Tuesday, 26 November 2013

REVIEW: Nokia Lumia 925 smartphone

I will unashamedly admit to being something of an Apple addict. I hold my hands up and confess to being totally in love with my iPhone, iPad and iPod - none of which are the latest models and I don't have a MacBook yet ('Help me, I'm poor!'*), but I'm a big Apple fan nonetheless. I know, what a first world problem.

The thing is, when it comes to smartphones, everyone says a lot of the other brands really are as good as iPhones these days, and you're really just paying extra for the name. But I guess you're buying into Apple as a whole. They have the cool factor, and don't try and convince me otherwise.

Next to my iPhone 4S for comparison
So, when the people from Nokia got in touch and asked if I wanted to review one of their swanky smartphones (not to keep, mind), I figured: Why on earth not? YOLO and all. I like a shiny new gadget as much as the next gal.

Very impressively, the Nokia Lumia 925 popped into my letterbox the very next day. (OK, it didn't pop there actually, it was too big, but let's not be too pedantic now, shall we?)

Right then, let's get down to the nitty-gritty - just what did I think of the phone?

Well, in a lot of ways it's very similar to an iPhone, and can do pretty much everything the same - calendar, maps, emails... The Nokia has it all. Upon starting up the phone, there was a clear, easy-to-follow mini tutorial, which I liked, and whilst it was simple enough to work out how to do most things, I don't think the Nokia is quite as user-friendly or intuitive as an iPhone. It was a little tricky to find everything at first, but I suppose once you get used to a new phone it's then just what you know and all is fine and dandy.

The Nokia Lumia 925 is a Windows Phone 8 (you know, those adverts with Holly Willoughby?), and I personally think the graphics are really cool. In fact, the general screen quality is really great. And I like the way the phone moves from page to page. At first, I wasn't a fan of the colour scheme or the dark interface, but then I worked out how to customise the theme (went for pink, obvs), and was then a much happier bunny.

In my opinion, the phone generally looks really sleek, even if it is a little on the large side, and thus didn't fit in all my pockets, slightly annoyingly. Men's trousers tend to have huge pockets. Women's skinnies? Not so much.

I like the teeny little vibrations the phone makes as you tap it (and I imagine you could turn them off if you weren't a fan), but I did find myself quite often accidentally pressing the home button as I brushed over it.

It's a little big... And I have big hands!
One of the best things about the Nokia has got to be the camera - it's really fantastic! Sure, iPhone cameras are good, but the Nokia is better. Yes, really. The pictures come out great even in low light too, which is really useful. There's this fab feature where you can press the camera button once, it automatically takes a series of pictures, then you go back afterwards and choose the best one - very handy for when you want to capture an action shot. (Less crucial for my cake pics but still.)

You can download tons of different apps from the store, but in order to do any of this, you need to create a Microsoft account, which somewhat confused me. I suppose it's just the same as having an iTunes account though.

But that's just it - when you've already got your iTunes account and everything is synced, Apple make it so very easy to have multiple Apple products. Ooh, they are sneaky like that!

On the whole though, the Nokia Lumia 925 is slick, quick, and in my opinion, a really good phone. It looks good and it works well (or so I've concluded from my short trial anyway.) Would I swap it for my iPhone? Honestly? No.

However, I would definitely recommend it for someone who wants a really good smartphone and isn't overly fussed about it being an iPhone. If I wasn't such a snob, I would go for one myself. And I mean, if I didn't already have an iPhone, I'd be thrilled with the Nokia Lumia 925.

THE PHONES ARE ALL GOOD, OKAY? Good. Glad we've got that sorted.

Find out more about the Nokia Lumia 925 on the Nokia website, here.

*Name the film! Answers on a postcard in the comments please.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

RECIPE: Easy blueberry muffins

There’s a reason blueberry muffins are such a classic bake – they’re delicious. These are super simple too. All you need is one bowl, a mixer, whack in a bit of this, stir in a bit of that, pop in the oven, wham, bam, thank you mam, hello muffins.

As the festive season is upon us, I added cinnamon to my muffins (cinnamon makes everything taste Christmassy, right?), but you could easily leave it out. To be honest, you can't actually taste a distinct cinnamony flavour, it just gives a certain warmth and Christmas undertone to the muffin as a whole.

The sweetness of the vanilla, slight tartness of the berries and a teeny spicy cinnamon kick complement each other perfectly, in my opinion. There's quite a large quantity of berries in relation to the rest of the mixture, which means every mouthful is bursting with flavour.

While baking these babies this morning, I put on my Christmas playlist for the first time this year. Oh, how I’ve missed these tunes! Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey, the Glee Christmas Album, Band Aid, Wizzard, Slade, Cliff Richard, Shakin’ Stevens, Chris De Burgh and of course, classic carols… They just all make me feel so good! Memories of dancing round the kitchen as a little girl (OK, and a big girl) just come flooding back. It really is the most wonderful time of the year, people.

Let's focus on the nearest muffin
Once you accept that you can’t do anything in Germany on a Sunday because everything is closed (and assuming you've shopped in advance accordingly!), it can be really quite nice to have a day of nothingness. So, in my onesie, with a cuppa, singing along to festive tunes, I had a rather blissful morning baking.

Ooh and now let's focus on a further away one.
I used frozen blueberries in my muffins as I’m poor like that, but they work just as well as fresh – if you’re feeling generous/indulgent/craycray, by all means, use fresh. I think these would also be divine (and healthier!) using wholemeal flour – perfect for breakfast too.

Just like cupcakes, muffins aren’t a particularly German thing, so I am continuing my baking education of Germany with these little blueberry mountains. And I am thrilled to say my wonderful housemate, Steffi, is a big fan of these muffins. It’s only a matter of time before a Victoria Sponge appears on the scene, and that, my friends, is going to be a good day.

In my opinion, it’s important that muffins have a good muffin top, so be sure to fill the paper cases to the top – you want the mixture to rise up and spread out. I find watching that happen in the oven a bit too entertaining. Try it. It's cool.

In most chain coffee shops (naming no names), muffins are usually the size of small house and thus very indulgent. My muffins, on the other hand, are smaller and thus won't leave you feeling guilty. Or... You can justify having two. There's no judgement here. You've gotta get your five-a-day, right?

My recipe made 11 muffins.


100g soft butter
125g caster sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar (or if you're in the UK, substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract)
Pinch salt
2 eggs (at room temp)
200g plain white flour
1 packet backin (Brits, try 1 tsp baking powder)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (to taste)
2 tbsp milk
150g frozen blueberries
A handful of oats


1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a muffin tray with paper cases. Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric whisk until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla sugar and salt and beat until fluffy and light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well inbetween each addition.

Beautifully smooth mixture
2. Sift in 100g of the flour and the backin and beat well. Then beat in 1 tbsp of the milk. Mix in the rest of the flour and the cinnamon, followed by the other 1 tbsp of milk. Beat well until the batter is smooth and everything is well-combined.

3. Stir in the blueberries with a large spoon or spatula until evenly distributed but don’t overmix...

 ...the batter should be swirly but not completely purple! Generously fill the paper cases with the mixture, sprinkle a few oats on top of each muffin...

...and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes – the tops should be well-risen and golden.

4. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully. (Or not, the choice is yours… These muffins are particularly great warm, Just sayin’.)

Saturday, 23 November 2013

On Rachel's Christmas List: Kate Spade Live Colorfully perfume

There's something special about receiving perfume for Christmas, and it would appear I've got into the habit of asking for a new one over the past few years. I'm not really sure how much perfume a gal should use on a daily basis, but I like to smell nice, and it seems a year is just about how long it takes me to get through the average perfume bottle, making every Christmas the perfect time to ask for a new one.

And here's the dilemma with perfume: if you find one you like, do you stick with it? Or do you push the boat out and try something new? Are you trying to develop a signature scent? Some people say 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it,' so why change perfumes if you like your current one? And I can understand that.

Over the past few years I've worn Elie Saab Le Parfum, Valentina by Valentino and J'Adore by Dior (channeling Charlize in those ads, natch), and I think my fave of them all was the Elie Saab. My mum wears Chanel No.19 every day, without fail - a quick spritz is basically the first thing she does each morning - and has done for yeeeeeaaaaars. I love that, and whenever I smell it, I think of her. But while we're young, I think it's good to experiment and try out different scents. Live life on the edge, eh?

I'm the type of gal who wears the same perfume every day - it's almost comforting, and it amazes me what a quick spritz can do for your mood, confidence and self-esteem. Never underestimate the power of perfume.

So, as my pretty Valentina bottle is nearly empty, it's perfect timing to ask Father Christmas for a new scent for 2014 (TWENTY FOURTEEN!?) And this year, Kate Spade's Live Colorfully is top of my wishlist.

Don't you just want to be this girl?
I'm not going to harp on about my love for Kate Spade as a whole yet again (I think I did that enough here), but I think Live Colorfully really captures the essence of the brand, of which I'm such a great fan. I visited the Kate Spade Covent Garden store far too many times over the summer, and gave myself a cheeky little spritz each time. And on each occasion, I was left feeling a little cheerier.

The perfume is feminine but fun, sweet but not too little-girly. According to the website, the top notes are mandarin, pink water lily and star anise; the heart is tiare flower, golden gardenia and coconut water; and the back notes are sheer amber, musk and tahitian vanilla. I'll be honest, I don't really know what any of that means but all together, it smells LUSH.
Kate Spade Live Colorfully Parfum
She's having a great time.
'Live Colorfully' is a beautiful message, and a great mantra for life, if you ask me. I quote:

"Kate Spade New York invites you to Live Colorfully, to enchant the world around you while the fragrance's notes shift from delightful water lilies to citrus to a gently seductive musk like light dancing on a prism."

And then:

"The spectrum of possibilities become tantalizingly endless. Love colorfully, dance colorfully, dream colorfully, live colorfully."

And quite frankly, I could not agree more. Isn't that just beautiful?

In my opinion, perfume design is massively important too, and I just love the Kate Spade Live Colorfully bottle. Quelle Surprise. Pretty, elegant, slightly retro, colourful (obvs) and fun, just like everything Kate Spade. And it's gorgeous how the pink and yellow glass overlaps to make orange, creating a different looking bottle from every angle. Genius. Of course, the bottle is topped with the signature Kate Spade bow.

Obviously I've been out of the UK for the past 10 weeks (and didn't that fly by!?), but the trouble is, I'm not sure how easy it is to find Live Colorfully in the UK, or even from British websites. Back in September I asked if they had the perfume in Selfridges, but alas, the answer was no. HOWEVER, the Kate Spade pop-up shop may have changed that. Brits, let me know! But for now, dear Father Christmas, the Kate Spade Covent Garden store may be your best bet. But I'm sure your elves won't have any trouble finding it...

(PS. Remember students and teachers can get a 15% discount! Details here)

Friday, 22 November 2013

Christmas jumper joy

I'm not even going to apologise for blogging about such a festive topic 'so early', because d'you know what? It's the end of November and CHRISTMAS IS COMING! Whilst I haven't yet decked the halls with boughs of holly (slash turned my room into a tinsel explosion), I'm definitely starting to get into the festive spirit. Well, when there's so much Lebkuchen, Stollen, Glühwein and generally great German Christmas treats to be consumed, you've gotta leave yourself plenty of time, right?

It's interesting: just like onesies, novelty Christmas jumpers are considered de rigueur back home in the UK, and every high-street store (as well as a lot of designers) are brimming with gaudy, sparkly, funky jumpers. Not the case in Germany, ma friends. The Germans may think I'm something of an eccentric foreigner, but we're going with it. I think they're coming round to my crazy British ways and I'll get them drinking proper tea in onesies and novelty jumpers before they know it.

I LOVE Christmas jumpers, and have sort of developed a tradition for buying myself a new vintage (oxymoron WHAT?) one each year. Well, for the past two years, anyway. I was in Bristol, what can I say? it just had to be vintage, daahhling. Or Urban Outfitters but that's by the by. We Bristolians are just oh-so-edgy. Ahem.

So, in first year, this ridiculously adorable jumper came into my life:

Hello, 19 year old me.
I don't know how well you can see it, but it's a mountain scene with snow falling and two cute polar bears at the bottom. And it's SPARKLY! I totally wear this jumper after Christmas too, because technically it's just wintry. 

Aaand 20 year old me. (Another beaut of a kitchen shot.)
It's a little bit ridiculous. But it's festive, fabulous and - you guessed it - SPARKLY!

And I'm not one of those people who only wears a Christmas jumper on actual Christmas day - it's all about the lead-up, people. If you don't feel ready to pow out a really bold jumper with pride, try a slightly more subdued fairisle knit, which will at least give a nod to the festive season.

Wearing one of my fave old Topshop wintry jumpers with my lovely friend, Liv.
I just find it so much fun to wear something a little bit stupid. Sure, it's not going to be the most flattering item in your wardrobe, but who cares? Christmas jumpers are cosy and cool. Except they'll actually keep you nice and warm. Snug as a bug in a rug, you might say. 

So, being on my third year abroad in Germany, it has proven somewhat more difficult to find myself another vintage Christmas jumper for this year. Step in, Funky Christmas Jumpers. Considering I've seen both Harry Styles and Niall Horan sporting Funky Christmas Jumpers in the past, I was unsurprisingly thrilled when the company's founder offered to send me one of my own.

Hi Harry.

Partially chopped my head off but that's not important.
I chose the Tangled Penguin and am absolutely loving him, I have to say. Equally, my package arrived in shiny red wrapping paper, so it really did feel like an early Christmas present! I'm all about little touches like that.

There are an awful lot of super fun jumpers on the Funky Christmas Jumpers website, so you're bound to find one that takes your fancy. They're just a small Irish country but now ship to over 45 countries, which is pretty awesome.

In the above picture, I'm also wearing jingly snowflake earrings from Urban Outfitters (told you I'm edgy), old Primark Christmas socks (even though you can't really see them), and my new skinny cords from Monki.

Sparkly + jingly = perfection.
Now, Monki is one of my new favourite brands, which brings my nicely on to my second Christmas jumper of the season:

Jumper no. 2 is indeed from Monki, and was a cheeky online purchase along with my new trousers. Remember in my Hamburg blog post I mentioned discovering Monki for the first time? And how I had that embarrassing trouser incident? Well, when I saw the perfect replacement on the Monki website (skinny, high-waisted, dark red, velvety cords), I just had to pounce, and I figured, if I was going to be paying for delivery (six Euros!), I might as well have a casual peruse of the rest of the website, right? So before I knew it, I had a very festive new outfit on my hands.

My trousers were 35€/£25 and my jumper was 40€/£30, BUT I had a 10% discount code for completing a survey YAY!

I tell ya what, writing this blog post hasn't half increased my festive feelings! Family and friends will know it's only a matter of time until I'm wearing glittery eyeliner every day - I'm trying to wait until December but have already succumbed to sparkly nail varnish. 

I've bought my advent calendar (it was a tricky choice between Milka, Ritter Sport and Kinder - alas, at 30€ Lindt was out of the question) and am now letting myself listen to Christmas songs when they come on on shuffle. Oh, Michael Bublé, there is nothing like your dulcet tones at this time of year.

For me, Christmas jumpers are as much a part of the festive season as carols and Quality Street (mmm Quality Street), and I love how Britain has totally embraced the fun of it all. It's only a matter of time until Germany catches on too... (I hope.)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Teapigs spiced winter red tea (Christmas in a mug!)^

People, I have tasted Christmas in a mug, and it is goooood.

When the ‘tea freaks’ (their term, not mine) from teapigs got in touch offering me the chance to try some of their new spiced winter tea, I was excited, intrigued and a little sceptical at the same time.

I do not do weird teas. I’m a straight-up, milky, breakfast/builders’ tea kinda gal. I cannot be doing with all that fruity, herby, flowery nonsense. Well, not until now, it would seem.

As I opened the packet of teabags, I was hit by a wave of festive goodness. To quote teapigs themselves: “We think we’ve captured the best bits of winter with this one - mulled wine, mistletoe, winter coats and rosy cheeks. Log fires, happy cats and old movies on the telly.” And you can’t argue with the awesomeness of all that now, can you?

Described as “a flavoured herbal and spice infusion”, this keen tea drinker was a little unsure as to whether she’d like such a tea. HOWEVER. Despite being caffeine-free, thanks to its redbush base, you can totally drink spiced winter red tea with milk, which I’ve been doing (and loving!) for the past few days.

Apparently you can also use these teabags to make a wintry latte too – simply cover a teabag with boiling water, leave to infuse for a few minutes, remove the teabag and top up with hot frothy milk. If I had the means of making hot, frothy milk, I would so be trying that.

So, what does spiced winter red tea actually taste like? Well, Christmas, like I said. But I guess teapigs don’t want to call it 'Christmas tea' so as not to diminish their New Year market. The dominant flavour is undoubtedly cinnamon, but that’s just fine and dandy with me as I’m a big cinnamon fan. Orange peel and clove flavours are also blended in there somewhere.

This tea just tastes, feels and looks a bit special to me – I love the prism teabags, it creates a gorgeous colour drink, tastes delicious and is oh-so-comforting on a chilly wintry day. In my new festive mug, it is just a little bit perfect. Somewhat more of a luxurious treat than your everyday six-times-a-day cuppa.

It makes me want to curl up on the sofa, dogs at my feet, in front of a warming fire with a Christmas film and a tin of Quality Street.

AND GUESS WHAT!? You can get 20% off at teapigs with the code XMAS13 until the end of December (excludes cheeky deals, mix & match and match kits), if you should be so inclined as to purchase some Christmas in a mug for yourself or your loved ones. Having had a browse of the website myself, I can tell you there are some rather enticing gifts on the teapigs Christmas shop.

Thanks, fellow tea freaks!

One happy trip to Heidelberg

When I told my brother I was on my way to Heidelberg, do you know what he responded? Of course you don't. How could you? Silly me for asking. Well, he said 'That sounds very German.' And I'd say he's right. Heidelberg. So Deutsch, I love it.

But I suppose if you don't study German or know much about the country, you'd be forgiven for having never heard of Heidelberg. Germany's oldest university is found in Heidelberg, making it basically the Oxbridge of Deutschland. The town also has the longest high street in Germany, but to be honest, it ain't really that long, so I think the uni claim to fame is a better one to go with.

As it's such a prestigious uni, I think my lovely friend Stef is super lucky to be studying there on her year abroad. (You know Stef, she of the yummy ginger crunch creams.) Stef can literally see the castle from her seminar room, but we'll get to the castle later, worry not.

So yes. With a good friend in Heidelberg and a three day weekend, y'all know what  occurred - yup, a trip to Heidelberg it was. And oh, what a marvelous trip!

I don't want to dwell loads on the journey but I just feel the need to share a teeny smidge - First up, I took the train from Bayreuth to Nuremberg (pretty much every journey starts with a trip to Nuremberg), where I got on a Deutsche Bahn coach to Mannheim. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this three hour bus journey but it actually turned out to be awesome. Well, as awesome as a coach journey can be.

The Deutsch Bahn coaches are roomy and have reclining seats, electric sockets and free wifi (an essential combo for a Twitter addict like myself), a loo, and a drink/snack machine. Sitting on the front row of the top deck, with a view of Germany by night ahead of me (and a cheeky bit of eye candy across the aisle), I settled in for a very relaxing few hours.

Of course, my journey took longer than scheduled - this is Deutsche Bahn - but what can ya do? In Mannheim I got on another train to Heidelberg. Except I didn't quite make it to Heidelberg. Note to self: don't listen to music on trains.

Unfortunately, I managed to get off my train one stop early and ended up slightly stranded in some dodgy-looking, deserted suburb of Heidelberg. There wasn't even a building at this supposed train station, only the occasional creepy man lurking in the shadows. Naturally, this was not ideal.

After various panicked texts to Stef and a fair bit of waiting, I eventually got on another train, made it the three minute journey to Heidelberg, spotted the fiery red hair I know and love, and happily met up with Stef. Phew.

Back to Stef's we went for an evening of catching up over sweeties and squash. (How nice is this? Having read this blog post, Stef saved me her last drop of orange squash from home! #whatababe)

The next morning we awoke to the smell of bolognese and a random man sleeping on the sofa. It was all a little odd. However, that did not deter us from whipping up a batch of peanut butter and banana pancakes and covering them with nutella before devouring them. OK, Stef whipped them up, I ate them. What a dutiful hostess she is.

Full of pancakey goodness, we set off to seize the day. Having arrived in the dark, I couldn't wait to see Heidelberg by day, and how lucky I was with the weather - it was a beautiful, fresh, late autumn day.

The aforementioned high street
So. It shall come as no surprise to you to hear that Heidelberg is yet another absolutely charming German town. Pretty old buildings, big houses nestling into the hills, and cobbled streets. COBBLED STREETS! I was sold.

Along the river we went, admiring the view of the famous Old Bridge, before heading into the old town centre.

I love that you can always see the Castle peering down from up the hill
Heidelberg certainly isn’t exactly the shopping capital of Germany, but it certainly has more to offer than dear old Bayreuth. I had a mosey round the main streets and stumbled across lots of cute little boutiques. For example, the Christmas shop, Käthe Wohlfaht - it’s open all year round and definitely made us feel even more festive. It may only be mid-November but I can definitely feel the Christmas magic in the air!

Naturally, we went in to soak up the magic.

We also couldn’t resist a cheeky visit to the above chocolate shop (oh, how emotional Stef and I became when the Love Actually theme tune came on! The lady behind the counter found it hilarious.)

The symbol of the Studentenkuß
Heidelberg is famous for it's 'Studentenkuß' (Student's Kiss - easy enough, I know, but thought I'd translate all the same), which is a yummy chocolate that's been produced for centuries. The story goes that the young ladies of Heidelberg's finishing schools would flock to Café Knösel for the chocolates, and so, unsurprisingly, the all-male students would follow suit. The café owner, Fridolin Knösel, noticed what was going on, and so created the Studentenkuß to be given as a token of affection. Isn't that sweet? No-one gave me one, but I did get tapped on the bum by one of those 'statue' street entertainers. Who says romance is dead?

Having treated ourselves to a yummy Starbucks each (I went for a Lebkuchen latte and it was DIVINE), we strolled through the town clutching our warm, festive, red cups. It's so great having a local to show you round.

Heidelberg is situated in a valley, with autumnal tree-covered hills either side. On one side, you've got the castle, which is definitely a must-see. You can get a little train thingy up there from the town, but it's only 10 minutes walk and it was a lovely day, so up the hill by foot we went (getting embarrassingly out of breath but hey.)

At the top, round the side of the  castle, the view over Heidelberg was simply gorgeous (and is also the picture at the top of this blog post.)

The mid-day winter sunshine was pouring down over the top of the hill, casting the most beautiful light over the whole town and the castle.

One view appreciated, Stef and I found ourselves some warming pumpkin soup for lunch (autumn is the best), before strolling over the old bridge to the other side of the valley - we were off to walk the Philosophenweg (Philosopher's Walk.) OK, we didn't walk it all, but it's about 2km long in total and we still walked a fair bit.

The Philosophenweg is so-called as it's traditionally where philosophers would walk and talk, no doubt discussing the meaning of life. Stef and I happily followed in their footsteps, even if our topics of conversation may have been slightly less intellectual. (But I bet even philosophers sometimes discuss what cake they want for afternoon tea.)

Speaking of tea, the ever-organised Stef had so wisely thought to bring along a flask of the good stuff. So, halfway up the hill, we had a bench-stop and a tea-break as we drank in the ever-improving view.

Tea makes everything better. Even when you're already perfectly happy, tea will make you happier. (*Goes to make tea mid-blog post*)

Sufficiently warmed, we carried on our climb and stroll along the Philosophenweg. Stef and I can chat till the cows come home, and it is always so nice to meet up in person and just waffle to each other - catching up via Facebook, Snapchat and Skype is all very well, but nothing beats getting together face-to-face.

There are various monuments along the Philosophenweg, and Stef and I managed to find a little tower. Naturally, we climbed up to the top and emerged to find an incredible view over Heidelberg. It was interesting to see the city from the other side to earlier, and although the sun was hiding, it was still gorgeous.

Having decided that was quite enough philosophising for one day, Stef and I wandered back into town in search of cake. Being gluten-free, this isn't the easiest for Stef, but luckily she's discovered a great little place that caters to her needs.

Apple tart, hot white chocolate and plum strudel. HELLO!
A brief sit-down turned into a long sit-down (seriously, we can chat for England), but we eventually emerged from the café to find the sun had gone to bed and the cobblestones of Heidelberg were reflecting the pretty lights of the night.

The aforementioned Christmas shop at night
As we strolled through the town we found ourselves drawn in by the prospect of free alcohol. (What? We're students! Don't pretend you wouldn't too...) We sampled some delicious white chocolate liquor, but that was unfortunately a little too pricey. 

The lush white choc liquor
Much more affordable, however, was the plum Glühwein, and oh! how delicious it was. I'd had apple, cherry and blueberry Glühwein at Bayreuth Winterdorf (mmm Winterdorf), but couldn't pass up the opportunity to try another fruity mulled wine. The Germans sure do it well!

For 3.50 Euros, we each got a steaming mug of fruity, sweet, spiced plum Glühwein to-go, served in adorable festive mugs, decorated with Christmas trees, angels, stars and hearts. A mug and a Glühwein for 3.50?! Total barg, don'tcha think?

As we wandered through the town, wrapped up warm and sipping Glühwein as we went, it was all a little blissful. CAN IT JUST BE CHRISTMAS ALREADY!?

It gets dark so early now, and in Germany, shops tend to stay open into the evening, and I have to say I love shopping when it's dark. It always feels a bit festive to me. One H&M spree later, Stef and I headed back to hers for dinner, exhausted and looking forward to watching Children In Need and sharing a bar of chocolate. Not for dinner, mind. After. Obvs.

I only had a day and a half in Heidelberg altogether, but I have to say I absolutely loved it, and I can certainly see why it's a great place to be a student. Despite it being the middle of November though, there were still a fair amount of tourists, so I imagine Christmastime and the Summer are packed! Just like Oxford and Cambridge, I suppose.

It's another place ticked off my 'Year Abroad To Visit' list and another load of great memories. Do let me know if you have any recommendations of places I should visit! Next up: Prague. Watch this space...
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