Thursday, 14 March 2019

Authentic Belgian experiences that we had in Brussels

Brussels is a nostalgic place for me to visit. I’ve visited the Belgian capital a few times over the past 10 years as we have friends that live on the outskirts of the city and we frequently went into the centre for day trips when I was a teenager. January was my first ‘grown up’ trip to Brussels and we were able to meet up with these same friends for a meal in the Grand Place whilst we were away. We stayed overnight at the Hotel Retro on the Eastern side of the city and thanks to deals from both Eurostar and we were able to organise a very affordable 36 hour trip to Brussels. Having friends that know the area meant that we were able to have lots of authentic Belgian experiences on that weekend and I thought I’d share this list of experiences on my blog today.

Brussels Grand Place, Belgium

1. Eat Liege waffles.

Eating a Liege waffle in the Grand Place, Brussels

Maison Dandoy is where I purchased my waffle from and there was a big queue at their waffle counter. It’s one of the Brussels’ most highly rated waffle houses and I can certainly see why, as the liege waffles are absolutely delicious!

January wasn’t my first time at Maison Dandoy as we’d previously visited the upstairs tearoom when I was younger, but seeing as the food was good and it’s still very well regarded, it seemed crazy not to visit again.

2. Drink Belgian beer at one of the busiest bars in the city.

Cherry beer at the Delirium Cafe, Brussels

Now I hardly ever drink alcohol but when you’re in Belgium, beer is a must. Our friends took us to Delirium Cafe for a drink and it had thousands of different beers. I had one of the bright pink-coloured cherry beers and it was very sweet. If you’re like myself and not a drinker, I would definitely recommend a fruit beer; you can hardly taste the beer in these!

3. Visit the Museum of Chocolate.

Praline demonstration at the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate, Brussels

As a keen baker, I was very interested to learn more about the Belgian chocolate making process whilst we were in Brussels. We visited the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate on the Sunday morning, which included chocolate sampling and a praline demonstration. The tutorial was fascinating and made me really appreciate why chocolate making is such an art form in Belgium. At €6 per adult, the Chocolate Museum is very reasonably priced.

4. Have dinner at a traditional Belgian restaurant.

Eating dinner at Le Roy d'Espagne in the Grand Place, Brussels

We ate at the spectacular Le Roy d'Espagne on the Saturday night and it’s location is unrivalled as it’s right on the Grand Place. I ordered meatballs in tomato sauce as my main course and Stuart had a Flemish stew, which were both local classics on the restaurant's menu. We really enjoyed our meals and much to our delight they came with frites too: a Belgian staple. A fabulous Medieval-themed place in the heart of Brussels, I’d definitely recommend Le Roy d'Espagne.

We had a wonderful weekend in Brussels filled with fantastic company and good food. Belgium is such a convenient place for us to get to so I’m sure we’ll be planning a trip to one of the other big cities in the country soon.

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 7 March 2019

The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury

One of the best things about living in Canterbury is the sheer number of independent or small chain restaurants in the city centre. Every time we pop into town it seems, I end up noticing somewhere new and I keep making note of the restaurants so that we know to come back to them at some point. One of the restaurants that I noticed recently was The Skinny Kitchen and although it’s been on the High Street for a few years now, it was only after seeing photos of the food on Instagram that I really thought, ooh the food and juices look amazing, we must visit. My blogging best friend Mario (Metaphorically Me) came to visit last Friday and we spent nearly 3 hours at The Skinny Kitchen, eating delicious food and catching up. I enjoyed the restaurant so much last week that I wanted to share my experience on the blog today, so read on to find out why The Skinny Kitchen is where you should visit for your next meal out in Canterbury.

Dining at The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury, Kent

As soon as you walk inside The Skinny Kitchen, you will instantly be blown away by its colourful, island theming. One of the waitresses mentioned that Ibiza was the main inspiration for the decor and I can easily see why - the interior screams holiday. Despite visiting on a Friday night, we were provided with a table right at the core of the restaurant, in full view of the interesting walls and typography.

Strawbazzle fresh juice and a Falafel and Halloumi bowl at The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury, Kent

The Skinny Kitchen specialises in healthy food, smoothies and juices, so when it came to picking a drink, I knew straightaway that I wanted to try one of their fresh juices. I chose a "Strawbazzle" (strawberry, apple and basil) fresh juice which was a somewhat unusual combo, but when I tasted the drink the flavours worked so well. The juice was very pretty too as it was a bright red colour and also accompanied by a strawberry slice on the side of the glass.

For our main courses, both Mario and I had the protein bowls, which are another Skinny Kitchen specialty. Mario opted for the Peanut Chicken Bowl and I went for the Falafel and Halloumi Bowl, which featured beetroot hummus. My bowl was delicious and each of the elements complimented each other so well, ranging from the rocket and falafel to the berry pink beetroot hummus and halloumi pieces. I maintain a highly vegetarian diet so this meal was perfect for me - very tasty and meat-free.

Chocolate brownie for dessert at The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury, Kent

After really enjoying our main meals, there was no question about whether we’d order desserts. The Skinny Kitchen offers a variety of puddings and the chocolate dishes sounded incredible so we both chose different chocolate-based desserts. My brownie was deliciously chocolaty and although I couldn’t finish it, I’m so glad that we did order dessert as it’s now made me want to head back to The Skinny Kitchen and try some of their other sweet treats.

Kat Last and Mario eating dinner at The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury, Kent

Even after we’d finished eating, the staff at The Skinny Kitchen were happy for us to remain at our table until closing.  This was the icing on the cake for me as I hadn’t seen Mario for ages and we wanted to eat somewhere that would let us sit and chat for a while. When closing time actually came around, we left the restaurant happily, chatting about what a great dining experience we’d had. To the staff at The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury: thank you. I will definitely be coming back with Stuart for a date night soon, as the food was just divine.

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 28 February 2019

2019 Florida Bucket List

Our 2019 Florida trip is fast approaching and we're beginning to finalise our pre-departure research. It will be my first time in Orlando with my boyfriend Stuart and my first "grown up" Florida trip without my parents, so I've been doing lots of reading to make sure that we're fully prepared for this special holiday together. Both of us went to Florida as children and became huge fans of the parks as a result, so we're very excited to be heading back to the Sunshine State soon. In light of our upcoming trip, I have decided to share my Florida bucket list on the blog today. We've got lots to look forward to in Florida and writing this list has made me appreciate the sheer number of attractions in Orlando and ultimately fueled my excitement even more.

2019 Florida Bucket list featuring attractions and experiences at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios

1. Visit the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.

The 2019 Flower and Garden Festival begins in March and whilst the festival is on, Epcot gets decorated with floral models of Disney characters. The topiaries are visited by many and they are a highlight of the festival which draws lots of guests to Epcot. I can't wait to visit the festival and wander around with my camera. A lot of the topiaries can be found on the World Showcase and I'm going to thoroughly enjoy photographing them in front of the international landmarks.

2. Eat a Dole Whip for dessert at the Magic Kingdom.

The Adventureland area of Magic Kingdom is home to the famous dole whip ice cream snack: a treat that Disney Parks fans all over the globe marvel about. I've never tried one of these ice creams and seeing as they are classic Disney desserts, I'd like to finally order one when we're in Florida and see what the fuss is about. Besides, Florida is basically paradise for me and you can't get more tropical in your choice of ice cream than pineapple.

3. Watch the Happily Ever After fireworks.

The Happily Ever After fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

The fireworks at Walt Disney World are world renowned and for good reason: the special effects and storytelling are mesmerising. Happily Ever After is the current fireworks show at Magic Kingdom and I'm sure the fireworks will be absolutely stunning. Nothing quite beats standing in front of the castle at park closing time, watching the sky come alive with beautiful Disney fireworks.

4. Visit Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios for the first time.

Toy Story Midway Mania ride at Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World

The new theme park area opened in 2018 and after keeping almost entirely spoiler free, I'm excited to explore Toy Story Land for the first time this year. I'm hoping to have lunch at Woody's Lunchbox and ride the new Slinky Dog roller-coaster. Toy Story is an old favourite of mine and I'm sure Disney have done a great job bringing the movie to life at Hollywood Studios.

5. Have dinner with Winnie the Pooh characters.

The Crystal Palace restaurant at Magic Kingdom offers a buffet character meal with four of the Winnie the Pooh characters. I adore Winnie the Pooh and have been to the Ashdown Forest many times over the past year, so we couldn't have found a more appropriate character meal for me.

6. Play Mini Golf at the Boardwalk.

The Boardwalk at Walt Disney World, Florida

There is a Fantasia-themed mini golf course in Florida and it's a tradition of mine to visit the course for a session. At $14 per adult I think it's pretty reasonably priced and a great place to visit if you fancy a break from the parks. When we visit the Boardwalk for ice cream during our upcoming trip, we will hopefully get a chance to stop by the course and play some Disney-themed golf.

7. Go on a night safari at the Animal Kingdom.

The Kilimanjaro Safaris is my favourite attraction at Animal Kingdom, but I've only ever been on the early morning safaris. Most of the animals are out roaming early in the morning or in the evening and seeing as I've done a morning safari before, I'm really looking forward to experiencing an evening one this trip. Sunset would be my dream time of day to go out and see the animals so hopefully we'll be able to time our safari for around them when we visit Animal Kingdom.

8. Visit the dine-in cinema at Disney Springs.

Shopping at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World

At Disney Springs shopping and restaurant district, you can find a huge cinema that serves you dinner at your seat. The AMC dine-in theatre offers a movie experience like no other and seeing as we love the cinema at home, it might be nice to stop by the theatre one evening and catch a movie. Food to your seat just sounds incredible!

9. Drink Butter Beer at Universal Studios' Wizarding World.

After hearing such good things about the staple Harry Potter drink, trying butter beer will be a top priority for Universal. I've never been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter before so I aim to have lots of new Harry Potter experiences whilst we're visiting Universal Studios.

10. Ride the Hogwarts Express between the two Universal parks.

Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

When it came to purchasing our Universal Studios tickets, I noticed on the validity details that you needed to have park hopper tickets to be able to ride the Hogwarts Express. Given that Harry Potter is what I'm most excited for at Universal, I had to upgrade our tickets to include park hopper privileges and the Hogwarts Express. I expect that the Hogwarts Express will be one of my favourite experiences at Universal, especially seeing as I travel through King's Cross station in London all of the time.

Choosing items for this list was very difficult as there are so many things I'd like to do in Florida. Most of the list covers Walt Disney World, as that's where we will be spending the majority of our time, but I'm looking forward to having some first time experiences at Universal Studios too. I really can't wait for this trip, that we've been planning for well over a year.

Have you been to Florida recently? What are your favourite parks?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 21 February 2019

Alpaca trekking in Kent

For Christmas I was fortunate enough to receive an alpaca trek experience from my boyfriend Stuart. He found the experience on Groupon and the voucher permitted us both to walk with alpacas for 90 minutes in the beautiful East Kent countryside. The tour group offering the voucher was 'Woodland View Alpacas' and they are a local group of farmers operating at Quex Park in Birchington: a beautiful country park between Canterbury and Margate. I rang one of the staff members at Woodland View shortly after Christmas to arrange a time for us to redeem the voucher and much to my delight he managed to pencil us in for early February. Consequently on Saturday 9th February at midday we set out for Birchington and an exciting afternoon of walking alpacas.

Kat Last with Alvin the alpaca on an alpaca trek with Woodland View Alpacas in Birchington, Kent

Arriving at Quex Park

Alpacas at Quex Park in Birchington, Kent

Quex Park is quite a big estate and Laurie (the guy I spoke to on the phone) had sent me directions to the meeting point in advance. We parked at the Jungle Jim's car park at the end of the estate, before heading over to the small hut-like building adjacent to the car park. The building was clearly marked with an alpaca sign outside and when we walked inside Laurie greeted us and asked us to take a seat. After a short wait and safety tutorial it was time to head outside and pair up with our alpacas.

Meeting my alpaca

Alvin the alpaca at Quex Park in Birchington, Kent

My alpaca was called Alvin and he was small but energetic. Alvin kept making groaning noises when we started walking, which made everyone laugh. After a few minutes of jumpiness and trying to keep up with him, I felt comfortable to start trekking with him. We explored the Quex Park fields and woodland areas, letting our alpacas chew on all of the grass and vegetation that they could dream of. Alpacas are pack animals and they like to stick together so it was great to see them wander off for grass and then immediately retreat back to the herd and familiar territory. We walked in a loop around the estate for over 90 minutes in the end arriving back at Jungle Jim's just before 3pm.

Alpaca trek with Woodland View Alpacas in Birchington, Kent

Returning the alpacas

When we'd finished the trek one of the farmers showed us the rest of the alpacas at Quex Park. There was a baby and some pregnant females that they couldn't take out on the trek, who were all very cute. Alpacas really are adorable animals! On the way out we were able to purchase affordable alpaca-themed souvenirs, so I bought an alpaca pin to go on my pin board at home.

I had such a lovely time trekking with Woodland View Alpacas. Quex Park is a beautiful area to walk around and I'd definitely like to revisit in the future and take another alpaca out for a walk. What a fabulous Christmas present, only a stones throw from Canterbury.

Thanks for reading my blog today.