Thursday, 10 July 2014

Italy by Rail - Day One: Turin

I've always wanted to do a full Europe by rail trip - but having a full time job rather limits the amount of time I can go away for. On the other hand, no job... no money to travel! The answer seemed to be to take one country at a time. 


Italy first! I booked my flights a few months in advance for myself and my friend Grace. We would fly into Turin and 9 days later fly out from Rome. The rest of the trip from taxis to trains, accommodation and where we would visit were all up in the air until 24hrs before we left! 
I'd never particularly wanted to visit Turin before, but the flights were cheap, so decision made. I'd already been to Rome, but it's so spectacular I was happy to visit the city again!

Day One: Turin

We arrived in Turin pretty exhausted as our flight left from Stansted at 7am, which meant waking up at about 4am!! I get quite anxious before I travel, so I didn't sleep particularly well the night before anyway.

Turin airport to our hotel was a bit of a trek; firstly we had to navigate the confusing train ticket machines at the station. Note: if you're using these, don't think oh what a great way to break a note, the ticket machine doesn’t give you change in the cash sense, instead you are printed a receipt with the value of your change on it. I later found out that you can exchange this for cash if you can find a ticket office. After 20 minutes of scrambling around with maps, and our Italian phrase book, we successfully negotiated the ticket machine and made it all the way to the platform. We had missed our train by just a few minutes… Ughhh! So we waited for the next train, I think it was around a 40 minute wait, though it was a Sunday so perhaps trains are usually a little more frequent.


Success - on the train, and made it to our stop, now to figure out the bus we needed to be on. In hindsight, a taxi would have been a better option. The bus ride was 20 minutes or so, I had checked the timetable so knew to count 8 stops along in my head to arrive at the correct destination.

The hotel was just a few minutes’ walk from the bus stop. Our room was pleasant enough; we decided to make the first night as cheap as possible. Another thing to note in Italy, don’t arrive on a Sunday – everything is closed!!! Perhaps not in the bigger cities, but Turin was a little bit of a ghost town. We really needed to buy some bottles of water, wandering around, we stumbled upon some ‘vending machine shops’, which we later realised were ubiquitous across Italy. Sorted!!


Time for braided hair thanks to my travel companion Grace, take in the sunset, and sleep… Genoa tomorrow afternoon!


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Spectacular Views of Florence | Grand Hotel Minerva Rooftop

If you want sensational views of Florence, including the Duomo, I'd recommend heading over to the newly refurbished bar on the rooftop of Grand Hotel Minerva.

Offering uninterrupted views of the city (in terms of other buildings - there's always restoration work going on around the city) you'd be hard pushed to find a better place for an evening cocktail.I sampled some prosecco which went down an absolute treat as it toasted my last night in the city.





I didn't stay in this hotel; however, the rooftop also has a pool so I think I might be booking myself in there if I visit Florence again during a sunny month.
Despite heavy downpours, 10 years on from my first visit, this City still has my heart. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Laser Hair Removal/IPL – Weighing up the Costs | DestinationSkin

I recently went on holiday to Italy with my friend Grace and we were both moaning about shaving our legs every few days. We both have quite pale skin, and dark hair (yes, despite the fact I’m blonde-ish, well, more of a mousey brown before it’s highlighted, my leg hair is actually darker than my head hair). Therefore, even a little bit of leg stubble shows up straight away.

So, as we’re moaning about shaving our legs, and how much waxing hurts – and the fact that it doesn’t last up to 6 weeks I decided that enough was enough and maybe laser hair removal or IPL on my legs was a better idea? Sure it’s expensive, but over a lifetime, must be cheaper than waxing and/or shaving anyway? The numbers…

Shaving from age 25-75 years, twice a week, so that’s probably 2 new razor blades a month? Say £8 for 2 averagely good razors and shaving foam… over a year, £8 x 12 months = £96 x 50 years… you’re looking at £4,800! I’ve double checked my calculations, and that’s actually correct! Then there’s the time and effort of shaving your legs, the annoyance when you nick your leg, or you’ve missed a patch.

Waxing for 50 years… imagining your waxed legs do actually last a while, let’s say a month for the purpose of this calculation. A full leg wax is usually about £25, over a year, £25 x 12 months = £300 x 50 years… £15,000!!


6 sessions of laser hair removal or IPL for full legs is around £1,000 – and pretty much permanent hair removal, from what I’ve read up, you might have to have the odd top up session throughout your life – but it’s pretty much a fuzz free life. 

Having worked these astronomical figures out for hair removal, and comparing with the costs of laser hair removal it seems a no-brainer to choose the permanent option. The upfront cost does seem a lot, but working that out over a lifetime of hair removal you’re quids in. Buying your laser hair removal in courses seems to be cheaper at all clinics, so save your pennies and buy it in one hit  - paying per session seems around 15-20% more expensive than buying a course.

What clinic should I use? I think one of the most important things about choosing where to have your laser hair removal isn’t just finding the cheapest place, look for clinics rather than beauticians and always look up reviews. You should always be given an assessment and a patch test before any laser treatment, if this isn’t offered – walk away, you might not be suitable for the treatment and you don’t want to damage your skin.


Once I’ve had my first treatment I’ll post up some pictures – may not want to see my fuzzy legs, but that’s the sort of blog post I love to read! Not sure yet if I’ll be having IPL or laser, during my consultation the clinician will decide which is best for my skin and hair type.

Laser hair removal works by delivering a specific wavelength of light to the hair, heating the hair follicle to reduce hair growth. The technology uses lasers of different wavelengths of light to target melanin under the skin and selectively heats the follicle, damaging and stunting hair growth whilst not affecting the surrounding skin. Whereas IPL (intensive pulsed light) is a high energy, broad spectrum light which is delivered to the skin in a short period of time. When the light energy hits the hair follicle, the energy turns to heat which vanishes the hair follicle. After 3-4 cycles all follicles in the targeted area will be destroyed permanently.




I’m booked in to DestinationSkin for my leg laser hair removal/IPL, I’ve been to one of their Clinics before and had a facial treatment which I was really impressed with (read my review here). DestinationSkin is a national chain of registered clinics specialising in non-invasive, advanced technological treatments for anti ageing, permanent hair reduction and skin concerns.  They’ve been around for over 10 years, and had really great reviews with the slogan “bringing Harley Street treatments to the High street in conveniently located clinics nationwide”.


You can read up on laser hair removal here, as well as view some before and after pictures.

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