Cul de Sac, Rome, Italy

Looking for a nice little spot for a refreshing glass of wine in Rome, away from the touristy crowd? Follow me!

SONY DSC

There is that little spot I know, right off Piazza Navona.

SONY DSC

Head south of the Piazza. Walk past the touristy restaurants and head to the tiny Piazza di Pasquino. This is where you will find Cul de Sac (‘dead-end’ in French). The name may be French but the products are very Italian!

SONY DSC

The wine bar is not huge but it has a lovely terrace. We decided to grab a bite inside as it was pretty hot on that day and we could do with an hour in the shade.

Grab a sit a choose from the thousands of bottles of wine surrounding you! We went for rose (of course!).

SONY DSC

Once the beverage of your choice on the table, order as many sharing platters as your belly can handle! Everything is delicious!

SONY DSC

Nothing fancy there, just very high quality products.

Advertisements

Where to eat in Puglia?

Food is delicious everywhere in Italy! In Puglia you have the added bonus of the extremely good value for money, hello 2.5 euro prosecco glass!

If you are planning to spend a little bit of time there this summer and are looking for tasty seafood and filling lunches, look no further and keep reading.

In Gallipoli, I highly recommend Al De Pace, their speciality is seafood. You enter the place and the theme is set with a very simple interior decor yet very sophisticated.

SONY DSCSONY DSC

The dishes reflect the overall atmosphere, simple plates and sophisticated flavours. Everything was delicious.

We started with le fave, le cicorie, la aliciSONY DSC

My favourite, favourite, FAVOURITE dish was the il polpo, la sua acqua, il limone… It was to die for! Some sort of octopus version of spaghetti carbonara, as delicious and as comforting. I am still drooling looking at the picture.SONY DSC

It was difficult to top the pasta dish but the ‘secondi’ dishes didn’t disappointed and we ended with a safe Tiramisu.SONY DSC

Another great place for delicious Puglia food and completely off the beaten track is Sciamu Moi. The place was empty when we arrived but Italians eat late and we were off-season so don’t be deceived by the empty dinning room.SONY DSC

They use only local ingredients and everything was a discovery! Pick the thing you are the least familiar with on the menu and enjoy!SONY DSC

Pugliese food involves a lot of seafood, with the Mediterranean sea a couple of kilometres away, it will never disappoint.
SONY DSC

We were less adventurous with desserts and pick some classics, yet the presentation surprised us in all the right ways!
SONY DSCSONY DSC

Finally if this is a lunch spot you are looking for? And if you happen to be in Lecce, I just know the place!

L’Angolino di Via Matteotti serves one of the best puccia in the whole of Lecce, and probably in the whole of Puglia.

SONY DSC

Pick your toppings and take a sit on the comfy terrace. SONY DSC

Bite into the most delicious ‘sandwich’ ever!SONY DSC

The Mr went for the meat version with meatballs, I went for the vegetarian one. Both excellent.SONY DSC

I hope I gave you enough reasons to go to Puglia! Now book that flight, you know you want to!

Buon appetito!

A week in Puglia, Italy

Starting to plan your summer vacations and thinking about Italy? Want try something a little off the beaten touristic track?

Puglia may just be the place! The ‘heel of the boot’ is a real little rustic wonder. Excellent food, turquoise waters, look no further!

Now grab an Aperol Spritz or a glass of rose because it’s a long one! If reading isn’t your thing, check out our trip highlights video!

We landed around lunch time in Bari and headed straight South-West. We checked-in at Tenuta Yala, a wonderful agriturismo which I highly recommend!

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

We relaxed for the rest of the day, enjoying a glass or two of wine and a filling dinner at the place.

We woke up bright and early the following day and headed South to Tricase Porto and Leuca. The drive by the coast was just fantastic!

SONY DSC

Tricase Porto is teeny tiny, so you will only need an hour there. We walked by the harbour and the seafront and took a minute to appreciate the turquoise water.

SONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSC

Next stop was Leuca. It is not the prettiest city, people mainly come there for the beach. So we just walked around the town grabbed a bite to eat and a gelato.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

We then headed back and had dinner in Gallipoli at Al De Pace. It was one of our best meal there, the octopus pastas were to die for, and the tiramisu was just delicious! Well worth a visit! SONY DSC

The following day we headed West to Otranto. It was one of our favourite villages in Puglia, full of history and surrounded by turquoise water. A medieval gem in a paradise setting!

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

We then thought it would be a good idea to head to Galatina for lunch… It is good to note that on Mondays most restaurants are closed in Italy. The town is beautiful but it was completely dead! It may worth going on another day as we ended up having a very unsatisfying sandwich from a local shop.

SONY DSCSONY DSC

We ended the day enjoying the sunset at Baia Verde with a glass of Aperol and a new friend! A glorious sunset on the Mediterranean sea followed by a delicious dinner at Sciamu Moi.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

On our third day  we headed to Porto Cesareo, a very rustic village with a beautiful beach.

SONY DSCSONY DSC

After a quick lunch we headed to Gallipoli old town and got lost in the little cobbled streets. The city is very charming and extremely lively in the evenings!

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

The following day we started our exploration of the central and east parts of Puglia, starting with Lecce. It is called the ‘Florence of the South’ and you can really see why. The town is beautiful and very grand!

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

When you are there, make sure to grab lunch at L’Angolino di Via Matteotti for the most delicious puccia, a traditional sandwich people have for lunch.

We then headed to Brindisi, which to be honest, didn’t really worth a stop. The town is pretty but there really isn’t much to do.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Thursday was one of our favourite day! We headed to Ostuni, Cisternino and Alberobello which were all beautiful!

Ostuni is a true vision! Rising from the top of the hill like a white gem.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Cisternino is a smaller version of Ostuni but still worth a visit!

SONY DSCSONY DSC

Alberobello is magical with its streets of trullos, the traditional Puglian houses.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

We ended the day at a once in a lifetime restaurant. Grotta Palazzese in Polignano A Mare. The venue is insane, but the food wasn’t the best we had. Also it is EXPENSIVE so only go there if you really want to tick it off your bucket list.

SONY DSC

Looking familiar? Probably because its pictures are all over Pinterest!

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Our second to last day was dedicated to relaxation (finally!). We went for a little walk around Martina Franca and Locorontodo followed by an afternoon on the beach in Monopoli.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

For our last day we went to explore Monopoli, Polignano A Mare and Bari. All beautiful! All very Pinterest-able and Instagram-able!

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Hope you enjoyed this very long but summery post!

10 minutes in Puglia, Italy

Well 11 minutes and 33 seconds to be precise.

Something very different today on the blog! I am a little scared to put this out there, but I thought you guys would be the best placed to let me know what you think. I am a beginner at this but making movies has always been a passion of mine, I just never shared them with anyone and thought it was about time to change this!

That’s it people I am officially a vlogger! And the worse vlogger that is, as you will see at 9:44 !

Enjoy the highlights of our trip to Puglia, Italy. And please let me know if you want to see more little movies like this!

Agriturismo Tenuta Yala – Italy, Puglia

I have been going to Italy for years, and every time I go, I make sure to stay in an Agriturismo.

Agriturismos are family owned farms transformed into B&Bs and they really never disappoint! It is usually great value for money, you have the opportunity to try local cuisine and spend time with the family who will give you all the area insider tips! It is like stepping into a movie.

SONY DSC

When we planned our trip to Puglia, I immediately went on the Agriturismo website and it didn’t take me long to find this gem.

SONY DSC

Tenuta Yala is lost in the middle of the vineyards and only a 15 minutes drive into Gallipoli which offers plenty of entertainment and restaurants.

SONY DSC

The place is just dreamy…

SONY DSC

It is good to note that the family doesn’t really speak English or French, so a lot of comical miming was necessary at times. But you will still make friends!

SONY DSC

The rooms are big and beautifully decorated.

SONY DSCSONY DSC

The swimming pool is the perfect place to make the most of the sun.

SONY DSC

And the flat roofs of the farm are the perfect spot to enjoy the sunsets!

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

They also have a restaurant which offers simple but delicious local cuisine. Unfortunately I didn’t take any picture as I was too busy stuffing my face with pasta.

Thailand – Koh Phi Phi, Ko Lanta & Krabi

After an eventful few days in Phuket, we were ready to relax for bit.

Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-boat-2

Leaving Phuket on a boat arranged by our Koh Phi Phi hotel, we enjoyed an almost private cruise between the Thai Islands.

Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi

It is good to note that all Thai hotels will help you with transportation, just give them a date and time and they will arrange boat/vans/ferry for you!

The first sights of Koh Phi Phi were magical, the island is very grand and beautiful, everything you would imagine it to be!

Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-2Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-beach-1Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-boat-3

Our hotel, Zeavola, was located on Laem Tong beach, the most quiet part of Koh Phi Phi. We weren’t aiming to do much over the next 2 days, so we are very happy with that. If you are looking for more activities, an hotel closer to the town centre, south of the island, may be a better choice.

The greatest surprise was waiting for us when we arrived, we got the best upgrade we ever had! We originally booked one of their simple bedroom cabins by the beach and got upgraded to a private villa with swimming pool in the heights of the island.

Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-hotel-3Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-hotel-2Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-hotel-1

We spent the next 2 days enjoying our private pool, our almost private beach, napping when it was raining, eating the local food and making new friends!

Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-beach-3Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-beach-2Thailand-Koh-Phi-Phi-monsoon

After 48 hours of pure laziness we were ready for a little more action and headed to the lot more rural Ko Lanta. We were hoping to go on a few adventures there, but unfortunately I won’t have much to report on Ko Lanta as we had the worst weather once there, over the 2 days we had about 3 hours of sunshine and the rest was monsoon…

Thailand-Koh-Lanta-6Thailand-Koh-Lanta-3

We stayed at the Chaw Ka Cher hotel which was really nice and great value for money!

Thailand-Koh-Lanta-8Thailand-Koh-Lanta-7Thailand-Koh-Lanta-5Thailand-Koh-Lanta-4

After 2 days reading in our room or at the local cafe, we were seriously hoping to be more lucky  with the weather and headed to Krabi.

Thailand-Koh-Lanta-1Thailand-Koh-Lanta-2

We arrived around lunch time to our hotel, the Amari Vogue, and spent the next 2 days relaxing in this luxury resort.

Thailand-Krabi-hotel-2Thailand-Krabi-1Thailand-Krabi-4

Krabi has some of the most beautiful sunsets! Make sure to grab a cocktail, enjoy the moment and take a million pictures!

Thailand-Krabi-sunset-3Thailand-Krabi-sunset-1Thailand-Krabi-sunset-2

Once again, we spent our time napping during the hour of rain each afternoon and making the most of the last rays of sunshine before heading back to cold London.

Thailand-Krabi-hotel-1Thailand-Krabi-2Thailand-Krabi-monsoonThailand-Krabi-sunset-4

Planning a trip to Thailand?

Check my other guides on Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket!

 

Thailand – Part 3 – Phuket

The last leg of our Thai adventure was a week of island hopping in the south of the country.

After an early flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket, we arrived at our hotel around lunch time where we met some friends. We stayed at the B-Lay Tong Phuket, it is a nice place, the only downside is the road that separates the swimming pool from the beach.

thailand-phuket-1

Following a light lunch by the pool, some of our friends headed to the beach to chat to the local longboat owners and arrange an afternoon escape. The great thing about Thailand is that you can ask almost anything to the locals and they will happily organise it for you! One of them, arranged for us to be picked up at our hotel one hour later to head to the harbour where we sailed off on an afternoon mini-cruise.

thailand-phuket-3thailand-phuket-15

I don’t recall the exact price, but for the transport, a private boat and beverages it was between 40 and 50 GBP per person, knowing that we were 5 people.

We loved every minute of it, swimming with fish and enjoying a fresh beer on our private little-yacht.

thailand-phuket-13thailand-phuket-14

Back at the hotel, we had a couple of hours to refresh a little before a night out on Patong Beach.

thailand-phuket-4

It is good to note that we purposely stayed in the most lively part of Phuket, as we knew we would hang out with friends and go out. If you go on a romantic holiday, you may want to consider somewhere a little more quiet than Patong.

On the second day in Phuket, we decided to take it very easy and spent time by the pool and walking on the beach.

thailand-phuket-10thailand-phuket-7thailand-phuket-8thailand-phuket-9thailand-phuket-12

We also had an amazing Thai massage (one of many!) in one of the spas in Patong. In the evening, we met some friends for dinner and then headed to watch Thai boxing in Patong Boxing Stadium.

thailand-phuket-boxing-4

I very rarely experience homesickness or cultural shock. I seem to very easily adapt to culture in a country, however Thai boxing was one step too far for me. First of all, I have no interest in boxing, I just don’t like seeing people hitting each other, secondly live boxing is something else, the noise of hits on someone’s skin, the sweat, sometime the blood, it is a lot… Finally, I had NO IDEA that Thai boxing matches included some 7-years-old and 10-years-old, very young athletes fighting in front of you. So overall I would rate this experience as ‘interesting’, if you are like my husband though you can consider it as ‘exciting’.

thailand-phuket-boxing-2thailand-phuket-boxing-1thailand-phuket-boxing-3

After an eventful stay in Phuket we were ready to move on to a calmer land, so early in the morning we packed our bags, drove to the harbour and hopped on a boat. Direction? Koh Phi Phi!

thailand-phuket-11

Planning a trip to Thailand?

Check my other guides on Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the islands!

Thailand – Part 2 – Chiang Mai

For the second leg of our trip in Thailand we head north to Chiang Mai.

On our first evening and after dropping our bags at The Grand Napat (great value for money!) we headed to the night bazaar for some refreshing beers and tasty street food. We liked the night bazaar so much that it is where we had dinner every night during our stay in Chiang Mai.

10953972_10152969801330090_3040332863932398159_o905897_10152969803480090_3890939375576974242_o10917937_10152970029605090_7730799383286470741_o-1

The following day we woke up bright and early for a full day with elephants!

I did a lot of research  as I wanted to avoid the awful touristy places where you see drugged tigers and ride on sits attached to the back of abused elephants. After hours on the internet I finally found Baan Chang Elephant Park, their main objective is to rescue and protect the local elephants. They also make sure that the experience they organise for tourists are authentic. No comfy sits there, you will experience the real mahout life for 6 hours. The cost of our experience was a little less than 100 GBP, it included transport, lunch and clothing so overall pretty good value for money.

They came and picked us up at our hotel in the morning and it was honestly the most magical experience! We fed elephants, ride them, kiss them and bath them!

10945857_10152969980410090_3022455871821609388_o10644343_10152969981040090_4409911613374697223_o10928973_10152969983320090_5168719476491219808_o

The bath part was my favourite. After hours in the blazing sun, you cannot wait to jump in the water with them, and you can truly see the joy in their eyes when they are finally in the refreshing water.

10930134_10152969983795090_1675479766630040683_o10947423_10152969984160090_8909515706878808991_o

Baan Chang Elephant Park offers various experiences, so if you are not too confident riding you can also spend the day caring for them instead. You will be given a set of clothes there so you only have to come with a towel and a swimsuit. Showers are available on site so you will drive back to your hotel as fresh as a daisy.

10830474_10152969989960090_4061252052108471215_o.jpg

On our second day in Ching Mai, we explored the city. We dedicated most of the day to the city centre, going from temples to temples.

10849060_10152970024420090_357336819756585844_o10860878_10152970027000090_5680202010340856820_o10917162_10152970025550090_7347640642469443133_o10942350_10152970024375090_606033821458997657_o10954554_10152970024920090_3694188545335190776_o

Of course a mandatory mango and sticky rice was in order! (I lived on this while there! Sooooo good!)
10926243_10152970027010090_4217874979533388575_o10854997_10152970028520090_1589814809621508620_o

We then headed toward the Ping River for a walk by the bank before heading back to our hotel for a quick shower and then back out for a delicious dinner at the night bazaar.
10917928_10152969800435090_6163256623054464918_o-110943777_10152970027710090_5563950785125287848_o10842072_10152970030720090_962297161213947765_o

I can honestly say that Chiang Mai was the favourite part of our trip to Thailand! I know, controversial, but the city is buzzing with energy, the food is amazing, you can go on millions of adventures in the jungle and it is extremely good value for money!

Planning a trip to Thailand?

Check my other guides on Bangkok, Phuket and the islands!

Thailand – Part 1 – Bangkok

After an eleven-hours flight from London we landed in Bangkok at mid-day.

We headed straight to the Hilton Millennium where we were staying for the next 3 nights. It isn’t in the most charming area but the view from the bedrooms is insane and well worth it!

10847439_10152969747075090_4271587399401203509_o

To celebrate our first night in the land of smiles we headed to the rooftop for some cocktails (Thailand is heaven for cocktails aficionados). We then went to The Never Ending Summer, which is walking distance to the hotel, for the most delicious dinner!

10368856_10152969746630090_4738232282548976539_o

Still euphoric to be in Thailand and completely jet lagged, our final stop that night was at Maggie Choo for some jazz and more cocktails! The place is surreal and well worth the trip if you like a little bit of partying.

10733442_10152969639660090_7411965261126237476_o

On day two of our trip in Bangkok, we headed by boat to Wat Pho.

It is good to note that boats are a very efficient way to travel to the most touristic sites in Bangkok. You avoid the dreadful Bangkok traffic, it is cheap as chips and it stops about 100 meters from all the main sites!

1614447_10152969746360090_8392224579438516088_o

Wat Pho is just beautiful, it is a gigantic temple complex in the centre of Bangkok. The architecture is breathtaking and the Reclining Buddha is the biggest statue I have ever seen.

10842246_10152969790925090_8250409836805704573_o10848804_10152969651120090_7639990394476229112_o10917907_10152969650815090_3819857415029870751_o10926832_10152969654880090_6410525233587821104_o10952358_10152969791775090_2333592906987655076_o

Get lost in the parks and people watch while sipping on A LOT of water.

thailand-bangkok-temple-prayer10921635_10152969656885090_9087895610282105252_o

Know that there is a strict dress code when visiting temples and official sites in Thailand, not too much legs or shoulders. The Thais are very organised and tourist-friendly and all sites will provide appropriate clothing if needed. It makes for very interesting outfits of the day!

10402807_10152969647535090_9194677611845952703_n10931621_10152969790825090_2018422454970069954_o

After wandering in the Buddhist sanctuary, we headed out to get lost in the little streets of Chinatown.

10914911_10152969741290090_7287558376576209619_o10943662_10152969640160090_3143377002625888015_o

A lot of people warned me about Bangkok’s smell. I was told it was very strong and quite fishy. Well… During the 3 days we spent there, I can only remember of once where there was a very bad street smell. Yes it smells of food, yes it is very warm and humid, but no you won’t faint or gag when walking around the less touristy streets. So go ahead, don’t be scared and explore!

10917207_10152969740460090_8634357834254269594_o10953035_10152969741450090_8415842738099551840_o

After checking a few landmarks off the list like the Giant Swing and some beautiful squares, we headed to Wat Arun (by boat) for another beautiful wander.

10922355_10152969743350090_8965598001017664469_o10943658_10152969742955090_2338341536972795553_o10338415_10152969743220090_723395500267392681_o

On our third and final day, we visited the Grand Palace which is grand to say the least. Rooms after rooms of wonders, manicured gardens, everything shine and sparkle in this place. It also really highlight the importance of the Royal Family for Thais, they have so much love and respect for them.

1911203_10152969793070090_4045707119205943496_o10931631_10152969796765090_639239466890677955_othailand-bangkok-bonsai10549269_10152969793395090_1001106585715762513_o

Going from luxurious estates to rougher surroundings, we headed to Khaosan Road for a little bit of shopping and some food.10900009_10152969799185090_2333088027602327895_o10924214_10152969799040090_1590788645738493730_o1622411_10152969799695090_6872950983001824442_o

It was a wonderful 3 days in Bangkok and I would absolutely recommend visiting the city. One regret for us was not to have enough time to visit the floating markets

Planning a trip to Thailand?

Check my other guides on Chiang Mai, Phuket and the islands!

 

The best breakfast in Istanbul

I know this is a strong statement, but the breakfast was delicious, the service was impeccable and everything was very affordable!

To find that little gem, head to Ortakoy neighbourhood. Admire one of the most beautiful view in Istanbul on the main square and wander in the little streets.

11026203_10153226702375090_7997787774984865419_o.jpg11148333_10153226701635090_5736113491976769365_o

This where we found Ortaköy Cafe Kahvalti. If you decide to go there after reading this blog, make sure to go with a very empty stomach.

Once settled on the nice street terrace with little blankets to keep us warm (we were there in March) we ordered what seemed to be their speciality (our Turkish is non-existent so we asked the waitress and with a mixture of English and pointing at the menu we figured out what the speciality was).

11052904_10153226701950090_4167828074779337917_o.jpg

We went for the ‘Serpme Kahvalti’ which is their breakfast for two. As part of it we had the choice between omelet and menemen. We of course went for the local option, menemen, a traditional Turkish dish made of eggs, tomatoes, peppers and a few more toppings.

11112951_10153226701900090_7240371165658070133_o

Everything was excellent and between the menemen, the cheese, bread, olives, etc. We were full for the day!

I also mentioned above that the service was really good. A good example is when the waitress overheard me saying that I never had Turkish coffee – two minutes later a Turkish coffee was served without me asking for anything and at no extra cost!11063426_10153226702020090_2597603974493083171_o.jpg

With very full stomach, we headed back toward the Bosporus for a digestive cruise.

11233814_10153226706735090_7658835821225415108_o