City Break: Düsseldorf

I went to Düsseldorf a few weekends ago and discovered it’s a really cool city!

One of my best friends, Aimee, is currently living there, so the girls and I decided to take full advantage and see the city as well as having a much needed catch up!

On the Saturday morning, we went for a little walk along the river to wake us up. What soon became obvious is that Germans don’t get up early on a weekend! There was barely anyone around at 9 o’clock… which was probably a good thing as we had that ‘rolled-out-of-bed’ look going on!

IMG_1182After a beaut breakfast of eggs, avocado, houmous and breadzels (softer pretzels which are perfect for dipping!), we headed out for the day.

Aimee took us to a few bars along the river. It all started very relaxed and low-key, with a few gin and tonics in the sunshine. However, when we came upon the Kasematten Düsseldorf bar, it soon changed! We could hear the music blaring as we approached the bar. There were live singers and a guy in full lederhosen playing the saxophone from the table tops! Completely bonkers and absolutely brilliant!

It seems that Oktoberfest actually starts in September!

IMG_1376We soon made friends with a group of locals, and ended up singing and dancing with them, and doing the conga around the bar! The atmosphere was great – everyone was so friendly and in the ‘happy weekend’ mode.

We ended up staying at this bar for a few hours. I would definitely recommend it if you’re ever in Düsseldorf.

In the heart of the city, there are streets packed with cafes, restaurants, ice cream parlours and waffle vendors. The smell of bananas and Nutella filled the air and made us ravenous!

IMG_1014.JPGWe walked back towards Aimee’s apartment via the posh shopping area (Königsallee), which is packed with designer outlets. We also walked past the unmissable Rhine Tower. Unfortunately we didn’t get time to go up the tower, but the views are supposed to be fantastic from the bar at the top.

I expected Düsseldorf to have an industrial feel to it, but instead it was modern, clean and full of character. It’s definitely a fun place to visit for a city break.


x Morts x

A guide to: Berlin

Berlin is the perfect place for a festive mini-break. 3-4 days is plenty of time to explore the city and get under its skin!

Here’s a list of my top 5 things to do in Berlin:

  1. Christmas Markets:

The Germans put on the best Christmas markets in the world, there’s no doubt about that. In Berlin, there are loads of different markets to explore.

Alexanderplatz is a great place to do your Christmas shopping. It’s made up of lots of little stalls selling festive trinkets and treats. There are huts selling steaming hot mugs of mulled wine and all the Bratwurst you could ever want! Very popular with the locals and tourists alike are the German style pizzas, called Flammkuchen, which are usually topped with crème fraiche, lardons and cheese.

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There is also the much more upmarket Gendarmenmarkt, which has huge, heated lodges where you can escape the bitter cold and sip on a glass of Prosecco. You have to pay a small entry fee though and aren’t allowed to drag your suitcases around!


This is obviously restricted to winter breaks, but if you go in the summer I would swap out the Christmas markets for the beer gardens. This way you can still get your fill of local beer and cheerful atmosphere.

  1. Alternative Walking Tour:

This tour is run by an organisation called Free Tours By Foot. The tour guides are only paid on a donation basis (known as a ‘name-your-own-price tour’). Instead of the usual tourist spots, you will be taken to areas covered in graffiti, wall art and tags. It’s a great introduction to Berlin’s underground art scene and the range of street art styles is fascinating. The tour will vary depending on the guide you get, as they take you to their favourite spots around the city. Tours usually start at 11am or 1pm and the meeting point is the Starbucks in Alexanderplatz. These tours are about 3 hours long, so make sure you wrap up if it’s cold!

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Check out the Free Tours By Foot website for more details:

  1. Museums and Memorials:

A visit to the Topography of Terror museum is fairly overwhelming, but it is an important reminder of Berlin’s harrowing history. It is built on the site that was formerly the SS headquarters. Now a quiet and peaceful place, it is usually teeming with tourists. It’s certainly an emotional visit, but also incredibly informative.

It is also worth visiting the Memorial of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, to learn more about the split of East and West Berlin and the terrors people faced during that time.

A place that I still have mixed feelings about is The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (also known as The Holocaust Memorial). It is a sea of 2,711 concrete pillars, laid out in a big grid, which you can walk between. It is a place built for remembrance and reflection. A lovely tribute to the 3 million Jews killed during the war. But it was tainted for me by the disrespectful tourists that were climbing the pillars and taking photos standing on top of them.

  1. East Side Gallery:

It’s not until you stand right next to the towering remains of the Berlin Wall that you realise quite how devastating and frightening the split of East and West Germany must have been. The East Side Gallery is a magnificent and colourful memorial for freedom. It is a 1316m long section of the wall, which has been decorated by artists from all over the world. It is amazing how something linked to such terror and suffering has been turned into something so beautiful.

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  1. Night out in RAW Gelände:

If you want an authentic Berliner night out, head to the unique area of RAW Gelände. Located in Friedrichshain, it is a former train repair yard. It’s home to derelict buildings which have been converted into quirky bars and warehouse clubs, playing techno and house music. The buildings are covered in graffiti and don’t look like clubs or bars at all from the outside. Some of the bars are even located in disused railway carriages. Be prepared for the haze of cigarette smoke though, as people are still allowed to smoke indoors in Germany!


x Morts x

Life’s a Beach

Searching for paradise?

Check out these 4 amazing beach destinations… you’ll want to book flights immediately!

1. Monkey Beach – Penang, Malaysia
Trek through luscious jungle to the beautiful and secluded Monkey Beach. Located in Penang National Park, it is peaceful, unspoilt and home to cheeky, crab-eating Macaques.


2. Sairee Beach – Koh Tao, Thailand
Sairee Beach is the perfect spot to sunbathe, swim and watch the sun go down. At night, it really comes to life, with beach bars selling buckets of alcohol, tourists dancing on the sand, and fire throwers lighting up the shoreline.


3. Whitehaven Beach – Queensland, Australia
Float about in the warm, shallow waters of Whitehaven Beach, as sting rays swim by leisurely. Beautiful patterns in the soft white sand and sea make this a completely unique and stunning place to visit.


4. Ipanema Beach – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Crisp in the hot, Brazilian sunshine as you sip a can of beer and feast on huge, juicy chunks of watermelon. A social hub, Ipanema Beach offers fantastic views of the Dois Irmãos mountains and Vidigal favela.


You really can never have too much beach!

x Morts x

A guide to: Sorrento

The beautiful town of Sorrento, in Italy, provides the perfect balance between sight-seeing and relaxation. Set just back from the dramatic cliff edge, the town is bursting with character and vitality.

You’ll be greeted by tonnes of little cafes and restaurants, dotted along the winding, cobbled streets. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and the food is so fresh and delicious, you’ll never want to leave!

You can sit for hours watching the world go by – quite literally, as the seats are almost always side-by-side, facing the passing crowds – enjoying the sunshine, atmosphere and a cocktail, beer or the local speciality, limoncello. The lemons in Sorrento are the biggest I’ve ever seen and they taste AMAZING.


Gorgeous pastas, pizzas, bruschetta and ice-cream all follow a day lying by the pool or sunbathing on the jetties below the cliffs. At night, the town really comes to life though. The streets are packed with little stalls selling holiday knick-knacks and locals dressed in their finery, socialising, eating and shopping.

The archaeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii provide a perfect few days of exploration and education about the ancient civilisation of the Romans. If you haven’t got time for both, I would recommend Herculaneum. It is only a 45 minute train journey from Sorrento and is a much more compact site. It’s likely to take you a few hours to look around compared with a few days needed for the vast site of Pompeii. Go nice and early to avoid the crowds!


Frequent boat trips are also available to the lovely island of Capri and nearby towns like Ravello and Positano. Or, of course, to the city of Naples. I would definitely recommend visiting Positano. It’s a really pretty place, with plenty of idyllic lunch spots and impressive architecture. As the boat draws close, you’ll see the iconic, brightly-coloured houses built up the hillside. The most memorable thing for me though was the magnificent Amalfi Cathedral.


Happy exploring! 🙂

x Morts x

Daughters of the Dragon

I have recently finished reading Daughters of the Dragon, by William Andrews, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I was so affected by a story.

I knew nothing about the atrocities that took place in Korea and China during World War II, nothing about the hundreds of young Korean and Chinese girls that were taken from their homes and forced to work as sex slaves, or “comfort women”.

Imperial Japan ruled over Korea from 1910 until the end of World War II, and during its occupation Japanese soldiers abused thousands of innocent young girls. This is a fact the Japanese government are still refusing to acknowledge fully.

I was shocked and horrified as I followed Jae-hee’s tale. Although a fictional story, the elements of truth behind it were almost unbearable. The graphic description of daily rape and beatings left me stunned. It tugged at my heartstrings, it repulsed me… and it was certainly difficult to forget. I found myself desperately wishing for the girls in the story to find a way to escape. I wanted to reach into the book and pull them to safety.

I also felt inspired by Jae-hee’s courage and determination, her desire to live. She is resourceful and clever, and soon learns how she can play the Japanese soldiers. The love between Jae-hee and her sister, Soo-hee, manages to transport us away from the brutal reality for a few precious moments.

After finding myself so emotionally affected by just one girl’s story, and a fictional story at that, the enormity of the situation began to sink in. It is difficult to fathom that so many girls were treated so mercilessly, left physically and mentally scarred, or simply left for dead.

It is hard to believe that human beings inflicted such pain and humiliation on others. It’s appalling that the girls were then made to feel ashamed after the war was over. The stigma attached to being a comfort woman meant that they could never lead a normal life again.

As the Japanese soldiers were retreating, thousands of comfort women were slaughtered like cattle. It was an attempt to hide the truth from the world.  Even now, those that did survive are awaiting an official apology. Many still march on the Japanese embassy in Seoul, every Wednesday, in protest. Will they ever find peace?

x Morts x


A taste of Barcelona

Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world.

I love the contrast of vibrant, modern culture and beautiful, historic buildings. It is such a pretty city, with winding, cobbled streets and impressive architecture.

There’s something for everyone, whether you like an active holiday or relaxing holiday. I know lots of friends that had been back several times and I’d like to do the same. I feel like I barely scratched the surface!

I visited Barcelona in September and it was still beautifully sunny. I’d planned the trip for my sister’s hen do and it was the perfect send off for her, as well as farewell to the summer.

The best way to see the city is a bike tour. I booked private group tour with Fat Tire Tours, which was a brilliant introduction to Barcelona. We cycled through the city centre, the park and alongside the beachfront. It was so much fun! As it’s quite a big city, it would have been way too far to do this on foot.


Food is always a high priority on my list. Make sure you pop into one of the gorgeous little cafés, delicatessens or bakeries to sample Catalan delights like fresh baguettes stuffed with Parma ham, pesto and cheese. I’d definitely recommend pizzas too, freshly baked in huge pizza ovens and topped with plenty of mozzarella, goats cheese, ham and cherry tomatoes. Of course, you must try at least one paella whilst in Barcelona too!


You can’t go to Barcelona without visiting Gaudi’s infamous basilica, La Sagrada Familia. Make sure you book a basilica tour in advance though, as spaces fill up incredibly quickly! We weren’t able to go up the tower as it was fully booked, so it’s definitely on my list for next time I visit!


Make sure you check out these other tourist spots too!

Barcelona Cathedral:

It is a stunning piece of Gothic architecture, with dramatic turrets and gargoyles on the roof. It’s well worth stopping for a photo, or popping inside too if you have time!


Museu d’Historia de Barcelona:

We were amazed to discover there’s a roman underground city in Barcelona. You could easily spend a few hours looking around the ruins of Barcino. It’s located in the Gothic quarter (along with the Cathedral).


Parc de la Ciutadella:

We visited this park whilst on our cycling tour and it was such a pretty place! There is an impressive fountain and a lake where you can hire little rowing boats to go out in.


Park Güell:

This public park was also designed by Gaudi. We only explored the free area of the park but it was still worth the visit! The winding, mosaic seating was really impressive, with vivid colours and beautiful patterns. The view from the top of Carmel Hill was pretty good too. To get to the park, take the metro (Green line) from Las Ramblas to Lesseps. It only takes around 30 minutes.


Font Magica (Magic Fountain):

We only visited the fountain during the day but I wish we’d gone back one evening too. I’ve heard the light display there is awesome!


Barceloneta Beach:

The city scape merges into the seaside with this man-made beach, lined with ice cream parlours selling the most scrumptious sorbets!


Bon viatge!

x Morts x


A food lover’s guide to Cyprus

I’ve just come back from a gorgeous week in the sunshine, in Cyprus.

One of the things I loved most was the food! Wherever I am, I think it’s important to try the local specialities, to discover the true taste of a country and immerse myself fully in its culture.

What to eat in Cyprus? Try these delicious foods!



I love the squeaky texture of halloumi and the salty kick it gives to any meal. It is filling, tasty and satisfying. In Cyprus, you’ll find that halloumi salads are very common. I often ordered a side dish of halloumi, to accompany lamb chops or tuna pittas. We also bought big slabs of halloumi from the supermarket, to slice and lightly fry or chop into chunks to go on skewers alongside chorizo.



Order a village salad in Cyprus and it will come with a generous helping of feta on top. Fresh Greek feta is so much richer and creamier than that you can get in the UK. It is usually served with potent black olives, sliced red onion and tomatoes.



I absolutely love watermelon. It is thirst-quenching and scrumptious, and also a very healthy snack or breakfast food! As soon as I see watermelon stalls on the side of the road, I truly feel on holiday. We bought ours from the supermarket in Cyprus and it was so cheap!



Who doesn’t love cherries?! They are one of my favourite summer foods and such a delicious snack to have in the house. And Cyprus certainly has good cherries to offer!


I would choose nectarines over peaches any day. They are just so much juicier! They may seem pretty firm in the supermarkets in Cyprus, but leave them out in a fruit bowl and they will ripen almost overnight in the summer heat!

All of these fruits are extremely refreshing on a hot sunny day. I loved eating breakfast alfresco – a bowl of fruit and Greek yoghurt. DELICIOUS!

There are plenty of banana plantations dotted around the island, so it’s worth picking up fresh bananas too! A useful thing to note about supermarkets in Cyprus – you need to take your fruit (and veg) to a weighing counter before going to the checkout to pay!


Sword Fish:

Sword fish may be a meaty fish but, if cooked properly, it should be soft and juicy. The Cypriots certainly do it justice and I would highly recommend trying it whilst you’re there!



I have always loved fresh sardines, whether grilled or BBQ’d. It’s something I never cook at home for some reason, but is a real holiday taste that takes me back to my childhood.



Grilled octopus is a local speciality. It is served very simply, to ensure the subtle flavour is not overpowered by garnishes. The charring from the grill gives it a nice smoky exterior.



Whitebait is the perfect sharing starter. Tiny, tasty little fish that are lightly fried and are perfect for dipping in tartar sauce or lemon-mayo!


Sea Bream:

We bought whole sea bream from the supermarket and cooked them on the BBQ. They were AMAZING! Such soft fish fillets, brought to life with that charred BBQ flavour and a squeeze of lemon.




Sheftalia is a traditional Cypriot food. It is made with a mixture of lamb and pork mince, and plenty of parsley. The meat is encased inside caul fat rather than typical sausage casing. Sheftalia is best cooked on the BBQ and is the perfect pitta filling!


Just a note, be careful what sausages you pick up in the supermarket as some have incredibly strong flavourings which you probably won’t be used to. Coriander seeds pack a serious punch. It was the only thing I wasn’t keen on in Cyprus!


The flavour of the tomatoes are unlike any you can get your hands on at home (unless you grow them yourself!). You can tell they are freshly picked, as they are so flavoursome and juicy.

The strong red onions made my eyes water like crazy when I was chopping them but they sure are delicious! I like to chop up red onion, tomato and cucumber together, to be spooned generously into toasted pitta breads.


Wherever you are in Cyprus, you can pick up beautiful produce from local supermarkets. Some of the best meals I had on holiday were the DIY BBQs. It’s worth researching traditional taverns in the area you are staying in, to get the most authentic Greek food. Paphos Town did have a lovely selection of seafood restaurants, along the waterfront, that are worth trying too though in you’re nearby!

Happy holidays!

x Morts x