A room with a view

So, I made it to Brisbane!

Brisbane CBD, taken from Southbank

I'm sorry to say that I haven't really done much yet (I will, I promise)! I've mostly been sleeping and trying to recover from all the late night packing I did the night before my very early flight yesterday morning. I think I got a total of three hours sleep and I'm still so exhausted!

But even though I've been hanging around the apartment a lot, strangely I still feel like I'm experiencing the city. I think that must be due to the amazing view– just one of the (many, many) perks of staying on the 14th floor I guess...

The Brisbane River/ Cruise ship port, taken from the apartment balcony

The Gateway Bridge in the distance, taken from the apartment balcony
And this view is just as pretty, if not prettier, at night-time...

I know!! Don't be too jealous!!

Anyhoo, I better go– I'm going out for Thai food and I've been craving coconut rice for months (they don't have it in NZ, I've looked everywhere)!! Hopefully I'll be doing some exciting things in the next few days and I can share it with you all on here!

Rachel xoxo

Yesterday I went to Auckland!

Now, I know that this blog usually focuses on places I love, in countries other than my own. But I thought today, I would mix things up a bit and talk a bit about a lovely little/big place that is very close to home for me– Auckland.

After a lot of late, stressful nights spent completing assignments and studying for tests I have FINALLY finished this semester of tec– yaaaaaaaaay! So yesterday, to celebrate all our hard work, my good friend, Emma (from daydream believer) and I went on a little trip up to Auckland. 

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand with about a quarter of the country's population living within it's boundaries. Like any big city, it tends to have all the best shops and attractions and Emma and I were determined to experience as many of them as we could fit into one day!

We left Hamilton at around 10am (not too early, we're still catching up on all the sleep we missed out on over the semester!). It was about a 1 3/4 hour drive into the city centre, so we got there just in time for lunch.

One thing that Emma and I discovered about each other was that we are both very indecisive people. So even though our stomachs were rumbling louder than a fog horn, it still took us a good hour to find somewhere to eat that was to our liking! But finally we decided on the famous 'Sals Pizza' in Britomart (on Commerce Street).

Sal's say they make "authentic New York pizza". Now, I've never been to New York so I can't vouch for the taste– although it was really really yummy– but the size of the slice was certainly up to the Big Apple's standards– it was almost as big as my face!

With our bellys full of delicious pizza goodness, we began our mission to find the new M.A.C. makeup store in Britomart. It was a bit of a challenge at first because we had no idea where we were going. Then we remembered we had iPhones and after a quick google map search we found it in no time– it's in the Te Ara Tahuhu Walking for anyone who wants to know! 

Oh ma gawwwsh, this place is a girl's dream come true! There is such a huge range of eyeshadows, blushes and lipsticks, it's like you've died and gone to make-up heaven! I had been wanting one of M.A.C.'s famous lipsticks for a while and I knew the exact shade I wanted– 'Lustering'. Unfortunately despite all the variety, it seemed that this was the only shade of lipstick they didn't stock...
... luckily on the way back to the car we stopped in at Smith and Caughey's on Queen Street and they did have it! So, I am now a happy girl with pretty lips! Emma even liked the colour so much, she got it too– now we match!

Sorry about the picture quality, my phone's not feeling well :( The lipstick is nowhere near that orange!

After a few fun hours in the central city, we decided to explore the suburbs a bit, more specifically we wanted to go to Takapuna on the North Shore to visit 'The Department Store' and check out their Topshop stand!

The clothes were a bit of a disappointment. There wasn't a lot of selection and what they did have was priced pretty high. However, I did manage to find the Topshop lip stain that I love so much (my current one is running out!) for $20 and we also enjoyed a lovely cup of tea at their cafe.

Picture from: Emma- daydream believer

Being the nerds that we are we felt that we needed to learn a bit on our trip! So we decided that we would stop in at the 'Auckland War Memorial Museum'. It is such a pretty building!

And boy did we learn– we saw lots of beautiful old dresses...

...some dead and stuffed animals (that part was kinda gross!)...

...some really cool old war planes...

...and some dinosaur bones!

It was really interesting! If you find yourself in Auckland you should definitely check it out!

By this time, we were pretty hungry again. Luckily Emma said she knew of a yummy Italian place in Parnell called La Boca. Boy oh boy was she right, this place was so delicious!

I had the 'Fettuccine La Boca' and Emma had the 'Spagetti Al Ragu'. Just looking at this picture now makes my mouth water! The pasta tasted homemade and the sauce was so creamy! Apart from the fact that my jeans were tighter than usual, I left feeling pretty satisfied!

We finished off the day with a stop at Movenpick for some ice cream. I was reluctant to eat anymore given the fact that I had just polished off a huge bowl of pasta, but Emma assured me that this ice cream was the best... and she was right again!

I had the tirimasu flavour topped off with some caramel sauce and I tell you now... those two flavours are a match made in ice cream heaven– it was so, so yummy!

As much as we wanted to stay and do some more exploring, we were beginning to get a bit tired and we knew it was time to head home. We had so much fun and it just reminded me of how great it can be being a tourist in your own backyard! I will definitely be exploring Auckland a lot more in the future!

Saying bub-bye to the Skytower. It's so pretty at night!

Rachel xoxo

P.S. Tomorrow I am heading off on a plane to explore another big city– Brisbane! I am so excited! I'll try to blog as often as I can so you guys can see what I get up to while I'm over there, so watch this space!!

The Diamond Queen- Happy Jubilee Queen Elizabeth!

She hasn't changed a bit!

I had a very British weekend this weekend. I stayed up waaaay past my bed time with my tea, scones and jam and watched the amazing jubilee river pageant on TV. It was such a sight seeing thousands of boats parade down the Thames to the excitement of the millions of people who gathered at the banks hoping to get a glimpse of the action! It even got me a bit excited seeing all the great London landmarks from the river– London Bridge, the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and the Big Ben (or should I say Elizabeth Tower?)! Ahh, I love London so much!

The river pageant was so amazing!

Anyway, congratulations to the Queen on 60 years of service! Can't wait till her next jubilee (Platinum is it?),  maybe I'll actually be in London for that one!!

Rachel xoxo

Amster...dam I wanna go there!

The buildings, the colours, the scenery, the people, the culture– Amsterdam seems like a place I would like!

Like a lot of European cities, Amsterdam has its own unique style of architecture. And, also like a lot of European cities, they are so, so, so pretty!!

The Royal Palace

Amsterdam Central Station

Felix Meritis

I would love to take a good stroll around these places! The last two pictures show a typical Amsterdam scene– rows of colourful terrace houses perched beside the water.

Speaking of water, Amsterdam is full of it! Their canal system was designed way back in the 17th century mainly for defense, water management and transport, but today its only job is to look pretty– and that's job it does really well!...

The canals of Amsterdam from the sky

In the winter, when the water freezes over, people actually skate on the canals– how great does that sound?!

I'm not the most co-ordained person, but that wouldn't stop me from giving this a go! It looks like far too much fun to pass up!

Amsterdam is also known as the most bike friendly place in the world.

Everyone rides a bike! I think it must have something to do with the amount of bridges you would need to cross to get anywhere– bikes would probably be the fastest option! I imagine bikes are also one of the best ways to sight-see. You can get off the beaten track a lot easier and find some hidden gems that you might have otherwise missed in a car or bus!

Something I would love to do if I ever get the pleasure of seeing this great city for myself, would be to visit Anne Frank House which is located in exact house that Anne Frank hid in during World War 2! I am a huge fan of the book so to see where she lived, her bedroom and her actual diary in person would be such an amazing experience- one I'm sure I would remember forever!

Anne Frank's house (on left) and museum (on right)

Anne Frank House have actually produced an iPhone app called 'Anne's Amsterdam' that takes you around the city, showing you some of Anne's favorite places. There are also photos and videos that go along with each location, turning the city into one giant museum!! It's such a genius idea, I would have to try it out for myself if I get there!

Finally, on a sort of relevant topic... I love this song! –'Amsterdam' by Coldplay.

I think Amsterdam is one of my favorite places in Europe. It looks like it has so much character and such a different atmosphere to anywhere else. Of course, I can't say this with any certainty until I've actually been there! Hopefully I won't have too long to wait!!

Rachel xoxo