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Postcards and secrets from Malta

By Anna Katina

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Dear friends, Summer has finally started (hopefully) and it’s time for some Summer inspiration! I’m back from Malta and of course I had to write a blogpost about this adventure! I will start with Valletta, continue with Marsaxlokk and Comino and last but not least present you the EF Malta campus I visited!

So, Malta is one of Europe’s smallest countries and in 3-4 days you can see a lot! You can rent a car but be aware that all cars drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel is located on the right-hand side of the car. We did not rent a car, instead we did everything by foot, bus, ferry and Bolt (like Uber). We were based in the heart of Valletta and it took us 5 minutes by foot to arrive a the main bus station at the Tritons Fountain (beautiful spot!!).

The island is very social and I’m super thankful for the people I met here! I will never forget the dinner we planned with my mum, a table in-front by the sea, just the two of us and how we ended up as a group of 10 with people from all over the world, all sitting around a table – what a night!!

Malta’s off-season sunshine makes it a wonderful destination for a spring or autumn break. In May and it felt already like Summer! Locals say it’s the best time to visit the island before the high temperatures and crowds take over! I have to say, we were very lucky with the timing because many places we visited we pretty empty, which for me was very enjoyable! Of course, the main streets, like the Republic Street in Valletta are busy at any time!

So here are the things my mum and I did in Malta!

Valletta

Valletta is one of the most well-preserved cities in Malta, the fortified tiny capital of the Mediterranean island has survived many historical events but has undergone no significant modifications since 1798!! Let’s discover it together!

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St. John’s Co-Cathedral

Valletta, actually, all of Malta, is dotted with giant domed churches, but the most impressive of all is St. John’s Co-Cathedral. From the outside it may look plain, but the interesting part happens once you go through the doors where every surface is decorated with colour and sparkling gold! My mum ran into the cathedral so I had no choice and followed. I’m glad I did. Not only you can admire the exiled Caraveggio’s masterpiece “The Beheading of Saint John” but also the tombstone-covered floor. Yes, beside the decorated walls and ceilings, there is the the floor which is covered with memorials for the dead knights. It’s one of the most impressive cathedrals I’ve ever seen!

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The Barrakka Gardens

We discovered the gardens by coincidence! You can walk through the Upper and Lower Barakka Gardens and enjoy beautiful panoramic views of Valletta. Also, from 12h to 16h, you can watch cannon firing from the Saluting Battery which were originally fired to welcome ships into the harbour. Look how beautiful the parks are! Olive trees, wooden benches, the mesmerising view, like a painting!

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GET LOST IN THE BACKSTREETS

Malta is the perfect place to wander because it’s impossible to get lost, the island is small and you will hit water at some point xD. So I recommend just to walk around and discover. You will come across churches, courtyards, sunny terraces, beautiful doors and balconies, museums… The old buildings are breathtaking!

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brief history

You should know that the island changed hands over the centuries! It started with the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians who both built ports on the island. Malta was then part of the Roman Empire, then of the Byzantine Empire before taken over by the Arabs and finally by the Normans. When Charles V gave the island to the Knights of St. John in 1530 (called the Knights of Malta), they built up the island and mat maintained control until the French arrived in 1798. The British helped Malta to expel the French in 1800 and Malta joined the British Empire in 1814. Only in 1964 the island became an independent nation!

That’s why you can find elements of many different cultures in Malta! Also when observing the Maltese, I could recognise Italian, Arabic traits, in their look and language, it’s a unique country with many facets, so interesting!!

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Where to eat in Valletta?

Breakfast

Every morning, we had breakfast at the same spot, the Cordina Café located in the heart of Valletta. Watch the video below, doesn’t the place look magical? You have to try their rainbow cake!

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CAFé Cordina

244 Republic Street

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Lunch & Dinner

Again, I don’t really have specific addresses for you, but I recommend Trabuxu, a fancy hipster restaurant as I’d call it – nice food, funny ambiance, less mainstream and cool outdoor and interior decoration! If you can, head over to Marsaxlokk for lunch at dinner (at least once!), more infos below about the fishing village are following!

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Where to stay in Valletta?

Stay at De Vilhena for a unique view of the city you can enjoy from your room or from the rooftop bar. We had a beautiful big room and the location was just perfect, it’s impossible to be located more centrally!

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Marsaxlokk fishing village

Marsaxlokk Bay is Malta’s second largest natural harbor, hundreds of colorful Maltese fishing boats decorate the port. This place is so pretty!!! There is also a fish market which gives tourists an insight into the local life and traditions. You can take a colorful boat to Saint Peter’s pool! As we had many other plans, we took a ride for a quick dip in the swimming area and our captain waited for us. It took me about 15 minutes to jump and I finally did it with the help of a stranger who kindly offered his help!

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St Peter’s pool

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We had a group dinner at Marsaxlokk which I will never forget. We were sitting right in front of the boats and the restaurant (pick one of the restaurants along the sea, they should all be good) served us a huge salt baked fish, photo below, so impressive and so so good!!

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SALT BAKED FISH

Comino

Comino is a small island between Malta and Gozo and is known for the beautiful Blue Lagoon bay with its crystal clear and azure-coloured water! Look at the photos below! We took a bus, then a ferry in the morning so when we arrived it was still pretty empty! After lunchtime the situation changed and it became so crowded! Apparently it’s worse in high season and locals don’t recommend to come here during this period to avoid heat and crowds. So we were very lucky! We took a walk to admire the rocky wilderness with jagged cliffs and deep caves. The views are absolutely stunning!!

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BLUE LAGOON

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Popeye village

After quitting Comino, we headed over to the Popeye village by bus (10 minutes away from the ferry station). It’s the film set from the 1980 musical ‘Popeye’ which has become a theme park village with boat rides & food outlets! We didn’t enter the park, instead we adimired the beautiful construction from outisde. I would love to live in a village like this, look at these cute wooden houses!! Also, we had lunch at the Popeye restauraunt, a cute spot, very American and old-school and totally empty which I liked of course. It looked like an abandonned restaurant in the middle of Texas.. 😀 Apparently it’s also super crowdy in high season.

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Ef Malta • St. Julians

I had a mission in Malta as I came here with Education First for a training. In fact, I was absolutely curious to discover the EF concept as I never dared to do this experience during my studies so I’m very thankful for the opportunity! As a reminder, Education First is an international education company that specialises in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange! In short, you can spend time abroad and improve your language skills at the same time!

I got a few many messages from friends on Instagram who made their EF training in Malta a few years ago, so jealous!! I visited the EF Malta campus every day to attend classes, speak to the staff and students and visit the different facilities or attend activities, so lots of impressions! The ambiance here is very relaxed and I felt so welcome here!! I loved the EF New Work campus but this one is my favourite so far! You can follow my adventure on their Instagram account by watching my stories under the ‘Malta’ highlight where I show you all the interviews, the EF Malta beach club, the stdent appartments, the campus itself etc!! Here is the LINK!

The campus is located in St Julians, the nightlife town of Malta. If you like to party, come to this town! Clubs, non-stop parties, beach clubs (the EF Malta beach club included) and late night dancings on boats. I went to a salsa class organised by EF in the area and I loved it! I made friends, exchanged with some EF students and learned new salsa moves!!

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EF beach club

Below you can see the view from the EF Malta residencies. To see the apartments from the inside, head over to the Malta highlight on EF Luxembourg’s Instagram! The pool below fascinated me, how cool is it to have a pool next to the sea? You can choose between both for a swim 😀 There were girls doing yoga in the sea on surfboards, I watched them for an hour or so from the bar right next to the pool, and I thought, ok I need to come back to Malta and relax to the fullest like the girls in the sea. Malta inspired me a lot.

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There are other places you can visit in Malta like Mdina, The Three Cities or Gozo but you have to make choices when you come for 3-4 days only and I need to say that I’m super happy with our itinerary. I love having plans when I travel but I also do appreciate to get lost and go with the flow. Malta is one best destinations in my life so far and it will be my new to-go spot.

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I hope you like my guide and impressions, if you liked it (or not?), if you have questions or comments, share your thoughts below my friends!! Kisses, Anna

Malta, May 2019

Via:: https://www.annakatina.com/blog/what-to-do-in-malta-valletta-comino-guide-spots

      

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One week in New York City

By Anna Katina

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Hello my friends! This girl finally visited New York City and she liked it! Such an inspiring city, always on the move! I have a lot to share with you so make sure to sit comfortable to read this article! So, I was sent to NYC by Education First and stayed a week in Manhattan! I tried to see as much as possible but still find time to walk around with no plan and discover the city. I think it’s important to do both things in a metropole, sightseeing and getting lost in the streets.

If you plan to come to NYC in spring, bring multiple clothes. There will be cold, rainy weather on some days and warm summer weather on other days. Be prepared for everything! We stayed in Time Square and took the cab all the time (definitely less expensive than in Luxembourg!) Once in a neighborhood, we walked around for hours but to go from like Time Square to Meatpacking District – taxi. Eating in NYC is expensive, even in small coffee shops! Are people friendly? Totally!

Ok so I will now share with you the spots we visited aka..

what to do in NYC?!

For videos of this adventure, check my Instagram NYC highlight!!

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FLATIRON

The first famous building we spotted (and be ready for a lot of architecture this time), was the Flatiron!

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CENTRAL PARK

It may sound weird but the place I liked the most in Manhattan is Central Park. I was so impressed by its size and the amount of people! Such a cool ambiance and so many activities happening here! People play American football, baseball, beach volley ball, do public yoga sessions, so cool! It inspired me a lot! Also, look at this crowd enjoying the sun outside! When in town, buy some drinks and snacks and go sunbathing in Central Park. Tell me afterwards if you felt the special vibes that I felt.

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MEATPACKING DISTRICT

Meatpacking District is a hipster kind of neighborhood you must visit! You will find nice bars and shops but also the popular Chelsea market, a immense gallery full of restaurants and shops. Also, a great spot to start the High Line walk…

The Standart

A friend of mine recommended me to go to the Standard Hotel’s popular rooftop bar! There is a line to enter, most of the people there are in their early twenties. The ambiance is nice and you will definitely have fun if you’re in a party mood with a group! For me personally, it was a nice place to discover but I prefer a less crowded, loungier atmosphere than the club vibes :).

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HIGH LINE

After our drink at the Standard, we climbed the stairs to the High Line. Start the walk during the golden hour guys (photos below)! What is the High Line? It’s an elevated park which was once a rail track but is now out use since 1980! About 10 years ago the 2,3 km-long strip was transformed into an urban park which is now full of wildflowers and outdoor art installations. Take your wide angle lens with you for killer shots of New York’s skyline. I loved watching people enjoying the sunset around a picnic. The lights, structures and views made this moment so magical! PS. Architecture lovers, did you spot the Zaha Hadid building? Yep a pretty amazing giant!

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THE VESSEL at Hudson Yards

Arriving at the end of our excursion, a monster grew in front us while we approached the end of the High Line; The Vessel. I’ve never heard of it before so I was pretty shocked and amazed to suddenly stand in front of this creature. It’s huuuuuge and it’s open to public. The walkable sculpture was designed by Thomas Heatherwick. It looks like a honeycomb, doesn’t it? 😀

FINANCIAL DISTRICT

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Oculus

From one architectural beast to another. Again I had no words when I saw this building.The white monument you see in the photos below is the World Trade Center Oculus station which was designed by Santiago Calatrava as a memorial of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. “ The 335-foot-long skylight was designed to allow the “Way of Light” to pass through the main hub of the transit hall at 10:28 a.m.—the moment that the North Tower of the WTC collapsed on September 11, 2001. Symbolizing the light that continues to shine through after the darkness of the tragedy, the Oculus opening allows light to fill the massive space as a memorial to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers.” – source linked.

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9/11 MEMORIAL

Next to Oculus is located the 9/11 memorial, the former location of the Twin Towers. The architect of the memorial is Michael Arad. You can see two squares’ reflecting water pools and next to it, the new World Trade Center called One World Trade Center or Freedom Tower.

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EAST RIVER

We quit the Financial District and walked along the East River before going to the Brooklyn bridge, a cute area with small terraces in an urban environment.

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Factory Kitchen

A nice restaurant where you can enjoy the sun, view, good food and lounge music!


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Brooklyn Bridge

Another must-see in Manhattan!

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BROWNSTONE HOUSES

Don’t forget to look around you when walking through the city. I don’t know about you, but I was so excited to see the brownstone houses and fire escapes I knew from American movies like Kevin Alone, Love and Other drugs or from Gossip Girl!! AAAAH :DD


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UPPER EAST SIDE

On another day we spent a few hours on the Upper East Side especially to visit the Metropolitan museum (MET). Of course there are other great museums but we went for this one. Next time I want to go to the Museum of Modern Art and the American Museum of Natural History!

Bluestone Lane

I recommend you to visit the MET, the largest art museum in the US located on the right side of Central Park. But first, breakfast! We went to Bluestone Lane and we loved it!! An amazing small interior with good service, food and drinks but no wifi. Actually so many coffee shops in NYC don’t have wifi, make sure to plan your day in advance to avoid wifi hunting during the day!

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art

We spent a few hours at the museum (MET), there is so much to see! You travel through time from old Egypt to ancient Greece, with a stop in French castles; a real time machine! You can also check out the most legendary guitars in the history of Rock! Yes, a current exhibition features guitars of the biggest rockstars of all time like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix or Keith Richards! If you scroll down, you can see how carefully the museum installed each exhibition with matching interior; so beautiful!

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Below you can see two artworks which impressed me a lot. The one on the right reminded me of Dada art, it’s the smashed guitar of Kurt Cobain. On the left you can see a painting featuring young Louis XV by Hyacinthe Rigaud.


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GREENWICH VILLAGE

Get lost and feel like a local. Greenwich is cute little neighborhood we found by walking south from the Meatpacking District. We were tired and the weather got worse so we randomly entered the bar Left Bank. On each table there were color pencils and it felt so good to enjoy a drink and relax, scribble around. We felt like locals, away from the noise. Also, we found a cute little ice-cream bar with ice-cream for adults only (all alcohol infused), Tipsy Scoop! Funny thing.

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Education Fist New York campus

Ok, now to the educational part. I had the opportunity to visit the NYC campus, which is located in Tarrytown. Arrived at the Grand Central station I first felt like Serena in Gossip girl. 😀 The train trip was a pure scenic pleasure, gloomy weather with a peaceful view on the Hudson river, the trip took about 30 minutes.

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off to EF NYC in Tarrytown!

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The campus looked impressive, I loved the main building! First, there was a welcome speech of the team for the new arrivals. Every Monday, new students arrive and I liked the EF introduction! After presenting the campus, the students were invited to interact with each other, a good idea to break the ice! I assisted to a linguistic class, which was a movie analysis. It reminded me so much of my classes in Brussels back in my student days! The ambiance in the open spaces is relaxed, no rush, groups of students hang out together, others skype with their friends, super cozy. It’s a very peaceful multicultural reunion, I wish I could stay longer and discover the rooms and other spaces of the campus but it was time to make the NYC tour with the new arrivals!

The interesting fact about EF is that anyone can start this experience, it’s all about traveling and learning a language. Whether you’re a student or a young professional, you can start at any moment. EF has different formulas, I am linking the info sheet here for all informations! It’s also a good initiative for students who take a break during their studies in the middle of the year but still want to do something, same for professionals who do a professional break for example. There are also companies who offer this experience to their employees so that they can improve their language skills.

3 MUST-GO SPOTS FOR DINNER


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The Edition Hotels always have impressive restaurants and I was so excited to discover the Terrace & Outdoor gardens on the ninth floor of the hotel, look at this indoor garden! The food and cocktails are very good! Another must go is Buddakan, where you can order fancy interpretations of Chinese dishes. The interior is just surreal! Both restaurants are expensive but nothing compared to Cipriani in Soho, which may be Kim Kardashian’s favorite Italian restaurant but in Luxembourg you find this type of standard Italian kitchen on each corner so we were pretty disappointed of the quality (and presentation!) in contrast to the price. But it ranks among the most popular spots of the city so I wanted to mention it. Another two popular restaurants I know from Los Angeles that you can find in NYC are The Catch and Hakkasan.

HUNT FASHION & COFFEE IN SOHO

In Soho you can find many designer stores but also less known labels and small stores. I really enjoyed walking through this area and discover the fashion stores. For example, we stepped into a concept store with many local creator pop-ups inside! Market place of makers was the name, I think. Also, lots of coffee shops around like Maman Soho or Odd Fellows! For lunch, go to Sant Ambroeus. My favorite bloggers love to hang out here, the pasta is reaaaally good!!

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MIDTOWN MANHATTAN

TOP OF THE ROCK

With my new friends from EF New York, we took the elevator to the 66 floor on top of Rockefeller Center to enjoy the view.. The Observatory is often crowed so be patient! Behind me in the photo, the Empire State building!

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The Rockefeller Center by night

TIMES SQUARE

Watch the video below!

We spent a lot of time here as our hotel was located in the middle of this jungle. You see a lot of crazy people and so many colors! Sometimes, in bed, I did not know if it was day or night because of all the lights outside! I really enjoyed taking pictures of the people around and pose as well for Insta, the effects of the lights fascinated me xDDD. Below you can see the view of the rooftop bar at the Edition hotel, so cliché! Also, if you’re into luxury, don’t miss the 5th Avenue for the shopping paradise! I did not buy anything on this trip except air pods and a new iPhone screen. xD

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MANHATTAN SKYLINE

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On our way to the Statue of Liberty ferry we took a moment in front of the Battery. This memorial is located in Battery Park and commemorates “those 4609 soldiers, sailors, marines, coast guardsmen, merchant marines and airmen who met their deaths in the service of their country in the western waters of the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. It’s axis is oriented on The Statue of Liberty. On each side of the axis are 4 gray granite pylons upon which are inscribed the name, rank, organization and state.” Source linked.

Statue of Liberty

When purchasing tickets for the Ferry, be careful. There is one official “store” in a courtyard. We did not exactly know where to buy our entrances and some men tried to sell us tickets. They looked pretty official but when they became aggressive because I did not want to buy from them immediately, I understood that they don’t do this legally. Also when I asked for the info point, they brought us to another guy who asked for our credit card and it was clear to us that it’s all fake. xD Just be careful!

It was interesting to admire the beautiful lady so closely!

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ELLIS ISLAND

We also visited Ellis island, the island where once thousands of immigrants arrived to enter the US.

You must enter the building and listen to the stories on audio speakers, it’s very interesting and you move from one room to another according to the topic. For example they said, people who made a weird impression got an ‘X’ marked on their coats with charcoal. These people needed a psychological test. Imagine you are exhausted from the trip and then you need to pass a mental test because you look suspicious!


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So my friends, this was a looot I know but I hope it was worth the lecture?! Also, last reminder for the NYC giveaway. EF Luxembourg gives the opportunity to one of you to live the same experience as me during a week! To participate just follow the instructions on this link: here. They will pick a winner in June!

Let me know if this article was useful and go ahead if you have questions! xx Anna

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NYC, April 2019

Via:: https://www.annakatina.com/blog/new-york-city-manhattan-guide-what-to-do

      

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my spring essentials

By Anna Katina

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Hello my friends! I hope you’re doing great! Since I promised to present you my favourite accessories, I decided to do this here on the blog! For me, this Spring is all about colour and layering games! I’m just back from the Belgian coast where I have spent the Easter weekend, you know how much I love this place! As a little reminder, here an article dedicated to the North Sea! Of course I used the opportunity to take some phots for the blog, so are you ready? Let’s go!

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FASHION

Let’s start with a fashion brand. The funky Tee I am wearing below is from the German brand OUI. I love decent fashion and cute details so when I saw this top in their Summer lookbook I could not resist. Fiesta sleeves and fruits, the perfect top for the next beach party! It is not available online yet but it will be in the coming weeks so stay tuned! I will announce the arrival on Instagram!

OUI FASHION

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JEWELLERY

RING PARTY

Ok now to the part I’ve been mostly asked about, my rings!

I love rings. I cannot leave the house without my ring party. And I’m definitely a gold person, I don’t wear silver at all as you can see, I can’t tell you why! Gold must be my favourite metal I guess. The dad ring – it’s my favourite ring of the moment and it is from Maria Back! The ring exists as mum, girl and boy as well. I’ll probably buy the mum ring because I feel the jealousy at home.. xD. The compass ring from Thomas Sabo is another crush, I use to wear the compass and dad ring on the same finger. My friends don’t like this combo but I love it! The other rings are not available anymore, some are from Poiray, some are vintage. I am linking the rings I mentioned first below!

DAD RING | COMPASS RING | POIRAY HEART RINGS SIMILAR HERE

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ARM CANDY

Just as with the rings, I love the layering game on the wrist so much! I have a collection of LeJu wristbands but I also own many other bracelets from small labels I discover while traveling. Oh and yep my personal moment for the Juste Un Clou has arrived and I’m very happy with this little treasure… 😉 Linking the collections I wear below for you as well!

LEJU BRACELETS | CARTIER JUSTE UN CLOU


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EAR PARTY

Last but not least…my last loop addiction is the ear party! In fact, my ear has been pierced six times xD! Five rings are from One More Tattoo (Luxembourg City), actually I never replace these. The loop in the photo is from Monarc, a lovely jewellery label based in London, I just ordered a small cross to replace one of my piercings above, I love their items! As you can see, I’m not fine with one earring or one bracelet, I need an entire army of loops on me xD

MONARC LOOPS

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NAIL CANDY

What is Summer without playful nails? Have you noticed how perfectly my nails and tee are matching??? 😀 My new beauty spot Francoise Urban Beauty Retreat is located at City Concorde, a shopping mall in Strassen. As I could not decide which color I should go for, I asked Rina, the nail queen of the salon to pick a different color for each nail and the result is pretty amazing, isn’t it? 😀 It’s a semi-permanent laying so I’m good for a month with these! A month ago I tried a Maria Galland treatment for the face here as well and the results were amazing, my forehead wrinkle disappeared since then, not lying !! I really recommend this beautiful salon, it doesn’t only look beautiful, but the products and treatments available here are the most natural I’ve ver ever seen. Also, for their makeup bar they use Jane Iredale products only which is simply fantastic. So ladies, this place is a must-go to prepare for Summer!

FRANCOISE URBAN BEAUTY RETREAT

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Now you know everything about my Spring 2019 essentials and addresses, I hope I could inspire you! The NYC blog will follow this week !! If you have other questions, just ask! 🙂 xx Anna

Via:: https://www.annakatina.com/blog/spring-summer-2019-fashion-jewellery-essentials

      

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