Vienna: Must see and do

Well by now you’ll know that in Vienna you simply *must* drink lots of the excellent coffee, and eat copious amounts of cake and sausages. But what to do in between meal times?

We had such an amazing holiday in Vienna, and although a LOT of it was spent at the amazing Christmas Markets (half the reason for us going in honesty!) I think we did pretty well at soaking up what this gorgeous city has to offer….and here is what I’d recommend you do too….

You can’t really get away from Mozart in Vienna, although it’s not quite as Mozart-crazy as Salzburg! The beautiful statue of the composer in the Burrgarten is well worth a look, although you may have to fight through hoards of school trippers to get your photo!

I love the way you can see Vienna’s Gothic masterpiece, the Stephansdom cathedral from so far away, yet it sort of creeps up on you as you discover it up close. One side of the roof is decorated with a rather on-trend chevron tile design, whilst the other bears the Austrian eagle. Inside though is the real surprise, as we found it lit up in a rather crazy tie-dye effect!

The guide books said that if you only go to see one palace in Vienna, make it the Schloss Shonbrunn. And it is certainly worth the short U-bahn trip out of the city. The audio guided tour will take you through the palace’s tumultuous history and gives you an insight into the lives of its many occupants, including the famous Habsburgs.

The palace also boasts incredible grounds, including various themed gardens, fountains, a labyrinth and maze, and a stunning gloriette….the climb up to which is well worth the effort when you turn around to see the whole of Vienna before you.

And as if that’s not enough, your combined ticket will also let you into the palace’s own zoo, the fascinating Wustenhaus (desert house) and the breathtaking Palmenhaus (Palm house) which is actually a replica of the one in our very own Kew Gardens!

Vienna is home to the world’s first Lomography shop, and so a pilgrimage to its vast photo wall was a must for this analogue-lover. It also has a great little gift shop and the rest of the Museum Quarter in which it resides is worth a visit too.

We found out about the Globe museum by chance, and hadn’t planned it into our schedule at all, but as soon as we knew it existed we couldn’t miss it! The museum far exceeded our expectations, and not only houses some of the most visually impressive and historically important  globes in the world (including an entire room featuring globes from private collections) but also teaches you the history of globe manufacture using clever interactive exhibits….I had no idea it would be so interesting! A combined ticket also lets you into the Papyrus museum and the fascinating Esperanto museum!

Vienna is so famed for its musical history that it would be rude to visit without experiencing some live music. We opted for a rather touristy package at the Kursalon in the Stadtpark…..a sort of a variety show featuring chamber music, ballet and opera, this was the perfect taster and had everyone toe tapping along to the familiar tunes of some of Vienna’s greatest inhabitants.

And whilst we’re on music…..Vienna’s answer to the Hollywood walk of fame is great fun, with golden stars featuring famous composers’ names stretching from the Staatsoper, all the way under the U-Bahn station tunnels.

And whilst you’re there, take a look at the charmingly funny Opera loos! In London we have cockney cash machines, but in Vienna there is a public toilet where you can listen to opera! Love it!

I could also argue that no trip to Vienna would be complete without a good fix of Klimt either, and the Secession museum is a great place to get a feel for the artist. Home to his masterpiece the Beethoven Frieze, the building itself is just as impressive, with its owl motifs and Medusa heads over the door!

And just over the road is the colourful Naschmarkt, the city’s largest and most popular farmers’ market.

I personally couldn’t let the opportunity to visit an iconic Bond film scene pass me by, and so we took a bit of a walk over to the Wurstelprater Amusement Park (actually the world’s oldest amuseument park!) to see the Riesenrad…..those of you who are as fond of Bond as I will recognise the Ferris wheel and the sliding glass doors below from The Living Daylights. The 65m wheel also featured in the film The Third Man, as well as cult classic Sunrise.

Vienna really is one of those cities though that you can just amble around all day, and although we crammed in lots, I’d happily return again (in the summer perhaps) to simply soak up some of the lovely atmosphere there.

Ems x

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My pick from the Red Carpet

It’s all been building up to today…the weeks of warming up, sneak peaks and the rest of awards season….and now our wait is over….we get to see what everyone wore to the Oscars!

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I’m just as much into cinema as I am fashion, but really for me, the Academy Awards are all about the pretty frocks. I rarely agree with who The Academy choose to win, and the cynic in me fears it’s pretty political anyway (I won’t get into the whole Skyfall debate again for fear of raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels), and I’ve never once watched the whole award-giving bit through.

But, snoop, judge and nosey at what everyone wore I CAN do! And here are my favourites from this year…..

I think Reese Witherspoon gets a bit of stick for choosing rather girly dresses for these things, and if I could remember anything she’d ever worn before (brain like a sieve, me) maybe I’d agree. But whilst you couldn’t ask for a more feminine silhouette than this number by Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, I think she’s pulled off an incredibly glamorous look this year. I’m crazy about the cobalt blue (big for this Autumn I’m hoping!) and her curves are to die for.

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Hello Audrey Hepburn! Anne Hathaway has been going up in my estimation for a while now, and her super cute crop is just beautiful in my opinion. Her gorgeously simple Prada dress matches her look perfectly, and she’s just heavenly in those delicate blush tones. The dress manages to be both modern and classic at the same time, as does Miss Hathaway.

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I adore Amy Adams…she’s cute as a button and always unassumingly elegant. I wasn’t sure at first about the frothiness of her layered tulle dress by Oscar de la Renta, but this IS the Oscars after all, and the pretty lavender shade is stunning with her lovely red hair.

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Just look at all that shiny! I’m a sucker for a heavily draped skirt, and Amanda Seyfried’s dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen is a perfect red carpet number. It’d be a little bridal if not for the elegant key-hole neckline, but again, this IS the Oscars so ‘look-at-me’ factor is par for the course.

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And speaking of bridal…here’s the one everyone has been talking about. It would be plain wrong to say that Jennifer Lawrence looked anything less than stunningly enchanting in her Christian Dior gown, and the silhouette is simply incredible. But, I can’t help but think that it’s a little too white, and if only it had some straps going on I’d be fantasising about wearing it on my wedding day! Still, ‘when in Rome’ and all that….and Raf Simons sure has shown the rest how to create a showstopper.

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My somewhat unlikely favourite though is Jessica Chastain’s Armani Prive dress. Actually, it’s more like the complete package in honesty, as Chastain looks nothing short of the ultimate Hollywood starlet with her red lips, curled red hair and porcelain skin.
If *I* was going to the Oscars, this is how I’d want to look!

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Now you know I’m not much cop at talking about what the boys wear….I know their suits are *techincally* different, but I just can’t get myself interested in the particular cut of a dinner jacket. But, I would like to take a moment to talk about facial hair.

Usually I’d say that an event such as the Oscars absolutely calls for a clean shaven face. However, as fiance to a beardy man myself, I have to admit that I’ve been swooning over the Hollywood chaps who chose to keep their chins warm this year….  Bradley Cooper, Ben Afleck, Liev Schreiber, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman all sported rather dashing facial hair, and the silver fox himself, George Clooney, looked yummy. Nicely done boys.

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So, which were your favourites? And are you pleased with the winners?!

Ems x

Living for the weekend….. Tempting me back to London

Although I’ve made it back into London several times since moving (it’s just SO quick and easy!), I have mainly enjoyed my weekends locally. There’s still lots I want to do around here, and I’ve been really enjoying discovering more about my new ‘hood. But with a stack of fun things to do in London coming up all of a sudden, I know I’ll be tempted back soon!

As usual, there’s a whole host of special events and limited exhibitions taking place in London….and as of this weekend there are a good half a dozen that I feel were specially designed to tempt me back!…..

Tim Walker: Story Teller

Somerset House, East Wing Galleries

Runs until 27th January 2012, Daily Entry 10am to 6pm

Free Admission

I am so incredibly excited to see this exhibition which showcases the work of the amazing contemporary fashion photographer, Tim Walker. Known for his extravagant style, fairytale theatrics and playful scale, Walker is a total hero of mine. Supported by Mulberry (who hosted a star studded opening party this week), the show will focus largely on the photos themselves, but also features some of his best known props and set pieces.

Twin Peaks UK Festival 2012

Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

20th October, 9:30 am til late

Tickets from £60

It is happening again……‘ The Twin Peaks UK Festival is back this weekend at the Riverside Studios. Debuting in Twin Peaks’ 20th anniversary year in 2010, with a follow up event last year, the festival includes screenings, performances, actor Q&A, cabaret, and of course ridiculous amounts of donuts and cherry pie! Twin Peaks is my all time favourite TV show in fact…..so if you’ve not seen it I suggest you do!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

Natural History Museum

19th October 2012 to 3rd March 2013, Daily 10am to 5:50pm

Adult tickets £10

This world-renowned exhibition has been an annual event for me for a good few years now. Hosting the 100 winning images from the competition on stunningly produced backlit screens, the exhibition is a must for all photography enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

Hollywood Costume Exhibition

Victoria and Albert Museum

20th October 2012 to 27th January 2013

Adults £15.50 (advanced booking is advised with timed tickets)

This exciting exhibition includes over 100 of the most iconic and unforgettable costumes from a century of Hollywood filmmaking. Split into three galleries (‘Act 1: Deconstruction,’ ‘Act 2: Dialogue,’ and ‘Act 3:Finale’) the show promises to take us on a journey through the Golden Age of Hollywood, and is filled with treasures never before seen by the public, including the famous Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz!

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Until 17th February 2013

Free Entry

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is again hosting the winning images of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. I’ve been going to this marvelous free exhibition for years, and wouldn’t miss it! The photography showcased here every year is just mind blowing, and this year features incredible new images of the sky, ranging from within our solar system to far into deep space, and including comets, nebulae, aurorae and the transit of Venus.

Crazee Golf

Tintype Gallery, Farringdon

Until 27th October 2012

Open Wednesday to Friday from 11am to 6pm, and Saturday from 11am to 4pm

Curators Oona Grimes & Teresa Grimes invite you to take part in a game of Crazee Golf…..and I can’t resist a game of crazy golf! Featuring 18 holes created by 18 artisits, the exhibition is an artistic representation of the ‘faux world’ of this wonderful British tradition.

Look out London! You’re not rid of me yet!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants…… Mulberry Del Rey

Mulberry Del Rey in Deer Brown

It’s kind of an automatic response to practically everything…. If I’m asked what I want for whatever reason, the answer is always “Mulberry Hand Bag”. I don’t quite know what the big deal is, and why I want one so much. They are everywhere these days, so it’s not their rarity that makes them special. And it’s not that they follow particular design rules. Maybe it’s because they’re so well made, and in Britain too. But probably, it’s just because they are so very gorgeous.

I’m not at all obsessed with ‘it’ bags, although I have a real fondness for plenty of hand bags that fall under that title (I still love my Chloe Paddington and it sees plenty of use…but then my Marc Jacobs Stam hardly ever sees the light of day). And I adore a wonderfully individual vintage bag just as much as a new one, so perhaps it’s the stunningly retro styling of the Del Ray that appeals to me……

Inspired by American songstress and Vogue cover girl Lana Del Rey, the bag’s design aims to infuse her trademark Old Hollywood glamour meets edgy modern style. And that really appeals to me….. I love to mix up something that makes me feel trendy alongside a style classic.

Lana Del Rey with her Mulberry Del Rey

The shape reminds me a little of those darling vintage doctor’s bags (I’ve wanted for ages) with the lovely barrel-ish shape and short handles. The colour ways are fabulous too….. Deer Brown, Petrol, White, Black and Burgundy….. and I think we can expect some special edition finishes too (surely a croc finish). I would obviously like one of each, but if I had to narrow it down (in a parallel universe where I can spend £795 on a hand bag) it would have to be the Deer Brown for pure classic style, or the Burgundy for the super vintage element. A girl can dream eh?

But which colour?!?!?!

Waking up to the Oscars results…… My Winners

So I know I’m hours behind really, but I’ve woken up to a Twitter feed full of Oscars news, so I’m playing catch up on all the best bits now. Although of course I was keen to hear who had won what, for me the biggest news was who *wore* what! And so here are my ‘winners’, both those on the red carpet and from the nominations…..

I love Michelle Williams’ look anyway….her cute blonde crop is lovely and I thought she was a wonderful Marilyn. Out for the Oscars in a gorgeous red Louis Vuitton gown, she’s got that peplum and cinched waist look I adore…. and that little bow brooch at her waist by Fred Leighton is adorable too…..

More red for Emma Stone…..I’d love to try this shade (hoping it goes as well with my pale skin and red hair as hers!). The huge pussy bow at her neck is wonderful too, but possibly only works because she’s so very delicate…..

Well of course I was going to love the vintage dress….especially as it’s Dior. Natalie Portman looks gorgeous in this classic outfit…love her…..

Finally, something other than red….. Penelope Cruz wins the ‘best fairytale Princess’ prize in this stunning Armani Prive gown. Imagine dancing the American Smooth in this! Magical!…..

My Red Carpet Winner has to be Rooney Mara though. Her slight frame, red lips and perfect fringe have to put one in mind of Audrey Hepburn, and aptly dressed in Givenchy (Hepburn’s favourite designer) she looks incredible. The severe up-do and eyebrows ensure her personal spin on the look though. This is the kind of dress I long to wear, but certainly don’t have the right figure for! I would love to look like this!

And so to the actual awards…..

BEST PICTURE: The Artist

Although I thought extremely highly of some of the other nominees (War Horse, The Descendants, Hugo), I was delighted to see this black and white silent film scoop the big award. I adored everything about this film, and for it to win this is a real triumph, I think….when one considers all those people who thought it was a step backwards in film making, and those who asked for their money back at the cinema because there was ‘something wrong with the sound’!!

BEST ACTOR: Jean Dujardin – The Artist

I thought George Clooney was wonderful in The Descendants, and I’d have loved Gary Oldman to have been honoured for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but again, I was so delighted to see an actor like this given such a prestigious award. Truth be told though, I really rather think Uggie should have won.

BEST ACTRESS: Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady

I’m a little disappointed with this result….. although I didn’t get to see The Iron Lady because it was on at our cinema for such a short time, the reason we didn’t rush and prioritise it was the appalling ratings and reviews. Based on what I have seen though, and the reviews, I’d have thought that Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would have been a good choice. Although my choice certainly would have been Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn (I actually found myself forgetting I wasn’t watching Marilyn, she was so good!).

BEST ANIMATION: Rango

I’m so pleased Rango beat Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots to this award…. it’s restored my faith a little, as I wouldn’t have been surprised if either of those two had won.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Descendants – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash

Ever so pleased that The Descendants got to take something home….. although I’d have been happy to see Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan) take this too.

BEST ART DIRECTION: Hugo – Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Hugo – Robert Richardson

As much as I thought these were easily deserved by The Artist and War Horse, I do believe Hugo was the superior in these categories and I think it’s apt that this visually stunning film received these and the other more-technical awards, including BEST VISUAL EFFECTS (Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning).

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: The Artist – Ludovic Bource

I adored the scores for Hugo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and War Horse, but for originality and cleverness I’m pleased with this win.

BEST COSTUMES: The Artist – Mark Bridges

And my only reason to lament Hugo not winning this one, is that I was so in love with the costume for Isabelle (and will be copying it for certain). Berenice Bejo’s outfits in The Artist were wonderful though, and I’d happily wear any of them!

So, all that’s left is to present the Ems’ Special Award for Life Time Achievement…… which of course goes to Uggie. I was so pleased that he made it to the Oscars, after there was talk that he’d not been invited! I think that in honour of his wonderful performance, remarkable PR, and his impending retirement, an award was certainly deserved (even if there wasn’t a suitable category!). He is certainly my ‘overall’ winner though!

I hope you were pleased with the results and enjoyed watching if you managed to stay up for them!