Where I have been so far – 2017

Saying that travelling is my favourite hobby is an understatement. I have been to 5 continents and visited 22 countries, so far. Not bad but I am aiming to do better!

Hopefully I will add at least one other country to the list by the end of the year (Portugal or Iceland I think), but in the meantime, here is where I have been so far!

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Europe

  • France (born and raised!)
  • The UK (London, Cornwall, Norfolk, the Lake District, and Scotland)
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Italy (Rome 1 & 2, Puglia, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast)
  • Spain
  • Greece
  • Turkey ( a little guide on Turkish food)
  • The Vatican

Asia

Africa

  • The Seychelles
  • South Africa

South America

  • Brazil

North America

  • The USA (my favourite NYC rooftop, Boston, California, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Missouri)

Now the real question is, where should I go next? I am open to suggestions!

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A weekend in Rome – part 2

On the second day of a long weekend in Rome, head to the Vatican. A true architectural wonder and a place filled with masterpieces.

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The Vatican’s queue is notoriously long and bad, so make sure to beat it by ordering your tickets online. I got ours there and we walked pass the 500-meters long queue and went straight in there with very little wait at security.

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The place is huge and filled with pieces you probably first saw in your history books at school.

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‘Ohhhhh’ and ‘Ahhhh’ in the Sistine chapel (but don’t take any pictures, you’ll be told off! Trust me, I tried!).

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Wander for a couple of hours and end your visit in the huge Basilica St Pietro.

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Once out, head toward Piazza del Popolo, on the way you will find plenty of delis and bakeries where you can find delicious sandwiches.

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On Piazza del Popolo grab a gelato and people watch.

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Rome is a very lively city and Piazza del Popolo a great place to see it happen.

Done with your gelato? Good! Now let’s walk it off! Head uphill to the Villa Borghese park, wander along the cypress trees alleys and enjoy the views of Rome’s roofs.

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Have a siesta on the grass and when it gets closer to ‘Aperol o’clock’ head down back into the city via the Spanish Steps and take a sit at a terrace for an aperitivo and more people watching.

End the day with a dish of pasta or a delicious pizza and go to bed for some sun filled dreams.

Part 1 of our weekend in Rome is here!

Back from Japan!

I am back beautiful people!

Landed yesterday evening in London after 2 amazing weeks in the land of the Rising Sun.

Japan was beautiful! I loved every minute of it and I am having a serious case of holiday blues as I type this post at 5 am (jet lag!) on this rainy morning day in London.

I will share all my addresses and recommendations on the blog, and maybe a video or two! I have so much content though, it may take me a little while to go through it all, so in the meantime here are some Japan highlights taken on my good old iPhone 6s.

Glad to be back and see you very soon for more!

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Tokyo – Shinjuku
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Tokyo – shrine
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Tokyo – tea house
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Tokyo – Park Hyatt view
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Tokyo – Wagyu beef
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Tokyo – bento box
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Nara – kimonos
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Kyoto – Fushimi
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Kyoto – bamboo forest
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Osaka – by night
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Hiroshima
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Hakone – Mount Fuji

 

A weekend in Rome – part 1

Rome… Ahhhhhh, Rome… I love you so much! You are like a summer flirt – seducing, warm, interesting and beautiful. I have been to Rome several time and I just fall in love more and more each time. It always delivers!

The great thing with Rome is that it is only a short flight away from almost everywhere in Europe so going for a long weekend is fairly easy!

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A quick flight across the Alps and you will be there for dinner on a Friday. Find a nice little restaurant not far from where you’re staying and unwind to the sound of Italian voices.

On the Saturday, head to the Colosseum.

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Yes, it is cliché, but it really worth visiting. You will feel like Russell Crowe in Gladiator for a couple of hours. Note that it is important to buy your tickets in advance to beat the queue.

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Rome offers also plenty of touristy photo opportunities. So go on, be a tourist and proud of it!

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Now is a good time to grab a late lunch. All places around there will be quite touristy so don’t desperately look for something special, just pick between panini and pasta. Or even better, pack a sandwich, from a local baker, so you can enjoy it at our next stop, the Roman Forum!

From the Colosseum, just head to the other side of the street and enter the Roman Forum. The site is mainly in ruin, but it really give you a great idea of how the Antic Rome must have looked like. You can imagine the little food markets, the shops, the temples and all the activity in the very old streets.

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From the Forum, head uphill to what used to be the ‘posh’ neighbourhood of the antic Rome. The Palatine Hill is were the emperors and the cool-kids lived. I did Latin for 2 years, I don’t remember any of the derivatives but I do remember this! My parents would be proud…

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The views of Rome’s roofs are wonderful from there.

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At the top of the hill you will find Emperor Augustus palace. You will also see on the other side of the hill what remains from the Circus Maximus (drop movie reference here: Ben-Hur)

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After the Palatine hill, head toward the Piazza del Campidoglio, where you will find the famous Capitoline wolf statue. You can then head downhill to the Piazza Venezia and the high street area.

By now it should be late afternoon, perfect time for a gelato or an Aperol spritz! When in Rome…

Part 2 of our weekend in Rome is here!

 

 

Out Of the Office

Hi guys,

Heading to Japan tomorrow! So I apologise in advance if I am a little less active for the next 2 weeks. Follow my Instagram stories for some Japan videos!

See you in 2 weeks!

Claire

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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!

Thailand – Koh Phi Phi, Ko Lanta & Krabi

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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…

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Planning a trip to Thailand?

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

 

The beginning of the adventure

That moment you get butterflies in your stomach as you are off on a new adventure (and like me you are scared of flying).

Istanbul – 2015

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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