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Adventures in Amsterdam – Kilo stores, vintage markets and more!

Amsterdam is of those places that I’ve always wanted to go to but the opportunity never arose.

I’d heard loads about it from friends so I was incredibly excited to be invited on a hen party there

It was one of the most fun-filled weekends I’ve ever had – and the vintage shopping was also amazing!

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Beautiful Amsterdam

We flew in on a Friday afternoon and had quite a busy itinerary with a drag show and dinner planned for that evening at ‘t Sluisje Traf Cafe.

As our hostel Via Amsterdam was outside the city, we purchased a three-day train and tram ticket which was incredibly good value for €28.

When we got to the station near our hostel, however, we couldn’t get through the barrier with our tickets as they apparently wasn’t valid for the airport train – BUT it worked on the way back.

I hadn’t stayed in a hostel in years and I’d forgotten what it was like, basically, hostels are like Ryanair, cheap initially but you’ll pay for every little extra!

We necked a drink in the room while frantically applying makeup as we were in a hurry to make our dinner reservation.

I wore a shimmery green River Island dress that I bought in my local charity shop with ankle boots as I figured we’d be walking quite a bit!

Getting into the city was easy as the train was just a few minutes’ walk away.

The weather was really mild and loads of tourists, including other raucous hen and stag parties, were on the streets.

Sitting down to a delicious appetizer of beef carpaccio while the drag queens serenaded us was the perfect tonic after a day of travelling.

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The drag queens were awesome
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Drag queen

The three-course meal was gorgeous and unlimited wine kept flowing making us merry in no time.

The show was gas and the songs were really entertaining, in terms of a fun hen activity, I couldn’t recommend it enough!

Drinking on the streets of Amsterdam is illegal and could land you with a hefty fee but we didn’t know this when we took an unfinished bottle of wine out…

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Canal cruises

Thankfully, we weren’t stopped for public drinking but the next day I noticed warning signs everywhere. Public urination is frowned upon also FYI.

Our night continued in the Bulldog Cafe where you can buy a drink or something stronger to smoke if you prefer.

Word to the wise, smoking tobacco is not allowed in most of the coffee shops and bars that sell weed.

I had a very sore head the next day but with brunch booked for 12pm, we had to be up early.

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Boats on the canals

We made our way back into the city, watching out for the dozens of bikes that came speeding past as we crossed roads and cycle paths.

It was lovely to see the city’s canals and buildings in the peace of the daylight.

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Street corner
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Walking the streets of Amsterdam

A boozy brunch at Box Sociaal was our next port of call but I needed coffee and a pint of water before I could tackle the mimosa!

With dishes such as “Chai’ll be Pear for you” and “The Sandwich of Liberty”, this one hipster cafe that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The food was gorgeous and I felt more alive after scoffing a “Mortgage on Toast” with chorizo, no prizes for guessing the key ingredient!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Box Sociaal Restaurant
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Amsterdam city centre (no idea what building this is)
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I loved these buildings

More drinks were on the menu after brunch and I swapped my usual G&T for Aperol Spritz and Radler.

Radler is basically a shandy which I’d drank before in Munich and loved it – great if you can’t sink heavy pints of beer or lager.

Fun fact: Radler is German for cyclist.

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I was dying to go into the Primark but never had a chance

Afterwards, we hit up the Sex Museum to check out the weird and wonderful exhibits.

The museum was only €5 and isn’t that big but you do have to traipse up and down windy stairs to get around.

The pin-up exhibition was interesting and pretty innocent in comparison to the other exhibits.

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Raunchy playing cards
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Old calendars
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A recreation of Marilyn Monroe’s infamous nude shoot
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Marilyn’s photographer
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Marilyn again (looks kinda like a drag queen )

Most of the stuff was pretty amusing, especially a moving figure of a trenchcoat flasher with a sinister laugh!

A more sobering exhibit displayed the names of men who were executed for having sex with other men, it reminded me of the book The Minaturist.

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Names of executed men

The chastity belts were pretty terrifying…but there was also some pretty old-fashioned lingerie on display.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mata Hari
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Red Light District sign

Walking around the city, I saw resemblances to Munich and Brussels, especially the Dam Square area but the network of canals, humpback bridges and narrow houses are uniquely Dutch.

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Dam Square
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Don’t know what this building is
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Beautiful architecture
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Skinny buildings, bikes and canals
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Canal bridges

We then headed back to the hostel for an outfit change and a few hen party games (Hostel quality toilet paper is NOT the best for creating tissue wedding dresses!)

Back in the city, we stopped for dinner at The Chicken Bar which specialises in rotisserie chicken dishes.

The food was great but the bottles of water left out on the table were €6 a pop so we quickly switched to tap water!

I wore a leather look Bershka dress and matching beret – if you can’t dress entirely in pleather in Amsterdam then where can you?!

I also wore lace-up Topshop flats- leave the heels at home if you’re going on the lash in Amsterdam, the dress code is pretty casual and there are lots of cobbled streets!

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Outfit of the night in Amsterdam
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My Bershka leather look dress

We took it easy on Saturday night, staying at one bar all night, sipping on Aperol Spritzes and cocktails.

It wasw easy to get home after a night out, with late trains and buses as well as Uber – although we did have a slightly unsettling encounter with an angry Turkish Uber driver!

We had to check out at 10am on Sunday so we were up early once again.

As our flight wasn’t till late that night, we availed of the handy storage lockers at the hostel. They were €5 per locker but we could fit two or three bags into them so it wasn’t too pricey.

Two of my favourite things ever are pancakes and rap so when we ended up having breakfast in Moak Pancakes, a pancake cafe with a rap music theme, I was in heaven.

With a flower wall, neon signs, rap lyrics on the steps of the stairs and tip jars named Tupac and Biggie, Moak appealed to every fibre of my being.

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Neon signs
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What’s not to love??
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Pancakes at Moak

I couldn’t quite afford The Golddigger (€100 pancakes with 22-carat gold leaf served on Versace plate with gold Versace cutlery and a glass of champagne) but the more affordable Blue Magic Deluxe for €11.50 was delicious.

The name Moak comes from “Mokum”, a local name for Amsterdam.

When we left Moak on Jodenbreestraat, I realised we were only around the corner from a kilo store so I had to check it out.

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Kilo Store Amsterdam
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Kilo store Amsterdam

The stock was amazing and I was grabbing items off the wall in a frenzy to try them on.

Vintage stores can be very hit and miss but the majority of the stock was in really good condition, including the shoes.

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Kilo store shoes
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Pretty vintage shoes

I spent at least 40 minutes here but eventually narrowed it down to a long denim dress, a pair of high-waisted denim shorts and a tapestry print skirt.

The entire haul came at about €50 which wasn’t bad, each item had a coloured tag and each tag represented a price per kilo.

I’d been in one of these shops in Paris before and gotten some really good pieces there and had to restrain myself from spending any more!

We then came across a market which was selling antiques and vintage clothes as well as the usual souvenirs.

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Records
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Cute knick-knacks at the market
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I love browsing at markets
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Old cameras, bookends and ornate scissors

I found a stall with loads of designer wares, Armani, Escada, Valentino, etc. and spied a burgundy Moschino skirt on one rail.

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Armani blazer

I hastily tried it on over my clothes, it was meant to be a size 14 but as they say designer runs small and it was more like a small size 12.

It was only €15 so I went away very happy with my bargain.

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I was tempted by this Valentino blazer but it was a tad small

I also picked up a few souvenirs and presents, including a packet of the delicious StroopWaffel biscuits.

After that, we were all shopped out so we took a stroll through part of the Red Light District.

Most of the girls looked pretty bored and I felt sorry for them having people gawping in at them.

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La Vie Stripclub
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Random boob cupping sculpture
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Condomerie shop

After our final hen activity, we went to Dam Square to sit out and enjoy cones of fresh chips from the nearby Chipsy King.

I then accidentally left my phone in a McDonald’s bathroom and realised it was gone about five minutes later.

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I raced back to McDonald’s and was frantically searching but there was no sign and the staff were really unhelpful.

Luckily, a girl had picked it up and when we called the phone, she could speak English and returned it to me.

I’m not sure if she was Dutch or not but I was incredibly grateful to her!

I was panicking as my boarding pass for the flight home was on it as well as all my photos.

I was hysterically hugging her and tried to press a €20 note into her hand but she wouldn’t take it.

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Hens on tour!

All of the Dutch people we came in contact with were very friendly and pretty much everyone spoke English.

Given that we were on a hen, we didn’t have time to visit all the tourist spots but it was a wonderful weekend and I hope to come back again to see more of the city.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page.

Edel

 

Visiting Belfast: Shopping and sight-seeing over the border

If you don’t normally go up the North for shopping or sight-seeing, you’re missing out. Recently I went on a weekend break to Belfast with my boyfriend and we had a brilliant time.

I’ve posted about visiting Belfast before but I spent less than a day there. This time around I spent more time in the city centre and was there for a full weekend.

I have only been to Northern Ireland four times including the last trip which is quite embarrassing!

Where to go shopping:

Belfast has two shopping centres, Castlecourt and Victoria Square. Castlecourt is slightly old-fashioned but has some decent shops, including a nice Debenhams.

Victoria Square is a more modern building and has all the high-street shops such as Topshop, H & M and River Island.

The Topshop is massive and I could’ve spent all day there! But that would’ve been the end of my relationship.. 😛

On the street there’s a massive Stradivarius (one of only three in Ireland), Zara, Primark etc.

What to buy: 

I always buy cosmetics in the North as they are a good bit cheaper. I picked up a new bronzer in Superdrug and got my eyebrows threaded there for only £5!

I also bought Queen of Shaves shaving gel for £2.99 (This is very gentle on your skin but can’t find it in ROI anymore). It was about €8 down here.

Nivea night cream was only £1.99 which was also good value, it’s about €5 here.

Perhaps VAT is to blame but when you factor in exchange rates, we seem to pay a lot more for clothes in shops like Topshop and River Island in the ROI.

For instance, this purple frill jumper was £15 on sale from £30 in Topshop. It ws €42 full price in ROI stores.

ootd-belfast

Primark is similar value to what you get at home, one pair of nude tights were £1, a nail varnish £1.50 etc.

The Primark was undergoing a bit of a makeover and was VERY busy when we were there.

Overall the stock in Primark was only OK but the store isn’t the biggest.

 I bought a pair of Onitsuka Tigers for my boyfriend in Office, they were £65 with student discount.

Name brand runners aren’t much cheaper than at home.

Surprisingly I didn’t buy myself any shoes! Nor did I find a dress for my graduation but there’s plenty of time yet.

Bargain shopping/Charity shops

I visited two charity shops and both were pretty disappointing. If anyone can recommend a good one, please let me know.

Vintage shops

There are a few quirky vintage shops around Belfast and my favourite one was Octopus’s Garden on Wellington Street.

It sells records as well as deadly vintage threads and is a good spot for nabbing a band t-shirt.

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Markets

On Sunday, we visited St. George’s Market which reminded me of a smaller version of Spitalfields market in London.

We treated ourselves to a hearty Ulster fry and perused all the goodies the market had to offer.

There were loads of food stalls including some very tasty cupcakes, homewares, bric-a-brac, vintage records and jewellery.

I’d highly recommend this market to everyone, it’s an absolute gem.

Cash or card?

I brought cash which I’d changed commission free in the post office. If you pay in card in the North, there is a small fee, about 14 cent per transaction.

Withdrawing sterling with an Irish card from an ATM will incur a fee of at least €3. Ulster Bank customers can withdraw free from NatWest, EasyCash and RBS however.

Bag charges

FYI, there’s now a plastic bag levy in the UK, retailers must a charge a minimum of £0.05 per bag. Something to bear in mind if you are buying lots.

Where to eat/stay/have fun

Besides shopping, we did enjoy the sights of Belfast, including the Titanic experience which was fantastic. Give yourself a minimum of two hours if you are going here.

It’s an interactive exhibition and I learned so much, not merely about the Titanic but also the history of Belfast.

titanic

We stayed in Jury’s Inn in the heart of the city and our room was gorgeous.

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On Saturday night we had dinner in Deanes Love Fish restaurant and the food was DELICIOUS! Hands down, one of the nicest restaurants I’ve ever been in.

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We also went for a drink in The Crown Saloon, which is one of the most popular bars in Belfast.

The beautiful Victorian decor has been preserved from the intricately-carved wooden booths and ceiling designs, to stained glass windows and funky floor tiles.

Unfortunately it was too busy to sit down.

Another watering-hole we visited was White’s Tavern which is one of Belfast’s oldest pubs. This is a nice little pub to relax and rest the legs in between shopping and sight-seeing.

Finally, City Hall is a must if you like architecture.

city-hall

 FYI, this was not a sponsored post.

Hope you all enjoyed this post, feel free to leave me a comment below.

Thank you for visiting my blog and  don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page here.

Edel

Market Shopping and Sea Air

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I have some very exciting news, I’ve been shortlisted for Best Fashion Blog by the Blog Awards Ireland. I was already thrilled with my long list nominations and extremely happy that my blog has been long-listed three times since its inception. BUT when I found out I made the shortlist my reaction was…

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The shortlist will soon go to a public vote and I hope you will vote for me! I’m so passionate about this blog and I have put so much time into it.

But not to digress any further and back to my travels in the UK. The second part of my holiday was spent in Notting Hill,  East London and Southend-On-Sea which is about an hour outside London.

Sunday was spent visiting Notting Hill’s Portobello Market where I bought some presents for my friend’s little girl Stevie. I had no clue what to buy for a baby but I found an emoji bib and a cute Paddington Bear t-shirt.

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Then I struck gold when I found a stall selling cut-off shorts for £5 and picked up a pair. Unfortunately there was nowhere to try them on and they were smaller than I’d anticipated. They just about fit! Can’t trust waist sizes!

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I love the Portobello Market and have featured it on the blog previously. There were lots of weird and wonderful things there, see below…

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This t-shirt tho

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My next port of call was Spitalfields Market in East London. My friend Michele was keen to show me the market and knew I would love it. She was right!

Spitalfields Market consists of clothing, jewellery, food and drink stalls and is surrounded by shops which all retain the original facades of the old buildings.

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This looks nothing like a typical MAC store!

I didn’t have a lot of money however one item which caught my eye was this floral mini satchel. At £12 it was a no-brainer!

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Among the shops dotted around was a gorgeous retro shop,  Collectif Clothing which was filled with 40’s and 50’s style clothing and accessories.

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I wore a simple outfit to the market, all black except for my printed vintage shirt.

Spitalfields Collage

As well as clothing we also saw some great artwork on display by artist Adrian Boswell at the Old Truman Brewery Market. I love these collages.

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We then walked around Brick Lane and admired street art and soaked up the hipster vibes. 😛

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There are lots of vintage stores in this area but the best one has to be Absolute Vintage. This shop is HUGE! It is stuffed with clothes, shoes and handbags, catering for both guys and girls. I can’t imagine trying to tidy this shop, it is literally bursting at the seams! Some items such as the shoes are a little battered but most items are wearable. The handbags are especially worth a look! Next time I am in London, I will be coming here again.

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That evening I travelled to Southend-on Sea to visit my friend Elaine. We spent a lovely day in Southend shopping and walking the pier.

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I threw together a casual outfit for the day, black jeans, lilac Penneys jumper and of course my new bag. 😉

While in Southend I made some purchases including a fab new bikini for £7, sandals, a tribal print cosmetic bag for £1 and Elaine bought me a lovely gift, these pink and white shoes!

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Hope you all enjoyed this post. My next post will be on my visit to Mallorca featuring all my holiday clothing I bought in London! Thank you for reading as always.

Edel

Visiting Brussels

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Prior to visiting the Belgian capital, I’d heard that Brussels isn’t the prettiest or most exciting city but I was more than willing to keep an open mind. Belgium is a mix of French and Dutch cultures with some parts predominantly French (Brussels city) and others like Ghent are completely Dutch.

However, there are also many English speakers which makes it a little easier for tourists. Brussels has a French feel but is decidedly more relaxed and friendlier.

I arrived early on a Friday morning and headed into the city. I’m quite proud of myself for navigating the city’s public transport on my own as I’m normally useless in foreign countries!

My friend Michele wasn’t flying in till later and I managed to two buses and an underground without getting lost once.

I had a stroll around the E.U. parliament and then headed to a little park to rest. I also went to OR Coffee Roasters where I had a gorgeous latte and a “wafel.”

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I then made my way to our hostel in Brussels North which is a lively area full of shops, tourist pubs and friteries.

(Word of warning, Brussels North can be dodgy at night-time but like any capital city if you keep your wits about you, you will be fine).

Also, Brussels has many cobblestone streets, some are pedestrianised but beware most are for cars also despite the lack of road markings!

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I was keen to sample some Belgian gourmet delights and found a restaurant named Cafe Georgette. The restaurant consisted of a main dining area and a takeaway fries service.

The fries looked very enticing so I ordered them with meatballs. “French” fries are in fact Belgian in origin!

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The heavenly fries were served with peppery mayonnaise and unsurprisingly I returned later that night with my friend!

Once she arrived we set out to try out the delicious Belgian beers starting with a “Kriek” or cherry beer.

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We went to a bar called A la Mort Subite first before moving on to the appropriately named “Cafe Delirium”.

Here you can buy beer in a one-litre glass, a two-litre glass or a Wellington boot glass, needless to say, it attracts huge crowds of tourists. At peak times, it’s more like Cafe Pandemonium!

The next day we headed out of the city to visit Ghent and Bruges. I’m going to devote another post to this as there’s simply too much for one post!

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In the evening we went back to Brussels and out once more to Cafe Delirium. Their signature beer is known as “Delirium Tremens.”

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On Sunday we decided to take in the sights of Brussels and we headed first to the Belgian Comic Strip Centre.

Our reason for going here? TINTIN! Yes, the famous cartoon strip is revered here and it made my day to see the comics I grew up with come to life!

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Ermagerd Tintin’s actual moon rocket!

As well as Tintin, the museum also pays homage to cartoons such as  The Smurfs, Asterix and Obelix and provides insight into the history of cartoons.

We later found a Tintin wall mural and a Manneken Pis mural. Another thing the Belgians venerate-a small statue of a urinating boy 😛

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We then went to the famed Manneken Pis and realised the statue is tiny! His wardrobe is also more impressive than mine! (He probably has more vintage too, the bastard…)

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We then climbed up to Place Poelart where you can view the entire city from a great height.

Also here is a monument to the Belgian soldiers who fought in both World Wars. This monument has a golden crown on top which can be spotted miles away.

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On our way back down we finally found the Grand Place which we’d been trying to see all day! As its early spring, the famous floral carpet is yet to bloom.

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As always I was keen to see what shops were on offer.

Brussels has loads of lingerie stores as well as all the chains such as Zara, H&M etc. In Pull and Bear I spotted this vintage-style jumper which will be mine yet.

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I didn’t buy anything here as the prices were similar to home.

They also have a nice store called Pimkie which has lots of cute stuff like this chain-trim denim jacket and fringed jumper.

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I found a kilo shop (€15 per kg!) sadly it was late and I couldn’t try on anything.

If any of you vintage-lovers are heading to Brussels, definitely pay a visit to Melting Pot Kilo. You can have a peek at their stock below.

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We also visited a market where they had beer shaped candles and waffle-shaped earrings.

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I couldn’t resist these doughnut earrings..I’ve never seen anything so bloody cute!

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So my verdict on Brussels? Great food and drink and a lot of fun! Reasonably easy to navigate and lots of resources for young travellers. Our hostel Sleepworld Brussels was great value and also had free maps made by locals with lots of tips.

Our trip to Bruges and Ghent will feature in my next post.

Hope you all enjoyed this post and thanks for reading. Don’t forget to check out my InstagramTwitter and Facebook page.

Edel

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