Reasons to Visit Food Markets While Travelling

In the UK we have many food markets, especially in some of the larger cities, but the vast majority of people rely heavily on supermarkets for convenience, meaning the humble food market isn't celebrated here as much as they are in other countries. Food markets abroad are busy and bustling and everyday people rush to them to get their local produce, they are much bigger than in the UK and much more part of the community. 

When I was in Thailand, I experienced my first 'night market' where local people would gather to shop and listen to music and take part in traditional dance while also enjoying street food. It wasn't a one off food market, it was something that happened every other day and everyone joined in. Also when I was Frankfurt earlier this year I visited Kleinmarkthalle, a world renowned food market popular with tourists and locals alike. Food markets are great way of being immersed in culture and today I thought I would dedicate a post to why you should visit food markets while travelling.

Live like a local

Visiting food markets enables you to live like a local for the day and experience what life is like living in that country and shopping for food. You can make note of all the local ingredients and produce renowned in that area, learn more about their cuisines and most of the time there's samples available for you to trial the food.

Absorb the atmosphere

Overhearing people haggling down prices, chatting about food and generally enjoying themselves makes for a great atmosphere. Food markets are busy and vibrant and there's nothing quite like them.

Eat authentic street food

Food markets are a great place to eat authentic street food as they are often filled with street food vendors who have a long family history of running market stalls. 

Practice your language skills

If you're looking to practice a few sentences from the phrase book you picked up in duty free, markets are a great place to test out your skills. Market halls often have people working there who may not be too fluent with English but most of the time they take kindly to you even attempting to speak their language.

Grab a bargain

Finally, food markets are a great place to grab a bargain as they are usually catered towards locals rather than tourists. High street stores particularly in tourist areas often inflate their prices to deal with demand and because they know tourists like convenience, whereas food markets have lower prices because they are helping the community.

Have you visited any great food markets abroad?

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In Order to Live: Yeonmi Park Book Review

I will start this review by admitting that I'm not much of an avid book reader. In fact I probably only read one book a year despite my best efforts and vowing to myself every New Year to read more. It takes a lot to grab my attention as I'm far too easily distracted and I much prefer reading biographies to fiction because I really enjoy learning about peoples lives - I think this is partly due to the 'journalist' in me, always looking for something to investigate. 

Yeonmi Park's 'In Order to Live' depicts the autobiographical true story of a thirteen year old Yeonmi Park, who risked her life when she and her family fled North Korea. The book reveals her journey, the harrowing experiences she encountered, her battle with starvation and what life was like growing up in one of the world's most notorious communist countries. When you think you know all that is needed to know about North Korea, this book takes you that one step further into understanding the lives of the people who live there and the level of control the government has on its people. From propaganda to torture, rape to starvation, Yeonmi and her family have been through it all and 'In order to Live' gives you a glimpse into what they have had to endure in just 273 pages.

What is fascinating about this book is that despite her ordeal, Yeonmi still shows very little bitterness and everything she says is so equivalently written without any hate. Yeonmi had to grow up fast living the life she did and her book is written with a level of maturity that you would expect of someone thrice her age.

Without a doubt, this book was one of the best books I have read in a long time and I would recommend it all. It is insightful, educational and inspirational and Yeonmi is a remarkable woman.

Have you read this book?

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The Benefits of Travelling Hand luggage Only

Travel can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it and when it comes to flying, carrying large suitcases in some cases can easily add up to a third of the cost on top of your flight. Low cost airlines are infamous for doing this. They prey on travellers looking for a good deal by luring them onto their websites with very low flight costs and as soon as you get to the checkout they add on extortionate baggage costs, making a flight that seemed affordable on first glance, not as cheap as you would have imagined. A lot of travellers are getting savvy to this behaviour from airlines and are now adopting to travel with hand luggage only. Many airlines offer a free small suitcase in with the flight price as long as it fits in the overhead lockers. This is particularly common on short haul flights, hence the rise of many cash-strapped millennials grabbing themselves a bargain and checking themselves into destinations all across Europe.

Travelling hand luggage only was something I never thought I would consider. I'm an 'overpacker'- I can't stay one night in a hotel 10 miles away from my house without bringing my entire wardrobe, nevermind going abroad where I don't know what I will be doing from day to day or what the weather would be like. My friends would often tell me how much money I would save if I cut back on some of my luxury items while travelling and I didn't listen until recently. Last month I booked a weekend in Ireland for my husbands birthday and after seeing that it was going to cost nearly £100 for  full sized suitcase, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just take carry on. It was the best decision I have made.

After finally forcing myself to just take carry on luggage on holiday, I noticed how it easy it was to pack, when I got on holiday it made life more simplier - I didn't have to spend forever trying to figure out what to wear because I only had limited clothing with me and the money I would have spent lugging a suitcase of clothes around with only half of the clothes that I would have worn, I was able to convert to Euros and spend more time enjoying myself.


It's liberating

Once you have finally taken the plunge and travelled hand luggage only, you will realise how liberating it is. Firstly you do not have to go through baggage reclaim unless you are asked to check your bag and it's easier to carry hand luggage around a big city while trying to find your hotel.

More places to visit

Travelling hand luggage only opens up a lot more places for you to visit because it brings down the cost of many flights, especially in Europe.

You only pack the things you need

When I take a large suitcase on holiday I often pack a lot of unnecessary items and only wear half of the clothes I pack. When travelling hand luggage only you are forced to take only the necessities due to the space available.

You can save money

Last, but definitely not least is that travelling hand luggage only can save you quite a lot of money off your flights, giving you that extra money to spend on a different holiday or some extra holiday cash to enjoy yourself. 

It's always nice to take plenty of home comforts on holiday with you, but the most important thing is enjoying the holiday itself and getting as much out of the travel experience that you can. I'm definitely a 'hand luggage only' convert.

Do you ever travel hand luggage only?

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Do Hotel Toiletries Influence Your Stay?

Everyone has a checklist of what they look for in a hotel, whether it's location, amenities such as a pool, bar or restaurant,a king size bed or even fluffy robes hanging in the wardrobe. For some people, one item on their hotel checklist is what toiletries the hotel provides. Believe it or not, there's some people that will travel far and wide for those little hotel luxuries and with hotels these days stocking even more luxurious products, paying a premium for a room with Elemis miniatures included doesn't seem so bad. 

There's something incredibly satisfying about walking into a hotel bathroom and seeing a line of luxury toiletries lined up on the porcelain sink. It's that small reminder that paying premium does sometimes pay off and that even though we shouldn't take them, those toiletries are a little gift to ourselves once we depart the serenity of the plush hotel suite and go back to our dull, far from luxurious lives.

Having stayed at many hotels over the years I admit I love seeking out the best hotel toiletries - I even go as far as Googling the products they stock before I visit and there's nothing more that I love while on holiday than coming back to my hotel room after a day of walking around the city than relaxing in a deep bath and pampering myself with products I probably spend less on at home. Do they define the hotels I pick? Not really, but it's a nice little bonus if they do stock nice toiletries. 

Why do people care so much about toiletries?

You have several different types of people - the Instagrammers who want to show off to their friends, those that love a 'freebie' or want to stock up on travel size products and those generally who enjoy that added bit of luxury in their hotel rooms and like to try new brands. I think I'm an amalgamation of all three.

Is it right to take hotel toiletries home?

The jury is undecided on this one. Many people believe they are a perk of staying in a nice hotel, whilst others think it's just too greedy. As much as I love these little toiletries I'm very much on the fence -  having worked in a hotel before I have seen people request extra toiletries just so they can take them home and I know how much of a drain on resources it can be, however those toiletries are there for your use and to make your stay comfortable. If you do end up using them, they cannot be reused.

Which hotels have the best toiletries?

The general rule is the more premium the hotel the better toiletries they have, but it isn't always the case. I have used some lovely toiletries at little B&B's who use locally sourced products, which has made the stay even more special. Also if a hotel has a spa, you're more likely to expect the premium products such as Molton Brown, Elemis etc as they will want to showcase the products that they use in the spa.

Would you pick a hotel purely on the toiletries they have?

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A Night at The Pullman Liverpool

If you're looking for a four star luxury experience in Liverpool, staying next to the waterfront and within close proximity of the Liverpool One shopping district, then look no further than Pullman Hotel. The four star Pullman Livepool Hotel is located at Kings Dock on Liverpool's world famous waterfront just a five minute walk from the iconic Albert Dock. The hotel features 216 state of the art bedrooms - many of which boasting a panoramic view of the river Mersey and Liverpool wheel, a contemporary brasserie and bar and a fitness centre. The Pullman boasts many five star Trip Advisor reviews and is becoming one of the hottest places to stay in Liverpool, so last week my husband and I paid the Pullman a visit to see what all the fuss is about.

When we arrived at the hotel, we noticed that there wasn't a conventional check-in desk, instead a member of staff pointed us to a comfy waiting area and then they came and sat with us and checked us in using an iPad. I really liked this modern approach to checking into the hotel as it felt more personal, like the hotel staff were getting to know me and what our needs were during our stay.

Our room was a Superior King Bedroom on the seventh floor - it was one of the corner bedrooms which meant we had a panoramic view of Liverpool where we could lay back and watch the boats ferry across the Mersey and the wheel lit up on an evening. The room was very spacious, elegantly decorated with the most beautiful feature lighting and it had so many little extras that really made you feel at home such as The Pullman magazine which you could sit back and read in bed, an iPad loaded with some of the latest films to watch free of charge, a coffee maker as well as the usual tea and hot chocolate and a well stocked, complimentary mini bar with two mini bottles of wine, beer and soft drinks.

The bathroom also oozed style with its chic black tiles, pristine white surfaces, rainfall shower and it's luxurious C.O Bigelow complimentary toiletries. C.O Bigelow is America's oldest surviving apothecary's and amongst their stocklists is Liberty in London. Their Lavender and Peppermint Conditioner is a product until recently only exclusive to the hotel industry and it has an invigorating  and refreshing fragrance - perfect for giving you that holiday or business trip pick me up.

Once we had settled in our room and donned our best clothing, we decided to sample the bar before heading out for our anniversary meal. The bar is to the right of the hotel lobby and features an array of plush seating with a warming dark wood bar and colour scheme. I ordered the Duke of Liverpool cocktail, whilst my husband opted for a classic Manhattan. The cocktails both arrived rather promptly and we served on top of a serviette and brought to our table. My Duke of Liverpool was a Pullman take on a Kir Royal and I really enjoyed it - it was nice and sweet, while the Prosecco added a bit of depth to the drink. The Manhattan was enjoyable, but made slightly on the strong side for my husband.

After a long lie in and a comfortable nights sleep, we ventured down for breakfast in the brasserie the next morning. The breakfast was a continental breakfast with the usual trimmings - croissants, waffles, fruit cheese, breads, cereals and yogurts and a variation of a cooked breakfast. The breakfast was the only part of the hotel that I found lacking during my stay. When staying at a premium hotel I would expect to have items that can be ordered such eggs benedict and slightly more indulgent food, however the food I did have was cooked rather well and I couldn't complain. I do wish there was more vegetarian options on the cooked breakfast side of things though - I don't usually have a cooked breakfast but admittedly I had a hangover and my body was craving carbs.

Overall I had a wonderful stay at the Pullman Liverpool and would happily visit this hotel again with no hesitation. The room was luxurious, the staff were delightful and the location was spot on - close enough to all the Liverpool attractions, but far enough out that you could relax and not hear any noise.

Have you stayed in Liverpool before?

*My stay at this hotel was complimentary, but views are my own

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