Monday, 29 June 2015

Ancient Crete

Crete
Crete

On our final day in Crete, we decided we hadn't seen enough of this beautiful Island. Whilst we got to see the breathtaking Venetian Port in Chania, I still felt I hadn't had a complete first taste of Greece if I didn't get a chance to see some archaeological treasures. Set on a mission, we jumped on a coach bound for Heraklion, the largest city and Capital of the Island. 

Being perfectly honest, I expected to sleep for the majority of the journey. It was 7 am and took over 2 hours, so naturally, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to catch a few extra winks so I would be bright eyed a bushy tailed. Things didn't work out like that though. The coach travelled on what I can only describe as one of the most beautiful Motorways in the world, something I thought I would never say. The Old National Road in Crete is an experience in itself, and one that you need to keep your camera ready for at all times. Winding round the Cretan coast, travelling through bays and on the edge of cliffs you suddenly understand why the Greeks had such fascinating mythology. The landscape is simply magical.

Palace of Knosses


Just over 2 hours after leaving Gerani, we made our first stop 5 kilometres southeast of Heraklion.  The Palace of Knossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and is considered Europe's oldest city. The capital of Minoan Crete, in it's day the palace must have been a majestic symbol. You would be correct in thinking that Knossos was the supposed home of the Minator, the half man, half bull creature that lived in a labyrinth, although no remains of a labyrinth have been found. Saying that, that, the palace is sprawling and walking between the different chambers with a guide felt like you were in a maze, so maybe there is some truth in that myth. Fan's of Atlantis on BBC will also love to know that this is the place which the show is based on, with King Minos, Ariadne and Pasophe all part of the sites history. If you have ever been to an archaeological site before, you will know that a guide is a must have. To the untrained eye, and myself, without someone explaining the layout of the palace, you could easily confuse a court yard with a chamber.

Palace of KnossesPalace of Knosses
Palace of Knosses
Palace of Knosses


I still can't get over some of the details now, even over a month after my visit. See the timber that has been bleached by the sun? It's not timber. It's actually stone painted to look like wood. Something the Minoan's did, only one man is skilled enough to do this on the Island, and he works all year round to ensure visitors can experience the full effect. Whilst most of the rooms are in ruins, the throne room is astonishingly sound, so much so you can really imagine what it was like back then. The throne reminds me of something our of Game of Thrones. If only walls could talk. If ever you do have the chance to go, and I would definitely recommend you jump at the chance, water and suncream is a must. There is next to no shelter from the sun, and it took us nearly 3 hours to explore the place properly.

Heraklion
Heraklion
Heraklion


After feeling like members of Time Team, we hopped back on the coach which took us into the centre of Heraklion. One thing I feel Greece does so well is incorporate the modern world with the ancient. Built high up on the Old Walls, you have an incredible view of the Port alongside one of the many statutes of Eleftherios Venizelos. There really are treasures around every corner, look at this bus stop for example! Once we had grabbed some lunch in a nice shaded cafe off the main square we headed on to our last stop.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Heraklion Archaeological Museum


Thankful to be inside, with the air conditioning, we headed to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum to look at some of the treasures found around the island.  Walking round the huge two floor building, you can't help unless your inner Indiana Jones. I'm completely in awe with Minoan jewellery and will definitely be taking inspiration when I make my own again. It's incredible what Ancient Greek's did with hand, when we struggle to achieve similar results with machines. Things were clearly made to last.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
Heraklion Archaeological Museum


So that's that last of my Crete travel posts. I've been back now about a month and half and have a bad case of holiday blues. Fear not though, more travel posts will be coming later on this year, after I travel round the West Coast of the USA in September with Trek America.

xoxo
J

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower

St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower
St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower (*) - £14.50

If I could saint St. Tropez again, I would. Every brand has one product that doesn't suit you quite so much but I'm still waiting to find that with St. Tropez. If it works for the icon that is Kate Moss, it's going to always be present in my bathroom. I'm super fortunate enough to have been chosen to be on the St. Tropez Beauty Panel so got a sneaky preview of this hugely hyped new gradual tan without having to join a waiting list and before it even hit the shelves. 

As soon as I heard the key to this product I was excited. If someone tells me I can't do something, a little part of me wants to do it. With most tanning products, one of the biggest golden rules (hehe) is not to shower for a certain period of time. Inevitably, with the associated smell, you just want to feel fresh. In step St. Tropez with their new wonder. Have a shower. Step out and apply your tan. Wait 3 minutes. Rinse and become bronzed. There is a slight downside in the fact you have to stay starkers after a nice warm shower, for at least 3 minutes whilst the product works, which in Summer is fine, but in Winter, not so much. But alas this is the price of beauty, and as long as the heating's on, you're fine and dandy. Once your 3 minutes is done, simply wash your body with only fresh water and go about your normal routine minus any body moisturiser. Don't worry though, this tan won't dry your skin out.

As I've mentioned, fellow tan veterans will agree that the tell-tale scent of fake tan is one that can make or brake a product. Whilst this tan does have your usual warming scent, you're going to wash the off after 3 minutes, and removing any trace along with it. Shade wise, it's a gradual tanner, and a subtle one at that. I think this is more gradual than the original Gradual Tanning Mousse so if you're in a rush to be golden, maybe using the Mousse would be a better option. However, if on the other hand you're of a fairer skin tone like myself, want a very subtle hint of colour so you can ditch the tights or simply live in fear of being orange, this is you're new best friend. By building up your colour at a slower rate than other tanners, you can easily stop at your desired shade. I've often made the mistake of apply an extra layer, only then to regret it when it's gone too dark. There's no chance of that with this tan. If you somehow manage to have a mistake, it will be so subtle, you won't be able to tell. I'm now using this once every couple of days to cling onto my Greek tan. 

Whilst this tan is a bit of novelty, there's a definite place for it in the market. What do you think?
xoxo
J

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Monday, 15 June 2015

Poolproof Your Hair

Philip Kingsley Swimcap
Philip Kingsley Swimcap - £22



If there is one man that is trusted with the nation's locks, Philip Kingsley would be that man. His cult-product, Elasticzer, has earned a place in bathrooms across the world, reviving damaged hair. Although I've never dyed my hair and I pride myself on it's health, the thought of spending a week drenching it in chlorine fills me with dread. Thankfully, Philip Kingsley had my back.

Developed at the special request of the US Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team, Swimcap is the one hair product you cannot be without come Summer. Deeply conditioning hair as you wear it, it protects your hair against the triple threats. Sea, or pool, no matter which one you choose, you will have to suffer with the drying and damaging consequences to your hair. Unless you use Swimcap that is. Coloured hair? Feel free to splash as much as you want as discoloration from chlorinated water is also covered. If that wasn't enough, the cream also contains UV protection so even when your beside the water, hair breakage and colour fading because of the sun will be a thing of the past. 

As I said. I don't have coloured hair, but my mum does. Both of us put Swimcap through it's paces in Crete, and the verdict was unanimous. Buy it. Although you can use it on dry or wet hair, we found dampening your hair slightly under the shower helped applying it a lot easier. Once on, apply it like another product, evenly in sections, combing it through. Re-apply throughout the day and when you've done having fun in the sun (I couldn't help myself), simply rinse with your normal shampoo & conditioner. I have thick hair, and often find additional products make my hair very greasy. Luckily this wasn't the case and it was super soft. My mum on the other hand, has quite fine hair and conditioning products weigh her hair down. Again, after see rinsed it out she said it felt like she'd just had a salon treatment. Both of us have short hair, but those of you with long locks will be please to know that it acted as a detangler too, and even after the lovely combination of salt water and sand, no tears were shed. 

Guess we've finally found something w agree on.

How do you protect your hair when the weather heats up?
xoxo
J
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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Exploring Chania



After exploring the local villages, we got a little bit more adventurous, and decided to head to the city. Chania, Crete's second largest city and former Capital, was only a 30 minute taxi from our hotel and well worth leaving the comfort of our suite. I loved what I had already seen of Crete but in that taxi, I firmly fell in love with the island. There's something about semi-neglected townhouses covered in overgrown flowers and with distressed shutters and balconys that captures my heart. Where other people might see property to renovate and clean up, I already see perfection. Dreams of owning a little hideaway whirled round my head as we whizzed through the busy streets. 



Imposing, official-looking buildings were nestled between shabby apartment blocks and shops promising to sell you the cheapest treasures in the city. The Municipal Market Hall was definitely one of my favorite buildings. Opened in 1913, the building holds 74 stalls for you to barter at.







We traveled up into the hills to visit the Venizelos Tombs at the church of Profitis Ilias. Here we saw the tombs of the iconic Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos and his son Sophocles as well as incredible panoramic views of this beautiful region. On the way back into the city we had beautiful views of Suda Bay and the Suda Bay Commonwealth War Cemetery.









 

We chose to travel on the coastal roads and followed the old Venetian Wall which defines the borders between the old and new city. After being greeted by the fountain in Eleftheriou Venizelou Square, we made our way to the most amazing sight. Chania's Venetian Harbour is one of the most beautiful things I have seen. A combination of Turkish, Greek and Venetian architecture, the harbour is a cultural hub. A vast stretch of cafes and shops lines the crystal clear port with a fortress at one end and a lighthouse on the other. Like a scene straight out of a postcard, this city is far too stunning to not return. 


xoxo
J
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Monday, 8 June 2015

OOTD || So Fabulous Floral Skirt




Navy Tee - Primark
So Fabulous Floral Print Scuba A-Line Midi Skirt - Very.co.uk
Flip Flops - Primark

Crete had so many beautiful churches, too many in fact to photograph. However, we didn't expect to find such a pretty little chapel in the grounds of our hotel. With it's dark wooden door and white stone walls anyone would think we were somewhere more secluded, and not in a hotel resort. 

Of course the blogger in me thought it was far to nice not to use as a photo background. I'm having a complete love affair with anything Scuba at the moment. I used to hate the feel of it, but it's definitely grown on me. It's also great for travelling as it doesn't crease! As soon as I saw this midi skirt from Very I had to have it. The floral design reminds me of prints on old vintage wallpaper and something you would see in Cath Kidston. And having the print on my all time favorite a-line midi skirt, well it's a match made in heaven! Navy is great for introducing colour into your wardrobe if you usually stick to black in A/W. It's softer than black, but remains quite safe and comforting if you need a bit longer to embrace those lighter summer shades. You never know, I might end up in something pastel soon!

xoxo
J

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Friday, 5 June 2015

Chania Sephora Haul







If my Duty Free Haul has left you wanting more, fear not. I did more shopping whilst in Crete. Whilst exploring the beautiful city of Chania, I discovered a small Sephora store tucked aware of the main street. Living in England, I've only ever ordered from Sephora online, and never seen the actual store so to say I was excited was an under statement. I had no idea that there was a Sephora in Chania so was a little over whelmed with where to look at and what to pick up. In the end I decided to stick to a few things I'd been wanting for a while, promising myself I'd do so more research into products before I go to the States in September.

The first thing on my list was the Sephora sheet masks. Thankfully they had two sets with the different types as I had no idea which one to choose. I also picked up the Triple Action Cleansing Water which has been raved about on Youtube. Completely stuck for choice shade wise, I decide to test out the Sephora Rouge Infusion in Plum. The Ultimate oil-in-gel lipstick remover was a complete impluse buy, but not one I've regretted as I've never seen anything like it. Before heading to the counter I walked past the bareMinerals counter. I've been meaning to try the brand for the longest time and love the sound of their Pure Brightening Serum Foundation. Instinctively I picked up the foundation in Bare Shell along with the Perfecting Face Brush. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have any of the Sephora sheet eye masks in or any Formula X nail polish but they can wait for my USA haul.

One thing I do love at Sephora is the samples. Whilst I'm not naive enough to understand their marketing techniques, it is nice to try out some other products without having any commitment. The lovely sales assistant put two sachet's of Sephora's Mud Mask in my bag along with a tube of Bumble and Bumble's All-style Blow Dry! 

That's going to be the last haul from me until my birthday in July. In the meantime, I need recommendations for products to pick up State side. I'm trying to limit myself to ones that are a lot easier to or only available in USA. Any suggestions would be amazing!

xoxo
J
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Monday, 1 June 2015

Ultrasun Sports SPF 30

Ultrasun Sports SPF 30
Sun cream - £26


I'm 22 and I hate applying sun cream. There I said it. I feel like it's acceptable to say it if you're a child, but no so much if you're old enough to know the risks of staying in the sun unprotected. I just find it a chore and a bit like using body mosituriser; it's time consuming and I'd rather be doing something else. Saying this, I fall into the category that needs sun cream more than the normal person. I'm basically Casper's cousin (the ghost, not the youtuber), thanks to my Dad's lovely Irish heritage. Thanks Dad. I very rarely tan (I say rarely because for the first time in my life I got a tan in Crete), and when I do, I look like a normal, living, person. What I lack for in tan, I make up in freckles, which are apparently in at the moment so minor victory there.

I'm off on a road trip around California in September so decided to use Crete as a way to put some sun cream to the test. Once a day sun cream has recently flooded the market, and it definitely appeals to me. If I know I only have to apply something once, I will happily pay more for it. Having a mooching round Feel Unique, I decided on Ultrasun's Sport High SPF 30 Clear Spray Formula because of it's glowing reviews from other paleys. I also chose my normal SPF 30 as this was being used purely for my body and I've never burn't with that level of SPF before, even in Florida. Happily I jetted off set for a week of fun in the sun.

I would first off like to praise the packaging. A small point, but the push dispenser makes it so easy to control the product, stopping it going everywhere and wasting half the bottle. It's the little things in life. The product itself is transparent from the get go and quite runny. That didn't bother me at all, as it mean't it was very lightweight and not at all greasy on my skin. In fact, it only took around 5-10 minutes for it to sink in all together. I was also impressed that it didn't stain any clothes. Reading some reviews, some people found their clothes to turn a little yellow around the edges where they had applied the cream, but thankfully this didn't happen to me.

Before reading the product review, remember I went to Crete in the middle of May, when it was an average of 25-29 Celsius. 

One thing I was particularly attracted to was that this version is water-resistant and designed for outdoor activities and water sports. I my mind, I took that to mean would withstand a quick dip in the pool and dare I say it, sweat. But I burnt. After 4 hours of wearing the cream I burnt my forearm. I would like to point out as well that I wasn't sat in the sun for hour on end either. I make a point of spending 2 hours outside, 1 hour inside to give my fair skin a breather, and I still managed to look like a lobster. The next day I didn't go in the pool to see if that effected the sun cream and made a point of covering myself in sun cream from head to toe. My opposite forearm burn't (why always the forearms?!)

Clearly it wasn't down to going for a dip. It can't be down to the SPF either. I always wear SPF 50 on my face, and SPF 30 on my body and very rarely burn. In fact, the only time I have had a little bit of sun burn was when I was younger and used to avoid putting sun cream on like the plague. That only leaves it down to how effective the sun cream is, and unfortunately, I didn't think it was all that. Although I only burnt a tiny bit, that was more due to me being obsessive over checking I'm ok. Whilst I'd happily pray the premium price for a once a day cream if it works, no expense is worth getting burnt for. 

Guess I'm now on the search for a new cream for California. Any suggestions?
xoxo
J
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