Caffeinated Thoughts

I am trying to find a coffee shop in the middle of Berlin. I’m full of pizza and beer and it’s mid afternoon and I’m starting to feel sleepy. I check my phone to see that we’ve already walked 20,000 steps and despite wanting to pack an activity into every single moment of our trip, I’m also able to acknowledge that I’d like to still be able to use my legs tomorrow so perhaps a break would be okay.

We spot a free table, so cramped that I feel like I’m almost in the plant pot next to me but I’m hopeful that the buzz of the place is a sign of good coffee. As it turns out, we’ve stumbled upon an ‘award-winning’ coffee roasters. We toy with the idea of a coffee and tonic, the newest drink to grace coffee shop menus, but eventually decide that we’re on a holiday so only a coffee Negroni will suffice. The waitress brings our drinks to us, mistakenly saying “coffee and tonic” as she puts them down. I correct her, to check that they are our cocktails and she laughs and says “sorry, that’s what I meant. You are the only ones ordering these kinds of drinks so early.” The bitter cold brew coffee takes the place of gin in the drink and it tastes so much better than any normal Negroni I’ve had.

We sit, mostly in silence but occasionally remarking on something happening in the square, sipping our drinks, taking solace in the fact that although we fly home tomorrow, we’ve made the most of every minute.

 

Follow:

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

San Francisco has never been on my bucket list. Sure, I’ve always wanted to see The Golden Gate Bridge but I didn’t ever really think I’d go. However when Brandon suggested a road trip there from Southern California I said yes. I could hardly turn down an opportunity to see ‘The Paris of the West,” could I?

It turned out that San Francisco was the city of my dreams. I loved everything about it, from its calf building hills to its hundreds of sea lions basking in the sun at Fisherman’s Wharf. Sadly we only spent two days there which meant we couldn’t do everything but we did manage to pack a lot in to our little trip, so here’s what we got up to.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is the ultimate tourist attraction in San Francisco. I know some people love to roll their eyes at doing ‘touristy’ things but I love finding out what draws so many people to visit a city as well as finding other things to do that are a little more off the beaten track.

It’s a great place if you like seafood, but if you don’t there’s still plenty to do, eat and see. You can also get a really good view of Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge from here.

Coit Tower

I probably wouldn’t have come across Coit Tower unless Sian from Sian Blogs had recommended it to me. The only way up and down is via a lift so if you really hate lifts you may have to sit this one out and to get to the bottom of the tower there are quite a few steps and a really steep hill. However, if you can get up then I really recommend it. The view from the top is incredible. This is just one of the photos I took but it’s a great way to see whole city and really get a feel for just how steep some of the roads are.

San Francisco is quite an expensive city so at just $8 euros, Coit Tower is both cheap and fun.

Sutro Baths

Brandon suggested going to see Sutro Baths because he’d heard about it on a podcast. The baths used to be a swimming pool complex but never really got off the ground due to the high running costs. Suspiciously, the baths were destroyed by a fire in 1966 caused by arson and were never rebuilt.

If you don’t have a car, then it’s probably not worth driving to the edge of the city just to see the ruins, but if you’re in the area then it’s pretty cool if you like abandoned things. The day we visited, it was absolutely pouring down and we were the only people around which gave the whole place a really spooky vibe.

Muir Woods

I know this photo looks like I’m someone in Yorkshire but I promise it’s San Francisco. Situated only 16 miles from the centre of San Francisco are the beautiful Muir Woods. If you want to see the enormous Redwoods then this is the place. It was slightly overcast and foggy the day that we visited but I’d love to go back when the weather is clearer.

The Painted Ladies

The highlight of our San Francisco trip was definitely The Painted Ladies. There are a few other painted ladies dotted around America but the term was first used for these gorgeous Victorian houses in San Fran.

Although we spent less than 48 hours there, I definitely left my heart in San Francisco and I’m already planning my next trip.

Have you visited San Francisco? What’s your favourite city? Let me know!

Rachel x-x-x

 

Follow:

Geneva: Things To Know Before You Go

Geneva is a beautiful Swiss city, close to the French border. It’s an incredible place to visit so I wanted to share some of the tips I learned whilst there.

Take the train.

If you’re arriving into Geneva airport, you might be tempted to grab a quick taxi to get into the centre. Like anywhere, taxis are pretty pricey so hop on the train instead. The train takes about 5 minutes and will take you to the main train station in Geneva. It’s also miles cheaper than a taxi which costs about £30 from the airport.

Travel is free.

If you’re staying in any hotel, hostel or campsite, you’re entitled to a Geneva Transport Card. This will let you get on any train, bus or tram in all of Geneva at any time of time. The city itself is really easy to navigate and having a transport card makes it even easier to see as much of it as you can, especially if you’re only visiting for a short time. Just ask at reception when you book into your accommodation.

You can do it on the cheap.

Before I visited Geneva, everyone kept telling me that I would spend a fortune. Honestly, this panicked me because I really don’t have a fortune to spend. So I tried to plan as much as I could in advance, i.e. things to do, places to eat at and prioritised the things I wanted to do. I knew I was going to have to forgo a few cups of coffee while I was there at almost £5 per cup, but that was totally fine because I spent money on the things I really wanted to do, like taking a cable car up Mont Salève and a huge cheese fondue.

Take advantage of bicycle rental

We really wanted to get some rental bikes but just didn’t have time. There are two Genève roule sites in Geneva, one at Eaux-Vives and one near the train station at Les Grottes. You can rent a bike for just 12 CHF for the day and the city is really bike friendly with lots of cycle paths.

Brush up on your French

I’m sure this is not the case for all people in Geneva, but the city wasn’t the friendliest for English tourists. Luckily I spent seven years learning French so I was fine but my non-French speaking friends were not met with the kindest of responses. Even if it’s only a few phrases, try and learn a little bit before you go. I think it’s just a nice courtesy when you go to any country anyway.

Know the areas to avoid

Before we went to Geneva I read that the only area to avoid was Paquis (the area we were staying in, woo). I actually found Paquis to be totally fine, although apparently the crime rate is higher there than in other parts of Geneva. This is pretty believable because the Geneva crime rate is incredibly low anyway. Paquis and areas around the train station are known for petty crime, so just be vigilant and keep your belongings close to you. However, I didn’t feel unsafe at any point during my time there.

Don’t miss the longest bench in the world

Geneva is known for it’s lovely lake, the Jet D’eau and its upmarket shops, but don’t miss some of the lesser known places too. Check out the longest bench in the world, St Peter’s Cathedral and take a bus out to the French border for some less famous sights.

Take two currencies if possible

We weren’t expecting to pop over the French border so we only took Swiss Franc with us but I would definitely recommend taking some Euros too. We took a cable car up a mountain in France and paid more because we only had Swiss Franc on us. It also meant that when we got down the mountain we couldn’t buy anything to drink because nowhere would take our Francs, so just bear in mind that you might need euros too.

Have you been to Geneva? What tips would you give others? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

 

Follow:

48 Hours in Geneva Part 2

If you want to read the first part of my Geneva weekend, you can check it out here.

The next day we rose bright and early to catch a cable car in France! Turns out Geneva is about a half hour drive from the French border so we thought we may as well tick off another country during our weekend away.

We caught the cable car up to Mount Salève and the view was more than worth it. Once at the top there’s a little route you can walk (around 40 minutes) through the countryside and see the beautiful Mont Blanc through the trees. I think this was actually my highlight of the whole weekend so it’s a must if you’re visiting Geneva.

After our cable car adventure, we went for a very long nap and headed out for another of my highlights of the trip: fondue. I’m not going to lie to you, when we decided we were going to Geneva, the food was all I could think of. I imagined myself tearing off pieces of a French baguette and dipping them into a boiling pot of cheese, sipping on wine and feeling like I’d made it.

Well…

This was at Buvette des Bains. Shout out to Mel (@melreylaw) for the recommendation! It was quite pricey – You pay £20 per person and they fill the pot as high as they think is necessary for how ever many people are eating. This was for 3 of us so there was PLENTY of cheese to go around.

After a few more glasses of wine, we headed back to our hotel for an early night (read: watch Eurovision).

The next day we had a few hours to kill until our flight so we headed out to the other side of the lake where there’s a little tiny beach. It was about 30 degrees, so perfect lie in the sun until you have to go to the airport weather.

I’d definitely recommend Geneva for a weekend away, either for a romantic getaway or for a girl’s weekend. It’s definitely made me determined to see more of Switzerland!

Rachel x-x-x

Follow:

48 Hours in Geneva Part 1

In May I was lucky enough to spend a weekend in the beautiful Swiss city of Geneva. I’d visited Geneva when I was around 8, just as a day trip whilst on another holiday and as far as I can remember we only visited the Aquarium, so Geneva didn’t exactly leave a lasting impression on me.

My uni girls and I booked the trip before Christmas so that we had something to look forward to while we were slogging our way through placement and university. We picked Geneva based on it having the cheapest flights from Manchester on our chosen weekend although we knew it’d be pretty pricey once we arrived.

We stayed at the Résidence Studio Genève Centre which was a super cheap, really basic hotel. Perfect if you’re not planning to stay in the room much but not so good if you want a bit of luxury, however it was fine for us. Just as a word of warning, this hotel was in the heart of Geneva’s red light district. It didn’t feel unsafe whatsoever but if you don’t like the thought of men propositioning you as you walk to and from the hotel at any hour of the day then there are plenty of other hotels elsewhere.

We arrived in Geneva around 2pm, so after dropping our bags off we went in search of the Jet D’eau, Geneva’s most famous landmark.

Lake Geneva is absolutely beautiful and other than a slightly flash flood, the weather was gorgeous for the whole weekend we were there.

After taking more than enough pictures of the jet we headed into the old town attempting to scout out some cocktails. Geneva’s old town (Vieille Ville), is a wonderfully traditional looking area of the city filled with cute little high street cafés, restaurants and museums, as well as some very upmarket shops.

As we walked around the old town, we spotted Saint Peter’s Cathedral. Don’t be fooled if you’re not a churchy person, St Peter’s has some of the best views of Geneva. It costs 5 CHF which is about £4 to go up to the top and it’s so worth it.

After our jaunt up the hundreds of cathedral steps we were pretty thirsty (a jug of Sangria was totally necessary) and then we made our way back to our hotel to get prettied up for some evening drinks.

If it’s nightlife you’re looking for in a weekend away then Geneva probably isn’t the best place. But it does have some lovely little bars and pubs. Food and drink is expensive, almost double the price of a meal in England, but if you do a bit of research before you go like we did, you can keep costs down if that’s what you’re looking for.

Rachel x-x-x

Follow: