Budapest – The City Beautiful

Budapest – The City Beautiful

It’s been just over a month since I have returned from my visit to Budapest. However, I could not allow such a magnificent experience and such a beautiful destination to pass without a devoted blog post – so here it is!

I took my fiancé to Budapest, Hungary as a surprise for his 40th birthday. Admittedly, I knew very little about the destination before I booked our trip and had absolutely no idea what  kind of city break we might actually experience.  Most city break destinations don’t need much more  than a good cityscape and some pretty bridges to justify itself as a city break destination. However, as it was a surprise for my fiance’s birthday I really needed Budapest to be extra special.

In all honesty, Budapest was not a destination I had romanticised over, like Paris, which possibly would always be my first choice for a European city break. Nevertheless, my fiance is not a big fan of Paris, we’d visited Milan, Barcelona and Berlin together in the recent years, so I needed a destination that was in Europe, that was not Amsterdam,  that neither of us had ever been to and that would wow him. Budapest completely blew us both away. And maybe, just maybe, blew Paris out of the water too!

 The features that lured me to the destination was the architecture, that I had been told was spectacular. The views of the river Danube, which I read were breathtaking and the Chain Bridge, that lights up the night with stunning lights. However, what intrigued me more so than anything was that the River Danube literally and physically splits Budapest in two, creating Buda and Pest. 

Indeed, Budapest is a striking city, arguably as pretty as Paris in its femininity, less modern than London, but more masculine and grandiose. Nevertheless, despite the beauty and the distinctive uniqueness of Budapest,  we never picked up on an ounce of pretentiousness or even arrogance, one might expect from those that inhabit such a breathtaking city and this made exploring such a striking city just as pleasurable as its appearance.

Admittedly it rained our entire trip and was significantly cold, but this gave me the opportunity to wrap up and layer my winter armour. I packed my biggest oversized knits, my recently purchased black watch check cape with giant fur hood a la Dolce and Gabnana from Zara. I walked the streets of Budapest in my longest boots and complimented my ensembles with one of my many fur accessories, be it a fur snood, a fur collar or fur scarf – a winter styling technique I have adopted from Olivia Palermo.

It turns out that pretty much everyone in Budapest was dressed this way. However, the fur, worn in abundance, was everywhere and of course, it was real. Exploring the Christmas Markets, which were naturally freezing, involved lots of standing still outdoors, whilst we ate ghoulish soup or paprika sausages, so it made complete sense why these Hungarian women walked the markets in fur coats with hemlines just around their ankles. I am not sure whether all the luscious fur on display was worn worn out of glamour, frivolity or a display of wealth, because they were indeed completely functional, but they looked divine!

We stayed in Pest, the livelier side of the country, strolling through the Christmas markets drinking mulled wine,  hanging out in the Jewish Quarter and drinking in the ruin bars. The impressive Parliament building, the third largest in the world, the extraordinary art-nouveaux Gresham Palace, which makes home to the Four Seasons Hotel and the Roman Catholic church, St. Stephen’s Basilica made for an awe-inspiring backdrop to our stay. However, it wasn’t till we hopped on board the local tram across the Danube River to Buda, that we could truly appreciate the Budapest cityscape in all its glory.

Buda sits on the right hand side of the vast Danube River and is connected to Pest with nine bridges. It’s mountainous and hilly land means it is able to offer views of both  Buda and Pest which are unimaginable. Once the tram had dropped us in Buda, we walked a steep and rolling San Francisco-eque hill with an idyllic and quaint little town atop of it. Although, completely overwhelmed by how picturesque this town was, it was what was at the heart of this town that truly overwhelmed me – St Matthias Church,  

 In the pouring rain we spent hours in awe of the looming gothic church, with it’s colourful mosaic surfaces and just when we thought Budapest had reached it’s stunning quota, we walked behind the church, to find Fisherman’s Bastion. Located at the edge of the hill, Fisherman’s Bastion offers the best views of Budapest. The panoramic view, elevated from a top the hill allowed us to take in sights of the parliament building on the Pest side of the river, lit up in all it’s glory. We could see the chain bridge twinkling with white lights and it’s glittering reflection on the Danube river. With all the castles and palaces, churches and bridges, Budapest is indeed a sight for sore eyes. The vistas were something unimaginable and despite the pouring rain, we indulged in the vistas of Budapest from the Fisherman’s Bastion for hours.

Take a look at the photos of the views, the food, the markets and the bars we visited during our time in Budapest.

Xxxx

Ayesha Charles Mini Bar Budapest
Mini Bar Budapest
Zenit Palace Budapest Hotel
Zenit Palace Budapest Hotel
Zenit Palace Hotel Budapest
At the Zenit Palace Hotel Budapest – Lift Selfie, of course!
Charms of a Dandizette's Ayesha Charles in Budapest Christmas Markets
Marzipan Stall
Ayesha Charles, Charms of a Dandizette Blogger
Budapest Christmas Markets

Charms of a Dandizette's Ayesha Charles in Budapest - Christmas MarketsCharms of a Dandizette's Ayesha Charles in Budapest

Ayesha Charles, Charms of a Dandizette Blogger Budapest HungaryCharms of a Dandizette's Ayesha Charles in Budapest Christmas Markets

Charms of a Dandizette's Ayesha Charles in Budapest Tram Line along the River Danube
Tram Line along the River Danube
Charms of a Dandizette's Ayesha Charles at Budapest St. Stephen's Basilica from Mini Bar
St Stephen’s Basilica from Mini Bar in Budapest
St Stephen's Basilica - Charms of a Dandizette's Ayesha Charles in Budapest
St. Stephen’s Basilica Budapest, Hungary
Charms of a Dandizette's Ayesha Charles at Budapest, River Bus Land and Sea Cruise
River Bus Land and Sea Cruise Budapest, Hungary
Ayesha Charles, Charms of a Dandizette Blogger at Bock Bistro, Budapest, at the Corinthia Hotel
Bock Bistro, Budapest, at the Corinthia Hotel Birthday lunch

 

 

Ayesha Charles, Charms of a Dandizette Blogger at Bock Bistro, Budapest, at the Corinthia Hotel

 

Inspired by my Marrakech Wardrobe!

Inspired by my Marrakech Wardrobe, the SS2012 trends, Carrie Bradshaw  and the Sex and the City 2 wardrobe…

Easy Breezy...

Up until three or four blog posts ago I had been slightly reluctant to post photos of myself on Charms of a Dandizette – I suppose because this blog isn’t really about what I look like. Having said that, as well as being concerned about fashion,  Charms of a Dandizette is also about my personal style. So, I thought my next Marrakech inspired post, this one,  should be about my wardrobe approach to my week in the Moroccan city.

I set myself a little fashion task for my trip, which was to implement as many of the season’s trends into my holiday wardrobe as financially, physically and tastefully possible. So neatly packed away in my powder pink Marrakech suitcase was a white Broderie Anglaise top, of course inspired by Marc Jacobs’ sweetly designed spring summer 2012 Louis Vuitton collection. Bravely I purchased three bra-lets, borrowed from the midriff baring trend that filtered across the catwalk’s of Italian fashion houses, from Dolce and Gabbana and Prada, to Versace and Miu Miu. I say ‘bravely’, because I didn’t do not even one sit up or even attempt to decrease my calorie consumption in preparation for midrif baring – but c’est la vie! My bra-lets were cleverly selected to nod towards several trends; a mint green bra-let  lends itself toward the sherbet pastel colours currently being donned all over the high street, most commonly in the form of skinny jeans. And a scarf print bra-let, the pattern taking inspiration from the ancestral Versace patterns, which D and G also took inspiration from for their ss2012 collection, which saw tiny skirts and makeshift bra tops appear very 90s Versace.

I did a significant amount of research into appropriate dress for a Marrakech visit, to find out what was suitable to wear in this particular Muslim country. Of course, a lot of the information I found online was conflicting – some sites advised to cover shoulders, others said cover legs and others said you could wear whatever you liked. I thought best to cover my legs – I suppose because of my belief that legs are a far more overtly sexual than arms.

I took most of my inspiration from Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe in Sex and the City 2 and invested in lots of jewellery, even more eyeliner and lots of long flowing skirts and dresses in beautiful materials. The wonderful thing about billowing floor length dresses and skirts is, I felt no pressure whatsoever to wear heels and therefore I never – not once – the entire holiday. I stress this, because this is somewhat of a revelation for me! I packed two pairs of heels and didn’t remove either of them from their shoe bags. The other wonderful thing about length is, when worn in beautiful materials, it’s instantly glamorous! So with the glamour volume turned up, heels probably would have been overkill! Yes, me, the queen of bling can even identify overkill!

So for my discovery of overkill, for my week in flat shoes, for my courage to don a bra-let and for my time in Marrakech  I feel proud!

So, here’s some snaps of the Marrakech wardrobe!

AZAR in Marrakech
At Azar in Marrakech, wearing a black open back strappy top from Zara and patterned skirt from River Island
At the Palais Charhamane Marrakech
At the Palais Charhamane Marrakech wearing black Miss Selfridge skirt and medallion scarf print crop top from Topshop
Le Jardin Majorelle - YSL Love Post Cards Marrakech
At Le Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech wearing my mum’s Broderie Anglais button back top from Next (this top is 30 years old!) Floral shorts from H and M
Atlas Medina Resort and Spa Marrakech
At the Atlas Medina Resort and Spa Marrakech, wearing pleated Primark maxi dress, woven clutch bag from Primark and earrings from Primark too! (Good old Primark!)
Atlas Medina Resort and Spa Marrakech
At the Atlas Medina Resort and Spa Marrakech, wearing royal blue Topshop dress and enamel peacock chain from H and M.
Sahara at Atlas Medina Resort and Spa Marrakech
I am sure my sister won’t want to be on my blog..but she looks so nice I had to put this pic in. She’s wearing peach sheer trousers from Forever 21, bangle from H and M and watch by  Michael Kors Watch
Gueliz Marrakech
Wearing royal blue dress from Topshop in Gueliz. This is a great picture! I love the striking blue and the whimsicality of the dress against the city…

Make everything in life inspirational! Be charmed, stay inspired! x

Inspired by: YSL and Le Jardin Majorelle

Yves Saint Laurent and Le Jardin Majorelle

Set right in the heart of this Moroccan city is an aperture where a secret garden lives and breathes. Painted azure blue walls and pillars are luminous, peering between the greenness of vegetation, the greenness of a giant pond where lily pads float heavenly and evoke a sense of serenity and calm. The only threat posed in Le Jardin Majorelle, if any, is the frightful size of the immense cactus needles.

Yves Saint Laurentand Pierre Berge, once Yves’ partner, friend, business partner and co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent Couture House, purchased and restored the Jardin Majorelle in 1980. The land was initially acquired by french painter Jacques Majorelle, who settled in Morocco and opened up the garden to the public in 1947. Jacques Majorelle was in an unfortunate car accident which led to him returning back to France. The garden grew unkempt and overgrown, however Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge began a long process which would nurture it back to life.

The designer asked that he have his ashes scattered at Le Jardin Majorelle on his passing. Yves passed on the 6th June 2008 and as requested his ashes reside in Le Jardin Majorelle. After visiting the garden, I can understand why the designer loved it so much.

Yves Saint Laurent and the Love Post Cards

I am particularly aware of how long  it’s been since I’ve written anything particularly fashion concerned, so I thought it would be best to begin the recollection of my holiday in Marrakech with photos of the Jardin Majorelle…Fashionistas might refer to this magnificent garden as the Yves Saint Laurent memorial gardens.

Admittedly I was completely ignorant to this garden and its connection to the fashion designer whom I personally adore  for his championing of the sultry Le Smoking tuxedo jacket for women in the sixties and his androgynous designs.

My sister, an illustrator, and I felt as though we had stumbled upon a treasure hidden in the thick of towering cacti of the Jardin Majorelle when we found the significant collection of Love post cards illustrated by Yves Saint Laurent himself being showcased right here in the gardens!

What followed was a frenzy of both of us trying to take as many photos as possible of the illustrated posters. Unfortunately I had left my trusty bridge camera back home in London so I was very much dependent on my iPhone for picture taking.

Yves Saint Laurent would send his personally illustrated Love post cards out to his close friends and clients of the fashion house every year as a New Years greeting.

A small shop just opposite where the Yves Saint Laurent post cards are showcased sells copies of the cards for you to purchase, amongst some great YSL coffee table books and magazines featuring the designer. I purchased two of the Love post cards for my fashion illustration feature wall which I have been building on for the past year or so. Once the post cards are framed I will proudly add them to my wall!

Here’s to spreading the love at Le Jardin Majorelle…

More Marrakech photos on the way…

Be charmed Stay Inspired! x

Inspired by Paris…J’adore Paris

J’adore Paris

Inspired by a recent visit to Paris…

It’s been a while Dandies and I am feeling somewhat guilty for the length of time that I have been away from my much loved and treasured blog. In my absence I have celebrated my birthday, been to Paris, started reading a new book, which has managed to crawl beneath my skin and has claimed me entirely (indeed I am reading Fifty Shades of Grey), have begun to write my own novel with more urgency than I have the past few years that I have been writing it (yes, I said years!) and have just returned from Marrakech Morrocco!

So, I suppose I should start with Paris…

There are so many reasons that I adore Paris. I generally tend to love cities, but there’s something about this beautiful city that agrees with me so well. The first time I went to Paris I met a French woman at the Cuban Compagnie Cafe in Bastille, she spent a while talking to me and my friends about Paris and London. She said there is something very special about the relationship and connection between Paris and London…this was around the time that Marie Claire had coined those with dual lives split between Paris and London, ever so aptly, the Par – Dons. Paris is a very feminine city and London, its counterpart, is male, she said. Now looking back on her observation and having visited Paris twice since then with her notion in mind,  it seems that her observation explains my affection to Paris so accurately.

Paris, romantic, whimsical and introspective seems to speak to the writer within me…that is me and that I aspire to be. It paints pictures of Fitzgerald, Hemmingway and the expatriate art set that flocked to the city to seek romance, escapism and material for their novels. It illustrates the many fantastic articles I have read about Azzedine Alaia (his clothes I am still not rich enough to afford) and his rise to success ( a tale I can imagine would make a beautiful film) and his unique atelier on the rue du Moussy in Paris. Possibly the only piece of architecture I have ever really looked at and found breathtakingly beautiful resides in Paris…the looming presence of the Notre Dame. The thought of talking hours away in a tiny cafe facing the street and watching the passersby is such a simple yet fruitful pastime and the chicness I could admire forever.  I love Paris for its civility, it’s sophistication, its simplicity, its style –  it’s overall voyeuristic nature and henceforth, its understanding of humanity.

Champagne on the Eurostar
First glass of champagne on the Eurostar
Ayesha Charles headed to Paris
Enroute to Paris wearing my favourite shirt of the minute from Zara
Gare du Nord Paris
Gare du Nord from the hotel balcony

Gare du Nord Paris

Rue De Saint Quentin Paris

Rue De Saint Quentin Paris
Rue De Saint Quentin Paris from the hotel balcony
Notre Dame Cathedral Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral Paris
The Notre Dame de Paris
*sigh* The city of love….Love Birds at the Notre Dame de Paris

The flower gardens surrounding the Notre Dame de Paris
So proud of myself for taking this pic of Gemma at the flower gardens surrounding the Notre Dame de Paris!

Notre Dame Cathedral Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral Paris
Ayesha at the Notre Dame Cathedral Paris
It’s ME at the Notre Dame de Paris..
Mmmmm…C’est si bon!

(more Paris pics on the way)

…Paris J’adore! x