#1869| House Porn: Pitti Penthouse, Firenze

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imagesPitti Penthouse, Florence.

Of all the places I’ve stayed in, Pitti Penthouse was by far the most luxurious. I dont think i’ve even been in a hotel i could claim to love as much as i did the Pitti.. and yes, that’s what it’s called. The Pitti Penthouse, like in olden english times where you give your house names. Oh, just taking my carriage back to The Red Turret. The House over the Moors. Dont mind me.

The pictures dont even properly capture how vast the space is. Fully airconditioned of course, in a building with a lift – crucial, when you’re traveling with two backbreaking luggages – and not one, but two terraces, one per level. I felt like I couldn’t even decide where I’d rather spend my morning and evenings, indoors or outdoors. I would actually wake up early to hop outdoors with my laptop, check my email, and relish in the knowledge that ohay, just casually checking my mail on my terrace with milk and cookies and an amazing view… because when else, right? And if you know me you know that it takes a lot to get me up early and out of bed.

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The master bedroom is situated upstairs, with it’s own walk in wardrobe (!!! squeal !!!) and another terrace, but honestly – the place could easily fit six people. And the entire place dripped with taste, art pieces at every corner and interior decor designed to impress. I had a good time playing at hostess to.. myself, tinkering around in the fully equipped kitchen to whip out a dinner of steak and chips. It all felt very fancy, eating at the huge dining table with paintings staring you down. There are even dining location options – you can have your meal indoors or outdoors, either way there’s a whole fancy set up for you to take advantage of. It’s the kind of place you live in, i think, not just pass through. I found myself taking notes. Dreams of a glamorous future and all that.

It wasn’t just that the place was gorgeous. It so perfectly created the illusion of a type of lifestyle you’d want to subscribe to. For three days I was the type of person to throw dinner parties. To lounge in a terrace with a book. To appreciate art. To have the happiest point in my day be coming back to my house after a long day out. To walk into a room and think to myself, this is my empire. I’m not even going to apologize for the melodramatics..

Lets move on to the more conventional things one looks for in a house. A great view? An elevator? While others doodled images of bungalows in school, my dream was always to live in a penthouse – but maybe that’s just me. All that aside though, one factor that’s universal has to be location. Pitti Penthouse was right in the center of town – and waking up to views like the Forte Belvedere hills and the Piazza Pitti is no laughing matter. It’s right next to the famous Ponte Vecchio and walking distance from basically everything in Florence – sure, Firenze is a small city, but not having to take a single bus or train the entire time we were there sure sweetened the deal. Besides, walking back to the penthouse most nights afforded us some of the most amazing views..

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Collectively now – sigh.

When Marusca contacted me and invited us to stay in the Pitti Penthouse, I browsed reviews and pictures online and thought to myself this is probably too good to be true, and it isn’t that often i’ll admit i’m wrong, but oh boy. How glad i am to be wrong. This place was, if anything, better than anything i could have expected. I can’t imagine staying anywhere else if I come back to Florence – and I would recommend it to families, couples, groups of friends… but even if you’re traveling alone or in a smaller group, one thing I liked so much about Marusca was her sense of style, which shows up so clearly in the Pitti Penthouse and other apartments she owns. I had a quick hop over to her other property listings and they were all centered around the city, immaculately designed, and filtered based on how many people it could accommodate. They had studios for singles, couples, friends, and so on – and of course my favorite will always be the Pitti Penthouse, but if you’re looking for something on a slightly smaller scale, any of her apartments are guaranteed to make Firenze utterly memorable. Leaving her apartment, I turned and gushed to her:

“Your place is so beautiful!”
And she looked at me and drawled
“Isn’t it, though?”

Italians. I love it.

Thank you so much for your hospitality, Marusca and Daniele!

For the rest of you – you can check out the Pitti Penthouse here.
For the rest of the husband/wife duo’s listings, refer to the following:
Marusca’s houses
Daniele’s houses

You know. If you’re headed to Florence and you’re keen on living a dream.

x
♥jem

#1868| The Broke Student’s Guide to Budapest

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Top and Skirt: H&M Budapest | Black Backpack: Yesstyle.com | Sunnies: Primark

imagesBudapest, Hungary.

I know, I know. I’m finally getting round to blogging about my three week long duffel-packing (like backpacking, but with a .. duffel?) across Europe. I’ve got so much backlog I don’t even want to think about it, but whatever.

Anyway, on request, here’s my Broke Student’s Guide to Budapest. Something you guys should know, first off, is that Budapest isn’t really a place you actually need a broke student’s guide for. It’s insanely cheap, cost of living is low, and it’s basically the only place within Europe I know of that a student can spend less than 10k on an exchange semester. That said, I landed in Budapest with only a hundred euros in my wallet for four days for expenditure, transport, and accommodation, so I’d like to think i did pretty good budget wise. So for those of you who are looking to do budapest for under a hundred euros.. here we go.

OVERALL VIBES

Budapest reminded me a bit of Bangkok, cheap, fun, and also a little dingy at points. Still, if you’re headed to Eastern Europe there’s no excuse not to hit it. It’s right along the line down from Prague through Slovakia, and it’s nicknamed the Little Paris of Europe because it’s gives you that Parisian vibe at a much cheaper price tag.

MONEY MATTERS

Hungary’s currency is the Hufflepuff.
Okay, I know it’s officially the Forint, but when you abbreviate that to HUF you’re really just asking for it. I made the mistake of changing my Euros to Hufflepuffs in Germany, which I later realized was a pretty stupid move. Changing your money in Budapest itself is far, far better. You have to be sure to avoid dubious money changers that charge ridiculous commission (just ask before you hand over any cash), and make sure you dont change money at the airport itself, but otherwise it’s a much better rate you’ll be getting. If you’re scared of scams, there are ATMS all over Budapest. The exchange rate is, once again, better than what you’d get if you changed your money outside of Hungary.

For reference, one Euro is approximately 310 Hufflepuffs.

TRANSPORT

Unlike in Germany, they check for tickets in all the Metro stops so you can’t get around that. It’s cheap though, like the equivalent of 1.50Euros per trip which is half what you’d pay in Germany. However, they dont really check for trams and buses, so while i’m not advocating a dishonest lifestyle of fare-skipping, i’m also just putting this fact out there…………..

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ACCOMMODATION

I was stupid enough to book my hostel on the rights dates in the wrong month, so when I turned up tired and hungover from Slovakia, the topless male receptionists (weather issues, dont even ask) at Carpe Noctem Vitae very kindly told me that I didn’t show up for my booking one month earlier, and that they were full for the next week or so. Bah.

I had to book a last minute place in a nearby hostel, and I ended up at Amazing Hostel Budapest. I know, i know, ha ha. But it turned out pretty good, actually. It only cost me the equivalent of 9 euros a night, it was in an incredibly convenient location, and it was recently renovated. Come to think of it, it was more like renting a room in a private apartment, with a slightly clueless but kinda cute ‘receptionist’ sitting in the living room. Definitely recommended.


Amazing Hostel
VII district, Dohany utca 22-24
1st floor 6, Door bell:13
Budapest, Hungary
Tel: +36309382821

For those of you who’d rather have a more exciting nightlife experience, my original hostel is branded a ‘party hostel’ where they bring you out to a different party every night. What it means is you’ll get a far more exciting experience, but you probably also have to expect noisy and drunk people coming into the dorm room at 2am. You decide whichever option rocks your boat.


Carpe Noctem Vitae
1067
Budapest, Szobi Utca 5
Doorbell 13

FOOD

Food in Budapest is also, extremely cheap. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try all the places here, but when I was in the process of instagramming the city plenty of people who stay or have studied in Budapest left recommendations, so I’m just gonna share them here.


Drum Cafe
Try the: Langosh
Highly raved about by all my friends who’ve been there.
Dob utca 2
Budapest, Hungary
1074
11:00am – 11:00pm
+36 20 540 7422

Ruszwurm
Oldest confectionary in Budapest.
9am-8pm (spring-fall) 10 am-7pm (winter)
Szentháromság u. 7., 1014 Budapest, Hungary

Fisherman’s Bastion
Somewhere you can get coffee or a meal with apparently amazing views of Budapest. However, pro tip: going up to enjoy the view is free after 10pm, and you dont even have to buy a drink anymore. Heh heh.
1014 Budapest, Szentháromság tér 5, Ungheria
+36 1 458 3030

Okay you know what? Just read this article. Ok moving on..

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FREE THINGS TO DO

As with most cities in Europe, there are a whole bunch of free walking tours offered in Budapest. I know it sounds a bit touristic and blah, but even if you’re not a history buff a lot of these tours can be really really interesting and a great way to get to know the city – otherwise, after awhile all the cities start to blend into each other in terms of architecture and style. How free walking tours work is, you join the tour, and if you like it, you can tip them at the end, no obligations (though you really should…). I did the three hour long Communist Walking Tour under Free Budapest Walking Tours, and it was super interesting and didn’t actually involve much.. walking.


Communist Walk
Starts daily at 3:30pm
Meeting point: Vörösmarty square (at the lion fountain)
End point: Ruins Bar

http://www.triptobudapest.hu

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Something else that I really enjoyed was just walking down the Danube River at night. Everyone’s out and about, the place is bustling, and if you’re lucky, you might catch people spontaneously bursting into dance.

It was pretty amazing.

TOURISTY THINGS YOU DONT HAVE TO SPEND MUCH MONEY ON

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A very instagrammable gelato rose is available near the St. Steven’s Basilica at this little shop called, uhh, Gelarto Rosa. It’s not just pretty and gimmicky though, the gelato really is good. My favorite was this Lavender flavored thingy, but i’m sure they’re all as good. It will cost you about 400-600 Hufflepuffs, depending on how many scoops you want. The pretty waitresses dont hurt either.


Gelarto Rosa
Szent Istvan ter 3,
Budapest 1051, Hungary
+36 70 383 1071

Another thing that is apparently super fun and low budget (because you just spend as much as you want on drinks) is Ruin Bar Hopping – Budapest is famous for its Ruin Bars, and they’re all very distinctive and quirky in their own way. Join a free Ruin Bar tour – just enquire at your hostel front desk.

SHOPPING

Budapest doesn’t really have much in the way of shops, but there’s a pretty decent cluster of chain brands like Zara, H&M, and so on in the city center. For some reason, it seems cheaper if you pay in euro.. but that might just be because i got a shitty exchange rate. Either way, shopping isn’t really what i’d go to Budapest to do. However, if you’re in for something a bit quirkier..

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BUDAPEST FLEA MARKETS are a pretty big thing. This is the biggest which also means it’s the best, ha ha insert inappropriate joke here, and it’s called the Ecseri Flohmarkt. Best visited on weekends, obviously, but I went on a weekday when it was partially open and scored a vintage film camera for 10EUR. You have to cab there because it’s so inaccessible but whatever, cabs in Budapest are cheap.

There are another two flea markets that are supposedly worth visiting. You can read this blogpost to get a better idea of what to expect, since i didn’t visit the other two.

THE STAR OF THE TRIP

Seriously though, if you can only do one thing in Budapest…

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Because honestly? You can get architecture, attractions, and dare i say it? – history – elsewhere. But you can never get a Budapest Bath anywhere but here.

The Szechenyi Baths were the highlight of my trip. I bought my tickets the day before at a tourist shop to avoid the queue, and it cost me aboutttt 17-20 euros, i dont remember. I got the full day ticket with a locker cabin because you get a mini room to store your stuff and change which is much better than a tiny locker, i think. On the day itself i ended up adding a massage to the package at the front desk for 15EUR because #princess. It was the best day.

It was just a really well timed thing, you know? Budapest was my third stop in a three week long journey, I was tired, my back was aching, and i just kinda needed a break from endless sights and castles. The Szechenyi baths were beautiful, and consist over twenty different mineral baths of varying temperatures. It sounded perfect.

I basically spent 7 hours in the baths from early afternoon to sunset, and was lucky enough to be there on a day they also held a night pool party. It was awesome and my skin felt amazing afterwards, and I feel like i would journey all the way back to Budapest just for another spa day.. so much cheaper than an actual spa anywhere else too. If you go to Budapest and don’t do this after reading this post, I cant even… I just cant. You can’t sit with us.

//

Alright, so that about winds up Budapest for me. One last thing I did most nights was catch the World Cup games in bars and massive public screenings, but while that was super fun, it also isnt applicable to you unless you’re reading this in 2018 or something. Ah well. You know how this goes – leave a comment below if you have anything to add, but otherwise, I hope this was useful to you! I really enjoyed Budapest, so if youre headed there, I sincerely hope you do too :)

x
♥jem

#1867| Street Style x Europe

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imagesParis, France.
Photos taken by the beautiful Amanda/beautifuladieu

One afternoon in Paris chasing down beautiful men people on the streets, and shaking off cobwebs of dazzlement just in time to be coherent but even then just barely. What a great excuse to walk up to someone and tell them they’re gorgeous without being socially awkward though. What did I come here to say? Oh yes – I basically meandered around the topic but hey, new european street style episode out here:

I know you know what I’m talking about when I say I hope you like what you see – I know I did, and I’m not just talking about the clothes.

*slow wink*

x
♥jem

#1866| Photo Diary: Amsterdayummn!

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imagesAmsterdam, Holland.

Amsterdam was a flash decision, one of those things you’re convinced is a really good idea after a bottle and a half of wine two nights before actually renting a car and hopping cross border. So much so that the night before we drove down I was still flipping through accommodation options online.. but all worked out well with the discovery of CitizenM hotels. Four girls one bed, the kind of thing dreams are made of, right? Or just my dreams? Anyway.

I loved Amsterdam for many reasons – a girly weekend getaway with pillows and cute cafes, quirky interior design, the general chillbros feel of the city.. but i think one of the things I appreciated most about Amsterdam was its ability to stand out architecturally from the blur of European cities that have consisted our last few months. There are only so many chapels and domes you can see, you know? Amsterdam was like a vibrantly colored children’s pop-up picture book, and walking around the city i felt a wave of vague and relaxed happiness wash over me. Happiness is oft the most dull emotion to pen down but it is what it is.

Eager to continue our weekend adventure trope, we drove down spontaneously to Liege, Belgium on our way back in search of the famous Liege Waffle, but the entire experience was a disappointment, with closed shops and suspicious glares. Oh well. I guess Amsterdam really is a difficult place to live up to – though what happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam eh? Majorly resisting the urge to make a gossip girl reference right now. Here, some recommendations for our favorite Dutch city:

Cafe Winkel
Best Apple Pie in Holland (testify)
Noordermarkt 43, 1015 NA Amsterdam, Netherlands

Aneka Rasa
If you remember that the Dutch colonized Indon, you’ll understand why the indonesian food in Amsterdam is so good..
Warmoesstraat 25-29, 1012 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Red Light District)

Cotton Cake
Concept store/cafe in Amsterdam for people watching and good coffee
1e van der Helststraat 76-hs
1072NZ Amsterdam

Anne Frank House
You can’t leave Amsterdam without at least visiting this historical site once. I thought i had enough of museums by now, but this was one of the better ones that left me guilt-wracked about supporting Germany so publicly in the world cup match the night before..
Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Book your tickets online or be prepared to queue for two hours.

Amsterdam seems to have become one of those cliche places you have to visit on your student exchange or self discovery type backpacking trips, but honestly? I didn’t expect to enjoy this cliche as much as i did.

Thanks for the memories Amsterdam – till we meet again x

x
♥jem