A weekend in Shakespeare Country

Each year, we use the excuse of our wedding anniversary to escape somewhere nice for the weekend. Lucky us, we got married on a May bank holiday weekend which means we don’t have 2 but 3 days to enjoy the seaside or countryside’s fresh air. We also use our anniversary as an opportunity to slowly but surely explore the whole of England! Last year we hiked along the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast and this year we decided to get lost in the cobbled streets of Shakespeare Country’s towns.

Where is Shakespeare country? And why is it named this way?” – you may ask. Shakespeare Country is an area in the Midlands which was the famous playwright’s birthplace and where he grew up before finding success in London. He then divided his time between London and Stratford-upon-Avon until his death.

I hope you enjoyed that little history lesson, now let’s move on to the weekend itself!

Day 1 – Royal Leamington Spa

We headed to the countryside on Saturday morning to avoid all the bank holiday weekend Friday evening traffic. It took us about three hours to reach our first destination – Royal Leamington Spa.

Royal Leamington Spa avenue

Having worked up an appetite we grabbed lunch first in the city centre before starting exploring.

Royal Leamington Spa street

We strolled around the centre’s streets. The town is very charming and has some lovely avenues to walk along.

Royal Leamington Spa street

It was getting very warm so we sought for some shade in Jephson Gardens. The park is very pretty. We ran into many people enjoying the sunshine, a picnic and even a wedding party.

Jephson Gardens in Royal Leamington SpaJephson Gardens in Royal Leamington Spa

We then looped around crossing River Leam a few times and took a moment to appreciate the local architecture.

River Leam in Royal Leamington SpaGoose in river Leam in Royal Leamington SpaRoyal Leamington Spa

The most wonderful surprise waited for me on the common, a French market! French food, music and people included. I felt right at home in Royal Leamington Spa!

Royal Leamington SpaFrench market in Royal Leamington Spa

In the late afternoon, we headed to The Stratford Park Hotel where we stayed for our two nights away. The hotel is fine and the rooms brand new. Maybe not the most charming place but it also has a bar and restaurant on site so it was the perfect base to stay at after busy days spent out and about.

The Stratford Park HotelClaire Imaginarium in The Stratford Park Hotel

We spent the evening there relaxing in the peaceful surroundings and enjoying a glass of wine or two.

Day 2 – Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick

Our second day started with the loudest thunderstorm in the early hours of the morning, so we got a little bit worried we would end up having to spend the day inside because of the rain. We got lucky though and the weather stayed dry, albeit EXTREMELY humid, until late afternoon.

River in Stratford-upon-Avon

We headed to Stratford-upon-Avon, not expecting to run into buses of tourists. Stratford-upon-Avon is very popular, to say the least, and rightly so. The town is very pretty!

Stratford-upon-Avon

We walked around the centre for a spot of sightseeing, starting on Henley street to see Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon

We then headed toward the river Avon for a very picturesque walk by the water.

Boats in Stratford-upon-AvonStratford-upon-Avon

We looped back toward the centre via the Holy Trinity Church.

Holy Trinity church in Stratford-upon-AvonHoly Trinity church in Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is really pretty and everywhere we looked was ridiculously quaint!

Stratford-upon-AvonStratford-upon-Avon

Even the banks are photogenic there!

Bank in Stratford-upon-Avon

We ended our visit with a light lunch before heading to Warwick.

Warwick

Warwick is famous for its castle but the town itself is lovely too.

WarwickWarwick

On the day we visited, we weren’t aware that there would be a major street party. The city centre was packed with people. There were food stalls and mobile bars everywhere!

St Mary church in Warwick

We found our way through the crowd to St Mary’s Church, which offered a welcome and cooling break away from the people and the humidity.

St Mary church in WarwickSt Mary church in Warwick

We then headed to Warwick Castle through little back streets.

Warwick CastleWarwick

The visit of the castle is a bit pricey and we arrived there a little late so we skipped it and headed for a refreshing drink instead at the Snitterfield Arms, a pub closed to The Stratford Park Hotel. I guess that just gives us an excuse to come back to visit another time!

Claire Imaginarium in Shakespeare Country

Day 3 – Bidford-on-Avon and Chipping Campden

On our final day, we started our descent back toward London with a first stop at Bidford-on-Avon a very small village toward the Cotswolds.

Bidford-on-Avon

The town had not really woken up when we arrived so we quickly moved on to the next stop.

Bidford-on-AvonRiver in Bidford-on-Avon

Now deep into the Cotswolds, we visited Chipping Campden which truly is one of the prettiest English towns I have ever visited.

Chipping Campden street

Again, everywhere I looked was photogenic!

Chipping CampdenChipping Campden

Our final stop of the trip was at The Ebrington Arms for our anniversary meal. It was delicious and you should absolutely eat there if you can!

The Ebrington Arms

Another lovely time away from the Big Smoke getting lost in the British countryside.

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The Ebrington Arms – Cotswolds

Andrew and I got married on a May bank holiday weekend, which means that each year we plan a weekend away to celebrate our anniversary. We also make sure to book a nice restaurant on our anniversary day and this year was no exception! We headed to the English countryside and had our anniversary meal at The Ebrington Arms in the Cotswolds.

The Ebrington Arms

The Ebrington Arms is in the middle of small Cotswolds village. Looking like the quaintest country gastropub from the outside, we were excited to eat there!

Claire Imaginarium at The Ebrington Arms

We had a light breakfast that day and spent the morning exploring the countryside so we were hungry.

The Ebrington Arms

It is very unusual for us but that day both Andrew and I ordered the exact same starter and main. So I won’t be able to showcase the variety of the menu, but if everything holds to the same standard than what we had you want to keep reading!

We ordered the tomato to start. A fantastic medley of heirloom tomatoes with the main one presented as an apple and filled with burrata and a pepper terrine. It was fresh, very tasty and a great way to appreciate the different flavours of the tomatoes.

The Ebrington Arms tomato starterThe Ebrington Arms tomato starter

My favourite were the green ones!

The Ebrington Arms tomato starter

Moving on to the main, we opted for the vegetarian dish, a mac and cheese bake served with mushroom ‘ketchup’, truffle oil and fresh British asparagus. It was delicious, satisfying and not too filling. A gastronomic take on comfort food!

The Ebrington Arms mac and cheeseThe Ebrington Arms mac and cheese

For dessert, Andrew chose the ginger cake, with pineapple and ginger icecream. He loved it!

The Ebrington Arms ginger cake

I picked the white chocolate mousse, slightly worried that it may be too sweet and a bit sickening, but not at all! It was light, sweet but not too much, and the combination of the textures and flavours with the praline and peach made it a real anniversary treat.

The Ebrington Arms white chocolate mousse

The staff at The Ebrington Arms also worth a special mention. They were all lovely, funny and made the experience even more enjoyable. The Ebrington Arms is definitely a must to put on your list if you are exploring the Cotswolds.

Unfortunately, we missed the Asparagus Feast, but if you are around the area on June 5th (2018) you should definitely check it out!

The Ebrington Arms asparagus feast

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Santa Cruz and Ericeira – Portugal

After spending 4 days in Lisbon, Andrew and I based ourselves in Estremadura for the remainder of our week in Portugal. We wanted to enjoy the sunshine while still have places to go to and visit if we fancied. When exploring the south of Europe this is often how we structure our vacations: half a day to explore and half a day to relax, so Santa Cruz and Ericeira were the perfect half-day outing destinations.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz sunset

Santa Cruz is a beach town on the Atlantic Coast. Within easy reach of Lisbon and with dreamy vast beaches, it is very popular among vacationers and surfers. We stayed at Vila Louro in Santa Cruz and spend an afternoon cycling around the town.

Santa Cruz cliffs

The views of the beach are beautiful from the quiet city centre.

Santa Cruz beach

The town has also plenty of nice restaurants and cafes so you can easily spend a couple of days in Santa Cruz spending the day at the beach and the evening enjoying Portuguese food at places like Restaurante Noah.

Santa Cruz sunset

I also really recommend grabbing a glass of Vinho Verde at one of the beach bars while watching the sun go down.

Santa Cruz beach barSanta Cruz sunset

Ericeira

Ericeira street

Ericeira is a fishing town just north of Sintra with spectacular ocean views. It is very popular among surfers and you can quickly understand why when visiting.

Ericeira

Ericeira has the charm of a small village, the architecture of beautiful Lisbon and a lively nightlife with plenty of amazing restaurants and bars.

Ericeira houses

We headed there late afternoon as we had a booking for dinner at Restaurante Funky. We enjoyed the last rays of sunshine while grabbing a drink at one of the bars you can find along the ocean cliff.

Ericeira beach

Make sure to be in Ericeira to admire the sunset. The views are great and there is something extremely charming about being surrounded by the music of the bars and the laughter of the locals and tourists mixing and enjoying a pre-dinner drink.

Ericeira street

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Bucket list destinations 2018

We all have a list of things we would like to do by the time we are 30, 50 or before we leave this world. On my bucket list, you will find very various things such as buying a Chanel Classic handbag (regular size not a small one) on my own, watch Daft Punk in concert, get a rescue dog and many more. However, most of my bucket list items are travel related.

True story: a few years ago I did a list of all the places I wanted to go to before having children and assuming that I would visit 2 a year, I could get pregnant at approximately 39. Andrew wasn’t too impressed…

So today I thought I would list my ultimate bucket list destinations, and I am very lucky that at 30-something I have already been to some of these! So in the alphabetical order, we have…

Brazil

I always wanted to visit Rio de Janeiro in particular! Copacabana and Ipanema are names that made me dream of warm water, white sand, samba music and caipirinha. Lucky me, in 2013, we went to Brazil and absolutely loved it! Seeing the Sugarloaf and Christ the Redeemer in real life was magical. Still one of my favourite trips to date!

Claire Imaginarium in Brazil

Cuba

Cuba has been on my list for so long. The charming streets of La Havana, the vintage cars, the cigars, the music, the landscapes – I really want to get there before it gets ‘spoiled’ by the increasing among of tourists. My main challenge at the moment is to get Andrew to add it to his list, I will get there I am sure!

Cuba
Source – Sebastien Mas Photography

Island hopping in Greece

Visiting the Cyclades had always been a dream of mine and in 2016 this dream became reality! Andrew and I decided that rather than going somewhere very far on our honeymoon, we would stay in Europe, spend our money on outrageously good hotels and island hop in Greece. It was amazing! I have never felt that spoiled in my entire life!

Claire Imaginarium in Santorini

Iceland

Now this one is hopefully happening this year! Seeing the beautiful landscapes of Iceland and the Nothern Lights has been in the top 3 on my bucket list for a good 2 years now!

Iceland
Source – Sebastien Mas Photography

Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Bosphorus separating Europe from Asia… Istanbul is almost a mystical destination. We went in 2015 and it was even better than what we expected! The sights are breathtaking of course, but the people and the food of Istanbul make it a fantastic destination.

Claire Imaginarium in Istanbul

Japan

The Land of the Rising sun is pretty much on everybody’s bucket list. Once a very far away destination, modern transports and flight frequency make it now a fairly easy to access and reasonably priced destination. We went in 2017 to visit Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka, and we loved it so much that we know we will be back there within the next 5 years max! It is also good to note that it is a fantastic travel destination for children as Japan is extremely safe and clean!

Claire Imaginarium in Japan

Jordan

As a child, I always associated Jordan with Indiana Jones! I desperately wanted to join his adventure in the Lost City and, in 2012, I did! It was one of our favourite trips ever! Petra is just insanely beautiful and another real highlight for us was Wadi Rum, probably the closest I will ever get to feel like I am on Mars.

Claire Imaginarium in Jordan

Patagonia

The Torres del Paine mountains, the Perito Moreno glacier, Ushuaia, Patagonia is just insanely beautiful. Part of me is hoping that one day someone will pay me to hire a camper van and go film and photograph it all for a month. Dear potential sponsors, I am working on my followers’ numbers I promise, now can you work on the budget to make it happen? Pleeeaaase!

Patagonia
Source – Michael George for National Geographic

Machu Picchu

Visiting the Machu Picchu is again a very popular bucket list item and for obvious reasons. Everybody I know who has been loved it and Peru has a great reputation for being beautiful and the locals lovely. One day…

ancient-architecture-city-259967.jpg
Source – Pexels

Maldives

Turquoise water, white sand, pure luxury hotels, Maldives I am so ready for you! I bring the snorkelling gear, you bring the sun? Great! It’s a date (hopefully) soon!

Maldives
Source – Maldives.com

Norway

I have always been interested in the Scandinavian way of life – the food, lifestyle, aesthetic, everything seems so well thought and pleasant. If I had to choose which country to visit, my heart would pick Norway! The Fjords, breathtaking landscapes, beautiful architecture and the bonus of potentially seeing the Nothern Lights put Norway very high on my bucket list!

Norway fjord
Source – Sebastien Mas Photography

The Seychelles

Like the Maldives, the Seychelles are for me synonym of idyllic islands. I imagined turquoise water, white sand, delicious fresh fish and a lot of honeymooners. I can confirm that the cliches are true! Andrew took me there in 2011, after 3 months of us dating, and let’s say that we felt slightly out of place surrounded by all the newlyweds!

Go on a Safari

Like many Millenials I grew up with Disney’s Lion King, I also happen to be a true animal lover (I am that person who will walk out of their way to get a snail found on the pavement to a nice green space, no shame!) so watching wildlife has always been fascinating to me. In 2011, 6 of us headed to South Africa and did a safari in Kruger National Park. Safaris are known to be expensive but Kruger offers much cheaper options where you can drive your own car and stay in hostels like camps. It was great for my young professional salary, we didn’t see lions but we saw many other wonderful creatures. My favourites remain zebras!

Claire Imaginarium zebras in Kruger

Tuscany

If you close your eyes and start thinking of Italy chances are you are picturing the hilly, cypress-lined country roads of Tuscany. I am very fortunate that it has been a family vacations destination since I was a child. I have been there many times and started to take its beauty for granted, that is until I took Andrew there in 2015. Using his own words: “Claire, everywhere I look is ridiculously beautiful“. Yes, it is indeed… Siena, Florence, all the villages, I like it all, and I feel so fortunate to know that maybe one day this will be where we will take our own children on summer vacations (or maybe retire!).

Claire Imaginarium Tuscany

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A day in Peniche, Portugal

During our stay on the Atlantic Coast of Portugal, just north of Lisbon, we decided to explore some of the villages in the region. So on a cloudy morning, we headed north of Vila Louro to Peniche, a town poking out of the coastline into the ocean.

We arrived mid-morning in what seemed to be a rather sleepy town, very little people were in the street and the shops weren’t open yet.

In the lookout for other human beings, we got guided by the sound of voices to Peniche indoor market.

Peniche Market

The place had a fantastic art-deco architecture with the painted tiles indicating the different stalls (fishmongers, fruits, etc.).

Peniche Market

This place was a vintage explosion of colours.

We headed deeper into town enjoying the tranquillity of the streets and the odd beauty of some decrepit buildings.

Peniche streetOld house in Peniche

Having the town to ourselves, it felt like life could be simpler and more tranquil in a place like this.

Peniche street

Peniche street
Shorts – Gap (similar), jumper – Uniqlo (similar), sunglasses – Missoni (similar) and bag – Missoni.

Church in Peniche

We felt happy and relaxed like if our brains were finally unwinding and that, for a split second, our biggest challenge in life was to find a decent terrace to sit at with a coffee.

We kept exploring the street before reaching the beautiful Fortaleza de Peniche.

Fortaleza de Peniche

Fortaleza de Peniche is a 16th-century fortress which was also used as one of dictator Salazar’s notorious jails for political prisoners. Hard to believe with such joyful colours and beautiful architecture!

Fortaleza de Peniche

The fort is mainly painted in yellow which creates the most beautiful contrast against the blue sky and indigo sea.

Fortaleza de PenicheFortaleza de PenicheFortaleza de Peniche

We took the time to explore the place and visit some of the darkest corners which thanks to the sun-like colour wouldn’t look grim or daunting even if they were trying.

Fortaleza de PenicheFortaleza de Peniche

We took a last moment to enjoy the view before heading down to the port.

Fortaleza de Peniche

In Peniche port, old sailing ships are neighbours to tiny fishing boats.

Peniche port

Even the lifeguard office is charming!

Peniche port

A few minutes north of Peniche is Baleal Beach which is very famous among surfers. Neither Andrew or I can surf but we thought we would go and see what more talented people can do with a board.

We were welcomed by the weirdest meteorological phenomenon, on the beach side it was bright and sunny, on the ocean side it was completely misty!

Baleal Beach

It was fascinating to witness for tourists like us! If you know Baleal Beach please make sure to comment below to explain what that phenomenon is, I would love to learn more about it!

Baleal Beach

We watched the surfers vanishing into the sea.

Surfers in Baleal BeachSurfers in Baleal Beach

As you can see, we weren’t the only ones impressed by the weather and the surfers’ skills!

Photographer on Baleal Beach

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Travelling in style – Comfortable shoes to wander the world

As I mentioned in my best small bags to travel post, the French in me cannot help but favour any item aesthetically pleasing to something super functional. I know the look of a clothing item shouldn’t dictate everything, so over the years, I had to search and test the most functional travel accessories that yet look fairly good. It took a fair amount of blisters in the process but I now have a solid selection of shoes which take me from day to night and from long walks to trendy cocktail bars elegantly and ‘sans’ blister!

The shoes below have been hiking up the steep hills of Lisbon, walked to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, went sailing in Greece and joined me for romantic dinners in Paris, Tokyo and London. I would be curious to know how many miles or kilometres I have done in these. What I can guarantee you is that they have been thoroughly tested!

The stylish trainers

Starting with the most obvious: the trainers. They are most travellers go-to when it comes to exploring a city, hiking in the countryside or going for a seaside walk. Note that the selection below is for regular and most common terrains – streets, steps, flat country lanes, etc. I would, of course, wear hiking boots for any wilder or more extreme conditions.

Superga Classic 2750

The Superga shoes need no introductions, they have been around since 1911 and for good reasons!  The thick rubber soles make these some of the most comfortable trainers around. They are perfect if you are going to explore a city all day long or even for an easy walk in the countryside.

Silver Superga

I picked my Supergas in silver, and they have so many colours and material options that you can get as classic or as extravagant as you want with these!

Adidas Stan Smith

I know, I know, EVERYBODY has Adidas Stan Smiths. They are so common that a lot of people find them boring. My tip is to pick a funny detail colour or material. Mine, for instance, have furry black details.

Black velvet detail Adidas Stan Smith

Common? Yes. A bit Millenial-shoes cliche? Indeed. But they are comfortable, waterproof and stylish. They can be styled with jeans or a pretty dress which makes them the perfect shoes to walk in all day and dance in all night!

Keds Champion Originals

The ultimate plimsolls! Keds are light, comfortable and cheap! They are not waterproof though so you are better off using them on sunny days.

Classic Keds

I have had mine for many years and they are still going strong. I find them to be a more delicate alternative to Converses if like me you have teeny-tiny feet (I am a size UK 3, true story!).

The most stylish and comfortable boots

The above shoes are suitable for most type of temperatures but in the middle of the winter, you probably won’t want to wear regular court shoes when going for dinner or drinks. Luckily I have found the most comfortable pair of boots: Dune Pebble Boots.

Dune Pebble boots navy velvet

The heel is not too high so you can walk in these all day long and the navy velvet make these a bit of a fashion statement. Every time I wear them I get compliments! The fabric is unexpected, yet very on trend, and they are so comfortable that they are the perfect day to night winter shoes!

Dune Pebble boots navy velvet

I took the Dune Pebble Boots with me to Japan, Paris and I wear them daily in London! They are the perfect cold weather shoes for a city break where you may end the day in a snazzy bar.

The best summer shoes

When the temperatures rise you may want to give your feet a bit of fresh air. I still pack and wear the trainers mentioned above with me but I also make sure to have stylish yet super comfortable open shoes.

Havaianas

For the daytime, I can always rely on my Havaianas. The soles of these are so comfortable that even my dad, who had never ever worn open shoes before, got converted after I brought him some back from Brazil. I don’t know what their soles are made of but is like walking on a cloud, no other flip-flops are as good as these.

Havaianas flip flops

I have 2 pairs, the regular slim flip-flops, which I bought in L.A. in 2009 and which are still going strong to this day, and the sandal version perfect to walk for hours as they hold tight around the ankle.

Havaianas sandals

It really shows that sometimes paying the brand price is really worth it.

Espadrilles

The ultimate French summer shoes, almost everyone back home owns a pair of these. You have flat models for both men and women, but my personal favourites are the low wedges. The thick soles make espadrilles ridiculously comfortable and the low wedges are perfect to be a bit more dressed up yet able to walk. I usually get my espadrilles from either Andre, Marks & Spencer or La Redoute.

Stripe espadrille wedges

I cumulated a few pairs over the years which make these my go-to shoes in the summer as I can switch colours depending on my outfits.

Black espadrille wedges

Finally, an espadrille should be cheap, in France we usually buy these at the local markets in seaside towns, so make sure to not overpay when you get your pair!

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best shoes to

A week in Barbados

Andrew and I were craving some winter sun at the beginning of this year. We needed to go away somewhere warm. So we looked at a map of the world and checked where it was ‘bikini’ warm in February/March and under 9 hours flight. The Caribbean became an obvious destination pretty quickly!

Unfortunately, our Plan A which I mentioned in my Where to in 2018?’ post was waaaaayyyyy too expensive for us. We looked at alternatives and Barbados showed up on the various flight and hotel sites as pretty affordable. So we booked flights and accommodation without really knowing what to expect.

Well my friends, if there is one thing I have learned on that trip it is that Plan Bs can sometimes be the best decision you can make!

 

From London, the flight to Barbados is about 8 hours. We landed in the afternoon and headed to our first accommodation of the week, to the East Coast in Bathsheba. We grabbed dinner at a local restaurant and went to bed early to be rested for our first day.

Sunrise in Bathsheba

Day 1 – Bathsheba

We purposely booked two accommodations for our trip, one on the East coast and one on the West one to have an opportunity to see both sides of Barbados. The East coast is very wild, with the Atlantic ocean and the mountains nearby, this part of the island feels remote and authentic away from the cruise boats and the tourist crowds. It is also the perfect spot if you are a surfer!

Sign post in Bathsheba

We stayed in Bathsheba the few nights and we spent our first day exploring the small village and the surrounding beaches.

Bathsheba

After breakfast, we headed to the Soup Bowl, a beach famous for its waves and its floating-like rocks.

Soup Bowl BathshebaSoup Bowl Bathsheba

We spent a bit of time enjoying the views.

Bathsheba beachSoup Bowl Bathsheba

Unfortunately for us, the beach was covered with red algae when we stayed there. We originally had planned to explore more of the East Coast beaches on our first couple of days but the entire area was affected and access to the beaches was impossible. The locals explained to us that it is a recent issue and it forced us to slightly amend our plans once there. Bathsheba is still really worth visiting, so make sure you spare some time to explore the East Coast a bit!

Soup Bowl BathshebaSoup Bowl Bathsheba

After spending a bit of time at the Soup Bowl we grabbed some lunch at Dina’s bar, which is right by the beach. We then spent the remainder of the afternoon reading and relaxing before having dinner at the Round House where we were staying.

Dina's BathshebaBathsheba

Day 2 – Mullins Beach

On our second day, we coordinated a car rental with the hotel as our original plans had been disrupted by tones of seaweed. We decided to head West where we were told there were no algae.

We drove from Bathsheba to Holetown, which took about 35 minutes, stopped at a shop to buy some packed lunches and headed north to Mullins beach.

Mullins beach Barbados

Mullins beach is everything you expect a Carribean beach to look like. Calm turquoise water, white sand, palm trees and a little beach shack selling fresh beers.

Mullins beach Barbados

We spent a blissful afternoon swimming and reading in paradise!

Day 3 – Holetown

You will quickly notice reading this post that going to Barbados involve a lot of beach time. It is a difficult job, but someone has got to do it right?

So on our third day, again we headed West to Holetown. This time we stayed in the city area where the beach was just as fantastic as Mullins’.

Holetown beach

Again most of our time was spent sunbathing, swimming and reading.

Holetown beach

We concluded the day at the beach bar for a refreshing beer. There is something magical about that late afternoon drink in Barbados. Everybody is in a great mood, the sun starts to set and the music playing, locals and tourists hang out together for dinner in the most relaxed atmosphere.

Holetown beach bar

Day 4 – Pebbles Beach

We headed to our second accommodation, the Radisson in Bridgetown, in the morning, which was right on Pebbles Beach, and we spent the rest of the day enjoying the pink sand and the turquoise water.

SONY DSC

We grabbed lunch at Cuz’ Fish Stand. There is only one dish on the menu, cutters which are fish sandwiches. It is good, simple and very cheap so make sure to try it!

Cuz' Fish Stand BarbadosCuz' Fish Stand cutter Barbados

We ended our day with a local rums tasting at the hotel which was really educative and fun (mostly after the third one!).

Pebbles Beach sunset Barbados

Day 5 – Carlisle bay and a sunset cruise

We spent the morning of our fifth day again on Pebbles beach, exploring the stretch of white sand looking for seashells and skipping stones.

Pebbles beachSkipping stones Pebbles beach

After another lunch at Cuz’ Fish Stand, we got ready for the main activity of the day a sunset cruise!

We booked our cruise with Cool Runnings and we couldn’t recommend it enough! A great experience which included snorkelling, dancing, a few rum punches and a tasty dinner. Not to mention the sunset view, obviously.

Sunset Cruise Barbados

Day 6 – Beach time and Oistins Fish Fry

On our second to last day, we decided to have a lazy morning sipping on coffee and on enjoying the views from our balcony. There is nothing more exceptional than seeing some Arabian horses bathing in turquoise water at sunrise if you ask me (check out the video to see it!)!

The afternoon was spent at the beach.

Palm trees on Pebbles Beach

In the evening we headed to THE place to be on a Friday night in Barbados – Oistins Fish Fry!

Oistins Fish Fry

This small fishing town becomes the ultimate Friday night out destination with the liveliest food market you will ever visit! A great place to end a week on a paradisiac island!

Oistins Fish Fry

Day 7 – Bridgetown

The great thing when flying back home to Europe is that you will still have an entire day to explore before boarding in the evening. So to end our trip to Barbados we decided to explore its capital – Bridgetown.

BridgetownBridgetown

The city is very busy and full of energy, a far cry from the tranquillity of the beaches.

Bridgetown

We walked along the shopping streets before heading to the harbour for a spot of lunch.

Bridgetown MarketBridgetown Harbour

We visited the main sights such as the Independence Arch and the Lord Nelson Statue before heading back to our hotel via Brownes beach.

Independence Arch Bridgetown

This was my first time in the Caribbean and I already cannot wait to return!

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A week in Barbados

Oistins Fish Fry – Barbados

On Friday evenings, there is only one place to be when you are in Barbados – Oistins!

Just south of Bridgetown, Oistins is a fishing village which turns into the most lively spot on the island at the weekend. Food, music, dancing, head to Oistins Fish Fry and you are in for a great night!

Oistins Fish Fry Barbados

Getting there is an adventure too! Head to the closest bus stop to your hotel and wait for one of the small vans to stop. You read that right, you won’t actually take the official public transport, nope! You will board the first private van honking at you with the driver yelling ‘Oistins????’. I know it seems weird but just embrace it. A lot of locals provide public transport with their own vans. It is how most of the Bajans travel between towns and it is very cheap!

Once in Oistins, just follow the people and the music and you will find your way to the big food market.

Oistins Fish Fry BarbadosOistins Fish Fry Barbados

There, get lost in the alleyways to find your preferred dinner option. Most food stalls offer very similar menus made of various fish, plantains (my favourite!), rice and beans. It is simple and delicious!

Oistins Fish Fry BarbadosOistins Fish Fry Barbados

Grab a sit, order food and a fresh beer and enjoy people watching while eating flavoursome Bajan food.

Oistins Fish Fry barbecue BarbadosOistins Fish Fry food Barbados

When done with your dinner, go explore the market beer in hand. In Oistins, you will find many places to buy souvenirs.

Oistins shops BarbadosOistins Fish Fry Barbados

Also, make sure to swing by the domino and card players. In a corner of the market, you will find many locals playing games. The atmosphere is very lively as some players can get a little too competitive, but everyone is in good spirit.

Oistins dominos BarbadosOistins dominos BarbadosOistins card players Barbados

End your evening by the stage where you will see some of the best local dancers. They all had impressive moves so Andrew and I got a little too intimidated to join and sat at a table close by with a rum punch.

Oistins dancers BarbadosOistins Fish Fry Barbados

The blissful and joyful Barbados life at its best!

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Sunset cruise in Barbados

The main activities people think of when visiting the Caribbeans include swimming, tanning, eating delicious food and enjoying a refreshing drink on the beach. So what about doing all of the above but on a boat sailing on the turquoise waters? You are in? Great, keep reading!

We had done a sunset cruise before in Santorini and it was so magical that we promised ourselves to do it again next time we were visiting a paradisal island. Which happened to be Barbados, an island that was everything we expected it to be and more! The sunsets on the West Coast are so glorious that we had to book a cruise, which we did with Cool Runnings that came highly recommended by some of our friends.

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

On an afternoon, our driver came to pick us up at our hotel around 2:30pm – next stop Bridgetown! All the staff at Cool Runnings is lovely and has an excellent sense of humour so our drive to the harbour was actually a great taste of what was to come and was everything but boring! We exchange some jokes, sang Happy Birthday to another passenger and shared the best addresses for a rum punch in the area.

Once in the centre of Bridgetown, we were directed to the harbour where our catamaran was waiting. The boats are really big and we travelled with about 20 other passengers.

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

We started sailing, the music started playing, the drinks started being served – we were in Carribean heaven. The views were so beautiful even the menacing clouds couldn’t spoil the evening for us. Mind you, the multiple rum punches probably helped with that too!

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

Our first snorkelling stop was in Carlisle Bay to see some sea turtles. I didn’t snorkel as I am not very confident at it and the clouds were really looming over. Andrew was braver than me and went. Unfortunately that day there was only one turtle around being looked at by about 20 humans. Imagine what she was thinking!

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool RunningsBarbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

We had another snorkelling stop further down Carlisle Bay to visit the shipwrecks. Andrew again went and he can report that the water temperature was very pleasant and the shipwrecks really nice to check out.

In the meantime, I was enjoying the views while sipping on a drink and chatting with visitors from all around the world. It is good to note that there is an open bar onboard and everyone is rather ‘joyful’ by the end of the night (wink).

We then started our journey to our dinner spot, sailing along the West Coast, enjoying the views of the land.

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool RunningsBarbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

And of the sea.

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool RunningsBarbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

The sky was also slowly getting ready for the big show.

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool RunningsBarbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

We stopped for dinner at Sandy Lane. A beach famous for being the home of a very famous Bajan singer (second wink). And when looking at the place you can understand why – it is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island!

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

The food on board was great and there were options for any type of diet.

After a filling meal, Andrew went for one last swing while I was, again, ordering another drink (we are all friends here, no one is judging!).

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

The music got louder, the sky set itself on fire and the boat turned into a floating dance floor. I don’t think there are many better things in life than dancing at sunset and under the stars on a boat sailing along a Carribean island.

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool RunningsBarbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

We laughed, danced and sang together before heading back to Bridgetown, our heads spinning because of euphoria and well… rum.

Barbados Sunset Cruise with Cool RunningsBarbados Sunset Cruise with Cool Runnings

So make sure to book your sunset cruise with Cool Runnings if you are ever visiting Barbados. You will meet people from all around the world, dance, eat, drink and see one of the most memorable sunsets.

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The best places to see the Cherry blossoms in London

Seeing all the beautiful pictures of the sakura season in Tokyo and Kyoto, one could forget that London is another fantastic city to enjoy the Cherry blossom season.

Cherry blossoms in Notting Hill

I have been a Londoner for more than seven years now and I can honestly say that the city is the prettiest in the Spring and the Autumn. London may be nicknamed The Big Smoke but is a surprisingly green city with countless tree-lined streets and many big parks. I have never lived more than a 5-minute walk away from a green space here and with so many trees the change of season is spectacular!

Cherry blossom in the UK is a little later than in Japan. Peak cherry blossoms hit us between the middle of April and the middle of May. I am writing this post in the middle of April and at the moment most trees have not blossomed yet. So this article is perfectly timed so you can plan your Spring London adventures for the next few weeks!

Notting Hill

This is an obvious one but it is worthed mentioning because Notting Hill is truly spectacular in the Spring. I used to live very close by, and even then I would only hang out in Notting Hill in Spring. The rest of the time it feels a bit too crowded with tourists for my liking, but in the Spring the cherry trees thrive and create the most beautiful scenery against the white and coloured houses of West London.

Casual tube ride 🌸👀🌸 #flowers #tube #tfl #flowermarket

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Holland Park

Just south of Notting Hill you will find Holland Park. Less famous than Hyde Park or Regent’s Park, Holland Park is a great place to enjoy Spring. It has a magical Japanese garden which makes it an even more special place to appreciate the Cherry blossom season.

🌸🌸🌸 #spring #london #wanderlust

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Little Venice and Regent’s Canal

This is one of my best-kept secrets which I only share with our visitors on their 4th or 5th time in London, so consider yourself very special! I absolutely love walking along Regent’s Canal – starting in Paddington, heading north through Little Venice, Regent’s Park and Camden and ending in King’s Cross. It will help you reach you 10,000 steps a day easily and you will see the loveliest corners of London in the process!

British Sakura 🌸🇬🇧🌸 #london #sakura #wanderlust

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Regent’s Park

Similar to Notting Hill, this is a bit of an obvious one, but nothing beats a walk in Regent’s Park. Feed the ducks, smell the roses, grab a 99 flake and enjoy the sunny day!

🍦🌺👍 #99 #spring #bankholiday #icecream #instagood

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Greenwich Park

Most of the places I mentioned above are in West London, but if like me and many other Londoners you are based either East or South of the river, Greenwich Park is a great place to enjoy Spring. Not only does it have one of the best views of the city, it also is home to the fantastic National Maritime Museum AND if you explore the area behind the Observatory, you will find the most beautiful alleyway of cherry trees!

Greenwich Sunday walk #greenwichpark #sundays #wanderlust

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Go explore those places and for a split second you may even forget that you are in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world!

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