Sunday, 19 June 2016

Travel: Things to Do In Budapest

View across the Danube from the Siklo

A little bit of a different post from me today - not related to beauty in the slightest. I'm a little nervous stepping outside of my comfort zone as beauty products have always been my main focus on this blog. I decided to leave the decision up to you guys and posted a poll on Twitter - would any of you be interested in a travel post? 100% of you voted to see what I got up to on my little trip away to Budapest, so without further ado....

We got the most amazing deal when it came to flights and accommodation; we booked a package holiday through Expedia for 5 days costing a grand total of £179 per person. I'm never too fussed about staying in a luxury hotel when I'm on a short city break - as long as I get to see a lot of the city and have somewhere relatively comfy to catch some z's I'm more than happy. We opted to stay in the Ibis Styles Budapest Center and I have no complaints at all. The location was fantastic and so close to one of the main Underground Stations so everywhere was easily accessible. The rooms were spacious and clean and the staff were really friendly and would go out of their way to help you. If you're looking for luxury though, this hotel won't be for you but I'd definitely have no problem staying here again.

I'll attempt to condense this section into 'must see' areas of Budapest as there is plenty to do and it caters for so many different interests. During city breaks, I enjoy a mix of culture, sightseeing and relaxing and this city most definitely doesn't disappoint.

If culture/buildings/monuments is your thing then you need to take a trip to Parliament in the
Lipótváros region. You'll find the most well kept, beautiful buildings; I couldn't quite believe how clean these buildings were considering their age. Heroes Square is well worth a visit too where you can find the impressive Millenium Monument. My favourite was most definitely the Basilica of St Stephen, the architecture was just breath taking and I loved it so much that we went back to see it again!
Parliament Building
After enjoying the sights of Heroes Square, we opted for some well deserved relaxation in the form of the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. I can't recommend this place enough, granted, it's a little bit strange as you're technically having a large bath with loads of strangers but it was so relaxing; wallowing in a warm thermal pool for hours surrounded by beautiful old buildings is my idea of heaven. I was slightly disappointed as I was expecting the water to be boiling hot (the signs said it would be 28 degrees), however, it was definitely more lukewarm than hot. Still lovely, but warmer water would be my personal preference. I'd also highly recommend taking your own swimming costumes, flip flops and towels because we hired ours and it was so expensive!
Széchenyi baths

Next, we hopped on the Underground heading for the Víziváros district and spent a whole day sightseeing in the gorgeous weather- this was probably the most jam packed day of the entire trip. We stopped just before our destination so we could stroll across the Széchenyi Bridge. We then took the Castle Hill Funicular Railway (Sikló) to the top of the castle where there are some spectacular views across the Danube. The Matthias Church, Fisherman's Bastian and the Magdelene Tower are all a must see in this area too. If you're not a fan of crowds then this area will probably not be for you as it's full of so many tourists all trying to photograph the same stunning views. I swear I even saw some elbowing for the best space going on at some points!

I need to mention the Gellért Hills too, while there is not too much to do there, it is also famous for it's fabulous views - we walked along the Liberty Bridge and you can see miles and miles of Budapest. There's some quirky cafes and restaurants in this area too; we stopped for a cold drink in an Alice in Wonderland themed café!
Liberty Bridge
There is such a relaxed vibe and a real buzz when it comes to the nightlife in Budapest. The Hungarians seem to know how to have a good time; there is something for everyone from quiet restaurants and bars if you'd prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle to packed nightclubs if you want dancing and a little craziness.
Two venues really stood out for me; the Vintage Garden Restaurant and the 360 Rooftop Bar. We had a delicious meal at the Vintage Garden Restaurant and ended up getting accidentally very drunk on their amazing cocktails. The Oreo cheesecake and the chocolate dipped strawberries we had for dessert were to die for. It's very aptly named as the interior is all in the style of a vintage garden!
The 360 Bar is an absolute must - it's a rooftop bar that allows you a '360' view of the whole of Budapest which is just incredible. There are fairy lights everywhere, a DJ and so many varieties of wine, beer and cocktails. It was so busy we couldn't find a seat at first - they have everything from high tables, benches and bean bags. I did feel like I wasn't really cool enough to be in a place like this as it was extremely cosmopolitan but the staff were so friendly and really made you feel welcome. I've never been anywhere like it before; it's expensive to get in but well worth it just for the experience.
360 Bar
Budapest has jumped right up there as one of the best European cities I have ever visited, I loved everything from the culture to the people and the nightlife. I'd highly recommend visiting if you ever get the chance!
Have you ever been to Budapest? Is there anything else you can recommend when taking a trip to this beautiful city?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Fran's Beauty Blog Turns One | Reflections

So this post is a little overdue as my blog birthday has already been and gone - 17th May 2016 to be precise. However, I wanted to take a little time to reflect on the past year of blogging; what I have achieved, how far I've come and what blogging means to me. A whole year of blogging seems to have passed in the blink of an eye, so here's an update now Fran's Beauty Blog has turned one.

It goes without saying that this part of the post won't be for everyone, but stats and figures are all part of my blog's progress and development. I figured some of you would want to see/ have a nosey at how far my blog has come statistically in 365 days:

Twitter: 2, 445 followers
Pinterest: 401 followers
Bloglovin': 630 followers
Page Views: 21, 904
DA: 20

Stats wise, while my blog is by no means 'well known' or 'recognised', it's still quite overwhelming to go from creating an account on Blogger in the hope that one person in the world may possibly read your posts, to building a loyal following/readership. I'm so happy and grateful that I've managed to hit 20K+ profile views, 2K+ Twitter followers and over 600+ followers on Bloglovin' all of which have been significant milestones for me personally. Some may not agree, but I'm a firm believer that number of followers does not equal success; engagement and retaining the interest of my readers is much higher on my agenda.

I love nothing more than engaging with other bloggers, taking inspiration, discussing common interests and just generally having a good ol' friendly chat. I'm not going to sugar coat it though, the blogging community is one of the best and worst parts of blogging in equal amounts. It is a fact that you will never see eye to eye with everyone, personalities will clash and people will not always agree with your point of view. I'll openly admin that I've thrown shade and people have thrown shade at me, it's just life and life is not all sunshine and rainbows much though we would love that to be the case. Don't get me wrong though, I have struck up some incredible online friendships with the most innovative, kind, supportive and creative individuals and that is something I wouldn't change for the world.

It's a common misconception that every blogger receives PR samples/'freebies' from brands on a regular basis. I have rarely been contacted by brands in my first year of blogging and that aspect is only starting to gain some traction now as my blog reaches a slightly wider audience. I have collaborated with Hugo Boss on this fragrance post and Debenhams on this Chloé Perfume Review  here , both of which were fantastic experiences and have given me a small insight into dealing with brands professionally. I am, however, extremely picky as to who I choose to work with and what I will review on my blog. I have rejected around 90% of PR/brand opportunities because my blog will only ever include relevant product reviews that I believe my readers will find interesting/helpful. If you're considering starting a blog in the hope that you will receive several 'free' products, I can promise you you're starting a blog for all the wrong reasons.

As it stands at the minute, I don't measure my blogging success/achievements in terms of numbers. While I have included my stats in this post for any of you that are interested, that is not something that is overly important to me  - I get excited when I reach a milestone, but blogging is much more than that for me. Before starting my blog, I felt that my life was lacking in something but I couldn't quite put my finger on what that 'something' was. My blog is my hobby and it hasn't been life changing but it has given me an outlet to explore my creativity once again which I thoroughly enjoy and it was definitely as aspect of my life that needed reigniting.

Here's to another year (hopefully 10) of Fran's Beauty Blog - thank you so much to every single person that visits/engages with my little space on the internet, I'm forever grateful!

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