Wednesday 31 October 2018

This time last year I was going to the gym 5-6 times a week, intermittent fasting and cutting the carbs at dinner time so whilst my family was indulging in meatballs and mash I'd be having mine with a side of leaves (I do love spinach though). Don't get me wrong, I never actually felt like I was totally restricting myself because I still ate pizza, chocolate and all the good things that aren't good for us but I felt like I was always counting calories to make sure they fit into my macros or daily amount. Now I think I've got to the point where I won't feel guilty for eating cake on a Tuesday or saying yes to spontaneous dinners and drinks because I 'only have 400 calories left for the day'. 

tea with gi food

If you've been following my blog for a while or know me in person then you might know that I lost 20lbs last year and I think the hardest part is - what do you do once you reach your goal? I wouldn't even say I've reached that, but you get to a point where you don't want to lose any more weight, but could do with losing a bit of fat and gaining more muscle. We know that to gain muscle and 'grow the booty' you need to be eating more calories (and carbs) but then there's always that worry that I'm not going to stop and end up putting 10lbs back on. It's sometimes hard to find a good balance. 

That being said, I've actually become one of those people that make the gym a priority and not just try and squeeze it in when I get a chance. I've just had an operation and can't go to the gym for 3 weeks and I don't know what to do with all this extra time. I look forward to blasting Eminem and running on the treadmill like I'm training for the new Avengers movie. So that is one relationship I think has been progressing well, me and Ocean Village gym are in a good place.

I think right now my outlook on my diet is 'eat well when I can, but not to sweat it when I can't.' How many times have you been out to dinner with friends and overheard someone say that they couldn't order the Katsu Curry because it's got too many calories? It does have a lot of calories, but if you're going out to eat once that week you might as well enjoy it. If you follow me on Instagram then you've probably noticed I spend my life at the cinema, and every week I'm there with my NOCCO BCAA drink and bag of Propercorn, because it's all about balance and enjoyment!

I've got a few trips coming up this month and when I travel, there's no such thing as a diet. There's no way I'm leaving Milan without a good plate of pizza and pasta, or Belgium without drowning myself in chocolate and waffles. So as I said, my aim now is to eat my greens, hit my protein goal and eat as well as I can when possible, so when I do give in to cravings or eat a whole KFC bucket to myself, I can allow it without feeling guilty. It would also be nice to get some abs.

I think we as women (and men) are always aspiring to look better, and we are our own worst critic. I can guarantee you no one is going to notice if you put on 2lbs over the weekend because you had a pig-out with your friends. At the end of the day, it is your body so you decide how you nourish it and what you do with it. If you want to get ripped and enjoy following mean plans then that's fine, and if you like going to the gym 5 times a week but decide you want a chocolate bar after your workout, don't let anybody tell you there is anything wrong with that. 

What is your relationship with food like? Do you follow any particular diets? 



Saturday 20 October 2018

There are a number of cities I've been to in Europe that I could say you could see everything you wanted to see in 2 days, Bratislava being one of them. Since we had booked 3 days in total we decided to take a day trip to Vienna, as you can get there for 5 euros on a 1 hour coach ride. Vienna on the contrary, is not a place you can see in 24 hours - it's definitely somewhere I will go back and visit with my future beau. If like us, you're short on time and want to try and make the most on a one day trip to Vienna, here are my recommendations! 

tea with gi vienna guide

We used a company called FlixBus that operate around Europe (and in the US too?) and bought our tickets in advance just for peace of mind. We cut it a bit fine on the way back because we spent too much time taking selfies at Schönbrunn Palace and then had to James Bond sprint from the metro to the bus station (and made it with 3 minutes to spare). 

In terms of getting around Vienna, it's definitely not a city where you can get everywhere by foot. Instead the best option is to get a daily metro ticket which costs you 8 euros. I think there's around 4 lines and it's definitely a lot simpler that the London Tube. 

Breakfast | Cafe Central / Cafe Mozart 

If you want to start your day by having a coffee where many famous poets, writers, artists and one psychoanalyst met for a coffee and cigar then Cafe Central is the place to go. The interior design of the cafe is spectacular and the place has been around since 1876. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner (and have free Wi-Fi) but if you're planning on dining here be prepared to pay double for Viennese staples like schnitzel and tafelspitz. 

Another classic coffeehouse is that of Cafe Mozart, located right next to the Opera Theatre. It opened its doors in 1840 and was the meeting hub for many of the performers, journalists and guests. This may be one of the original places to have a Sachertorte and coffee, but keep reading for recommendations on where you can get the same quality cake for half the price. 

AM | Museums 

If your perfect day involves wandering around museums, then you might want to put aside a whole weekend for this in Vienna because there is no shortage of them. It turned out that on the first Sunday of every month, over a dozen of museums have free admission (so you can also imagine the queues for the popular ones). I'd recommend the Wien Museum and checking out Beethoven's crib.

Two of the museums that were the most interest to me were the Albertina (14 euros) and the Sigmund Freud Museum (12 euros). One thing that came in handy was the Vienna Pass* I was kindly gifted for my trip as this included free and discounted entry to lots of museums and attractions in the city (and queue jump for a number of them) including the Imperial Palace, Schönbrunn Zoo and the Natural History Museum. The pass also gives you access to the hop-on hop-off buses around the area and a river cruise on the river Danube. A 3 day pass will cost you 119 euros. Considering everything you get included, if you're planning on visiting a lot of attractions you might want to work out if you'll be saving money purchasing one of these! 

museumquartier vienna

Lunch | Bier & Bierli

If you want to have a big schnitzel and pay less than 20 euros for it - then head to Bier & Bierli. It's located a 10 minute walk from Museumsquartier and we all left pretty satisfied. I think I was the only person at the table who managed to eat the whole plate (and the potatoes and cranberry sauce) #macros. 

bier and bierli

PM | Take a walking tour

We went with FreeTour for our walking tour of Vienna and with all free tours, they're based on a tips. I think we drew the short straw with our tour guide as she didn't quite have the personality/charisma of making the tour interesting/funny like most other guides I've had have been. Nevertheless she gave some interesting insight to the life of Mozart, Hitler's time in Vienna and I did learn a fair bit about Joseph II and how he worked to make the city a better place for everyone. A quick search of 'free walking tours Vienna' will lead you to a range of options, I shall let you decide! 

vienna austria

Coffee and Cake | Cafe Aida

A little birdie told us that you can buy an authentic slice of sachertorte (Austrian chocolate cake) for half the price in comparison to some of the cafes in the main squares - and the decor is pink. A local recommended we have a Aida merlange coffee to go with it. Being the pigs that we are, my friend Gabby asked if she could have ice-cream instead of cream with her cake, and of course I followed. If you're not a fan of chocolate cake then don't worry, there's plenty of other sweet treats to choose from.

cafe aida

sachertorte aida

Later PM | Schönbrunn Palace

From Karlsplatz we took the metro to Schonbrunn (U4) and we got there in around 15 minutes followed by a 5 minute walk. Sadly admission to the palace, rooms, zoo etc. had finished (your Vienna Pass also gets you free entry to these) but we could still wander around the gardens and take in the view from the outside. It was actually quite beautiful to see the palace lit up in the evening. 


Dinner | Donauturm

If you fancy ending your day on a fancy, romantic note then there's a spinning restaurant on the Danube Tower that gives you some great, 360 views of the city. As you can imagine this is a popular place with locals and tourists, so you should book a table in advance if you don't want to arrive there and be disappointed that you have to wait an hour to be seated. Considering the 'fanciness' of the place, prices aren't that bad - a plate of spinach and cheese ravioli will cost you 13 euros, whereas if you want to splurge a bit more for an anniversary or something special, you can a set 3 course menu (with wine) for 40 euros.


LUXURY | Hotel Wandl

stephenplatz vienna

Have you ever been to Vienna or Austria yourself? What were your highlights? 


vienna travel guide


Wednesday 17 October 2018

This year I've flown with quite a few airlines that have been a first for me - if it's the cheapest by £100 on SkyScanner anything goes. Flying back and forth from uni a couple of times a year meant I was familiar with Easyjet, Monarch, Ryanair and British Airways - but since I've been travelling to a lot of other destinations recently I've also got to try Emirates, Air India and some other questionable ones that still managed to get us there in one piece. During our Easter trip, after a very bumpy journey with one airline my friend suggested - 'G you should make a blog post reviewing all the airlines you fly with.' So here I am finally following up on that. I can't recall exactly all of my experiences, so we'll kick things off with the airline I used for my trip to Bratislava last week.

tea with gi airline reviews

Airline | Ryanair

Trip: Malaga - Bratislava
Journey time: 3 hours
Cost: 60 euros return 
Hand-luggage allowance: You can bring your 10kg HL case and a handbag on the plane with you for an extra charge - if you purchase a standard ticket then your 10kg bag will be placed in the hold for free once you're boarding and you can only bring your hand bag on the plane with you. 

My experience flying with Ryanair: When Ryanair announced their new HL policy last year I was confused - did this mean we'd have to pay just to bring the suitcase with us? As someone who usually travels with hand luggage only this would have been annoying. But once discovering it just meant they put it in the hold for you it actually makes everything a bit easier, as everyone gets on the plane easier and you disembark quicker as well. There's obviously the annoying extra wait by the luggage belt instead of heading straight to arrivals but it's not a big deal. What is annoying about their refurbishment is that they no longer have pockets in front of your seat! Which means I have to balance all of my snacks on my lap when the tray is being occupied by my books and i-pad *first world problems*.


Airline | BlueAir

Trip: Malaga - Bucharest
Journey time: 4 hours
Cost: 160 euros return 
Hand-luggage allowance: 10kg (55 cm x 40 cm x 20 cm)

My experience flying with Ryanair: So initially I thought I wasn't going to be able to take part in Experience Bucharest because I thought there were no direct flights from Malaga to Bucharest. Luckily whilst I was at the airport waiting for my luggage from another trip, I saw one of the belts with 'Bucharest' and it turned out they did do direct flights, just on Thursdays and Tuesdays. Check-In was open up until the day of the flight, but even though I had checked in a few days before I couldn't retrieve my boarding pass from their website on the day as you have to email it to yourself or it won't stay on the system (unlike Easyjet). Other than that they were quite efficient with boarding and such, and on our descend they even provided us with sweets for the pressure, cute.

Airline | Vueling 

Trip: Malaga - Brussels
Journey time: 2.5 hours
Cost: 60 euros return
Hand-luggage allowance: 10kg (55cm x 40cm x 20 cm)

My experience flying with Vueling: To be honest I've never had a bad experience flying with Vueling. Boarding was quite organised as we were separated in to 3 groups - depending on where we were sat. We also arrived 30 mins ahead of schedule which is always a good sign. I read some of my book, finished watching La Foret on Netflix (so thankful for Netflix downloads) and then it was time to land! Only thing that stuck out about this journey was that my ears were so blocked from the change in air pressure that it was actually painful - probably also to do with the fact that I have a cold, so no matter how many rhubarb & custard sweets I was sucking on it wasn't helping.

Airline | Aeroflot 

Trip: London - Moscow - Tokyo
Journey time: 4 hours to Moscow, and then 9 hours to Tokyo
Cost: £400
Hand-luggage allowance: 10kg (55cm x 40cm x 20 cm)

My experience flying with Aeroflot: So the reaction from our friends and family when we told them we were doing our long-haul with Aeroflot was 'what the hell is that'. None of us had ever heard of it, in the same way people in Russia probably haven't heard of Ryanair. The flight was pretty decent, we got hot meals on both flights (beef stroganoff and fish and mash) and then pancakes for breakfast. The seats were a tad on the stiff side but if you don't have anyone behind you then recline!


Airline | All Nippon Airways

Trip: Tokyo - Kyoto
Journey time: 1 hour
Cost: £50
Hand-luggage allowance: 10kg (55cm x 40cm x 20 cm)

My experience flying with ANA: I think this was probably the most comfortable out of all of the airlines we used (and sadly the shortest journey). The seats came with a thing to hang your jacket in front, tv screens, ample leg room and an adjustable headrest.


Airline | Jetstar

Trip: Kyoto - Manila (4hr 20mins)
          Melbourne - Brisbane (1h3 30 mins)
Hand-luggage allowance: 7kg (55cm x 40cm x 20 cm)

My experience flying with Jetstar: I'm going to be a bit salty about Jetstar because I had to pay £30 because my hand luggage was too heavy. Then again I was pretty lucky to only be charged 1/5 times on our 7kg allowance flights. The man behind me was also an arse who didn't let me recline my very stiff seat. They did have a good food menu on board and I guess they are alright for short haul flights.

Airline | Cebu Pacific 

Trip: Manila - Cebu  (1hr 30)
          Cebu - Palawan (1hr 30)
          Palawan - Singapore (1hr to Manila change and then 4hrs)
Hand-luggage allowance: 7kg (55cm x 40cm x 20 cm)

My experience flying with Cebu Pacific: This airline gave me happy vibes. From the colours to the  fact that they play music on the plane AND they do a trivia quiz during the flight for prizes. Check-in and bag drop was quick and easy and overall it was a pleasant flying experience.

cebu pacific

Airline | Scoot

Trip: Singapore - Melbourne
Journey time: 8 hours
Cost: £130
Hand-luggage allowance: 10kg (55cm x 40cm x 20 cm)

My experience flying with Scoot: So we didn't get off to a great start because there was a technical issue once we got on the plane, so we were delayed an hour and a half. However this did mean that we got a bag full of snacks to keep us occupied. We flew overnight and I slept for 6 hours (and without a window seat) so the seats were pretty comfortable (but a shoutout to my J-Pillow for being the real hero here).

scoot airlines

Airline | Fiji Airways

Trip: Brisbane - Fiji
Journey time: 3.5 hours
Cost: £300
Luggage allowance: 7kg and 23kg checked luggage included in the booking.

My experience flying with Fiji Airways: I think this might take the top spot for my favourite airline I've flown with this year. The boarding process was quick and organised, some of the seats had back pillows and there was plenty of leg room. I got the middle seat both ways and I still had a comfortable and enjoyable flight. The crew were pleasant and to my surprise, we got hot meals included! Whilst my 8 hour flight from Singapore didn't. They also have a screen every few rows to show an in-flight movie. I was loving life listening to music, looking out the window at the Fiji islands and drinking my cup of tea with cheese and biscuits. 

fiji airways

As with all my lists, I will keep adding to this as I keep flying. I'd love to hear in the comments about some of the best airlines you've flown with (and your worst!). Some of these are probably not very exciting because they're short-haul and so there might not be much to say, so instead I will try to entertain you with anything in-particular that happened on that flight!




Saturday 13 October 2018

Flashback to a couple of years back and I remember watching Eurotrip on TV and when they arrived in run down, scary, Bratislava I remember thinking 'god I am never going there'. Their bad rep didn't end there as they were also one of the locations chosen for Hostel (a film where tourists basically get butchered up). Our tour guide even told us that tourism to Slovakia even dropped 75% after this movie was released. After watching this I thought to myself, it can't actually be that bad, so I googled it and found that it was actually quite a beautiful place. So off I went to Skyscanner to check how much flights were, asked my gang who was up for a random trip to Bratislava and off we went. I think a weekend in Bratislava is a good amount of time as you can probably see everything you want to see in 2-3 days, we even managed to take a day trip to Vienna (although that you definitely can't achieve everything in a day). If you're looking for a cheap, wonderful weekend break then here's my guide to Bratislava, Slovakia.

tea with gi bratislava guide

Getting from Bratislava Airport to the Centre

Since there was 3 of us we got a transfer from Shuttle Direct and paid 5 euros each which took us from door to door and took around 15 minutes. A taxi outside the the airport will probably cost you a bit more, but from the centre to the airport we also paid 15 euros in total for a taxi.

Where to stay in Bratislava

Accommodation in Bratislava is relatively cheap, and we were pretty happy with our deal. We paid 70 euros each for a 3 night stay, in a 3 star hotel in the centre. The Elisabeth Old Town hotel is close to many cafes, Lidl and places of interest - including the Blue Church (perfect for Instagram). The rooms are simple but beds are comfy (with huge pillows), room was clean and the showers were powerful and hot. 


Breakfast | Urban House

If I lived in Bratislava, this would probably be where I'd meet up with my friends on a weekly basis. Clearly the locals thought so too because it was full of students and people working on their laptops. When we arrived we had just missed out on the breakfast menu so opted for something brunchy instead. I had rye bread with a beetroot spread and smoked salmon and my friends went for the avocado egg toast with roasted cashew nuts - both were equally delicious. Their gingerbread lattes were also a good shout.

urban house bratislava

AM | Tour the Old Town 

The beauty of smart phones is we no longer need to carry a compass and map around with us. It also means that you can take a self-guided tour of Bratislava via an app. This basically uses Maps on your phone (you don't need data running) and takes you to the main sites in the Old Town and explains to you what they mean so you're not just staring at a building thinking 'nice, what is it?'. If you'd rather just search things as you go - I definitely recommend seeing St Elisabeth Church (Blue Church), The Man at Work, Michael's Gate and Primate's Palace. Just walking around the town you'll see a lot of pretty streets to photograph and for a great background for the gram.

old town bratislava

Lunch | Verne

If you're looking for somewhere to try authentic Slovakian food at good prices (not tourist traps) then Verne is a good choice. A word of warning is that the staff here are not the friendliest, but if you just want somewhere to stop quickly for lunch then 'whatever dude no tip for you'. We had the Slovak goulash and to be honest, it was full of flavour but the presentation was eh, spaghetti hoops-esque. I think the Hungarian goulash would have been a better shout (judging by the guy's plate who was sat beside me). 

PM | Explore Bratislava castle

Described by many as 'an upside down table', Bratislava Castle was built in the 18th Century and was recently renovated. If you want to get some nice shots here try and get here before the sun goes down, but it also does give a lovely view of the city in the evening. You can roam around the outside of the castle and gardens for free but you'll have to pay to enter the actual castle.

Tea & Cake | Zeppelin 

It was meant to be tea and cake but then we were discussing how 3/4 of us had never had an Aperol Spritz - so it became Aperol Spritz & Cake time. As you can see from the photo there was a large selection of homemade cakes available. The oreo cheesecake was heavenly. 

zeppelin bratislava

Dinner | Bistro St Germain

We had originally planned to go for dinner at BeAbout because their burger selection looked awesome and only cost like 8 euros. Sadly, when we rang two hours earlier they were fully booked for the night, so it's clearly a popular Friday night destination (it is also close to the university). Instead, we stumbled upon Bistro St Germain and when we initially walked in we thought it looked hella fancy. It's a cute little place with nice lighting and bookshelves and the prices were actually pretty decent. We all had the bacon burger with blue cheese and I definitely recommend getting a side of chips (they're sort of thinly sliced potatoes on a stick) with parmesan and rosemary. There was also a rose wine that tasted like chocolate guys!!

If you're not ready for the night to end yet.....

As always, what's the best way to meet people when you're travelling? A pub crawl! We went with Be Free Tours* which took us through 2 bars and 2 clubs and included free welcome shots (I swear one of them was a mix of vodka and sambuca), 1 hour of unlimited beer in the first bar, drinking games and a girl handing you 'shots' of vodka redbull on the way to the next place. I, hate beer so opted for paying 3 euros for a glass of wine instead - even when it's free I couldn't do it. The music scene in Bratislava tends to range from commercial music and then moves towards 'Slovak rap' later in the evening. 

One of the bars was kind of a speak easy because it appeared to be a pretty chilled bar at the top and then downstairs there was the most up-beat, enthusiastic DJ I have ever seen! There was Las Ketchup, Ricky Martin, Venga Boys and then songs we'd never heard of in our lives. 'The Club' was the last place we made it to, and they played your usual throwbacks and danceable songs. If you want to join the pub crawl wristbands cost 12 euros. 


Breakfast | W Cafe or Cafe Mondieu 

We technically had 3 breakfasts in Bratislava, so for your second day I think both of these are good, but you'll also find there are plenty of cute and cosy coffee shops around the town.  W Cafe serves your basics - eggs benedict, cinnamon swirls, vanilla lattes etc. Cafe Mondieu on the other hand has about 20 different breakfast options. I had brioche french toast with berries, my friend had french toast with bacon and eggs and another went for a simple omelette. You'll actually find there are a couple of these bistros scattered around the town. 

cafe mondieu bratislava

AM | Head to the museums

I kindly received a Bratislava City Card* which gets you complimentary entrance to lots of museums, free access to the buses and trams, and a lot of other discounts. A gallery we enjoyed was the Slovak National Gallery which is free for everyone. There was an interesting room with paintings to portray 'Slovakian Fairytales'. Although some got a bit creepy looking.

If you want a little taste of New York in Bratislava then the Nedbalka Gallery* is often compared to the Guggenheim museum (probably because they both have the same white swirling architecture). If you're a fan of modern art then this is probably the best one in the city. There's 4 floors and each is dedicated to a different form of art work. A great feature I found from the museum is that they give you a tablet that allows you to take a photo of a painting and it then gives you a bit of bio of what the painting is about. Me and my friends played a fun game of 'let's guess what this painting means before we read it'. Entrance to the museum is 4 euros or free with your Bratislava Card. 

nedbalka gallery

Lunch: Slovak Pub

This is another place where you can try local foods at inexpensive prices - but it's a popular one so if you're going to go here for dinner I recommend you book in advance! I went all out and went for a 3 course slovakian meal - Kapustnica to start (sauerkraut soup with sausage), Haluski for main (gnocchi with sheeps cheese and bacon bits), and Apple Strudel for dessert - and I ate every last crumb.

PM | Walking tour of Bratislava

The best way to cover most places and find out a bit of history, culture and recommendations from the area is to take a guided walking tour. I usually use Sandermans or BeFreeTours that both offer 'free' walking tours and are based on tips. All the tours I've done with them have been entertaining and keep you switched on. Our guide Juro told us about Slovakian traditions (some strange ones at that), taught us some Slovakian tongue twisters that I definitely can't repeat now, told us where to get the best wine food and drinks and of course gave us a bit of insight on Slovakia through the decades. He also spoke about Eurotrip and Hostel (yay) - and the fact that tourism to Bratislava dropped 75% after that movie!!

old town bratislava

Coffee & Cake | Cafe Mondieu

We had to come back here because we saw these chocolate fondue pots on the menu and our sweet tooth's couldn't leave without trying them. I basically got a tiny mug filled with white chocolate and strawberries and I was loving life. Of course with a vanilla latte on the side. 

cafe mondieu

Dinner | Grand Cru Wine Gallery

If you're looking for a more chilled evening drinking wine and reminiscing about your trip with your travel companions, then what better way to do it than sampling different Slovakian wines? This place is located near St Michael's Gate and is a great place for nibbles and well, wine. They mainly serve panini's and cheese and ham boards etc. 

Evening | Spooky Legends of Bratislava tour

So I think after a couple of glasses this makes for an entertaining way to finish your evening - we were very much in a state of 'what is he on about' half the time and if it was a tour that we had to pay 10 euros for we probably wouldn't rate it much, but this tour is also tip based. The tour guide was entertaining in that he got in to character, although he lost me a couple of times with his stories. 


The only thing we didn't really have time to see was Devin Castle as it was a bit further out from the centre. If you'd like to purchase tickets for other things to do in Bratislava then GetYourGuide is a good place for it. 

Have you ever been to Slovakia or heard much about it before? Would love to hear what you got up to if you have!



* I received some complimentary tickets and experiences whilst on my trip to Bratislava but all opinions and words are my own *

bratislava travel guide


Friday 12 October 2018

The festive period is a great time for a city break - whether it's to visit family or friends, getting a chance to explore the Christmas markets, or for a romantic getaway with your significant other. Europe is full of stunning and picturesque locations, and Angelic Diamonds have shared with us their top destinations for proposing this winter. Unsurprisingly, Christmas Eve has been voted the best day of the year to propose. Probably because of the magical essence to it and the fact that most of your family and loved ones are all under one roof. If you are heading abroad this Winter here are some of the locations that are perfect for popping the question. 

prague castle

Los Bunkers del Carmel, Barcelona

A hidden gem with a beautiful view is Los Bunkers del Carmel in Barcelona. It is now considered as a viewing platform by many but it was once part of the anti-aircraft battery that was used during the
Spanish Civil War. There is no transport that takes you to the very top. Instead, you can get the metro to Alfons X and walk 30 minutes from here or you could get the bus from the city centre which will leave you 10 minutes away from the bunker. The outstanding view of the city is best at sunrise however, if you and your partner can’t face getting up that early you can head there for sunset instead for an equally beautiful experience. You can see here one couple who chose this place for their special moment.

There are many Christmas markets that are around the city too for you to enjoy. For example, the Fira de Santa Llúcia is the market around the Gothic cathedral close to the city centre and there is the Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia from where you can see the unfinished Catholic church, designed by Antoni Gaudí. Another great factor is that even in December temperatures remain relatively moderate here, so you won't be freezing the whole evening!

Grotta Lighthouse, Reykjavik

In recent years, Reykjavik has become a popular winter holiday destination with all visitors and pictures of it's lagoon have been all over Instagram. It’s an ideal place to visit with your other half and offers the perfect balance between beautiful landscapes and quirky bars and restaurants. One unforgettable backdrop to a proposal would be the northern lights, visible from Iceland. The best time to see the lights is from October to March when the sky is clearer so they should be visible on your Christmas trip. However, there's never a guarantee they'll appear - I was lucky to see them whilst on holiday in Sweden in March. You don’t have to book an excursion to see the lights and can often be seen at Grotta lighthouse which is situated outside of downtown Reykjavic where light pollution is low.

You can walk here but if you have hired a car, due to the cold temperatures, it could be best to drive
to the spot. For a romantic proposal, pop the question outdoors with the lights dancing behind you or for a more private setting (and if the temperature is too cold for you to take your gloves off), ask the question from the warmth of your car. There are other festive activities to enjoy here too. You could head to Hafnarfjörður (It's a good thing this is being typed and I don't have to pronounce it) which is around a 20-minute bus ride from downtown Reykjavik to see the Christmas village — complete with hand-made crafts and live music.

Petřín Hill, Prague

Often Prague is ignored as a city of romance due to its renowned nightlife and attraction to stag and hen parties. However, there are many sights to see in Prague that don’t involve the local pubs and one of these is Petřín Hill - the views from here are gorgeous, particularly when the sun is shining. 

The hill is surrounded by gardens and you can take a funicular to the top that departs from Ujezd Street in the Malá Strana. On top of the hill there is an observation tower, designed to be a mini version of the Parisian Eiffel Tower where you must climb 299 steps to reach the top to be rewarded with the 360-degree views. You could pop the question in any of the beautiful landscaped gardens or head to a restaurant in Petřín park such as Nebozizek which overlooks the Old Town, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and Vltava River. Little Venice is also a cute little area on your way down from the castle with lots of cute cafes and bars. If you're a Beatles fan, make sure you don't miss out on seeing the John Lennon mural. 

Mont Chèry, Val d’Isère, France

There aren't many places that are as romantic as France, and not just including Paris. With an extra-long season from the end of November to the first week of May, Val D’Isère is a popular choice of location for people interested in skiing and a more active weekend away. In fact, more Britons choose to take their annual skiing holiday here than anywhere else in the world. Part of their popularity lies in their differing slopes — there’s pistes for all abilites and if your other half discovers that skiing is not for them you can head to La Folie Douce (the famous après-ski bar).

There’s jaw-dropping views aplenty as you head to the top of the slopes and are surrounded by outstanding views of the mountains. But, for a proposal you might want to head somewhere warmer where you can enjoy meal and drinks with your other half. One place to do this is at La Grande Ourse, a restaurant situated on Mont Chèry. They offer an authentic fine dining experience where you can get your own personal chauffeur to take you up the mountain in a Kassböhrer (a specialised snow trailer). Here, you can be met with views from an altitude of 1725m and enjoy a five-course meal in the restaurant — a memorable place to get on one knee.

The Dome, Victoria Square, Belfast

Belfast is well-known for its vast Christmas markets that sit in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Which means you don't have to venture far from home to find a beautiful location for your special moment. For an impressive proposal spot, you should head to the top of Victoria Square in the city centre. Here you will find the Dome. Pop the question here for 360-degree views of Belfast as a backdrop, featuring the Prince Albert Clock and Scrabo tower.

You are not far from more breath-taking views either. Take a trip to the northern coast of Ireland where you can cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge with your loved one or retrace the steps of a giant at the causeway. You can visit The Dark Hedges nearby too — a romantic passageway of intertwined trees that were planted in the 18th century and featured on popular TV show, Game of Thrones. Make sure to wrap up though as it’s likely to be chilly here in December!

* This post was submitted on behalf of Angelic Diamonds but I make sure all posts published on Tea With Gi are suited to the blog and audience *

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