3/28/2017
Budapest Photo Diary and Guide

And here are some of my favourite photos from our trip to Budapest. Audrey and I had an amazing time pruning in the thermal baths, pigging out on paprika chicken whenever we had the chance, and admiring the city's beauty- Budapest hasn't seen the best of times as far as its history is concerned but everyone was amazingly warm and hospitable, and its worth a visit for the chimney cake alone. See the end of the post for some of our recommendations, and I hope you enjoy the photos.






















Shot on a Pentax Spotmatic with (expired...oops) Portra 400 film and Ilford BW film.

Our favourite spots: 

See...
Széchenyi Thermal baths / Gellert spa: We went to Széchenyi but I wish we had time to go to both. Pretty much a must-do if you're in the city- to relax, or to marvel at the cute elderly Hungarians going about their daily soak. 

Fisherman's Bastion and Buda Castle: Touristy but also a must-do, and a good way to walk off all the schnitzel you'll be eating. 

Eat at...
Barack and Szilva: One of our favourite meals- tradition Hungarian fare with a warm but modern atmosphere. Don't miss the paprika chicken and cabbage noodles. 

Beszálló Foodbar: a Vietnamese-Hungarian spot we didn't get to try but was highly recommended by a friend (thank you, Sári!)

Molnar's chimney cake: So good we went back for more- go for breakfast, and share it with two americano coffees from the coffee bar (dipping is highly recommended). We loved the cinnamon and plain (vanilla) flavours. 

Big Fish Bistro: If you get a little tired of eating beef and pork with potatoes and feel like seafood (we also had to come back, as we loved it so much the first time). You can choose your catch at the front of the restaurant, and don't miss the fries. 

Comme Chez Soi: The food in Budapest is generally very affordable, but this Italian restaurant especially, considering how big the portions are and its slightly fancier setting. The staff were super nice, and everyone gets a free dessert. 

Shop at: 
Nanushka: I would wear everything from Nanushka....that's all. 

We stayed at an Airbnb (here) which was lovely but I didn't get many photos of it. If you're travelling this summer and are thinking of booking an Airbnb, you can get a discount off your first stay here

xx
Zoe

2/19/2017
Video Diary: Chanel Métiers d’Art, Paris 2016

I told myself I'd have to get my shit together and upload this before my next trip to Paris in March, so here it is (only two months late, or something...). This was by far my favourite show of Chanel's that I've had the pleasure of seeing in person (P.S. Cara Delevingne looked straight at me for a few seconds and I was left blushing for 10 minutes). You guys have probably read all my posts gushing about Paris so I'll spare you the rambling and let the video speak for itself.

Thank you Melody for filming, and Chanel (especially Olga) for having us, plus making sure we were never short of red wine, macarons and eye candy.




xx
Zoe


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2/06/2017
A Conversation With: Alyssa Lau

A while ago I came up with an idea to incorporate more content into this site through conversations with people I know that inspire me. I guess I've been frustrated for a while with trying to figure out what I can bring to this space, and got excited when I realised that it doesn't necessarily have to be me who 'creates' the content; rather, I can be the one who facilitates it. Of course, it helps that I happen to know a lot of really talented, kind and motivated people and want to do my part to sprinkle their charm over as many crevices of the internet as I can. So here it is, my first conversation (hopefully, of many) with the lovely Alyssa of Ordinary People and New Classics Studio.  I've always been amazed by her work, from her quirky style and really good video content to her focus on sustainability and ethical retail, and it doesn't hurt that Alyssa and her boyfriend Eric (co-founder of NCS) are two genuinely lovely people. I hope you enjoy this conversation and please let me know what you think and would like to see more of, I'd really appreciate it.




Z: So…how would you describe what you do?

A: It’s hard, because a lot of people ask me what I do for a living…the short story is that I own my own small business and do a lot of random projects. The long story would be that….I would call myself a creator; New Classics is my number 1 priority and we still do some work on [the blog], but that’s still a creative outlet for me- more like an online journal. It’s hard to categorise or simplify it to one term. 

Z: I know what you mean- its so funny hearing the terms people call bloggers nowadays. In Hong Kong people use the term KOL (Key Opinion Leader) which kind of makes you sound like a cult leader and there are so many different labels now. 

A: At the end of the day what we’re doing is still blogging, but I feel like blogging has transformed so much, and a lot of people who started out as bloggers are so much more than bloggers- you can call it whatever you want but its never going to encompass everything. 

Z: What do you hate the most about social media?

A: Well, I talk about this quite often (laughs), I think its become a lot less authentic and genuine because its all being sponsored. I don’t think its really anybody’s problem because people are trying to make a living and I understand that, but at the same time the whole thing with social media and what made it amazing was the ability to make creative, raw and organic content which people could relate to, and I can’t really relate to a sponsored message. Everyone’s reaching out to bloggers and it’s become another way for people to shove ads at people, and the fact that a lot of people have the same content over and over again. I don’t really believe in the idea of ‘original content’ but some people don’t try to create anything original. 

Z: I know what you mean- I feel like we could talk about that for ages but just so we don’t go off on a tangent for too long…where do you feel most at home?

A: Actually, my room (laughs), as long as there’s my dog and Eric with me I feel at home. It depends on what you think of as home- some artists find ‘home’ where they’re most creative but for me its where I can lie down and relax and stop thinking about work. If you’re self-employed you’re in charge of your entire lifestyle and not thinking about it can be really hard. 


Z: I get that. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live?

A: It changes pretty often…I really do love Edmonton because its growing at such a fast pace, but if I could live anywhere, I really like Tokyo. 

Z: I’ve heard its a really great place to live in terms of education and cultural values. Moving on to more work-related topics, how long ago did New Classics start and is this how you imagine it’d end up?

A: I was on LinkedIn for the first time in a year (laughs) and it said that New Classics is two years old in two months. We started in October 2014, I guess it started with me not really being happy with where I was going. I’ve always loved the sciences and thats why I chose my chemistry major and thought I wanted to go to med school. I’d been blogging for two years by the time I graduated, and at that time blogging wasn't quite as over-saturated as it is now, and a lot of different opportunities and cool things started happening. I think in May 2014 I had already been accepted into a chemistry grad program and had started on my project and wasn't really liking it so I decided to put it aside. I just realised one day that I didn’t want to do this anymore, so I was messaging Eric on Facebook and he suggested opening an online store, but so many bloggers were doing the same thing so I felt it was too expected, and that’s where sustainable fashion came in. The previous Christmas I had received a book about sustainable fashion called ‘Naked Fashion’, and it really opened my eyes, and I saw that Canada didn’t have a market for sustainable fashion, and thats when we started thinking of ideas for the store. When we first opened, we didn’t know what was going to happen so we just hoped for the best. 

Z: I’m really curious as to how you balance fashion consciousness with regards to projects you do as a blogger?

A: From the get-go I knew I wanted to keep them very separate- I didn’t want to make New Classics about me, as I wanted it to be inclusive and for people to join in with sustainability. So I still try to talk about New Classics and sustainability as much as possible without getting on the nerves of people, as I don’t want to come across as preachy but a lot of people are still unaware of issues to do with fast fashion. 


Z: I know what you mean- I’m waiting on the day my friends get sick of me talking about it, but I’ve been telling everyone to watch ‘The True Cost’ and I made my parents watch it as well. I think its something that no one really talks about because there’s so much going on politically and otherwise, its sort of put on the back-burner. 

A: It’s true, right? Well, when you’re buying a piece of clothing its easier not to think about it. It all comes down to what you believe in- on Ordinary People its hard you still want to be working on projects, but I would never accept a project that would go against my ideals. 

Z: That makes sense. What are some of your favourite websites and brands for ethical and sustainable fashion?

A: Rafa makes the best strappy sandals; another really good website that curates some awesome brands would be wellmadeclothes.com; Study New York is amazing; Pansy does underwear and is really good; there’s Zady. At the end of the day it all comes down to transparency, and as we all know fast fashion brands like H&M aren’t transparent. 

Z: And what are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe?

A: My favourite pieces are the ones with the most versatility. My Acne Jensen boots are amazing, the quality is amazing and the style is timeless.

Z: I got the pistol boots recently and I’ve been wanting them for years, they’re the best and so comfortable. 

A: The Converse CDG Play sneakers also go with everything.


Z: Now for more miscellaneous questions; what was the last thing that inspired you?

A: Usually its music- If i find a cool song I’ll think of videos I can make to the song. Don’t get me wrong, I listen to a lot of Kpop and really bad Top 40s (laughs), but I also like to listen to ambient indie music. Right now I’m loving Never be your man by Tom Lark.

Z: Next- what do you have set as your home page on your internet browser?
A: Google, its always been Google- its my best friend. 

Z: Favourite artists, visual or musical or otherwise?

A: One of my favourite fashion designers is Chitose Abe; everything from Sacai is so cool and different, she’s a genius. 

Z: I saw their show in Paris and seeing her pieces move is amazing. I’ve actually run through all my questions…thank you so much for talking to me. You’re the guinea pig so you’re gonna be the first one (laughs). 


A: Thank you for thinking of me! 

Check out Alyssa's blog here, and her Instagram here. Shop New Classics Studios here. 

xx
Zoe

1/25/2017
Copenhagen + Stockholm Photo Diary and Guide

It's been a while since our trip to Scandinavia, but Audrey and I had the best time and I really wanted to share these photos and our recommendations for any of you looking to visit, for ultimate doses of hygge and cinnamon buns. 

Part One: Copenhagen
Copenhagen is very small (everything is within walking distance from everything else other than the airport and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art) and we heard from a lot of people that 3 days would be more than enough to fully dissect it as a tourist. In retrospect, I think we could have spent indefinitely longer there, simply because we fell in love with the food, people, design and lifestyle. The Danish are very passionate about things we love, such as good furniture, beautiful ceramics, delicious coffee and amazing bread (amongst other, albeit less important things because as we all know, one must always prioritise ceramics and coffee). 




Things to see and do: 

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art: We spent the good part of a day here and we both thought it was one of the best parts of the whole trip. We saw exhibitions of Louise Bourgeois and Daniel Richter amongst others and for some reason I felt much more touched by the work than I usually do at museums- I think it was the way all the works were arranged according to the architecture and resulting ambience that made the pieces so effective and at times heart-wrenching. I love the Scandinavian approach to displaying artwork outside (it didn't feel like the works were overwhelming the scenery or vice versa, they existed very harmoniously and cohesively like cohabiting species in an ecosystem) and we had a lot of fun walking in the outdoor areas and taking in the scenery before eating a delicious late lunch. I've been to many amazing museums but this one was safely my favourite experience thus far. Don't miss the blackberry cake in the canteen. 

Shopping: We loved WoodWood (and they have a surplus store called WoodWood Museum), Royal Copenhagen ceramics, Ganni, Norse Projects...the København K area has a ton of cool brands in general and most of the stores are near that area. Also, there are Acne Archive (surplus stores for Acne Studios) in both Copenhagen and Stockholm so don't miss those. I wanted to go see the Tortus pottery boutique as well but we didn't get to go, but if you like ceramics check it out. 

One thing we sadly didn't get to do was to go see the jazz club performances at The Standard, so if you're a jazz fan definitely go check it out. 






I'll always remember this moment (above) when we walked into a room overlooking the sea with the diving board installation just in time for sunset. So content and serene, and it encapsulated how the entire trip felt for me. 


Where to eat/ drink: 

Atelier September: Our favourite meal of the trip was actually at Restaurant Havfruen (opened by the same people as AS) but it's sadly closed for now. Atelier September is quite popular but nonetheless worth the visit for their cute breakfasts, but I've heard their lunch/dinner is good too. There are also a few cute boutiques on the same street. 

108: We couldn't get a reservation at Noma but happily settled for 108 (their affordable sister restaurant). Another one of the best meals of the trip by far and not crazily 'fine dining'-esque (considering its related to Noma), from the best bread I've had in a while (which I still think about from time to time), super friendly staff and some mind-blowing monkfish. 

Torvehallerne Market: We came back for Laura's Bakery, which does these amazing cinnamon swirl things that are the sweetest and best way you could possibly start your day, along with a cup of filter coffee from the Coffee Collective. Also a good spot if you want to try some open-faced sandwiches and other things from the stalls. We heard good things about the Papiroen market as well but didn't get a chance to try it (adding it to our list for when we inevitably return). 

Bar: Vin Stranden 10 (pictured), a wine bar where everyone was a few times our age but both the wine and ambience were amazing. The wine wasn't expensive for how good it was and we spent a while reading through their old issues of The New Yorker and labelling all the old people enjoying their wine and cheeses as 'retirement goals'. Another cute bar is called Ruby, but I am personally much more of a wine person. 




Where to stay: 

I'd been saving up my Airbnb referral credits for ages and we managed to find this amazing place, which is everything you could ever want in an apartment and more. Our host Ulrik was lovely and accommodating (and bought us snacks and bread) and we loved staying here. I highly recommend Airbnb for Copenhagen as it isn't too hard to find a cute place/room in a good location for a great price. If you'd like to try it out, get some money off your first booking by clicking here.

Part Two: Stockholm

Stockholm was colder and bigger than Copenhagen, and I kind of missed being able to find all our spots on foot. Nonetheless, there are more things to do and see here and we had such a great time. 

Things to do:

Stockholm Public Library: A beautiful library and optimal hiding spot from the cold, no explanation needed. 

Subway stations: You don't need to go out of your way, but the underground stations in Stockholm were all full of art and lovely; each one was a little different and quirky. 

Fotografiska: A photography museum by the water, a must go for the exhibitions and I've heard good things about the restaurant/bar for drinks. We loved the photos and spent a lot of time hogging the photo booth. There's also a cute all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet restaurant right next to the museum called Herman's which I enjoyed. We also heard good things about Moderna Museet, which I will definitely visit when I return to the city. 

Shopping: Some of our favourite shops were Filipa K, Whyred, Rodebjer, Grandpa, Nitty Gritty (amazing curation though pricey) and Snickerbacken 7 (which is also a cute cafe), but my favourites were the vintage stores- in particular Lisa Larsson's Second Hand and POP. I think we spent two hours in Lisa Larsson's and I found a really great old-season Acne dress. Shopping in Stockholm is a bit more expensive than Copenhagen but we still enjoyed window shopping. 



(Us freezing but happy outside Fotografiska; Audrey's shoe falling off). 




Where to eat: 

Mathias Dahlgren: We came here just for the molten chocolate cake, and it was amazing. 

Pom & Flora: Sort of the 'Atelier September' of Stockholm, which does simple but comforting breakfast bowls and toasts. 

Fabrique: A bakery chain, but still perfect for a quick breakfast of cinnamon/cardamom buns and bottomless (!) filter coffee. 

Kaffebar: A great coffee spot where we couldn't stop eyeing the snacks and cakes people were having (which we would have devoured if it weren't for the big lunch we had eaten right before). 

Kaffeverket: A good lunch spot near Acne Archives, perfect for a refuel via soup/salad/pastry after a shopping workout. We also heard good things about Mellqvist for lunch/coffee but didn't have a chance to go. 

Urban Deli: There are a few scattered around the city, but they're a sort of gourmet supermarket meets restaurant and bar. We had some time to kill before dinner and had a glass of wine and some cheese, which you can't go wrong with. 

Speceriet: Sister restaurant of Gastrologik, we had the most amazing dinner here (though I would have a hard time choosing between this place and 108). Perfect and seasonal small plates to share that weren't outrageously expensive for how beautiful and delicious they were. 

Rolfs Kok: A dinner spot for meatlovers and people who love a big hearty meal. We loved the fish stew and potato pancake with roe and sour cream. 



Where to stay:

For accommodation we opted for another Airbnb, which ended up being very comfortable and in a great location (right around the corner from Fabrique and a few super markets). It was nice to have a place with a kitchen because there was a night when we decided to stay in and cook, and ended up overdosing on pasta and ice cream. Again, link if you're looking to book a place for your first stay and want a discount. 




And this was Audrey's sad 'leaving Scandinavia' face. 


That's all for now- I hope this post is helpful to those of you looking to visit these beautiful cities. Tell me if you do end up visiting / if you have been and have any recommendations for me or anyone else! 

xx
Zoe