Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Warsaw, Poland

I landed in Warsaw Thursday midday. It felt good to have someone waiting at the airport!
After traveling alone in Brussels (even though for just a day, but all those bus rides to Paris, to Brussels, to Amsterdam...alone. blah.), I had sworn it'd be the last time I go anywhere alone for just a short holiday like that. Backpacking or so could be done.

Having read about Polish scam taxies and all, I knew the right price to pay for a ride to the hotel would be a maximum of 40zloty. First taxi trying to scam some extra, but the second one being right with a total of 38zlt.
Tripadvisor has proven to be really really reliable and well advisable.

Alko hole. Yes. Polish word for alcohol.

We were able to check in 2hours early and also got an upgrade to a bigger room.
Really really nice. My plan was to go and take a nap since I had woken up at 4am to travel, but for some reason I was full of energy and ready to hit the town.

Headed off to the center. Found a shopping mall, really big, really good shops, amazing. I was surprised, as the city so far hadn't looked so promising.
I found my favorite perfume, organic vanilla by Yves Rocher, but decided to try out an other one and bought organic coconut. Cheap and amazing. I've loved both.

Hunger took over our minds and we headed off to a big supermarket we had seen on our way to town.
Polish buildings are full of graffitis and other street art, as well as painted advertisements.
Some extremely nice, though we didn't even visit Praga, which is said to be the best area for street art.
My favorite piece was the eyes seen in this post.

The luxury of having our own kitchen was making our own food. Took advantage of that just once.
But that salmon, melon, feta, avocado, etc. salad was just yummy yummy yummy.
I just got my tummy talking.

The evening was spent at the gym, and planning the next days.

Relaxation maximum.
...and I still can't but wonder how good the Zlote Tarasy shopping mall was. Pull&Bear, Bershka, Stradivarius, Yves Rocher...and all on sale. I could have made the holiday into a shopping trip. Thankfully I kept strong and left the shopping to very minimum.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Platinum Residence

In continuation to this, here we go.

You might have or might not have guessed that the city I just came back home from was Warsaw.
Visiting Poland was a very very good and different experience in comparison to the other countries I've been to. Eastern-Europe hasn't ever been a destination - why, I know not. Not many friends live in Eastern-Europe and my knowledge about the countries has been fairly poor, so they just haven't been a subject of interest. Until now.

We stayed at an amazing residence. Platinum Residence. Click here for more info and reserve via Hotels.com or similar for cheap prices!

The residence was:
- amazingly located (10min walk to the city center and 25 to the old town)
- perfect quality+price ratio (we paid around 55€ per night)
--> meaning the room (we got an upgrade btw) included a bedroom, living room with kitchen and a bathroom. 2 tvs, wireless internet, safety box, cleaning if requested, and all other necessary equipment that you could expect from a hotel/residence.
- the best part was the unlimited free usage of the luxury gym and spa, Holmes Place, which is located right between the Platinum Residence and the Hilton hotel. You can get to the gym walking indoors, and can also attend any gym classes they arrange.
- on the bottom floor of the residence towers there were restaurants and bars, also a medical center situated in the same building
- a small food store right outside the residence and a large one just a 5min walk away
- funny and friendly staff, really polite and helpful

We had a long balcony. View being not so amazing, as we were only on the 5th floor and there was a lot of construction work going on in Warsaw, especially around the area where our windows were located at. View towards the Hilton hotel, the Holmes Place gym and construction sights - with snow on the ground. The wintery view gave shivers, as we checked the temperature each morning with a statement of -10°C or colder. At least each day we were blessed with sunshine, that shone right through our windows in the morning. Was a good way to wake up Mr. Rise and Shine Ingarito!

The only minus that I can think of...nothing really. But don't order a taxi to the airport from the hotel reception. They'll order a super nice new Mercedes with a suited driver who will charge double the amount as a normal wave-to-go taxi. Yes, wave-to-go being a creative expression I just made up.
Though the taxi ride was warm, fast and luxurious - a Fiat that just and just goes forward would have done right the trick, too. With half the price.

Not to complain, though. As a Finnish person we surely are lucky to have such a good economy in Finland. Our taxi starting rate in Finlandia would have been the same as that Polish Mercedes luxury ride cost in total... So, ...yeah.

More to come...

Lana Del Rey, the young Geena Davis?

Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

The first time I heard 'Video Games', I wasn't hooked. May the reason be me not listening well enough, me not being in the need of finding any more artists to listen to, or whatever other not important excuse.

But today, January 30th 2012, Lizzy Grant aka Lana Del Rey released her album 'Born To Die' which namely makes me think of Lady GaGa. Just because of the confusion of the word 'born'.
I just need to make it clear to myself that:
Lana - Born To Die
GaGa - Born This Way

I'm currently listening to the 'Born To Die' deluxe album on Spotify for the fifth or sixth time round.
No lie. I'm addicted.
Lyrical hooks. Dreamy melodies. Atmospheric. Can be happy, can be sad - depending on the listeners mood.

What else comes to mind about Lana Del Rey?

Why do I feel convinced that if T&L were a 2012 movie, Lana Del Rey would be the music on the soundtrack? Is it just me, or can anyone else get similar vibes?
Isn't Lana today's Geena Davis? Yes.
Somehow the lyrics, Lana's image and the whole atmosphere around the girl and her music just completely clicks with Thelma&Louise.

Following some of my favorite lines from the album.

The boys, the girls, they all like carmen
She gives them butterflies, that's a girl too nice
She laughs like god, her mind's like a diamond
Buy her tonight, she's still shining
Like lightning, ohh, like lightning

Born To Die
Don't make me sad, don't make me cry
Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough
I don't know why
Keep making me laugh
Let's go get high
The road is long, we carry on
Try to have fun in the meantime

Come on take a  walk on the wild side
Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain
You like your girls insane
Choose your last words, this is the last time
Cause you and I, we were born to die

Blue Jeans
You were sorta punk rock, I grew up on hip hop
But you fit me better than my favorite sweater

Oh, I just love it all.

Though I have to say that the already released singles definitely are the strongest tracks of the album in my opinion, but as a whole the album atmosphere is amazingly capturing with its dreamy, hazy melodies that make you wanna sway. Me likes.

What do you think about the album? Had the time to listen yet?


ps. why do I also see a similarity in Lana Del Rey and Emma Watson?

Weekend of Zen

A mini trip away from hectic London was good. And did good.
Having an apartment hotel with lovely staff, and the ability to use a spa and gym for free was the most relaxing and luxurious thing ever.

Flew off to a place very the opposite of where I now live, from where I've ever lived. Very the opposite of where I've ever visited. Calm, off-season, perfect - though cold.
Can you tell from the pictures which country and city is in question?

More to come later.
Let this be as an update to 'yes, I'm alive' and tease for myself as after half a day of travel and just arriving home, I could pick up my bag again and go back.

I think I reached the ultimate point of relaxation this weekend, especially today as I had a moment of zen in the spa's relaxation room and on the massage table.

I'm thankful!

Thinking and thanking,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Wonderland

I was just going through my posts and noticed a few that had been saved as drafts instead of been posted.

So here, a little late, but enjoy!
...viewing the picture below juuust made me crave for those tasty sweet Spanish churros quite some bit.

In the end of November, just before going on this trip, we had some 'after work fun' at Winter Wonderland.
Sadly it was only Rebecca, Jamie, Jaleh and me could make it.
I'm not sure if I count 'I can't come because I don't have enough money to get drunk - and I can't stand you guys sober' as a valid reason for not joining, though!

...and now you might be thinking how many beers people at our office have before they come to work? As much as 0, which proves the reason given above is not valid.
(or how can I know one's pre-work habits. ;)

Our invite:

"Hello Pigs and Piglets,

Sooo, this morning has been very successful and creative. Messy hair Jamie has been working hard and come up with an excellent idea that will excite all Harry Potter and Haunted House lovers. I'm guessing that's not that many of us really. Anyway, there will also be 'German Stuff' (I take this as beer and mulled wine), rides, ice-skating, gingerbread, live bands, etc. which will hopefully warm you up slightly more than the themes stated above.

In short:
Welcome to the Animal Farm after work fun on the 30th of November. We will head of to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park straight after work, so around 6pm, and maybe go for a few more drinks afterwards. For those who want to riot, take your signs with you as apparently there will be student protests on the day, too.

All you busy people clear your schedules because this is 'the evening of the year' and attendance is compulsory. Excuses will be heard but effort and creativity must be seen in presentation.
For those who got too excited: Jamie hasn't found us a sponsor yet so be prepared to pay for all personal expenses.
I don't want to end the email with a negative money remark, so I'll continue and share some delightful news: Sammy will be joining us, too."

...I'm thinking people didn't come because Sammy the duck couldn't make it after all.

Jaleh: "Lets take some band pictures."

An evening of ridiculously priced rides, ice-skating and a scary Santa.
Therefore we decided to invest in food and drinks.

Very much fun, very many laughs.
Though that Santa still creeps me out in my dreams. Too much mulled wine? And since when was Santa a skinny woman with no beard but eyelash extensions?
I did take video but placed it somewhere nowhere.
But maybe the picture below is enough to explain what I mean...


Monday, January 23, 2012

A day of living in luxury

My very good friend, Ellu, came for a one night work trip to London from Saturday to Sunday.
I went to spend the day with her and her lovely work friends!

The day included shopping on Oxford street, sushi from Wasabi, coffee at a lovely semi-organic cafe near Carnaby street, some more shopping, China town, take-away from Go Sushi, pre drinks at the hotel and going out to a bar next to Piccadilly circus.

Ah that cheese cake and chocolate pie piece were tasty. My body should thank me for not being too big of a cafe person in London, even though I really would have wanted to be!

The girls were having a true 'sweet sixteen' experience arranged by their boss.
I was lucky enough to be welcomed to tag along!

Some luxury living at London's most elegant 5 star - the Ritz!
Welcome to peek into a Ritz Junior Suite:

Yes, even a picture of the toilet roll.

Ellu's favorite detail of the hotel room. 'Oh yay we have the coolest bath robes! I will wear this all morning.'

Though the Ritz rooms 'aren't anything that special' (meaning: what do you expect from a hotel room? cute little monkeys, maids and beds that turn into jacuzzis with just one button press? no, it was a room. with the ordinary bed, table, the normals!) what makes it special is the service and details.

For example:

The staff had constant smiles on their faces, were extremely polite and remembered to greet every time. Doors were opened for you, and closed behind. You were called by the name Miss, Mr. or Mrs.

Ellu got the key to the room and she was told that a man would come and pick her up to show her where the room is. Ellu's answer to this: "Thanks. I'll just go on my own." Hahhah! And when we got to the 5th floor where the room was situated, her first words were: "Damn, I'm lost. Now I understand why they offer that service. We should have taken it."

The next thing was that the bags were brought into the room and placed on racks in front of the fire place. There was classical music playing in the room.

In the evening when we came back to the hotel there had been cleaners already for the second time that day. They had arranged the bed ready for 'sleeping mode'. As in taken the day sheet off, put slippers by the bed, brought a water bottle, etc. They had even folded the toilet paper neatly again.

And anything else needed would have been arranged.
So the biggest difference to a 'more normal hotel' was the service.

Surely an experience. We were all wondering if we'll ever see a Ritz class room again in our lives!

Only ones in a party mood were Ellu and me, but luckily we got Ellu's roomie Ellu (too many Ellu's?) convinced and energized to join!
We had a little trouble finding a place where to go out. Having been out just 4 times in London, I wasn't exactly the best bar guide. We ended up at a place right by Piccadilly Circus. I guess it was called On Anon or something? Was OK.
Found ourselves enjoying the 90's room best with great nostalgic hits playing.
And a picture of Finnish band 'Hanoi Rocks' on the wall.

Fun, fun times!
And I can't wait for Ellu to come back for a proper visit in a few weeks! Wohoo!

Anyway, thank you girls for sharing a little moment in luxury.
Now back at my luxury 8m2 room and am actually pretty fine with this room too, though it does need a bit of cleaning. ;-)

Sweet dreams,
Linda xx