♥ The Holiday Diaries: ¡Hola! from Madrid! ♥

I feel like recently, my blog has been filled with travel diaries. I haven't posted much else apart from photos of my little trips away, and I wonder if you're getting tired of them or not haha! But I have never travelled so much as I do at the moment, so I'm taking every opportunity to document it as I go! Hopefully, it makes you discover places you've never been before, and I could help you find your next destination! ;)

At the end of July I went to Madrid for a few days, and although I didn't choose to go there (I would have preferred Italy, as you must know by now!) I am SO glad we went there. Madrid was such a beautiful surprise, I loved every moment and everything we saw. It's just packed full of sunshine, culture, nature and Pokemons. (yes, Pokemons - if I had a pound for each person we saw playing Pokemon Go, I would be rather rich by now!)

All of these photos were taken in the Parque del Retiro, which is probably the most incredible park I've ever been to. There's beauty at every corner and the place is huge, you could take a whole day just exploring, having lunch and ice cream, and maybe take a nap in our of the quiet oasis of greenery. Some of my favourite areas of the park are the Rosaleda, a beautiful rose garden in full bloom, in which the French garden pattern is arranged around beautiful fountains; and the Jardines Cecilio Rodrìgez and its tiled floor, oddly-shaped bushes and colony of peacocks - if you're lucky, you'll even see little ones in the shadow of their mothers. 
The Jardines del Sabatine are also wonderful. Located at the back of the Palacio Real, these French gardens (we all love a good French garden don't we?) are beautiful and the view from there on the façade of the palace is worth a visit. What I loved the most about parks and gardens in Madrid, is that they weren't crowded at all and it feels like you're totally out of the city. The smell of pine trees, the sound of the locusts and the warm August air really made me feel like I was on holiday.

The only thing I'd say is to skip the Royal Botanical Gardens, they aren't as impressive as the public parks of the city, which is a little sad because they seemed promising; the result just wasn't there.

If you want to see the more cultural side of Madrid, there are quite a few places that you would enjoy. My favourite was the Palacio Real, which is the Royal Palace (yeah I know, my Spanish skills are amazing) - although the royal family doesn't like there. You can only visit part of it, but the whole building is huge, I've never seen a palace as big as this one. The interiors are lush, with gold at every corner, beautiful ceiling paintings, there's even a room that's completely covered in porcelain, on the walls, the ceilings, everywhere. There's a room containing quite a few Stradivarius violins, which means we were literally surrounded by thousands of $$. Unfortunately you're not allowed to take photos inside, so I can't show you, you'll have to go and see by yourselves! ;)
There's also the Museum del Prado of course, which has amazing collections of medieval and 19th-century Spanish and Italian paintings. I'd also recommend just walking around, taking in the views, the amazing buildings, and of course stopping once in a while for coffee or tapas!

Have you ever been to Spain? Where do usually go in the summer to catch some sun?


♥ Review: Bomb Cosmetics Bath Bombs ♥

If you ever go to Reading, Berkshire, be sure to check the magical shop of dreams in the Broad Street Mall : Home Fragrance Store, where you'll find a complete wall full of Bomb Cosmetic products, and all the other walls are covered in Yankee Candles and Village Candles. I told you, the shop of dreams! While I was there, I decided to pick up two Bomb Cosmetics Bath Bombs to try out. I'd heard good things about the brand before, especially about their candles, so I was super excited to try new bath products - especially because I've only ever tried Lush bath bombs, so this opened a whole new perspective in the field of bath experiences haha. 
It was really had to choose because all the bath bombs were super cute and smelt amazing, but I finally brought Tweetie Pie and Urban Princess home.

Tweetie Pie is a cute bath bomb, the nest of a little blue bird (Twitter, the bath edition?) on its glittery branch. The top notes are geranium and cedarwood, and it is full of oils so it's really good for the skin. It fizzes super quickly in the water, and although it doesn't give any colour to the bath apart from a very faint blue hue, it smells amazing and leaves your skin smelling great, as well as the whole bathroom!
Urban Princess is a lovely pale pink bath bomb, with pink glitter and a cute rainbow in the centre - which I think has changed now, as on the link to the website you'll see there is a little fairy on it instead, which is just as cute! It is made of coconut and ylang-ylang oil, which are two amazing products to soothe and moisturise the skin. The scent of this bath bomb is not a strong as the other one, but it is still really pleasant. The water turns a very slight pink colour, and the glitter adds a little fun. I was a little disappointed after using Tweetie Pie, so I would recommend that one more; Urban Princess isn't a must-try. 

I wish I had bought more of them though, I'll have to try out other products from Bomb Cosmetics in the future and keep you in the loop!

Have you ever tried Bomb Cosmetics? Do you like using bath products as well?


♥ The Holiday Diaries: An Escape in Milan ♥

I had not planned to go to Milan, but when my cousin asked me to go away for a few days with her as she needed a break from work, and kindly invited me, I could not say no! I had never visited Milan before, so this was really exciting. 
We only stayed four days, so I don't feel like I have quite mastered the city and discovered it properly; this was more of an introduction to Milan and to life in a busy, modern Italian city.
Unlike some other cities in Italy where you could feel like everything is marked by its past and its history, Milan is a beautiful blend of modern and old. Typical colourful houses mingle effortlessly with big modern buildings, and you will find it both a city of culture and a buzzing place to live and work in. My cousin and I both thought Milan must be a great city to live in. I'll share with you everything we saw and did there, to give you some inspiration if you want to visit the city!

What to see in Milan

Of course, I have to mention the Duomo of Milano first. It is the impressive cathedral of the city, made entirely of marble and spires. It is truly special, I can't think of any other monument that looks like it. It is obviously a very popular area of Milan and you'll have to wait a little before going inside, but it is worth the wait. I'd advise to go both inside the cathedral (tickets are 2€, and you have to cover your shoulders and legs to get in, as in most religious buildings in the city), and to climb to the terraces at the top of the Duomo. This will cost you 10€ if you take the stairs and 13€ if you take the lift, but a little tip here: do go for the stairs. When we went, there was a huge queue to take the lift while we didn't have to wait at all to take the stairs. Plus, you'll feel like you deserve the view! 
Right next to the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, the beautiful gallery full of luxury shops and restaurants. There are way too many tourists there (and I was one of them, I know haha) but just go in for five minutes to enjoy the beautiful architecture.

When it comes to the areas of the city worth having a walk around, I have a couple that really stood out to me. First is the Brera, a pretty area full of restaurants, cobbled streets and yellow, pink, orange, very typical Italian houses. It can get a little busy around dinner time, but it is part of the lively atmosphere, and you'll mutter a lot of "ooh" and "aah" as you walk around, spotting little architectural gems. 
Another place to visit for restaurants is the Navigli, more at the south of the city. They are artificial canals around which the streets are full of restaurants and bars. We went there in the early afternoon on a Saturday, and there was a little market/car boot sale going on, which was quite fun as well. By the way, we went to a restaurant called L'Altro Luca e Andrea, facing the Naviglio Grande and where we ate the best tiramisu ever. 

If you want to feel like a VIP, go to the Quadrilatero d'Oro, a bunch of several streets dedicated to luxury shops. There, you'll drool over the beautiful displays of Dolce&Gabanna (a personal favourite), Chanel or Cartier... a real feast for the eyes. I had never seen such a display of wealth and luxury in a concentrated area, I think it even beats our Place Vendôme in Paris! Unfortunately, my camera died when we arrived there, so I couldn't take any proper photos of the area.

Other places I would recommend visiting are the Castello Sforzesco and the Parco Sempione. The Castello is a medieval fortress that has been rebuilt (hence its amazing state of preservation) and is home to several museums of Art and History. The Parco Sempione is a relaxed, pleasant park in which Milanese people from all ages and all paths of life go to have some time off. Enjoy a casual walk, have a snooze in the grass or look out for the turtles in the lake (yes, there are turtles, and lots of them!).
As for museums, the Pinacoteca di Brera is an impressive collection of Italian paintings, where you'll be able to get an idea of how rich and diverse Italian art is. The majority of the paintings are Renaissance though, so be prepared for a lot of religious art. The most interesting thing was being able to see a restoration workshop, open to the public eye (but not to photographs, unfortunately). If you are there at the right time, you can actually see the artists working on the painting! In this museum is the painting The Kiss (Il bacio) by 19th-century painter Francesco Hayez. It is so simple yet beautiful, although it is hard to explain the fascination we can feel towards a work of art. 

There are many other museums in Milan, and there's two of them I particularly wanted to see - two historical villas - but that'll be for next time!

Apart from Milan itself, we took a day trip to Lake Como, where we spent a great time strolling through the old town centre, enjoying a lovely boat trip and eating pasta... I'll share all about Como in an upcoming blog post!
Be prepared for a lot of travel posts this summer, I'll be packing my suitcase quite a few times and can't wait to take you with me on these adventures!

Do you think you'd like Milan? Have you ever been there?