What Nadine Loves

A London Lifestyle and Travel blog

Travel | Thinking about my first holiday cruise*

June 29, 2016

As a blogger who interacts with fellow bloggers on Twitter and Instagram a lot, I see more and more people sharing their cruise adventures and every single picture makes me very jealous. I have travelled a fair bit, but I have never been on a cruise and I would really love to. This year it will become a bit difficult as I am starting a new job soon and I don't know when I can have time off, but next year would be a good time. One of my dream destinations are the Fjords, Island and the Arctic. I once watched a documentary about it and it was so beautiful, I really hope to do it one day. 

Cruising is such an easy and convenient way to travel. You only need to unpack once and you can experience different cities in different countries in one cruise holiday. I also think it's good value for money. The cost of a cruise often includes not only accommodation, but also dining and entertainment as well as many on board activities. You also don't have to buy for flights, trains or any other form of transport to get from one city to the next. 

I am already researching a little bit for next year and there are so many things to consider. Luckily, cruise lines such as Thomson Cruises offer a lot of advice to first time cruisers like me. Two questions I immediately asked myself, first what I will need to pack and secondly, how will my on-board experience be as a solo traveller?

What do I need to pack for a cruise?

There is no need to pack differently than for any other holiday, but it’s a good idea to take a wind jacket with you. There is often a strong sea breeze and it would be a shame if you would stay inside all day. The dress code on board is smart-casual, and you can pack something a bit for fancier for formal dinners, where black ties and cocktail dresses should be worn. Of course you also need to consider the dress code of the countries to will stop in, for example, if you plan to visit an Islamic country you should wear something that covers your shoulders and knees. Also, if you plan on visiting a mosque or any other holy site, it’s important to cover your hair, arms and legs. So, that’s something you should consider.

Will Solo travellers enjoy a cruise? 

That’s one important point to me. I often travel on my own and while it’s easy to meet fellow travellers abroad, I wondered how it will be on a cruise. Should I choose to travel next year, it’s most likely that I will go on the trip by myself. I would have never thought that the cruises have a social hostess on board who arranges get-togethers for solo travellers, for example dinner and coffee mornings. This completely changed my view on cruises, as I thought it’s mainly for couples and families. 

Of course, there are many more things to consider, and if you have any cruise travel tips please let me know. If you are thinking about going on a cruise soon, why don't you check out Summer 2016 cruises to awesome locations like Dubrovnik, Barcelona and Venice? 

Lifestyle | On the hunt for the perfect TV*

June 17, 2016

As you might know, I am relocating back to London in August and I can't wait to move. Right now, there isn’t much point in buying the things I need and want, so I will wait until I have moved back to London soon. 

One of the things I want to get for my new place is a TV. 

I lived without a TV for the last two years and although I am not the biggest TV watcher, I miss having one. Once I am settled in my new place, I would really like to buy a new television and have it in my bedroom to watch my shows and movies on Netflix. Watching my favourite programs on the laptop is okay, but it gets difficult when I have friends around and more than two people try and watch a film on a 13 inch screen. As you can imagine, a great movie night is almost impossible. I know nothing about TV's and I have to admit until now I never really cared, but now that I am looking at all the different options out there, I feel really lost. There are so many choices, different screen sizes, the type of screen technology (What’s the difference between Plasma, LED and LCD?) and of course: every TV seems to have different extras. 

Luckily, online I found this great TV buying guide and after reading it I feel less overwhelmed by the choice out there. Of course the first thing you should decide on, is the screen size of your new device. It’s the diagonal measurement between the two corners. While the screen sizes can go up to 50 inches or more, I would prefer to have something smaller, around 36 inches or even 32.

One of the things I would like to have is a display resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, meaning it’s HD compatible. It’s always good to look out for the Full HD logo. Next comes the type of display. Today there are four different technologies on the market: Plasma, LCD, LED and 3D. All are different. Apart from the 3D I am sure I would not be able to tell the difference though. As I said before, I didn’t know much about TV technology before reading the guide. LED seems to have the flattest screens out there, so it’s probably an option I would look at. 

Did you recently buy a TV? Which TV do you have and can you recommend it? 

Lifestyle | The real cost of being an expat

June 12, 2016

I moved abroad for the first time just two months after my seventeenth birthday. I wanted to take a break after the 10th grade and improve my English. Becoming an Aupair in England seemed the perfect choice. It gave me independence and the opportunity to discover another culture. Back then, I never thought I would still be an expat almost ten years later. 
It’s been nearly nine years, four countries and even a short stay back in Germany since I first said goodbye to family and friends.

While being an expat is great when you are young; single and you don’t have a care in the world, I am now slowly starting to realise what a cost expat life has to my personal life. I am nearly 26 and never had a serious relationship with someone. My friends back at home get to experience all those things: moving in with their partner, getting married or even having children. I don’t even know where I will be next year and making commitments in my personal life is very difficult, if not impossible.  Well, I had what you would consider a serious relationship with someone for three years but he is constantly moving for work too and one year I actually ended up flying back and forth to New York City twice a month. However, an age gap of fifteen and him wanting to get married and have children was something that was too serious for me when I was 23. I dumped him and with him London shortly after. 

How did my life as an expat start? 

So in 2007 I said goodbye to my grandfather who kindly dropped me off at the airport in Cologne Germany with two suitcases and a very kind airline who didn’t charge me for the eight kilos excess luggage.  Of course, my parents weren’t there, after all I had fallen out with them over a year ago and we were on non speaking terms. Shortly after drinking milkshakes with my grandfather and boarding the plane, I landed in London Stansted and was excited to start a new part of my life. At the beginning I lived in Sevenoaks, where I also went to college and only in January 2009 I moved to London. I fell in love with the British culture, yes, I was young and naive and at the beginning everything looked perfect. The move to London as a just recently turned 18 year old girl seems like everyone’s dream and it was mine. Even though I worked 5-6 days a week, I would be out partying three to five times a week. Sometimes I would only have two hours of sleep. Those were the days, when I still had the energy. In 2011 I wanted a changed from London and I wanted to go somewhere else, yet knowing that I wanted to return to London after one or two years. I went for a job interview in Brussels, where I was offered the position and in April 2011 the moving van and I were off to Bruxelles. 

While I never felt like an expat in England, I felt like one in Brussels from day one to the day I moved. Belgian people do not welcome foreigners with open arms, at least all my expat friends and I thought so. Being an expat is like an inner circle. You go to great events thanks to organisations like Internations and meet other expats but you never truly belong to one place or to that local group of girlfriends who see laughing and chatting in the cafe around the corner. It's hard to break out of that circle.

Surely, I met many great people on the way, but I feel, although those friendships are great, they hardly ever go deeper than having great times together. Can I say I would ever count on one of them when my house burns down and I need a place to live? I am not sure. Also, many expats of course will move to another city or country at some stage. Some stay a year,  some a bit longer, but hardly ever someone stays for good. 

Of course, I have really great friendships with people I met when I was a young teenager, but they are still back at ‘home’.  They don't understand what it means to leave everything behind you, to start from scratch in each new country you move to. They don't know what it means never to know, how long you will stay in your new place and it's hard to explain it to them. 

While I am writing this, I am sitting at home - on my own, wishing someone would be here to watch the first match of the German soccer team with me tonight. I know I am moving back to London in August, where I feel home and I hope I am staying for at least two years. Including the move to London, I am moving for the fourth time in 20 months and financially I can't afford another move anytime soon. 

Beauty | How to do a Brazilian Keratin Blow Dry Yourself

June 07, 2016

In 2012 I had my first Brazilian blow dry also known as the Keratin Treatment. I have natural curly hair, unfortunately not the nice kind of curls that look lovely, but the frizzy bird nest kind of curls. My hair is dry and overall not in the best condition as I straighten it a lot. I heard many good things about the Keratin Treatment and after googling before and after pictures I decided to go ahead. If this would really and all I would need to do is to let my hair dry after washing it, it would certainly change my daily life. Back then in 2012 it was quite a new treatment in the UK and quite pricey. I found Jana, a passionate and great hairdresser who specialises in Keratin Treatments and hair extensions. She came regularly to my house until I left London at the end of 2014 to turn my dry and frizzy curls into shiny manageable hair.

Then I moved to Cologne in 2015. Over there the treatment is not as known as it is in the UK and only one hairdresser offers it. I phoned the owner and she quoted me 400€. That is a lot of money in Germany, but I was desperate and went ahead. 400€ spent and one hair wash later, my hair was just as before. I've had the treatment many times so I know what to expect and how my hair will be like. Needless to say I was not very amused, especially as I had to find an alternative. I googled online and found reviews of a DIY Brazilian Keratin Blow Dry. I tried it for the first time in October 2015, it took me a quite a while, but the results were just as amazing as when Jana did it.

I ordered the Brazilian Keratin Treatment - Home Hair Straightening Kit on Amazon. The complete kit that you can order the first time costs £27.99 and includes all you need to get started: 30ml Pre-treatment clarifying shampoo, 100ml Keratin Treatment, one application brush, one comb and two hairclips as well as gloves and instructions. The Top Up Kit includes the shampoo, the treatment, gloves and instructions so if you don't need the hair clips, application brush and the comb you can order it for £24.99.

Below a picture of my hair today, just before the treatment. I haven't had the treatment since mid December and as I usually just use normal shampoo*, I have to do the treatment every three months. My hair was back to its usual condition, very dry and hard to manage. Unfortunately, I could not get hold of the product in Switzerland and I had to wait until I saw my old boss in London who had ordered it for me. At the same time my GHD hair straightener broke and I only got the replacement last Friday. *I'll explain this later in the post. 

Before you start, make sure you have everything you need: Hair straighteners that heat up to 220°C eg. GHDs, a hair dryer, the product including instructions, a comb, hair clips and a round brush as well as the gloves.

Then, I started by washing my hair twice with the Pre-Treatment Clarifying Shampoo, I rinsed it thoroughly  and let it towel dry a bit.

Then I blow-dried my hair straight on a medium heat with a round brush until it was completely dry. I have a lot of hair, so it takes me a good twenty minutes.

I then combed the hair thoroughly, each section has to be combed around five times.

It's time to apply to the product. I put on my gloves and a surgical mask, not everyone advises you and it's not in the instructions, but my old hairdresser Jana told me it's better to wear one. I have a doctor in the family, so I have a big box and I always use it when I apply the treatment.

I started applying the product on my terrace, if you don't have a terrace or balcony you should at least have a window open or use a fan. With the comb I applied the product into small sections of my hair, only avoiding the scalp. I comb out the excess and it took me almost half an hour to apply the product. After 20 Minutes I could start blow drying (away from the face) the hair on a medium heat.

Once the hair is completely dry, I used the hair straighter five times on each section. It's important to do it so many times to seal in the treatment. This part of applying the treatment, always takes me at least one hour. I have so much hair, but knowing that for the next twelve weeks I only have to do very little with my hair after I wash it, makes it worthwhile. Look at the picture below, this is how my hair will look like without me having to straighten it at all almost three months. It's very straight now, but once I wash it it looks more voluminous and wavy.

Ideally you should only use salt-free shampoo after the treatment for maximum results, but I only use normal shampoo for coloured hair and it usually lasts around 12 weeks. I don't need to use any conditioner with this treatment anymore, otherwise my hair gets quite oily.

Now I can't wash my hair for three days and it looks quite flat, but after my hair has been washed for the first time, I will share more pictures here. This product has truly changed my life. I was so conscious about my hair. No matter how long I would straighten it, after one hour it looked dry and frizzy again. Thanks to the Brazilian Keratin Blow Dry I have shiny hair even when I let my hair air dry. Before, I was unable to grow my hair past shoulder length as I had split ends and I couldn't let it grow. Too many haircuts were needed, but now I only need to go to the hairdresser every three months and my hair is much longer now. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask me.

Have you tried the Brazilian Blowdry before? What did you think? Is it something you would try? 

Disclaimer: Contains affiliate links. 

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