The North Series: Crouch End

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Crouch End
Day Tour

What to do and not to do in this northern part of the city

I’ve been told Crouch End has never really been a destination, but if you happen to stumble upon that direction, you sure can have an awesome day out!

Get rid of that terrible Saturday hangover by feeding your palate at Beam. Great for brunch lovers, with plenty food choice, from shakshuka to the traditional eggs benedict or avo toast, and delicious freshly made juices, coffee and teas.

If you need home deco, then you’ve reached a great area. We’ve managed to score a couple of great gems in the area: Junk N8 Disorderly for fabulous vintage/ antique furniture and Jealous Gallery and Print Studio for very funky art.

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One of the things that we liked about this neighborhood was just walking around discovering new little shops or stopping by to admire quirky things like the clock tower in Crouch End’s main road. There’s plenty of little cafes and bakeries, but Dunn’s is renowned in the area as it’s been providing fellow citizens with bakery since almost 200 years ago! Legends.

Another little shop close to our heart is Soup Dragon’s Toy shop. Family run, offers great and unique pieces for kids. A perfecto stopover if you are heading to some family event and don’t want to come empty handed.

As the ease into the evening, it’s time to relax. Book yourself into a Fierce Grace session (closest one is in Muswell Hill) to unwind all the week stress and finish your night trekking to Alexandra Palace (‘Ally Pally’) for a rewarding post-hot-yoga beer whilst seeing the sun go.

What a wonderful day that was!

TCB xx

Relax and Unwind: Gaya Island

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If in need of a warm and short break somewhere far away, we’ve got THE best option for ya, it’s called Gaya Island. A biodiverse jungle and marine wonderland (tho Philippines still remains our favourite), this Borneo island is a little gem minutes away from mainland Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah. The island has no inhabitants other than those staying at the only two resorts in the island, and that’s the only way to access it.

Borneo is in many occasions overlooked by backpackers, who most of the times would be more tempted to vacation in other islands in Thailand or Indonesia. Fools! Malaysia has so much to offer.

We stayed 4 nights at Gaya Island Resort, and we felt like King & Queen. For starters, prices for a westerner are affordable here, but considering you are in a five-star resort, you are in for a treat. A 5-day holiday all-inclusive was about £700/ person.

Rooms are like suites, we had a bathroom with his and hers sinks, a bathtub that fitted at least 4 people (2 sitting next to each other) and a shower that fitted 10. Not to mention a walk-in closet and an extremely comfy extra-big bed…

Coffee could have been better and food at times could get repetitive considering there is nowhere else to go, but the resort has managed to create different atmospheres and you can indulge yourself into a BBQ night one day, immerse yourself into an izakaya evening or pretend you are at a fine dining restaurant on another night. There’s also delicious snack type food (hello fried calamari!) that you can indulge by the pool.

And the poo! An infinity pool overlooking a beautiful calm beach that you can reach straight away, just few steps from the pool. Could we ask for anything else?

There is wifi everywhere and a meeting room/ library and a gym, for those who can’t fully disconnect from the outside world.

In addition, there’s plenty of activities on offer. From snorkel and diving trips to mountain walks and early morning yoga, the options are vast. Not to mention a necessary #treatyoself day at their renowned luxury spa. Something worth your dollah, not to be missed.

Jungle Book

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FUN FACT:

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.

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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.

Stay tuned,

TCB xx

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San Francisco Travel Postcards

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, 

TCB xx

 

The Spanish Hangover

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.

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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.
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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.

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Breakfast with a view

 

Stay tuned for more,

TCB xx

Hot Pockets

Photography by Simply Adri

Photography by Simply Adri

Silver Lake and Melrose could not be more different from each other and yet be so similar. One is youthful and unpretentious and the other the complete opposite, but both cry hipster out loud.

If you are looking for great vintage shopping and delicious and unique food spots, then Silver Lake is probably more your cup of tea; whereas if you prefer a bit more upscale shopping and tons of uber cool cafés and terraces, then Melrose & Fairfax are problaby more your thing. Having said that, the latter hosts one of the biggest Flea Markets around the area, and on a weekly basis! So things can get confusing here...

As I said, both are great spots, so if your undecided on where to go on this sunny day, then I suggest you check out traffic times and decide where you want to be!

If you head to Silver Lake, you are in for some good vintage loving. Sleeper, Foxhole and Furst of a Kind were definitely my faves. Also,  The Maven Store does not sell loving but their curated selection of current clothing and accessories is worth checking out.

If you head to Melrose, then start your morning at Kosher News with a bit of reading. This is probably the biggest magazine store in the area, if not all of LA. Once you've got your coffee fix, it's shopping time!

Every time I come to the states, I need to go to Marc Jacobs. It kind of feels like a staple to me, and despite the clothes being too expensive for my taste, the handbags and accessories are awesome and affordable. 

If you want to be the cool kid in town, of course you need to check out Supreme and GOLF, the newest opening from Tyler, the creator.

Passing by Melrose without stopping at Paul Smith would be like going to London and miss the Big Ben. It's such a staple! That pink wall needs some good loving. Next to it you'll find Reformation Vintage, a new concept for its original flagship, curating vintages from all over the globe. If you are ready to splash, then Maxfield should be your last stop.

They are my latest faves. Soon hopefully yours, too. And if you are missing my favorite #foodiemonster spots, then you should see my next post coming. NEAAAAT!

TCB cx
 

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If you wanna feel like a star, play like one. If you ask me, that calls for a ride out to West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Don't you think?

Nothing feels better than riding your old-school american car through Sunset Blvd, music playing, glasses on and sun shining. Ok, that’s a lie; a drink at Chateaux Marmont or breakfast by the Cabana Pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel is pretty spot on too. Of course, we did both. When in Rome, hey!

I must admit, LA has proven to be super fun. Despite the never ending driving and constant traffic, I got to meet tons of beautiful people, which made my trip a thousand times better so far. Adventures definitely taste better with great company.

TCB xx

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Photography By Karina, at Overdressed LA

City of Angels & Superstars

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City of Angels

Los Angeles certainly is peculiar. City of Angels and Superstars, this is a place like no other.

 

Everywhere and anywhere you go in LA, you’ll need a car, and as a result, you won’t be able to see many people in the streets. But there is always a silver lining in every cloud: as people and cars spread out, LA becomes your own set and you are star at this movie.

As one of the few people that walks in this city, beware you can get fined for jaywalking, that is, crossing the street when there’s no crossing or red lights are on. CRA-ZY.

Each area has a different vibe, and pretty much every ethnicity has its own neighbourhood: Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia,… you name it.

Hollywood is a touristy place, probably comparable to Leicester Sq and Picadilly in London, and you’d only go there for a specific reason, or when somebody is visiting. Having said that, it would be sad to miss it. People watching here is super fan, and you get to see the walk of fame while at it.

Hollywood has a decadent feel to it, in my opinion. Many stories have happened here and nothing has changed for a long time because of it. It feels Hollywood is doomed to live off the golden times, and we all love it because of it, of course.

TCB xx

Photography by Simply Adri

WHAT I WORE:

Vintage GUESS shirt
ZARA Red Skirt
Leather Sandals (oldie)
Handmade Strawbag
GIGI x Vogue Eyewear cat eye sunglassess

Dating Richmond for a day

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Morning careless readers! Today I've been up earlier than usual and I feel buzzed! Work out, shower and a coffee by 8.30am? CHECK, CHECK, CHECK. I am sure I will be having my second coffee before lunchtime but hey ho! It felt good. 

Last weekend I went with my beaut pal Ines for a stroll in Richmond, which to us living East, felt like a day out of the city. And I must confess, it was delightful. I forgot how pretty, rich and clean the West feels, everything is picture perfect. Even more so now that Autumn is coming.

Since it took us 1h to 1h30m to get there, we decided to make the most of it. And so should you. What can you do in Richmond? You may we wondering. That's FAR, you may be thinking, too. Ok, you are absolutely right, but it is definitely worth the trip. Specially on days like this, while seasons are changing. 

Start your morning by jetting off to Richmond Station and start strolling down the river, it is beautiful out there! If you are lazy you can take a ferry but it is a very nice walk and if you are lucky and the sun is out, there will be plenty of ambiance. If you walk long enough, you'll enter an enchanted little path that will lead you to the dreamy Petersham Nurseries. That my friend, is a MUST. 

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Name may ring a bell as they have a shop and a deli in Covent Garden, but the true deal is in Richmond. Fine dining at a glasshouse? Yes, please. Feeling like Cinderella while being treated to yummy food and shopping the coolest flowers and home deco? YES, PLEASE.

Food at their Cafe (not to be confused by their self-service Teahouse, next door) was exceptional, and more so was their service. Prepare your wallets (average lunch incl. a bottle of wine ~£60-80) and your palate, cause you are in for a delicious treat. 

Menu changes fairly often, so TCB suggests you to ask the somelier to pair your wine with your food (they are extremely helpful!) and to have 1 starter, 1 main and obviously dessert. It was difficult to choose what was best, but our favorites included the Bucatini Verde and the Grilled polenta. Yep, we went veggie for the day. 

After your well-deserve meal, you can either continue the adventure by sightseeing deers at Richmond Park and sipping coffee at Pembroke Lodge Cafe or Gates on the park, you can get rid of all the calories you've indulged by heading to the Golf Course oooor head back to the city center and walk by the little antique shops around Brewers Ln. 

All in all, the perfect day in the city. Gah, love being a tourist in London.

TCB xx

Tangier Visual Memoirs

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.

TCB xx

Chefchaouen, the Blue Pearl

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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.

TCB xx

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I <3 NYC

What can I say that you don't know, really. I love this city. I could not feel more identified with any other place than NYC. Buzzing 24/7, inspirational, full of fun. It's my 4th visit to the big apple and less than a year, so I guess that's gotta mean I quite like it, right?

As I've been here many times over the past, I luckily don't feel as much of a tourist anymore. I rather spend time doing things that I enjoy, rather than visiting than cuing for two hours to go up the Rockefeller building. Been there, done that. 

That is probably why I've been having such a great time just being with friends, socializing, shopping (obvs!) and indulging on what the city has to offer.

My last visit to the states was quite a tour. Chicago, Boston, Cape Cod, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. All in LESS THAN A MONTH. Yep, roller-coaster of emotions! Luckily, NYC was my home-base, and I managed to score unforgettable moments with my friends. Always in style, of course.

Spending a week at Sixty Hotel in LES was DREAMY, but so it was when I moved with a friend to BK for another week, or when my friends from London spend my last weekend in there at the W Hotel in Times Sq...BLISS.

TCB xx

PSYched about YOU

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. 

Stay tuned, 

TCB xx

Xie Xie, Beijing

Social Media Cleanse

Fun Facts and Travel Stories About Beijing

Morning Careless Readers,

 TCB writing you from the Hello Kitty Café in Seoul! A year older and a little wiser, I am hoping.

If there is a word that sums up this year (so far) is travel. Lately, I have been feeling I am spending more time on air than on public transport in London! Hey, nothing to complain about, really; thought it can get tiring at times. Yep, #firstworldproblems right there, and also, self inflicted.

In any case! Since I just recently gained access to all my social media channels (remember in Mainland China there is no access to Google, Facebook or Instagram, for example) I wanted to tell you about my birthday trip to Beijing.

Beijing has plenty to sightsee: the Forbidden City and Summer Palace a must. But I encourage you to take on not only those touristy spots but also what the city has to offer culturally and socially. Get lost in the city little alleys, try the street food and engage with the community, when possible. Sometimes you don't need words to communicate.

On my 5-day stay there were few things that I learned and that I love to share with you,  hope you are as amazed as I was and that they serve of reference for your travels!

  1. WeChat IS the app to have in China. Everything you wished for in one app! Instant card payment by QR code while chatting to your friends. (Sidenote: even homeless people there have QR codes for payment!). 
  2. No facebook, no insta, no google. DUH!
  3. Uber was bought by a Chinese company, being the only country where the app and the company is run differently.
  4. Silk Street is very real, very huge and very money-danger zone. 
  5. Coffee is a precious (and expensive) thing.
  6. You can have bubble waffles without having to cue for hours (like at Bubblewrap waffle in London).
  7. Pollution can be so high you can be sometimes in danger (though I was quite lucky in that sense, as thanks to the One Belt, One Road Summit I didn't quite feel it!)
  8. The government is kind of 'getting rid off' the excessful immigration by putting lws that ban business in the streets. SAD!
  9. There's only one rooftop in Beijing (called Migas) and it is run by a Spanish guy (smart!)
  10. All foreigners hang out at Migas or at Great Leap Brewing, basically where the booze is.
  11. You can have a meal for less than £2. And super yumm.
  12. Apparently all lakes in Beijing are human-made (I really need to check this fact, though).
  13. Sanlitun is the neighborhood to be if you like fash-un! Or partying. Either way.
  14. Beijingers do not smile much but apparently they are happy. 
  15. Beijingers are also very loud. And phone obsessed! Never felt more ok by taking tones of pics. 
  16. There are smart TVs running on the subway-tunnels, which you can watch for a micro-second while your train is going from one train station to the other. 
  17. There are toilets EVERYWHERE, very handy. Sometimes no toilet paper, though, and they are crouch-style. So, not so handy?
  18. There is a lot of people here, but it doesn't feel as crowded as the streets are super wide.
  19. Roast Duck is THE best.
  20. Burping, Farting and Spitting. They are all publicly accepted and mostly done and repeated by men. DUH!

EXPERIENCE. ENJOY. LIVE. LOVE. RE-CHARGE! That's what travelling does to you, and I love it. 

TCB x

 

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Sleeping Beauty's Castle

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.

Stay tuned, 

TCB xx

Scorching Lisboa

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. 

Of course you need your postcard picture by the Elevador de Bica, but make sure you stop along the way and enjoy a drink at Park, a rooftop terrace in a car-park. Yes, you may think you are at Frank's in Peckham, but the temperature and the price of your bill will tell you differently.

Views from the Rooftop at Park

Views from the Rooftop at Park

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. 

Grafitti Wall at LX Factory

Grafitti Wall at LX Factory

Views from Rio Maravilha Rooftop, at LX Factory