As our final day approached in San Francisco, we had the pleasure in doing a wine tasting tour in Napa Valley and Sonoma. The wine tour started from 8 am until 5 pm so that whole day was a write off to do anything else. We were lucky to have seen many attractions and wanted to leave the last day to exploring the beautiful Napa county and its picturesque surroundings. I’m not a big wine lover but hey, I can always enjoy the experience and couldn’t wait to discover this part of California. After watching the film Sideways, a wine lover or not, I knew I had to experience a wine tour when visiting San Francisco.
After being swept away by the Golden Gate Bridge, it was time to see another famous attraction… Alcatraz Island. Like the Golden Gate Bridge, I’ve always seen and heard about the Alcatraz and the fascinating stories to go with it. So as you can imagine, my friends and I were like excited school children eagerly anticipating the discovery of this eerie ‘prison’ island…
Before I continue to share my travel experiences from last year (yep, still haven’t finished sharing with you my California adventures!) I would like to wish you all a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR! :-)
May 2015 bring us more colourful adventures and memorable travelling experiences to share and above all good health, happiness and laughter!
And thank you to all who have continued to follow and read my blog posts! Its a big world out there and I also look forward to being inspired by the many unique experiences and stories to come from you this year and beyond :-)
It’s been over a month since I’ve been back from California and for some reason I couldn’t start writing my post on my experiences straight away as I had to get my head around to all the things I did out there! I needed time to reminisce and absorb the amazing memories before sharing with you my adventures in the sunshine state. We headed out to California in October for two weeks and the first stop was San Francisco.
I had never visited Cyprus for the sole purpose of attending a wedding. Normally it is just for a holiday. Thanks to my beautiful friend Ayse, who had invited my friends and I to her wedding in Kyrenia. The purpose of my short break to Cyprus was to attend her wedding, which deserves a mention, because it was no ordinary wedding. Oh no… it was so magical and breathtaking that I had to dedicate a post on this special occasion which has inspired me and many other ladies that night to get hitched in Cyprus!
Food is always an important factor when I’m on holiday and do not like to be deprived of my food comforts. Being a fussy eater, I have been to some countries where the selection of eateries was scarce that I would be starving for hours and would be walking from street to street looking for a decent place to satiate my grumbling stomach. Well not in Cyprus. There is nothing better than knowing what type of food is associated with the country you are visiting and the above treat was just what I was craving for. I simply had to indulge in my big fat Cypriot meal ……
It was not part of my travel plan this year to visit North Cyprus because my friends and I have been manically saving up for our trip to California this October. So when I attended my good friend Ayse’s (FYI: Ayse is a VERY common Turkish name) hen celebration a few weeks before, she managed to convince us (and many times before that) to come over for her wedding in North Cyprus which we turned down many times due to our commitment to our Cali trip. And HAPPY we were with the decision to come to Cyprus even if it was for four days. It would be a mini beach break at the same time which we haven’t had in a while so it was a welcoming surprise for us. So in the four days, we decided that our motto for this holiday would be sleep (at the beach), eat, dance, repeat, which we pretty much did!
The last time I had a spa pampering session was last year in a Bodrum Hamam and as much as I always say to myself that I will be keeping up the detoxing from time time . . . .it never ends up happening and get swayed by life’s many distractions (sigh). So, to my absolute joy, my darling friend Ayse comes to the rescue and invites me to her Hen celebration which is a days pampering and spa treatment at TheLangham Hotel’s Chuan Spa. I couldn’t wait to experience a slice of luxury haven in the heart of London and immerse myself in their exclusive treatment facilities
As an East Londoner, I am never short of finding a place to discover, whether its in Shoreditch, Dalston or Brick Lane. Every week I find that new venues are springing up in all corners. East London is full of life and colourful cultures which has lots to offer. It is a vibrant world of its own; that you wouldn’t feel the need to venture beyond its perimeters. There is always something to see and do in East London and never get bored exploring. Last weekend, it was Merchants Tavern, a new arrival on Shoreditch’s dining scene, which caught my attention so decided to trial it.
Looking at the above image of my youngest brother throwing a stone into the lake facing the striking Alpine landscape, you would think there is something about Lake Geneva . . .wouldn’t you? I took this picture on our last day as my family and I were making the most of our final hours in Montreux, so we decided to go for stroll along the lakeside Promenade Flueri and relax on a nearby pebbled lakeside. I couldn’t resist in capturing my brothers’ moment of contentment. This is the impact Lake Geneva had on all of us. So yes there is something about Lake Geneva.
Throughout my travels, I have stayed in hotels with pretty impressive views. Including sweeping views of the Provencal countryside and the twinkling Capri coast. Also not some pretty sights such as a construction building in Istanbul and an apartment in Shanghai that was so close that each time I would attempt to open or look out of the window, someone would be peering nosily through their window, so no privacy AT ALL. Now, there are some hotels such the Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic in Montreux, Lake Geneva, that has… well the most panoramic, breath taking, jaw-dropping views I have ever seen so far and by looking at the image above you would agree that the view does look something special.
London is my favourite city in the world. I know it sounds cliche, but it really is. Not just because I am a proud Londoner, but because this unique city is rich in its diversity and the Shanghai Bar within The Shard’s Hutong Restaurant is no exception of a rich discovery.
During my time spent in North Cyprus, I had the privilege to revisit many of its beautiful attractions and revive the memories spent at those places. However, the memory that struck most with me from my holiday was watching a whirling Dervish in a Sema at the Bedestan Kultur Merkez in Lefkosa’s Old quarter. Prior to this performance, I knew little about Rumi and the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order. Now I can say that this magical experience has truly cast a spell on me ever since and fallen in love with Rumi . . . . .
Enter Buyuk Han (The Great Inn), one of the most important architectural works of the Ottoman period and conveniently located in the traditional market centre within the city walls. In a way, I did save the best historical sight till last while strolling in the old quarter. It is not difficult to feel in awe when you are in the middle of the sun lit courtyard. It is one of the main attractions for tourists, especially coming from the south side, however, this place has its own local community feel where residents and tourists alike have time soaking up in it’s unique environment.
Getting swept up by the enchanting walled city of Lefkosa is one of my favourite pastimes when holidaying in North Cyprus. As mentioned in my previous post, there are many gems waiting to be discovered in this part of the city and tantalizing cuisines is no exception! El Sabor Latino Restaurant (specializing in Mediterranean cuisines) was just what we needed to quench our appetite after strolling in the autumn sunshine. Located in a pedestrianized cobbled square near the Selimiye Mosque, it was the perfect setting to indulge in my seafood pasta.
Ok . . . Now where do I start from when describing my time in Lefkosa (Nicosia)? Firstly, this is also the capital city of North Cyprus and my base, whenever I visit my family. As much as I love escaping to the peaceful and picturesque scenery in Kyrenia; I still enjoy the lively atmosphere in Lefkosa, which consists of lively cafes, bars and charming eateries. However, Lefkosa’s old quarter will always be my favorite part of this unique capital with it’s authentic and unspoiled setting; so much so that I have to split this post into three because this area of Lefkosa consists of many hidden gems that I cannot possibly describe in one post!
North Cyprusreally is an unspoilt treasure waiting to be unearthed, however, at the same time, I fear that mass tourism would ruin the authentic charm this part of the island epitomises. Unfortunately, not a lot of people, even discerning travellers are aware ofNorth Cypruswhich is why I am relishing in raising awareness of this magical part of the Island I am proud to be a part of. So I would like to start with the most popular and richly historic town called Kyrenia (Girnein Turkish). Let’s just say thatKyrenia Harbourshould be first on your list of places to explore if you ever get to travel here, and I shall happily tell you why . . .
I would like to say a MASSIVEthank you to EVERYONE who has been reading and following my blog! :-) It was my dream to start a blog about something I truly have a passion in which is TRAVEL and it means a lot to share my experiences with you all. I hope you have enjoyed reading my posts as much as I have enjoyed writing about them!
I look forward to sharing more posts with you about the many travel experiences to come for the new year and beyond! Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and anAMAZING New Year!
December is one of my favourite months of the year. Not only because it is my birthday; I simply love the festive spirit leading up to Christmas. When I found out the Christmas Market had opened at the Southbank Centre, I was excited like a child and couldn’t wait to to be there and and soak up the atmosphere. I have already been to Winter Wonderland which has a similar vibe but my favourite is the Christmas Market at Southbank because nothing beats the magical view of the enchanting London landscape.
“But no such thought was in my mind that first spring morning as I walked in those deserted cloisters, touching the rosy stones of the old Abbey with an idle hand, noticing the blaze of flowers . . . and here and there, bursting from a clump of fallen masonry, cracking the rock triumphantly, the . . . plumes of yellow fennel. . . . In that silence the light airs of the plain climbed up to us, full of the small sound of birds as they stooped and dived in the blue gulf below. Somewhere near at hand came the rustle and dribble of spring-water feeding the flowers.”
Lawrence Durrell in Bitter Lemons, “The Tree of Idleness”
North Cyprus (Officially recognised as Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) has always had a special place in my heart and one of those places I would always return to. Well, firstly, because it is where my family are from and two, becauseNorth Cyprushas many unspoilt and beautifully preserved historical and cultural gems bursting to be written about. It has been 6 loooong years since I returned to this beautiful island. For me, it is the most eagerly anticipated destination I have been waiting to write about. Finally that time has arrived and have the pleasure in sharing with you my wonderful and special time spent inNorth Cyprus . . . . . . .
I can honestly say that we saved the best trip till last in Provence. Despite having little time left before flying back to London, we had to make valuable time to see the vibrant village of Rousillon. It is very difficult to justify how unique this village is until you see it with your own eyes. Nothing prepares you for the splash of warm golden palettes glowing over the reddish orange cliffs surrounding the village. It truly was a striking setting against a backdrop of clear blue skies and verdant pine trees.
The enchanting village of Fontaine Du Vaucluse is unlike any other village I have visited in my previous travels. Fortunately, I have travelled on many city and beach breaks this year but was in great need of a tranquil getaway to recover from my previous journeys. Therefore, in September, my friends and I decided to venture on a long retreat to the Luberon. There were many beautiful places to visit in Provence, however, it was easy to choose Fontaine Du Vaucluse as the main base for a relaxing retreat.
I just recently returned from my trip to picturesqueProvenceand before I begin to excitedly describe my experiences, I have to give special attention to the amazing 4 days spent at the magnificent hotel my friends and I had the pleasure in staying. I haven’t been to a hotel which exceeded all expectations and this hotel did. It had the whole shebang! It felt like we walked into Provençal paradise. If you ever decide to visit Fontaine de Vaulcuse in Provence, then look no further in choosing to stay at the Hotel Du Poete. Without trying to sound corny, this place really was poetic and beautiful. By looking at this picture, it is only a snippet of the type of gem this hotel really is . . . . . . . .
I’ve always had a fascination with Italy and it’s many cultural gems. I have been lucky enough to explore the enchanting Amalfi Coast last year. For years I wanted to visitCapriand kept hearing about how idyllic it is, so I decided to visit for one week last year June. Many visitors usually visit Caprias a stop over to other places on the Amalfi coast. But out of all the locations on this picturesque coast, I really wanted to take time to explore this mesmerising island and immerse myself in it’s scenic landscape. I cannot begin to explain the euphoria when the ferry was approaching on the glimmering shores of the bustling Marina Grande . . . . .
I must admit, I am no culinary expert when it comes to experimenting with Indian cuisines. However, I can say that a Lamb Biriyani is definitely my favourite dish and my taste buds couldn’t hold out no longer when I arrived at Dishoom. I heard about Dishoom, a Bombay Cafe based in Shoreditch from my colleague and decided to check the website. Going by the pictures and menu, it looked like a pretty cool place to eat. So, eagerly I went with my sister a few weeks back and was surprised to come across a large space with a quirky interior. As the theme goes, I actually did feel like I was in a traditional Bombay Cafe (a distinct fusion of heritage with a contemporary twist). When you’re inside, you forget you are amidst the bustling vicinity of Shoreditchand off course the food was heavenly . . . . .
As much as I was content relaxing in the tranquil grounds of my hotel pool, a holiday would not be a holiday in Bodrum, without doing a classic boat tour and exploring the natural wonders from the azure coloured coastline. And disappointed, I was not . . . . I had such a memorable time on this boat tour with my friends that it actually made me feel more invigorated and revitalised than the hamam treatment I received the day after!
Bodrum is well known for its sophisticated and vibrant night life, but I would also like to make a point that this place is also a foodie heaven as I have had some of the most tastiest dishes. There are so many options, not just kebabs! :-) I had a Seafood Paella at Jade Jagger’s Secret Garden Restaurant (Next to Halikarnas Club) and it was truly exquisite! It’s a shame I don’t have a picture to show. The portion looked pretty small but as the saying goes, the eyes are bigger than the stomach! On top of that, the layout and design was simply stunning. The restaurant overlooks the picturesque marina so having a meal over a moonlit view was a bonus for us.
I love going to the cinema and not to just the typical cinema venue but unique venues which takes the cinema experience to another level. Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to watch Oz the Great and the Powerful in Hyde Park. There was nothing like soaking in the sun rays while watching the handsome James Franco acting in one of our favourite classics of all time.