TRAVELS & PLACES

London To Stonehenge. A Trip To The English Countryside

Hey Mate! Several months ago, I took a trip to visit a cousin and an aunt of mine who lives down South of England. We’ve been dying to see each other for years, in fact, I haven’t seen my aunt for 15 years and my cousin for 10 years. They’ve been asking me to visit them for a long long time, and me wanting the same, but for some reason, life happened and years had passed without us seeing each other. That is until finally, I decided to make a move and travel down to Southampton.

 

longmede

 

My trip to the UK was probably one of the most exciting trips I’ve ever done in my life. That’s because it was my first time setting foot in the Land of hope and glory, not to mention finally seeing my relatives after several years. Coming from the Land of the free, I first took a connecting flight to the Land of the Maple Leaf (Canada) and from there I took the 5-hour flight to London Heathrow. I didn’t really plan to see a lot of places on this trip since I only allotted a few days to stay in the UK. I have also made plans to go to Spain right after that, so I wasn’t really sure whether I would be able to see some tourist attractions in London or not. My goal was mostly to see my relatives. Right after landing in Heathrow which was almost midnight, I took a cab straight to the Hilton Ageas Bowl in Southampton. It’s a hotel with a stadium attached to it and it’s one of the few hotels near my cousin’s place. While I was in the cab, I remember being shocked at the Brit’s “left-hand side traffic” way of driving and how weird and different it was compared to the US. I also remember falling asleep in the cab several times only to wake up and realize that I was still in the cab and that it was really dark and scary out there. We’ve passed by a lot of looming woods, vast lands and whatsoever, and I thought “this is so far away” but my cousin told me that it’ll only take about 30 minutes drive to the hotel without traffic, and yet there was no traffic around that time but the taxi was still going and going. It seemed like forever. Oh well, anyhow, It took me about 2 hours to arrive to the hotel and it was nice but I didn’t have a nice view of the Cricket stadium, instead, I had a view of the parking lot with a small golf course around it. It was too dark for me to see things around when I arrived, so off I went to sleep immediately.

 

Bishop’s Waltham, St. George’s Square & St. Peter’s Church

The following day I got a better view of what was around me, the Hilton Ageas Bowl is a nice and quaint hotel with good food and is a great place to do some sports. I saw men with their golf accessories and some other people who looked like they were into sports or something. The weather was gloomy and kind of windy that day but I loved it. It makes for the perfect South England atmosphere. My first impression of Southampton is very interesting. It felt like I was in this magical place, kinda like The Lord Of The Rings vibe, somewhere down in Middle Earth, LOL. The grasses are lush green, the pines look healthy and vibrant, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s rural, it’s relaxing, it’s so quaint and so dreamy. I freaking love it. I saw some farm animals, like goats, cows, fat pigs and chubby sheeps, along with some very beautiful horses. My cousin lives near the ruins of Bishops Waltham Palace, which was once a residence of the richest Bishops of Winchester but was badly damaged and abandoned during the Civil War. Now it has become an open field Farmhouse Museum. After a few exchanges of Hi’s and Hellos, a hearty seafood lunch (which they are big on, especially shrimps and crabs) and lots of jokes and laughs, we drove a short distance to the ruins of the Bishop’s Waltham together with my aunt and her husband. Here are some photos.

 

ruins of bishops waltham

bishop's waltham ruins england

bishops waltham ruins

bishop's waltham

bishop's waltham ruins united kingdom

ruins of bishop's waltham

 

Afterwards, we walked to the St. George’s Square nearby, which is full of quaint shops and houses. Then we strolled towards St. Peter’s Church, a parish with a small cemetery close to it. The view was absolutely beautiful.

 

st. george's square bishops waltham

st. peter's church united kingdom

st. peter's church cemetery bishop's waltham

 

 

Stonehenge

The next day, my cousin and her family took me to a two-hour drive to see the world famous Stonehenge. My cousin told me that she wasn’t really impressed when she first saw the Stonehenge. For her, it looked just like a pile of large stones. But for me, it was really impressive when I first saw it from afar. As we get closer and closer, I thought the stones were beautiful and the way they were arranged was interesting. My cousin also said that they were able to touch the stones before, but now it has been fenced and you have to pay the entrance fee at the Visitor Center in order to see it close enough. Once you park your car in the designated parking lot and pay the entrance fee, you will need to get into one of their buses which will then take you close enough to the Stonehenge which is just about a few minutes ride. You’re will then walk around it and see its majestic grandeur together with the rest of the mesmerized tourists. Curious about the Stonehenge? Here’s what I know. Stonehenge is a circular pile of large stones (monoliths) that was thought to be constructed by the prehistoric tribes around 3000 and 2920 BC, which is basically the Neolithic period. The people that constructed it left no trace of what it was meant for and why. However, archaeologists found bones and other fragments in the area, which led them to believe that Stonehenge served as a ceremonial and burial site, but apart from that, Stonehenge’s real history and purpose still remains a mystery up to this date. After circling around the Stonehenge, I then took the bus back to the Visitor Center and I saw some replica of the houses of the tribes that built the Stonehenge. There was also this depiction of one of the large stones that showed how the tribes managed to haul it to the site. As far as I know, it would take about 100 people to pull that one big stone in the picture. Now that’s impressive!

 

the stonehenge

stonehenge review

visit to the stonehenge

stonehenge picture

stonehene large stones

durrington walls tribes

durrington walls people

 

After the Stonehenge adventure, we planned to go to Portsmouth but my jet lag was kicking in, so I decided to just go back to the hotel and rest. I had to go to Gatwick Airport the next day to catch a flight to Spain, so you can imagine my relatives’ sadness knowing that I basically only had to stay three days in the UK, but at least we saw each other, that was all that mattered. I asked her if there’s a way for me to go and visit London from Gatwick, and she said that I could take a train to London Victoria. So off I went to Gatwick Airport early the next day and my gosh, it felt like another two long hours in the cab, so I was so tired by the time I got to Premier Inn, a transit hotel in Gatwick Airport. I honestly do not recommend this hotel, it’s cheap and it’s basically right in the airport which is good, but it’s also small and it’s uncomfortable to walk around with its tight spaces, plus it’s really dusty and dirty. I didn’t like how basic, and clinical-looking the bathroom was, and it looked really unsanitary. The AC was mediocre as well. There wasn’t much inside this hotel room but a single easy-to-dispense liquid soap. Oh well, at least I didn’t have to stay that long. Next time I’d probably find another place somewhere to stay.

 

London

From Gatwick Airport, I took a one-way ticket via the the Express Train to London Victoria. I couldn’t remember how much I paid for it, but I think it was close to £20 and it took me around 40-45 minutes to get to London Victoria. The trip was pleasant, and there weren’t a lot of people on the train. I kinda felt like I had a “Girl On The Train” vibe during the trip, passing through tunnels, houses, and buildings. It was almost dark when I got to London, so I decided to take the Big Bus Tour. It took me a while to find the waiting spot since the streets are not really well-signed. Somehow I did manage to find it and I waited and waited a long time for the bus to arrive, but apparently, they had some maintenance issue going on at that time, so I basically wasted a lot of my time and was really annoyed that I may not be able to see much of London. I decided to just go and take a cab close to the London Eye or Big Ben. I swear, I love the cabs in London, they’re so comfortable compared to the ones we have here in the US, you can have a lot of legroom plus it’s a cab suitable for when you’re carrying your luggage. Anyway, I really didn’t get to see much of London, which is kind of a bummer. It was so dark by the time I strolled along the popular tourist’s spots, but I could tell that the architecture and the entire view is nice. It would have probably looked very different during the daylight, but at night it’s also really beautiful. Anyway, here are some photos of my short stroll in London. My apologies for the dark photos.

 

red telephone booth

big ben london

london eye photo

st. margaret's church westminster abbey

westminster abbey

 

Overall, my short stay in London and Southampton are, as what I have said before, one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever done. It’s a lovely place and it’s different and unique. It sort of reminds of the old vintage America, complete with its clean bricks and quaint houses, along with some beautiful and grand architectures. I definitely would love to come back, there were a lot of things I wanted to see, like OMG how could I miss Bond Street? Hopefully, I won’t be rushing again by the time I’m back, and that I hope it won’t take another ten years for me to see my relatives again.

 

FYI: When visiting the UK, it’s always a good idea to bring your three-pronged adaptor plugs if you’re coming from the US or some parts of Europe and Asia. But if you’re from Hong Kong, you’re all set.

 

To learn more about Bishop’s Waltham, click Here

To book a tour to Stonehenge from Central London, click Here

To see a lot of London if you’re time-constrained, I definitely still recommend the Big Bus Tour, click Here

 

 

2 Days in Chicago

chicago river

 

Hi everyone, last year, I took a very short trip to Chicago for a little R&R plus some important business/errand thing to do. I love Chicago even if I haven’t really explored the city that well, but I like the whole vibe of just being there. The city’s energy and the fast pace of life are just really exciting. I’ve been to the windy city several times before, but whenever I’m around, I always make it a point to visit Michigan Avenue. Why? Of course, there’s the Magnificent Mile. It’s always nice to see some mid to high-end shopping stores that you may not get in your local hometown, plus there are lots of restaurants to try, museums, and hotels to stay in, not to mention the beauty and vibrance of just strolling along Michigan Avenue and Chicago River. Lots of people, lots of busy friendly faces.

 

langham chicago

 

Speaking of the hotel, this time I stayed at The Langham Chicago. This hotel is Gorgeous with a capital G. LOL. It’s elegant, clean, stylish, and just simply pretty. It’s one of the best hotels I’ve ever been in terms of design, room, space, service, accessibility, and location. I noticed that the hotel has an affinity for something pink. From the lobby down to my room, I saw accents of pastel pinks or what they call Langham Pink all over, like beautiful pink roses in round vases, pink tablecloths, pink ribbons, pink hangers and there’s even a pink vintage taxi parked outside the hotel which is so darn cute. I also love that the hotel has a sleek design but it doesn’t look or feel uppity, instead, it makes it look cozy and comfy while being posh at the same time. Their customer service is superb and you can feel like your needs are being assisted and addressed in a timely manner.

 

langham chicago bedroom

 

the langham hotel chicago room

marina city chicago

 

My room had a really nice view in which I could see the Chicago River, a few skyrises, and the impressive 19-story spiral ramped Marina City parking garage. It’s also very clean and the bed is super comfy. The bathroom is really nice with marble countertops and glass doors. The wall close to the bathtub which adjoins the bedroom can be adjusted to make it opaque or transparent so that you could see the bed on the other side. This is probably to let in more light or to see the view on the other side. Whatever it is, it’s fancy business for sure. There’s also a convenient little vanity area close to the dresser which is nice because I could put all my makeup in there and get ready for the day easily.

 

langham chicago bathroom

 

langham hotel vanity

 

Most of the skincare and beauty products I took with me are travel sizes or sample sizes that are only good for a few days. I pretty much took one pouch for stuff I mostly need and would reach for during the trip, I keep this pouch with me at all times, whether I’m on the plane or out and about. What’s inside this pouch are little stuff like a small hand cream, a favorite travel-size scent, a tiny face mist, etc.

 

beauty essentials tory burch makeup bag

 

  1. Tory Burch Robinson Small Makeup Bag in Pink
  2. Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Dear Brachiosaurus Blotting Paper – reviewed HERE
  3. Japonesque Go Curl Eyelash Curler (Pink)
  4. L’occitane Mini Shea Butter Hand Cream
  5. Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water Mini
  6. Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara Mini
  7. Burberry My Burberry Blush Rollerball
  8. Dior Addict Lip Glow in Berry – swatches HERE and HERE
  9. Sample of Tom Ford Sole di Positano Eau de Parfum – reviewed HERE

 

I also have a glossier pouch/zip bag for my skincare stuff.

 

glossier pink bubble pouch

 

  1. Tarte Frxxxtion Stick Exfoliating Cleanser (sample size) 
  2. Chanel Le Lift Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream (sample size)
  3. Chanel Hydra Beauty Gel Creme (sample size)
  4. Estee Lauder DayWear Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant 24H-Moisture Creme Broad Spectrum Spf 15 (Mini)
  5. Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage (Mini)
  6. SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion (Mini) – reviewed HERE
  7. Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil Mini – seen HERE
  8. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer Untinted Spf 45 (Mini)
  9. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (Mini)
  10. Beauty Blender Liquid Blendercleanser (sample size)
  11. Neutrogena On The Spot Acne Treatment
  12. Nivea Essentially Enriched Body Lotion
  13. Glossier Reusable Pink Bubble Pouch – read HERE

 

Then a third pouch for my basic makeup needs. I try not to wear a lot of makeup on my trips, especially whenever I plan to walk a lot or in instances where I could sweat like a horse. I just like to keep it light, fresh, and somewhat natural. The ones I carried with me this time are just things that are fast and easy to use like a beauty blender (not pictured here) and its cleanser, an eyeshadow brush (also not pictured), a small highlighter, a pigmented lightweight eyeshadow palette with enough shades to choose from, and a travel flat iron for when my frizzy hair gets in the way. Oh and I always carry a mini moisturizing lotion with me, dunno why. Sometimes I just use the hotel lotions, but most of the time I take these lotions with me for souvenir’s sake, LOL. I also packed a No Frizz Living Proof Shampoo and Conditioner minis with me, but I think I ended up using the ones provided by the hotel because I got lazy scavenging for my own stuff, and the hotel ones really smelled good.

 

beauty essentials for short trip

 

  1. BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Mini Straightening Iron (1 inch)
  2. Benefit Erase Paste Mini Concealer (discontinued, now it’s called Boi-ing Brightening Concealer)
  3. Benefit The POREfessional Face Primer Mini
  4. MAC Lip Pencil in Boldly Bare – reviewed HERE
  5. Too Faced Shadow Insurance (Mini)
  6. Marc Jacobs Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eyeshadow Palette in Glambition – swatched HERE
  7. Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard – reviewed HERE
  8. Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet – seen HERE
  9. Tarte Lip Facial Lip Scrub – also reviewed HERE
  10. Cover Fx Illuminating Primer (sample size)
  11. Benefit Watt’s Up! Cream-to-Powder Highlighter (Mini)
  12. Benefit Precisely, My Brow Pencil Ultra Fine Shape & Define
  13. Marc Jacobs Highliner Matte Gel Eye Crayon in (Brown)ie 43 – reviewed HERE

 

 

the chicago river

 

vosges haut chocolat chicago

 

the magnificent mile chicago

 

I took a stroll along Chicago River and took a few snaps. I then continued my stroll towards Ulta and Sephora (of course) and just did some window shopping. I really didn’t buy much during my short stay in the windy city. I know I went to Nordstrom and purchased two new matte liquid lipsticks from Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Lips in Show Girl and Dangerous Liaison (reviewed and swatched HERE). Adjacent to Nordstrom is The Shops at North Bridge where I went to buy caramel-filled bonbons at Vosges Haut-Chocolat. From there I decided to go to The Water Tower Place and had a snack at Wow Bao, then I continued my stroll and eventually decided to go back to the hotel after my feet got so tired. Right before going back, I decided to drop by at Neiman to drool at handbags and more makeups, I even looked at some shoes, but I decided not to splurge on that day. I was just there to daydream and imagine really. There were some other stores/shops I wanted to visit, there was Saks, I saw Neiman, and Burberry has a nice building right there, but I was too haggard already. So off I went and had a nice relaxing evening at the pink-loving hotel. I wish I stayed longer, it’s been a nice short trip but it’s worth it. Surely when I come back I already know where to stay.

 

H & M chicago

the water tower place michigan avenue chicago

saks fifth avenue chicago

 

 

For more of RAOS, follow on IG: @reviewsandotherstuff

 

 

Volant, PA

Hello Guys! My apologies for not being constant with my postings lately. I’m currently truly, madly, deeply, busy but I hope things will start to simmer down in a few days soon. Thank you very much for your understanding and please check out my Instagram regularly as I’ll be posting more stuff there in the days to come.

As what I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been in a couple of trips lately and will still have to do more. For this particular travel log, I divided this down into two parts as I pretty much went to two sights in one day. Both are very nice and wonderful places to see.

 

volant pennsylvania

 

A few weeks ago, I went on a trip to a little borough in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania called Volant. Actually, I planned to go and see Lake Erie and wanted to drop by somewhere to see an Amish village. I thought of going to Lancaster PA at first, but it’s really not on the way to Lake Erie and I only have a day to do both. Someone told me that there are few little Amish villages on the way to Erie, and one of them is Volant. In case you’re wondering why do I wanna visit an Amish town, oh well, I’ve always been curious and I wanted to take a break from the usual city life. It seems like a trip to a nice and quiet Amish town will be exciting. And of course, yeah, I’ve seen TLC’s Breaking Amish show. LOL.

Volant is about an hour away from Pittsburgh and is very close to Grove City where there’s outlet shopping. It’s also an hour and 28 minutes away from Lake Erie. I drove there and most of the road throughout the trip was pretty flat and smooth. I was nice to see the leaves slowly changing their colors to prepare for Fall. I went there early morning and the temperature is a bit cool and fresh. The sceneries during the trip were nice although I started noticing that my phone was losing coverage as I was approaching Volant. Suddenly the road started to get narrower and narrower and was getting windier and windier. There were lots of cornfields around and my phone’s signal was pretty much fluctuating until there was a point that I didn’t have any coverage for a couple of minutes. I started breaking out in sweat as I looked around, and all I see were vast and never-ending cornfields. I was like “oh no! I could die in here and nobody’s gonna know. I have no signal and there’s no car around. My body will be thrown somewhere in the field, or worse, could be used as a fertilizer to fatten those gigantic corns, dayum!” LOL. Excuse my imaginations, but anyhow, as soon as I got passed that Children of the Corn feeling, I reached an intersection and saw the quaint little town of Volant.

 

volant mills pa

 

The air was fresh and cool when I parked near Volant Mills, which I understood as the main attraction/store of the town. At the entrance of Volant Mills, I saw an Amish lady greeting people and the store had a very vintage feel. I really like it and I saw a lot of unique products that are composed mostly of Halloween/Fall stuff plus some handmade rugs, decors, curtains, candles, soaps, etc. I noticed that not all of the products were Amish-made, so I decided to pick up a few preserves that were locally made in Volant (which I assume were made by the Amish) and some wooden Amish figurines as souvenirs. Volant Mills has three floors, with the third one being more of an exposition/mini museum for a few traditional Amish clothing and memorabilias mix with a few gardening/decor products. If you don’t have cash, don’t worry, because the store accepts all major credit cards.

 

volant mills volant pa

 

volant mills, volant pa

 

After Volant Mills, I got hungry and realized that it was almost time for lunch, I saw that there were a few Amish ladies selling some preserves and baked goodies, and another group selling some delicious-looking Amish donuts. I wanted one, but I decided to venture into the full-service restaurant just across Volant Mills, called Neshannock Creek Inn. They also accept credit cards and since I don’t have enough cash to purchase those donuts yet, I decided to have lunch at Neshannock Creek Inn. I’ve read that they’re known for their Giant Cod Sandwich, so I ordered one and the sandwich arrived well-cooked and looking really delish with some fries and condiments. While the sandwich could have tasted better with more seasoning, I really enjoyed their fries and mayo. They’re so good, one of the best I’ve ever tried.

 

volant pa amish doughnuts

 

neshannock creek inn volant pa

 

I was already full by the time I got out of the restaurant and I sorta stopped longing for the donuts. Although, now that I think about it, I realized that I really should have tried one. Oh my, nothing haunts us like the things we didn’t buy. LOL. True, right? Anyways, at the back of the restaurant was an ATM which I used to get cash in order to pay for things I wanted to buy around. The area is full of little quaint houses that serve as shops for coffee, clothes, art, foods, etc. I went into a nice little store/house that sells antiques and it was really interesting and exciting while a bit creepy at the same time. There were lots of things to see and to explore, and they’re pretty cheap.

 

volant antique shops

 

volant pennsylvania

 

From the Antique store, I visited some other stores and had fun just browsing. There are also male and female public bathrooms in the area that you can spot immediately, as well as stores that sell Amish furnitures. As you all know, Amish people are known for their finely-crafted furnitures and I pretty much ended my Volant trip scouting for some stores that specialize in selling true Amish chairs, tables, and cabinets.

 

volant pa kester's alpaca

 

Oh, and did I forget to mention that I saw this cutie on my way out of Volant Mills? Meet Al, the Alpaca, LOL. His owner was selling some Alpaca-made scarves and I purchased some while taking a few pics of Al’s cutie face. He was looking at me seriously, I bet he was getting ready to spit on my face. Oh my, he would have ruined my Dior foundation, jokes.

I really enjoyed Volant, it was like stepping back in time and it was very peaceful. Even though I didn’t see a lot of Amish people, I still enjoyed the simplicity and beauty of the place. The people are friendly too. It’s so nice to get away from the city life and experience simple living from time to time.

I really like it there and I’m thinking of going back sometime soon. Perhaps even make a trip to the nearby village of New Wilmington and take a tour to see the Amish way of life.

 

That concludes part 1 of my travel log guys. Stay tuned for part 2, which is Lake Erie.

 

Follow on Instagram: @reviewsandotherstuff

 

 

powered by chloédigital