My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam

My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam

I have a confession to make. Even though I'm an avid traveller, staying in a hostel is something I'd never even considered. I'm far from being a princess, but the thought of spending my nights in an environment where hygiene is questionable and sleeping in a room with complete strangers never tickled my fancy. As you can tell by now, my perception of hostels wasn't the best, but all that changed a few weeks ago, when I spent the weekend at ClinkNOORD. When they invited me to come over to explore Amsterdam with a group of fellow bloggers, I quickly said yes without giving it a second thought. I've been dying to go back to Amsterdam since April when I first fell in love with it, and the last few years of my life have been all about stepping out of my comfort zone anyway, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally give hostel life a go.
My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam

My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam
And I'm glad I did - ClinkNOORD was nothing what I expected a hostel to be. It was spotless, comfortable and stylish, with modern interiors and super cool 1920's features like these beautiful stained glass windows of the original building, which used to be a laboratory! Perfect combo for the hip area the hostel is located in - in Amsterdam Noord, just north of the city centre, but not far at all. It took me only 40 minutes all together to get from the airport to the hostel! The easiest way is to catch a train to the Amsterdam Centraal Station, then jump on a super quick fairy from the outside of the station to Veer Buiksloterweg, and once you come off, the hostel is right around the corner. By the way, the ferry is free and runs 24/7, just like ClinkNOORD's reception - super convenient if you're arriving late at night or leaving early in the morning like I did. 
My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam
My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam
ClinkNOORD is quite a large hostel and there's plenty of different accommodations to choose from. You can book a private en-suite room (single, twin, double or quad) or get a bed in a 4-6 bedded en-suite dorm or a larger 8-16 bed one. The latter comes with en-suite as well as shared facilities options. If you're a female traveling on her own, you'll also be happy to hear they even have en-suite dorms for girls only! I stayed in a 4-bed en-suite dorm with three other cool blogging chicks, and I have to say it exceeded my expectations. We had two sets of bunk beds with our own reading lights, overhead shelves and USB slots; four lockers to store our belongings in; a bathroom with a shower and a sink, as well as a separate toilet with another sink, which made the getting ready process a whole lot quicker. Plus we had a big mirror on the wall in the main room too, so we could spread out and do our makeup all at the same time! A very important piece of information, right ladies, haha?! I actually filmed a quick tour of the room we were staying at, so click over here to give it a watch. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the bed linen is provided, so no need to bring it along, but do bring your own towel (unless you want to hire it for a fee) and a padlock for the locker. 
My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam
My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam
What I liked most about the hostel are all the social spaces they have on offer to relax in and hang out with other travellers. There's a library/work/general chill area, a spacious atrium, a cafe and even a bar! But that's not all. To keep the guests entertained, the events team also organises plenty of fun activities on a daily basis - quiz nights, karaoke, live music, beer pong contests, movie nights, yoga, cocktail workshops... you name it! I've never experienced such an amazing atmosphere in any of the places I've stayed at before. It felt strangely homey, and if this is how most hostels are like, please sign me up for more! One last thing I also need to mention is the food. There's a self-catering kitchen open from 12:30pm to 12am, but you can also get pastries and sandwiches from their CatalystCAFE or order pizzas, burgers, etc. from ZincBAR. In the morning, they also serve breakfast for EUR 6,90 which I'd say is great value for money, because they have everything from cheese, salami and jams to muesli, sausages and eggs. Oh, the eggs! The scrambled eggs are not to be missed. I don't know what their secret is, but they were the best I've ever had, so definitely give them a try, and if you're coming over for Christmas, I can tell you you're in for a treat too! We were lucky enough to be the test bunnies for their all-vegan Christmas dinner menu, and oh my gosh, every single dish was de-li-cious!
My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam

My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam
My First Hostel Experience at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam

Sleek Face Form Contouring & Blush Palette Review

I can be a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to makeup, especially when life gets busy. But I don't remember the last time I religiously used one product for six months straight besides foundation. This Sleek Face Form Contouring & Blush Palette in Fair is everything I've ever wished for in a pocket-sized face palette. It comes with a cool-toned contouring powder, a golden shimmery highlighter, and a coral blush with tiny gold particles - my favourite of the bunch. It gives the nicest glow to your face and goes perfectly with the copper and peach shades I've been wearing a lot recently.

The quality is top notch. For £9.99 I would expect poorer pigmentation and chalkier consistency, but all three products are highly pigmented, easy to blend and last just as long as the professional makeup in my collection. I also love how compact the palette is! It's tiny, perfect for traveling, with sturdy packaging and a clear, big mirror, which comes in very handy when you're on the road. I always do my makeup in front of a window when I'm staying in hotels and even at home sometimes, so I really appreciate a nice, big mirror.
I've been a bit MIA from the whole beauty blogging world recently, so I'm not sure if anyone has drawn any comparisons with the NARS Laguna Bronzer and Orgasm Blush, but I own them both, and I would say we have potential dupes on our hands! The shades are very similar, the only difference being that the Sleek ones are actually more pigmented believe it or not, so if I had to choose between the two, Sleek would definitely be my winner. 

SweetBearHair Vitamins Review

SweetBearHair Vitamins Review

I've always been a bit hesitant when it comes to taking supplements. There's just something about pills that really puts me off, but when I was offered to try these gummy bear hair vitamins, I couldn't resist! I mean, just look at them. Cute, cute, cute! Having said that, I do have to admit, my expectations weren't too high. There's so many products on the market these days that promise incredible results but don't actually deliver, it's hard to tell which actually work and which are just a well thought out marketing gimmick.
Sweet Bear Hair Vitamins Review

The Sweetbearhair Hair Vitamins essentially promise your hair to grow faster, stronger and shinier. I myself was blessed - or cursed, depends on how you look at it - with a proper mane, so I don't need much help with growing out my hair, but since the vitamins that improve your hair usually also benefit the nails, I was intrigued to give them ago. Unlike my hair, my nails are unfortunately not the greatest. They break, they split, they bend... you name it!

I've been taking these vitamins for the past three months. I got three bottles (and a cute detangling hair brush along with them), each containing 60 delicious gummy bears. You're supposed to take two a day, and that's exactly what I did. I kept them by my desk, so that I always remembered to take them after eating breakfast. Not that I'd forget, because who would forget eating candy, haha. They really do taste like it! Fortunately, the flavour is natural and they're also vegan friendly, for those of you wondering.
SweetBearHair Vitamins

I wish I knew how fast my hair grows in general to make more accurate comparisons, but after a couple of months of taking the vitamins, my hair grew out for 4 cm, and most importantly - for me - my nails got a lot stronger. They didn't bend anymore, got a lot harder and also unusually long. I wasn't changing up my diet or anything whilst taking them, so it's definitely the vitamins that did the magic. Now that I've run out of them, my nails have gone back to their old shitty self, so I'm seriously considering getting some more...
SweetBearHair Vitamins Ingredients

I won't go into details as far as ingredients go, because there's a whole lot of them and I'm not an expert, but they are approved by the European Food Safety Authority, so there's nothing dodgy about them, don't worry. If you're interested in reading up on vitamins for hair growth, you can actually check out their website, where all of them are listed and explained in a very simple, but detailed manner.

How to See London in a Day

How to See London in a Day Travel Guide

I don't know if you've noticed, but I don't share my YouTube videos here on my blog anymore. However, there's always an exception to the rule, and this piece of content is simply too good to be kept on one platform only, if I can say so myself. I'd been planning to film the 'How to See London in a Day' travel guide for over a year, but I kept pushing it back until a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to take a day off and walk around London to get all the shots needed. 16 km and 8 hours later, I managed to get all the footage, and then spent the following two days behind my laptop, editing away. This is definitely one of the videos I put the most effort in and despite thinking there's plenty of room for improvement, I'm actually quite proud of it. I think many of you will find it helpful for when you're visiting London for the weekend only or are here on a long layover. If you follow my step-by-step route in the video below, I can assure you, you won't miss any of the major sights the city has to offer. Just make sure your footwear's comfortable! 

Beauty Pro Hand Therapy Collagen Infused Glove Review

Beauty Pro Hand Therapy Collagen Infused Glove Review

I'm a huge fan of sheet masks. My dry, dehydrated face loves them. But little did I know, there's some for hands as well! Beauty Pro came out with Hand Therapy, a collagen infused anti-age treatment that also promises soft, supple and rehydrated skin in no more than twenty minutes. My hands always feel like sandpaper during the winter time unless I'm applying hand cream 24/7, so who better to test them out, right?

As far as application goes, it's really convenient. You get two sheet-mask-like gloves with removable tips, which make it super easy to go about your day. I hate having to sit around, doing nothing while waiting for my masks to do their thing, so this is the perfect solution for me. Then, after 20 minutes, you just remove them and massage the rest of the product into your hands.

To see the actual results, I decided not to apply any hand cream for a week prior and in the following few days after the treatment, and I have to say, it did a pretty solid job. Right after, my hands felt soft and hydrated, and the results ended up lasting for two days before my hands went back to being their old dry selves. I can't talk about any long-lasting results, as I've only tried it once, but I think it's the kind of product you would use for a bit of a pamper every now and again for extra nourishment. I'm all for it!

Top 5 Sri Lanka Bucket List Experiences

Top 5 Things to Experience in Sri Lanka
There's a lot more to Sri Lanka than sandy beaches and vast fields of tea. Did you know it's one of the most diverse places on the planet? The nature is absolutely stunning and when you throw the culture into the mix as well, it's no surprise everyone and their mother is currently planning a trip there. I was fortunate enough to explore the country for two whole weeks over the Christmas break and saw countless of incredible places. It's very hard for me to pick out the best, but here's five experiences you should definitely put on your to-do list if you haven't yet. 

Sri Lanka Train Journey Kandy to Nuwara Eliya Ella

Train journeys in Asia are quite an experience on their own, but the one from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is considered to be one of the most scenic. And scenery is what you get! The train takes you through forests, villages, past waterfalls, rolling hills full of lush green tea plantations... It's stunning! So much so you don't even realise you're stuck on train for hours on end. I was happily snapping away with my camera every second of the journey and taking advantage of the open windows and doors, despite my dad's disapproval, haha. I'm still alive, with no body parts missing, and I managed to take a couple of sick shots as well, so I guess we can call it a success.
Sri Lanka Train Station

Sri Lanka Tea Plantation

Sri Lanka Locals on Train
If you're planning to take the journey yourself - and you should - make sure to book your tickets at least a couple of days in advance at the train station, as they often sell out. You have three classes to choose from, the first two being more touristy, with padded seats and fans, while the third one is a bit rougher and can be crowded. I think the prices start at €2,50 per person. Cheap as chips!
Sri Lanka Train Journey

Sri Lanka Train
As the journey usually takes over five hours, make sure to take the window seat, bring some water and snacks (sometimes you can buy fruit and fritters straight from your window when the train stops at intermediate stations), and be prepared for delays. The trains break down on a daily basis, so don't be surprised when they announce your train won't be coming for a while. In our case, a while meant two hours, teehee.
Sri Lanka Train Conductor

Sri Lanka Train Journey Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Yala National Park Safari Elephant

When I hear the word safari, Africa is usually the first association I get. Before visiting, I had no idea Sri Lanka has so many animals living out in the wilderness, so maybe you too would be surprised to hear you can spot hundreds of species of birds, monkeys, elephants, sloth bears, crocodiles, deer, buffalo and even leopards!
Yala National Park Safari Bird

Yala National Park Safari Buffalo

Yala National Park Safari Monkey
Yala National Park has one of the highest leopard densities in the world, believe it or not, and some people travel there just to see this magnificent creature in its natural habitat. We were told not to expect anything, though, as some people spend weeks in the park before seeing one, and even then, it might be just a tail hanging down from a tree... But I guess the universe had a surprise in store especially for us! We managed to see it in all its glory, chilling by the trees, not even far away from us. I was gobsmacked. It's something I'll never forget! Obviously, I can't promise you to be equally lucky, but either way, leopard or no leopard, the safari was an amazing experience.
Yala National Park Safari Leopard Sleeping

Yala National Park Safari Leopard

Sri Lanka Climbing Sigiriya

Sigiriya, also known as the Lion Rock, is a giant stand-alone rock formation listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It used to be the home of the king, and there are still the remains of the palace to be found on top, as well as frescoes and gardens in front.
Sri Lanka on Top of Sigiriya

While I can't say the climb was my favourite part thanks to my dodgy knee and my fear of heights, I have to admit I felt a true sense of accomplishment after winning the battle of those 1200 stairs, and the views from the top turned out to be well worth the effort as well. If the number of stairs freaked you out, don't worry. If I can do it, so can you. Considering my fitness levels are at the all time low, and my knee injury barely allows me to bend my knee, I think I'm the best proof everyone can do it. I actually didn't find it as physically strenuous as I did mentally exhausting. I'm so afraid of climbing up somewhere high my legs instantly turn into jelly and I can't even move. I think that's enough of a proof you are just as if not more capable. There's a lot of resting stops too, so you can go at your own pace and take some photos along the way.
Sri Lanka Climbing the Lion Rock

I do have a few tips, though. Bring enough water, because you will sweat out all bodily fluids, and set off early. And by early, I mean at sunrise. Yes, you'll have to get up in the middle of the night unless you want to climb up there when the sun is scorching hot and there's hundreds of people around you attempting to do the exact same thing at the exact same time. The crowds we saw on the way down were insane and trust me, you do want to avoid them.
Sri Lanka Lion Rock Sigiriya Gardens

Polonnaruwa Cycling Bike Rental

The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa is another UNESCO World Heritage Site worth a visit. The ruins span over 4 km, so it's best to rent a bike and cycle it out. You can see the Royal Palace and dozens of temples, which you'll need to be dressed for appropriately to check them out from the inside. I suggest you to wear a top which covers your shoulders and trousers that cover your knees. Alternatively, you can also bring a scarf you can wrap around yourself. I always carry one in my backpack whenever I'm exploring Southeast Asia, because there's gorgeous temples around every single corner.
Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka Royal Palace

Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka Ancient City
Before you enter any temple, you also need to take off your shoes, so flip-flops are your best friends when it comes to Polonnaruwa. Unless you want to practise tying your shoes, hehe. And do prepare having your feet burn. The stones are hot, hot, hot! Now that I think of it, it makes sense why all Japanese tourists had socks with them. Maybe I should copy them next time.
Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka Temple

Sri Lanka Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage River Bathing

I'm writing down this suggestion with a caution. If you're looking for a proper orphanage, this is probably not the place to go. Pinnawala started as an orphanage, and all elephants are still either rescued or born there, but the place now resembles a ZOO and is there mainly for the purpose of tourism if you ask me. Unfortunately, I don't know of any other elephant orphanages I could recommend instead, so this is the only place I can comment on. The reason why I'm including it is because I have an unexplainable obsession with elephants. I just love them and feel like a kid in a candy store when I have the opportunity to get up close to them, and this place provides you with just that. You are able to walk up to them, feed them, bathe them... the whole shabang.
Sri Lanka Pinnawala Elephant OrphanageSri Lanka Elephant Bird
Sri Lanka Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Water
I have to say, I didn't get the impression elephants were treated poorly. I enjoyed watching them roam around and having a bath. They seemed happy and I didn't see any getting stabbed while I was there. But a few were chained, which is what I had the biggest problem with. I understand they probably had to be due to safety reasons; however, it still left a bitter taste in my mouth. That and the keepers who are too hungry for money. They take your camera to take photos of you and then pester you for extra money even though everything is already included in the unusually expensive ticket price. A bit of a bitter sweet experience, really. It is one of the most popular and unique places in Sri Lanka that everyone still wants to go to, though. I was looking forward to going and enjoyed my time there, but I'm hoping to find a proper, less touristy orphanage next time.
Sri Lanka Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Elephants

Sri Lanka Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Bathing

Sri Lanka Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Now that you've made it until the end of this very long blog post, I would like to invite you to check out my YouTube channel for even more Sri Lanka content. I was vlogging every day of my trip and now put together a playlist of all the vlogs I filmed. I poured my heart and soul into them, so I hope you enjoy them! Just a warning... there's no way you won't want to visit Sri Lanka once you give them a watch. 

Sleek MakeUP Matte Me Ultra Smooth Matte Lip Cream Review

Sleek MakeUP Matte Me Ultra Smooth Matte Lip Cream Review

How I managed to miss this gem in the recent flood of liquid lipsticks is beyond me, but at least I know of it now. When I first got the Matte Me Ultra Smooth Matte Lip Creams, I expected them to be what lip creams usually are - thicker glosses with a semi-matte finish - but instead, they surprised me with a velvety consistency and a proper matte effect. 
Sleek MakeUP Matte Me Ultra Smooth Matte Lip Cream Review Applicator

Upon the application, they are slightly creamier, but the right kind of creamy, the kind where the product doesn't go all over your face and is instead easy to apply precisely, which is what you need when you're dealing with bolder shades. It dries down very quickly, into that non-moisturizing but non-drying consistency that is completely comfortable to wear, and most importantly, turns truly matte. The only annoying thing I've noticed with regards to consistency is the slight stickiness when you press your lips together. If you're not constantly rubbing your lips together like I am (I really need to get rid of the habit), you probably won't even notice it, though. 
Sleek MakeUP Matte Me Ultra Smooth Matte Lip Cream Review Velvet Slipper Vino Tinto Swatch
L: Vino Tinto, R: Velvet Slipper
I usually apply two layers. The lighter shade, Velvet Slipper, doesn't streak at all, while the darker Vino Tinto does tend to get slightly patchy, so make sure your lips are exfoliated. They both wear well throughout the day and are actually super long-lasting on condition you don't eat or drink. Otherwise, the product does disappear from the inner side of the lips. Having said that, it is fuss free to touch up. It's the removal part that requires a slightly heavier approach. While micellar water can do its job just fine, it's way way quicker if you grab an oil-based makeup remover and get it off gently. 
Sleek MakeUP Matte Me Ultra Smooth Matte Lip Cream Review Velvet Slipper Lip Swatch
Velvet Slipper

Sleek MakeUP Matte Me Ultra Smooth Matte Lip Cream Review Vino Tinto Lip Swatch
Vino Tinto

I have to give a huge thumbs up to these Sleek MakeUP numbers, especially since Velvet Slipper has now crawled onto my all-time-favourite-lip-products list. And with them being only £4.99 a pop, you really can't go wrong. You know what? I don't even want to try the Kylie Jenner Lip Kits anymore. I'll take these Sleek lip creams instead any day! The only thing that's left for me to do now is to give the lighter shades a go as well. Have you tried any? 
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