Friday, June 28, 2013

June 2013 Empties: A Shedload of Products!

My last empties post was back in January so I have a ton of used up products to share from the last five months! The mish mash of empties shown above is everything I used up while in Amsterdam and, to be honest, I felt quite silly hoarding empty containers in my room. What we beauty bloggers will do for the sake of a post!

I polished off a few makeup items starting with the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Pencil in Bourbon which I have been using constantly for at least half a year. Pencil eyeliners last me ages even with daily use and it was nice to see this one go although it was a very nice brown eyeliner. I finished a sample of the Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse BB Cream which I liked. The Maybelline The Falsies Waterproof Mascara became one of my favorite mascaras next to the Maybelline Colossal and One By One Mascaras. I will repurchase Maybelline waterproof mascaras as long as they make them! I finally finished the Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Pressed Powder Foundation which I have used very often for literally years. This was a very nice powder because it added a bit of coverage when buffed into the skin and could also set makeup nicely when lightly dusted on. I also finished two perfume samples: Juicy Couture's Juice Couture Eau De Parfum which I enjoyed a lot and Sephora's Hello Kitty Eau De Parfum which was decent but nothing special. 

I am a stickler for proper face cleansing so I finished a few cleansers. I used up most of the Yves Rocher Micellar Cleansing Water and decanted the remaining one ounce into a travel container to take back to the states so I could throw out the large bottle. I'll just include this as an empty for convenience sake despite having a bit left to finish. I think its a very good budget cleansing water and would recommend it to those who are new to cleansing waters. The Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser was a nice morning cleanser because it was very gentle and perfect for simply getting off the oils and dirt that accumulate on my skin throughout the night. The Shiseido The Skincare Purifying Cleansing Foam is a very handy night time cleanser that lathers up beautifully and makes my skin feel very refreshed. I love the scent and would repurchase if it wasn't as pricey as it is. The Fresh Soy Face Cleanser was very watery and light, making it suitable for a morning cleanser. The scent was a tad off putting which make it not worthy of a repurchase. I received the Olay Fresh Effects Cleansing System from an Influenster VoxBox and was not impressed. The Clarisonic wannabe didn't seem to do much more than buzz on my skin and if anything I noticed a few more breakouts while using it. I finished off both the Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes and the Klorane Soothing Make-Up Remover Wipes with Cornflower Water which I compared HERE. I found both wipes to be subpar and was glad to finish them up as I prefer cleansing oils or waters to remove my makeup. 

A few exfoliators bit the dust including the Olay Microdermabrasion Treatment and Peel Activator Serum which I really enjoyed using. I found that my skin felt noticeably smoother after using this and think it's a nice drugstore skincare kit. The same cannot be said for the Korres Pomegranate Scrub which was a coarse scrub suspended in a moisturizing base that left a slight film on my skin. I ended up finishing most of the sample as a body scrub. The Caudalie Vinoperfect Enzymatic Peel Mask is a very gentle chemical exfoliant that would be perfect for those with very delicate skin. I did not find a huge difference in my skin after using this mask but those with already good skin may like it. 

I used up another bottle of Thayer's Rose Witch Hazel which I decanted into a Lush Tea Tree Toner bottle. I've been through three bottles of Thayer's Witch Hazel and while it has always been quite good at keeping my skin refreshed and clean, I'm ready to venture out and try a few new toners. I used up a sample of Avene's Thermal Spring Water which I used mostly to spray my face after my makeup routine. The fine mist is great for getting rid of the powdery look and feels nice on the skin. Throughout my European travels I used the L'Occitane Essential Water as my toner but did not really enjoy it. Although the formula claims to be alcohol free, it stung my skin and the scent was a bit too strong and herbal for my liking. 

I finally got through a tube of La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo which was the acne treatment I used in general areas where I experienced small breakouts. Effaclar Duo is highly popular amongst beauty bloggers and it is a good product for smaller blemishes but in my case, not strong enough to deal with large cystic pimples. The little sample of Mario Badescu's Hyaluronic Eye Cream lasted me ages and was nicely moisturizing. This is the only product I have tried from Mario Badescu that was satisfactory and would recommend it if you only want a hydrating eye cream. The Nuxe Crème Prodigieuse Moisturizer was highly perfumed and too heavy for me to use on my skin. I ended up using it as a hand cream instead. The Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer served as my day and night cream for many months and it performed decently enough. It felt a bit heavy when my skin was oily so I would only recommend this for dry to normal skin types. The Shiseido Extra Smooth Sun Protection Cream SPF 38 PA+++ is an amazing sunscreen that I wasn't sure I wanted to use up. The tube lasted me forever with daily use and is totally worth the money. I would repurchase this in a heartbeat.

I used up sample sizes of the Klorane Oat Milk Shampoo and Conditioner, both of which I disliked. The shampoo was too runny and did not lather up much so I felt like I had to use a lot of product. The scent is citrus-like but reminds me of floor cleaner and lingers in my hair hours later. The conditioner was also very thin and slipped right out of my hair, doing little to make it feel smoother and healthier. I love the Oat Milk Dry Shampoo so I was extremely disappointed with the shampoo and conditioner. The Number 4 Reconstructing Masque is a lovely hair mask that gives instant results but is too pricey to warrant a full size purchase. A sample of Lush's R&B Hair Moisturizer lasted me many months as only the tiniest amount was needed to tame my hair after a wash. The cream smells pleasant and added body to my hair while smoothing it out.

Lastly I finished up a fair number of body bits, mainly because the air was so dry in the Netherlands that I had to constantly moisturize my skin. The Dove Deep Care Body Milk was an impulse purchase because I needed a body lotion during the harsh winter. The scent was lovely and the formula was good. However, I do not think this line of Dove lotions is available in the states. Another body moisturizer I used up is the Yves Rocher Malaysian Coconut Silky Body Lotion which is much lighter and less moisturizing. The scent was phenomenal and reminded me exactly like Malaysian coconut pudding! The L'Occitane Pivoine Flora Beauty Milk was a gorgeous lightweight lotion that I did not expect myself to like as much as I do. The scent is feminine and makes me simply happy. I will definitely purchase the full size at some point. Another sample body lotion is the Rituals Honey Touch Body Cream which smelled divine and nourished the skin well. The three Rituals products shown above were purchased together in a kit along with a travel sized shampoo which I haven't yet finished. Rituals is a Dutch beauty brand that does some really great bath and body products. The Rituals Yogi Flow Shower Gel is an innovative shower foam that is highly moisturizing and fun to use. The scent is wonderful and I bought a full sized tube before returning to the states. The kit also came with a sample sachet of the Rituals Himalaya Wisdom Body Scrub which felt minty and tingly. I personally found the sensation a tad odd and slightly offputting because it made me cold but some people might enjoy it. Lastly I polished off a bottle of the Yves Rocher Jardins Du Monde Shower Gel which was nothing special but worked decent for the inexpensive price. I prefer bar soaps over shower gels so I'm not sure why I even purchased the shower gel in the first place.

Not sure how many of you read this grossly over written post but if you did, I applaud your willpower! Empties posts are great for personal record keeping so I get an idea of how many beauty products I finish and what I liked or didn't get on with. Have you tried any of the products I mentioned in this post? What have you finished recently?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Decluttering the Stash

I will be the first to admit that I have more beauty products than I need and that I will never use up every product that I have in my collection. My beauty wardrobe has grown exponentially since I started experimenting with makeup in 2009 and shows little signs of stopping. Making matters worse, I have a hard time parting with products, even if I never reach for them. In an attempt to get started in downsizing, I rutted through my drawers and picked out a bunch of things I do not have a hard time bidding adieu to.

My nail polish collection is a bit out of control but I could only manage to rut out a few very well loved polishes that have probably past their expiration dates. The Revlon polish and one of the ORLY bottles are frankens. The three polishes on the right were too sheer for my liking and not stand-out shades that I needed to have.

Lip products are more prone to go bad than powder products such as eyeshadows and blushes so I had managed to get rid of quite a few lippies. I am quite picky with lipglosses and prefer ones with wands far more than tubed ones. All of the glosses are hardly used and while none of them were horrible, they were nothing special. The Revlon lipsticks in Pink Pout and Twinkled Pink are ones I rarely ever reached. Pink Pout was too matte and purple toned for my skintone while Twinkled Pink is extremely frosty.

I have a lot of eyeshadows and I know it. Sadly, I could only choose a few that I wanted to oust from my collection. The NYX trio and Sephora single were not bad eyeshadows but I just don't have use for stark white or gray shades. The E.L.F quads in Ethereal and Silver Lining were too powdery and the colors not unique enough to justify keeping them. The Physician's Formula Glam Green Eyes Gel Liners were featured in my Disappointing Products post because the lighter shades were not useful for eye lining and did not fare well as cream shadows either. The black shade in the trio works just fine though. Lastly, I debated giving up the Catrice single in Talk Like An Egyptian because it only recently entered my stash. But the chunky texture means I will rarely ever use it since I have a lot of great shadows that I'd rather use.

I also had a few miscellaneous items that I didn't want taking up space. The Eye Rock eyeliner strips were in one of my Birchboxes and the idea of using stick on eyeliner does not appeal to me whatsoever. Drawing on eyeliner is much easier and quicker. The E.L.F Shimmering Facial Whip is a long forgotten product in my stash that I never reach for. Lastly is a double ended Essence of Beauty brush that I also neglect because it sheds quite a bit. 

I let my younger cousins pick and choose anything they wanted from these smatterings and the leftovers went promptly into the trash. Do you routinely go through your beauty inventory and get rid of products? How do you keep your beauty stash in check?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Last European Adventure Destination (Until Next Time): Paris

Paris almost didn't happen for me but by a stroke of chance and a few arrangements, I took a seven hour bus ride from Amsterdam to the City of Light.

Sacre Coeur was my first sight seeing pitstop and it is one of the most magnificent churches I have had the fortune of visiting. The basilica is situated atop Montmartre hill, the highest point in Paris.

This trip was not centered around food at all and I was not too picky with my meals. Budget was a big factor in this decision and the friend I was traveling with is not much of a foodie. Bouillon Chartier has a lot of love from internet reviewers and the line was out the door when I arrived so I expected quite a bit. Unfortunately, the food was mediocre at best and the only redeeming factor was the lively atmosphere and old time charm.

The Louvre was a must see and the museum itself was more interesting to my untrained eyes than the artworks on display.

The Louvre is a former palace and the rooms certainly reflect that. The museum is the most visited in the world and I had not seen so many Americans in one place since I left New York!

The Winged Victory of Samothrace is my favorite piece at the Louvre and one that I had studied years ago during an art history class. The sculpture is located in a airy corner of the museum with lots of natural light, making it a great place for photos.

Next up, I strolled across the popular lock bridge and enjoyed the view. The sun was shining but don't be fooled, it was still quite chilly! I wore a cardigan, denim jacket and scarf for the day and my friend held onto my layers for the sake of a few pictures.

A friend recommended I stop by the Luxembourg Gardens and I am so glad I did. The sprawling greenery was well kept and it was a real pleasure to walk through.

Quite a few times I noticed trees cut into square shapes which I think is remarkably chic! Paris was surprisingly spread out and there was a lot of space to walk about. If you plan on exploring the city by foot, wear very comfortable shoes because you'll be getting a lot of mileage!

The last stop on my first full day in Paris was Notre Dame. There are a lot of street performers in the area and it's a great place to people watch as well.

My second, and last, full day began with walking to Champs-Élysées, no minor feat considering how large the city is. The famous avenue disappointed me a little, to be quite frank. The Sephora flagship store was a lot smaller than I expected and there weren't many exclusive products not available stateside. Most of the stores were large chains and the hoards of tourist make smart shopping impossible (not that I was planning to buy anything anyway). I would recommend checking out smaller streets with local boutiques instead. The St. Germain area had many more interesting shops and the atmosphere of the neighborhood was more authentic.

At the end of Champs-Élysées there is the Arc de Triomphe which was more impressive than I expected it to be.

From there, I headed to the most iconic Parisian monument, the Eiffel Tower. The line for tickets was incredibly long but the wait was worth it. My fear of heights and the longer wait to get tickets to the top meant that I only got up to the second floor, but it was still spectacular!

I hadn't expected myself to enjoy the Eiffel Tower and surrounding grounds as much as I did. My friend and I spent a few hours in the neighborhood just people watching and relaxing under the shade of the tower. I suspect that many people try and visit the Eiffel Tower first when they arrive in Paris. But when planning my itinerary, I made it the last stop in my trip and I'm so glad I did. There were many other tourists but not so many as to take away from the experience. In the evening when the sun finally sets, the illuminated tower seems to attract more attention. My last night in Paris was one of the most enjoyable nights I had in Europe. 

Until we meet again, Paris. Au revoir!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You Can't Just Have One: Kiko Ultra Glossy Stylo in 806 Tangerine

I mentioned in my last KIKO post that I stumbled upon a KIKO in Cologne, Germany and had to pick up a few more shades of the products I loved from my first haul. The KIKO Ultra Glossy Stylo in 807 Red Coral really stood out to me and I wanted to add another bright shade to my collection. I prefer having an even number of shades of a certain product and when I have an odd number, I'm constantly itching to "complete" the set. This can be a problem when it comes to luxury beauty products but the Ultra Glossy Stylos retail for €4.90 for 2 grams or .07oz so you're not going to break the bank with these.

Looking at the entire line up of shades, I almost couldn't pick a shade that I wanted. There were several nude and my lips-but-better shades but I already have multiple nude lipsticks that I need to use up. Some other shades had glitter particles in them and I prefer cream finishes. Then I spotted 806 Tangerine, a beautiful and bright true orange shade. The rest, is history.

The vanilla scented lippie glides on smoothly and leaves a glossy finish on the lips. The product does not settle into lip lines and feels incredibly comfortable on. The sheer lipstick fades in about two to three hours and disappears evenly, never leaving weird white patches of gunk like some other products might. The formula also contains SPF 15 which is helpful to prevent sunburn.

The KIKO Ultra Glossy Stylos are a great lip butter type product that come at an affordable price. I highly recommend them and hope that KIKO expands and brings its products to the Americas!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Catrice Absolute Eye Color: Talk Like An Egyptian

Not all of Catrice's eyeshadows are made equal and Talk Like An Egyptian unfortunately got the shorter end of the stick in terms of formulation. I gravitated towards the pale gold shade because the finish looked very metallic and the gold has a green tinge to it. But the gritty chunks of glitter particles keep me from loving this eyeshadow. 

First off, the packaging for the Absolute Eye Color line is akin to the rest of Catrice products. The clear plastic cases are sturdy and look expensive to boot. Each eyeshadow retails for roughly €3 (about $4) and contains .07 grams, making them a beauty bargain.

Talk Like An Egyptian is not smooth to the touch and applies patchy. I was quite disappointed in this and think the shade would have been a lot better sans glitter. Using an eye primer, tapping off the glitter before application and pressing the shadow on the lid minimizes fallout. The eyeshadow is still useable and can look decent on the lid if precaution is used when applying. For the price, I'm not too upset about the poor performance but there are other drugstore eyeshadows that are much better.

Catrice eyeshadows are hit or miss because the more sparkly shades tend to have grittier, drier textures that make fallout and patchiness common. Talk Like An Egyptian is a lovely pale gold but it needs too much effort for me to recommend it. I picked up another single shadow from Catrice, which I will be reviewing shortly, and I am happy to say the quality is much better.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick: Favorite Chubby Lip Pencil!

I bought the Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick on a bit of a whim while browsing Boots before a flight out of Gatwick Airport. I vaguely remembered Fleur touting it as a great product and I was figured adding to my collection of chubby lip pencils couldn't be a bad idea since they're so portable and easy to use. Well, this turns out to be one of the best semi-impulsive beauty purchases I've made recently!

I grabbed the shade Fuchsia-ristic which doesn't look very fuchsia-y at all. It's a bright neon orange red in the tube but goes on quite sheer and shiny on the lips. The twist up design is great and a must for me when it comes to chubby lip pencil products (which is why I refuse to purchase any of the Nars ones no matter how good they are!). The pencil is vanilla scented and I personally love the smell! The Soap & Glory gloss sticks are £8 but I was lucky that Boots was doing a 3-for-2 offer which brought the price down a  bit more. Sephora sells the gloss sticks for $16 which is more pricey, even factoring in the exchange rate, but at least the product is easily available outside of the UK.

The texture of the pencil surprised me in that it was a bit harder and stiff compared to other versions I have tried from Tarte and Clinique. The pencil feels almost waxy but not quite and it's not a bad hardness either. The formula easily coats the lips as warmth makes the crayon blend into the lips without sinking into fine lines. As you can see, the color payoff is not opaque but there is a bright tint of pink with a glossy finish. My lips are very comfortable while wearing this and the glossiness is not sticky at all.

So far, the Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick is my favorite formulation of chubby lip pencils due to the smooth texture, pretty color and and glossiness. I wish I had picked up the other shades available while I was in London, but for now, Fuchsia-ristic will be very well loved.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Catrice Defining Blush in Toffee Fairy: Blush or Bronzer?

Nude blushes have become a great all-in-one product in recent years as they can imitate the contouring brown tones of a bronzer and the slight flush of a blush. Tarte's Amazonian Clay Blush in Exposed has been on my wishlist for ages but I couldn't justify the price. Luckily, Catrice makes a great alternative for under €4!

For a drugstore brand, Catrice has great, high quality packaging. Each blush contains 5 grams of product which is more than a Nars blush, for comparison purposes.

Toffee Fairy is a muddy pink shade that looks more like a bronzer than a blush. The blush seems to have a sheen in the formula but once applied, the color is matte. On very light complexions, I think this could definitely work as a contour color. On myself, I prefer to use it right on the apples of the cheeks between where I would usually contour and apply blush. This shade is perfect for a "no makeup" makeup look or if the eyes and lips are the focal areas of the face. Like the other Catrice blushes, Toffee Fairy is pigmented and smooth without being chalky or powdery.

I highly recommend the Catrice defining blushes if you come across them. They are solid products and the price is great! Catrice can be found at Kruidvat stores in the Netherlands and other drugstore-like stores in parts of Europe. I would love for the brand to move stateside or at least offer international shipping so more beauty lovers have access to a great brand!

Monday, June 10, 2013

London Beauty Haul: Superdrug and Boots!

A majority of my favorite bloggers and Youtubers hail from the UK so it's no surprise I went beauty crazy during my four day stay in London. Superdrug was having a 3-for-2 offer on all makeup products which gave me more of an incentive to haul.... 

Sleek was a no-brainer as their eye and face palettes are perhaps the most coveted British beauty buys. I've had the Original and Storm palettes on my list for ages but in the end I only chose the Oh So Special Eyeshadow Palette because it was more unique and still wearable. I also snatched up the Blush By 3 Palette in Lace and the Face Form Palette in Light. Sleek ships to the United States so if I ever feel the need to obtain more shades, I'll have a place to get my fix. Do note that the products on the website cost a few pounds more, you also have to pay for shipping and  offers are harder to come by. 

MUA is another very popular brand I've heard lots about and the price point is considerably lower than Sleek. I knew I had to have the Undress Me Too Palette which is supposedly a dupe for the Urban Decay Naked2 Palette. I hardly use my Urban Decay Naked Palette so I never got around to purchasing the second edition. The MUA dupe should satisfy my Naked2 lemmings for awhile. I also picked up the Trio Eyeshadow in Innocence which I've heard good things about. I have a soft spot for cream blushes so the Blush Perfection Cream Blusher in Bittersweet wound up in my shopping basket. 

The entire line of Bourjois cosmetics is not stocked in the Netherlands so I was excited to spot the Delice de Poudre Bronzing Powder in 51 as well as the brand new Cream Blush in Nude Velvet. Bourjois has wonderfully cute concepts and the shades are almost always up my alley. How I wish they  were stocked in the states! Of course I also grabbed the cult favorite Collection Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer in Light. Everyone goes on and on about how great this cheapie concealer is and since I've been having very troubled skin lately, another concealer in my stash is not unwarranted.

I was mighty proud of myself for not stepping into Boots whilst in the city of London. But at Gatwick Airport on my way back to Amsterdam, I spotted several Boots' and couldn't keep away. They were having 3-for-2 as well and I was enticed by the Soap & Glory bits. I picked up the Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick in Fuchsia-Ristic, the Solar Powder Bronzer and their Kick Ass Concealer in Light. The prices are considerably cheaper in the UK as compared to Sephora and the range is more extensive as well. The bath and shower products were all so incredibly enticing as I've wanted to try their scrubs and lotions for years but I simply had not enough room in my backpack carry-on. The woes of being a budget flyer!

As you can see I hauled way too much for my own good but I'll consider these as my little London souvenirs. Full reviews and swatches are on the way (as are the ten million other products I've hauled in the last few months)! What are your favorite British beauty brands and products?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

In The Skincare Mix: Yves Rocher 24H Intense Hydrating Gel Cream

With all the makeup reviews and swatches happening on this blog, skincare has really taken a back seat. I thought I'd take a break from swatching blushes and lipsticks to blog about my current moisturizer for day and night time. I hauled the Yves Rocher 24H Intense Hydrating Gel Cream a few months back as a replacement after my Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer ran out. I usually do quite a bit of research before adding something to my skincare routine but I honestly was lured in by the pretty teal packaging and gel cream texture the most.

The ingredients are conveniently labeled on the cardboard packaging. Dimethicone is the fourth ingredient which is somewhat alarming but so far, my skin has not broken out or reacted badly. The 50ml tub retails for $24 on the US website but is currently on promotion for 50% off. Yves Rocher always has promotions and sales so you're bound to find products for a fraction of the MSRP.

The moisturizer comes in a heavy glass jar with a sturdy plastic lid which is not the most optimal packaging for skincare as the product is prone to germs and bacteria. Yves Rocher claims the moisturizer is suitable for normal to combination skin and claims to leave skin "visibly replenished, fresh and radiant". The moisturizer is scented and smells fresh and almost like cucumbers.

The texture is aptly named a gel cream because it is not as light as a true gel but not heavy enough to be a cream either. The product spreads out easily and sinks into the skin readily. My skin is well moisturized and not flaky and I have not broken out or noticed any major negative changes after using this for about a month. That being said, this formula is probably going to be too heavy in July and August when summer is in full effect and my face is an oil slick.

This was definitely an impulse purchase and one that I will not be making again. While it is not a bad moisturizer by any means, it is not nearly as good as my favorite La Roche Posay Toleriane. The jar packaging, scent and silicone subtract major points and prevent it from being a skincare product I can fully recommend.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

London At A Glance

London was one of my non-negotiable places that I had to visit during my semester abroad and a few weeks ago, my roommate and I traveled a cool 40 minutes to get there. Out of all the cities I have visited thus far, London is possibly my favorite, tied with Amsterdam, of course! Pictured above is Regent Street, the high streets of all high street shopping areas!

Let's backtrack a little and start from the first night.... I stayed in a hostel out of the city center to save a few British pounds (because the exchange rate made me cry a bit inside). My roommate and I bought oyster cards (their version of the metrocard) and headed to Embankment where we happened upon a cozy Italian restaurant. In an effort to be quite economical, I was not looking for fancy-schmancy dining experiences during this trip. If and when I visit the United Kingdom again, I will definitely make a more conscious choice of where to dine. 

I opted for the vegetarian cannelloni which was just enough to fill me up for the night. Unlike many other European cities, London restaurants offer free tap water. I was extremely happy about this because I am honestly tired of paying more for water than it costs to have a beer (which I don't even drink). 

We digested our meal by walking along the Thames and taking in views of Big Ben from afar. We walked up to the London Eye which probably would have been more impressive if it was running. 

The next day was a Sunday and unfortunately many shops were closed or opened later than usual. We walked through a desserted Leadenhall Market which is where they filmed some scenes for Harry Potter, according to a tour guide that we happened to pass by. 

The iconic telephone booths were situated every few blocks and sometimes you just have to admit you're a tourist!

On our way to the Tower of London we passed by St. Pauls Cathedral which was located amongst many small shops and eateries. 

The Tower of London is at the edge of the city but there were lots of tourists milling about. The ticket prices were exorbitant so my roommate and I passed it up. I treated myself to a giant chocolate muffin from Eat. instead! 

Then we were off to Camden Market which was hectic and extremely crowded but worth the trip. The market was a lot bigger than I expected and there were dozens of food stalls selling various ethnic foods and indie jewelry and decor designers as well. 

 We stopped at an adorable tea shop in one of the upper floors of the market. How delicious do these scones look? The price was a bit steep and I was still stuffed from lunch so I passed on them.

The next day we were determined to see more iconic sights in London and we started at Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.

We made our way to the British Museum which has quite an impressive ceiling! I love that most of the British museums are free and getting in is a breeze. I definitely want to visit the Natural History and V&A museums next time.

I had researched good fish and chip places before landing in London so I made my way to The Rock & Sole Plaice near Covent Garden. An interesting thing about London eateries is that there is almost always a to-go option which is a few pounds cheaper than sitting in to eat.

The fish was nice a crispy and not too oily while the chips were firm on the outside and a touch soft on the inside. Overall, it was a nice meal and very filling!

Covent Garden and the surrounding area were great to walk through while we digested our lunches. We mostly window shopped but I definitely made mental notes of shops to go into if I ever return!

Then we headed to Oxford Street which reminded me a lot of Herald Square because of all the chain stores. I patted myself on the back for not purchasing anything... until I got to Miss Selfridge. I. Love. That. Place. I've heard of Miss Selfridge in passing since I watch a ton of British beauty Youtubers but I had no idea how whimsical and beautiful everything was. I decided on a set of rings which were only a few quid and that I could easily fit into my carryon luggage. Miss Selfridge actually has a US website and the prices are very reasonable so that will always be an option until I've saved up enough for a plane ticket....

After hours of window shopping, we finally made it to Buckingham Palace! We stared at the guards for a good while and rested our sore feet at the fountain. Apparently the Queen was in that day as dictated by the number of guards standing at the gate!

The last stop of the day was Harrods, not for the extravagant designer goods, but for the food hall. The department store is quite spectacular and it was still quite nice just wandering around despite feeling extremely poor. 

The food hall has a delightful assortment of sweet treats as well as take-out style food. We bought our dinners there, a chicken pie for me and a salad for the roommate. I also indulged in a chocolate scone and a savory cheese scone. We brought our fixings back to the hostel to devour and the results were delicious. I still dream about that cheesy scone.... 

On our last afternoon we took advantage of the free Tate Modern, a modern art museum. Honestly, modern art is not my cup of tea but the view was nice and it was something to do to kill time. 

Before heading back from whence we came, we stopped by Borough Market for lunch. I had a delicious frankfurter with loads of sauerkraut, mustard and ketchup. I almost always eat my hotdogs plain as I prefer them that way, but I was feeling up for something different that day. 

I also bought a lemon poppy seed cake for the plane ride. I would check the opening days for the markets ahead of time because most shops only open a few days of the week. When we were at Borough Market, only a fraction of the food stands were open for business. Nonetheless, there was a nice variety of ethnic foods to choose from.

London reminded me a lot of the Big Apple from the fast paced life to the underground tube. I would certainly go to London again because the city is large and three and a half days is not nearly enough time to see a fraction of it. I'll consider this trip as a sneak preview of next time's foray. Have you visited London? What do you think of it?