveniently located nearby to Termini, Rome’s railway station, and only a short walk away from all tourist attractions, it was perfect for us. Whilst it is a hostel, there is also the option to book a private room (with or without an en-suite). The value for money is incredible, the staff are helpful and super lovely and the hostel is extremely social and a great way to meet and chat to new people. In all, Rome has left me with a desire to go back to Italy and a new found addiction for Caprese salads.




culture · thoughts

Daunt Books, Marylebone

Daunt Books
⌲ 84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 4QW

Daunt Books, Marylebone. Every book lovers dream? I think so. From the interior decor, to the plethora of literature on offer, Daunt Books has every aspect of a perfect bookstore you could ever dream of. Nestled amongst chic boutique stores and eateries on Marylebone High Street, Daunt Books is an independent booksellers selling a variety of books, but with a main focus on travel writing. If Marylebone isn’t the location for you, they also have stores in Holland Park, Hampstead, Cheapside, Chelsea and Belsize Park, but the Marylebone store really is the diamond in the crown jewels.

On entry into the Marylebone store, Daunt Books seems like a standard bookstore: shelves galore and a counter at the front. But walking through the small corridor into the larger of rooms, a literary Narnia exists. Adorned with books wall-to-wall and ceiling high, Daunt’s main features are for sure the ethereal stained glass windows and the overarching balconies that you can walk along, overlooking the oak wood floors and reupholstered armchairs below. Tables scattered around the floor are filled with the current, most popular literature from all around the world, and beside these are brown leather armchairs in which you can sit and peruse the best that Daunt has to offer. The balconies offer not only a view over the store but also more space for books – every book you could imagine is in the store. Coming down from the balconies leads you to a staircase; this one leading to the lower floor. The lower floor is a treasure trove of novels relating to international travel and exploration, sectioned into continents, you can travel around the world by visiting this one room in the store. Tables adorned with vases of flowers, and even more armchairs for reading, this floor is just as charming as the other.

For any book lovers in or around Marylebone, or London in general, Daunt Books is a must-visit. Whether you’re on the hunt for some new reading material or would just like to visit one of the most calming and charming bookstores in London, Daunt Books is the place to go.



Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

The first time I wrote about Milk & Honey was in the first ever edition of my Wishlist series, which you can read by clicking here. There was much hype surrounding the book, the implications and meanings of the poetry and almost every female within a 30 mile radius had this book in hand. Shortly after writing my wishlist post, I actually went on to buy the book. I’ve had it for a few months now, and read and re-read it I would say over ten times. I have completely fallen in love with Kaur’s prose, but I didn’t want to write a post on the book until I felt completely compelled to: until I understood the meanings and intentions behind her work, and until I felt like I could do the book justice. I think the time has come!

Firstly, I want to comment on the appearance of the book, how beautiful is the cover? I suppose it’s arguable that the book itself doesn’t affect the content: ‘do not judge a book by it’s cover’ etc, but it just looks so super pretty on my bookshelf. It had a matte black cover which feels so luxurious, and the monochrome colour scheme with a hint of honey-gold is both appropriate and gorgeous. I know it doesn’t affect the skill of Kaur’s words and the effect they have on the reader, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as a beautiful, well constructed book.

While on the topic of appearance, I’d also like to comment on the illustrations of the book. They aren’t the epitome of art; they aren’t super detailed, but they are functional, simple, and through this, become skilful and almost beautiful. The way in which the images seem to be hand-drawn almost with a ballpoint pen, makes the words even more relatable to everyday life, makes the pages adaptable to your own personal situations. Much like her words, the images are so simple that they take on their own beauty.

But now for the actual book itself: the ‘poetry.’ I quote the word ‘poetry’ because I’m not sure how far to argue that Kaur’s words do classify in this genre. Of course, the words themselves are not a novel, they do not progress into a storyline of such, but they do not seem to follow a metric, they do not form a conventional form of poetry. I’ve read much critique of Kaur’s work because of this, but isn’t this what makes the book unique, beautiful? The simplicity of her words and the uncomplicated nature of the structure, for me, is what makes the book so special. She is unapologetically brutal, she doesn’t miss a beat, and she talks of her themes with the utmost candour. For this, I have the utmost respect for Rupi Kaur. Anyone who is planning on reading this book should be aware of triggering topics such as sexual abuse and rape, topics of which she is very frank about. Her frankness and openness about such topics, are what make her a bold and incredible writer.

The book is split into four parts: The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking and The Healing. It becomes almost a process; a cycle that I’m sure every woman has experienced or will experience at least once in her life. I love every part just as much as each other but I would say that The Healing is my favourite, it’s both empowering and reassuring. Below I have left some of my favourite quotes from each section. I fully recommend purchasing this book and giving it a read, you won’t be disappointed.

The Hurting

‘A daughter should not have to beg her father for a relationship’ (28)

‘I was made heavy: half blade and half silk, difficult to forget and not easy for the mind to follow’ (30)

‘the thing about having an alcoholic parent is an alcoholic parent doesn’t exist, simply an alcoholic who could not stay sober long enough to raise their kids’ (39)

‘you tell me quiet down cause my opinions make me less beautiful, but I was not made with a fire in my belly so I could be put out’ (30)

The Loving

‘I want to be so complete I could light a whole city and then I want to have you cause the two of us combined could set it on fire’ (59)

‘You might not have been my first love but you were the love that made all the other loves irrelevant’ (63)

‘you look like you smell of honey and no pain, let me have a taste of that’ (66)

‘how do you turn a forest fire like me so soft I turn into running water’ (65)

The Breaking

‘don’t mistake salt for sugar: if he wants to be with you he will, it’s that simple’ (85)

‘I didn’t leave because I stopped loving you, I left because the longer I stayed the less I loved myself’ (95)

‘I am a museum full of art but you had your eyes shut’ (100)

‘I had to leave, I was tired of allowing you to make me feel anything less than whole’ (107)

‘You cannot leave me and have me too, I cannot exist in two places at once – when you ask if we can still be friends’ (136)

The Healing

‘Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself’ (153)

‘If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise’ (156)

‘fall in love with your solitude’ (161)

‘your body is a museum of natural disasters, can you grasp how stunning that is?’ (173)

‘the world gives you so much pain and here you are making gold out of it – there is nothing purer than that’ (185)



6 Similarities Between Madrid & Manchester

Having lived in Manchester for two years, and spent a lot of time there growing up, I would say I know the city quite well. Having lived in Madrid for five months, maybe I know it less so, but it got me to thinking how Manchester and Madrid differ, how they are alike, and what elements they have in common. When it comes down to it, there are a few ways in which the cities are similar to each other, and I thought it’d make an interesting read!

  • Unique, quirky areas: Manchester is renowned for its Northern Quarter, where you can find an edgy vintage shop selling reconditioned denim on one corner, and a cocktail bar selling drinks of all strange concoctions and creations on the opposite. Madrid has areas like this too, such as Lavapiés which is an area made up of mainly immigrants, so if you want to sample some real, authentic and extremely tasty food from differing cultures, this is definitely the place to go. There are also eccentric little cocktail bars here, not unlike the ones in La Latina. You could even take the metro to Tribunal and wander in the surrounding area, where you’ll find amazing street art similar to that of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and where, most like Manchester, you can find groups of bloggers taking photographs with the oh-so-edgiest of graffitied walls and authentic houses.
  • Football: football is such a big part of Manchester culture. Derby day is horrific for anyone who needs to pass through the city centre, use the metrolink or in fact any of the public transport systems. But theres something uniting and powerful about being apart of a football team, and in Madrid, it’s much the same as Manchester United vs. Manchester City. The city is divided into two: Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. The city experiences the same excitement and the same anticipation on match days, and it reminds me a lot of Manchester’s love for football.
  • The LGBT community: it makes my heart burst with pride to walk around Manchester and see such support for the LGBT community. It’s common to see stickers/posters and other such materials popped around the city in support of the community, and Manchester is home to one of Britain’s largest ‘Gay Villages’ – Canal Street. I love nights out on Canal Street, and similarly Madrid has Chueca, their equivalent ‘Gay Community.’ The metro station is my favourite thing, clad in all colours of the rainbow. Nights out there seem to rival that of Canal Street, and Madrid’s support and acceptance of the LGBT community is both similar to that of Manchester’s, and also heart-warming.
  • The student atmosphere: Manchester is home to six universities, plus more subject-specific college centres, and so the city is absolutely full of students. Being an undergraduate student at the University of Manchester, I can fully comply with the thousands of articles that brand Manchester as the best UK student city, the atmosphere is incredible, and also very comfortable for young people moving away from home for study. Madrid is home to at least 15 universities, some of them international, public, private: there is such a huge range. Like Manchester, the city is full of students, and gives off the same exciting, comfortable feel for both home and international students. There’s nothing quite like it.
  • Shopping: one thing I adore about Manchester? The shopping. The Trafford Centre is my saviour – it has everything I need, in one place. It even has cocktail bars, and a place to eat sushi. Literally, what more could I ask for? Aside from The Trafford Centre, Manchester city centre is unreal too: the Arndale has a Topshop superstore, and besides that, there is a huge, 5-floor Selfridges too. You couldn’t want for anything in Manchester, because everything you’ll need is there! Madrid is much the same, from Fuencarral and Gran Vía to The Style Outlets and Plaza Norte in northern Madrid, you really cannot ask for much more. Madrid is home to one of the biggest Primark superstores in Europe, and on the opposite end of the scale, you can find boutiques with handmade clothes tucked away in the streets of Tribunal. Like I said, everything you could need.
  • Food: Manchester is home to some of the most amazing food places: from Almost Famous to Home Sweet Home, from Rosso to Panama Hatty’s, whatever type of cuisine you’re looking for, Manchester has something for everyone! Madrid is much the same, as previously mentioned, Lavapiés is home to some amazing Indian restaurants, amongst other amazing cuisines. If it’s traditional, authentic Spanish tapas you’re after: visit Tribunal. And if you’re looking for a tasty brunch on a Sunday morning, Federal has eggs benedict that is worthy of rivalling that of Manchester’s Moose Coffee. You won’t be disappointed!

Disclaimer: all images, if not my own, are taken from weheartit.