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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I hear the birds on the summer breeze

(Bell Sleeve Jumper: H&M Trend, Stone leather skirt: Topshop, Leather Harness: Topshop, Jewellery: DIY, Wood/ gold bracelets: &otherstories, Shoes: Forever21, Handbag: H&M Trend) #teenvogue

Resistance is futile, I heart this jumper. I do however, not heart wearing it and trying to get my arms in a jacket with it on though. That's pretty difficult. Also, I feel this is the last time in 2013 I will be able to use a song lyrics for my post titles that include the word "summer". It is getting dark so early! Autumn is upon us.  Hang on in there summer!! I had more summer outfits planned!

P.S. Thanks for all the sweet comments on my Russia post. I didn't think anyone would be interested, but yay! You are!

With Love from,

Emma x

Sunday, August 25, 2013


To most of my followers (or people who end up on my blog after searching "naked Highland lass" this won't be a very interesting post, but there are at least lots of pictures of gold to ooh and ahh at. The reason I am doing this post which may not be very popular is that when I go on holiday I look for all my holiday tips from blogs. I don't know exactly why I do this, I guess I value others opinions and their pictures help illustrate what I may see. Now, when looking for something like this before my holiday I couldn't find anything. Nothing. So even if this just helps one person plan their holiday to Russia or inspires someone then it will be worth it. If you do want to just see holiday picture though, just don't read my lengthy descriptions... Right, first off Moscow!

St Basil's- An obvious must see. I actually really enjoyed going inside. Although not too relevant to me as I am not religious I could at least appreciate the art and paintings within their intended surroundings. Very cheap to go into. I think it was 200 roubles for a student so £4 ish. You could go around at your own pace and it was oddly not remotely busy. We visited it everyday, it was great to people watch, Russians pose like nothing I have ever seen before.

Red square- You cannot miss it, as in you will find it. Very busy but roomie so you don't feel squashed.

Kremlin- Russians are not good with signage. You could queue in numerous lines and not be in the right one 3 different queues later. Make sure you buy as many different tickets as you can at the ticket box. We got stopped going into anything but the Armory, which was beautiful, so many stunning items, so much gold. No pictures allowed. You can't take your bags with you, but take them to the door, there is a locker room inside the Kremlin. We really wanted to see the Diamond fund but you bought tickets inside the Kremlin, we left our bags and money in the locker room so couldn't go in. 

TSUM and Gum:

Gum and tsum Moscow- the gum is a beautiful shopping centre, we went inside just to see it and it was so pretty. Covered in flowers and rich people. Note, both of these shopping centres are full of the likes of Balmain, Chanel and Dolce Gabanna. They are obviously expensive, but not necessarily more expensive than the same items in Harrods or Selfridges. Great for window shopping. To me, these are the best kinds of museums, the clothes are stunning. I also managed to drag Stuart fantasy handbag shopping so I'm hoping for a celine phantom in the near future please honey. Shop assistants are actually okay, not too much noses went in the air as we passed, so indicating that they knew we were students and not actually going to buy an £18,000 Lanvin evening gown.

The Moscow Subways:

(Above: Komsomolskaya 1952)
(Above: Novokuzunetskaya 1943)
(Above: Novoslobodskaya 1952)

Metro tour- one of my favourite things to do in Moscow. Stuart found a company online called Moscow free tours. You could do the tour yourself and many guide books tell you the stations to see but there were lots of things that you wouldn't know about the stations without the tour. For example that the underground was built so ostentatious and full of light because the Russian people thought the devil lived underground and so it was built to encourage people to use them. Also some of the best bits of the subway required you going above ground, like the subway station which was built to celebrate Stalin(Novokuzunetskaya). They also showed us what things looked like pre- destalinisation, so where Stalin statutes were and haunting pictures of his face. The tour was a good price, again 550 for a student, they didn't check cards though. 

Food in stations- the city is covered in underground tunnels which divert the human traffic away from the roads. These often lead to the metros as well. In these tunnels there are rows upon rows of stalls selling from old lady clothes to cigarettes to food and drink. The food and drink is probably as cheap as you will find and actually really tasty. The smell of buttery pastry hits you when going along the row of shops. However, caution with some of the meat products...

Puskin Museum of Fine Arts- Great if you like Art and/or religious. As I don't like and I am not, I moaned. Sorry Stuart.

Padlock trees- Take that Paris. Russia does it too, and it isn't tearing down their bridges. These are located around the Vodootvodny Canal and we actually stumbled across them accidentally. Some of the locks are so old, it must be tradition for newlyweds to link up a lock here on their wedding day, There were so many ladies in white dresses surrounded by hummers around. Great for people watching and oh so cute.

Gorky park- pretty for a day time wander. Definitely not one for the rain. I imagine it would be amazing in winter. Lots of bits to sit with a nice picnic or just snooze in the sun.

Moscow Restaurants: 

Khachapuri: Oh look food pix. Where my love affair with Georgian food started. I have only good things to say about this place. Lovely staff (very accommodating to our British ignorance), amazing food, lovely decore, very fair pricings. So good we went back twice. (Website)

Scandinavia: the food was good. The items me and Stuart picked were good value for what they were and both very tasty. However the variety of options was not very exciting and didn't seem either Russian or Scandinavian as the name would suggest. A little disappointing. Staff made me and Stuart uncomfortable and ended up eating very quickly and leaving. (Website)

Starlite American diner- we got amazing milkshakes. They came in a range of flavours and to be honest they were too big to finish. Large amounts of dairy and hot weather never goes down great but I really enjoyed mine. Pretty expensive though, it cost just under £15 for two. (Website)
 St Petersburg:
Church of the Savior on Spilled blood:

A rather revolting name but a stunning building inside and out (I preferred it to St Basil's, just saying). The building was built on the site that Tsar Alexander II was assassinated on and since major damage which incurred after WW2 it has been restored and is maybe the more awe inducing building ever. Seriously, go inside. That's all mosaics, seriously.  See below for some pictures.


Hermitage- Beautiful!! Even if you aren't into museum artifacts that the Russians stole, the rooms are amazing. I spent more time looking at the roofs than the fancy art they housed. Queues are large, we pre- brought our tickets on the internet which meant we could skip the queues, it was a little more expensive but if you are short on time in St Petersburg it is so worth it. Prepare for so many pictures of roofs and erm, floors. I want a parquet floor. 
Cat Republic:

Cat republic- Cat cafe with numerous cats. Great afternoon spent with some furry friends. All the waitresses were adorable and obviously loved their job. They had a huge range of breeds, from Bengals, to 3 sphinx cats to muchkins to mongrel cats that retired here from a life chasing rats at the Hermatige Musuem. Well worth a visit, I had a smile on my face for a long time after. (Website)
St Issac's:

St Issac's: Sort of stumbled across it. Stuart wanted to go up to the top for views across St Petersburg, I agreed, forgetting I don't like heights. I really don't like heights. It was like the Eiffel Tower again, there were tears. Stuart said the views were worth it. I wouldn't know. I didn't look. I did grip on to pretty much anything that was around, the stairs, people, banisters, railings. See below for an example.

Peterhof Palace (Winter Palace):

Peterhof- so beautiful and very worth a visit. We took the hydrofoil out to it which seemed preferable to the varying public transport (see above pictures). However, it is worth noting that they only sell you a single. The hydrofoil does give the nicest entrance to Peterhof as you walk along next to the canal. We went at around 10 to ensure we caught the turning on of the fountains. Which was very disney-esque and knowing this I would have made a beeline for the queue to go inside. You can't take any pictures inside but it is beautiful so it doesn't matter too greatly. The gardens too are quite pretty. Lots of boxed hedges, not necessarily lots of flowers so it depends what you like. If it is raining then make sure you have an umbrella. We got soaked and it sort of dampened the day, maybe we should have given in and paid £30 for a small umbrella which the tourist stalls were flogging.

Catherine's Palace (Summer Palace):

Catherine's palace- I was really keen on seeing the amber room and the history of the palace which was basically burnt to the ground in WW2 after being occupied by the Nazis. It was okay to get to, metro to then catch a local bus to the palace. It was a good experience as you could see St Petersburgs countryside, however, be careful with what one you take back, we ended up at the make shift "bus station" which was basically a dusty field in the middle of nowhere. Back to Catherine's, I would maybe avoid it if you speak no Russian. When buying tickets we noticed that there were two different prices for students and asked what the difference was, we were ignored and handed two student tickets which turned out only allowed us to see half of the palace open to the public, as we wanted to also see the Wedgwood room with was a bit rubbish. We were not alone, a German family found themselves in the same situation trying to convey they would pay to see the rest of it. In St Catherine's was where we experienced the least tolerance to tourists. However, the building and the gardens were too stunning to turn down a viewing. The gardens are huge, and contain lots of other points of interest so it is worth a wander around. Below are the Turkish baths to celebrate the Russian successes over the Ottoman Empire, so pretty, it had a roof with coloured glass in it!

St Petersburg dining:

Clean plates society- so tasty, great food, good atmosphere, very good value. It was more Asian food than Russian, but it was Delicious. I left happy, and defeated by a bit of brownie that was bigger than my fist. (Website)

ZooM Cafe- Also great food. More Russian food too, waitresses all spoke English. I am still dreaming about my Salmon Pancakes. Very good value, go early, always a wait for a table. (Website)

Cat cafe- Bad, just bad. Hoped it would get better, it didn't. Avoid, also no real cats.

General Advice:


Souvenirs - shop around!! The prices vary extremely. I'd would certainly avoid actual souvenir shops and markets outside tourist attractions as the prices are much higher. The souvenirs are basically the same where ever you go so you won't miss out by holding out for a price you are more comfortable with. The Izmailovsky market in Moscow was the best place for souvenirs without a doubt, they had the widest range of items and were willing to strike a deal. Use the directions on Trip advisor, and it is impossible to miss. All I really wanted was a traditional Russian doll, traditional Christmas decorations and a real Cossack hat. In the standard tourist shops the Russian dolls were pretty garish. Covered in gold with creepy eyes and of bad quality and about £30 for a standard size. In the market you had enough choices to sink a ship as well as different varieties. We picked up 4 dolls for ourselves and the main ladies in our lives. The guy at the stall was shocked at our choices. We opted for the traditional style dolls with the cuts in the wood and muted colours. He said he rarely sold ones like that. In both mine and Stuart's opinion they were much nicer than the others though. I also picked up a special Russian doll set for my sister, which was Star Trek themed, you could get pretty much anything on a Russian doll. We got "Christmas" decorations which were really just little dolls/ Russian buildings with a metal loop that could be utilised as Christmas decorations, these were very cheap at £5 for 5, all hand painted. Very cute. This was the sellers initial price and we were happy with it and didn't haggle. Now hats. There were many options. White ones, brown ones, black ones. What ever your heart desired basically. I picked up two for a discounted price as I bought more than one. It's always good checking the other stalls but the seller was sweet and had a young child so I was swayed and didn't haggle much at all. Considering the quality and the pricing of anything in Russia the hats were very decent in price. Remember, they are real fur, if you are not into that then steer clear and go to ASOS or Topshop instead. 

Supermarkets- great for quick food. We mostly grabbed stuff before we went to palaces as the food in places like that has a captive market that will pay anything for food. It's also never very good food. We found this worked well for us. 

Taxis- Scary as. One of our drivers had to use a magnifying glass to see the address of our hotel, the other used his knife to open the car door. Enough said. Make sure it is a legitimate taxi, avoid men who wander around shouting Taxi, go for a reliable one, preferably one that you can see the car before getting in. 

Cultural oddities:
I say this but I don't want to offend anyone. I just found these traits of Russian people odd and particularly unbritish and as such, they came as a surprise.

Queuing- I know British people like to queue but oh my did queuing in Russia make me uncomfortable. Firstly, they stand very close to you while queuing? There were times that someone was literally pressing against me, almost like going to a gig. In addition to the queue etticate was that if you don't do the same you will get nowhere. If there is a minute space between you and the person in front of you, the people behind you in the queue will suddenly appear in the space in front of you- you snooze, you loose kind of mindset.

Speaking English- this is where I end up sounding arrogant and like a cliche Brit. But I found it very, very odd at the lack of English people spoke. Rather oddly the person who spoke the best English was a gentlemen from whom we bought our Russian dolls from. He spoke exceptional English. He also dropped in and out of Russian and Mandarin depending on who he was serving. It was astounding. Just a warning that people do not really accommodate for our ignorance for not learning anything.  Some people become more accommodating if you signal that you don't speak any Russian and you are very sorry. Then you generally get a nod and they try a bit harder to help you out. I found it odd that the worst place for not speaking Russian was the airport. No-one and I repeat, no-one talked to us in English. This was an international airport and I found it pretty stunning.  If you do really need help we always asked young ladies.

Shopping- not worth it. Just out of interest me and Stuart went into the underground shopping mall which you get to via subway in Moscow. We actually stumbled across it accidentally as we had looked for it earlier the same day. Unsurprisingly the maps function on trip advisor could not tell us that the entrance was underground and we spent a long time standing on top of the mall perplexed to why the little blue dot that was us said we had arrived at our destination. I think from the way the ladies dress I was just interested in what their version of the high street was. Expensive, that's what it was. As an experiment we looked in the Russian version of a British high street brand. We picked up a belt that was £8.00 in British money and was about 550 roubles. Making it almost £12 in British money. So basically a 150% increase.


1. Download the Trip Adviser City app, it uses satellites to locate you- a god send. Also, save items of interest so you can see what is near you.
2. Take your Student card, everywhere offers Student discounts
3. Shop around for souvenirs, you will get a better deal.
4. Make a note of opening hours, some of them are very random!
5. Ask Asian people to take your picture, especially if you have an SLR, they know how to use them...
6. Remember you will need a Visa
7. Photo copy all your documents, don't carry your hard copies
8. Exercise caution, buy a padlock for your bag even if it is just a visual deterrent for others
9. Flights between the cities are cheaper than the train
10. Learn a bit of Russian.
11. Learn some history of Russia to put the cities into perspective.
12: If you buy vodka to take home buy it in customs and put it back into your hold luggage, European countries will confiscate it, we were honestly told that this was just because it was Russian. 

Hope this helps someone, if not I hope the pictures were nice. 

With love from,

Emma xx

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gravity will destroy you

(Gingham top- ASOS, Skirt: H&M Trend, Sunglasses: Rayban, Pumps: Zara, Necklace: ASOS) #teenvogue

This top is kind of slutty, I am not going to dispute it. It encourages an unconventional kind of view of a girls chest. Got a lot of looks at my chest area this day, fortunately I have long hair which covers my decency a little. As this top is on the slutty side, I find the fool proof rule of, if you got a lot going on up top tone down the bottom, applies well here. As such I love this skirt with a crop. It balances out the skin to clothe ratio and makes me look slightly less trampy.

In addition, Russia pictures soon, I am making a guide to Moscow and St Petersburg post as it was something I searched for and couldn't find. Anyway, it's taking ages. I have a lot to say apparently. I'm not going to commit to a day to publish it as it will never happen on time. I swear I am more organised in my personal life.  In my absence you have some pictures of my chest.

Love and stuff,
Emma x
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