Overcrowded at times but nevertheless fun. Spend a day in the center of the city, exploring its little alleys and quirky bars and restaurants. Maybe a little workout too, in between.Read More
Summer is about to finish, and we are all looking sad about the fact that we need to go back to reality and get to work til the next proper holidays.
In my case, on top of the holiday blues, I have to move out. Let me tell you, not a fun job! Especially if you have to do it twice, like in my case...
Of couse, it is all very exciting to be moving to a new place. There's vast opportunities to do so much decor and detox on your wardrobe! But this fun bit only comes right at the end, when you barely have any energy left...BUT let's stay POSITIVE! Despite no money left, there's always tones of things to do in London with budget. YAY!
One of my favourite neighborhood visits this summer was Chiswick. It is rare that my gal team and I head west, but when we do, we make sure the trip is worth it.
Our perfect day out started at the Urban Pantry for brunch. A tiny little aussie-inspired cafe that serves a delicioso menu for those who wake up hungry. Everything looked so great it was tough to only choose 1-2 plates!
If the Urban Pantry is too busy, you should head down to No.197 Chiswick Fire Station, which despite its name, is a restaurant. This venue is gorgeeooous, and it even has a little courtyard where to sip espresso martinis :)
After we stuffed ourselves, it was time to walk. You guys know I don't drive (crazy, I KNOW), so I walk and walk and walk everywhere. Specially if I treated my belly to such royal meal. And Chiswick is perfect for it! We paraded the high street, stopping at Foster Books to get some new (or old) reads, Bayley & Sage and the Macken Brothers Butchers if you are in need of groceries, and Chief Coffee if you are in need of a pick me up. If we talk antiques, then The Old Cinema is your spot. And if we talk beauty, I am a sucker for Cowshed.
Of course, a visit to Chiswick wouldn't be complete without a romantic walk by the Chiswick House & Gardens. If it's a sunny day, you can even sit down, relax, and have a picnic there.
It felt so pretty, that we played alike.
Elephants think of humans as "cute," in the same manner that humans think of kittens or puppies
Isn't that the best thing you've heard of? I thought so.
It’s always tricky to know whether you are falling into a tourist trap in Thailand, especially when it comes to cutsie little elephants. It’s been known for years now how bad they were treated, close to animal slavery, just for the amusement of the wanderers.
Thankfully, the locals are trying to put remedy to it. That’s how the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary was created.
It still felt a bit touristy. After all, it’s a bunch of westerners trying to make their dreams come true about seeing and touching elephants in their natural habitat. But at least they weren’t chained, and it was us who followed them, not the other way around.
A day at the Jungle Sanctuary will provide you with plenty: a hike in the beautiful mountains outside of Chiang Mai, a bath in the rather cold river cascade in the middle of the jungle, a super yummy and local lunch (followed by a 20-min siesta!) and a bath with the elephants. You don’t need to get muddy with them, but you get the option.
During your trip, you will also learn about the condition of the elephants, how many are there living with the tribe, and what food and medicines do they usually eat/ take.
All in all, quite an experience. One that you shouldn’t miss.
I must admit, I didn't like San Francisco as much as I would. I had great expectations, I have so many friends who love it dearly. I just couldn't feel it.
It is, undoubtedly, a sporty place and a great foodie city. However, it was quite annoying to cue for every good place you wanted to try. Even for coffee! 25 minutes to get your morning fix at Blue Bottle Coffee is not really ideal, in my opinion.
In any case, that wasn't the most shocking part, it was the massive (visible) inequalities, more than I've ever seen anywhere else. The amount of homeless and junkies in the street I saw was really saddening, and I just could not dismiss it. I guess that tarnished my view of the city, and I couldn't come back from it.
But I don't want to put you away from going there! I am sure everybody has a different point of view. Maybe next time I'll like it better? I feel it's a city you need to get to know, and maybe adding Sonoma to the trip would make it even better. Good wine is always a winner!
Nevertheless, it was my first time there and, as a good tourist, I took some postcard pictures.
Stay tuned for more,
At the Museum of Ice Cream.
ICE CREAM ADDICT?
PASSION FOR COLOUR?
Looks like we found our very own Paradise: the Museum of Ice Cream
After many attempts to get tickets for the Museum of Ice Cream (aka MOIC, an acronym for "movement of imagination and creativity"), we finally managed to score a pair for our recent visit to San Franscico, and I, personally, was very excited.
Those who know me well know that I have a little addiction to ice cream. I could literally eat it anytime of the day, anytime of the year. Even for breakfast. So, when I heard about this place, it was only natural that I needed to check it out for myself.
This place is heaven for those who love taking selfies and creative pictures. An interactive art exhibit with ice cream and candy themed exhibits (to keep you high, obvs!), all brightly colored, in a maze of rooms containing, among other things, a rock-candy cave, a unicorn, and a swimming pool of rainbow sprinkles. The whole concept resonates happiness and positivism, and those are traits that I really look for, in life and in my peeps.
The Museum started in NYC few years ago, and since then it has expanded to LA, Miami and San Francisco. There were definitely a lot of kiddos when we visited it; however, I do believe this is meant for all lovers of ice cream, whether these are adults or kids. Tickets must be purchased in advance for specific time slots online only, so make sure you grab yours soon enough as these sold out very quickly!!
Stay tuned peeps,
Phuket is certainly a spot to splash the cash in Thailand. Everything is focused around tourisme, and about indulging into the good life that we all wanted at some point in life.
We really didn't have in mind a luxurious holidays when we were planning our trip to Thai-Land, but we do love a couple of days of #treatyoself after a lot of sightseeing and moving around. Having said that, we still weren't sure about travelling and staying in Phuket Town, as the reputation it precedes is not the greatest.
Instead, we looked for a remote spot around the capital, and as I love checking Conde Nast Traveler while I go on holidays, our dream hotel popped up: Keemala.
Very instagram worthy from the moment you step foot at their lobby, I would say Keemala is meant for honey-mooners and retired people; from time to time, also people like us, ready to mess the whole system up.
A villa meant for 2 was shared by 5, with a private pool and tones of activities to enjoy. We particularly loved the "cocktail masterclass" which involved us getting fed champagne and snacks for a whole hour, while just taking in the sunrise and solving our first-world-problems...
Not that I am a yoga enthusiast (except for HOT yoga) but I particularly enjoyed getting up with the sunrise to do a wholesome yoga class. The teacher was pretty badass and breakfast afterwards felt like heaven on a plate.
If you stay here, there's not much more you'll need to do. Just sit back, relax your private pool, and maybe venture out for a day, if you want to go to the open sea. But this is all about treating yourself to the max. Let go. You are in GREAT hands.
We stayed for two nights and it was too short. We reckon that the ideal no. of nights is about 3 nights. But prepare your wallet! The Resort includes transportation to the little village (where you can get great deals on thai massage) and breakfast (YUM!), on top of the daily activities that include yoga, photography and few others, depending on the day. A MUST!
Stay tuned for more,
Following the thread from my previous article about 'The unknown LIC', I'd love to dig a little bit deeper unto what's cooking in this part of town.
I'm a fan of the arts, especially if this is abstract and contemporary. I love making things up when I see a an art piece (Isn't that part of the fun?) and lucky me there was a museum in the Queens neighborhood I haven't visited before: The Noguchi Museum.
The museum was founded by the American artist by the same name, and he was definitely a pioneer of his time on building a museum to portray his work. The museum itself is a piece of art, with plenty of sculptures and abstract design; but what brought us here really was his exhibition Akari, a modular ecosystem of lightweight, collapsible paper lanterns that can create and transform space. For some, IKEA paper lanterns, for others art. For us, SO MUCH FUN to be had.
We spend a good hour wandering the different rooms theorizing what we saw, and I highly recommend you check it out if you are around the area. If it's a sunny day, you can then head to the park in front of it for a little picnic :)
I’ve always been quite reluctant to visit Thailand, but I must admit it was more fun than I initially anticipated.
My pretty gurls and I like to #treatourselves and travel to a beach destination once a year, and after the success of Philippines last year, we decided another South East Asian country would be a good choice.
One-hour foot massage for four pounds, taxis with on-board wifi and high-end hotels delivering everything you need at your doorstep don’t even begin to explain everything you can get in Bangkok. This city is certainly made up to please all crowds.
I personally really enjoyed getting lost in the streets of Chinatown, trying all those street food stalls that may or may not play well with my stomach (such a rebel!). Not to mention the never ending street market, selling all sorts of crap that I also love. Totoro and Hello Kitty’s (and rubber duckies!) all over the place. What else could I ask for?
Some prefer to ride til you die at the infamous Khao San Road, which everybody should check out at least once, but I think a good balance between culture and pleasure is best.
If you are only in the kingdom of Thailand for few days, I suggest you check out the following:
- For those wanting shopping: Chatuchak Weekend Market
- For those wanting a good massage: Chinatown
- For those wanting temple crawling: the Wat Phra and Wat Arun were our favourite
- For foodies: 80/20, Mr joe crispy pork, Err, and Jai Fai are defo a must
- If finding yourself with extra time check out one of the many floating markets and/ or go for another massage! You deserve it.
Millenium Hilton Bangkok
An Oasis in a hustling city
As for where to stay, the options are endless. You can splash the cash into a 5-star hotel or go budget at a hostel. We did both and I have to admit the later was quite impressive and exponentially cheap. In some instances, like when you are by the sea, it may make more sense to go a bit out of your way to stay at a stunning resort, but if you are gonna be out and about in the city, there’s really no need to go for it. You’ll be in good hands either way.
Breakfast with a view
Stay tuned for more,
I can't believe we are only two days away from December, where did this year go? I am not going to start recalling how great this year has been; there's been awesome times and not so nice days, BUT, if there is something I am exciting about this December is the xmassy vibe that London gets.
People are cheerier and more willing to spend (yikes!), most streets are full of pretty fairy lights and restaurants and shops have the best displays. I love this time of the year! Just wandering the streets makes you feel completely different. Of course, I wouldn't advise you going to the city centre over the weekend as you may then hate Christmas (the over-crowding is surreal) but it is worth checking out any other time of the week.
That's what my team and I did recently, and I thought I'd share our lil day out with you. It started early in Covent Garden, precisely to avoid crowds, which turned out positively to our benefit as we met the market providers to the Apple Market, where you can get little crafts for Secret Santa or the perfect Christmas decorations for your home.
For those beauty lovers, you certainly need to stop by The Abnormal Beauty Company from Deciem. They may not have all the products on your wishlist (check Fenwick if so), but the customer service is great. I also love having a pit-stop at Laduree, just in case they have a new special edition box and I have an excuse to indulge into my favorite macarons.
After wandering around the Piazza, we headed for breakfast to The Ivy Soho Brasserie, which has one of the best Christmas decorations in Soho. I mean, it's whimsical, really! Food was great and so was the ambiance, the service and the check! I had eggs benedict and waffles with berries & yoghurt (I was hungry, ok?) and I was in heaven. I can't recall when was the last time I had such a hollandaise sauce. MMM mouthwatering NOW.
After we filled our bellies up, we decided to continue with a long walk across Carnaby, Regent St and Oxford St, taking in all the pretty lights in preparation for Santa's arrival. After all, what's best than taking in what the city has prepared for you?
WHAT I WORE:
ZARA Red Boots
ASOS Star Dress
Gucci Dyonisus Bag
Rayban Round Sunglasses
Tangier was my first and final stop during my trip to Chaouen, and I must admit I was greatly surprised about it. Only 10-15km away from Spain by sea, this Moroccan city has plenty to offer, from local markets inside the Medina to high end services at their international hotels and kewl restaurants.
Of course, we tried both. You know I like to take on whatever is happening where I go. I don't like to be picky and in most instances I will adapt to the situation. I like to feel part of the community. Having said that, I also love to treat myself from time to time. Tangier was perfect for it!
Go hustling during the day, take on the heat and the sun, eat with the locals and lots of mint tea at Cafe Hafa and stroll around the little bookshops and antique shops around the medina.
Then sit back and relax at one of their beautiful hotels, such as the Grand Hotel Paris or Hotel Nord- And probably have dinner at Tangerina. BLISS.
If there is something I love about travelling is how much you can take on different cultures and how important is to respect them.
Morocco is a beautiful country with beautiful people, in mind and in body. Super friendly and accommodating, you'll fill right at home. Specially, if you are spanish or french, these guys speak the language like natives! Obvs related to history but nevertheless impressive.
I was mesmerised on my first visit to the Morocco, when I explored Marrakesh. But it was the Blue Pearl of Chefchaouen what I was missing. It is not easy to get there (one flight from London to Madrid, then another flight from Madrid to Tangier and a 2h taxi ride from there to Chaouen) but it is worth it.
I was lucky to visit this city the best way possible, with friends. Living like locals at one of its blue houses, eating tagine and couscous non stop, sipping the strongest coffee I had in a long time and strolling around the medina.
Chaouen is a place to observe, take on its beauty, and overall relax. You'll feel like you are travelling back in time, but you'll want to remain there for days.
If you think New York is the city that never sleeps...think again, cause you were wrong.
Seoul, capital of South Korea, is probably the most active city I've ever seen in my 29 years. And trust me, I've seen many urban cities. The city seems somnolent at dawn, it's almost difficult to find a coffee shop at 8 A.M., and they have a cafe every two shops in this city.
However, come 1 A.M. and all beauty shops and clothing stores remain open, for those ready to pick up a new outfit for the night. And I am not talking about a 3 A.M. close, but rather a 7 A.M. one, if no later. Kids play in music in the park, break dance, or just indulge into tteok-bokki, amongst many other korean street-food delicacies (which, by the way, are not made for all western bellies, you have been worn).
People here seem to be happy with nothing other than being surrounded by the people you like. Girls are loud and gossip a lot, as well as they nervously laugh at boys. It all looks so candid it's almost unreal, Now speaking of girls. I am sorry but those porcelain girls we've been told come from Korea, are more a myth than a reality. Yes, fat does not exist neither in China or Seoul (which came in handy when shopping for moi) but when it comes to beauty they are as good as any.
Now speaking of shopping...PA-RA-DI-SE. I must say I was more shocked by the style in Beijing, as I didn't expect it to be so on point, however Seoul cried out INSPIRATION. So many young talents and so much on offer, I certainly came back home with plenty of ideas (and fewer dollah left on my account).
Now here it depends what you are looking into when it comes to shopping.
Do you want cheap and cheerful and everyday school girl / beach girl vibes? Then Hongdae or Ewan's Womens University are your areas. Here you'll go mad cause it's certainly FUN town. Music, food and shops are everywhere you go. There's no escape my friend. And for westeners like us, it's also quite cheap.
They say Dongdaemun is the paradise of shopping, but that certainly depends on your taste and your patience. Here you have two options:
1. to hassle at the chaotic wholesale malls where nothing can be found at once BUT everything is cheap OR
2. to spend extra money for an item just because it is beautifully displayed even though you can find the same thing in Hongdae for half the price.
Good thing though? Malls in Dongdaemun are open until dawn. Yep, you heard right. Department stores like Doota or Migliore are open until 6am, and if you didn't have enough, there are also street stalls selling pretty much the same outside the station.
Now if what you are looking for is those Korean designers and young talents all western fashionistas we love so much, then probably you'll end up spending all your money around Gangnam and Sinsadong.
Seoul is certainly a city of contrasts, because you go from crazy narrow streets with vendors and neon lights all over the place, to temple-like areas, which seem to have kept part of their ancient history. Certainly a place to visit, and certainly a place I will go back to.
29 GREAT WALLS.
First morning of my 29 and here I am, breathing nature at one of the wild parts of the Great Wall of China, one of 7 World Wonders. Does it get better than this? I don't think so. You see, sometimes money isn't everything.
As I stroll along this ginormous trail, only with my backpack and a book, I realize how great exploring new places is for the mind and the body (gosh, I sound so zen!). Not many things go through my mind right now, I just want to take in what's in front of me. In fact, I barely took any pictures! Considering my regular ratio, that is.
If you ever find yourself in this part of the world, I highly recommend you doing a hiking/trekking through the wild side (unrestored) of the Great Wall to finish by the more touristy/restored side. I warn you, though, this is 5hour hike through the mountains (sometimes even free climbing is involved) at temperatures of 28-35 degrees over summer with sometimes bare shade. GET READY. However, there's a great reward at the finish line: A SLIDE! You can make your way down to the villages possibly sliding down for a bout few kilometers. SO FUN.
Be a kid again and recharge at this beautiful landscape. It's mesmerising.
P.D: Also, if you find yourself wanting a driver to get yo there, John from Here Is Beijing is DA best!
If you´d like to visit Disneyland gone dark, you certainly need to visit Sintra. This World Heritage site helds some of the most incredible castles I've ever seen.
There´s plenty to do in this town (which by the way, is only an hour away from Lisboa, on the train): exquisite palaces to visit, extravagant residences and decorative gardens to admire and astonishing beaches to relax at about 20 minutes away.
The sights are spread across the hills of the region, and there are a series of challenging hiking trails, so if you are not very sporty, hold your breath.
As you get into town, you reach the historic centre, where pretty cobbled streets meet with traditional shops and cafes, all centred around the Gothic styled National Palace.
If I had limited time and I could only visit one sight though, that would be Quinta da Regaleira. I feel this stately home is slightly underrated as you have to walk for a long while but it is certainly worth it. The gardens are filled with mystic symbolism and hidden features which include secret tunnels, Gothic towers and stone fortified walls. I mean, hello?
To finish our day, we took the bus like the locals and ended up at a tiny village by the sea. Little we know there were local festivities and we would end up dancing samba with the Portuguese...SO MUCH FUN, that´s all I will say.
Lisboa is exactly what they've told you: colourful, vibrant, mesmerizing and HOT! The city is full of energy, day and night, and that's exactly what I was looking for. Plus a good company always makes a trip better, and British-Irish squad and I had a blast.
I'd say you probably need at least 2-3 days to get to know Lisbon properly. More than that, and you are in for a treat of discovering local gems.
Portuguese are very Mediterranean in their food culture, therefore if you are visiting the city, you are in for a treat. I particularly enjoyed having lunch at Pharmacia, a pharmacy-inspired restaurant by the museum of Pharmacy. You can enjoy some seriously delicious petiscos (tapas) and a good wine for a very decent price (€25-€35 average).
As for sweets: PASTEIS DE BELEM. I mean, what else do you need? I must tell you that it is also my favourite dessert of all times. Can you imagine how hard it was to keep myself at bay? They are so goddamn good! My favorite were the originals from Belem, but you can literally find them at every corner. Manteigaria is really good if you are in downtown Lisboa.
To top up your visit to the city, I highly recommend visiting LX Factory, which you could also visit on your way to Belem (a must).
A bit hidden in the middle of nowhere, this village is full of up and coming artists. Whether you are looking for a great bar or you'd like to get some home furniture or souvenirs, this is your kinda place.