Well, I bit the bullet and finally bought the yearly membership. It meant that for the FabFitFun Winter 2018 Subscription Box I was able to have more customization options. So far I’m really glad I did too because I’m pretty sure I would have ended up with another lipstick if I didn’t. Lipstick and exfolients seem to be the items I can almost guarantee to receive in my boxes. But for the Winter 2018 box, I won’t have either. Plus, I save $20 when I purchase a yearly membership as opposed to buying each box individually four times a year. Yayyyy!!
These first three items I received in my box were a complete surprise as they were not part of the customization. Every box contained them. I like that while some things can be customized, there are still others that are a surprise.
Thrive Causemetics Brilliant Eye Brightener
This eye highlighter is in a stick form and I was able to apply it to use as an eyeshadow. I liked the colour and it worked well as a subtle eye shadow.
Blaq Hydrogel Eye Masks with Hyaluronic Acid
I haven’t had the chance to try these eye masks yet but I’m really looking forward to them. It’s the first time I’ve received eye masks in one of my FabFitFun boxes.
AHAVA Hydration Cream Mask
I chose to share this face mask instead of useing it. My face is way to sensitive to apply an unknown hydration mask. I know other people love it though.
For every Customization Option there is also a Choose For Me! Option. This allows the FabFitFun crew to pick for you if you would rather be surprised.
The first three customization options are for everyone and there are two-three options for each customization.
Bearpaw Combo Set: Headband and Pop-Top Glove Duo
Moroccan Gold Series Treatment Mask
I almost picked the Bearpaw combo set but I would never wear a headband so I figured I would try this Moroccan Gold Series Treatment Mask (website) instead. My hair is so damaged, dry, and frizzy I figure one of these times I will try something that helps.
To start, this is so thick. It’s a pot of heavy, thick, cream. I also wasn’t overly fond of the fragrance but that said, I’ve also had worse.
I worked the cream into my freshly washed hair while I was in the shower and let it sit for probably at least 10 minutes. The instructions state to apply generously to washed hair, massaging into hair and scalp, then leave for 5 minutes before you rinse well. I just wore it until my shower was complete though and I tend to take longer showers.
While I was rinsing it out I immediately knew my hair was in better shape than after using my normal conditioner. It didn’t feel as dry and it wasn’t a matted mess. After I towel dried my hair, I started brushing it. Normally I apply a leave-in conditioner after I towel dry my hair and even then, it’s still a knotted cluster at the back of my head. But after using this Moroccan Gold Series Treatment Mask I only had a few knots to brush out.
I’ve used this mask a few more times to see how it continued to leave my hair and after several uses I am still loving it.
Note: As you rinse this mask out of your hair in the shower, the bottom of the tub becomes slippery so please watch your footing.
H Halston Jewellery Portfolio
Lele Sadoughi Silver Cicle Necklace
Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo
Honestly I didn’t feel I needed either of these options so I got the one that I felt I could possibly use. The Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo (website). I never use dry shampoo but I have so far been unimpressed with everything jewellery related from FabFitFun. Now I just need to learn to use the dry shampoo and start fancy styling my hair. At least occasionally anyway.
PUR Be Your Selfie Palette
Richer Poorer Reina Over The Knee Textured Sock
I love socks. I love decorative socks, warm socks, short socks, I just really love socks. I don’t know why, don’t judge. My entire life I have had large calves though so I wasn’t actually sure if these would be a good choice. I picked these Richer Poorer Reina Over The Knee Textures Socks (website) anyway.
The knit is loose so the socks stretched and fit my calves though. But because the knit is a bit bigger and looser than most socks I prefer to wear these as sort of slipper socks for me when I am trying to warm up my feet.
Plus, they are made with recycled yarn.
Sherrie Matthews Acupuncture Jade Stone Roller
I’ve seen these acupuncture rollers before so I took advantage of the convenience of it being offered in the FabFitFun Winter 2018 box and bought it. They are facial massage tools that are supposed to have healing properties that relax the nervous system and help remove toxins. It apparently has other benefits like relieving puffiness, minimizing the appearance of fine lines, improving lymphatic drainage, and even restoring facial skin tone.
The Sherrie Matthews Acupuncture Jade Stone Roller (website)
The next three customization options were only available for the select members, those that have purchased the yearly membership. After continuously getting lipsticks and exfolients chosen for me I decided I wanted to make my own choices. Well that and I had seen a spoiler for the FabFitFun Winter 2018 subscription box and I really wanted to make sure I got the colour I wanted for it.
Mark & Graham Colorblock Throw in Gray/Ivory or Natural/Ivory
Everyone was getting this Mark & Graham Colorblock Throw (website) but I didn’t want to receive the natural/ivory blanket so I was hoping by becoming a select member I would get to choose my colour. I was able to so I chose the Gray/Ivory colour.
The blanket is very soft and is made with a large spaced knit. It’s a bit delicate but it is pretty, comfy, and warm too.
Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Meringue
Chic & Tonic I’ll Toast To That! 4-Piece Coaster Set
Brooke Burke Body Sliders
Well after customization had only been open for like 2-3 hours, the coasters were already sold out. And if I had to choose a lipstick the Bite brand is one of my favourite, but I didn’t want lipstick. So, I chose the Brooke Burke (website) Body Sliders.
Body sliders kick your exercise workout up a notch. They add that extra layer of workout for core muscles and others. Unfortunately I won’t be able to use these right now, especially without supervision because I have some injuries I’m trying to heal from but I will use them at some point. I think when used correctly they could really help work the small muscles I’ve been working on that almost everyone forgets about.
Way Of Will Elevate Essential Oil Set: Sweet Orange Oil & Eucalyptus Oil
Anthropologie x Mer-Sea & Co. Sea Whip Body Cream in Coconut Sugar
This was another tough decision because I wanted both of them for my FabFitFun Winter 2018 box. In the end though I decided I had more than enough eucalyptus oil so I didn’t need to choose the essential oil set. Besides I really love body lotions and coconut sugar sounded like a scent I would enjoy.
Apparently the Anthropologie x Mer-Sea & Co Sea Whip Body Cream is made for dry skin as it’s aloe-rich and is supposed to help heal & nourish the skin. It also contains sea whip extract and sea salt.
Honestly the scent of this body cream was not at all what I was expecting. It has hints of coconut and it does have a slightly sweet undertone to it but the most obvious scent is something I can’t define. I didn’t really like it actually. I want to say it almost smells floral, probably because I don’t like floral scents, but that isn’t what it smelt like. I can only assume it is the Sea Whip Extract because I don’t think I have ever smelt it before.
The lotion absorbs really well though and there is no greasy film left behind. My skin felt soft and the tightness of my dry skin (thanks winter) was relieved. I have completely used this lotion up and it impressed me quite a bit, just maybe not the scent so much.
If you would like to treat yourself, or someone else, to this awesome subscription box, you can use the link and coupon code provided on our Yup….We Like These page to purchase a FabFutFun membership. The spoilers and the customization for the FabFitFun Spring 2019 subscription box look great.
Most people probably know Brisbane as the huge tourist destination it is in Australia, where all kinds of theme and water parks can be visited and fun can be had by the entire family. That wasn’t what I wanted to do in Brisbane and even though I found a lot of things to do, there was so much more I could have done. And none of those things I did were theme or water parks.
I was in Brisbane for a week and unfortunately I was just starting to get sick and my body was in pain so I didn’t get a chance to fully enjoy everything the area had to offer. What I did do though was visit several museums, hold a koala and get my picture taken, eat chocolate, and buy myself a beautiful tote bag from Country Road. I also rented a car for a day and drove down to the Gold Coast.
Getting Around Brisbane
You can rent a car while in Brisbane but I found using the public transportation system quite easy and it got me everywhere I chose to go. Also, there are tolls on some of the roads. I did learn how to use Uber when I was there though so that and taxis are also an option (Vancouver still doesn’t have ride share as of the end of 2018).
One thing that completely impressed me about travelling via the public bus system in several Australian cities, including Brisbane, is there are areas where the bus doesn’t travel along busy city streets. Instead, there are these busways. Busways are really kind of like highways solely for the public buses to travel along. It means you have to get to a station so the stops aren’t as convenient, but it also means you don’t sit in traffic which allows you to reach your destination much quicker.
Brisbane uses the tap-on tap-off method of payment with the Go Card travel card that you can conveniently replenish using machines at different stations, online, over the phone, or at select shops. The Go Card can be used on all trains, buses, and ferries in South East Queensland. I never took advantage of it but there is also a free service for the bus and ferry. The City Loop and Spring Hill Loop free inner city bus runs from 7am to 6pm on weekdays. Also traveling between North Quay and Sydney St New Farm, is the free CityHopper ferry service.
CBD (Central Business District)
I spent a few hours in Brisbane’s CBD. I visited City Hall and the Museum of Brisbane, and I walked around a bit checking out the historical building facades of Queen Street Mall, while I did some shopping. It’s where I found the Noosa Chocolate Factory as well as what was quickly becoming my favourite Australian shop, Country Road. I didn’t do a lot of shopping because I had more travelling to do and I couldn’t add to my luggage but I did get a large, stunning, tote bag on an amazing sale at Country Road. I could fold it to fit in my suitcase and I had been drooling over it since I first saw it in Adelaide, so of course I had to purchase it. Really that was my day in the CBD but there was more shopping to explore if you wanted. Especially the Gold Coast.
Noosa Chocolate Factory
I was in the CBD and knew I had to catch the public bus on Adelaide Street to get to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (link below to read about that experience) but I had time before the bus arrived so I walked a bit. I’m so happy I did too because I found Noosa Chocolate Factory (website). They had all sorts of chocolate covered items as well as beverages. Here is what I tried.
Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts
For me chocolate covered nuts are almost always going to be a winner. You just can’t go wrong with them. Plus, I tell myself it’s protein so it makes them healthy. I find macadamia nuts delicious so covering them in chocolate was a big win for me.
Chocolate Covered Freeze Dried Strawberries
Strawberries are my favourite fruit and when you freeze dry them, it amplifies the flavour. Makes them much more strawberry-y. Cover those super charged strawberry pieces of goodness in chocolate and yeah, you have a yummy, flavourful treat.
Chocolate Covered Honeycomb
Have you ever had a Crunchie chocolate bar? This is what these pieces tasted like. Honey comb is a sweet, crunchy, melt in your mouth treat, all covered in chocolate. So again, it was good.
Iced 72% Chocolate Drink
Because I apparently need to try all chocolate drinks, I picked up the iced one offered at Noosa. It was made with soy milk, ice, and 72% chocolate. Not chocolate powder or chocolate sauce but actual chocolate. I enjoyed my cold, chocolate drink on the nice warm day that’s for sure. Cooling down with chocolate is kinda perfect really.
Museums in Brisbane
Queensland Art Gallery
Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (website for both) are conveniently located across from each other. It’s wonderful, you get to enjoy all types of art in one day. The Queensland Art Gallery displays a wide range of Australian and local artists in many mediums. I myself really enjoyed the wall of painted portraits, but there were so many wonderful pieces to see in the gallery.
You can enjoy the permanent exhibits of the Australian Art Collection, the Indigenous Art Collection, and the International Art Collection. As well as the short term exhibits showcasing individual artists, shown throughout the year.
Admission to the Queensland Art Gallery is free except for some exhibits and events which have an admission fee. The gallery is open daily 10 am – 5 pm except for some holidays.
Gallery of Modern Art
What a wonderful art gallery (website above). I really enjoyed visiting and seeing the exhibits they had on display. I ran out of time before I could visit everything but what I saw was worth it. There was even an interactive, enclosed slide for people to slide down from an upper level.
Normally I prefer more traditional and historical art to the modern stuff but I really loved what I saw at GOMA. I’m not sure if it’s the way they had it all exhibited or just the art they chose to display but whatever it was, it worked. I really enjoyed myself and my time spent here.
Admission to the Gallery of Modern Art is free. Some exhibits and special events do have an entry fee though. They are also open daily 10 am – 5 pm except for some holidays. Wanna see something after hours? There is a light installation on the exterior of the building that runs from sunset to midnight.
Brisbane City Hall
I didn’t have a chance to tour around the Brisbane City Hall (website) too much, I only went there to visit the Museum of Brisbane. I do wish I would have seen more of City Hall though. It has so much history. It was in the process of renovations while I visited but it was still open to the public.
Museum of Brisbane
The Museum of Brisbane (website) is a smaller museum located on level 3 of the Brisbane City Hall. It’s open daily and admission is free. There were quite a few awesome collections to see but for me, I really enjoyed the permanent Perspectives of Brisbane exhibit. Using historic photographs, film, facts and stories, it shares the history of the area for us to learn. It really was a great exhibit and a wonderful experience. I learned quite a bit about the history of the area. From the first colony to local flooding, it told it all.
Queensland Museum and Sciencentre
This museum had a lot to offer but I enjoyed being shown the history of dinosaurs and animals in the area as well as the special experience of learning about the Hadron Collider. I had to buy a ticket for it at an additional cost but it was such a great learning experience.
I’m not a big nerd or anything, I mean I like some sci-fi but just some, just the popular mainstream stuff. But even I was super excited with the Hadron Collider exhibit. It is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. Squueee! That’s pretty cool sci-fi stuff right there but this is real life. Don’t ask me to get all scientific on you and explain what I learned because I can’t but I can tell you it is a 27-km long tunnel made mostly out of superconducting magnets.
I liked the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre (website) and how it mixed several different things together in one place. It’s also another place where you can get a hands-on, interactive experience.
The Queensland Art Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre are all located in the Queensland Cultural Centre in South Brisbane. Just across the bridge from the CBD. The Cultural Centre also contains the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and the State Library of Queensland.
Streets Beach – A Beach in the City
Other than the Queensland Cultural Centre, South Brisbane is also where you will find Streets Beach. Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach. A beautiful lagoon surrounded by sandy beaches and various plants, it’s free and has lifeguards.
Tourist and locals use this beach so it does get quite busy. There is free Wi-Fi to use, public toilets, and there is even a picnic area. It’s a great place to relax in the sun and swim in the water, all without leaving the city.
I really wanted to see more of the area than just Brisbane so I decided to rent a car for a day and drive down to the Gold Coast. I had chosen to rent the car from the airport so I could return it when I was leaving. It meant I wouldn’t have to walk as much or travel on the public transportation system with my luggage. But Brisbane has a lot of roads with tolls on them plus it costs a bit more to take the train to the airport so you should be aware of these additional costs if you decide to rent from the airport.
Shopping and a Beach in Gold Coast
The drive was lovely even though most of it was inland on a big highway. It did take me past all the theme parks though and that was kinda reminiscent of California. Because I didn’t have a goal in mind, I ended up just doing a bit of driving around, seeing the different areas, and getting a feel of it all. It was nice seeing all the different homes and buildings. Then I came upon the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre (website) so I had to stop. This shopping centre was amazing. Parts of it were outdoors, there were comfy chairs to sit on, and a lot of the shops were very high-end. It was quite the experience.
I drove a little further south and unfortunately I’m not sure where it was exactly but it was so quant. It looked like the quintessential definition of what most of us tourists think of as Australian. I watched so many people walk around in their swimsuits, barefoot, and some carrying surfboards while I was parked on a one way street of shops and restaurants. I went up the road a few blocks and there was the beach. There were so many cars around it was hard to find parking so I drove up a residential street where there were houses on one side and a park overlooking the beach and ocean on the other. On the day I roamed around there was some sort of maybe festival going on with music and even some vendors.
All in all, it was a great way to spend a day out of Brisbane and see a bit more of what the area has to offer. It has a lot to offer by the way.
Probably my best and favourite memory of Brisbane in Australia was visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (website). Apparently the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary. I had really wanted to visit a sanctuary when I was in Alice Springs but unfortunately the dates I was there didn’t work for the dates they were open. I had no idea about Lone Pine either before I arrived in Brisbane, but my Airbnb host told me about it when she was making suggestions for things to do in the city. Obviously I should have done some research before I arrived but I will forever be thankful of that Airbnb host because I got to hold a koala. And I have the pictures to prove it. Well, and remind me of the joy as I get older and start to forget things.
Koalas at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Koalas are just these cute, sleepy, cuddly animals with sharp claws and spiky, course fur. They aren’t overly soft or friendly really. But hey, if you were always tired and wanting to sleep but instead random people kept wanting to hold you and cuddle you, wouldn’t you be cranky? The staff at Lone Pine are wonderful though. They hold the koala, you stand on an exact spot, they tell you how to place your hands, then they gently place the koala in your arms. If something is even slightly off or the koala doesn’t seem happy, they take them back from you. The koalas come first here. The pictures cost an additional fee of course but the staff will also happily take pictures for you using your camera. It was great because I was alone and I just wanted more than the one paid photo.
Cassowarys at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
I also got to FINALLY see a cassowary!! Or as I like to call them, dinosaur turkeys. They honestly look like one. Apparently the dinosaur turkey is everywhere in the Daintree Rainforest but of course I never saw one. I was so happy when I finally got to see one at Lone Pine. It too was trying to be elusive and hide from me but I went searching for it. I almost stepped on a lizard crossing the path while I was looking but I kept going. Even though I almost missed my bus back into the city, I kept looking. Finally, I was rewarded with seeing a cassowary in real life, not just the life-size statue in the Daintree. And holy crap, it really does look like a dinosaur turkey. It’s basically a giant, bad-ass looking turkey. And unlike a regular turkey who at worst will chase you and peck at your hands and feet, the cassowary will hit and cut you with the big boney fin-like thing on the top of their head. They will also karate-chop you with the crazy, dagger-like claws on their feet.
Kangaroos at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Shortly before I visited Lone Pine I saw a video on Facebook of a kangaroo kicking someone and taking them out. So of course when I was visiting the sanctuary I was a bit cautious. They were very well behaved and quite wonderful though. Just laying in a field. Honestly, that was a bit of a surprise but it was also really cool. Lone Pine has this fenced off, wide open field for the kangaroos to roam around in. Us mere humans can enter through a gate and roam around with them. There was a separate fenced off area for the kangaroos where people can’t roam though. There were also signs all over saying to stay back from the kangaroos and don’t touch them. I didn’t get too close and I didn’t touch them but I did watch as other people sure did. It made me feel bad for the kangaroos but all in all Lone Pine seems to treat them very well. You can purchase special food to take in the field with you and feed the kangaroos too if you want.
Emus at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Oh, you know what else was in that open field? Emus. I enjoyed being so close to them and I figured they were as relaxed as the kangaroos. That was my mistake. I was standing there taking one’s picture when it decided to run at me. I kept thinking, oh this could be a great photo, I hope one of these turns out. Needless to say I didn’t recognize the situation I was in until the emu was right in front of me. Thankfully he must have realized how useless I would be to him so he ran past me. Apparently I was in a game of chicken without even realized it and I think I won.
The animals freely roam around in their pens, cages, or some kind of open containment. Except for that lizard I almost killed. Animals like wombats, Tasmanian devils, dingos, platypus, raptors, and even reptiles (like turtles and two of the most venomous land snakes in the world) live at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. There is a schedule of shows, talks, feedings, and different photo opportunities so check it out when you first arrive because there is an entire day of activities if you want to experience everything.
Getting There and Other Stuff Not Animals
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is quite easy to get to. I caught the 445 public bus on Adelaide Street near City Hall in the CBD and the 40-45-minute trip ended in the parking lot of Lone Pine. Because of course they have their own public bus stop. You can even take advantage of the free Wi-Fi in Lone Pine to upload all the really cool animal photos to your social media. Or go shopping in the gift shop to take home even more memories. If you are planning on staying all day at the sanctuary, there is a café just outside the entrance. Inside the sanctuary there is a general store with an atm where you can also purchase café food, snacks, and drinks. There are several public washrooms throughout the park.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary helps and cares for animals but they are also an interactive centre. Enabling you to meet and learn about all the different animals. It really is a wonderful experience and I am so happy I was able to visit.
I loved Australia. I know, I saw a cockroach in Alice Spring’s that made me question everything I knew about life (you can find the link to that interesting story at the bottom of this article). And yes, bugs ate me like I was a free buffet they had never tasted before, which I guess I really was. Unfortunatly I also learnt the body sweats in places I never knew existed and I probably smelt like something died. But I really did enjoy my trip. And if I had to choose, I’d say Cairns and Fitzroy Island Resort (website) were probably my favourite. I think this is where I finally started to relax.
Although I found out once I had arrived in Cairns that the weather is more bearable around May, I did still enjoy the hot weather. If I would have known in advance that it was also stinger season and I wouldn’t be able to safely go into the ocean without wearing a stinger suit (like a wetsuit), maybe I wouldn’t have been slightly disappointed though. The heat and the scenery really made me want to be in the water.
There are quite a few activities offered out of Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef but they weren’t an option for me. Things like diving or sailing or even one of the other activities would have been awesome but my body just wasn’t up to the challenge. Instead, I found Fitzroy Island Resort. A little island resort located smack in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.
Fitzroy Island is 4 square km in size, made up of gentle hills, tropical rainforest, and like 97% of it makes up the Fitzroy National Park. The island is fully accessible to the public with walking tracks throughout. There are two beaches, Welcome Bay (where the Fitzroy Island Resort is located), and Nudey Beach (not a nude beach but it was named the #1 best beach in Australia for 2018 by 101 Beaches). The island also contains a historic lighthouse as well as a Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.
The Resort had special things going on over the Christmas and New Years and I even spoke to people who were staying there an entire week. I unfortunately could only afford to stay one night but I would have preferred a few more days there.
Getting to the Fitzroy Island Resort is quite easy. It is a 45-minute each way ferry ride from Cairns on the Fitzroy Flyer, the resort’s ferry. Like everything else at the resort, the ferry is an additional cost. but local fisherman and private yachts can also use the public moorings.
ResortWhile Fitzroy Island Resort offers day trips to visit the island, I’m so happy I chose to spend the night instead and experience more of what the resort offered. I’ve never stayed at a resort that was on its own island before and I’ve never been anywhere tropical before. These both made for a very relaxing stay.
Resort Facilities at the Fitzroy Island
Not including the wonderful rooms or the awesome pool, the facilities are the extra stuff. I may or may not have spent time in the pool both days I was there, before I checked in and after I checked out. Even though the day I checked out it was cloudy and rainy. It also doesn’t include the beach which is made up of dead coral. Something you definitely don’t see every day at a beach.
When you arrive and check-in, you are given a wristband to wear for the duration of your stay as well as a map of the island with and activity and tour price-list, plus a schedule of all events for the week. They have you covered. It also allows you to figure out everything you want and can do.
One thing I really appreciated is the fact that the Fitzroy Island Resort has an air-conditioned luggage storage for people who arrive before check-in and who leave after check-out. I was both of those. I took the ferry over earlier in the day, arrived and was told where to store my luggage before I went and had lunch. There are open shelves in the storage room as well as paid lockers you can rent. It’s a great set-up for guests.
Foxy’s Bar is a huge, covered, open area on the beach where everyone, including families, are welcome. They serve a casual food menu and there were even vegetarian options for me. I thought the food was of a good quality and I was very happy with my lunch. They were also setting up for a buffet while I was finishing my food so I guess they offer that too.
The Dive & Adventure Centre
The dive and adventure centre is the place to go for almost everything water based on the island. They rent out all the equipment you could need, including the stinger suits, as well as organize and run the tours. A stinger suit wasn’t personally an option for me at the time I was visiting but I did take the Glass Bottomed Boat Tour out to see the Great Barrier Reef. Other than feeling a bit bad for being on a boat in the water over the Great Barrier Reef that is dying, it was amazing. And it provided me a way to see the Reef without having to dive. It was awesome and an amazing experience.
I ate here for dinner the night I arrived as well as breakfast the next morning. I had a bit of a later dinner but the restaurant definitely wasn’t overly busy the night I was there. My meal was fancier than the bar lunch I had earlier in the day but they were both delicious and great quality. Like I said, the menu was fancy at Zephyr which means there were only a handful of items to choose from and only one was a vegetarian option.
The restaurant was quite busy for breakfast the next day though. I paid the additional charge for breakfast when I booked my room and there was quite a lot to choose from considering I am a vegetarian. That being said, I have had breakfasts of the same quality, or even better, free at other hotels I’ve stayed at.
The General Store
The General Store is the only store on the island and it is mainly there for tourists so it contains necessities and some basics and it is priced accordingly. Just like any other convenience-type store you would find in a hotel but bigger and with a larger selection.
Between the physical pain I was in and my friend sending me money for Christmas, I decided to get a massage at the Fitzroy Island Resort. I had about six hours or so after I checked out of my room so I stored my luggage in the storage room and paid for the massage.
They prefer you book a massage while you are still staying in the resort, before you check out, and they happily come to your room then which adds to the relaxation. But there was a room on the main floor where I was able to get the massage in. You can also get a 20-minute foot massage at the pool if you prefer that. Or if you want, get both. You are at a resort on an island surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef so you might as well enjoy yourself.
Necessities and Entertainment
Fitzroy Island Resort is a great place for singles, couples, but also families. In fact, the resort has quite a lot to offer and entertain.
Guest Laundry Room, Kids Room, Games Room, Library, Movie Cinema
The Fitzroy Island Resort was amazing and if I ever end up in the area again I would really like another stay, but for a few days next time. I loved my time there. The only downside is the fact that everything is an additional cost. Nothing was included in the nightly stay price for the room. But it was so beautiful and relaxing there.
The final destination on The 2016 European Museum Tour was actually the first place in Europe we arrived. London, England. My favourite city. After living in London years ago, I always jump at any opportunity to go back and visit. I love the feel, the history, and the architecture of the city. It just always makes me feel happy and comfortable to be there. On any day of the week you can find something to see or do. I swear no matter how long you are there, you can always find something new.
Here are the Museums we visited in London during The 2016 European Museum Tour.
Tower of London
This is the only museum with an admission fee from our London portion of the 2016 European Museum Tour. The Tower of London (website) is not only a walled castle/palace where the royalty previously lived and ruled from, but it was also a prison. At the same time. The history remains today in the buildings still standing, the ruins left behind, the stories being told, and even in the walls.
The Tower of London offers visitors a partial guided tour filled with stories of intrigue, death, greed, justice, pain, and even love. While they are responsible for looking after the crown jewels, and any prisoners (not held there anymore) the Yeomen Warders or Beefeaters as they are sometimes called, are also providing the tour. They are former military who look after the Tower and the ravens, but also tell a really good story. The Tower of London offers tours with ASL as well as descriptive tours of the Jewel House and the White Tower for visually impaired and blind visitors.
There are even actors dressed in period clothing, putting on shows throughout the grounds of the castle and talking to visitors. Nothing like interactive history for the entire family.
Several collections are housed inside the Tower of London and are included in the cost of your admission. The Armoury, the Royal Jewels, the White Tower (where the two Princes were believed to have been buried), the Royal Mint, and even the historical armour worn by kings which are displayed in Line of Kings.
If like me you love history and architecture, you’ll love walking through buildings that actually show you inside the walls. You can see how builders in that time period structured the walls and the buildings.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Like I said earlier, no matter how long you are in London there will always be something new. I lived there for three years and I have been back to visit several times but during the 2016 European Museum Tour, it was my very first trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum (website).
Calling itself the world’s leading museum of art and design I can confirm that I saw items in this museum that I have never seen in a museum before. And I loved it. With items on display spanning over 5,000 years and showing creativity in almost every medium, the Victoria and Albert Museum was a delight.
Needing to replenish with food and drink? The Victoria and Albert museum has three period rooms you can try out. Which apparently, are the world’s oldest museum restaurants, having been designed in the 1860’s. Interactive museum display, I love it! There is the ornately decorated Gamble Room, the Poynter Room(originally called the Grill Room), and The Morris Room.
There was the collection of wrought iron items. The staircase and balconies from a historical building in France. A façade of a building from the UK. There was just so much to see that you normally don’t get a chance to see in most museums. I really enjoyed the visit and will probably go again.
While admission for the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum is free, some exhibitions and events have a separate charge.
National Art Gallery
Love art? Want to see paintings created by some of the most famous names in the history of art? Want to see art created by people hundreds of years ago? Oh, and do you want to see all that for free? Then the National Art Gallery (website) is the joy you have been looking for.
I squealed like a man who saw a spider in front of him, as he walked around a corner and someone jumped out at him. I could not contain my excitement. I’ll explain…..
Leonardo da Vinci is my favourite painter. I love so many different painters but he is my favourite. Plus, the man was a crazy genius. Anyway, during the Paris portion of the 2016 European Museum Tour we saw his ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ painting at the Louvre, which is one of my favourite. Then as I was walking around the National Art Gallery in London, I saw it again. So, of course I Googled. He painted two of them and I have now seen both. This is something that hadn’t even made it onto my bucket list yet and I was already crossing it off. It was so exhilarating and amazing that I don’t feel these words describe the experience enough.
Needless to say, The National Art Gallery of London is a great way to spend some of your touristy time and embrace all the excitement and joy of witnessing the works of some amazingly talented painters. Plus, it is open every day. It’s also located in Trafalgar Square so you can cross that off your ‘to see’ list too. And after, you can either head up to Piccadilly Circus & Leicester Square or down the Royal Mile to Buckingham Palace.
Another museum that offers free admission, the British Museum (website) is a bit of a prickly subject for me. Because of an article I read years ago, I don’t appreciate the ‘how’ a lot of the artifacts were apparently acquired in foreign countries. For years I wouldn’t even visit this museum, until one day I finally walked in. I generally stick to items from the UK though, which means there is still so much to see because of the country’s lengthy history.
This visit, I found the old previous British Library room. It was magnificent. The room itself was wonderful and that alone made me want to just sit in the middle of it, on the floor. I didn’t though. The room is now called the Enlightenment Room though seeing as the British Library is now housed in its own building.
One of the hardest parts of the 2016 European Museum Tour was that I did it while I was injured and limited in movements and stamina. It made it hard to see everything I wanted as well as walk around the different venues. I had to stop and rest a lot. My cousin found these great folding stools you could use at the British Museum though. They were lightweight so it wasn’t hard to carry them around, plus you could use them to sort of help you walk. Then when you wanted to, or needed to, you unfolded it and rested. Every museum should offer these!
Squeeeeee!!! You might be wondering why a library would bring about that kind of a reaction. If you are, you have no idea what the British Library (website) contains. Imagine a 9-story building with over 150 million items. Not just exhibits or every publication ever produced in the UK and Ireland (EVERY ITEM) either. But there are also maps, sound recordings, drawings, the world’s earliest dated print book (the Diamond Sutra), the Magna Carta and even a napkin containing handwritten song lyrics by one of the Beatles. The variety of the objects housed at the museum is unbelievable and I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else. They have Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook, Chinese oracle bones that are over 3,000 years old, and even a recording of Nelson Mandela’s Rivonia trial speech.
We only went into one room the day we were there and I could have spent even more time in that room. The only other thing we visited was a punk rock exhibit. This is definitely a museum for me to visit more than once. Not only that but the library is open every day where you can take a tour, check out the exhibits, shop, eat, or even reserve and sit in one of the many reading rooms.
The British Library was an easy visit for the 2016 European Museum Tour because it is located right by the King’s Cross St. Pancras, Euston and Euston Square train and underground stations. Pssst, they also have free Wi-Fi.
Each of the museums have so much to see and do as well as wonderful facilities for visitors.
Please note when I say these museums are open every day, the hours are different for the days of the week and they are not open on all holidays. I’ve included the links to each website for you to double check though.
The FabFitFun Fall 2018 Subscription Box was one I was really waiting for. I didn’t see any of the spoilers for it but once we were able to make our choices, I knew. I was really going to like the contents of the Fall 2018 box. The items that sold it for me were the tote and the wireless headphones.
So without any more delay, here is what was in the box FabFitFun Fall 2018 Subscription Box.
I don’t wear a lot of foundation but I randomly do so receiving a BeautyBlender (website) was a great idea by the FabFitFun team. I don’t know enough about them or use them enough to know which manufacturers are the better option but I’m happy with this one.
GlamGlow Bubblesheet Oxyfenating Deep Cleanse Mask (2 pack)
I haven’t been eating so well lately and my face has been showing the effects so I haven’t been able to try these GlamGlow (website) cleansing masks yet. But I will update this article as soon as I do. I’m also excited to try them cause they look cool.
Oh this mask was amazing. You damped your face then apply the very wet mask. Wait 3 minutes for it to do its job before you take off the mask. Rub in the bubbles left on your skin then fully rinse your face.
While I was wearing the mask I could feel it tingling. It felt so cool. When it was on my face I watched the mask turn white from bubbles. Then I took off the mask and the part touching my skin didn’t have any bubbles on it at all. The only downside is it kinda dried out my skin. That’s probably just because my skin is quite dry to start with which is why I usually only use a milk cleanser. I really liked this mask though. It ended up being an experience.
Simply Whimsical Tea Towels
These Simply Whimsical (website) tea towels are a waffle textured, neutral tea towel that would work for almost every kitchen décor. They are white with a light grey line pattern. Considering my room is painted a dark grey they work really well for me but they really are quite neutral. They are also quite absorbent. I find some tea towels can be rough and not very absorbent but these don’t just move the moisture around, they absorb it.
Skin&Co Roma Blue in Capri
This refreshing Skin&Co (website) shower gel is green not blue like the name implies. I like my shower gel to lather up and this one does so I was impressed with it. The label describes ‘notes of alpine rose, sage, wild basil, and autumn blossom’ but I honestly can’t tell you what scent it is. Maybe I’m not overly neutral because I like most shower gels, but I like this one.
Choices For Everyone
Crown Brush 6-piece Brush Set in Black & Rose Gold or Silver
Vince Camuto Luck Tote in Black or Red Desert
I was tempted to choose both these items but in the end, I decided I don’t need all those make-up brushes. I’m very happy with my choice though because I’ve been using the special FabFitFun Vince Camuto (website) Luck Tote every day since I received my FabFitFun Fall 2018 Subscription Box. It’s the perfect size to carry my laptop, a notebook, a bottle of water, and any other items I may need. It’s a big bag with only one pocket near the top of the bag but it’s not too big that I can’t find things. The pocket is a bit annoying though. It doesn’t stay in place and I have had small items fall out.
Alfred French Coffee Press
Okay, I don’t drink coffee or tea but I get a lot of guests who do so I figured I would choose the Alfred (website) french coffee press. I had a Keurig and I figured giving my coffee loving guests another option would be nice of me. Turns out it was a necessity.
I was trying to clean my house and I was being lazy about putting the coffee maker back in the cupboard. Sticking it in the oven seemed like a good idea. I guess it was until I turned the oven on to cook something and I forgot the Keurig machine was in there. If you were wondering, those things bake rather quickly. The main body was just starting to twist and change shape but the tray on the bottom where the cups sat, yeah, that melted fast. So fast it was dripping through the oven racks. As you can guess, I was very happy I chose the Alfred French Coffee Press in my FabFitFun Fall 2018 Subscription Box.
Catherine Malandrino Umbrella in Red Floral or Black/White Floral
Cylo Cobra Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds in Black or White
I chose the Cylo Cobra Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds (website) in black and I was really excited to receive them because I’ve never had wireless headphones before. I’m not sure if I would buy these ones again though. A huge annoyance is the fact that I never know when they are close to running out of charge until they just stop working. The battery sign on my phone shows I have battery charge then in no time the earbuds cutout. It’s very, very frustrating. This happens with my friend’s too and hers are a different brand so maybe it is all wireless earbuds.
Also, a problem for people like me with small ears is these don’t sit inside my ears like they are supposed to. I’m using the smallest rubber buds that were included but they still don’t fit. They continuously fall out. Kinda annoying when you are trying to have a conversation.
Choices For Select Members Only (non-members receive one product from each group but you don’t get a chance to make a choice)
Grown Alchemist Hydra-Repair Day Cream
Grown Alchemist Hydra-Restore Cream Cleanser
Grown Alchemist Polishing Facial Exfoliant
I’m not a select member so I didn’t have a choice with these items in my FabFitFun Fall 2018 box. I received the exfoliant and while I really do not need any more exfoliants, I swear there is one in almost every FabFitFun box, I really like this one. The Grown Alchemist Polishing Facial Exfoliant (website) is gentle enough to use daily and contains ingredients like mandarin & grapefruit peel oils as well as evening primrose and rosehip oils. My face liked it.
Farmacy Dew It All Total Eye Cream
Cuccio Somatology Yogahhh! Detox Bath
Touch In Sol Metallist Liquid Foil Lipstick Duo in ‘Penny’
I was so happy with the FabFitFun Fall 2018 Subscription Box team for sending me the Touch In Sol Metallist Liquid Foil Lipstick Duo in Penny (website). I freakin’ love this lipstick and wear them both all the time. The only downside is I wish I had received it in the spring box instead though. I would have really loved the colours in the summer with a tan. Even when it doesn’t feel like I have any gloss (it feels like gloss) left on my lips, the colour remains, which is wonderful.
This season’s box was sponsored by the Luna Rica Bar so we received one for free. Mine was the Salted Caramel Nut flavour and I liked it. The texture was like one of those items made with dates and I couldn’t really taste the salted caramel flavour but it was a good snack.
FabFitFun Winter 2018 Subscription Box Spoiler:
So far there has been one spoiler for the winter 2018 box, a really nice looking woollen throw blanket. Yayyyyy, I love comfy stuff in the winter!
As part of my unexpected foodie year this year, I’ve been visiting different cafes, chocolate shops, ice cream shops, bakeries, and pretty much anything else that serves treats. While I’m trying places all over the Lower Mainland, downtown does have a lot of options. One of them is Thierry café and chocolate shop (website), pretty much right in the main hub of downtown Vancouver, on Alberni Street between Thurlow and Burrard. Their website says they are recognized as one of the best coffee houses by Vancouver Magazine. I can’t confirm or deny that seeing as I don’t do coffee or tea but I can tell you I enjoyed every delicious edible treat I tried and every chocolate drink I drank.
You can enjoy taking a break to treat yourself with either one of their indoor tables or one of their year-round heated patio tables. Word of warning though, this is a very busy place and every time I have been there, it’s been busy. Like busy enough if can be a bit of a wait for a table.
Thankfully for us chocolate lovers, Thierry café and chocolate shop has a few choices of hot chocolate drinks to choose from, and in several different flavours. They also have a cold chocolate drink for cooling down in the heat.
Caramel Liquid Chocolate
The caramel flavoured house blend liquid chocolate was delicious, and a real treat. It wasn’t as thick or rich as Minks’ (see below for that one) but instead it was a wonderful, sweet, hot chocolate drink with a hint of caramel. I loved that it had the additional flavour of caramel. I also really enjoyed it not being overly rich and thick, it made it easier to drink. They also have coconut, hazelnut, basque chili, and kayambe flavoured liquid chocolate. I have no idea what those last two are but I don’t like spicy chocolate drinks so I for sure won’t be trying the chili one.
Hot Chocolate – Milk
I found their regular hot chocolate to be sweet and creamy. Not overly chocolatey but that could be because I had tried their liquid chocolate first and my taste buds were a bit thrown off. I tried it again another day and creamy definitely wins as the strongest flavour but it’s still chocolatey without being overly sweet. Just know that if you decide to grab a hot chocolate for take-away, it is only available in medium size for that.
Iced Chocolate – Milk
I made a trip into Thierry café and chocolate shop on a really nice hot summer day so I tried their cold chocolate drink offering. Their Iced Chocolate drink in milk chocolate is made with only mocha powder, milk, ice, vanilla, and then sprinkled with cocoa powder on top. It makes for a refreshing cold chocolate drink that is not overly rich, chocolatey, or sweet. I’ve added vanilla to my own homemade chocolate drinks so I know it cuts the rich, bitter chocolate taste to make a mild chocolate drink without it being sweet.
Pink Praline Brioche
I’ve never had a brioche before but I thought it looked like a cinnamon bun just without cinnamon so I’d give it a try. Turns out it is a type of French pastry which I found to be flaky & buttery like a croissant. There were a few nuts pieces inside, maybe walnut, but it wasn’t very sweet and I couldn’t really taste much praline. It was good and the centre is where most of the sweetness, praline, and nuts were but because I had a misunderstanding of what I was eating, I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t sweeter with more praline flavour.
Chocolate Marquise Cake Slice
I really enjoyed this light chocolate mousse cake. It had a crunchy base layer, and it was just light and delicious. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot to say because I ended up eating it really fast. Oooopps! It was so good though.
Theirry café and chocolate shop has a pretty good selection of traditional and less traditional flavours of macarons. It’s probably me, but I haven’t been able to tell the difference between macarons made at different shops. I find they taste the same. I think this means I have to keep trying more so that I can become more of a connoisseur. But for now, I’ll continue enjoying them everywhere I try them, including Theirry’s.
Chocolate Trio Cake Slice
Uummmm, I unknowingly keep choosing mousse cakes when I visit Thierry. The chocolate trio cake slice consists of a thin layer of cake, a slightly thicker layer of dark chocolate mousse, another thin layer of chocolate cake, before a slightly thicker layer of each milk chocolate and white chocolate mousse. It is such a great mix of flavours and textures. A real light cake treat but with a sugary sweet mix of chocolates. I loved it!
A Seasonal Treat:
Beignets with Chocolate and Caramel Sauces (offered only for a few weeks during Mardi Gras time)
Another thing I had never even heard of before, the beignet is like a square doughnut but lighter and less greasy. The six pieces were served warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and came with two of three sauces. We chose chocolate and caramel sauce (sorry I can’t remember the other sauce offered, I was too excited with the caramel). These were absolutely delicious and very welcome on a cold March day, but six pieces was also a bit too much for two people to share. Maybe Thierry café and chocolate shop could offer them as four pieces or I guess I could bring two friends to share with me next time.
As you can see, I have enjoyed everything I’ve tried at Thierry cafe and chocolate shop so far and I can’t wait to try more of their delicious treats.
London is a massive city with so much to offer, it is impossible to list everything. But what I can do is list a few of the places where I have spent time shopping and eating in London. I can also try to share a bit of information on what is available and what you can look forward to. The options for shopping and eating in London range from incredibly cheap to incredibly expensive. You can also find something from every corner of the world. It really is amazing.
Eating in London
You can choose to eat at a pub that is several hundred years old, or an expensive hotel restaurant that is also several hundred years old. How about eating food from a country you have never visited, or maybe just stick to eating something more within your comfort zone. Try the London invention of afternoon tea for the first time, or enjoy a kabob at the end of a night of drinking just like the locals. Maybe you would prefer to just shop for groceries at Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s. Like these Urban Fruit (website) treats that are healthy, chewy, and basically candy-like. They are 100% fruit with no added sugar or sulphites, just baked fruit. I ate them every day and brought a huge amount home with me. To say I loved them is a bit of an understatement so I highly recommend them.
Some of the Urban Fruit treats I brought home from London.
Shopping in London
If you are a reader, one option is visiting Hatchards on Piccadilly; London’s oldest bookstore at over 200 years old. Next door to it is Fortnum & Mason which for over 300 years has been supplying people with wonderful food and even picnic supplies. How about walking along Regent Street between Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street. Or walk down Oxford Street. You can spend a day shopping in amazing but also historical shops like Hamleys toy store, as well as Liberty, Debenhams, and Selfridges department stores. And just on the other side of Hyde Park is Harrods.
Those shops are only a few of the big, famous names you might recognize. You could also mix shopping and eating in London with history at the same time and visit one of the many markets. There really are an endless supply of options. With such an overwhelming selection for shopping and eating in London, I’ll share my choices from my last visit.
Shopping and Eating in London Markets
The markets in London range from enclosed shops to covered, tented stalls to just tables. They offer everything from food to clothes, to flowers, to antiques, to even what some might consider junk. There are so many markets for you to choose from to do some shopping and eating in London. Markets have been surviving as a shopping option in England for more than a thousand years so it’s not really a surprise they offer so many different ones to visit.
Some of the more famous ones are Covent Garden, Portobello Road, and Camden Lock, but there are so many more. I’ve been to several but my most recent trip to London had me visiting Borough Market for the first time.
Located across the street from the London Bridge Underground station, Borough Market (website) is an amazing food market that celebrated their 1000-year anniversary a few years ago. Nobody knows exactly when it was first established but the 1014 date has been used because of a story talking about the great market town of Southwark. Which is where Borough Market is located and now part of London. The website calls the market Britain’s renowned food market and from personal experience I can say, this market is like a foodie’s dream. There were food vendors of all types. Produce, spices, cheese, breads, meats, condiments, and almost anything else you can think of. I even bought an amazing vegetarian pate. Oh, and don’t forget the wine and other alcohols.
The busy market is an amazing sight even if you aren’t a foodie. There were vendors selling delicious street foods, some selling candies from other countries, and even shops where you could taste wines before purchasing. It’s a bit of a different place where you can do some shopping and eating in London but you also get to meet the farmers growing the produce, the fisherman who caught the fish, or the person who created one of the many different artisan products because they are the people working many of the stalls. It really is an experience.
There are also several restaurants in Borough Market for you to enjoy but we went to the chocolate one.
Rabot 1745 in Borough Market
Located in Borough Market, Rabot 1745 (website) tantalizes patrons with food, drinks, desserts, and treats to take home, all using cocoa. It was a wonderful, delicious find. It was also the very first time I had a frozen, blended chocolate drink, and now I love them. Rabot 1745 is a chocolate lover’s restaurant where customers are served chocolate products from different locations around the world. Chocolate really does taste different from each country and this restaurant lets you try a lot of it.
Not everything on the menu contains cacao but a lot of it does. Like I said, I really enjoyed my frozen, blended drink but I also enjoyed the chocolate bars I brought home with me. Both the market and the Rabot 1745 restaurant were packed busy. Again, a location where I can do some shopping and eating in London, at the same time.
Rabot 1745 Iced Chocolate drink
Cath Kidston Shop
Cath Kidston (website) carries clothes, handbags, travel bags, wallets, items for the home, kitchen, children, and even babies. They have a huge selection of stuff in their flagship store on Piccadilly. That location is also open for like 10 hours almost every day too so it makes it easy to shop. The styles tend to be floral, animals, and characters. That kind of thing. Which works for me because I seem to have some sort of unconscious obsession where every time I travel to a foreign country, I buy myself something floral.
While Cath Kidston has many locations, none of them are located in North America. Actually, in any of the Americas. I didn’t even know about the brand until this trip. I saw a really cute handbag being carried by someone on the tube and noticed the name. So, it meant I had to go shopping.
I have one complaint with Cath Kidston and part of it is probably related to my country of residence. After using a handbag I bought only a few times over a several days, a piece on one of the handles started to fall apart. I was back in Vancouver by then but I still contacted them regarding a return because I had bought the bag less than a week before and had only used it like two or three times. It grew into an ordeal. Apparently, it costs more than they were expecting to ship something from Canada to the UK. Emails went back and forth and it took quite a while but finally, everything moved forward and they replaced my handbag.
I was happy they were willing to help me with the defective product but I wish it would have been quicker and less of an ordeal. The second bag took months of use before the same problem happened again. It wasn’t anything major enough to complain about a second time though (it was a rubber filler in the seam of the handle) so I’ve been living with it.
I was happy with the product, the selection, and my experience so I will shop there again.
Afternoon Tea at the British Museum
Afternoon Tea in the British Museum
Our first day in London was July 1, 2016. Canada Day. So, we decided being in London for Canada Day was the perfect time to enjoy our very first afternoon tea. And what better place than the British Museum. I’m so happy we did this. While having afternoon tea would have been delicious and a great experience at any of the famous, historical locations normally associated with it, for two museum lovers like us, this was an awesome memory. Also, the afternoon tea at the British Museum was the most affordable option of all the ones we looked into that day.
If shovelling your face with mini sandwiches, scones, desserts, and tea is not your thing, (I’m not saying you’re crazy, but really?) they also serve other foods. The Great Court Restaurant (website) is located under the beautiful glass roof of the Great Court, at the top of the spiral staircase. It has an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs, and it even has a bar. It’s quite a bright location under that glass roof even if it is a bit loud being in the semi-open court. But just eating my first afternoon tea in a large, stunning museum made me happy. Bonus, now I am also slightly addicted to afternoon tea and even found a delicious vegetarian one in Victoria, BC.
Crumbs & Doilies Cupcake Shop
My cousin Megan watched a TV program here in Canada on the Food Network YouTube channel from Crumbs & Doilies Cupcakes (website) in Soho, London. So of course, we had to go to the shop for cupcakes. Located on one of London’s many cobbled walkways, it is between Beak Street & Kingly Court just off Carnaby Street in Soho. They were a bit difficult to find for anyone not knowing the area because it really is a walkway between streets and the GPS on our phones had issues. But it wasn’t the only shop there and it is a cool location. I’m glad we made the effort to find it instead of giving up.
Crumbs & Doillies had quite a selection of regular size and mini cupcakes, as well as cakes. What they have in stock changes daily also so you will always be surprised. I had just started eating sugar again and it was my birthday the next day so I kept it simple and bought an assortment of five different mini cupcakes. Of course there was a caramel option for me cause it is my favourite, but the rainbow one with glittery sparkles looked the most fun, unicorn-like, & pretty. All were a sweet, delicious treat though.
Where else other than the UK are you going to find a Chocolate Guinness flavoured cupcake or a Lavender Caramel one? How about trying a Malteser, Cinnamon Toast, or Buttered Popcorn flavour? You could always go with some more common ones though if you prefer. Like Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Chocolate, or Red Velvet.
You can order from them online to get your specific choice or you can take a chance and be surprised with what they have for sale in their shop when you walk-in. Not only does Soho offer quite the assortment of shopping and eating in London options but it is also located between Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street and Leister Square. So it is a wonderful location to visit so many other places.
Jamie’s Italian Restaurant
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this restaurant by Jamie Oliver. I had never eaten at a restaurant owned by a famous chef before, or even someone I watched on TV, so I might have set the bar pretty high. Which could explain why I wasn’t overly impressed. Don’t get me wrong, the restaurant was very nice and the food was good, but it just didn’t jump out at me as anything better than other restaurants I’ve eaten at.
We visited the Jamie’s Italian (website) London Bridge location which is in the Hilton London Tower Bridge hotel. It allows the restaurant to have longer opening hours which means they also serve breakfast. We were there for dinner though and one place the restaurant excelled at was the vegetarian options. I really appreciated the large selection on the menu. Some of the choices even had protein which is not always an option with vegetarian meals in most restaurants.
There are locations in Piccadilly and Covent Garden too.
These are a few of the places I visited for shopping and eating in London on my last visit but this is an enormous city with what feels like endless options. I didn’t even discuss the pubs. Some are new and centered around the tourists while others have been at their location for hundreds of years. London has so many things to see and do but even if you only have a few days you will be able to experience so many things.
Have you also recently been to London? Do you have a few suggestions on where to go for shopping and eating?
So far this summer, soft ice cream appears to be my new favourite treat. Well, that and chocolate. But in all fairness chocolate has been a favourite a bit longer than just this summer. I’m trying to mix the two together now though which is new for me. In my search for ‘unknown to me’ treat sources, I happily found Cacao 70. It’s like a bit of sweet chocolate heaven mixed with food. You know, a happy place to go and possibly receive a sugar coma if you decide to go all out.
Cacao 70 (website) has three different types of shops, in three different locations in Vancouver. There is the Cacao 70 Dip Shop in Gastown, which is about chocolate dipped cones, and waffles. The Cacao 70 Eatery on Denman, which has chocolate treats like fondue, pizza (yup, really), and cake as well as things that come with chocolate like waffles and crepes. And the Cacao 70 Sweet House on Granville Street, which is actually a mix of both the Dip Shop and the Eatery. Plus, there is also a Cacao 70 Dip Shop in Richmond and a Cacao 70 Sweet House in North Vancouver. Each location also has coffee, tea as well as a pretty good hot and cold chocolate drinks selection.
Cacao 70 Dip Shop
The Dip Shop in Gastown was the first Cacao 70 location I visited. It’s a cute, small, shop with only like two or three small tables but you don’t need to stay and sit to enjoy this treat. Oh yah, there are also no public washrooms here. Or recycling.
Because this is the Dip Shop, more emphasis is put on the chocolate dip flavours. You are given 11 wonderfully flavoured, warm, liquid chocolate selections to choose from to mix with either a dipped cone, or a dipped cone and waffle combo. There are also two large mixing containers for you to watch chocolate being stirred, all behind the wall of drool protecting windows.
Cacao 70 Sweet House
The Sweet House on Granville Street, between Robson Street and West Georgia, was newly opened when I visited. This one is a long narrow shop which means it has more seats than the Dip Shop. There are counters and tables in the front, as well as tables along the sides and more in the back. The set-up is pretty much the same as the Dip Shop but on a larger scale and with more menu items being offered. The location is also a much busier one.
It’s a simple thing, but I felt the container of self-serve lemon water was a great addition considering all the sweet chocolate being sold and consumed. When I visited I ordered one of the dipped cone with waffle combos. These are mini masterpieces with several pieces involved and they are created once ordered so I did have to wait. Thankfully because there wasn’t anyone ordering or waiting in front of me, it was only a few minutes. I can see how it would be possible to have a long wait though, depending on how busy it was and how many people ordered the more time consuming items.
Dipped Cone – Praline Chocolate
I went with a small cone dipped in the praline chocolate. It was delicious. With a thicker than I expected layer of creamy, flavourful chocolate to get through before you even get to the sweet soft ice cream, the entire treat is quite sweet. I really enjoyed it.
It’s a pretty simple process from ordering to eating, but thankfully there is a sign explaining it all because it’s not just about picking a size and dipping flavour. Step #4 is really important. Well, the part in the ( ) sure is and I feel like this is probably missed or underestimated, a lot. I underestimated it myself. You see, in the ( ) you are told to wait 1-2 minutes for the chocolate to harden before you start eating. I didn’t wait quite long enough obviously because I spent a lot of time trying to either catch the dripping ice cream or cleaning my hand. It was a bit messy and there was nowhere to wash up.
Chilled Chocolate Classic – Iced Americocoa
I guess it depends on what you are looking for in your iced chocolate drink. I did not like this one at all. To me it tasted like it was made with powdered cocoa & ice, that’s it. Turns out that pretty much is how it’s made. Their premium chocolate powder is mixed with a bit of water before it is blended with ice. I liked the fact it was more chocolate and less sweet but it was just kind of ruined with the powdered chocolate taste, so the taste buds weren’t impressed.
That being said, I could see how this would taste better in a hot format so the powder can dissolve completely.
Chilled Chocolate Classic – Iced Mexicocoa
I don’t like spicy chocolate so I didn’t try this one. I can tell you it contains a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper though.
Cacao 70 Frappe – Salted Caramel with added Dark Chocolate
Holy crap, this one was a lot sweeter and way better than the powdered taste and granules of the Chilled Chocolate Classic. Besides having the option of milk alternatives, and whether you want to add a scoop of dipping chocolate, you are able to choose a flavour for your Frappe. Obviously the flavoured syrup makes it sweeter but the Frappe is also made quite differently than the Chilled Chocolate Classic.
First, chocolate and cream are heated together and then refrigerated overnight to create a ganache. For the Frappe, a scoop of the ganache is mixed with milk, ice, and a flavoured syrup. You are delivered a much smoother, creamier, and sweeter beverage because of it. If you choose to, you can also add chocolate. This isn’t just any chocolate though, it is a scoop of one of the heated, melted dipping chocolates in either dark, milk, or white. I did it for information the first time but oh the next time, I’m going to do it for enjoyment. Because when the chocolate starts out warm and is added to the cold, it creates these soft chocolate pieces that melt in your mouth.
There are six flavours to choose from for the Frappe. If you add chocolate to them, the suggestion is the first two flavours can be paired with dark chocolate, the next two with milk chocolate, and the last two flavours with white chocolate. But of course, choose whatever combo you want, I did.
Classic Waffle Combo – The Cocobo
Wow! This was a lot of rich, sweet chocolate. It starts with a little mini waffle partially dipped in dark chocolate. Then a mini waffle cone filled with soft serve ice cream and dipped in dark chocolate is placed upside down on the non-dipped portion of the waffle. It is then topped with whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, coconut chips, and little chocolate wafer balls. It is sweet, indulgent, and delicious. The waffle was a bit on the harder side though. It made it difficult to cut with the knife.
Brewed Chocolate – Hot Cocoa
I haven’t tried this yet because the weather has been a bit too warm but I was told it was made with the premium chocolate powder and milk.
Cacao 70 Classic Hot Chocolate
Again, I haven’t tried this yet but I did find out how it was made during the colder months. Milk, cream, and chocolate chips are blended together and kept heated in the hot chocolate stirring dispenser (I don’t know what those things are actually called. Yet.) It’s obviously a creamier hot chocolate with both the milk and cream added.
London as a town, city, and major port was established by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago but settlements have been there for something like 6,000 years. To say London has experienced everything probably isn’t even an exaggeration. It survived the plague, tyranny, many wars, and it has survived a lot of growing pains. It is a city full of history, knowledge, and experience. Not only is it easy getting around London but it is a city with convenient options.
Getting To and From London
Getting to London is actually quite easy. Most airlines offer deals if you watch for them. Last time I flew with WestJet but I have also flown with Airtransat, Air Canada, and Lufthansa to name a few. London is one of the major hubs for travel in Europe so no matter where you are flying in from, it’s very accessible with flights all day to any of the five major airports. London Heathrow is the largest. It’s so massive, it’s actually one of the busiest in the world. I prefer Gatwick myself though. It’s the second largest in the UK so it is large but just not as humungous and chaotic as Heathrow. Skyscanner (affiliate link) can help you find the best price.
Getting To and From the International Airports
London is a really large city that is really old, so therefore has heaps of experience and knowledge. They’ve been doing public transportation longer than some countries have actually been countries. While this means all airports are easily accessible, it also means there can be delays and problems. All something I know from personal experience. It once took me like three hours to get from south London to Stanstead Airport because of a train breakdown and construction. Thankfully I had given myself a lot of extra time. Getting to and from each airport is quite easy though. I know there are buses, car rentals, and taxis but the following information is for the train. My favourite choice based on cost, speed, and efficiency.
Gatwick (website) is south of London and the best-connected airport with trains, making it very easy to access from all over England. The train station is conveniently located in the airport and the Gatwick Express runs a 30 min service to London Victoria station with trains leaving every 15 min. Thameslink has trains that go to other London stations but the trip does take a bit longer because there are other stops. You could also catch a Southern train to London Victoria but again, it will take just a bit longer because it has other stops. Your Oyster card (described below) can be used on all trains to and from London and Gatwick airport.
Heathrow (website) has trains and the Tube option. Also because Heathrow has several terminals you have to watch which stop you need to get off at.
Heathrow Express is the fast, non-stop, train journey taking you to Paddington station in London from Terminals 2 & 3 as well as Terminal 5. For Terminal 4 you will need to catch the free transfer train at Terminal 2 & 3. There are 4 transfer trains per hour and the ride is approx. 6 min. Heathrow Express departs every 15 min. Your Oyster card (described below) can’t be used on the Heathrow Express.
There is also the TfL Rail which has several stops between Heathrow and Paddington station so it takes longer. At Heathrow it stops at Terminals 2 & 3, and Terminal 4. For Terminal 5, you will have to get off at Terminal 2 & 3 to jump on the free terminal transfer train. There are 4 transfer trains per hour and the ride is approx. 6 min. The TfL Rail departs every 30 min. You can use the Oyster card with this train service.
The Tube (underground subway system) has three stops at Heathrow heading to and from London on the Piccadilly line. Terminal 2 & 3, Terminal 4, and Terminal 5. The Terminal 2 & 3 stop is between both terminals but there is an underground pedestrian walkway. You just need to know it will add time and walking distance. The Tube runs approx every 10 min. and it is the cheapest way to London from Heathrow, but it does take a bit longer depending on which station you are travelling to and from. You can use the Oyster card with the Tube to and from Heathrow.
Luton (website) is north of London and easily accessible by train. It’s actually the same line as Gatwick but in the opposite direction. It’s a little less convenient because the station is not right at the airport but there is a shuttle bus (approx. 10 min journey with trains every 10 min) to catch so it is still easy. If you choose Luton Airport as your station when you are purchasing a ticket to the airport, the shuttle bus is free. If you purchase a ticket to Luton Parkway, you will have to pay for the shuttle bus service (cash only). The train goes all the way south to Brighton so there are a few London stations it could stop at including St. Pancras International station. You can’t use the Oyster card (described below) for your ticket between Luton Airport and London (ex. St. Pancras International).
Catching the Stansted Express between Stansted (website) and London is very easy, the station is located at the airport. Mon, Fri, & Sat the express train to the airport also starts leaving London Liverpool Street station at like approx. 3:40 am. Trains depart the station every 15 minutes and the trip to the airport takes about 45-50 min. You can’t use the Oyster card (described below) with the Standsted Express.
Getting Around London Once You Are There
In my opinion, as far as major cities go, getting around London is one of the easiest. You don’t even have to rent a car, the public transportation system is awesome. It covers most of the city, is affordable, and it is easy to navigate. A lot of tube stations have help desks if you are a bit confused. There are also giant maps on the wall to help you, as well as small paper maps for you to grab and carry with you. Or print yourself a map before you leave home (Transport for London Tube Map website).
Public Transport Tickets
You can buy single trip tickets each time, purchase a one-day Travelcard, or buy the Oyster pay-as-you-go card. It depends on how long you will be in London, where you plan on travelling to, and what form of transport you will be using, but the Oyster card is simple, convenient, and the cheapest option. It can be used on the bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line, River Bus services, and most National Rail around London.
You pay a deposit for the Oyster card, then load it up with money to be used for your travels around the city. You will receive the deposit back if you return the card and you will also be refunded if your balance is £10 or less. With the card, the cost you pay for a 24-hour period from 4:30am to 4:29am on all travel, is capped. The cap value depends on the mode of transport but it makes things more affordable and you don’t have to know in advance what zones you will be visiting. Here is the website for information on tapping in and out (paying) because it is different depending on your transportation choice and you do not want to be fined or pay extra for your trip.
I picked up my Oyster card like seven years ago and I’ve kept it to use each time I go back. You can even buy a visitor Oyster card (website) online before you leave home and have it sent to you. Makes arriving and getting around London using the public transportation a bit easier with one less thing to worry about.
Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour
One of the first things I did when I moved to London, and what I usually recommend people do when they visit, is take the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour. It not only points out the sights and gives you a commentary on things you would probably miss or not learn if on your own, but it also provides transportation to each of these tourist sites for a time period of your choice, starting at 24 hours. It’s a great way to get your bearings and help in getting around London. You can use this affiliate link to purchase The London Pass which not only gives you a FREE 1-day Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour ticket but also FREE entry to over 80 attractions, museums, and tours. Plus, fast track entry at some of them. It could save you money and stress if works with you plans.
Also, a lot of touristy sights are located rather close together, within walking distance actually. It’s kind of hard to tell on a map but Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden are all within a short walk of each other. It makes getting around London even easier. Plus, there are so many places to eat, drink, and shop along the way.
Staying in An Airbnb
We stayed in Airbnb’s for the 2016 European Museum Tour and London was the best one out of them all. It was a newer, small studio but it used the space very well. There was a living room, kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom alcove. The only reason this was probably classified as a studio is for the lack of a door on the bedroom. It also had a washer and dryer so we could continue our trip without stinking. We lucked out finding a great place with a great host, we never had any problems contacting him. There was even wine waiting for us when we arrived!
I think I was even a bit more excited than normal about the FabFitFun Summer 2018 subscription box. Not only because I wasn’t as impressed with the Spring box as I normally am but also the first spoiler released was awesome. Then I received the email to customize my box and make my choices. Once I saw the choices I knew I was going to love the Summer 2018 box.
Pier 1 Imports Marble Ring Dish
This ring dish by Pier 1 (website) is not only pretty, it’s the perfect size to keep beside your kitchen sink, on your bedside table, or on your desk. Anywhere you find you have a habit of taking off your rings. No one wants to lose jewellery and this dish keeps your rings safe for you. I don’t wear a lot of jewellery so I appreciate the FabFitFun Summer 2018 subscription box containing something to hold the few things I do have instead of sending me more I won’t wear.
FOREO LUNA fofo
This was the first spoiler released for the FabFitFun Summer 2018 box and it was a doozie. FabFitFun and Foreo Luna (website) collaborated to exclusively offer this to members. They also released an app to work with it. The app and the device work together to analyzing your skin by giving you instructions to follow. All the information gives you a skin age. You also use both to kick up your cleansing routine a notch.
Recently I’ve been feeling very self-conscience about my skin so I was really looking forward to the analyzing part of this device. Now I’m living in denial-land, crying myself to sleep, and wondering where it all went wrong. Apparently, my skin age is older than my actual age. And instead of understanding this is a problem that will take time to fix, I analyze my skin every couple of days to see if it’s changed. It hasn’t. I am saddened and disturbed by this knowledge; I also find it helpful to work towards a solution. Hopefully. Maybe ignorance is bliss.
COOLA Face Sport SPF 50 White Tea Moisturizer
I haven’t tried this COOLA Face Sport (website) lotion but I do like the fact it is antioxidant rich, certified organic, as well as sweat & water proof. My face hates moisturizers mixed with SPF plus it is highly sensitive to SPF in general so I rarely put sunblock on it. Like the FabFitFun Summer 2017 subscription box, I will share this with someone who can test it for me though. I just have to find someone. We haven’t had the best weather here yet.
The rest of the following items were choices.
Choices for every member:
There were two choices of different items for each member to make. Of course, for each choice you can pick the ‘Surprise Me’ option instead and have the FabFitFun team choose for you, but I enjoy having a say in a few items.
First choice was between two different patterns for a Summer & Rose beach towel (palm print or pineapple print) or two different patterns for a Yumi Kim Makeup Train Case (floral print or navy).
Summer & Rose Palm Print Beach Towel
I’m guessing this Summer & Rose (website) beach towel started as a white microfibre towel that was painted with a cute, bright, summer style palm pattern. I say this because only the tops of each of the fibres has colour on it. As soon as you brush your hand around, you can see the white under the colours. I don’t have a beach towel so I am happy to finally have one and being microfiber means it will be absorbent without having to carry around a heavy, bulky towel. Plus, apparently sand won’t stick to it so I’m looking forward to testing out that claim.
Second choice was between three things. An Erth Tu Y Yo Ring (adjustable), Jaboneria Marianella Hawaiian Black Lava Body Caviar, or Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Gel.
Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Gel
This Aromatherapy Associates (website) muscle gel isn’t filled with chemicals or even peppermint so it doesn’t feel like it is burning for a long period of time. It’s more subtle. It contains several essential oils that provide a mild cooling sensation for a short period of time. Just enough to let you know you rubbed some kind of sport-like muscle gel on your body. But without the medicinal scent.
I was having a neck cramp with muscle spasms one day and applying heat wasn’t working. Then I remembered this gel. I applied some to my neck and within a short time the spams stopped. The neck was still cramped but it wasn’t quite as bad. I’m not saying this is a miracle solution for aches, but for me, it helped loosen things enough that I wasn’t struggling with the pain as much.
I also paid an additional $10 to add the following to my FabFitFun Summer 2018 subscription box:
Jaboneria Marianella Hawaiian Black Lava Body Caviar
This Jaboneria Marianella (website) body scrub feels great. I’m a bit biased though because I really enjoy body scrubs. The one downside is you need to stir this body caviar every time you use it to mix the ingredients together because the oils separate so quickly. It left my skin feeling soft and moisturized though. *A bit of warning, the oils in this product can cause slippery feet even if you aren’t using it on your feet. Slipping during, and leaving, the shower are possible. *
These were the additional choices if you are a select member. For non-select members, the choice was made for us by the wonderful FabFitFun employees.
tarte tarteist PRO to go palette and sex kitten liquid liner or what I received,
tarte tarteist PRO glow highlight & contour palette
This tarte (website) palette looks great. I love the fact it contains several highlighter and contour colour choices and two large mirrors. The problem for me is that I don’t need any more. So, while I really like this palette, I’ll probably end up sharing it with someone else instead.
ELEMIS Papaya Enzyme Peel or what I received,
ORLANDO PITA PLAY Atmos-Shield Hair Protectant Treatment Spray
In the last week, I’ve had three people pick apart my hair. “You need to make changes to your hair, it looks awful and it isn’t helping you.” “The colour isn’t a good one, it drains you.” “Your hair is too long, it drags you down.” “Your hair is frizzy; can’t you do something about that?” Sadly, these were comments made by family and friends trying to be helpful, so you get an idea of how bad my hair looks. Then, I opened my FabFitFun Summer 2018 box to find this Orlando Pita Play (website) treatment spray. I was super excited to see what it could do with the frizz from colouring my hair.
Sadly, this treatment spray does not control my frizz. It does do a bang-up job coating the hair though, leaving it feeling silky and soft. I don’t use heat on my hair because I don’t want to damage it more than it already is but I really like how this spray can also be applied to protect against UV rays from the sun. It will take a bit more use to decide if it really helps but I still love the way it makes my hair feel so I’ll be continuing to use it no matter.
Minor History Post Script Wallet, Maji Sports Loop Resistance Band, or what I received,
Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
Well, I would have preferred the resistance band instead of another exfoliating cleanser but I am still excited by this Vasanti (website) product. I’ve used it a few times. The first time my face broke out quite a bit. It might have been coincidence though because I have used it several times since without any problems. I have very sensitive skin and other than the first breakout, my face wasn’t bothered by the abrasiveness or the ingredients.
Because this is a cleanser and exfoliate, it’s a rather convenient way to add exfoliating to my skin care routine. Which I normally forget to do on a regular basis. I also really enjoy the fact that it is natural. I can’t say for sure if my face looks any different but between the convenience and my face not reacting poorly, I’m happy with it and will continue to use it on a regular basis.
I’m not exactly sure how items are chosen for each season or how the choices are made for each member but the FabFitFun team do a great job. Again, I personally would have preferred the resistance band in my FabFitFun Summer 2018 subscription box but I do have hopes for future boxes. Maybe more exercise options, make-up brushes instead of make-up, maybe one of those cloth make-up removing towels. Because I don’t wear a lot of make-up and jewellery, I’m kind of getting overwhelmed. Although, I am only one person and obviously enough people enjoy everything in these boxes seeing as they always sell out.
The FabFitFun Summer 2018 subscription box sold out before I had even received mine. The Editor’s box is still available though and you can also sign-up for the Fall box. There is a link and a discount code for you to use on our Yup….We Like These page.
Between the drive and ferry rides, Victoria is only a few hours away from Vancouver, BC. So it is possible to do for a day trip. If you can though, it makes a wonderful weekend away. I find during the Christmas season places take on a magical feel to them with the special events and the twinkling lights decorating almost everything you see. Victoria is no different. Streets, homes, shops, trees, boats, and even the Parliament Building, are beautifully decorated. While I made the trip specifically for a few appointments, I did fit some fun things in too. Here are a few things to do in Victoria, BC including a few in December that make for a truly special festive experience.