A day trip to Cascais and Sintra, Portugal

Following our 4 days in Lisbon, we thought a day trip to Cascais and Sintra would be a welcome break from the city. We rented a car and left Lisbon early in the morning for our first stop in Cascais. Note that you don’t need a car to get to Cascais or Sintra, both have frequent trains leaving from Lisbon. We opted for the car as we were heading to our next hotel in Torres Vedras but it also gave us the opportunity to drive on the coast which we very much enjoyed.

Cascais is west of Lisbon and only a 45 minutes drive from the city-centre. It is a famous commuters’ town as it offers the beach life within easy reach to Lisbon.

Cascais beach

Once in Cascais, we quickly realised that this was not just any coastal town, this was a very very nice one. Mansions with giant gates stretch along the coastline and the city-centre is a shopping heaven. I can imagine it to be a very pleasant place to live, however, as a tourist there isn’t that much to do so you will only need a few hours there to visit. Except if you are planning to make it a beach day! If you have very limited time in Portugal, I would head straight to Sintra further down below.

Cascais lighthouse

We found a parking spot very easily by Boca do Inferno a famous scenic cliffs spot with a natural archway and an open cave.

Boca do Inferno Portugal

After admiring the impressive views, we headed to the town centre.

Cascais has multiple beautiful buildings which really worth having a look at mostly if you love architecture. My favourites were the Condes de Castro Guimarães Palace and Palácio Seixas, both so grand that they almost feel out of place in this small town.

Condes de Castro Guimarães Palace CascaisPalácio Seixas Cascais

We explored the pretty historic centre on the lookout for a place to grab breakfast and did a spot of shopping before heading to our next destination Guincho beach!

Cascais city centre

Driving north along the coastline is a real pleasure, roll the windows down and enjoy the ocean air.

Unfortunately for us, it was extremely windy on the day we visited Cresmina beach and Guincho beach so we weren’t able to stay on the beach that long.

Cresmina beachGuincho beach

Both beaches are next to each other and still worthed swinging by as the views were fantastic!

Cresmina beach

After a hair blowing stroll, we started our journey into the land toward Sintra.

Without exaggeration, Sintra was our favourite little town to visit during our stay in Portugal. It is breathtakingly beautiful!


We arrived mid-afternoon and struggled to find a parking place. Sintra is full-packed with tourists and the city gets really busy. We rushed to grab lunch at a little cafe before heading to the town centre to explore.


Everywhere you look is beautiful in Sintra and the views of the valley below and the castles above are amazing.


As we were a little short on time, we only strolled through the streets and skipped the museums. We wanted to have enough time to visit either Castelo dos Mouros or Pena Palace.

Pena Palace

The castles are fairly far from the town so you will need to take transport to head up there.

Castelo dos Mouros

We settled on Castelo dos Mouros because 1) it looks like it was out of Game of Thrones and 2) it offers great views of Pena Palace. We were not disappointed by our choice!

Castelo dos MourosPena Palace

From the car park, we hiked up to the castle and spent the last couple of hours to explore the castle. Again the views from there were just breathtaking.

Castelo dos Mouros

It was one packed day on the roads of Portugal, and even though we had to rush a bit toward the end we still had a great (although sweaty) time!

Claire Imaginarium

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The Brockley Deli – London

I have recently taken the leap to leave my job and to give the freelancer life a go. That means that every day I am at home. I am quite a homebody anyway and like my own company, so most days I am happy! Sometimes though, I need to get outside and change the scenery to stimulate my creativity. I have therefore made it my mission to try all my local coffee shops while working – you can call it multitasking!

I mentioned the Good Hope Cafes before, and this week we are heading to the west part of Lewisham in Brockley where you will find the eponymous Brockley Deli.

The Brockley Deli

Part delicatessen, part coffee shop, Brockley Deli is a bright spacious place where your creative juices will be flowing while your stomach enjoys a nice pastry and a coffee.

The Brockley Deli toasted croissant

It is also good to note that the WiFi is very reliable, which, if you are in the same situation than me, is a detail but an important one!

The shop section offers fine foods and wines, and you can order tasty freshly-made sandwiches and nibbles at the counter. The Brockley Deli also works with local suppliers as much as possible and all their beers are from local breweries.

The Brockley Deli counter

My order of choice there is an almond milk latte with a delicious blueberry muffin.

The Brockley Deli coffee and blueberry muffin

With a novel author on the left and two digital nomads on the right, you won’t feel lonely! The Brockley Deli is a great place to settle for half a day as a freelancer. They are open from 8am to 7pm most days, so you can even make it a full working day if you fancy! You can even reward hours of hard work with one of their cocktails, because why not?

The Brockley Deli

They say you should work hard and play hard, well I do it the foodie way!

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Antonio Delicatessen – London

You have been to Italy before and love getting lost in the lively food shops and farmer markets there? You love Italian food but you find the supermarkets’ mozzarella disappointing? Me too! Unfortunately, we cannot just jump on a plane to Rome when we are craving the flavours of Italy. Not very budget-friendly neither environment-friendly.
The great news is that if you are in London I know a place where, for a short period of time, you will feel like in a shop in Florence. Lewisham city centre is definitely not the most pleasant place in London. It can be grim and a little rough around the edges so you would not think that a little piece of Italy is hiding there. Yet it is home to one of the best Italian delis!
Antonio Delicatessen Lewisham London
Antonio Delicatessen is in a street just off Lewisham shopping-centre and a short walk away from the station. A real hidden gem where you will be greeted by ‘Buongiorno!‘. There all the staff is Italian!
The shop is small but packed to the ceiling with Italian products. You will find all the types of pasta, sauces, biscuits and even drinks commonly found in Italian supermarkets!
Antonio Delicatessen shop
Head to the counter and order some delicious Italian pecorino and charcuterie.
Antonio Delicatessen charcuterie
It is good to note that by default the staff will talk to you in Italian, and when visiting you will quickly understand why. Most of the customers in the shop are Italian too! Now if this is not a sign of quality and authenticity I don’t know what is!
Antonio Delicatessen cheese and deli
Antonio Delicatessen products are very reasonably priced. This shop is not trying to be a fancy European deli. Its objective is to cater for London’s Italian community and make sure that their weekly shop is as good as it is at home.
Antonio Delicatessen shop
Luckily for me, I live a short walk away from Antonio Delicatessen. And if you don’t, yet still want to treat yourself to a tasty homemade Italian dinner, consider hopping on the train there. It will be a mini weekend adventure into the depth of South-East London and you will head back home with excellent burrata!
Ci vediamo lì, arrivederci !
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Favourite face masks


Behind every great skin, there is a great routine! I don’t know about you but I can really see the difference when I stick to a solid skin care regimen with efficient products. Sometimes though I slip out of the routine (we are only human right?), that is when I reach out to some of my favourite face masks. They are a great way to bring back some balance to my skin and get rid of the unwanted signs that come with falling off the wagon.

So meet my skincare super-heroes, here to help when I am having a bad skin day!

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal mask

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal mask

I started using REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal mask as part of my bridal skin care routine. This is the mask I reach out to when my face is uneven and dull, it exfoliates deeply and gets rid of all the dead skin. Use it at night and follow with the best moisturiser for your skin type and you will wake up glowing.

Cattier Organic Mint Green Clay mask

Cattier Organic Mint Green Clay mask

I mentioned several times that my T-zone can get quite oily and I used to have some mild acne as a teenager, so my skin is prone to breakouts. When my forehead is having a bad week I make sure to apply Cattier Organic Mint Green Clay mask for a good 20 to 30 minutes. It helps reduce the inflammation and the size of any spot I may have. It also feels very refreshing which is pleasant after a day out and about in London’s pollution.

Avene Soothing Moisture mask

Avene Soothing Moisture mask

This mask already featured in my French pharmacy guide and for good reasons – it is brilliant! Avene Soothing Moisture mask is suitable for all skin types and even my sometime-oily face welcome the moisture it gives, mostly in winter. I usually apply it once a week on clean skin and leave it on overnight. It is light enough that it won’t break me out, yet moisturising enough that even the drier of skins will enjoy it.

Aurelia Refine & Polish Miracle balm

Aurelia Refine & Polish Miracle balm

Your face is uneven and not the softest? Dreaming of baby soft skin? Aurelia Refine & Polish Miracle balm is here to help! This balm will gently exfoliate your skin and the probiotics will restore balance and softness. The only downside of it is its price. It is very expensive but if you can afford it I highly recommend it! It is not called ‘Miracle’ for nothing.

Kose Collagen and Royal Jelly mask

Kose royal jelly and collagen sheet mask

Unfortunately, this mask is a little tricky to get a hold of if you are not in Japan. But if you can get it make sure to pack it for any long-haul flight. My skin never suffered too much on the plane, at least that is what I thought until I used a Kose Collagen and Royal Jelly mask on our flight back from Barbados. What a difference it made! My skin was perfectly balanced, neither dry or oily, for the following 24 hours!

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Flat Iron Square – London

It doesn’t happen often but sometimes looking for free wifi and clean toilets can lead to great things. It was the case for me recently while looking for a decent spot to work from, around London Bridge, before a dinner with my friends at Padella.

The Shard London

I was walking down the streets hoping to find a warm place with good coffee which was not a chain. I eventually saw a warehouse-like door opened with people coming and going and some music playing. I had time to lose so I thought I would check it out. One of the best decision I have made within the past 10 days (my life is not that exciting). This is how I discovered Flat Iron Square.

Flat Iron Square

Nested under some of the London Bridge train tracks, Flat Iron Square is an indoor/outdoor food market. It opened in 2016 so it is still fairly new and not too crowded. Part of me considered not sharing this address with you so it would remain fairly low key, but sharing is caring and I couldn’t let you miss out on this place!

Flat Iron Square

Flat Iron Square is part of London’s Low Line project aiming to open South London railway arches to local businesses.

Flat Iron Square

The first time I visited I took a sit indoor and grabbed a coffee and one delicious cinnamon roll at Burnt Lemon Bakery. Their sandwiches also looked amazing and I would definitely go back there for some flavoursome bread and tasty pastries!

Flat Iron Square

I actually liked Flat Iron Square so much that I went back with my friends Hemma and Camille for a drink (alcohol is on the pricey side there) and Andrew for a Sunday lunch.

Lupins in Flat Iron Square

The day we went with Andrew was absolutely freezing so we both opted for a warming ramen from Tatami Ramen. The ramen was decent, not as good as the ones served in Japan, but it did the job of keeping us warm and full.

Ramen in Flat Iron SquareEating ramen at Flat Iron Square

Be warned Flat Iron Square, I will be back! My plan is to try all the eateries under the arches, and by the time I am done maybe London will be warmer and maybe we will be able to sit outside.

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Padella – London

Just a stone’s throw away from London Bridge you will find Padella. Weirdly, I had never heard of this place before. I say weirdly because when we got there the queue was wrapped all around the building and the next table for 3 was available an hour and forty-five minutes later. So clearly Padella is a popular place!

After a nice girly catch-up and a few drinks at a close by venue, we finally took a seat around the bar with a prime view into the kitchen, where all the magic happens.

Padella kitchen London

And it is not any magic happening at Padella – it is delicious Italian-pasta-magic!

Being a girly catch-up dinner, we all ordered wine of course and we decided to share two starters – the burrata and the salame. Both were delicious and between three people the perfect amount of food to save our appetite for the pasta!

Burrata and salame Padella London

The burrata was creamy and filling and the salame had the flavour of real well-made charcuterie (for a few bites I felt like I was back in France).

A special mention to the staff, one of my friends doesn’t like parmesan ( I know, weird, but we are still friends). The staff went above and beyond to make sure she enjoyed her main and that there would be minimal traces of parmesan on her plate (rather challenging in an Italian restaurant).

We all went for a different dish but all tried each others’ so I can comment on all! It is also good to note that Padella is very affordable. A meal without drinks will only set you back a tenner!

Padella London menu

Hemma went for the spinach and ricotta ravioli. These were excellent and so creamy!

Spinach and ricotta ravioliPadella London

Camille went for Padella signature dish Pici cacio & pepe, a very satisfying and simple cheesy plate of pasta! Comfort food at its best!

Pici cacio & pepe Padella London

I went for something a little different, the tagliarini with chilli, anchovies and capers. I felt adventurous and wanted to try something new. It was really good, neither too fishy nor too sour. All the flavours were subtle yet noticeable and it wasn’t too spicy either!

Tagliarini with chilli, anchovies and capers Padella London

So is Padella worth staying in the queue for? Absolutely! And while you are waiting, make sure to go explore and have a drink at Flat Iron Square, another nice discovery I made that same day (I can smell another blog post)!

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A heron in Kyoto

Dear Mr Heron, thank you for kindly taking the time to pose for me. I hope you like the picture! Regards, Claire

Kyoto – 2017

Heron in Kyoto

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In Bridgetown

I love the colours and liveliness of Barbados!

Barbados – 2018

House in Bridgetown Barbados

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Restaurante Noah – Santa Cruz, Portugal

On our first evening out of Lisbon, we headed north-west to the Atlantic coast and decided to spend a few days in the Torres Vedras region. The owner of Vila Louro recommended we grab dinner at Restaurante Noah in Santa Cruz which was only a 10-minutes drive from where we were staying.

Unfortunately, it was already dark when we arrived at Restaurante Noah. The restaurant is on the beach and I assume that the view during the day must be amazing.

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised by the very modern and nicely decorated venue. The place looks like if a beach-hut had a baby with a very sleek Scandinavian house. And you know me, I love good interior design!

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

After a long day on the road, we immediately ordered some bread while waiting for our drinks. It was good but a tasty mistake we would regret later. Don’t worry I will explain why.

Bread Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Our glasses of wine arrived, which made me very happy and we placed our order. After almost half a loaf of bread, we decided to share a starter and have a main each.

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

That is when we discovered that the first serving of bread had been a mistake… It was delicious BUT imagine our faces when we realised that the starter we had chosen, a local sausage, was served with another loaf of bread. We ended up full before our mains even arrived! So one tip for you: avoid the bread if you are planning to have a starter, a main and a dessert. The sausage was delicious though and we polished off the plate nicely.

Sausage Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Our mains arrived, squid ink linguine for Andrew and octopus for me (as usual). Both dishes were really good! The pastas had all the flavours of the sea (in a nice way). The octopus serving was very generous and had the right balance between the meatiness of the polpo and lightness of the vegetables and hazelnuts.

Squid ink linguine Restaurante Noah Santa CruzOctopus Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Our only disappointment was to not have room for any dessert, both of us were completely stuff!

I also want to give one bonus point to Restaurante Noah for the bill. When it arrives in such a creative container you are almost happy to take your card out!

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

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Under Lisbon bridge

You don’t really realise how big the 25 de Abril bridge is until you are under it. I also love the colour coordination between the bridge and its surroundings.

Lisbon – 2017

Under 25 de Abril bridge in Lisbon

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