Living Like a Local | Slovenia Travel Diary

slovenia travelHello & Hvala – Slovenia Travel Diary

Whether it’s foregoing a rain coat, or getting rid of a gigantic backpack, we all try to avoid looking like a tourist when we travel. Not only for safety, but because we want to experience a country like a local. Well, at least I do anyway. I don’t mind doing all the usual tourist sights when I visit a new city. But I also want to eat where the locals eat, visit the galleries hidden down side streets, and while away my day in the little coffee shop that only the coolest “millennials” know about.

It was this – among other things – that led me to me saying yes, when my friend invited me to join him for his birthday party in Slovenia.

Living Like a Local – Slovenia Travel Diary

I was lucky enough to travel with a big group of friends this time, which meant plenty of laughs, and some new travel companions. We all hopped on a plane from London, and in less than 2 hours we were in Trieste, Italy. Wait, what? Well my friend’s hometown is actually right by the border of Italy. The neighbouring villages/towns in Slovenia reminded me of a mix of Italy and the region around the French Alps. Lots of cute cafes, local food, mountains, sun and sea. The perfect combination!

I’ve not travelled to Eastern Europe, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of Slovenia. I really enjoyed my trip though. Maybe it was because I got to spend time with my friends and with my Slovenian friend’s families. It felt comfortable, and casual. With no pressure to “make the most of the holiday” or anything like that. Highlights included: home-cooked meals, as well as trying local delicacies in some well-loved restaurants. Tip: be prepared to eat a ton of meat! We were chauffeured around some of the prettiest sights I’ve ever seen. I tried a lot of homemade alcohol (…yeah). And we partied. What better way is there to spend a holiday with friends?

In a way it felt like Slovenia was a home-away-from-home. I’ll definitely be going back, and I’ll be taking my thanksgiving eating pants with me!

Don’t forget to check out more of my travel posts.

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Old Friends & New Beginnings | Cyprus Travel Diary

cyprus travelOld Friends & New Beginnings – Cyprus Travel Diary

Friendship is a funny thing. There are the acquaintances you meet once a year, the work colleagues, close friends, uni friends, best friends… The list goes on.

My recent trip to Cyprus was for a university friend’s wedding. This urged me to get in touch with some old friends who were also invited. You see even though we all live in London – albeit it opposite ends – we hadn’t seen each other since we graduated. I believe that friendships last the test of time, and that you don’t need to see someone everyday in order to stay friends. If you can meet someone once in a while, but it feels like nothing has changed, and you pick up exactly where you left off…well that’s ‘real friendship’. Still, part of me wondered whether the “banter” would be the same. Would we still get each other, especially with us all being at different stages in our life?

Old Friends – Cyprus Travel Diary

Weddings are always emotionally charged, but this one was different. We laughed, we even shed a few tears (read: I shed a few tears) – thanks to a beautiful ceremony/reception, and the father of the Bride’s speech. But more than that, it felt good to be amongst people I’d spent 3 days a week with for almost 4 years. It was as though things had never changed, although in actuality things had changed a lot.

New Beginnings – Cyprus Travel Diary

Seeing old friends made me realise just how far I’ve come in the past few years. I’ve moved to a new city, had some wonderful experiences, and created some awesome memories with the people closest to me.

It also got me thinking about where I’ll go next. What’s in store for little ol’ me? Maybe I’ll finally get round to planning my own wedding (I know, I’ve been lazy). Perhaps I’ll do that whilst flying around the world and creating some new memories. Whatever happens, I know that I’ll be doing it with some of the best friends anyone could ask for.

Don’t forget that you can also check out my Cyprus Travel Guide.

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Naples to Sorrento | Italy Travel Diary

naples to sorrentoNaples to Sorrento | Italy Travel Diary

Travelling with a friend for the first time is always a bit daunting. The most difficult task being, where do you go? You may have conflicting views as to what makes the perfect Summer holiday. One of you may be a city type, the other a beach type etc. etc. You both want to make the other person happy, but ultimately come to a compromise.

So when Eva and I decided to take a short break together recently, we spent a lot of time deciding on the perfect location. Oddly enough, it wasn’t because we couldn’t agree, but because we had too many places we wanted to visit together! Finally though, we decided to pay a visit to ancient Napoli, and the gorgeous Sorrento.

Naples to Sorrento… Why?

One of the things that cements mine and Eva’s friendship is our love of culture. I knew this wasn’t going to be a sit down and chill by the pool holiday. Oh no. This was a get up and go, and travel across Italy kinda holiday. The kind where you pop in and out of museums, art galleries, bars and restaurants all day. But that’s fine, because I’m all about cramming in as much as possible. Naples itself has a lot of history, and I was eager to explore it.

Naples to Sorrento… How?

The trip from Naples to Sorrento is relatively easy, and incredibly inexpensive. It costs around €4 for single ticket from Naples main station (Napoli Centrale). Sorrento was the last stop, so we were able to sit back and enjoy the ride, albeit it a very hot one. The journey is beautiful, passing Pompeii (Mount Vesuvius) and the coast. I’d happily do it again just for the scenery.

Would I go back?

The streets in Naples are lively, and filled with stories. However my favourite places were the old town – stunning. And Piazza Vincenzo Bellini – amazing nightlife. Not to mention, the food is great. Fresh seafood, pasta and pizza (try a ‘deep fried pizza’) is easy to find. Whilst the prosecco and bellinis were the best I’ve ever had. I’d go back just for them!

Sorrento on the other hand is a little too touristy for me. If you don’t mind putting up with overcrowded streets full of tourists, then go for it. Because Sorrento is genuinely beautiful. In all fairness, we did go during peak season. I’d love to go back at a quieter time of year, to experience it a little differently.

Read more travel posts here.

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Thoughts on Living Danishly | Copenhagen Travel Diary

living danishlyThoughts on Living Danishly

I’ve been staring at my screen for a while now, wondering how exactly I’d write this post. It’s pretty personal, and a tad emotional. I don’t really do that much on here, but every now and again I do indulge myself…

I kind of always knew I’d like Copenhagen. Admittedly I’m a Skandiphile. I love Scandinavia, right from the food, down to the design. But I’d never been before. My trip to Copenhagen last month was either going to make or break my love for our Northern European cousins.

Thoughts on Living Danishly

Ever since I came back from Denmark, I’ve had a bit of an ache in my chest. Falling in love with a country/city is one thing. But to fall for the culture, way of life, and people is another. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to up sticks and leave London. But Copenhagen certainly has left room for thought.

I remember a very specific moment from my trip to CPH. We were cycling back from Superkilen, and on this particular day the main road had been closed. Families had come out into the street with their children, and there were thousands of people. We had to get off our bikes at one point because there were so many people. Families, friends, all were socialising together. Children and adults alike were drawing on the street in chalk. There were drawings of Copenhagen’s skyline, pokemon, loved ones, you name it. It was so wonderful to walk through all those people, and feel the sense of community.

Personal Reflection

With everything that’s been going on lately in my life, I’ve done a lot of personal reflection. What I want in the next few years. Where I want to be.

I’ve been reading ‘The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country’ by Helen Russell. After seeing tons of people reading it in Copenhagen, I decided to give it a go myself. I was curious to learn more about Denmark, Danish people, and their way of life. Was it really as wonderful as it seemed? Well I won’t ruin the book for you, but it’s certainly opened my eyes to a new way of living.

Life can be pretty hectic in London, and whereas I love it, sometimes it can be tiring. It’s also become a little old as of late. Part of me yearns for new discoveries. New life lessons. Somewhere less hectic, and a bit happier.

Maybe living Danishly for a while wouldn’t be such a bad thing? Who’s to know. I guess for now, I’ll watch this space.

 

Read more lifestyle posts here.

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Cafe Kitsune Paris: A Love Affair Between Tokyo & Paris

cafe kitsune parisCafe Kitsune Paris | Coffee & Pastries | Metro: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre | Map

What is one to do with a spare afternoon in Paris? Spend it like a true Parisian of course, and lounge around beautiful architecture and gorgeous people, all whilst sipping on a coffee. That’s exactly what VA (Chopstickpanorama) and I decided to do during our whirlwind visit to Paris recently, at Cafe Kitsune Paris.

Cafe Kitsune Paris

We found the cafe located along Galerie de Montpensier. An old arcade which still has it’s original, vintage shop fronts and fittings. Nestled inside an old fabric shop, Maison Kitsune has found the perfect setting for their oh so chic Paris cafe. We took a seat at their outside tables, as inside is pretty cramped and not really made for sitting in. Everything about Cafe Kitsune Paris has been thought out to the last little detail, from the tree lined park, to the signature tables. If you don’t feel like a true Parisian whilst you’re here, I’ll eat my hat!

カフェキツネ – パリ

The cafe boasts a wide selection of coffees and teas to order. I was so pleased to see London based Workshop Coffee Co being used at the cafe – it’s nice to discover a familiar name when travelling. VA and I ordered a flat white and an iced latte – both which made for a good cup of coffee. Cafe Kitsune Paris also offer the occasional pastry too. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to grab some cake, or one of their iconic fox biscuits, which mimics the brands logo (kitsune is Japanese for fox). Hurry up though, Maison Kitsune’s cafes are known for selling out of their food offerings quickly.

How does the Paris cafe compare to the Aoyama, Tokyo cafe?

I personally prefer it. The location and vibe is much more relaxed, and it fits in with the brands aesthetic perfectly. If you’re looking for somewhere with good coffee, delicious food, and a stylish setting, Cafe Kitsune Paris is it.

You can find Cafe Kistune Paris at Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris, France
Unfortunately Filles du Calvaire cafe has now closed, so this is the only remaining Cafe Kitsune in Paris.

Check out more: Travel Diaries & Recommendations

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The Real Kyoto Experience | Japan Travel Diary

real kyotoThe Real Kyoto Experience | Japan Travel Diary

What do you think of when I say Kyoto? The streets of Gion? Geisha? Well more often than not, the “geisha” you’re taking a photo of is actually a tourist who has hired their kimono. My point here is that people come to Kyoto expecting to see “the real kyoto”, but they so often fall into the lure of travel guides and tourist traps. Sure there’s nothing wrong with doing all these things. You most certainly can do these things in Kyoto, and you should! It’s just a shame that most people don’t see more of this beautiful city. Much like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben are to London, Kyoto is so much more than Gion.

The Real Kyoto: What to see, and where to go

  • Teramachi/Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcades – These covered shopping streets run alongside each other, and are packed full of interesting shops, restaurants, arcade centres and cafes.
  • Shinkyogoku also houses a Floresta Doughnuts franchise – you know, the cute animal doughnut place. It’s definitely worth stopping by for a natural doughnut.
  • Shrines and Temples in Kyoto – check out my guide for the best shrines and temples in Kyoto!
  • Do a lot of walking! Kyoto has some beautiful alleys and back streets, packed full of culture and history.
  • Minamiza Theatre – Fans of the traditional Japanese art form Kabuki, probably already know of Minamiza. This grand building sits at the top of Shijo-Ojhashi, and is the go-to stop for kabuki in Kyoto. Don’t worry, non-Japanese speakers can enjoy a show just as well as anyone else.
  • Buy some matcha, duh! Whether it’s a gift, or for yourself, Kyoto is littered with matcha goodness.
  • Kyoto Manga Museum – yes it is totally a thing, and it’s a must-visit for any manga fan.
  • And finally, go for a walk around Gion and take a whole ton of photos. It’s beautiful, and you won’t regret it!

Well there you have it; my guide – albeit quick – to Kyoto. Feel free to share your favourite Kyoto locations in the comments!

Check out the rest of my Japan Travel Diaries (including Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo) here.

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Discovering Japan | Osaka Travel Diary

osaka travelDiscovering Japan | Osaka Travel Diary

This year’s Japan trip included a few days in the land of takoyaki, comedians and awesome old ladies. Yes, Osaka was new ground for me. I’d visited the city ever so briefly 5 or so years ago, but had never fully discovered the city. I was eager to see if the people were as friendly as my friends claimed, and whether the food really was some of the best in Japan.

Osaka Travel: Where to Visit

I already had a few ideas of where I wanted to visit whilst we were in Osaka, but we also made some time to catch-up with friends. As someone who only experienced Osaka properly (and trust me, we went for it) this year, I feel like I can give you a few hints and tips on where to visit, and what to do:

  • Wander Around Osaka Castle – I’m not saying you should go inside and do the whole tourist thing. No. Check it out from the gardens (it’s beautiful), then spend your time eating ice cream – try matcha or kinako – and people watching. If you’re lucky you’ll catch the groups who hang out with their pets – on a good day this may include dogs in costumes, birds of prey and owls. Yep.
  • Go See The Running Man – Glico’s running man sign is a famous tourist spot for the Japanese when visiting Osaka. Situated in Dotonbori, the running man has been towering over Ebisubashi (ebisu bridge) since the 1930s. It’s a popular spot to take photos – whilst impersonating the sign – and there’s plenty of cool shops and food stalls to check out nearby.
  • Try Some Takoyaki at Wanaka – Takoyaki (battered balls filled with octopus) is the dish of Osaka. You’ll find this popular dish all across Japan, but it originally comes from Osaka. Wanaka is one of the best in Osaka with a variety of flavours, and prices ranging from £2-£4. Try the Ooiri Set for a taster.
  • Visit Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan – This walk around aquarium is one of the largest in the world, and includes a large variety of sea animals. The venue is laid out with 18 areas that represent various countries and regions across the world, with the corresponding sea life.
  • See Osaka from the Sky – Umeda Sky building may look like a rather impressive office tower, but it’s actually full of restaurants, arcades and a viewing platform. The view from the top is impressive, especially at night.

So there you have it, my Osaka Travel Diary. Feel free to leave your tips for others, and let me know your favourite things to do in Osaka.
See more posts: Japan Travel Diary

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