City life · Life · Travel

How to make traveling for work glamorousĀ 

I’ve been so absent from this blog, I’m close to not calling it a blog any more, it’s more of a collection of random articles on not any specific issue šŸ¤”

I’m gonna make it easy for myself and blame it all on my job which has been particularly busy lately. And I have also been traveling a lot for work which got me thinking how I can make the – mostly stressful and tiring experiences – a little more glamorous.

So here are my tips!

1.Arrive earlier or leave later than your first or last appointment – meaning leave at least an hour for yourself and the city you’re visiting. Go visit a gallery that features an amazing piece of art that you’ve always wanted to see, go shopping to the big fancy mall that carries your favourite brand in half price, have coffee at this famous cronut place, get your hair cut at this famous salon, swing by Big Ben, the Louvre or Golden Gate Bridge, book an evening at a kick-ass musical. Do something you would not be able to do back home. There is nothing that will make you feel more grateful for your job than the amazing experiences you can collect in every new city you visit.

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Here’s a sight I try to never miss when in Paris – do you recognise it???? šŸ™‚

2.Carefully choose the location of your hotel: this does not mean you need to choose the fanciest 5-star hotel in the hood. You are only seeing your bed at night anyway. But it does make all the difference in the world picking a nice neighbourhood, with lovely surroundings, nice cafes and restaurants, because these are going to make all the difference in the world. For example, in London I always stay at a low key super corporate hotel that has nothing more to offer than a clean bed and friendly staff. BUT it’s in Covent Garden. Which means amazing early morning walks or great window shopping when coming back from work. Which helps me start or finish the day on a very happy note.

3. Take advantage of the local colour: I’m in London a lot and I always try to squeeze in a meal at the pub. When in Paris, I’ll try to find the smallest cutest bistrot with the most ridiculously cliche chairs and instagram the hell out of it. In Amsterdam I’ll go up and down the canals with a sandwich at hand. Every time I’m in a different place I try to feel as much a tourist as a professional. I know time is very limited when traveling for work, that’s why I tend to have my meals in local establishments – as busy as the day is, there’s always time for dinner!!!

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Happen to be in San Francisco? Go watch a Warrior’s game!!!

4. Don’t forget your points!!! If you’re lucky enough to travel for work, it means you can start collecting points for your personal travels as well. I go twice a year to the US for my team’s offsite and I never fly British Airways. Why? Because as much as they are a good airline, they are not Star Alliance members, which means I cannot claim my miles points when I want to fly to Greece using Aegean (and as you may or may not know Aegean is f&&%^ing expensive, so I DO NEED these points).

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Travel

The perfect weekend in LondonĀ 

It’s been so long since I last wrote on the blog, but it’s really been busy as hell…I’ve been traveling non-stop mostly for work, but I did manage to squeeze in a weekend in London with my boyfriend. It’s funny ’cause I spent a year of my life living and falling in love with this city, and I still go very often for work, whereas my boyfriend had only been once  almost 15 years ago. And that was it. Which I found super weird, so I booked us two Eurostar tickets and a cosy little room in East London and off we went. 

We woke up really early on Saturday morning to catch the train to London. And first things first we grabbed some quick breakfast and headed off to Notting Hill and the Portobello Road market. It was extremely busy as always and I didn’t really find anything I liked, but there was an international food market going on which meant paella with a side a bratwurst – and what is better than that. 

We left the market and headed off towards Regent Street and Carnaby Street for some light shopping. Walking past Piccadilly square and then all the way to Covent Garden where we stayed for about 3(!) hours because my boyfriend is a sucker for street artists and he simply HAD to watch all the shows that were going on. At the end it was him and 50 kids running to fill the artist’s hat with coins, but I adore this in a way – his big child heart šŸ˜

Our hotel was situated in Shoreditch, a fine choice if you ask me as the best nightlife and Sunday morning activities are accessible on foot! We stayed at The Z Hotel, which had a lovely staff team that helped us through some crazy requests (ordering pizza at midnight for example). It’s extremely easy to access as the Old Street station is like a minute away.


Plus it’s situated next to one of my favourite coffee and breakfast spots in the city: the Shoreditch Grind (“we filter coffee not people” #hellyeah)

That’s where we started our Sunday morning with avocado toast and a cappuccino (#breakfastgoals).

We then walked to the flower market of Columbia Road which was lovely as always but sooooo busy that we could hardly walk. Which was not that bad really as we had a lot of time to appreciate the beautiful flowers and plants. 

That’s also where one of my favourite quirky boutique is: Jump like Alice. The nicest weirdest funkiest jewellery in town. But great garments as well. 


After the Columbia Str flower market, we jumped in a bus and headed off to the place I was eagerly waiting for since we arrived in London: Tate Modern. I remember from my days in London how amazing I found the fact that you can visit some of the best museums in the world for free (see Tate Modern, Tate Britain etc). I really believe that there is no better place to visit on a Sunday afternoon – the lively crowd, the amazing views of the Thames, the perfect stroll down to London Eye….everything about Tate Modern is so London!!!


The last stop before jumping back on the train: The White Hart. The perfect British pub, with such lovely and helpful staff, great local crowd and the perfect Sunday roast. I was too hungry to take pictures of the food, but do believe me that it was DELICIOUS and please pay a visit next time you’re in London. 

All in all, an amazing weekend. Bye London, we’ll be back soon!!!

Life · Travel

5 things I love about the UK

Given yesterday’s news about the UK’s decision to leave the EU, I thought to draw up a post about the things I love the most about this country.

1. London

I spent a year of my life living in London and I can easily say that this was one of the best years of my life. The people, the museums, the music, the streets, the red buses, Covent Garden, the freedom in the air. I always got that feeling in London that no one is a foreigner because everyone is a foreigner. This was a powerful realisation for someone like me, a 23-year old girl who had never lived outside her home country. London gave me this reassurance that it doesn’t matter that I have a strange accent, or that I don’t know which way to look when waiting for the light to turn green. I was relieved to see that London voted so overwhelmingly in favour of staying in, it didn’t disappoint me for yet another time and for that I’ll always be grateful.


2. Accents

Every time I hear Hugh Grant, I get chills and they’re mutlipyin’. I just loooove a good English accent, it makes me weak on my knees and I’d choose this over any other accent in English every day of the week and twice on a Sunday.

3. Shepherd’s pie

There’s nothing else really I like about the country’s cuisine. But oh boy do I like this. It’s in my top 3 favourite comfort foods, it’s always warm and filling, like the best sentiment you could ever ask for. It’s not too difficult to make either, here‘s one of my favourite recipes to try!

4. David Bowie and The Rolling Stones

I wrote it like that secretly hoping that in a parallel universe there might be a band with the exact same name and the exact same people. And they’re doing medleys of their songs.

5. The British cool

It’s no coincidence the Keep Calm slogan appered first in the UK. Because this is what Brits are best at, keeping calm. I was having a chat with a friend from London yesterday, who was a huge supporter of Remain and I was like “Hey M, how are you holding up?”, to get the response “I was so sad this morning when I woke up to the news. But then I made myself a cup of tea and went on with my day.” And that’s just wonderful.

City life · Travel

A sunny day in London

Strawberries, cherries and an angel’s kissing spring is all I could think of this past weekend. I had to be in London for work during the week and I thought it was a great idea to stay over the weekend as well and spend some time with my friends (the absolute #worthlivinit material!)

With this view from my office, the weekend can actually wait….

What I wasn’t counting on was the glorious weather – sun and high temperatures made these past few days unfrorgettable. I’ve told you again how weather can influence my mood (this is no news really, it works like that on everyone). What I hadn’t shared with you is another observation of mine: that good weather in northern countries such as Belgium or the UK is a f@&3:Ā£ing big deal. Everyone and their aunties are out at a park/hosting a barbecue/attending a barbecue. And that’s it. People are talking about it for days and days, building up anticipation, then the weekend with the good weather is here and you need to go out and enjoy the sun otherwise you’re the BIGGEST sucker.

 

Coming from a country where sunshine is the norm, I always thought people exaggerated with the good weather. Until I became one of those people.

So what did we do this perfect sunny Saturday in London?

We visited a museum.

 

Art piece at the entrance of the V&A.

We went shopping.

 

We had drinks at aĀ rooftop.

We ate the cheapest bagels in town (OMG, this place is like a bagel heaven, which kind of my preferred heaven of all).

We were happy as hell.

Life · Travel

Daytrippin’

I changed jobs last summer and my new position requires taking trips around Europe a few times per year. London, Paris and Amsterdam are the most frequent destinations, but it can be that I need to also be in Madrid or Poland, depending on where the fire drill is šŸ™‚

I know that traveling is something like the holy grail of job requirements. Everyone is looking for a job that will take Ā them away from everyday routine – I was too. I also know that too much of this can become tiresome quickly, let alone burdensome when family and especially children come into the picture. But I’m new to this and I’m trying to enjoy every bit of it!!!!

I’m actually a sucker for traveling. Unlike most people I know, I actually enjoy every bit of it-even the hassle of getting to the airport, waiting in line for hours, over priced Starbucks coffee and delays that can ruin your schedule. I always thought of traveling as a moment to pamper myself. I’d buy the latest French or British Vogue, this travel set by Essie that is only on offer in airports, moisturizers by Clinique for my mom, the latest Best Seller to take me through the train ride/flight and every single gadget I thought I really needed (global adapter-check). (I’m not going to elaborate here on how luxurious I make my boat trips – hopefully I can do a summer post on this one.)

Now that I’ve started traveling for work, which means I have a little less time in my hands as the trip can really last for less than 24 hours, I get a bit less pleasure out of Vogue and a little more out of a fellow passenger before who knows how security checks work and does not become a bottleneck šŸ™‚ Lame, I know, but I guess this is what happens to travel lovers that do not travel by choice but they’re asked to (what happens to lovers of all sorts I believe when they’re forced to love…)

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So for this two one-day trips, I packed light (always do….*) and boarded a plane on Thursday morning (very eaaaaarrrly morning :-/) from Brussels to London. What? A plane? What about Eurostar? As much as I love the train (always gives me a very romantic idea about myself and the world as a whole), the airfare was cheaper than the train (!!!), plus I had to be close to Heathrow for work.

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What every single person hopes happens to them when boarding a train.

I spent the day in lovely Twickenham becoming wiser on the future of cloud computing (!!! – this is my day job actually), got myself a nice burger for dinner and left to train station the very next morning to Paris for a few meetings there, before coming back to Brussels on Friday evening.

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Arriving to London on a cold, rainy day (really???great surprise, London is never cold and rainy…)
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Twickenham Stadium at night – go rugby fans!!!
Even when things are hectic like that, there’s no reason not to takeĀ a few moments and appreciate beauty wherever we are, whatever we do. I think it is super important to never lose sight of the nice things in life, the things that make us appreciate what we have a little more, all these bits and pieces that make life #worthlivinit.

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Your next destination to beauty…..
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Yep, Paris is always a good idea, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
*You know how some people hate traffic? I hate having to carry a bag. When it’s less than 48 hours I have to spend to a place, I don’t even have a carry-on with me, I limit myself to a weekender. The craziest thing I’ve done is traveling to the US with only hand luggage for a week. Which meant I had to wear my male friends’ jackets because it was colder than I though. That’s why in all pictures from that trip I look like Eminem circa 2000.

P.S. I was reading a great article on air travel the other day, give it a look here.