Sunday, 30 August 2015

Barcelona | Bunkers del Carmel

 photo Bunkers4_zpsi3fndzhp.jpg Barcelona is a city with many amazing view points. Parc Guell springs to mind, and I'm sure that the view from the W Hotel is pretty spectacular as well. But last weekend, I am pretty sure I found the one to top them all and the best part is, it's totally and utterly free and relatively undiscovered.

I heard about the Bunkers del Carmel from a friend, and it's unlikely I would have found them without that word of mouth recommendation. I almost wanted to keep them secret to myself, but that wouldn't make me a very good blogger and so I'm sharing this lesser known gem so that everyone can enjoy its beauty! Ever since I arrived in Barcelona I've wanted to visit this stunning viewpoint, and when a friend came to visit last week it provided the perfect opportunity. So one very hungover Saturday morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed, hopped on the bus and after one pretty steep walk from the bus stop, arrived at what can only be described as breathtaking scenery and the whole of Barcelona at our feet. I mean, just look at that view.

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Previously used as anti-aircraft batteries, built during the Spanish Civil War, the Bunkers del Carmel have history to offer as well as those stunning 360 views. The 'Turo de la Rovira' viewpoint - named due to its location on the hill of the same name - was renovated and reopened in 2011, as a heritage space and one of the sites of the MUHBA (Museu d'Història de Barcelona). You don't need a ticket to go there, and it's not swarming with tourists (although considering how stunning it is, it should be!) - there are a few boards detailing the history of the place but other than that, you're left to your own devices. It's the ideal place to take a picnic, a date or pretty much anyone who wants to see Barcelona from above.

 photo Bunkers5_zps4790k9d9.jpg I've seen a few sites saying that they're a little out of the way and hard to get to. They may not be slap bang in the centre of Barcelona, but they're pretty much next to Parc Guell so you can easily combine the two if you're short on time as it's probably a 10 - 20 minute walk between the two (trust me, it's worth it). As for getting there, the V17 bus (direction Carmel) runs regularly from central Barcelona - take it to the last stop, and it's a short walk from there.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Fashion | InstaStyle #1

 photo InstaStyle1_zpsw9hk18xn.jpg Happy Monday! One thing I definitely want to start doing is branching out into including OOTDs on here, and what better way to start than sharing a few snaps from Instagram (filters are everything)?! A few days ago, the weather in Barcelona got a teeny tiny bit chillier, which was the perfect excuse to crack out this cardigan, which I bought in Primark around Christmas time. I love how the length, and it's not super heavy but definitely perfect for both Summer and Winter as it's loose and you can either snuggle up in it, or wear it like a summer jacket. I also discovered Zara's 'Special Price' section the other day (I think this is in the UK as well?) and there were a whole array of vests and t-shirts for €4.95. Obviously I couldn't resist, and picked up a few in different colours, including this mustard one. Not normally a colour I would go for, I've been absolutely loving it and it's fast becoming a morning go-to. 

I've also finally managed to brave buying and actually wearing a kind of fedora hat. I have one back in the UK which I wore a lot in Winter, but for some reason since then I've become a bit wary of wide brim hats. Does anyone else have that one thing that they think looks really cool on other people, but are scared of wearing yourself? Fedora hats were like that for me, but I've broken through the barrier and I am in love with the one I bought a week or so ago from Pimkie. 

This was a workday ensemble, my office here in Barcelona is quite relaxed when it comes to a dress code so whilst I still like to look relatively smart, the dress code is casual which is especially ideal for hotter weather. In other news, I've managed to sign up for Spanish classes now which is great as I hate living in a country but being unable to at least attempt to communicate in the native language. Pretty soon I'll be fluent, just watch!

Hope you had a beautiful weekend, and you can follow me on Instagram @ablondex.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Beauty | Maybelline 24 Hour Colour Tattoos

I remember the hype when Maybelline first brought out their 24 Hour Colour Tattoos, and the general consensus was: they're amazing. Since then, despite absolutely loving the two that I bought, I've overlooked them in favour of pretty eyeshadow palettes and new products. However when I realised I was going to need something a little more heavy duty before moving to Barcelona, combined with my attempts to streamline my makeup collection and rely on a few staple products, I turned my attentions right back to these little pots of eyemakeup heaven. 

I really like that Maybelline has kept adding to the collection of shades on offer, and there is now pretty much something to suit every need and skin tone. I just had to repurchase Pink Gold, and went with the full intention of getting Permanent Taupe as it's been on my wishlist for ages - however the new Leather Effect colours caught my eye and I ended up going for Creamy Beige instead. 

The cream gel formula of these is something that just can't be beaten in my opinion - creamy, applies like a dream, and lasts for ages. The real selling point of these is the 'tattoo' aspect, and the claim that they give up to 24 hours of staying power. Whilst I would like to know who is going to wear their eyeshadow for a full 24 hours, I can definitely say that once on the eyelid, these last. In the UK, I would apply in the morning and the colour would still be there, looking pretty flawless, at the end of the day. I wore them on nights out, both alone and as a base for other eyeshadows, and again - still there at the end of the night. I love to use these as a kind of primer as well as on their own, and find that they work equally well as both. Here in Barcelona, in 84% humidity, I'm not going to lie - the staying power isn't as amazing. However they still do a lot better than any eyeshadow/primer I've tried, and manage to stay put pretty much all day if I'm not too heavy handed with them in the morning. They are definitely the best hot & humid weather eyeshadows I've tried, and for that they are an absolute must for me at the moment!

The colour of these is lovely. Pink Gold was a repurchase, and it's just as beautiful as I remembered. A very shimmery, pinky shade with a hint of gold, it's seriously flattering and looks beautiful with a flick of black eyeliner. Creamy Beige is a slightly warmer toned beige, and I've found it to have a tiny bit of shimmer in it as well which I wasn't expecting as it looks totally matte from the outside! It's hardly noticable once on, and this is a gorgeous colour which can be lightly applied for a more subtle look, or built up to get a more dramatic colour. I can see this getting a lot of use in Autumn as well, as it's a gorgeous shade for warmer Autumnal tones.

I love these because they're so fuss free and easy. I use my finger to just swipe them across my eyelid in the morning: they blend so easily, and you're good to go for the day! I don't have to worry about them creasing or looking tired mid-afternoon, and they're great to use alone so it's literally a one product eye makeup look (bar mascara!). I can't believe I went for so long without trying more from the range after my initial purchase, and I'll definitely be getting a few more shades once I'm back in England.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Lifestyle | The 'YES' project

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Since I've been here in Barcelona, I've set myself a little challenge, as a kind of extension of something I've been trying to do more of in general. The word 'yes' is my new best friend: I'm not allowed to say no to invitations or opportunities (within reason!). Moving to a new city, where I know nobody, has been pretty daunting to say the least. It's not the first time I've done it, but for some reason it seems like the first time I've done it without knowing anyone at all. I am definitely more of an introvert, and it's sometimes so tempting to take the easier option when faced with situations which are slightly out of my comfort zone, such as going to a language meetup alone (still building up the courage), or leaving the house on a bad day when all you want to do is hibernate. As tempting as it is to take the no risk, easy route sometimes - especially when you suffer from anxiety - it's rarely the best option.

Saying yes to things which I've been scared of, or intimidated by, has led me to some amazing experiences in the past: being a pilates teacher in Brussels, going to work in Budapest on less than a week's notice, meeting some great people along the way. Experience tells me that saying yes to opportunities is the right way to go, so I'm really trying to put that into practice here. I'm not advocating saying yes to absolutely everything - there are some things which are a definite no, and sometimes you really do need that chilled out day to recharge your batteries - but taking people up on offers which you might be nervous about can lead to some great things. So my personal little project is to say 'yes' more, and see what happens. It might lead to nothing, but nothing ventured nothing gained! It might turn into an amazing memory, or a new friend, or even just an interesting story. I do get nervous about very small things - we all have our different comfort zones - but I'm trying to live by the idea of feeling the fear, and doing it anyway, because as hard as it is, I don't want personal issues to stop me from having amazing experiences.

I love this quote, and I think it sums this post up perfectly. Push your boundaries, get out of your comfort zone, and do something you're afraid of doing because the feeling when you have is amazing and you feel so accomplished! Without getting too cheesy, it really is a great feeling when you challenge yourself and it's a feeling I know that I need to remember when faced with things which scare me, but which I know would be brilliant to do. Along the lines of 'do something every day which scares you' - because the results will be so so worth it.

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